What is an XML sitemap and why should you have one?October 4, 2018
A good XML sitemap acts as a roadmap of your website which leads Google to all your important pages. XML...Read more >
October 2, 2018
It’s only barely getting colder outside, and here we are telling you to think about the snowy days of Christmas. If you have an online shop, please start thinking about the Christmas holiday season already! Because it’s never early enough to start planning for the most wonderful time of the year. Here, you’ll find out what you can do right now.
Ranking in Google isn’t something you can do overnight, and that is why it’s never too early to start. Remember, the end of the year is approaching rapidly. Don’t forget we also have Black Friday (November 23) and Cyber Monday (November 26) coming up as well. You can set up a lot of content for all occasions. Here, we’ll go over some things you can do to get prepared!
Bigcommerce.com published an article about what they called the 45 days rule. Regardless of the fact that you’ll be able to prepare earlier, their concept is interesting. It tells you to get your content in gear at least 45 days ahead, and they divide that period into three steps:
Besides the promotion mentioned above, I think you can do a lot more in terms of setting up new pages and renewing old ones. Let’s dig into that a little bit more.
First, we need to think about what kind of category or special landing pages make sense for the upcoming holidays. You can always set up pages like ‘Best gifts for fathers/girls/teens’, ‘Newest deals for your 6/10/12-year-old’, ‘Best mom/friend/grandparents discounts’ or even think along the lines of ‘Top 10 gifts for outdoor/skiing/parasailing enthusiasts’ and ‘Top 3 deals for stay-at-home moms/dads/etcetera’. Just to name a few.
Make your landing or category page, the page title and the meta description fit the upcoming holiday season. Obviously, these pages can be re-used for Valentine’s day and your summer sale. Find old content that fits the holidays, rewrite titles and meta descriptions to match the upcoming season and chances are you won’t have to update the post itself at all.
You can link the all-year holiday season pages mentioned above to, for instance, specific Christmas landing pages (‘Top 7/10/25 gifts for under the Christmas tree’) to boost these when the time has come. That could be around the 45-day mark mentioned by Bigcommerce, but I wouldn’t mind stretching that to 60 days. There has to be enough time for Google and Bing and all the other search engines to follow your links and find your specific holiday season landing pages in time.
Social media like Twitter and Pinterest can play a huge role in the success of your (online) holiday sale. Take Pinterest, for instance. Raise your hand if you or your wife/husband has a Pinterest wish list? Most of us have that, right? If you manage to get the right products on people’s wish lists, that can have an impact on your sales. Personally, I like to draw inspiration from other people’s wish lists as well.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to share your holiday season gifts pages on Facebook and Instagram as well. In the previous section, I’ve mentioned top 10 lists. We all know these still work pretty well on social media.
Similar to this, I’d recommend setting up holiday gift guides and sharing these. A good example is the Huffington Post Holiday Gift Guide. This is pretty clever. Huffington Post simply created a taxonomy for Holiday Gift Guide and added all posts that fit into this category. It creates a nice overview for all kinds of gifts for a plethora of people. ELLE has a page like that as well, and so do more companies.
I’d also like to emphasize that this is an excellent time to pitch new products. If you know of potential best-sellers for the upcoming holiday season, be sure to start writing about these now. Think about how tech sites write about concept iPhones, features that might be added and things like that. The more you write about these products upfront, the more likely the sales pages for these products will rank when it matters. Obviously, you should link all pages that you made in advance to that one main page you’ll set up when the product is released and can be bought. Treat that page like cornerstone content.
When adding or changing your product pages to fit the season, don’t forget to optimize them. Check, for instance, whether you’ve added structured data to your product pages. Because rich snippets for products in the search results, showing ratings and prices, can give you an edge to your competitor.
Old wine in new bottles. If you have a Christmas guide for 2018, feel free to re-use that in 2019. Update the year, and update details like popular brands and popular products for that year. If the slug of your URL is
/christmas-2018/, change that to
/christmas-2019/ around August next year and redirect the old URL to the new one. No need to create a totally new page. It would be a waste of nice inbound links to not re-use that old URL. Of course, this is even easier if you simply don’t include the year in the URL.
In the months before the holiday season, you could even simply repost popular posts from last year (a bit adjusted if needed) on social media. Valentine’s Day might even become Secret Santa. Cyber Monday might match daddy’s favorites for Christmas. These are probably small adjustments; perhaps just adding ‘this Christmas’ to a meta description or title will do.
We recommend you to check and optimize your website for speed and mobile. These are recommendations you’ll get from any SEO blog or consultant, everyday all day. Mobile, mobile speed and speed in general, are becoming more important every year (or day, for that matter). When preparing your website for the holiday season, this is a good a time as any to re-check your mobile website and site speed and update or improve these, if possible.
All set? Don’t forget to make a measurement plan to be able to analyze your success. Write down all your plans and think about how to track all your actions. This is key if you want to know what to focus on next year. For detailed instructions on how to analyse your Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Christmas shopping succes read Annelieke’s post.
How to handle the product pages of holiday gift sets after the holidays are over? Even if the gift set or product was a great success, and you want to offer it again next year, it’ll take a while for the page to be relevant again. So, what’s the best way to deal with these pages in the meantime?
Watch Joost’s answer to that in this video!
That wraps it up. You can never start too early when your online business depends on the holiday season. Be prepared; start now!
Read more: eCommerce usability: the ultimate guide »