The holidays are here! Which means holiday shopping has officially kicked into high gear with Black Friday this past friday and Cyber Monday this week. There are several different components to a successful holiday marketing campaign. In our last post we covered holiday social media do’s and don’ts and this week we’re providing you with the ultimate holiday SEO checklist. SEO is always important, but it’s necessary now more than ever. Data compiled by MineWhat.com found that 81% of shoppers conduct an online search before making an in-store purchase. Furthermore, consumers are projected to spend roughly $630 billion during the holiday shopping season this year. If you’re hope to get a slice of that revenue then it’s imperative you make your website visible in holiday search results. Follow this checklist and you can be rest assured your holiday sales season will be all the more merrier.

Make Changes ASAP

First, and foremost, any SEO changes you’re going to make should be made as soon as possible. Google takes time to scan your changes and update your search ranking. According to the 45 day rule, publishing your content a week before a major holiday will allow you to engage in 50% of the search engine traffic, while starting 45 days in advance will help you participate in over 90% of the search traffic.

 

While it’s a little late this year, it would be to your benefit for next year to create a holiday preview or holiday deals page 2 months in advance in order to start building SEO juice for holiday pages in relevant holiday search queries ahead of time. The Pier 1 page featured above serves as a great example.

Publish Holiday Content

In order to rank for holiday keywords, one of the easiest things to do is create pages or blog posts filled with holiday content. It’s a given many customers will be turning to Google for gift ideas, suggestions, and recommendations. You can intercept these searches and bring traffic to your site by writing a detailed holiday gift guide that includes your product or service (“The 10 Best Christmas Gifts For Your Mom.”) Keep content quality guidelines in mind as you write your posts. Your posts should be somewhere between 2,000 to 3,000 words long for best results. You’ll also want to optimize any holiday imagery you add to your content. Your images should include words like “Gift”, or “holiday” in their file name and the alt-tags should be optimized similarly to include holiday rich keywords. Google Trends and Google AdWords Keyword Research Tool are invaluable sources for brainstorming relevant keywords to include in your SEO strategy.

Google Trends keyword research

A quick search for “Gifts” in Google Trends reveals that rising gift related searches include “gifts for boyfriend,” and “gifts for girls” among others.

Optimize Your Landing Pages

The keywords you would normally optimize your landing pages for won’t cut it for the holiday season. Most customers will search a variation of normal queries with the addition of one or more of these terms:

  • Gifts
  • Deals
  • Free Delivery
  • Sales
  • Cyber Monday
  • Discounts
  • Black Friday
  • Free Shipping

To further optimize your landing pages you’ll want to research the most popular keywords in your industry and optimize for them with the addition of one or more of the keywords above.

Increase Your Loading Speeds

You’re probably already aware that loading speed is a key component in Google’s ranking algorithm. Increasing your site’s loading times will not only help you rank higher in serps, but it will also help you increase your conversions. According to Kissmetrics, even a one second delay in your site’s loading times will result in a 7% drop in conversions. To combat slow load times you should check your site using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. After inputting your website address PageSpeed Insights will return a list of recommended changes you should make to increase your load speeds.

Optimize Site Meta Tags

If you want searches to click into your website you have to entice them with your meta tags. It’s no secret holiday shoppers are attracted to deals and promotions. If you want to beat the competition, include any deals or promotions you offer in your title and description meta tags to improve organic click-through rate. According to Experian, the most sought after terms during the holiday season are:

  • Free shipping
  • Deal of the day
  • Discounts

Working those into your meta tags is a sure fire way to get a leg up on your competition.

Promote Customers Reviews

It’s no secret that positive reviews are great for business, especially during the holiday season. After analyzing data from several U.S. retailers the consumer content engine, Bazaarvoice Network, plotted the correlation between the number of positive reviews and an increase in sales across different industries. Their results can be found below. The results are based off of companies that went from having one review to 15 reviews with an increased product rating from 3.5 to 4.5 stars.

Bazaarvoice Marketing Data

Reviews send a strong trust signal to potential customers, but they also help with your search marketing efforts. Each and every new review a product receives adds more content to the page and expands the number of keywords a page could rank for. Therefore, you should start encourage customers to leave reviews by:

  • Including review requests in emails, invoices, and on the packaging
  • Providing clear instructions on how to leave a review
  • Displaying calls to action on product pages asking customers for feedback
  • Incentivizing customers to leave reviews in exchange for a small gift

Search through the reviews you have for reviews that say something along the lines of, “best gift ever,” or “the perfect gift for uncles.” These reviews are great because they’ll increase the probability that your page shows up for those terms. Take those reviews and try to find a way to display them prominently within your site. It’s extremely helpful for a shopper who’s wondering what would make a perfect gift to find a review for your product or service stating that it’s the perfect gift.

In conclusion

There’s no denying that the holiday season is the busiest time of year for both online and brick-and-mortar retailers. Don’t use this as an excuse to let your SEO performance slip through the cracks. SEO is vital in the digital era we live in. Your potential customers are online searching for the perfect gifts for their wife/husband/child/brother/sister/uncle/aunt/office secret santa, right now. You could be the answer to their searching, but only if you can get your business in front of those searchers via increased SEO. If your organic results are not what you’d hoped they’d be, you need to remember that the earlier you start making changes the faster you’ll start turning your ranking around.

If you need help building your holiday/local SEO digital marketing strategy, we’re more than happy to share more secrets with you. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.