Expert Tips for Ranking on Holiday Terms in the Local Pack

It seems that more queries with local intent are triggering MapPack results where previously, organic results would have appeared. How can you rank for terms that appeal to shoppers near you in the Local Pack this holiday season?

This was a hot topic in our recent ‘How to Win In Local this Holiday Season’ webinar, and it’s no wonder. The National Retail Federation anticipates holiday sales will grow up to 4.2% this season and with over a million retail establishments across the U.S., competition is stiff. While that competition used to happen in the streets and in print media, today consumers are looking online for solutions to meet their shopping needs.

It’s not a matter of brick-and-mortar versus online, though. Although 10% of retail sales happen online, far more are influenced by search, display advertising, social media and other digital marketing channels. In fact, RetailDive expects that by 2023, 58% of all retail sales will be influenced by digital.

For brands competing at the local level, the Local Pack is incredibly valuable online real estate. Here are a few tips for ranking on holiday terms in the Local Pack from the expert panelists on our recent webinar.

Look to local search queries to inspire engaging holiday content.

“GMB and local results absolutely do consider the content on your website,” said Ben Fisher, Google My Business Gold Product Expert. “You can tell this just by looking in GMB Insights queries. This is really raw data at the moment, so you can go really long-tail on that.

*Multi-location brands who get their reporting via API can encourage local managers and franchisees to go into the GMB dashboard for that location to see their queries. This is a great source of information that can be used to create local content. 

Fisher recommends that marketers use local reviews as a source of inspiration for new site content. Business locations also need to maximize the value of the content they’re creating by repurposing and redistributing it as much as possible. With video, for example, you can put on YouTube but also summarize or transcribe and embed in a blog post, which can then be shared in a Google Post, on social channels, and in your email marketing.

“Ultimately, you want to give Google as much data as possible and that way, you can rank for those keywords,” Fisher said.

Give your business the gift of good PR this holiday season.

“Your local media really are the only media that care about what you’re doing in your town. By doing good and partnering with a local non-profit, you can get a lot of really great local media attention and that’s really valuable,” advised Mary Bowling, Local SEO Expert at Ignitor Digital. “Don’t think at the national level for your local businesses. Build local links and good karma.” 

Public relations isn’t just for drumming up feel-good media coverage, though. Today, it’s an integral part of your online reputation management strategy and a valuable way to attract high-quality links to your local landing pages naturally. In fact, good PR is the local marketing gift that keeps giving throughout the year as it potentially benefits your local and organic rankings, brand reputation, conversion, and sales year-round.

Localize your holiday content.

Niki Mosier, Technical SEO Manager for Seer Interactive, recommends that brands or local managers make an effort to localize all content they’re creating. Mentioning proximity to local landmarks and including location-specific images or reviews, for example, are great ways to make your content locally relevant

“Give first. Think about what your mission is, what your brand represents, and what your products are. From there, develop a strategy that makes sense for the holidays,” recommended Alli Berry, SEO & Editorial Lead for The Motley Fool. “Be authentic and don’t try to be something you’re not just because you’re heading into the holidays and you’re trying to sell, sell, sell.”

“Remember that customers are going to be your brand ambassadors,” Jason Brown, Jason Brown, SEO Manager for Over The Top Marketing and founder of Review Fraud, recommended. “As long as you’re treating them right and you’re responding to reviews, you’re going to have something that most people overlook: referrals.”

There’s great value in having positive experiences that customers are going to share at the local level. 

GMB and local results consider the content on your website when triggering results for local queries. Take that keyword-rich content from your GMB Reviews and place it on your website, too.

Focus on improving local customer experience and removing friction in their path to purchase.

Perhaps most importantly, make sure that your holiday hours are up to date. Customers might be just minutes from your location and looking for products and services like yours. They’re motivated and in the moment—are they going to arrive at a closed store

Inaccurate location data such as a previous address still showing as current or permanently closed locations displaying as open create friction in the local consumers’ path to purchase. Outdated or incorrect local listings can keep a customer from finding your store, lead to a result that doesn’t meet their expectations, or even deliver them directly to that of a competitor.

What’s more, search engines only want to show searchers results they can trust. If behavioral signals tell Google that searchers aren’t having a good experience with your brand, that trust is eroded. When Google is deciding which business is the best answer for any given query, you don’t want those preventable errors standing in your way.

This holiday season, give all of your locations the gift of accurate, up-to-date store hours, map locations, phone numbers, and other critical local listings information.

Want to learn more?

Get 37 expert Google My Business tips to get all of your locations ready for the holiday rush—don’t miss these highlights from the ‘How to Win in Local This Holiday Season’ webinar.

Read my previous column How to Optimize for the Google Local 3-Pack for more actionable tips to help you build and expand your brand’s online presence at the local level.