Read Time: 4 minutes

Local Memo: How Retailers Are Preparing for Black Friday 2022


In this week’s update, learn about retailers’ preparations for Black Friday 2022; the end of the Helpful Content Update rollout; Google’s new timestamps in local photos; a virtual conference about Google Search; using Facebook competitions to build engagement; and Instagram’s new topics feature for Reels. 


How Retailers Are Preparing for Black Friday 2022


An uncertain economy is the context of retailers’ preparations for Black Friday 2022, according to Stephanie Miles writing for Street Fight. The National Retail Federation reported that nearly half of consumers started their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving last year, and Salesforce tells us that 37% of U.S. shoppers (42% globally) plan to start shopping even earlier this year than last year. Top concerns among shoppers are inflation’s impact on prices as well as supply chain problems leading to shipping delays.


The methods that worked for retailers last year, such as assuaging pandemic concerns by providing curbside pickup and delivery services, may seem out of date as consumers increasingly return to in-store shopping. The focus this year appears to be on early deals, with many retailers expected to announce discounts as early as October, as well as longer-lasting promotions that extend beyond Black Friday. 


Though online shopping is expected to remain strong, the return to stores makes it possible that this year we will see the first significant in-store Black Friday deals — and crowds — since before the pandemic. Some 47% of consumers are worried they will not be able to find desired items, with electronics, clothing, and toys topping this year’s lists.  


The Helpful Content Update Has Finished Rolling Out


Google has confirmed that the Helpful Content Update finished its 15-day rollout on September 9. The update was an attempt on Google’s part to penalize sites that publish content merely to rank in search results, while offering little value to users. Most SEOs seem to agree that the impact of the update has been modest, though Google warned that it can impact your entire site and that it may take months to recover even if you address content issues right away. For those who may have been impacted, Google has offered a great deal of guidance for fixing the problem and for gearing websites toward the kind of usefulness and originality the search engine favors. 


It’s important to keep in mind that the Helpful Content algorithm will run continuously, rather than just once or at specified times. The end of the rollout does not mean that Google has stopped checking websites for helpfulness, but rather that it is now doing so comprehensively across its index on an ongoing basis. 


Google Tests Timestamps for Local Photos


Google seems to be testing a more prominent feature for identifying the recency of photos uploaded to Google Business Profiles. First noticed by Mike Blumenthal, the flag appears at the top of the photos themselves in Business Profiles when viewed on the Google Maps app, but not in Google Search. Though photos are already date stamped in GBP, the date is usually harder to find, only appearing for featured photos on the Maps home screen or once a user has navigated to the photo gallery for a specific profile. This more prominent signal of timeliness takes its place alongside other freshness signals in listings that have recently appeared, for data points like hours of operation and in-store inventory.  



An image of Barnes and Noble search results with a few images and the time in which they were uploaded


Courtesy Mike Blumenthal


Google Announces “Search On 2022” 


On September 28, Google will host a virtual event on the latest advances in search called Search On 2022. The company says that at the event, Google experts will offer insight into “how Google is reimagining its core information products to help people make sense of the world in more natural and intuitive ways.” Google is expected to discuss recent algorithm updates and forays into machine learning, improvements to the quality of featured snippets, and new content advisory warnings, among other search-related topics. The event will be livestreamed by Google here


Using Facebook Competitions to Build Engagement


Kristi Hines, writing for Search Engine Journal, offers advice on how brands can use Facebook competitions to bolster engagement and drive brand awareness. With competitions, brands can post a question or challenge and reward audiences with gifts and exclusive offers. 


Hines explains that brands must adhere to Facebook’s guidelines when running competitions, which require that clear rules be made available and that promotion only take place within the Facebook Page, Group, or Event hosting the competition. 


Brands should set goals when planning a competition, such as increased followers or promotion of a product or service. Such goals will help to define your activities. For instance, if your goal is to build engagement, create a competition that encourages audience participation.


Typical competition types are giveaways, sweepstakes, and contests. Each can be a powerful marketing tool if planned for and executed carefully, with goals designed to further real business outcomes. Hines offers many tips and tricks that are worth checking out. 


Instagram Testing Reel Topics


Instagram is testing a new feature for Reels that allows users to add hashtagged topics to their posted videos. The goal is to make it easier for content creators to reach users based on topics of interest. Presumably, topics added via the new feature will carry a greater weight than hashtags included in the description field. As of now, most users have the option to tag people, add location, or add a fundraiser to their Reels videos; topics is being tested as a new addition to this list of options. It’s likely that the new feature is a further bid on Instagram’s part to imitate the relevance signals that have made TikTok’s video feed so popular. 


An image showing how you can "select a topic" in the settings when you're uploading an Instagram Reel


 Courtesy Business of Apps


Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

Subscribe to Local Memo!


Signup to receive Local memo updates and the latest on localized marketing, delivered weekly to your inbox.