Good morning, SMBs are crossing their fingers for a strong holiday season.

Surprisingly, new restaurant and food business openings bounced back to pre-pandemic levels this summer, according to new data from Yelp. Consumer demand also increased in the third-quarter across many local retail categories, Yelp found. 

Yet numerous surveys indicate most consumers aren’t planning to increase their holiday budgets this year, and spending will continue to shift online. That spells trouble for local businesses, which have been hit disproportionately hard during the pandemic.

“SMBs won’t be able to count on foot traffic and in-store browsing as much as in years past,” reports Greg Sterling. It’s critical to claim and optimize your search and social business profiles, including Google My Business, Bing Place, Facebook/Instagram, Yelp, Nextdoor and other relevant verticals such as Tripadvisor. For those short on time (and who isn’t), most SMBs should prioritize Google My Business, including Google Posts, given its scale. 

As I reported last week, consumers are planning to do their holiday shopping earlier, so do not wait until Thanksgiving to start ramping up your campaigns. Gaining early visibility and sustaining marketing momentum will be key. Marketers should promote fast (and reliable) shipping, buy-online-pick-up in-store/curbside and carefully targeted incentives.

Ginny Marvin,

Social Short

TikTok jumps into social commerce with Shopify

TikTok’s advertising division TikTok for Business announced a global integration with Shopify Tuesday that makes it easy for Shopify merchants to promote their products on the short-form video social network.The two companies also announced #ShopBlack to amplify Black-owned Shopify merchants on TikTok.

Why we care. This marks the first major commerce integration for TikTok and opens up its ad business to Shopify’s 1 million-plus merchants. Merchants can manage their campaigns from their Shopify dashboards and TikTok is offering a $300 ad credit to eligible merchants. Shopify already has integrations with many search and social ad platforms, including Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Microsoft Advertising and Google


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Search Short

Now Bing has possible indexing issues...

Bing indexing issues. Not to be outdone by Google’s indexing issues from the previous weeks, it looks like Microsoft Bing is potentially having its own indexing issues.

Unrelated. John Mueller of Google said the indexing issues and the temporary removal of the request indexing tool are unrelated.

Pandemic tops search trends.Questions related to the pandemic are more searched than sports or music (and even elections) in every state,” Google CFO Ruth Porat said in an update on the company’s COVID efforts. “Search interest for ‘online courses’ reached an all-time high in April this year, as did searches for ‘unemployment,’ compared to search trends over the last 15 years,” Porat added. And, “Curbside pickup” searches have increased 13X year over year since the start of the pandemic.

Post-election ad ban. Google will ban political ads for a week or more after the U.S. election next month as the enormous increase in mail in ballots are expected to delay results. The ban falls under Google Ads’ “sensitive events” policy. Google updated this policy earlier this year to restrict misinformation and price gouging amid the pandemic.

Yogurt Google Doodle. Did you miss the Google Yogurt Doodle celebrating the life of Dr. Stamen Grigorov on his 142nd birthday? If so, you can check it out over here.


What does the future hold for SEO?

Join us online December 8-9 for expert-led search marketing training, featuring just-announced keynote speaker Areej AbuAli, SEO Manager at Zoopla!

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What we're reading

We've curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader.

10 Ways to Improve SEO in 2021 (That Will Boost Ranking) – SEM Rush

Best practices for Black Friday and Cyber Monday pages – Official Google Webmaster Central Blog

Five Google Analytics Audiences to Sync with Google Ads – Clix Marketing PPC Blog

Following the 2020 U.S. Election with Google – Google Blog

Google Testing Green Bubble Header Display In Search – Search Engine Roundtable

How to Win at Local Search with Service Area Businesses – Sterling Sky

Logical Position helps clients succeed – Microsoft Advertising

Why Long-Tail Keywords Are Valuable To SEO – Portent

Why you need SEO to succeed in this year’s digital-first Black Friday – DeepCrawl