What you will learn in this post:

  • How and why to keep local listings up to date, especially during the holiday season
  • How Google Knowledge Panel features like Product Posts and Special offers can help you engage last-minute shoppers
  • Why you should pay attention to post-holiday consumer behavior and trends and how to meet this demand

While most of us are still trying to accept summer’s end, the holiday season is straight ahead. This time of year comes quickly for consumers and retailers alike. The “last-minute shopper” has become a trope over the years, and for good reason. According to a 2018 survey conducted by The National Retail Federation, less than half (40%) of U.S. shoppers plan on wrapping up their holiday shopping a week before Christmas. And while Black Friday is a major boon for retailers, about 70% of shoppers do not get their shopping done until after this event, according to a Google survey

In other words, people procrastinate, especially around holiday time. While this fact may cause stress for shoppers, local brick-and-mortar stores can find opportunities to boost their sales based on these consumer behaviors. Shoppers may primarily go online to create lists and look for items, but that does not mean they will order everything from a remote location. When shipping costs loom large and wait times are uncertain, last-minute shoppers look to local, physical stores to fulfill their gift lists. 

As a multi-location brand or local store, you must optimize your business listings to meet customers in their moment of need. Here are three local SEO tools and tips for capturing last-minute shopper demand this holiday season.

  1. Like Santa, Be Accurate, Be Everywhere, and Be on Time

Whether or not you believe in the jolly gift-giver, he is well known for his accuracy and punctuality. So, too, should your brand and its listings. During the holiday season, you already know the demand is there, so visibility should be your first priority. Google reports that in 2017 searches including “where to buy…” spiked on December 22nd, and those for “store hours” peaked on Christmas Eve. It also seems that searches for product availability are on the rise. These trends indicate how important it is for businesses to be seen clearly and accurately throughout the holidays, right up to Christmas and even a few weeks afterward.

To increase your visibility in local searches and entice more shoppers, keep your listings up to date, especially when it comes to things like extended hours or seasonal changes. To learn more about setting special hours, see this guide from Google. Customers also want to know if your store offers options such as buy online and pick up in-store, same-day delivery and more. If any of these offerings apply, be sure to include them in your online local listings.

  1. Get in the Holiday Spirit with Your Local SEO

No matter the time of year, you should always implement local SEO best practices to increase your search engine visibility, such as creating blog content and local pages with keywords, utilizing local schema, streamlining your website, etc. However, the holidays present you with the opportunity to hone in on this special season and reach out to last-minute shoppers’ specific pain points. 

By creating new, holiday-themed content for your site or via scheduled Google Posts, you can increase social engagement and help customers find what they need when they search for it. The Product Posts and Special Offers features allow you to prominently display gift ideas, sales, holiday-themed items and promotions catered to the last-minute shopping audience. When your online presence is easy to find and centered on these consumer trends, the more sales you will make during this season, whether online or in-store.

  1. The New Year Brings New Waves of Demand

As a retailer navigating the holiday season, your main focus may be on Black Friday through Christmas. However, the week following Christmas is also an active time for holiday shoppers, as 51% of consumers look for post-holiday sales and 27% use the gift cards they received, according to The National Retail Federation. During this time, last-minute shoppers give way to bargain hunters. Knowing this, your local online marketing strategy for the holidays must extend further than the holidays themselves. Likewise, you must shift your content and outreach marketing from holiday-focused messaging to keywords focused on clearance, deals and sales.

Though it may be easier than ever before for consumers to find products and services, compare prices and order goods online, last-minute shoppers are here to stay. With the right local marketing approach and the most recent local SEO tools, you can take advantage of this hectic, spend-heavy time of year. If you have doubts about your brand’s online presence in preparation for the holidays, start with a free local audit so your efforts to capture these shoppers are not last-minute, too.