Google Searches Rise, But SMBs Miss Opportunities

Holiday-Gifts-ASearches for the keyword term "holiday gift" on Google.com continue to climb, spiking 156% since Nov. 1, while "black Friday" rose 546%, according to Google. But separate research on the readiness of small- and-medium size businesses (SMBs) to handle the traffic identifies rough times and missed opportunities.

While 80% of shoppers plan to research their purchases online, 69% of those shopping for apparel still plan to make purchases in a store, and 36% intend to purchase online, according to Google.

The data came from analyzing trends in holiday shopping using Google Consumer Surveys.

Many consumers have already purchased their holiday gifts. Some 14% who plan to purchase toys have already made purchases, 11% for apparel shoppers, and 6% for electronics shoppers. Google also found 28% of people who plan to shop for electronics will make their purchases during the Thanksgiving weekend, 18% for toy shoppers, and 17% for apparel shoppers.

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Aside from cost, consumers will look for coupons and free shipping. In fact, free shipping is key. If the retailer doesn't offer free shipping, some 48% said they will close the browser and move on to find the item on another site that does. Thirty-two percent will visit a nearby store to buy the product, and 20% will still purchase the item from the site.

About 70% of shoppers think they see a similar amount of discounts for holiday discounts and coupons as they did last year, whereas 22% feel they see fewer deals for holiday sales and promotions, according to Google. While this opens opportunities for nimble, small- and-medium size businesses, data from SMB DigitalScape suggests many might not be ready to make the move.

SMB DigitalScape found many SMB Web sites lack important information. For example, 56% of SMB Web sites do not have a street address; 90% lack map or directions; 44%, phone number; 78%, email address; 78%, Facebook link; and 96%, Twitter link.

Making matters worse, 94.5% of SMB Web sites are not ready to accept ecommerce transactions, and 98% do not have mobile optimized Web sites. SMBs that lack a well-organized and optimized Web site also run the risk of not getting found in search engine query results.

Some 74% have no location in Web site meta titles. Since location is an important keyword in local searches, a meta title is an important place to use keywords, according to the data. Other mistakes include 91% have duplicate page content, 24% have a PageRank of zero, and 97% don't use micro formats, forfeiting any benefits that Google's Rich Snippets might offer.

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