4 Ways to Improve Google Search Performance This Holiday Shopping Season
With Google playing a big part in consumers online shopping research, here are four tips to help retailers maximize organic search performance and win seasonal traffic and conversions:
1. Keep holiday content fresh year-round.
Some retailers make the mistake of removing their holiday pages from their site at the end of every shopping season. This is a mistake. They immediately lose all the momentum, links and authority they’ve built up with Google. To win in holiday search, ensure that your search engine optimization and content teams consistently maintain a section of your site dedicated to the holidays, keeping it relevant and useful. Big-box retailers such as Best Buy have been doing this successfully for the past few years.
One way of keeping holiday pages alive is adding in rotational holiday events throughout the year — e.g., Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day gifts, Fourth of July sales, etc. Keep that traction going over time to keep your holiday pages relevant and ranking.
Of course, when refreshing your pages, you need to take stock of what worked and what didn’t last holiday shopping season, and make improvements accordingly. What were your most successful keywords and content types? What content generated the most links? Can you learn some new tactics by analyzing your competitors’ successes last year?
2. Make preparations for this year’s trending gifts.
Each season there are always a few trending products that emerge as the standout big sellers; the latest Nintendo Switch or the new voice assistant from Google or Amazon.com, for example. Or that toy that everyone wants for their kids.
Every retailer wants to rank high for those popular items, but early in the year you won’t have a clue what they’ll be. You can still think thematically however, and get your content team to start producing and building content around those main areas.
When you eventually do identify what the top trending game or toy is likely to be, you’ll already have a core set of pages related to those products that are visible in searches. You can insert whatever inventory is hot into those pages and take advantage of the early search visibility to drive conversions.
3. Cross-promote holiday content in other channels.
Drive people to holiday pages and content early and often using social media, email, targeted advertising, PR and other channels. If you create linkable content such as shopping guides and infographics, for example, the additional traffic from these channels helps to attract links from media sites and blogs. And quality backlinks are of course still a big factor in how and where Google decides to rank your pages.
Remember that while Google is huge for holiday search, social sites such as Pinterest and Instagram are turning into search and product discovery destinations themselves, especially when it comes to visual search. Make sure you’re sharing content on them and making them a part of your overall search strategy.
4. Don’t forget post-Christmas shoppers.
January can be a great opportunity to make additional gains. Many retailers focus heavily on Christmas and tend to overlook the start of the new year. The first two weeks of January can show solid conversion rates.
However, remember that consumer behavior is different in January, with people often purchasing for themselves rather than gifts for others. There are also people searching for ideas to use gift cards they’ve been given. Therefore, be prepared for January by developing or freshening up your content to tap into these topics and keywords.
Bonus Point: Use paid search to boost your holiday season.
There will always be content or promotion ideas that emerge late in the season, perhaps because you’re reacting to competitor activity or unexpected changes in the market. With little time for Google to crawl, index and evaluate that content for high rankings, you should consider paid search.
Google’s publicly stated position is that paid search doesn't influence organic rankings. And while I don’t necessarily discredit Google’s position on this, I believe that even within a very short window, the halo effect of awareness, traffic and demand through paid search or other paid marketing can have a spillover effect that can ultimately boost organic performance.
A collective effort between paid and organic search can drive increased success on Google during the holidays.
Jordan Koene is the CEO of Searchmetrics, the search and content optimization specialist and a wholly owned subsidiary of Searchmetrics GmbH.
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Jordan Koene is the CEO of Searchmetrics Inc., the search and content optimization specialist and a wholly owned subsidiary of Searchmetrics GmbH.
At Searchmetrics Inc., he works with enterprise businesses to provide SEO and content strategies that maximize the value of their marketing mix, using best-in-class search technology. Jordan has presented at industry events around the world, including SMX, Pubcon, and the Digital Summit series. Prior to joining Searchmetrics, Jordan led the eBay SEO team where he developed and executed their SEO marketing programs.