5 SEO best practices for Black Friday and the holiday season
Looking to boost your holiday sales this Black Friday/festive season? It’s best to plan ahead of time and implement these seasonal SEO tips.
Maria White on November 3, 2022 at 8:00 am | Reading time: 11 minutes
The world’s largest shopping season – Black Friday through Christmas – is here.
Will the rising cost of living, drop in customer confidence, and frequent Google algorithm changes spell doom for SEO specialists?
In this article, we will go over some SEO tips that will help you navigate this holiday season and plan for the next.
1. Create dedicated landing pages for Black Friday
To increase visibility for Black Friday and Cyber Monday-related search searches, it is advantageous to build a dedicated evergreen landing page for these holidays.
To find the best deals, users will often search for keyword combinations that include [brand name] or [product], plus the words: deals, discounts, or promos.
Using Google Trends’ historical findings, it is possible to find out what choices are popular in certain product categories. If the idea is to give discounts on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it may be worth dedicating a separate page to each product or service.
If you are able, it is a much better idea to start planning the creation of these landing pages and their content with as much time in advance as possible.
Then, until those pages are really required, deploy a 302 redirect (a temporary redirect, as opposed to a permanent 301 redirect). This will give you plenty of time to prepare the pages for your Christmas consumers and Google to thoroughly examine the site.
Even better, you could build a “mini-site” with Black Friday/Christmas-themed pages that can be hidden from visitors until the holiday season approaches.
Once the pages have been created, they must be added to your XML sitemap and navigation. Remember that the purpose of building these new landing pages is to generate traffic from holiday-related search searches.
Nonetheless, make sure that repeat visitors can see the updated pages in order to take advantage of your holiday specials. By adding the new pages to your sitemap, you provide a map for crawlers to swiftly locate and index them.
By doing these two things, you’ll increase the visibility of your new holiday landing pages to both visitors and search engine crawlers.
Remember: Holiday-related URLs on your site are not temporary. Therefore, it is important to keep these pages as evergreen as possible.
2. Focus on user experience
The main priority for online Christmas shoppers is always discovering the greatest offers.
This year, several merchants developed tools and filters to facilitate the discovery and curation of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
One of shoppers’ main frustrations is when they are unable to easily find the offers on a website or when encountering out-of-stock products after having browsed around your site for a while.
Since it is so simple for online buyers to switch to another option fast, brands need these sorts of changes to keep customers on their sites and spending money.
The following elements are key:
- Using faceted navigation.
- Optimizing shopping carts.
- Improving page experience.
Use faceted navigation
Faceted navigation is a way to help your customers to find exactly what they need by allowing them to personalize their searches by providing numerous filters depending on listing criteria.
You might encounter the following issues when implementing faceted navigation:
- Duplicate content.
- Index bloat (when search engines index pages on your site that don’t have search value).
- Crawling issues.
There are a variety of solutions available to address faceted navigation problems on both small and large websites.
This topic cannot be adequately covered in a single part of this page so for further information, dig deeper in the following posts:
Optimize shopping carts
Also, consider the following shopping cart optimization suggestions.
Provide multiple delivery options
It is essential to provide a variety of delivery alternatives to cater to your customer’s needs. These options should include regular local delivery, next- or same-day delivery (in the case of florists), delivery costs, and local pickup, to name a few.
Offer a variety of payment methods
Millennials and Gen Z customers, being the most influential digital consumers, demand a range of payment alternatives.
If their preferred method is unavailable, it may cause them to abandon a purchase, not their intent.
The desire for what they want to buy will prompt them to begin a fresh search, and complete that purchase somewhere else.
Enable account creation and sign-up using social media
Account creation that involves manual data input might potentially result in abandonment.
Rather than spending time filling out personal information for each transaction on an ecommerce website, consumers want a speedy checkout.
Send email notifications of cart abandonment
Whether a client abandoned because they were window shopping or due to distractions, a personalized message reminding them that they had things in their basket could drive the customer to check the basket again.
Ability to use discount coupons
Adding a section in which customers may be encouraged to make use of discount coupons is yet another ecommerce tactic to encourage customers to complete a transaction.
Customers enjoy promotions and they would not pass up the opportunity to redeem a discount coupon.
Test on all mobile devices
Consider evaluating the mobile responsiveness of your website during the early web construction phase.
This way you will be able to identify and fix issues on time before it is too late, and a bad user experience costs you a drop in revenue.
Implement a custom 404 error page
When a product has been discontinued or when a visitor types an erroneous URL, having a 404 error page will prevent client traffic from coming to a dead end.
It will also prevent visitors from finding nothing on the website.
Improve page experience
Working on improving core web vitals (CWVs) and the page experience can contribute to a significant increase in revenue as a result of an improvement in traffic.
Several brands have seen improvements in revenue of up to 70% by working on their page experience, according to this Web.Dev article.
Make sure the elements that compose the page experience are at their best possible.
When it comes to core web vitals, it is crucial to make decisions based on the most accurate reports. Here are the best tools to evaluate the CWVs:
- Google Lighthouse: This tool provides a score on a webpage or URL at any time. It is useful to give an idea of where things could be wrong and where you start more in-depth research.
- Type of data: Lab data (simulator).
- PageSpeed Insights:
- Type of data: Lab and field (real user data).
- Google Search Console
- Screaming Frog
- New Relic
Dig deeper in these invaluable resources:
- Core web vitals vs. page experience: How they are different
- Core Web Vitals scores improving for top-ranked sites
- Understanding page experience in Google Search results
- Tools to measure Core Web Vitals
3. Work with paid search
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) represent the most important long weekend of the year for retail, it’s important to work to align your organic search strategy with paid search. This provides your users with the most unified omnichannel experience possible.
Your paid search campaign, like your SEO strategy, should be built on a combination of historical ad performance data and fresh keywords.
Here are a few things to remember when planning a holiday PPC campaign:
- Ad bidding for BFCM may be hard on your budget. Be cautious when choosing target keywords for paid ads.
- Run sponsored promotional ads before the busy Black Friday–Christmas shopping season when there is less competition. This year, holiday shopping begins earlier than usual.
- Remember to match your campaign goals to the appropriate stage of the funnel when running paid social campaigns.
- Don’t forget to set aside part of your budget for test ads. Try Tiktok, Google Ads, or LinkedIn sponsored posts.
4. Optimize your Google Business Profile
In How to turn your Google Business Profile into a revenue-generating channel, I covered the importance of a Google Business Profile in your SEO strategy.
Whether you are a small business or a large brand, GBP can be a significant source of revenue if it is optimized properly.
Here are some things you can do during Black Friday–Christmas season in order to increase revenue:
- Create a category section per season. For example, a category section for your Black Friday products and once it ends, delete the category and create a new one for Christmas.
- Make sure you add all the necessary information regarding delivery during the festive season. This is key as a lack of information can lead to bad reviews.
- Create GBP posts (once a week is enough) to keep your audience informed about upcoming offers, delivery times, and other important aspects of your business and products.
- Encourage your customers to leave a review and always answer their comments.
5. Hone in on digital PR and links
In the days leading up to and during Black Friday, there will be a ton of articles that make use of the phrases “Black Friday,” “deal” or “offer.” This only goes to illustrate how much hunger journalists have for Black Friday sale material.
Your company’s next few weeks should definitely entail promoting Black Friday deals for your ecommerce firm to relevant media.
Here are some things you can do to gain links prior to and during the holiday season:
- Send journalists covering Black Friday and Christmas specials a list of your top products, complete with photos and prices.
- Be aware that journalists will be inundated with Black Friday requests, so be careful about how you tailor your pitch and who you are pitching. Here is an old piece but still quite relevant when it comes to pitching a journalist and another great resource by Gisele Navarro on how to pitch a journalist.
- Monitor media requests related to Black Friday or Christmas.
- Gather with your team and plan a good piece of content to promote prior to and during the festive season. It could be a report that can be promoted among the media, a collaboration with an influencer, a PR stunt, an event or more.
What if our revenue declines even with a top-notch SEO strategy?
Imagine this – your team or yourself:
- Have prepared months in advance for the Black Friday and Christmas seasons.
- Gained fantastic links in national media plus great engagement on social media.
- Have a good SEO strategy in place.
You notice that results in traffic and rankings are great and you were not affected by any algorithm update.
Yet, despite all of this, you see a significant decline in revenue.
It is here where it is important to evaluate all possible external events happening and assess what could be affecting consumer confidence.
Declining consumer confidence, influenced by the current global economic crisis and a general state of pessimism, is a phenomenon becoming rather common in 2022.
That said, you are not alone here. The demand for brands and agencies to acquire customer trust is greater than ever. Despite widespread pessimism, consumer behavior shows signs of optimism.
Some might think, “SEO for Black Friday is a great topic. But of all aspects of interest to SEOs, economy and economic drivers? Not SEO.”
- You will have to explain to stakeholders from the ROI point of view, why – despite significant SEO investment and good results in organic traffic and engagement – there is a decline in revenue.
- Knowing what is affecting your consumers’ confidence will lead to sensitivity when brainstorming for content and link campaigns. An insensitive/controversial content, PR or social campaign will get you links, yes, but can also destroy your brand’s reputation in a snap.
It is our job to evaluate everything that could possibly affect our SEO results and, this way, find and propose solutions.
If those solutions are not part of your day-to-day work, then delegate and work alongside other teams.
So, what to do when we are affected by factors out of our control?
The most important aspect is to focus on communication with your stakeholders.
As for your customers, focus on the following to build trust and increase purchase confidence:
- Offers (seasonal offers, gift cards, subscriptions).
- Costs (costs on delivery).
- Sensitive and creative content and digital PR campaigns.
- Work with paid teams.
Working for seasonal sales is one of my favorite types of work as an SEO. However, to be able to have a great Black Friday/festive season, it is best to plan with as much time as possible in advance.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.