6 SEO Tips for a Pandemic-Impacted Holiday Season
It’s been a year of disruption for all of us, and the retail sector is no exception. Online sales will be more important than ever to ensure a strong Q4. Therefore, here are some key retail search engine optimization tips designed to make the most of the holiday shopping opportunity.
1. This year more than ever, do your research.
The behavioral and lifestyle changes created by the pandemic mean it’s even more important this year to do your research and not rely too heavily on what worked previously.
Analyze search demand for different product categories and subcategories and look at which keywords and products are trending. In addition, lean on insights from partners and suppliers. With less socializing and entertaining happening, partywear may not be a big seller, for example, while gifts for at-home hobbies such as fitness equipment, baking and gardening may continue to do well.
2. Prioritize informational, top-of-funnel content.
It’s easy to focus content-building efforts on product and category pages, but this year top-of -funnel informational content (which provides advice for consumers doing their initial online research) could be more important than ever.
Restrictions and concerns over the virus will mean many people who usually do their holiday shopping in-store may choose to buy online. And this, coupled with the general uncertainty right now, means they’ll be relying on helpful content such buyers’ guides and blog posts on popular gifts, for example. In general, as more people have stayed home this year, we've seen online activity increase, with informational queries being a significant driver.
3. Start earlier than normal.
The trend is for the holiday shopping season to start earlier each year, and it looks like it will start even earlier this year. Being prepared for a rolling launch of your content, product and category pages is an optimal route to ensure content gets crawled and indexed by search engines early — i.e., be prepared to roll out different portions of your promotions throughout the season. In some cases, it might be good to update and re-use gift guides and other editorial that worked last year as those pages will already have earned links and authority from Google.
4. Take advantage of Google’s support.
Be sure to make use of the various initiatives that Google has introduced to support the retail sector during the pandemic. The search engine has opened up Google Shopping to free product listings, for example, and introduced features on Google My Business to let retailers display messaging about updated delivery or curbside or in-store pickup options.
5. Don’t ‘launch and forget.’
The pandemic has meant there’s been more volatility than ever, with new shopping trends and search behaviors emerging. Therefore, your 2020 holiday content and SEO strategy shouldn't be a launch-and-forget initiative. Continually track performance and be ready to react. Are specific products or content catching more traffic than you expected? How can you capitalize on this even more, and turn traffic into sales? If certain pages are underperforming, do you need to build more internal links?
6. Don’t forget January.
Remember to optimize and produce content for the first two weeks of January, which is always a good time for conversions. People will be looking to exchange or return unwanted gifts or spend their gift cards as well as buy products to support their new year’s resolutions. You’ll need to adapt your content and target different keywords. January is often forgotten, however, it’s a great opportunity to get off to a strong start for the upcoming year.
Tyson Stockton is vice president of client services at Searchmetrics, the search and content optimization specialist.
Tyson Stockton is the U.S. Vice President of the Digital Strategies Group at Searchmetrics. Over the past 10-plus years, he has driven success in SEO & Digital marketing in both in-house roles and externally with some of the top online businesses. Over the last 4+ years at Searchmetrics, Stockton has led Fortune 500 companies in utilizing search data to drive SEO and content strategies. Stockton leads the Client Success, SEO & Content Services, Account Management, and Data Services teams at Searchmetrics.