Local search marketingWith the Christmas countdown in full swing now is the time to start publishing your festive content (if you haven’t already). For businesses of all size this is a key part of the year and leveraging your online presence effectively can put you in good stride to take on the challenges of 2015.

For smaller and local businesses the festive period can be a tough one as bigger brands muscle in with massive holiday budgets. However, local SEO gives the little guy a chance to fight back and a key change to Google Shopping could make this a happy new year for nearby businesses.

Start with the basics

As always you need to start with the basics if you want to boost your online presence over the holiday season. Having your business page set up on Google+ and listed in all the major directory listings is the absolute minimum. While you need to make sure your NAP (name, address and phone numbers) are consistent in every listing.

Next you need to think about content and how to generate a buzz about your business over the next couple of months. If you have a good social presence, make use of it with festive content, competitions and special offers to get people interested. Try to get your audience involved in your brand’s build up to Christmas and create a campaign where people can send in their own images, videos and other content.

We’re talking local SEO here so create content that speaks to your local audience. If you only have one location then the majority of your content can be focused on the local area. Or if you have a number of branches you can run a series on each location and get the locals involved to keep everyone engaged.

Take advantage of Google Shopping

Google has made a few changes to how its shopping search works and one new feature could be a big boost for local businesses. Local inventory ads are actually an existing feature of Google shopping, but they have always been limited to the US. Now the search giant is rolling out the feature elsewhere and that means UK businesses can take advantage.

Local inventory ads are designed to help mobile users find products in their local area and they now feature on tablets too. This is important because, as Christmas draws nearer, the panic of those last-minute buys will creep in and the hunt for local products will begin.

Google shopping can now tell people which stores have a specific item in stock and which are closest to them – which means you can edge ahead of the competition as long as you have the right goods in your area. So not only can you beat the competition on location alone this Christmas, but you can shoot to the top of shopping search results for people in your area who desperately need your goods.