We recently shared our top tips for preparing for Small Business Saturday later this month, November 25.

Top 5 Small Business Saturday Tips

  1. If you’re slim on marketing support, take the free help from American Express.
  2. Dust off your contact list, and spread the word via emails and texts.
  3. Make your loyal customers part of your social media team.
  4. Team up with other local businesses.
  5. Make sure to take advantage of the day itself.

Those tips will do the trick to help any local business shine during the busy holiday season. After all, Small Business Saturday falls directly after Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and right before Cyber Monday. So it’s critical to pull out all the stops right at the moment consumers are already prepared to get in the shopping mood and drop some serious cash!

Even if you knock these 5 marketing tactics out of the park, chances are it’ll all be for naught if you miss one critical step.

The One Thing You Can’t Overlook

When consumers are searching for the prime Small Business Saturday deals, they’ll start online. While some may reach out for peer-to-peer recommendations first, the overwhelming way they’ll look for the biggest promotions is through a true, organic search online – think Google, Yahoo! and Bing, ratings and review sites like Yelp and OpenTable, and the increasingly popular voice search tools like Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Did you catch that I called it an “organic” search? That’s because nearly 95% of clicks through search engine results are attributed to organic results, not the paid ads that appear at the top of the page.

If you’re a locksmith in Dallas, for example, here are the pay-per-click ads you’d likely be competing with. You can tell because these will say things like, “Sponsored” or “Ad.”

Google PPC Dallas ad example

But those guys account for only about 5% of the traffic. That’s not to say pay-per-click marketing isn’t effective or worth your while, but for capturing Small Business Saturday attention, organic’s where it’s at.

The Secret to Capturing Organic Search Traffic

When it comes to ranking organically, online business listings sites run the show. These are the websites that share basic information about your business like your contact information, hours of operation, address, products and services, and even customer ratings and reviews.

Why are these sites so important? Simple. There are tons of these listings sites – more than 70 major players, with tons of others out there. Since the volume is there, information that’s consistent from site to site is going to stand out on the search results scene.

Let’s say you run a local coffee shop. Your information is likely on major business listings sites, including popular foodie sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon. Since these sites are so popular among consumers, the information on these sites typically makes it to the top few results on the first page of search results. That’s a coveted place to be. So if your information isn’t correct on these sites, it’s a huge missed opportunity.

Fix Your Listings Fast before the Big Day

Now that we’ve established how crucial business listings are to getting you found before Small Business Saturday, you’re probably wondering how to manage your online listings. We have plenty of advice across the blog on the main steps, which are:

  1. Visit the most common business listings sites.
  2. Claim your listings when you find them. And create them from scratch if you find sites where they’re missing.
  3. Correct any incorrect or inconsistent data.

Once you’ve gone through the steps above, you’ll be off to a great start. But let’s think outside the box a bit on this one.

Make Your Online Listings Stand Out

Ideally, you’ve already got a handle on your business listings, at least to a certain extent. Here are some additional, more creative ways to help your online listings stand out this month and through the holiday season.

  • Post events and product specials to the listings sites. Even if there isn’t a dedicated place to include your promotions, work them into your product and service descriptions.
  • Promote geographic check-ins throughout the day, with a reward or raffle associated. This works especially well on sites like Yelp and Facebook.
  • Incorporate your social media page handles and links. This way, you can use social media to showcase what you’re up to the day of the event. Photos, videos, and even plain text posts can help generate buzz and interest.