As we move towards December, eCommerce SEO is going to play a big part in deciding how many completed orders your website receives between now and the end of the year.
The autumn months are a crucial time for Christmas SEO campaigns. This is the part of the year when you can have the biggest impact on your rankings and conversion rates for festive products and services.
With the events of 2020 likely to make this a bumper year for online Christmas shopping, there has never been a better time to invest in eCommerce SEO campaigns – so here are our 12 top tips for Christmas SEO.
1. Keyword research
Any good eCommerce SEO campaign starts with keyword research and understanding several factors, including:
- The number of people searching for each keyword or phrase
- Your current ranking in the search results for that query
- Any competitors who rank highly for the same query
Not all keywords have equal value. For example, you might want to rank highly for queries relating to your bestselling or highest-priced products, but not worry so much about stocking fillers and ‘pocket money’ products that don’t mean as much to your total profits.
Good keyword research forms a firm basis for an overall SEO campaign and is important for both organic search rankings and PPC campaigns.
2. Non-keyword factors
Ranking value comes from a broad range of different factors, not all keyword-related. For on-page SEO content, some of the other things to keep in mind include:
- Page load speed
- Quality of content
- Content length
In general, you’ll find your pages rank more highly in the search results if they are longer, contain well-researched or insightful content, written well, and fast to load.
For Christmas eCommerce SEO campaigns, that might mean publishing more gift guides that describe multiple products in detail, rather than short individual pages that only offer a brief overview of one product each.
Find out more about technical SEO.
3. Bricks and mortar
If your eCommerce website corresponds to a bricks-and-mortar shop, make sure customers can find you ‘in the real world’ if it’s appropriate to do so.
That means updating your Google My Business listing and including basic information like your address and opening hours on your website.
As part of your SEO campaign in the run-up to Christmas, you might want to make sure you have the necessary microdata code in your pages so the search engines can recognise your business information and include it in their results.
You can also add location-based keywords to your on-page SEO content for Christmas campaigns, which can help you to rank when people search for products in your local area.
A mobile-friendly website is essential if you want to rank highly in 2020 and beyond, as Google now take a ‘mobile-first’ approach to ranking sites.
That means you should have a mobile template or, ideally, a completely responsive website design that scales well to smaller screens and potentially does not display complex page elements if they take too long to load on a mobile data connection.
Luckily for an eCommerce site, you are likely to make your revenues from sales, and not from advertising, so you should have the opportunity to provide a sleek, fast site design to customers who visit on a smartphone or tablet.
5. Audience segmentation
Just as keyword research matters, so does audience research. As you build up more analytics data, you can start to segment your audience.
Do you see different results from customers who live near your physical shop? Do mobile customers view different products or place different orders than those visiting on a desktop computer?
By identifying specific demographic trends, you can target groups differently – even displaying different content on your mobile site to capitalise on that insight.
6. Regular content
A regular content schedule has multiple benefits. It’s easier to plan ahead when you know roughly when each page, blog post or article will be published, so you can decide your page titles and topics well in advance and do additional keyword research if necessary.
Frequently published content shows that your website is alive and kicking – and Google, in particular, will often rank sites more highly if it is clear that they are updated more often.
You don’t have to stick to a rigid schedule. In fact, you might want to try publishing content at different times of day, or different days of the week, and see what brings in the most traffic.
Find out more about why creative content matters.
7. Landmark dates
There are several landmark dates for eCommerce in the run-up to Christmas each year, which have grown in importance in recent years.
Even if you’re in the UK, it’s useful to know when Thanksgiving falls in the US, as it’s followed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, both of which have become huge red-letter days for British ecommerce operators too.
Be ready with your SEO campaign as these dates approach. In 2020 Black Friday falls on November 27th, so you have about eight weeks from the start of October to publish relevant content, whether that’s SEO blogs, landing pages or supporting material like marketing emails.
8. Reactive content
The best content is sometimes produced on impulse – you might hear a news story and want to add an article about it to your blog, for example.
You can allow for this in SEO campaigns, or add any such content as an additional page, especially if you work with a web marketing agency who can produce the extra content relatively quickly.
It’s worth considering this because major news stories can generate large amounts of search traffic, and it’s unlikely many of your competitors will have highly relevant content published on their websites as soon as the story breaks.
9. Industry trends
A key content idea for eCommerce sites in the run-up to Christmas is to look out for industry trend reports, which are common towards the end of the year.
The obvious example is toy trends, which can help you decide which products to feature front and centre on your site.
Alternatively, look out for Christmas campaigns from your main suppliers and big brands in your industry, as you may be able to tap into the extra traffic these generate.
10. New Year and January sales
If your products are not just for Christmas, give some thought to producing content to support your SEO efforts through the post-Christmas period, including the rest of the holidays up to New Year’s Day and into the January sales.
For maximum impact, you need to publish content with enough time for the search engines to discover, crawl and index it, and for this to filter through to your rankings too.
So if you get a good number of sales around New Year’s and early January, consider making this a feature of your pre-Christmas content schedule, even if you publish those pages in a way that prevents them from distracting human visitors from your Christmas-themed content.
You shouldn’t make content visible only to search engine robots, but you could make sure it doesn’t appear on your homepage or on the main index page of your blog, at least until the last of your Christmas content has served its purpose.
11. Relevance of results
The relevance of your search results can influence the type of content you choose to feature on your landing pages.
For example, a customer searching for a very specific term might be immediately ready to make a purchase, whereas someone searching for a broader category query, rather than a specific product name, might respond better to a gift guide or other more general landing page.
You can incorporate different specificities of content into your Christmas eCommerce SEO campaign so that the more relevant your landing page is to the search query, the more immediately it offers a buying opportunity to the shopper.
12. A/B and multivariate testing
A/B testing and multivariate testing are a little more advanced, if you want to push your SEO campaign even further.
They involve producing two or more slightly different versions of a page, and selecting one version to load each time somebody visits your website.
Ultimately the aim is to track the different versions via your analytics data, and retain the best performing version of the page.
It’s not just a good way to optimise a single page; it can also provide insights you can apply across your eCommerce site, for a much broader boost to your rankings, conversion rate and order size in the run-up to Christmas.
So, what are the important points to remember? Here’s a recap:
- Know your target keywords and other ranking factors
- Have an eCommerce SEO strategy that includes real-world location SEO if appropriate
- Prioritise page load speed, especially for visitors on mobile
- Segment your audience and tailor your content accordingly
- Publish regularly/frequently, especially around landmark dates
- Respond to breaking news, industry trends and plan post-Christmas content
- Consider broad-brush and very specific content for different relevance searches
- Test two or more versions of key pages and apply what you learn across your site
Most importantly of all, have a Christmas eCommerce SEO strategy in place as soon as possible, because there’s only 8-12 weeks left to get content produced, published, indexed and ranked if you want to maximise your sales and profits in the run-up to Christmas 2020.