It’s always difficult for small businesses to compete with large brands, but the holidays are particularly challenging. Everyone hits the holiday theme hard — and some businesses have particularly clever ideas and big budgets. To keep up, you need to find ways to stand out.
One thing you can do is create local pages to enhance your visibility. At a minimum, there are four places where you should have a presence: Google, Yelp, Apple Maps, and Waze.
Once you have your local business pages set up, it’s time to start making them stand out for the holidays. As some local business pages have limited capabilities, you’ll only be able to use a few of the following tips. However, the simplest of these tactics work on every local page. Applying them to as many places as possible will increase your impact.
1. Upload Holiday Photos
Some local business pages (Apple Maps and Waze, for instance) have a limited number of uses. One thing you can do specifically for the holidays is upload a new photo. Show how you’ve decorated your business, what you have to offer your customers for the season, or even how your staff are celebrating. Any of these options will show a human side of your brand and encourage people to visit you.
Humanizing your brand increases consumer trust — more than 40 percent of people say that they distrust brands. By showing your face and values, you become more accessible and less out of reach. Photos are one of the top ways to achieve this.
2. Advertise Holiday Promotions
Use your business description to mention the special offers and promotions you have for the holidays. Give consumers a reason to visit you over your competitors. One-third of consumers say they made a purchase over a holiday weekend because of a promotion or discount. There’s no need to create promotions for all your products — pick one that is particularly popular for the holidays.
On Yelp, you can go a step further and create a Yelp Deal to incentivize users who check out your listing. Yelp Deals are prepaid vouchers available just to consumers who find your business on the platform. Users can purchase the voucher through both the Yelp website and the mobile app. You pay nothing upfront to Yelp, but the platform keeps 30 percent of every sale.
3. Publish Holiday Content
Google My Business allows you to create short posts that will appear when users search for your business by name or find you on Google Maps. These posts are another way to advertise promotions, but they also have many other functions over the holidays. For example, you can post teaser videos, announce events, or highlight products and services you have that are perfect for the holidays.
Product-specific and promotional offers are the best choice for Google My Business posts. This is because such posts appear directly on your Google Maps listing for everyone specifically searching for you during the holidays.
On the other local pages, you can leave links to social media profiles, holiday posts on your blog, or seasonal landing pages. Don’t go overboard with links — one or two is plenty.
4. Start a Holiday Review Campaign
When users find your business, they are more likely to choose you if you have a high ranking and great reviews. Almost three-quarters of consumers say that positive reviews increase their trust in a local business and almost half say that they will only choose a business if it has at least a four-star rating.
One thing you can do is to launch a campaign where you ask satisfied customers to tell others why your brand is the perfect choice for the holidays. To do this, send out an email newsletter with a link to your Google or Yelp listing or include a “Review Us” link in the footer of your regular holiday email campaigns.
5. Respond to Customers
Ignoring customers who reach out to your business is an easy way to lose a sale. Customers can contact you directly on both Google My Business and Yelp. The faster you respond, the more likely you are to close a sale.
On Google My Business, you can set up chat to receive messages straight to your phone. On Yelp, customers can send you messages to request quotes, appointments, and information about your offerings. You’ll need to turn messages and quote requests on to receive these — the feature automatically disables if you don’t respond to your messages.
Bonus: Update Your Open Hours
You most likely have different open hours than normal during the holidays. Make sure that your local pages have accurate information. This will avoid disappointment (and, therefore, a bad impression) for customers who want to visit you.
Keep up your efforts maintaining your local pages long after the holidays — they can have a big impact on your small business SEO. Ensure that your information stays up to date and that your pages stay fresh with the latest information, deals, and useful links.