A Guide to Holiday-Ready Google Business Profiles
For many people, " holiday-ready " means packing a suitcase, heading to the airport, and jetting off somewhere sunny for relaxation away from everyday routines. For business owners, “holiday-ready” means something totally different — a world away from the swim-up bars, 24-hour room service, and over-indulgence.
There’s no let-up throughout the year when it comes to holiday seasons and events. Businesses must be prepared for all holiday seasons, from bank holidays and Black Friday to Easter and Christmas. It’s a time that draws fiercer competition than any other time of the year, so you can't stand still if you want to stand out in local searches.
The importance of optimizing Google Business Profiles for the holidays
Your business must maximise its visibility on Google, starting with your Google Business Profile (GBP). Let’s recognise the importance of a holiday-optimised GBP, and how you can get the most from this “virtual shop window" to drive people through your doors and grow your holiday sales.
Optimising your GBP for the holidays puts your business on the map and in the eye line of potential customers, making it easier for them to interact with your business.
Attract holiday shoppers
Whether it’s last-minute shoppers, deal seekers, or the evergreen shoppers that shop throughout the holiday season, a holiday-ready GBP can target and win over the different types of holiday shoppers.
Engagement and trust
Ensuring your GBP is updated with seasonal information, such as holiday promotions and special opening hours, showcases your trustworthiness and makes it easier for customers to plan their visit. These changes must be applied across all your business locations if applicable.
An optimised GBP encourages consumers to choose your local business over competitors during the holiday season. It’s a space where you can match potential customers to their holiday-related searches and explain why your seasonal offerings and products set you apart from competitors.
There are also ways to make your holiday-ready GBP even more enticing and effective. For example, restaurants can include a special festive menu or reservation button.
Increase your conversion rates by answering customer questions in advance about your specific offerings and policies around the holidays. Keeping your GBPs accurate helps build trust in the holiday seasons, creating a positive user experience and driving more conversions.
If customers can rely on you during the busiest times of the year, it can encourage customer retention and loyalty. Holiday shoppers want to avoid frustrating experiences (inaccurate opening times, bad reviews, etc.), so they will be more willing to spend their money on a business where they’ve previously had a satisfying experience.
Don’t forget to ask your happy holiday customers to leave a Google review — the increased footfall and custom is the optimum time to boost those all-important review figures.
Changing search trends
What was popular last Christmas won’t necessarily be on Santa’s wish list this time round. Use Google Trends to understand seasonal volatility and optimise your GBP for text-based “near me” searches, long-tail keywords, and last-minute deal keywords.
By focusing on search queries that are the most important to your business during the holidays, you can improve your local visibility by eliciting post snippets in the local pack or Maps results.
Understanding the impact if your business is not holiday-ready
Online users have a limited attention span, so if you neglect your GBP, you won’t provide an informative and welcoming first impression before or during the holiday season. This has a knock-on effect in many other areas, meaning potential customers will likely head elsewhere.
Lost sales opportunities
Customer spending is at its highest during the holiday season. The chance for people to spend precious time with loved ones and shop for seasonal food, presents, decorations, and costumes makes holidays the most lucrative time for businesses.
Yet all those sales opportunities will go down the drain if you haven’t instilled confidence in your customers by setting your Google business listings to seasonal.
Inaccurate and derelict GBPs are frustrating for customers and Google. The search engine wants to give customers results that satisfy their search queries and intent, so you must ensure your content and scheduling are in the holiday spirit. Failing to update your GBP will only heighten customer frustration by leaving them with more questions than answers.
Negative Google reviews are never pleasant, but you only have yourself to blame if you haven’t prioritised preparing your GBP for the holiday season.
Potential customers in the local area who come across your listing want to be confident the information displayed online is correct, and that you are prompt at responding to questions and reviews. If the answer to these questions is “no”, you’ll quickly plummet down the SERPs.
Independent businesses and retailers that sell items such as alcohol, clothes, food, and personalised gifts are in great demand during the holiday season. Greater custom inevitably means recruiting more staff to handle the increased footfall and online orders.
However, if your GBPs aren’t optimised to entice customers through your doors, you won’t be able to maximise the extra outlay on temporary staff and ordering more stock.
How to prepare your Google Business Profile for the holidays
While we’ve covered the pitfalls of not getting your Google Business Profile set up and ready for the holidays, get in the holiday spirit with these top tips to ensure it’s optimised for success.
Update your holiday hours
There’s nothing worse for a customer than making a dedicated trip to your physical store based on your listed opening hours, only to discover it’s closed. Updating your special holiday hours isn’t just appreciated by customers but also increases the likelihood of your business appearing in filtered search results.
Setting your listings as special hours is still good practice if your normal business hours don’t change for a major holiday such as New Year’s Day. This avoids any confusion, as customers might assume you haven’t updated them and are therefore inaccurate.
Undertake keyword research
Use your Google Posts and GBP description to target long-tail keywords. These phrases describe what potential customers are looking for in your area. For example, “vegan restaurant in Blackburn. While holiday-related keywords like “christmas gift ideas” and “black Friday sales” enjoy a significant increase in monthly search volume at the relevant time of year, it’s crucial to be aware these types of phrases are highly competitive.
Don’t be afraid to work these keywords into parts of your seasonal strategy naturally, but long-tail and location-based keywords are best for specifically targeting local searcher intent.
Add & schedule creative Google Posts
Google Posts are a great way to communicate seasonal updates to customers directly. These social media-style updates appear on your GBP and allow you to get creative with holiday promotions, products, and services you’ll offer. You can share news about any seasonal events you’ll be running and upload photos of your newly decorated premises.
Upload holiday photos and videos
Holiday-related photos and videos allow you to create seasonal hype and give an idea of what customers can expect when they visit you. They can help you stand out during the holiday season and get customers excited before they enter.
Whether via a grand window display or a sneak peek of your Christmas menu, you can offer the visual stimulation necessary for a customer to choose your business.
Don’t forget to encourage customers to upload photos of their visit — it’s a win-win situation as it helps build brand trust while providing you with free marketing.
Manage reviews and messages
Managing your customer service reputation is crucial during the holidays. As sales rise, it inevitably leads to an influx of customer service requests. You have to reply promptly to messages and reviews (good and bad) to ensure customers get the assistance they need from your brand this holiday season.
Google shows users how long businesses generally take to respond when they start messaging, so you need a system that enables you to respond to customer queries and reviews actively.
Encourage customers to review specific parts of the experience using appropriate prompts in your messages. For example, “Tried our festive afternoon tea? We’d love to know your thoughts. Leave us a review here.”
Don't forget about the Q&A feature
Free up your staff and empower your customers with the information they need to make buying decisions. Answering holiday-specific frequently asked questions in advance using Google’s Q&A feature ensures customers are clear about your specific policies around the holiday.
It’s also an excellent opportunity to phrase your answers in a way that showcases your brand voice and personality.
Questions you might want to ask and answer about your own business include:
What are your holiday opening hours?
What’s your return policy?
Do you offer indoor seating?
Consider using the booking feature
From beauty treatments to hotel rooms and restaurant tables, Google’s bookings and appointments feature minimises the hoops users jump through to make a reservation with you.
They can do it directly from Google Search or the Google Maps app, without needing to click through to your site.
Updating your reservation platform with the dates and times your business can and can’t accept bookings over the holidays builds trust and crafts an excellent customer experience.
How different industries can utilise Google Business during the holidays
Businesses across every vertical need to be prepared for the magic and madness of the holidays. Whether you’re in the restaurant, travel, or professional services industry, there are different GBP optimisation methods to improve your local visibility in time for holiday shoppers.
Showcase your hotel’s amenities, share up-to-date rates and room availability, and interact with customers through responses to messages and reviews. Many hotels deck out their building for the holidays, so don’t forget to share images of the dazzling, welcoming foyer and elegantly decorated rooms.
It’s also the perfect time to drive travellers in and around your local area to your hotel through one of the many reservation platforms to which you can hook up your GBP.
Restaurants and cafes are notoriously busy during the holidays. Friends meet for a heartwarming coffee and chinwag, while restaurant tables are maxed out through events like Christmas parties and Valentine’s Day. You can also research and optimise for phrases in your GBP posts.
Upload high-quality photos of your holiday food and menu, so users can decide if it whets their appetite. Add a reservation link to your GBP listing and encourage customers to leave reviews — remember to give feedback.
Audit (and if necessary, update) your location information, and customise your holiday retail hours, so users know where to find and when to come to your store. Make your location look welcoming with images of happy staff ready to greet shoppers and use videos to promote special offers and holiday gifts. Videos showing an item being unboxed are always a nifty technique to create excitement.
Plan to be responsive to customer messages and reviews so that customers can get quick answers to their queries. This will help turn shoppers into loyal customers.
Travel agencies and tour operators can highlight their target destinations and services offered (airport transfers, accommodation, etc) to improve their local search visibility during the holidays.
Visuals significantly impact a customer’s decision-making process when booking a holiday, so add appealing, high-resolution images of beautiful places and exceptional customer experiences. Try to use images relevant to the season — Christmas markets, New Year’s Eve celebrations, etc.
Increase your credibility by demonstrating excellent customer service and engagement by promptly responding to both positive and negative reviews. While being competitive with pricing is important, it’s even more critical for people to know they can book a stress-free vacation.
Health & Wellness
Masseurs, beauty spas, and other health and well-being practices must know how to be findable in their local searchscape.
Potential clients want to discover what treatments you offer and learn as much information about your business (cleanliness, products used, etc) to give them confidence to book an appointment. Show users you are appreciative, empathetic, and professional by managing and responding to reviews.
An optimised GBP for health and wellness services will show you care about providing an excellent client experience and nurturing an environment that boosts their health and eases their stress.
Home services can be a lifeline for customers during the holiday season. Boilers are vulnerable to breaking down in the winter months, and pubs and restaurants might want their tired-looking floors restored to their former glory ahead of a Valentine’s rush.
Whether you’re a handyman, plumber, or offer a local carpet cleaning service, you can show your quality of work and reliability by cultivating good business reviews and posting optimised images of your work.
Use your GBP to outline key information, such as your services and Google business seasonal hours. Include ‘long-tail + location’ search terms relevant to your business to improve your chances of ranking higher in local search results.
In professional services, the holidays are traditionally hectic. Think box deadlines, building work, and people with the time to file lawsuits.
Again, online users will seek detailed information about your services, holiday hours of operation, professional responses to reviews, and photos to demonstrate credibility. This way, you can drive more direct, bottom-of-funnel traffic to your website.
Google Business Profile holiday optimization FAQs
Holiday content on your GBP must include your top seasonal FAQs. Don’t wait for your customers to call you — let them know when you’re open until Black Friday or whether your physiotherapy clinic is accepting new patients. Turn on GBP messaging to find out what else customers are asking – this will help fuel your FAQs list.
Ensure you upvote the holiday-focused questions that get asked most frequently so they appear close to the top of the list.
Should I change my categories during seasonal events?
Your GBP business categories tell Google and search users what type of business you are. Some businesses are seasonality dependent, which means their focus changes. Changing your primary category to suit the seasonality is a good habit to adopt, so your listing stays relevant to local searches.
Ultimately, your primary category should reflect the main keyword(s) for which you’re trying to rank, and based on your business’ products, services, and goals.
This is the category displayed to users, so research what your target audience is searching for and how it affects how they view and think about your business. You can add up to nine secondary categories, but they must be appropriate to your business to boost ranking and relevance.
Can I show that my seasonal business is closed on Google?
Seasonal businesses can mark themselves as “temporarily closed” during off-season months. This is great for customer transparency and ensures people who find your business on local search don’t make a wasted journey.
While this requires a little extra effort, as you have to contact Google My Business support and request the “temporarily closed” setting, it’s better than listing your business as “permanently closed” during the seasonal breaks. Permanently closed implies your business will not be re-opened at some future stage, and means users won’t check back later.
When your business opens during the relevant season, all you need to do is set your regular (or special) hours of operation. In your business description, we recommend indicating that your business is only open for a specific seasonal period.
Why should I optimize my profile for the holidays?
When the holidays approach, it’s sensible to expect a jump in the volume of customers setting foot in your business premises and asking about your products or services.
Increased views of your Google Business Profile and traffic to your website are also likely. The holidays are a hectic time for many, so you need to be present (no pun intended) when customers are trying to get things done amidst a jam-packed schedule.
Consumers are more demanding than ever during the “silly season”, so they need to know your GBP is accurate and gives them the fast and frictionless shopping experience they need. This can only be achieved through a fully optimised GBP, so customers can easily access the information they need from you quickly and easily.
From improving your click-through traffic to enhancing your overall visibility in more relevant search results, it’s the most effective way to take customers from the SERPs to your physical store for purchases and in-store experiences.
Is it important to respond to customer messages and reviews during the holidays?
Customers don’t have the time to wait during the holiday season, so you must coordinate rapid responses to messages and reviews across all your business locations.
Your first response time plays a vital role in determining the levels of customer satisfaction and whether online users (potential future customer) see you as a transparent and trusted business.
Holidays increase demands on your customer support team, but responding to reviews is as crucial as getting reviews. Similarly, ensure the highest-priority messages are sorted first — typically complex, negative, or time-sensitive enquiries. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to positive comments — they still warrant a swift response.
Don’t forget to use tactics that can create exceptional customer experiences. Holiday-specific FAQS give your team (and customers) quick answers to common questions. Likewise, the booking functionality provides staff with time to facilitate responses to messages and reviews rather than taking calls and booking appointments.
Think about how effective and efficient the support is so you can use it to drive repeat engagement, clicks, and purchases.
Take advantage of the seasonal traffic with a well-managed and optimised GBP listing. Your GBP needs to be the gift that keeps on giving, so it needs to be primed ahead of the holiday season to help you win more local searchers and shoppers this holiday.
If you’re after the perfect SEO stocking fillers, Mirador’s scalable GBP management tool can make the dreams of business owners with multiple locations come true. Discover how we can help you manage all your listings from a single, easy-to-use dashboard, so that you can bring joy to your customers this holiday season.