Holiday SEO Essentials for Online & Local Retailers

The peak holiday shopping season is right around the corner.

A recent Think with Google article titled “New Research Shows How Digital Connects Shoppers to Local Stores” debunks three common myths associated with the impact of digital on in-store shopping.  Contrary to these myths, research shows that:

  • Search results are a powerful way to drive consumers to stores
  • Retailers can grab consumers’ attention through search results and their mobile site or app
  • Consumers visit stores for more than just a purchase; they are looking for an informative, customer experience. Their expectations of retailers are higher than ever.

Keeping these realities in mind, here are four ways to ensure that your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts will drive maximum impact during the holiday season.

Update Store Information

Make sure your physical stores can be found at the moment when consumers are looking for your products—when they are on their mobile devices—whether they know about your brand or not.  Optimized local listings in search engines and other widely used local review sites are critical to providing timely and accurate information such as directions, phone number, store hours and forms of payment. Check your local listings for accuracy and for new visibility opportunities.  When these listings are optimized for relevant keywords, you can rank in a top position when people search in your geographic vicinity.

Holiday retailers often change store hours for sales events like Black Friday, so making sure the website reflects these updates well in advance of the holiday can help drive in-store shoppers who are ready to buy.  In addition, an event landing page on your site with rich snippet event markup will enable search engines like Google to display precise sales event information to ensure your customers do not miss out.

Understand Search Behavior During the Peak Holiday Shopping Season

Each holiday season we see consumer search engine behaviors change.  More sophisticated search queries by informed and empowered consumers present both a challenge and opportunity for retailers.  At the root of these search queries people are looking for deals, gift ideas and product information to support their journey to purchase, so your site content must cater to this search intent.  At the moment Google is starting to update the relevancy of search results for terms like “Black Friday” to remove dated ranking pages from previous years, and the competition is steadily increasing for retailers looking to rank for this keyword or similar variations for this year and next.  There is a short window to publish content for holiday-related keywords, so make sure to give search engines plenty of time to crawl and index this content to be available for searchers.

Tighten Up Optimization for Branded Keywords

Everybody loves low hanging fruit.  There is nothing that hangs lower in SEO than fully maximizing your branded keywords and strong variations.  Conduct spot checks for widely used branded keywords to ensure you own the top organic position.  Variation may include brand + locations and brand + store hours.  Use Google Related Searches and Google Suggest to find brand variations that are commonly searched.  After your brand name simply type in a space and then each letter of the alphabet to see what keyword modifiers are associated with your brand.

Encourage Teams to Integrate

Disjointed marketing efforts can lead to a poor customer experience.  When teams share data, strategy and calendars, and integrate across marketing channels (both online and offline), the customer ultimately benefits with a seamless brand experience and is more likely to buy.  SEO teams regularly integrate with paid and social media to ensure there is synergy in search keywords, and content is written for customer engagement and amplified through timely messaging for followers and brand influencers.

As Google Think illustrates, digital media continues to reshape the shopping journey.  Retailers often overlook the basics of search optimization when devising ways to stand out from the competition, but those that strike a balance between digital and in-store marketing efforts will provide a quality customer experience that attracts, engages and delights for the holiday!

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