The Local SEO Holiday Checklist
If you're in charge of the local search marketing for a business, you've got two groups to please at the holidays: your clients/superiors and consumers. You don't want to be kicked out of the reindeer games on January 2nd, so let's dive into an organized checklist of the most important things you can do to maximize outreach and profits in the coming weeks, making everyone (including you) a winner!
The Local SEO Holiday Checklist
☑ Local business listings accurate
If you're not already on top of this (maybe using SaaS like Moz Local to ensure your listings on the key platforms are accurate), potential shoppers may end up someplace other than your storefront. Weird versions of your name, old phone numbers, and former street addresses can misdirect your customers or contribute to your failure to be found in the local packs at all. The truth is, November can be a bit late to sign up for a local listing management product in time for holiday victories, so you may have to make fast manual fixes where you can. The Moz Check Listing tool can help you quickly hunt down inaccurate listings. Found a ton of them? Fix whatever data errors you can this year, and make a New Year's Resolution you'll keep to undertake professional citation management in Q1 so bad data isn't still undermining sales and rankings in Q4 2018.
☑ Duplicate listings closed
Related to item one, if you didn’t get duplicates closed earlier in the year and Check Listing is showing you a bunch of them, the fact is that you may not get this completely squared away by the holidays. It can take weeks (sometimes months!) to get certain platforms to resolve duplicate listings. This is the case whether you're doing it manually or via software, so do what you can as quickly as you can (Google can be surprisingly quick at this) and vow to get this task nailed down completely before the first jingle bell rings next year.
☑ Google My Business special hours added
Extended hours can make a fundamental difference in revenue, and happily, adding them to your GMB listing is a quick fix. Google offers this list of holidays for which they support special hours (including Kadooment Day which Google just taught me is a harvest festival in Barbados!) Here's Google’s complete tutorial on adding special hours via a variety of methods, including mobile and bulk uploads. Accuracy across all locations matters, of course, as the last thing you want is to create negative brand impressions if customers arrive, gift-list in hand, only to find doors closed for the day. Negative brand impressions lead to negative reviews, which lead to negative trends in conversions, so check your own list of corporate-approved extended hours twice before adding them to GMB.
☑ Website pages updated
Doubtless, the brand you are marketing has plans for featuring holiday specials on its website, but while you're adding extended hours to local business listings, be sure website landing pages/contact pages/home pages display updated hours, too, dispensing with potential confusion. Dealing with multiple locations? Landing pages are a great place to highlight holiday specials specific to certain branches of a business.
☑ Complaint-ready, both on and offline
While many people cherish seasonal shopping trips, others find the holidays to be stressful, and psychologists continue to weigh in on how proposed phenomena like Seasonal Affective Disorder factor into changes in winter mood. Suffice it to say that even the jolliest of us can get frazzled in a crowded shopping mall and may not be at our most forgiving when customer service lets us down. Don't leave it up to chance whether unhappy shoppers will let disappointments go or vent their frustrations in a stinging and costly negative review.
Urge management to hold a first-time or refresher course to train all public-facing staff in complaint resolution, equipped with a clear hierarchy for escalating problems, and publish your complaint phone/text hotlline on in-store signage and on the company website. This holiday season, I highly recommend giving your clients or higher-ups the gift of Mike Blumenthal’s free eBook, Build a Better Business with Complaints to fully explore the vital role offline sentiment management plays in digital marketing.
☑ Google Posts brainstormed and ready to go
Speaking of gifts, Google is giving one in the form of microblogging right on your Knowledge Panel in 2017. Google Posts is a perfect way to instantly highlight your Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, your philanthropic outreach, holiday events and other newsworthy items. There are so many options when it comes to social outreach, and other platforms may be stronger performers for you, but I'd use this year's holiday season to experiment with the new Google Posts feature. Line up some short, exciting content and schedule it.
Best image size is around 750 x 750, only the first 100 characters appear live on your post, and posts stay live for 7 days, unless you schedule an event which will remain live until the event ends. For more tips, I recommend Joy Hawkins' 12 Things to Know to Succeed with Google Posts.
☑ Other social media ready to go
Whether it's Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Pinterest that your customers rely on most, having your messaging pre-planned the stress of last-minute scrambles to think of something to say. Make a spreadsheet and schedule for your outreach, refined down to the last pixel and character. And don't just sell; look at how creative agencies told compelling social stories this time last year.
☑ Analytical tracking in place
UTM codes added to the links in your socially-promoted URLs? Google Analytics set up to help you analyze traffic and conversions to local landing pages? A nod to GMB Insights or your Moz Local dashboard's Insights component so you can evaluate how many clicks-to-call, clicks-for-directions and clicks-to-website your listings are driving? What about call tracking that doesn’t interfere with NAP consistency? If tracking local campaigns is new to you, Nick Pierno's recent post will get you started swiftly. The goal here is that, when the confetti settles, you've got data to analyze so that you can strategize for new-year improvements.
☑ Empathy engaged
It has been one rough year in North America. We've experienced life-altering man-made and natural disasters. Even if a given shopper hasn't personally suffered losses in a fire or hurricane in 2017, chances are good in our interconnected society that they know someone who has. Sadly, these tragedies are going to be in the minds and hearts of many as they set out to make spirits bright for their loved ones this holiday season.
I can't think of a better time to acknowledge reality and offer a proactive means of some consolation for everyone involved. Encourage clients and management to dig deep into their brand's store of empathy, letting shoppers know that a percentage of sales or some other benefit is going towards relief and recovery in affected communities. Give people a chance to feel that they are taking care of neighbors while also taking care of their own. Knowing we can help is a powerful step along the healing path.
Good service is your guiding light!
The good news is, if you make a best effort at a lot of little things on the checklist in an organized fashion, they total up to a bright local business that's covering its customer service bases. If there's one thing the digital marketing industry has become increasingly aware of with each passing year, it's how everything circles back to the customer.
You can do this! If you can envision shoppers interacting both online and offline with the business you're marketing, you can see how to serve them best, and seriously — then all the reindeer will love you — clients, customers, teammates, and CEOs included! Wishing you success and satisfaction in your work as we put a bow on 2017.