2021 Holiday Guide to Your Google Business Profile

Last Updated: November 8, 2021 (Post originally published November 16, 2020)

Over the past 20 months we’ve learned to adapt, pivot, and embrace flexibility when it comes to operating a local business. We know 2021 has continued to be a challenging year for you, your families, and your business. As we approach the second pandemic holiday season, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite local marketing tips to get your Google My Business listing and website holiday ready. 

We wish you a happy holiday season! 

Holiday Local Search Marketing Tips

Shopping locally continues to be more important than ever.

“60% of U.S. consumers who are planning to shop for the holidays say they will shop more at local small businesses” (Think With Google). 

1. Go above and beyond to keep your shoppers informed

Like last year, your business is likely continuing to operate with additional COVID-19 precautions, or expanded services such as curbside pickup, local delivery, or service-specific hours. 

To ensure a happy customer experience, communicate with searchers and make it crystal clear,

  • How you’re continuing to offer a safe shopping experience,  
  • What changes there are to your services, 
  • What your operating hours are,
  • Current offers and deals,
  • If you expect shipping delays,
  • And any other information that will impact their shopping experience.

Update your business information in Google My Business to include all relevant attributes, amenities, and available health & safety and service options.

In the Info section, also add any special hours (Special hours) or service-specific hours (More hours).

Update your Questions and Answers to reflect all holiday related FAQs.

Avoid confusion and reduce calls and/or emails by making sure you answer customer questions in advance through the Q&A feature on your Business Profile. 

  • What’s your holiday return and/or exchange policy?
  • Are you open during Christmas holidays? 
  • Does your business have any in-store shopping vaccination requirements?
  • “Looking for a specific product?” Answer with a link to a contact form on your website or the best phone number to reach an associate who can help (h/t Liz Linder at KickPoint).
  • Are you experiencing any shipment delays on popular products?

Pro tip: Did you know that 3 question upvotes will bump that question (but only one) to your business profile on Search? Get your holiday promotions, hours, or policies in front of clients by “swapping” your most upvoted question to a holiday-focused question.

2. Have your sales even earlier

Last year, 70% of shoppers said they intended to plan their shopping earlier to avoid crowds, and 80% planned to make fewer trips than they have in previous years.  This year consumers have started to shop even earlier and 47% of U.S. consumers expect Covid-19 to impact how they shop this holiday season.  Supply chain-woes are continuing to impact many businesses, resulting in stock shortages, delayed postal and delivery services and continued restrictions to in-store occupancy in many areas have a direct impact on your customers shopping experience.  

According to AdColony’s Holiday Shopping Survey, “62% [of shoppers] would be influenced to buy in-store if offered an in-store only discount.”

As shoppers look to avoid crowds, plan your sales earlier this year to assure your customers that they’re really getting the best deal today from your business. If you anticipate maxed out in-store capacities, line ups or shipping delays, communicate these with shoppers to avoid negative Google reviews this holiday season. 

Share your early holiday sales events or offers with searchers with a Google My Business Event or Offer Post.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to UTM tag all of your GMB links and track your conversions and engagement. This goes for your Products as well. Track everything.

3. Engage with your customers online

Anticipate and plan for more product inquiries this year as consumers have experienced shipping delays and stock shortages over the last year. 

No one wants to make an unnecessary trip. If your store’s inventory is visible on your website make sure it’s accurate  and cross-promoted on your GMB listings through the Products feature. If you don’t have inventory to add online you can add your Services to this feature instead. 

Post your inventory or services on Google My Business with the Products feature. Include a photo, description, and price for every item you add. 

If you’re utilizing Local inventory ads, you can take your GMB Profile to the next level by promoting your current in-store inventory and products that are available for store pickup today, later or curbside pickup. 

Turn on the messaging feature to be available to searchers/customers in real time.

There is no other GMB feature that puts you in more direct content with your customers  – aside from the call button – than the Messaging feature. Customers can send their inquiries immediately to your business and this is another touchpoint that allows searchers to interact with your business. Customers are keen to be informed before they make a purchase. Messaging is a great first step to connect with a potential buyer. 

Customers can chat with your business through GMB Messaging by clicking the

  • Chat icon,
  • Get a Quote button on your listing, 
  • Message button in your Google Posts.

Remember to respond in a timely manner so that you don’t miss out on a potential lead or risk having the feature disabled by Google. Your response time will be calculated by Google and visible to searchers. 

Stay on top of responding to ALL of your reviews

Don’t forget to stay connected with your customers and respond to all your reviews. Now, more than ever, the importance of engaging and fostering your customer relationships is critical.

4. Refresh your photos

It can be challenging to make time to take team photos, storefront shots, or in-store images, but this is one feature you don’t want to miss out on. Make time to add new holiday and Covid-safety relevant photos to your listing and website.

Many businesses don’t realize that their photos are another way of expanding their content and relevance in search results. Not only does Google provide searchers with new styles of SERP results, they continue to expand their technology for interpreting your photos through their classification engine, Cloud Vision. 

Joel Headley recently shared his research on how businesses that  incorporated high quality photos to their GMB listing and website saw an increase in website traffic, calls, and appointments.

Pro-Tip: Take your listing photos to the next level by encouraging in-store visitors to post their photos to your GMB Profile and/or as an accompaniment to a review, read/watch our guide on how to get more photos on your Google listing and why it’s important.

5. Make your website discoverable

Almost 75% of U.S. shoppers who plan to do holiday shopping this season said they will shop online more than they have in previous seasons. A similar number said they would browse for gift ideas online and not in store, according to Google/Ipsos Study (2020).

#1. Update your hours 

  • Make sure that your website and GMB listing hours align. Add all special hours/holiday hours and any closures to your website. Make sure your website footer, contact page, and any locations pages are accurate. 
  • Don’t forget to update your hours on your major social profiles as well. 

#2. Update your content

  • Share any offers, specials, or holiday information on your website homepage. 
  • If you have a major announcement or something you don’t want customers to miss, include the information in a site-wide banner. 
  • Update your FAQs to include holiday related content and sales information. 
  • Add delivery and shipping announcements and information to your contact page. 
  • If you sell your products online, make sure your inventory levels are accurate, both online and for in-store customers! Put shoppers worried about shortages at ease by maintaining accurate inventory levels online,especially because this season many customers will check online to confirm that an item is in stock before going to buy it.
  •  Add updated shipping information or return policies to every product page or on the check-out page and make sure it’s accurate. 

#3. Add more photos

  • Give your photos a refresh and share any holiday or covid-19 safety related photos on your website as well. This helps build relevance and also shows your customers what to expect when visiting your store. 
  • If you have fun seasonal photos or new team images add those to your website as well. 

#4. Keep your customers informed via email

 Consider sending your customers a newsletter to share any sales or in-store promotions, your holiday return and exchange policies, and to let them know about your current stock levels or what to expect this holiday season.

#5. Don’t forget to update your most important social channels & ad campaigns

  • Don’t forget to update your major social channels to include accurate hours/holiday closures, specials, or company announcements. 

Happy Holidays from Whitespark!

AUTHOR

Allie Margeson

Allie been helping small business owners get the most bang for their marketing bucks since 2014. She loves the opportunities and challenges of local search marketing and Google Ads. She has a knack for helping busy entrepreneurs, owners and marketing managers understand the value of local search efforts, without all the jargon.

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