In just several weeks, we will be celebrating one of the most awaited times in the entire year!
Whether you’re a small local business or a huge enterprise, the Holidays mean shopping – and LOTS of it. November is already a late start with Holiday promotions though (as most retailers began as early as August). However, it’s NOT too late! Even if you have a limited budget, you can still get big returns, as long as you keep these SEO tips in mind.
So brace your website, call for reinforcements, and take out all your wrapping paper! It’s going to be a busy month. Here are my top six local business tips for the Holidays.
#1 Prepare Your Mobile Site
Having a responsive web design or your own app is not just a fad – it’s a MUST.
Ever since the popularity of smartphones and Google’s incentive to label mobile-friendly websites, search on mobile has skyrocketed until it surpassed desktop. So if you’re not seen on portable devices, consider it a lost sale. You don’t need to spend huge bucks to be where your customers are. If you’re running on WordPress, they have RWD-ready themes that you can edit and install in minutes.
If you have a custom app, ensure that it’s working as intended. Talk to your web developer or web design team to make sure your website can handle increased traffic before AND after the Holidays (there’s still the New Year, after all!). Check for site speed, checkout issues, and content freshness. This brings us to point number two…
#2 Update Your Information on all Channels
Don’t forget to update ALL business-related information on your website, app, and social media platforms.
Do you have later closing times starting next week until December 26? Did you get a 24-hour hotline to cater to customer complaints? Let the public know! Is your store listed on Yelp and YellowPages? Update those, too! Aside from operating hours, check that you have the right address on local listings. You don’t want a customer losing his or her way on a cold November night trying to find your shop, right?
Embed a Google Map on your website, app, or social media profile for easier access.
#3 Complete Your SEO Basics
According to a 2014 Behavioral study, 12% of mobile users spend their time on the Google app (the bigger percentage is attributed to different apps that vary from person to person).
This means that your site needs to be one of the top results on the search engine for a customer query. Do this the organic way by completing your SEO on-site elements. What are some of the things you need to verify?
- Page titles and meta descriptions
- Broken links and/or redirects
- Product descriptions and images
- Keywords in content
These are just a few examples. If you have 500 web pages or more, you may want to consult a professional SEO consultant for better assistance. You may also do the audit yourself – however, do pay attention to little details to ensure that your website remains fast and efficient. Once you’re done, you may want to…
#4 Add Live Chat Services
Improve customer support by adding live assistance for queries or complaints.
This shows people that you care enough to respond to their needs as quickly as possible. Plus, they could simply chat you up if they feel nervous during checkout. This is also a fast and stress-free way to guide customers all the way to a purchase. If you’re a startup, live support services is a great way to build a positive first impression. Just make sure you always have staff behind that chat window.
WordPress has plenty of optional plugins that you can easily install if you want to upgrade your site today.
#5 Don’t Forget Social Media
I’m sure you’re already familiar with the power of social media in influencing buyer decisions.
Use this to your advantage by customizing your interactions and posts for your target market. Set the mood with Holiday-themed ideas to get your customers excited for your products or services. Align your offers with the season. Consider free samples, giveaways per purchase, and free-delivery options. Remember: people today are not just interested in a product – they are looking for an experience. So make sure that they get that fuzzy, Holiday feeling from your Facebook page all the way to your site’s checkout.
You can also use your social media accounts to immediately respond to customer complaints. Often, buyers won’t bother with sending an email or a letter; they will simply take to a company’s social media page and vent. Be ready for this by employing a social media manager to handle comments. The sooner you respond, the better for your sales.
Of course, last but not least…
#6 Watch Your Reviews
88% of consumers look at online reviews to determine a business’ credibility.
But don’t despair if you have negative testimonials! That’s normal. Don’t forget: you can’t please everyone. So although you should work to obtain more good reviews, having a few bad ones isn’t the end of the world. After all, would you trust a business that has nothing but raving reviews about them? That would look suspicious to anyone.
Instead of trying to delete negative remarks about your business, DO something about them by responding with a solution. For example: if you get a bad review on Google Local, respond with empathy and ask how you can better serve them. This will show future customers that you want to learn from your mistake and you value people’s feedback.
You should then be on track to getting better online reviews that will boost your business for the Holidays!
Be Ready for Year-Round Holiday!
Another thing to remember about customer behavior during this time is that they shop year round – NOT just before the Holidays. So make sure that you’re there for them 365 days a year. Aside from a great product, people will notice how you treat them, so be vigilant!
Make it a fast and pleasant experience so they’ll come back – not just to shop today, but for always.