Why wait for the holiday frenzy? Start your SEO preparations today and unlock the full potential for holiday sales success during the festive season!
The holiday shopping season, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day, and other festivities, is fast approaching. In fact, Black Friday is just a little over 90 days away as of this message.
If your client or business relies on year-end holiday sales for revenue, there are compelling reasons why you should already be actively preparing your SEO campaigns for the holiday season:
- Indexing Takes Time: It can take up to eight weeks, or even longer, for a page to be indexed by search engines, assuming it gets indexed at all.
- Content Creation and Updates: Crafting or revising related content can be a time-consuming process that requires writing and approval.
- Consumer Research: Shoppers are becoming increasingly deliberate in their purchasing decisions, conducting more research before making a purchase.
Preparation for the seasonal sales period, especially if you intend to implement technical optimizations to stay competitive, ideally should begin in the first quarter of the year. Starting in the third quarter can be a bit of a sprint but is still feasible.
New pages, including those that have bounced between being live and returning 404 or 302 errors for extended periods, may take time to appear in Google’s index. This is often the case with seasonal pages if there’s no guidance to the contrary. In such cases, the page’s status has changed, and Google requires time to process this change.
While many pages get indexed within a week or less, it’s prudent to assume a conservative estimate of eight weeks or more. It’s crucial to understand that indexing is not the same as ranking, and achieving a top 10 ranking can take even longer.
Indexing has become a battleground for websites due to the emphasis on valuable and unique content by Google. Therefore, it’s essential to regularly update and maintain seasonal pages to build their authority over time.
If your business creates new pages annually for events like Black Friday or Christmas, consider adopting a more sustainable approach. Create evergreen pages and redirect historical pages with their links and authority to the new, evergreen counterparts. Although it’s ideal to keep these pages active year-round, legal or regulatory constraints may make this challenging.
To expedite indexing, you can strategically introduce internal links to the seasonal pages before the season officially begins. This helps signal their importance to Google, especially if you collaborate closely with merchandising or sales teams.
To ensure the continued indexing of seasonal pages (rather than being interpreted as soft 404 errors), consider the following suggestions:
- After the seasonal sales period concludes, update metadata to reflect this and include the upcoming year if relevant.
- Include a placeholder message that guides customers to ongoing deals with copy like “Our seasonal holiday sales may have ended, so explore our current deals,” accompanied by a link to the generic sales page.
- Maintain all internal links to the page that you can.
By proactively addressing these considerations, you can better position your website for success during the upcoming holiday shopping season.
Seasonal sales content goes beyond a simple product list page showcasing this year’s discounted items. While it may seem evident, sometimes the product or marketing teams overlook the essential integration required with content teams to create comprehensive seasonal buying guides, price comparison tools, incorporate social media campaigns, introduce fresh seasonal visuals, and more.
In addition to these considerations, it’s essential to conduct a thorough audit of your product pages to ensure they are optimized for consumer engagement. This optimization could encompass various aspects, such as:
- Image Compression: Verify that images are appropriately compressed. It’s worth noting that auto-compression tools, like those in Shopify, have limitations. If the original image is quite large (e.g., 5 MB), the compressed version on the website may still be relatively large (around 1 MB).
- On-Page Entities and Topics: Review on-page elements and topics covered using techniques like TF-IDF analysis and similar tools. Identify and address any content gaps to enhance the user experience.
- Rich Media: Incorporate rich supplemental media throughout the consumer journey. This includes videos, images, and links to informative content that educates and engages shoppers effectively.
- Schema Markup: Implement schema markup for product pages, including reviews, to enhance search engine visibility and present product information more comprehensively.
Moreover, emerging trends, such as the significant increase in “in-store” searches since the beginning of 2022, highlight the importance of considering cross-channel impacts. In this context, content isn’t solely about the textual aspect but also involves the technical optimization behind it. For instance:
- In-Store Integration: Explore the integration of in-store availability or “Click and Collect” functionality on the website to bridge the online and offline shopping experience.
- Tracking and Attribution: Implement a solution to track and attribute online interactions to in-store purchases within your CRM or analytics platform. This enables a more holistic understanding of consumer behavior.
It’s important to acknowledge that these technical optimizations may require time for justification and coordination with developers and other stakeholders. If you’re just beginning to address these aspects and they are critical to your strategy, it may be prudent to plan for their implementation as part of next year’s holiday season, rather than rushing them for the upcoming season. Taking a strategic and well-paced approach can yield better results and a more seamless customer experience.
Changing Consumer Trends
The landscape of shopping continues to transform and adapt, with a growing emphasis on research:
- In 2022, a significant 80% of holiday shoppers revealed that they conducted research before making their purchases.
- An impressive 74% of surveyed shoppers diligently planned their purchases well in advance.
Intriguingly, some individuals already have their holiday gift lists sorted out as early as May for the end of the year. This trend underscores the evolving nature of consumer behavior.
If your business hinges on the success of Black Friday sales, it’s prudent to assume that Black Friday shopping commences well before, and perhaps significantly ahead of, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States.
Furthermore, it’s not just consumers who are embarking on early preparations. A glimpse at the related news for Black Friday in August 2023 reveals fascinating trends:
- Third-party comparison and review platforms like Tom’s Guide have already posted their Black Friday predictions.
- Esteemed media publications like GQ have published their “best of” Black Friday articles.
- Several prominent retailers, including Best Buy, Macy’s, and Samsung, conducted “Black Friday in July” sales.
It’s evident that succeeding in seasonal sales requires more than merely publishing a page when merchandising goes live on the website a week or two before the sale. To thrive in this realm, it’s essential to justify the groundwork, navigate stakeholder management effectively, and grasp the time required for project completion. This is particularly vital for a prosperous Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas sales season.
Your objectives should encompass:
- Granting Google the time needed to index your crucial pages and accompanying research-driven content.
- Affording your developers the necessary time to implement technical enhancements aligned with the best practices established in the last 12-18 months.
- Collaborating with go-to-market and other relevant teams to harmonize your promotional efforts with the current and anticipated consumer behaviors of your target market.
Admittedly, all these undertakings demand time and may contend with other more time-sensitive priorities. Therefore, it’s advisable to afford yourself some flexibility, diligently track your efforts and the time investments they require, and report on your achievements and the strategies employed.
This approach ensures that when you embark on similar initiatives in the subsequent year, both you and your stakeholders will possess a clearer understanding of the effort entailed and the resulting impact when cultivating authority for peak seasonal periods in an ecommerce business.
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