SEO Checklist – Are you ready for the holidays?
Published: October 20, 2014
Author: Colin Guidi
The holidays bring an influx of traffic to web properties, especially ecommerce-based web properties. Ensuring you’re putting your best foot forward prior to the traffic influx will allow both you and your customers to achieve the desired site experience.
Even if your brand doesn’t host any holiday promotions, the sheer fact that users flock to the internet around the holidays means you have the chance to capture increased seasonal demand. Cyber Monday (the Monday following Thanksgiving), which started out in 2005 as a simple marketing ploy, has only grown year-over-year. Online spending due to Cyber Monday alone has seen impressive and consistent year-over-year growth, with record spending in 2013 that hit $2.29 billion.
Let’s get into the checklist.
Holiday SEO checklist
Make sure your servers are set up to handle the increased traffic loads
Servers can become overloaded and crash if traffic levels are too high. Ensure your server is set up to handle the traffic increase.
The major brand that flopped at this was Target in 2011; don’t let your brand be next.
Priority products/services and high-sellers
Use your internal sales data, or analytics, from the previous year to identify your key holiday products or services.
These products/services will warrant their own landing page if they currently do not have one.
This will allow for a more targeted keyword strategy for both SEO and PPC.
Re-evaluate your keyword strategy for the above pages
Users may be using different ‘buzz’ words around the holidays to find your products/services.
Minimize the amount of clicks it takes to get from your homepage to the holiday pages
If you were the user, would you find that content quickly?
Evaluate your conversion process
Have an employee make a holiday oriented check-out.
Even better than this, have a close friend who isn’t familiar with the site go through the process.
Did they have any trouble? Are all your setups in place – meaning, does the checkout process work seamlessly?
Offer product or service promotions
Give shoppers a reason to choose your site over a competitor’s site. During the holidays, users are looking for a combination of “deals with quality in mind.”
Internal suggestion engine/related products
Ensure that this internal feed for “similar products users also bought” is refined to show your highlighted products and those with high conversion rates.
Optimize your meta descriptions
Make them compelling. If you have a holiday sale or special, place this at the beginning for increased click-through rates.
Leverage ‘deal’ terms on your site
Make ‘deal’ terms visibly apparent, which can be done through CSS markup.
Example of deal terms: Sale, half off, free, Cyber Monday, Black Friday, one-day sale, free shipping, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.
No forced logins
Now is not the time to start a loyalty program. Users want to get in, and get out (yes, even on your website). Find ways to simplify the ecommerce purchasing cycle, not complicate it.
Pause any A/B testing
Usability testing should be done prior to the holiday season. You don’t want to test how users and spiders interact with your pages during this peak traffic time of the year.
Site & Deal Promotion
List your site on Cyber Monday sites
Most of these will be paid media where your site/products/services are ‘featured deals’
Top-rated Cyber Monday websites:
This one is a vanity URL (www.offers.com)
Etc. Your account manager should be able to help compile a list
Leverage social media
Have tweets and Facebook posts created prior to launch, and ready to use.
You can even create a fun holiday-themed video that you host on your site, furthering the notion that users have reached promotional holiday content.
Utilize your existing email list
Let your users and loyalty program members know of your holiday deals. If you choose to do so, you can even offer them a higher discount than what’s reflected on your site.
Bid against your competitors (if engaging in PPC services)
Leverage competitive intelligence tools to discover competitor keyword strategies. Bid on these keywords and leverage your better deal, lower price, and superior product in either the headline or ad copy.
Optimize for mobile
If you have a separate mobile site, an app, responsive web design, etc., ensure your brand and holiday promotions have a presence for those users leveraging their mobile devices to find you.