Preparing Store Location Pages for the Holiday Rush

As fall draws to a close, visions of the holiday shopping season are dancing in the heads of retail business owners everywhere. While there are many details to attend to, from putting up the decorations to making sure there is enough staff to handle the crowds, it’s important to also pay attention to store location optimization. Well-optimized store locator pages are valuable assets that help move users along the buyer’s journey from browsing online to making in-store purchases. According to Google, 76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.

Holiday Hours

Last year, Google introduced their “Special Hours” feature in Google My Business (GMB). This feature gives businesses the ability to define operating hours on a day-by-day basis so that they can easily promote holiday schedules that are different from their normal business hours. Now is the time to start collecting these hours from retail partners and loading them into the related GMB profiles. This way, as store schedules change from consistent year-round hours to extended holiday shopping hours, customers will be able to easily find these changes via the Knowledge Panel (KP) listings for branded queries (particularly on mobile devices) and visit the store at their convenience:

Another reason to start collecting holiday hours now is so that you can start loading these dates into your store locator pages.  A 2016 Bright Local study found that business hours were the second most important piece of information for all ages groups between 18 and 55+, second only to lists of products and services. This finding clearly indicates that posting unique holiday hours on the store locator pages is just as important as posting to GMB profiles for local marketers who hope to get users to cross the online-to-offline conversion bridge.

An additional on-page factor for store hours is getting the correct schema coding in place for special business hours and events. Ensuring that you have the correct schema code in place for business hours helps you communicate the correct hours to the search engines more effectively and accurately and also helps reduce automated updates to Google Profiles. On the user side, the correct schema code makes it easier for your customers to find retail locations that have the item they want to purchase.

Holiday 2016 looking good for Digital Marketers

The holiday shopping season is in full force, and if the headlines are any indication, things look super optimistic for digital marketers.  “Cyber Monday Sales Jump,” says a Fortune article posted on November 29th. “Black Friday Limps Toward Oblivion as Online Shopping Takes Over,” says a Bloomberg article posted the day after Turkey Day.  It’s no surprise that shoppers are getting savvier. After all, who wants to wait in long lines and fight for deals at brick-and-mortar locations? The chance to reduce the need for such inconveniences seems to be part of what’s driving the continued surge in online orders on Thanksgiving (the day before Black Friday). Some telling stats cited in the above articles include:

Now that Cyber Monday is behind us and the dust has settled, we wanted to look at some of our own data. Specifically, we wanted to review the year-over-year (YOY) changes in data for our larger retail clients over the period covering Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. Here’s what we found.

Total Site YOY stats comparing 2016 to 2015:

While these numbers are very positive, they don’t paint as precise a picture for marketers as we’d like to see, certainly not from a Performance Marketing perspective. To increase clarity and better understand the actionable implications, we need to drill down into the details. While we obviously can’t call out specific clients, we can share that the following stats are based on analysis of more than 900 million impressions and 23 million visits over the largest shopping weekend of the year.*