10 holiday SEO steps to get your eCommerce site ready for the shopping season
Ever launched your Black Friday deals, only for the influx of traffic to crash your site and cost you in sales? Or made changes to your site that end up negatively affecting your conversion rate right before the busiest shopping period?
It’s not uncommon for eCommerce business owners to think their site’s current SEO strategy can sustain mammoth holiday shopping periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
But if you’re not anticipating the big e-rush well ahead of time, you could be facing a mass exodus of visitors who will happily spend their money elsewhere.
The solution? Prep your business - and your site - to make the most of the spending season and boost your sales.
To help you out, we’ve pulled together 10 effective steps (drawn from experiences with both our clients and our own eCommerce sites) to make sure your Black Friday SEO is in fighting shape.
Here’s what this blog includes:
Check your staff and contractors’ holiday schedules
Plan site migrations and major updates accordingly
Identify and update any existing holiday content
Create new Black Friday and Cyber Monday pages
Create new discounts and sales content
Prepare and test any on-site interstitials
Make sure your local business listings are up to date
Form a plan for out of stock products
Create an FAQ or Q&A page
Ensure your platform can handle traffic increases
Need some help creating your holiday SEO strategy? Get in touch for a personalised plan.
Ideally, your holiday SEO strategy should be similar to your long-term SEO strategy: your content should be current and well-optimised. Your site should offer great user experience. And your technical SEO should be in ship-shape.
But there are also some holiday-specific strategies to bear in mind. Shoppers behave differently during the holidays (which start earlier and stretch longer each year), and your site should be tailored to their needs and wants.
So to help achieve this, here are 10 effective holiday SEO tips we recommend for eCommerce sites:
1. Check your staff & contractors’ holiday schedules
Before you dive into creating a holiday-specific SEO strategy, you need to know when your team will be free to help you out. Whether you’ve got your own in-house SEO specialists or you work with an eCommerce digital marketing agency, you both need to know timelines and projects in plenty of time.
If you don’t, you risk your optimisations lagging behind.
It’s also worth reaching out to your website development team. If there’s something you want to implement or test specific site changes before the shopping season, you’ll need their help (and time). Developers are busy people, so you’ll need to get on their to-do list in plenty of time to ensure your site updates are complete and in working order long before the season hits.
2. Plan site migrations & other major updates accordingly
Got plans to migrate your site or carry out other big site updates? Now’s the time to do it - but only if you can get it fully launched before the holidays.
Because there’s two challenges if you launch your changes later in the year: you’ve got less time to fix and tweak issues, and fewer opportunities to test your site on shoppers.
Read more: Website Migrations Dos and Don’ts for SEO
3. Identify & update any existing holiday content
Instead of immediately creating new content from scratch, does your site already have existing holiday content that you can freshen up for this season?
If so, update your old holiday gift guides with new and customer-favourite products, rewrite your seasonal copy with your social media specialist(s), and switch up your site’s images to reflect the holiday season.
Of course remember to do your keyword research and optimisation, as well as analyse your backlinks.
4. Create new Black Friday & Cyber Monday pages
If you don’t have any existing holiday content to work from, start creating new (and optimised) Black Friday and Cyber Monday pages to ensure they have time to rank before the shopping starts.
To help generate more sales, here’s some great holiday SEO content examples to create:
Holiday gift guides and online catalogues
‘Best of’ products or sales lists (eg. ‘Best Black Friday Deals 2022’)
Product comparisons and reviews
Holiday competitions (also great for newsletter sign-ups)
Holiday gift landing pages (like The Body Shop’s below)
While your long-term content marketing strategy should always help your customers find and learn more about your products, it’s even more essential during the holiday period.
Remember: most shoppers are purchasing based on what other people want, not their own interest in the product.
5. Create new discounts and sales content
Like the previous point, you can also create temporary content for any Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales you plan to run.
With this strategy, your first priority is to generate holiday revenue, as SEO may come afterwards (especially if you plan to remove the deals from your site later on).
To get a good balance of both approaches, think about creating an evergreen ‘Discounts and Sales’ page on your site (evergreen content is content that has a constant level of sustained interest).
By doing this, you can continually update it throughout the year with your current promotions, include it into your link building strategy and optimise it for customers who are specifically searching for site promotional codes.
6. Prepare & test any on-site interstitials
If you’re planning on promoting holiday discounts and sales on your site, make sure you prepare and test any pop-ups, slide-ins, plugins and other interstitials in plenty of time. You’ll want to check they work far enough in advance and set them live at the right time - or risk missing out on some big revenue.
Think about SEO factors like page speed, Core Web Vitals and other ranking factors to avoid any negative effects to your organic traffic. For such a big holiday shopping season, it’s worth working with your website developer to form a plan that minimises impacts on your SEO strategy and maximises visitor purchases.
7. Make sure your local business listings are up to date
If you’ve got a physical store, make sure your Google My Business listings clearly display your address and opening hours. And if your opening hours change during the holiday season, make sure that’s communicated. The last thing you want is frustrated customers turning up to a locked door with no notice.
Also think about the importance of local SEO. Make sure you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing, as this will give you control over your listed contact information in the SERPs. Another benefit is it features Google reviews, which can help boost your brand awareness.
8. Form a plan for out of stock products
Covid-19 caused a long-term supply chain disruption for lots of online businesses. While these issues will potentially be resolved before the next holiday season, you need to plan for the possibility that they won’t.
Talk to your suppliers and manufacturers in plenty of time to understand the current situation. Then decide what steps you (or you and your team) will take to prevent customers from shopping with your competitors if the product they want isn’t available.
Some of the basics we suggest include:
Enabling email notifications when products are back in stock
Internal linking to similar products
9. Create an FAQ or Q&A page
More customers visiting your site = more responses from customer service.
So fend off some of the repetitive questions with an FAQ or Q&A page that’s easily accessible and clearly displayed on your homepage (if you don’t already have one).
If you’ve already got one, make sure everything is completely accurate and up to date, and consider including some holiday-specific questions and answers, like discount cut-off times.
Use your FAQ or Q&A page to address some of your customers’ biggest (and most searched for) queries about your brand, including:
Shipping and return policies
Personal information use
10. Ensure your platform can handle traffic increases
Lastly, make sure your eCommerce site can handle that increased traffic during the busiest time of the year.
While there are lots of predictions for how this year’s online shopping season will go (take a look at Black Friday 2021’s performance), no one can say for certain how much shoppers will spend. So be prepared for the best possible outcome - that browsers will flood your site - and ensure your eCommerce platform can handle the influx of traffic.
Talk to your website developers or your eCommerce platform support team to find out what you can do to prevent a dreaded site crash.
Start preparing your holiday SEO campaign now
Your holiday SEO strategy isn’t something you can do overnight. It’ll take time to implement and start kicking in - and Google’s algorithm won’t work overtime just because it’s the holiday season. So if you want your site to attract and retain holiday shoppers, now’s the time to analyse your SEO strategy and start making optimisations.
Work with your digital marketing team or agency to highlight your top priorities before the holiday period and follow our steps above as guidance when figuring out your strategy.
Need some help (or just another set of eyes)? Simply get in touch with us. After all, we own and operate several eCommerce stores ourselves, so we know what it’s like.