The autumn leaves are rolling in, signifying that now is a great time to beef up your SEO for the coming holidays. Most e-commerce websites receive more hits and sales in November and December than during any other time of the year. According to Comscore, online holiday shopping was up 14 percent in 2012, and the surge in online commerce is expected to increase even more during the 2013 holiday season. To make the most of the flood of buyers who will be hitting the internet this fall and winter, follow these five tips for seasonal SEO.
Create Keyword Rich Landing Pages
Since holiday shoppers will be searching for specific terms, the best way to get traffic is to create landing pages around specific keywords. One useful aspect about Google’s new Keyword Planner tool is that it not only returns results for specific terms, but for groups of similar keywords.
It also gives you historical performance information when you hover over the stats button. Here you can see that Google searches for terms related to “Christmas presents for kids” start to peak in October. You should also plug in known consumer shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For instance, “Black Friday toy airplane sale” or “Cyber Monday smartphone deals.” You can also get insights from Google Trends.
You can use this tool to look up historic information for your specific keywords, which will help you plan your promotions better. Publish your landing pages early with a “coming soon” message so that people can bookmark them and come back later.
Create Holiday-Specific Content
Content Marketing remains one of the best, low-cost ways for businesses to promote themselves online. The easiest way to do this is through a blog. A company’s blog is where you share about your industry, products, services, and company goings-on. It’s where consumers go for news and information that can help them solve problems.
Aside from text-based blog posts, there are other forms of content you can share, including:
Infographics, charts, and illustrations
Podcasts and guest podcasts
ebooks and special reports for download
Create content around holiday themes such as “Christmas decorating ideas” or “Great gift ideas for dad” (again, keyword research comes in handy here), but avoid creating run-of-the-mill content that we see every year. People want to see fresh content, so take some time to brainstorm on how to be unique while remaining relevant.
This is also a good opportunity to create deep links to your landing pages. Remember that the point of content marketing is not to self-promote, but to offer valuable information to your customers. Also, don’t forget to make your content easily shareable. Use high quality images that will catch a reader’s eye, and make share buttons visible at the top and bottom of blog posts.
After you’ve created new content and landing pages, it’s time to get some link juice. Do this via your email newsletter and social media accounts like Twitter and Pinterest. Because of its visual nature, Pinterest is particularly great for promoting gifts. Start a Pinterest board around your holiday promotions, complete with keyword sets in the title and description. Also, don’t forget to link back from your boards to your landing pages and other content. Backlinks are essentially how people spread online information through word of mouth, so make sure your content is stuff that people would want to talk about and share. Start talking about your coming holiday promotions early so as to generate buzz, and give your links time to spread around.
When creating a backlink profile, it’s important to remember not to engage in link scheming (see tip number five below). According to Google Webmaster guidelines, link schemes can include paying for native advertising (otherwise known as advertorials), engaging in large-scale guest posting, and using anchored keywords.
Run a PPC Campaign
Although PPC requires a budget, starting out is still much more affordable than traditional forms of advertising. Running a successful PPC campaign takes some time and planning, which is why companies often opt to hire outside agencies to handle it for them. However, going at it on your own is feasible. Most companies start out with Google Adwords and Yahoo/Bing adCenter, though there are also other networks to choose from. Start out by conducting research to see which keywords are best to rank for, then get to work on creating PPC ads that will make you stand out. See Hubspot’s recent article on creating PPC ads that people will want to click.
Do Some Clean Up
Have you reviewed Google’s Webmaster guidelines lately? This set of guidelines is what Google uses to determine which sites get rewarded for good SEO practices, and which get penalized for bad practices. This excellent resource at Feed the Bot highlights the most relevant aspects of the webmaster guidelines. Do an audit of your website (or hire someone to do it for you) to see if everything is in line with Google’s guidelines. That way you’re less likely to have the surprise of your life when your site is de-indexed. As they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
Fall is a prime time to revamp your SEO efforts to meet the coming holiday demand. It’s also a good time to reevaluate your brand and sales goals, since they must be in line with your online marketing efforts. The truth is, most e-commerce sites don’t put as much time into holiday preparation as they ought to. With good research and some earnest legwork, you can make your website holiday ready.