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‘Tis the season… to get your holiday SEO marketing all wrapped up and ready to jingle!
While nobody’s quite ready for eggnog, carols, twinkling lights and mistletoe just yet (except that one friend – everybody has one!), if you haven’t started thinking about adapting your SEO strategy for holiday seasonality yet, you’re actually a little late to the party.
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday looming, and Christmas hot on their heels, if you have an online store, or are in the business of e-commerce of any description, these last three months of the year are likely your biggest boom period. Making sure your site, social media, and marketing plans are in great SEO shape for the holidays, customized specifically to those holidays, could be crucial to your bottom line. Which is why being late to this particular party could put a real damper on your festive spirit…and your own gift-giving budget.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to avoid SSAD (seasonal SEO affective disorder) and improve your holiday sales prospects by spreading some seasonal SEO joy.
Read on for your quick-fix guide to holiday season SEO – what it is, why it’s important, and the top five tips to holly, jolly good holiday SEO (and sales). (Just think of us as Santa’s little SEO helpers.)
What is ‘Holiday SEO’?
Holiday SEO, or seasonal SEO, is the practice within general SEO for marketing whereby you:
- Adapt and optimize your website content and other online marketing efforts,
- to be more specific to particular holidays,
- to take advantage of potential sales related thereto.
This means finding, and using relevant, holiday-themed, seasonal-specific, and end-of-year keywords wherever it makes sense to do so.
Why is ‘Holiday SEO’ Important?
We’re just going to dangle these carrots in front of your nose and leave them there:
- Internet Retailer’s ‘Holiday e‑commerce 2018 data analysis’ on the 2017 and 2018 Thanksgiving Day-Cyber Monday shopping period (including Black Friday) saw spending during this five-day period increase nearly 20%.
- 60% of consumers plan to spend more than half of their holiday spend online.
The key takeaways here? 1. There’s (still) big money spent in and around the holidays; and 2. An increasing amount of that money is spent online. To get your stocking (read: bank account) filled up with some of that, you need to shape up your seasonal SEO.
Top Five Holiday Season SEO Tips
While it’s true that SEO (the good, lasting kind of SEO) needs time, constant monitoring, patience and nurturing to take hold, it’s never too late to improve on your SEO efforts. And when it comes to holiday SEO, every little bit can go a long way. (That said: DO implement these tips sooner rather than later.)
There are always opportunities to make last-minute seasonal SEO work for you. You just need to know where to look. Here are our top five holiday season SEO tips.
1. Give the Gift of Great Content
This is not a best kept secret, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, it’s not something only SEOs know and keep to themselves: content is key when it comes to SEO success. If you haven’t already, now is the time to start publishing your holiday content. Whether that comes in the form of a blog on your site with internal links pointing to existing product pages; creating new holiday-specific product or category pages; or contributing gift-guide or holiday-related content to other relevant websites doesn’t matter. Do one, do them all, but do something. And do it right now. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
1a. Create Holiday-Specific Landing Pages
By creating an entirely new section or category on your website, completely dedicated to holiday gifting, holiday deals, special offers and promotions, you are giving yourself your best shot to succeed in the seasonal SEO madness. Not only does this give you a place to play in the holiday sector that doesn’t diminish or take away from your current website and SEO you’ve built up there, it’s an easily-accessible place to send holiday shoppers with the will to convert. It’s also an excellent way to get your product detail pages closer to your homepage and on the radar of search bots more quickly. By putting these pages front and centre, SEO bots can crawl and index that content faster than if they were buried deep in your website.
Do: Add these new landing pages to your XML sitemap as well as your site’s navigation. This way not only will you get new traffic from search queries related to holiday shopping, you will also have a way for returning or other customers to your site to know about, and access, your holiday deal pages.
Do: Make your landing pages, and associated holiday keywords, very specific or niche. ‘Best gifts for teenage girls’; ‘Top deals for stay at home moms’; ‘Greatest special offers for new dads’. Also be sure to include holiday-related keywords on these pages. ‘Black Friday Deals’; ‘Cyber Monday Deals’; ‘Black Friday Discounts’; ‘Christmas Specials’; ‘Last minute Christmas deals’; ‘Gift Guides’ etc.
Do: Make sure all the metadata (titles, H1s, image alts, etc) matches the category or product, as well as the specific holiday season in question.
1b. Find Your Top Landing Pages, Then Holiday-fy Them
Using your Google Analytics Landing Page Report find your top-performing landing pages, then use their power to boost your holiday efforts by running your holiday specials on them. Add a banner, a link within content, a great big blazing red flag if you must, but do include links to your holiday promotions, deals, products and pages.
1c. Recycle Killer Content
Your 2017 gifting guide knocked it out of the park? Re-use it! No judgement – in fact, the smart SEOs applaud you! Simply update the year, any changes in products and pricing, as well as all the metadata (for example, make sure your URL slug is updated to include current year, make sure your description is updated etc.), then put that winner back out there in the race!
2. Get Jolly With Your Keyword Research
If you’re publishing holiday-specific content, hoping to rank well in seasonal searches, you’re going to need holiday-specific keywords. Which means holiday-specific keyword research.
To stand out amongst the millions of others trying to perform the same seasonal SEO magic, you’re going to want to get really niche in your offering and dig deeper into search terms where you actually have a shot!
Here, you can use the power of Google to help you out: Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner are both powerful tools which help you see what’s trending where seasonally and by month, as well as ranking difficulty, which helps you see what you can target for the biggest chance of seasonal SEO success. Both tools will also give you related queries too allow you to come up with ideas for alternative keywords.
In short, let Google play Santa here and help you reap seasonal joy in the SEO sense.
3. Give Your Website the Gift of Health
If you aren’t using tools like Google Search Console to do regular checkups on the health of your website, then shame on you. Now’s the time to put that right.
With the increased traffic around the holidays, you want to make sure your site is performing optimally. Plus, holiday shoppers tend to be in a mad rush, and trust us when we tell you: if your website isn’t performing well and keeping up with their fever to get the best deal, they’re not going to stick around.
By performing a health check on your site, you can catch any SEO glitches that might be occurring, and keep your customers onsite and ultimately converting. Here’s a quick hit list of site checks to perform:
- Load Time: If you’ve created new landing pages, make sure that they load in under 2 seconds at most (preferably 1 second). While you’re at it, check the speed across the rest of your website.
- Mobile Friendly: Are your new landing pages mobile friendly? Test them here. Why? Consider this: according to Digital Commerce 360, smartphones generated $38.8 billion in sales from November 1st to December 31st, 2018, with $11.2 billion being the result of online sales from tablets. Holiday spending statistics in 2018 showed that smartphones brought in the majority of web traffic, with 51% of the holiday traffic share, up from 46% in 2017.
- Broken Links: Don’t lose out on a sale by linking to a dead product page. Check across your site for broken links using something like com. Then fix them.
- Redirects: If you’re re-using landing pages keep the URLs the same or if you must change them, always set up a 301 redirect to the new page. Also, if you think you are likely to run out of products during the holiday season, make sure you have redirect strategy in place to link them to related products.
- Checkout Process: Make your checkout process as easy as possible to avoid Scrooge Syndrome: i.e., frustration and cart abandonment. Reduce the number of checkout pages; reduce the amount of information that needs to be filled out; provide guest checkout options; and make sure every stage of the process works.
4. ‘Tis the Season to be Social
Can anyone say Pinterest? Around the holidays, social media becomes social media on steroids. Everyone is looking for the best deals, the newest, hottest products, the greatest gift guides, and sharing wish lists with friends, family and Santa like this is their last holiday on earth.
You can leverage this madness by sharing your own Top Ten gift lists, gift guides, and other holiday-specific content, couched in clever must-have terms, across all your social media channels.
Do: Make sure your posts are picture heavy and easy on the eyes.
Do: Create some gift guides specific to certain niches, then share those on relevant channels.
Do: Link to attractive landing pages, which make the process from there to ‘Buy Now’ the obvious path!
5. Measure Your Holiday SEO Success
You’ve done the work, now you need to see if your seasonal SEO efforts are actually working for you!
Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console allow you to access a ton of information in a selection of reports which will help you identify which of your holiday landing pages, or other pages as the case may be, have been the most successful in your holiday SEO efforts. Using these, you can check things in real time like:
- Traffic by total visitors
- Click-through rate
- Landing page URL
- Your cart URL
- Your checkout URL, and more.
This real-time analysis of holiday-specific URLs etc allows you to see where things are working and where things aren’t working. This, in turn, provides you with a roadmap to exactly the right place to check why things aren’t working. For example, if you just sent out a social post including a link to your Top 10 Gift Guide page but you don’t see a single visitor from that, perhaps you added the wrong link. Or, if you see lots of people in the Cart URL but no actual sales, perhaps something isn’t working in your checkout process. By measuring, in real time, what is and isn’t working, you can amend, tweak and adjust throughout the holiday season to improve your sales. Because, to mangle the original phrase, it ain’t over until the fat man in the red suit sings.
More than this, by measuring what is and isn’t working this year, you can use this information to amend and improve your strategies for even better holiday SEO success next year. Joy to the worldwide web.
Need some help with your holiday season SEO? Don’t succumb to SSAD (Seasonal SEO Affective Disorder)! Our experts have seasonal SEO all wrapped up. Call 1-888-262-6687 or email 1st on the List at firstname.lastname@example.org today.