With knitwear making its annual reappearance and Michael Bublé slowly emerging from hibernation, Christmas must be on its merry way.
For online businesses, this means bracing for an incoming snow storm, as gift-hungry consumers scour the SERPs and seek out some yuletide inspiration. Hoping to boost traffic (not the crawling-home-for-Christmas kind) and maximise revenue this holiday season? Seeker’s 12 SEO Tips of Christmas are here to help.
If you want to be milking your ecommerce SEO for all it’s worth and drumming up new business this Christmas, you’ll need to be laying the foundations for yuletide success. Get it right, and you’ll have consumers leaping to your site, causing you to start dancing as you find yourself swimming in festive revenue. See what we did there?
And fear not, our festive SEO tips are far more useful than the decidedly impractical gifts — swimming swans, leaping lords, piping pipers, and so on — listed in this beloved Christmas carol.
In this blog post, the experts at Seeker outline how to spice up your festive SEO efforts like a cinnamon-infused latte this Christmas.
1. Start prepping before Saint Nick does
We know. Walking into your local department store in September — while the outside temperatures are still regularly topping 20°C — and seeing tinsel and fairy lights on the shelves can be pretty dispiriting. Can’t we at least make peace with the fact we’re about to leave summer behind before shifting our minds to the Christmas season?!
While consumers rarely want to be thinking about Christmas months before the event itself, however, many of them are. In fact, a survey by retail giant John Lewis — fabled pioneer of the bottom-lip-quiver-inducing festive TV ad — revealed that over a quarter of their online shoppers were both searching for and purchasing Christmas gifts as early as August.
Hell, we apparently even start searching for Christmas songs during the last week of October, meaning many of us will have had all the Mariah Carey we can stomach by mid-November.
What does all this mean for ecommerce brands? Well, while it may not be imperative to start launching your Christmas SEO strategy in the thick of the summer holidays, you can’t afford to wait until November, either. At the very least, you should be shifting your keyword focus by late September, since Christmas-related searches tend to properly take off by October.
2. Deck the halls with long-tail keywords
During the run up to the Christmas season, the ecommerce space is often as fiercely contested as a Boxing Day local derby between Didcot Town and Oxford City. With myriad online merchants competing for the same big-ticket search terms, ranking for the most-commonly searched keywords is a near impossibility, particularly for smaller brands.
This is where the “long tail” comes into focus. While head terms such as “Christmas gifts” will drive massive volume, they’re prohibitively competitive. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are specific, multi-word search phrases that typically have lower search volumes but also less competition, and can be leveraged to drive highly targeted, qualified traffic.
The key is specificity: instead of focusing on generic keywords like “Christmas gifts for dogs”, target phrases that are very specific to your products, such as “organic dog treats for border collies”; and instead of sending users to your home page or generic product listing pages, direct search traffic to tailored landing pages that incorporate exact-match content.
3. Create gift-wrapped content
While Christmas is often associated with rampant commercialism, we’re not just fervent consumers hellbent on snapping up every shiny thing we see, thank you very much. As we’ve discovered here at Seeker, searches at Christmas aren’t just about buying this or buying that, but cover a range of different motives and objectives.
So while your Christmas gift guides will be great for boosting conversions, it’s also about addressing a range of search intents through your content: for example, your users might be on the hunt for purely informational content, while others may be performing commercial research before committing to making a purchase.
Does your store sell artisanal baked goods? Create yuletide recipes that include some of your key products. If it deals in sportswear, offer expert guides to staying fit and healthy during the holidays. Focusing on different types of festive content will not only enable your store to rank for a greater variety of search queries, but also crucially increase your brand’s authority and credibility in the eyes of search engines.
4. Make mobile users merry
Many of us are tethered to our smartphones for most of our waking hours, and we may be in increasing need of a screen-based distraction when surrounded by undesired Christmas guests who’ve outstayed their welcome. Another round of charades, uncle Stu? I think I’ll bury myself in YouTube videos and Instagram Stories instead, thanks.
With smartphone usage now unavoidably ubiquitous, an increasing number of consumers are shopping using their mobile devices in and around the festive period. In Christmas 2022, in fact, almost half (47%) of online sales were made on a mobile (up from 43% the previous year), with shoppers often time-poor and in need of instant inspiration.
So while a mobile-first approach is paramount throughout the year (crucially, mobile-friendliness remains a key ranking factor for search engines like Google), it’s especially important to focus on the mobile experience as you prepare your store for the holidays.
The key? Cut out screen-cluttering content, optimise your buttons and CTAs for thumbs and fingers, and prioritise your site’s most important features and elements.
5. Create a UX that’s smoother than a sled on snow
You step into a store in deep December, its aisles swarming and its shelves being picked bare by feral gift-hunters. You know exactly what you’re after, but the shop is a confusing, labyrinthine maze of products seemingly sorted in a random order, and there isn’t a shop assistant in sight to help ease your bewilderment.
Now imagine you’re shopping on a tablet or smartphone, and picture a similarly disorientating experience: a perplexing website menu, a poorly-organised product selection, and an absence of readily-available customer support. This equates to a poor user experience (UX) and is likely to result in lost revenue and a drop in search rankings.
As they work their way through elaborate gift lists and seek present-buying inspiration, online Christmas shoppers — and search engines, too — will expect you to deliver a smooth, pain-free shopping experience, offering useful content, an intuitive interface, a seamlessly navigable site layout, and a checkout process that’s easier than basting a turkey.
6. Embrace the art of ‘regifting’
Remember that Nutribullet you were gifted by a distant aunt last year — the one that’s since spent its existence unopened and harbouring dust in the back of your kitchen cupboard? Wouldn’t that be a perfect present for your mate Steve, who has been insisting for ages that he wants to get healthier and introduce more liquidised fruit into his diet?
A tad ungrateful? Possibly, but regifting is a great way to shed your home of unwanted clutter while reducing waste, and a similar (stick with us) principle can apply to your seasonal content. It’s likely you’ve already created Christmas-related gift guides, blog posts and such during previous festive periods, and there’s value to be had in repackaging them each year.
Not only is this a time- and cost-efficient approach to content marketing, but a significant advantage of recycling content is that you retain the old page’s SEO value. The content may have a number of existing backlinks, for example, while an established page with a history of traffic and engagement may be more likely to rank than a newly-created one.
7. Remember: ‘tis the season to be social
Christmas parties: a great excuse for a bubble-fueled knees-up or a dreaded night of uncomfortable small talk with people you spend the rest of the year avoiding? Whether you’re game for a festive bash or you’d sooner be in your fluffiest pair of socks watching The Vicar of Dibley, party season is often a landmark occasion in the social calendar.
The same broadly applies to your social media calendar, too, with the holiday period representing a key time for ecommerce businesses when it comes to connecting with their followers, reaching new audiences, driving meaningful engagement, and spreading brand awareness like a rare coating of Christmas day snow.
Festive-themed posts, videos, and stories can drive organic traffic to your website while also helping to boost local SEO efforts around the holiday season. For an ecommerce store, however, it’s also the ideal time to lean into platform-specific features such as Instagram Shopping, as these can drive direct traffic to your products, causing conversions to snowball.
8. Build a sackful of festive backlinks
Only if you remain on old Saint Nick’s all-important nice list can you expect to receive a glut of gifts on Christmas morning, and it’s a little similar when it comes to festive link building. Produce high-quality, shareworthy content and build relationships through effective SEO outreach and you can expect to receive valuable backlinks instead of lumps of coal.
Of course, crafting engaging, holiday-themed content that offers tangible value to your target audience is likely to generate backlinks organically, but you should also be looking for opportunities to contribute festive-leaning guest posts that can generate targeted traffic to your key Christmas content and landing pages.
For an ecommerce store during the holidays, having your products appear in Christmas gift guides is the perfect way to build links to your flagship products; identify popular sites, blogs, and influencers that publish holiday gift guides relevant to your product niche, and craft a personalised pitch that highlights why your product stands out as a yuletide must-have.
9. Be visible among the twinkling high-street lights
Whether they’re combing a little Christmas gift-buying with a visit to a Christmas market and a warming glass of mulled wine, they have a penchant for a festive high street soundtracked by carollers, or they’re simply a little digital-averse, not all consumers reach for their tablets or smartphones when it comes to working their way through their yuletide to-buy lists.
While the majority of UK consumers will shop online this Christmas, many prefer to do so in person; so for businesses that combine electronic and bricks-and-mortar commerce, it’s imperative to prioritise local SEO during the festive season, ensuring that your business is front-and-centre for physical gift shoppers searching online for nearby inspiration.
As a minimum, you should ensure you have a Google My Business profile and update it with Christmas-specific information — such as your store’s festive opening hours — but you should also prioritise local keyword optimisation — combining gift-related keywords with location-specific ones — and create highly-targeted localised content.
10. Don’t let indulgences distract you from the fundamentals
If you’re anything like the writer of this piece, the coming of December 1st often means all good habits being tossed out of the window at least until the first week of January. The balanced diet; the semi-regular gym visits; the commitment to mischief in moderation — all consigned to the growing list of things to revisit next year.
But while festive indulgences often mean accepting that your normal routine will be forsaken for a few weeks each year, there are no such allowances for overlooking the fundamentals of your SEO strategy while you focus on more festive matters. It’s easy to get distracted from what’s really important, but there are certain factors that simply cannot be neglected.
These factors might include:
- Keeping SSL certificates up-to-date to ensure website security.
- Managing redirects and identifying and fixing broken links.
- Maintaining an updated XML sitemap.
- Performing regular site audits and identifying optimisation opportunities.
- Analysing key metrics such as organic traffic and domain authority.
11. Don’t let your site have a festive snooze
Between marathon online shopping sessions, late-night soirées, and an abundance of carb-loaded festive food, it’s no wonder many of us succumb to a mid-afternoon nap come Christmas season. But while this impromptu shuteye is often much-needed, it’s not something your website has the luxury of at this time of year.
Considering the extreme surges in traffic sites often experience during peak periods such as Black Friday and Christmas, it’s imperative to ensure your tech infrastructure can cope with the increased demand without downtime or a loss of performance. Slow load times or inaccessible content may lead to higher bounce rates, sending red flags to search engines.
To ensure your site doesn’t get sleepy or sluggish:
- Switch to a scalable, high-performance cloud-based web hosting service.
- Implement a Content Delivery Network (CDN), which distributes site data across a global server network.
- Compress images, use lazy loading, and streamline code to reduce loading times.
- Employ browser and server-side caching to reduce server load.
- Monitor website performance and resolve capacity issues prior to high-traffic events.
12. Don’t forget; an SEO strategy is not just for Christmas
That expensive, shiny new gadget you simply had to have, dropping endless not-so-subtle hints to your significant other throughout the year? Reduced to superfluous clutter by Boxing Day. But while many of our gifts will suffer the same flash-in-the-pan indignity this Christmas, you can’t afford to treat your SEO strategy with the same post-yuletide disloyalty.
While it’s often important to up your game somewhat around the holiday season, your SEO efforts shouldn’t fall by the wayside come the new year; SEO is very much an “always on” endeavour that requires year-round attention and a willingness to be agile, particularly given Google’s propensity to alter its algorithms at various points throughout the year.
Put simply, your traffic and rankings will suffer if you start to take your eye off the ball. So while you switch from a Christmas-focused to a business-as-usual approach, it remains just as important to produce consistently engaging and high-quality content, build high-value links, and ensure your UX isn’t headache-inducing like a post-NYE hangover.
In conclusion, optimising your SEO for the festive season is a gift that keeps on giving. By preparing early, harnessing long-tail keywords, sparking social media engagement, and breathing new life into old content, you can ensure your online presence remains merry and bright. Embrace these strategies to unwrap the potential of unparalleled visibility and success during the Christmas period.