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E-commerce SEO for the Holidays: 6 Steps to Prepare, Manage, & Measure

26th November 2019The Botify TeamThe Botify Team

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner (and let's not forget about Christmas and Hanukkah). With the holidays come boundless opportunities for people to save money on gifts for their loved ones (and themselves!) and opportunities for e-commerce enterprise companies to generate massive amounts of revenue.

With more people searching the web, a potentially dramatic increase in visitors to your site, and your most popular products fluctuating in and out of stock, there’s not only a huge potential for sales but also a lot at risk. If there’s any time of year that SEO should be prioritized, it’s during the holiday season!

Follow our holiday SEO checklist to maximize revenue this season and make sure your products are reaching their potential buyers – whether they’re naughty or nice!

  1. Visit with the ghost of Black Friday past

Take a look at how you performed according to last year’s metrics. What type of content were people looking for most? Where did your site perform best? Evaluate your titles, meta-descriptions, and more to see what performed best (and worst). Keep these factors in mind when planning for this season.

As far as keywords go, it doesn’t hurt to see which keywords performed best; however, with Google’s recent BERT update, as long as your content is optimized properly, there are more opportunities for people to find your content outside of the limitations of optimizing for an individual keyword – which is great news for your products!

You should also collaborate with your paid search teams to analyze last year’s metrics more comprehensively. After all, insights into your paid copy can help you think about your on-page and SERPs copy as well.

  1. Dashing through your site, just one-click away from your heart’s delight

Make sure to check your site speed so that “slowness” doesn’t increase your bounce rate, turning potential customers away. Pay attention to your site’s “time to first byte” and “time to interactive” on your PDPs (product detail pages), search and category pages, top strategic pages (those that make your business the most money), and top-performing pages (those that get the most organic search impressions and traffic and rank for the most queries).

Your site speed will also influence how Google views your pages and how highly they rank in search engine results. With your users’ happiness_ and_ your rankings at stake, this is a no-brainer!

Additionally, many sites have issues causing them to go down each holiday season. Make sure you test your site beforehand to evaluate if it can handle the massive increase in traffic during the holiday season. We recommend conducting stress tests on servers in a testing environment so that they don’t harm the website while live.

  1. The best way to spread cheer is shouting it loud and clear!

In anticipation of the holidays, you should update your content. Make sure to do a site-wide update on your product descriptions, meta-descriptions, and titles to reflect the deals you have going on (25% off boots, for example). These details aren’t just helpful for conversions on-page but will also show up in search engine results, boosting your click-through-rate. Additionally, make sure to check your canonical tags in order to prevent duplicate pages and prioritize the proper pages for indexing.

Creating a landing page will help you outrank other websites, like coupon curators pulling information straight from your site. Plus, landing pages are a great entry point for potential customers, bringing them right to the good stuff! It’s best practice to repurpose your old Black Friday URL from 2018 and update it for 2019, rather than creating a new URL.

Lastly, make sure that your landing page is easy to find. Don’t bury the page in your XML sitemap only; instead, make sure it’s linked to prominently from the homepage and top navigation. This will make it easier for Google to find your landing page and will improve your user experience on the website.

  1. Manage your site’s inventory, and check the list twice!

With so many products on your site, it’s natural that some will go out of stock or rotate out of the inventory. You should implement a fool-proof system so that when searchers find a page that no longer exists or an item that’s out of stock, they’re provided with similar product options.

To do this, customize the 404 error pages that appear when an item goes out of stock so that they include similar product details and links. You could also have out of stock or expired product pages redirect (301 error code) to a similar product that the customer might like. Keep in mind, the customer might feel jaded if they arrive at one page expecting another. To avoid this, create a drop-down or pop-up window that explains that the original product they were looking for is no longer in stock. This will help avoid confusion for your customers while giving them another product recommendation. You can look at your 404s in Botify or Google Search Console and 301 redirect them to most relevant pages.

You should also use structured data to verify the products you have in stock and attract more potential buyers to these PDPs.

  1. May your visitors find an experience full of magic and cheer!

Make sure those buttons (especially CTAs) are working! The last thing you want is for a customer to click “purchase” and nothing happens. If this is the case, they might utilize your live chat (which you should definitely have!), or they might leave your site entirely. You should also check your internal links that navigate to your PDPs to drive sales.

It’s important to make sure your user experience (a.k.a. UX) is top notch. UX not only impacts your customers’ happiness but also affects how Google perceives your website. If Google catches a poor user experience, it will hurt your rankings and negatively affect traffic to your site.

  1. Mobile phones are ringing, joyous deals sweet and clear

Also on the note of UX, customers can become frustrated when they have to fill out forms on mobile (especially if they’re not functioning properly). If you are using forms, make sure you test them. As a happy alternative, you can use Apple Pay or another easy check-out method, but as always, make sure you test it properly before it’s prime time.

If you’re using a landing page for your Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, you can also consider using an accelerated mobile page (a.k.a. AMP). This will grant customers quicker access to the content they’re looking for and funnell them into the conversion area of the site.

So, there you have it! Our SEO checklist to keep your site running squeaky clean this season, and give your customers the best bargains they’re looking for.

Psst! We recently published a post from our partners AB Tasty on converting your traffic for the holidays. So, while you optimize, you can also implement tips and tricks to boost your conversions. Just an extra treat from us to you!

After all, the holidays come but once a year.