The holiday season is now upon us, and there’s no better time to unlock your latest and greatest content and engage your audiences.
As always, from about mid-November until the end of the calendar year marks an incredibly sales-pitch-heavy time for your customers. Across every digital medium they use, they are completely inundated with marketing and promotional content, from flash sales and exclusive deals, to coupon codes and BOGO (buy 1, get 1 free) offers, and then some.
You will really need to stand out to make a dent in your sales and SEO results.
This time of year, people are firing off search queries to find the perfect gifts, round out their holiday parties and menus, make year-end donations, and so much more.
So, no matter what product or service you’re offering, you can garner more attention from your audience, and potential audiences, and bump up your sales through your SEO and digital content strategy during the holidays.
Maximize your presence for this time of year using what we call “seasonal SEO.” Seasonal SEO is a method of optimizing your website for holiday-themed, seasonal-specific, and end-of-year keywords.
You don’t want to waste another minute waiting for the winter holidays to sneak up on you. Yes, with digital content, being timely matters, but lead time is crucial for seasonal SEO, and I’ll tell you why.
Here are seven hot tips for making a serious dent in your rankings, increasing your revenue, and crushing your competition this holiday season.
1. Start Yesterday
As I said before, now’s not the time to sit back and wait for Christmas Day to creep up on you. You’ll want to begin the process now, including developing your content strategy.
Studies say that publishing your content only one week before the holidays can help your results be included in 50% of holiday web traffic, whereas starting up to 45 days in advance can get your results within 90% of that same holiday traffic.
2. Update Your Keywords
Take a look at your current rankings and analytics at your site’s traffic, first. There might be some pages doing extremely well that you just don’t want to touch. Or, you might find a few strong opportunities to make updates to what’s there.
Review your keywords next, with an eye toward integrating holiday-related terms that fit in with your content (more on creating holiday-specific content later). A good way to review what’s trending seasonally is with Google Trends, a tool we’ve discussed before as an awesome keyword research hack.
Google Trends will let you tap into detailed trending topics around the holidays, but also product-specific information on what’s trending in apparel, electronics, beauty products, and any other items customers are furiously searching for and buying.
3. Create Holiday Content That Fits YOU
After your keywords are revamped for the holidays, you can begin a content strategy that wisely integrates them. Be sure to develop content that works with who you are; don’t squeeze out holiday messaging that doesn’t really fit your brand. Being authentic always matters.
For brands and e-commerce companies, or any businesses selling services that are given as gifts, there will be obvious content for you to create around marketing those products.
Develop content to accompany your holiday deals and sales, of course, but also create digital gift guides for different audiences that highlight your best offerings.
Consider developing holiday-specific landing pages for your new content. A holiday subsection will help bring in visitors looking for specific gift-giving guidance (while leveraging authority from your site’s domain), without distracting them from your other relevant content and offerings on your site.
You may also want to develop holiday themed blog posts that integrate with your gift guides, targeted to your specific customer personas, such as busy moms. These will serve as excellent fodder for your social media channels and as embedded links in your email marketing.
Make sure you weave in all of these efforts into your email and social media campaigns. Use your keyword and trending topic research to pluck out your absolute best email subject lines for emails, and to pick the best seasonal images and messaging for social.
4. Tease Out What’s Coming
Once your keywords are ready, and you’ve crafted your holiday- and seasonally-themed content strategy, begin to offer sneak peeks to your audiences. Social media and email marketing are great places to release these teasers, but you can also add them on your site in relevant spots.
If you’ll be building landing pages or a holiday subsection on your site, you can publish them sooner with “coming soon” and teaser content on them as a start. It’s a smart way to build up excitement, but it’ll also do well for your SEO, as search engines favor regularly updated pages.
In your email and social media, keep mentioning that your gift guides, blog posts, and other holiday content are coming soon, and spill a few details.
For instance, if you’ll be sharing the top gifts for tech-savvy teens, give a sneak peek of one of those products in advance, noting that the whole list is coming.
Also, don’t miss this opportunity to remind audiences to sign up for your newsletter or follow you on social to ensure they don’t miss a holiday update.
5. Remember Link Building
We know this is nothing new in SEO, but it’s especially true during the holidays: link building is important. Work harder than ever to gain links back to your top pages via your partners and sites you’ve worked with before to cross-promote.
You also want to make sure your content is highly shareable, which means creating social friendly tidbits on your channels that drive people there and encourage them to share, too.
Another way to make your content shareable is focusing on emotional resonance. For example, images of families, babies, and puppy dogs usually win the day, because they evoke real emotions and are so relatable.
6. Integrate a Mobile Plan
This year, for the first time, more people are expected to do their holiday shopping on their phones and tablets than on their computers. Though most purchases will likely be completed on desktop, the searching and browsing that leads up to the decision phase is happening on mobile.
The lesson, of course, for holiday SEO optimization is that we just can’t leave out mobile search. This is an ideal time to ensure your site is both responsive (or, at least, mobile-friendly), and loading quickly.
One practice to consider is implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs), which can make your mobile site pages load up to four times as fast. Google has a great AMP tutorial for getting started.
7. Measure Real-time Success
During your holiday campaign, you’ll want to stay on top of what’s happening and your results. You have such a short window of time to reach your goals, so you can’t ignore the analytics all season.
Look closely at your rankings, organic traffic, time on site, and bounce rate as key indicators of success and areas of improvement. Then, decide how and where to further optimize your content as you go.
Some of these learnings you might need to save next year, but that’s okay. Next season will sneak back up on you before you know it.