It still feels a bit like summer outside, but here we are telling you to think about Christmas or Thanksgiving. What’s up with that? Well, it’s never early enough to start planning for the most wonderful time of the year. So, if you have an online shop, please start thinking about the Christmas holiday shopping season already!
Ranking in Google isn’t something you do overnight, and that is why it’s never too early to start. Remember, the end of the year is approaching rapidly. Don’t forget, Black Friday (27 November) and Cyber Monday (30 November) are kicking off this year’s holiday shopping season. You can set up a lot of content for all occasions. Here, we’ll go over some things you can do to get prepared!
Holiday shopping is different in 2020
As with everything in 2020, the holiday shopping season is going to be different. The past couple of months, we’ve seen COVID-19 spread across the planet and there’s still no end in sight. People are concerned about the future. Many have lost their jobs. As such, it’s hard to predict what will happen exactly making it hard to plan for.
While shops are open in most places, it looks like a large part of your audience will be hesitant to come to your store this year. 2020 was the year online shopping reached new heights — and that trend isn’t slowing down any time soon. So, prepare for a holidays shopping season that’ll be an online event for many.
This year, there’s a big chance that most retailers will only offer online deals. There’s a very good reason for this, of course, shops want to prevent huge gatherings of people hunting for that one exclusive deal. Of course, in-store or curbside pick up will prove popular.
So, if you don’t need to have people come to your store on a specific day, why not extend the online deals with a few days? Don’t be surprised when the holiday shopping season starts well before Black Friday and keeps going for weeks. This makes sense, because if you do want to get those people to your stores, it would be good to spread these over a longer period.
If anything, keep in mind that shoppers will do most of their shopping — or preparations for that — online. In any case, it isn’t getting any easier!
Start preparing in time
Bear in mind that it takes a while for content to rank. So, take that into account. A safe amount of time that’s often suggested is 45 days. Of course, you can always start preparing earlier, but to keep up with the competition, try to get your content in gear at least 45 days ahead. Once you’re on track, your schedule could look like this:
- 45 Days in advance: Post your promotion to your website calendar and post a save-the-date post on social media and in your email newsletter).
- 7 Days in advance: Post an upcoming events/promotions post to social media, and via email. Try to encourage other (small) businesses to share it with their followers.
- 1 Day in advance: Post a reminder event post on social media.
Keeping these steps and time frames in mind is a good rule of thumb, but I think you can do a lot more in terms of setting up new pages and renewing old ones. Let’s look at a few practical tips.
1. Set up holiday season gift pages
First, we need to think about what kind of category or special landing pages make sense for the upcoming holidays. You can always set up pages like ‘Best gifts for fathers/girls/teens’, ‘Newest deals for your 6/10/12-year-old’, ‘Best mom/friend/grandparents discounts’ or even think along the lines of ‘Top 10 gifts for outdoor/skiing/parasailing enthusiasts’ and ‘Top 3 deals for stay-at-home moms/dads/etcetera’. Just to name a few.
Make sure these gift landing– or category pages, the page title, and the meta description fit the upcoming holiday season. Obviously, these gift pages can be re-used for Valentine’s Day and your summer sale. Find (old) content that fits the holidays, rewrite titles and meta descriptions to match the upcoming season and chances are you won’t have to do that much work to get them up to date.
To increase the chances of your gift pages to rank, boost their internal linking structure. You can link the aforementioned all-year holiday season pages to, for instance, specific Christmas landing pages (‘Top 7/10/25 gifts for under the Christmas tree’) to boost these when the time has come. That could be around the 45-day mark, but I wouldn’t mind stretching that to 60 days. There has to be enough time for Google and all the other search engines to follow your links and find your specific holiday season landing pages in time.
2. Promote on social media
Social media like Twitter and Pinterest (though this is technically a visual search engine) can play a huge role in the success of your (online) holiday sale. Take Pinterest, for instance. Raise your hand if you or your spouse has a Pinterest wish list? Most of us have that, right? If you manage to get the right products on people’s wish lists, that can have a positive impact on your sales.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to share your holiday season gifts pages on Facebook and Instagram as well. In the previous section, I’ve mentioned top 10 lists. We all know these still work pretty well on social media.
Similarly, I’d recommend setting up holiday gift guides and sharing these. Create a nice overview for all kinds of gifts for a plethora of people. ELLE has a page like that, and so do more companies.
Read more: Social media optimization with Yoast SEO »
3. Introduce new products
I’d also like to emphasize that this is an excellent time to pitch new products. If you know of potential best-sellers for the upcoming holiday season, be sure to start writing content about these products now. Think about how tech sites write about concept iPhones, features that might be added and things like that. The more you write about new products upfront, the more likely the sales pages for these products will rank when it matters. Obviously, you should link all pages that you made in advance to that one main page you’ll set up when the product is released and available to buy. Treat that page like cornerstone content.
4. Add structured data
When adding or changing your product pages to fit the season, don’t forget to optimize them. Check, for instance, whether you’ve added structured data to your product pages. Because rich snippets for products in the search results, showing ratings and prices, can give you an edge to your competitor. Our WooCommerce SEO plugin or Local SEO plugin can help you do this.
Keep reading: Structure data with Schema.org: the ultimate guide »
5. Re-use content
There’s no shame in serving old wine in a new bottle. If you have a Black Friday guide for 2019, feel free to re-use that in 2020. Update the year, and update details like popular brands and popular products for that year. If the slug of your URL is
/black-friday-guide-2019/, change that to
/black-friday-guide-2020/ around August next year and redirect the old URL to the new one. No need to create a totally new page. It would be a waste of nice inbound links not to re-use that old URL. Of course, this is even easier if you simply don’t include the year in the URL.
In the months before the holiday season, you could even simply repost popular posts from last year (a bit adjusted or updated if needed) on social media. Valentine’s Day might even become Secret Santa. Cyber Monday might match daddy’s favorites for Christmas. These are probably small adjustments; perhaps just adding ‘this Christmas’ to a meta description or title will do.
6. Optimize for speed and mobile
It’s a good idea to check and optimize your website for speed and mobile. These are recommendations you’ll get from any SEO blog or consultant, everyday all day. Mobile, mobile speed and speed in general, are becoming more important every year (or day, for that matter). When preparing your website for the holiday season, this is a good a time as any to re-check your mobile website and site speed and update or improve these, if possible. As a start, look at Google’s new Core Web Vitals and use these to improve your site. Here are five ways to boost your Core Web Vitals scores.
Keep on reading: How to check site speed »
7. Create a measurement plan
All set? Don’t forget to make a measurement plan so you can analyze your success. Write down all your plans and think about how to track all your actions. This is key if you want to know what to focus on next year. For detailed instructions on how to analyze your Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Christmas shopping, read Annelieke’s post with 5 tips to measure your holiday sales success.
And when the holiday season is over?
How to handle the product pages of holiday gift sets after the holidays are over? Even if the gift set or product was a great success, and you want to offer it again next year, it’ll take a while for the page to be relevant again. So, what’s the best way to deal with these pages in the meantime?
Watch Joost’s answer to that in this video!
Conclusion on holiday season SEO
In short, now’s the time to buckle down and start writing holiday gift pages and content on new products. And to begin planning your social media promotion and analytics. You can never start too early when your online business depends on the holiday season. Be prepared; start now!
Read more: eCommerce usability: the ultimate guide »