Holiday optimization tips for remaining competitive in the SERP




  • Columnist Lydia Jorden discusses ways to stay competitive in local search during the holidays, when competition for positioning gets particularly intense.





    holiday-christmas-ornament-ss-1920

    During the holidays, we often let a fair part of ourselves go: diet, exercise, budgets and more. But for local search engine optimization (SEO) professionals, there is something very impactful that can get away from us little by little, until it is completely out of control:


    Rankings.


    During the holiday season, we sometimes neglect a variety of strategies that help our businesses maintain positioning within the local pack during a high-traffic time. If you find yourself experiencing a case of holiday ranking drops, you may want to avoid a Scrooge-like boss muttering “humbug” under his breath until the ranking decrease can be remedied.


    Once we secure top local positioning, we must maintain and continue to keep up with user search trends — even during the holidays. Don’t neglect your accounts during the holiday season; instead, implement monthly tracking strategies that allow you to continue maintaining position with a few key tips.


    Google Trends


    One audit that I like to perform every quarter that is especially important during the holidays is a keyword analysis to determine if searcher behavior shifted from one query to one that is synonymous.


    The Google Trends tool allows me to quickly determine what keywords receive the heaviest monthly search volume (in comparison to one another). Once I figure out those keywords, I can modify my website and alter the content to capitalize on the potential change in searcher behavior that occurs during the holidays.


    This strategy works particularly well for a website that offers products or services with names that are synonymous with other types of products or those that have abbreviations. This could be a healthcare website that wants let patients know they can seek care during the holidays or keep those patients abreast of holiday hours. See an example pulled from Google Trends pulled for the past five years in the United States:


    Blue denotes: “hospitals open on christmas” search query.
    Red denotes: “urgent care open on christmas day” search query.
    Yellow denotes: “christmas day urgent care” search query.


    urgent-care-open-on-christmas


    If I were a hospital or healthcare organization with the information above, I would use it to determine if I need to change my content strategy.


    A valuable way to secure positioning during the holidays is to include or bolster content that speaks about holiday hours in order to target high-volume search queries. In the case above, I would make sure to use the term “urgent care open on christmas day” if I wanted to highlight this phrase, rather than the other two that have lower search volume.


    Updating holiday hours on Google My Business


    Last year, Google rolled out the ability to create special hours for specific days, like the upcoming holiday season, in an effort to continue creating a seamless user experience. To change your Google My Business local listing hours, follow the steps outlined below:



    1. Log into your Google My Business account.

    2. Click to navigate to the Info tab.

    google-my-business-navigation



    1. Scroll down and click “Add special hours.” Populate accordingly for holidays or any other days where hours differ from your regularly posted hours.

    special-hours-google-my-business


    Adding special hours allows for a seamless user experience and allows customers to find you during the times that you are open. If you extend hours for the holidays or close early, customers will get a notification when they click for directions. This functionality alleviates customer frustration, and it also potentially increases sales if hours are extended.


    Content


    Building content around holiday services, deals or product offerings can help a business stay competitive within the SERP, as well as the local pack, because searcher behavior can switch toward holiday-related search queries for businesses that seek additional customers during the holiday season.


    Updating the description in Google My Business and other local search directory listings to holiday-related content that focuses on service offerings (and your product) can help local pack positioning around the holiday season.


    When Google detects that your local listings have consistent NAP (name, address and phone number) information, along with consistent information that speaks to a user’s search query, it’s more likely your business will rank within the local 3-pack.


    If you’re a Chinese restaurant (or similar business) competing in New York City (or your respective area) for positioning in the local 3-pack, this is something you’ll want to pay attention to. In 2014, the term “Chinese restaurant” saw a 100-percent increase in search volume on December 25 in New York City and Toronto. That’s a serious potential sales boost!


    Boost your listing to appear more often by modifying the description to catch a searcher’s eye and boast about being open on Christmas Day. Having a description that speaks to being open may increase your chances of a click-through (which plays into local search positioning, since Google wants to show listings that get more clicks).


    Creating a blog content and a social media strategy that speaks to the locality of your business in accordance with holidays can also help elevate local search positioning and give your company an edge over competitors.


    Blogs that focus on specific product offerings during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s can influence where you rank, as some searches are switching to including a holiday-type modifier within his/her search.


    Happy holidays!


    Stay conscious of how competitors are competing in the local SERPs over the holiday season, and be aware that searcher behavior can change rapidly with the seasons.


    Keeping the above strategies in mind can help further elevate your brand within the local pack and gain visibility over competitors to keep your business present in the local SERP.


     


    [Article on Search Engine Land.]



    Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.









     


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