The 2021 holidays are fast approaching, and there’s not much time left to get your site or eCommerce store SEO-ready. Thankfully, the best tips and methods to get your store in shape are extensions of the efforts you do year-round. It’s all about updates, refreshes, and checking what’s in place.
Sales continue to explode each year-end holiday season. And with 2021 looking to be the best yet, here are a few core tidying up tips to get you ready for the sales season and beyond.
Leverage past data for holiday keywords
The first place to start is with your core SEO tactics. First, review your site for what’s working and what isn’t. Next, check keyword optimization and general practices. Then, start adjusting for the right holiday-themed keywords for your sales. Of course, the best place to start that effort is in the Google Search Console.
What’s different now is that you want to refine the Search Console to understand what changed during the previous holiday season,’ said Alex Selwitz, Marketing Manager for Red Stag Fulfillment. Look at that data to see if there are any strong increases around a specific keyword. Remember to look for queries online in the holiday season, like ‘Black Friday sale,’ to check if customers are after a certain type of sale or deal. And if you notice an area where ad impressions were clicked more, double down on it and think about using those keywords to optimize your sales pages.
It’s also good to check for longtail keywords in all the keyword tools you use. For example, you might discover that people ask different questions around the holidays. Perhaps customers use different terms for your products as seasons change. That’ll support your landing pages and can be helpful for blogs too.
When you’ve got that keyword research done, don’t forget to edit page titles accordingly,’ said Selwitz. That’s what Google shows, and having the right holiday keywords can improve your clickthrough rate. For example, listing something as ‘Desk Chair Deals’ likely won’t be as compelling to your audience as ‘Black Friday Desk Chair Deals.’
Build pages now
Some SEO work needs to happen early so that you can have everything tested and ready to go long before anyone is thinking about holiday shopping. One of the best ways to get that done now is to go ahead and build everything you need. That way, you’ll only have to change a setting or two once you’re ready to run a holiday campaign.
Use those keywords you’ve identified to build pages directed at each potential topic. If you’re working with longtail keywords, consider creating a quick page for each option, discount, deal, brand name, and other elements you’ve got. Build with as much SEO knowledge as you can and get them on your site as soon as possible.
If you have an ad campaign that will run before and during your holiday deals, you might want to duplicate it in your campaign tool. This way, you can set the second version to point to these holiday pages as soon as the redirects are over, without needing to remember and go into your campaign platform.
Make deals and landing pages evergreen
After you do all that work to build out your pages, make the most of it all year long. That means you want to build out your sales pages for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other specific sales keywords you’ve identified. Then, keep them.
After the 2021 holiday is done, go back to redirecting and hiding those pages from customers, but not from Google. Instead, create your ‘Cyber Monday Deals’ page and update the title for 2022 when this year’s event is over. That’ll save you some effort and makes it easy to adjust based on what worked in the previous year.
When the time comes to use these pages again, you need to update content around the offers. Then, make SEO adjustments to respond to whatever Google and other engines prefer that year. This way, you perform well based on following the rules, and you still get credit for any links you’ve earned to that page. Plus, it’s often easier to update and adjust than to create a new page from scratch and try to start getting backlinks and other SEO benefits when everyone else is too.
And if you want to make something functionally evergreen but adaptable, consider building out one core ‘deals’ page. Then, you can use that link across campaigns throughout the year and redirect whenever you want to use a particular, temporary landing page, like one for Thanksgiving or Valentine’s Day.
Think beyond the sales page
Shipping and fulfillment were a significant challenge in 2020 due to the growth in eCommerce and pandemic-related delays. Unfortunately, that looks to be the case for 2021, from demand spikes beginning already to planned rate increases from every major carrier in the U.S. Companies need a plan to address these concerns, and SEO plays a role in how you explain that plan your customers.
Core questions will involve your shipping policies, return policies, how long you expect orders to take, and any fees or added charges. You’ll tackle most of that in your existing FAQ documents or pages. If not, you’ll want to get that together immediately. Finally, highlight what you’re doing to make the experience better for customers, whether expanding free shipping in a way you can afford or using multiple carriers to reduce the risk of delays.
After your answers are codified in a single document, it’s time to crank up the SEO work on that page. You want to be the first results in Google and, if you have an internal search tool, have your FAQ be the top result there. When someone tries to see your shipping policy or asks about delays, you’re at risk of complaints, critics, or other stores are the top results.
The secondary benefit of this work is that you’re going to ensure policies are up to date. This is a perfect way to check your team’s work or realize that you need to communicate with your warehouse or fulfillment partner to provide the kind of information that avoids customers asking for refunds.
Flex your tools
Most content teams now use services like SEMrush or SurferSEO to generate content plans and templates for SEO-friendly posts. Fire these up and look at their recommendations around different holiday topics, keywords, and more. Typically, tools like these come with brand monitoring and competitor tracking features that help you understand your reach and where others excel.
Use all the assistance provided, not just on your content strategy. Look for recurring keywords across different tests and build out your own keyword and research lists from these content suggestions. You’ll get a bigger picture of the current landscape and may identify what a specific page needs.
If you’re struggling with SEO on a sales page that you need to perform incredibly well, create multiple templates and research items around it. Refine and build it out for general SEO best practices and what makes compelling content.
Topic research and content templates should validate the campaigns you’re running and keywords you’re targeting for holiday SEO and beyond.
Go back to the basics
The final thing to do for SEO around holiday sales is to start looking beyond the holiday. Yes, that’s a little bit of an evasion of the holiday goal, but it’s essential. If your product pages and landing pages don’t have a solid SEO foundation, tweaks for ‘Christmas 2021’ aren’t going to matter much. So instead, use this time to audit your site and keep yourself in line with the latest white hat best practices.
There’s a lot to cover foundationally, so here are some of your biggest targets:
- Check your most common internal links to ensure they’re working and sending people to the best possible location
- Add links for key sales, FAQ, and support pages
- Address any 404 errors, 301 redirects, and broken links
- Use tools to review your keywords and avoid stuffing
- Test load times on your top pages and remove anything non-essential
- If you’re updating for a specific holiday, replace images or update the keywords in the alt text
- Ensure you’re being indexed by search engines and directly add pages that aren’t displaying as indexed
- Review page titles and meta descriptions to ensure you’ve got helpful content there
Those are some of the basics to get you started and help fire up your brain. Stay on top of these core elements, and you’re in good shape to reliably update your site for holiday 2021 SEO needs. But, of course, that work should also keep you mobile-friendly.
Remember that holiday 2021 SEO is just an extension of your regular SEO work. A strong foundation puts you in the best place to have a successful adaptation when you need it. Good luck and happy selling.