To help your eCommerce store prep for the 2021 holiday season, we’re publishing a multi-part blog series with digital marketing tips you need to implement today.

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday sales season less than six months away, now is the time to start prepping your site’s SEO strategy — so you can give it time to work.

Based on our work with dozens of eCommerce sites, we’ve gathered 10 tips you should get started with today to make sure your Black Friday SEO is in fighting shape. Check out the full guide below, or use this list to jump to your favorite:

  1. Ask about staff and contractors’ holiday schedules.
  2. Plan site migrations and major updates accordingly.
  3. Identify and refresh any existing holiday website content.
  4. Create new Cyber Monday and Black Friday pages.
  5. Create new sales and discounts content.
  6. Prepare any on-site interstitials.
  7. Ensure your local business listings are up to date.
  8. Create a plan for out-of-stock products.
  9. Create an FAQ/Q&A page.
  10. Confirm your platform can handle traffic increases.

Want assistance creating your SEO holiday strategy? Contact our team anytime for a personalized proposal.

10 SEO Strategies to Get Your Site in Shape Before the Holidays

In many ways, your search engine optimization strategy for the holiday season should be no different from your long-term SEO strategy. Your content should be fresh and well-optimized, your site should present a great user experience, and your technical SEO should be in tip-top shape.

However, there are also some holiday-specific strategies to consider. Shoppers behave differently during the gift-giving season (which stretches longer and longer each year), and your site should be tailored to their needs and wants.

Here are 10 holiday SEO tips we recommend from our years of experience working with online retailers:

1. Ask about staff and contractors’ holiday schedules.

Before you can create a holiday-specific SEO plan, you need to know when your team will be available to help you out. Whether you’re working with an in-house SEO team or contracting your work through an eCommerce digital marketing agency, get on the same page about timelines and projects way before the fall — or else risk your optimizations never seeing the light of day.

We also recommend specifically reaching out to your website development team. If you want to implement or test certain site changes before the holiday season, you’ll need their assistance. Your developer may be stacked with holiday projects over the next few months; get on their “to-do” list early to ensure your site updates are complete long before the first frost.

2. Plan site migrations and other major updates accordingly.

On the same note, if you do have plans to migrate your site or perform other intensive site updates, now’s the time to make it happen — but only if you can get it completely launched before the holidays. If you launch your changes later in the fall, you not only have less “fix it” time, you also have fewer opportunities to test your site on shoppers. 

The last thing you want is to implement changes that negatively affect conversion rate before the busiest shopping period of the year.

3. Identify and refresh any existing holiday website content.

When it comes to holiday SEO content, start with the path of least resistance. Does your site have existing holiday content that you can spruce up for this season? While it may not have been applicable in last year’s pandemic, 2021 may be the perfect time to update it for this year’s customers.

Update your old holiday gift guides with new and popular products, rewrite your seasonal copy with your brand’s social media team, and look for refreshed images to add to your site. Of course, don’t forget your keyword research and optimization or backlinks review, either.

4. Create new Cyber Monday and Black Friday pages.

Don’t have any existing holiday content to mine from? Gather your copywriting team and get to work now, so that your optimized pages have time to rank before the shopping begins.

There are plenty of opportunities for generating holiday sales through SEO content like:

  • Holiday gift guides and online catalogs
  • “Best of” products or sales lists (ex: “Best Black Friday Deals 2021”)
  • Holiday contests and sweepstakes (also great for email list growth)
  • Product comparisons and reviews
  • Holiday gift landing pages (like Nordstrom’s, below)
Nordstrom webpage. A center image labeled Holiday gifts. A woman holds out a present. Text states: Great Gifts are Always in Season.

While your long-term content marketing strategy should always help customers find and learn more about your products, it’s even more important during the holiday season. Remember: Many shoppers are buying based on others’ gift requests, not their own interest in the product.

Short on holiday content ideas? Use SEO tools like Semrush and Ahrefs to research holiday keyword possibilities, or start brainstorming with our eCommerce content strategy guide.

5. Create new discounts and sales content.

Similarly, you can also create temporary content for any Cyber Monday/Black Friday sales your business plans to run. The first priority with this strategy is generating holiday revenue; SEO may be secondary, especially if you plan on removing those Black Friday deals from the site later.

For a compromise between the two approaches, consider creating an evergreen “Discounts and Sales” page on your website. That way, you can continually update it throughout the year with your current promotions, incorporate it into your link-building strategy, and optimize it for those customers specifically searching site promo codes, anyway.

Home Science Tools Coupons webpage. A banner at the center of the page states: Home Science Tools Coupons. Get 10% off Sitewide with code B E L L S 19. My Science Perks: Earn 2 - 6 % back on your order!

6. Prepare any on-site interstitials.

If you plan on advertising holiday discounts and sales on your website, you’ll want to prepare and test any plugins, pop-ups, slide-ins, and other interstitials ahead of time. Make sure they work far enough in advance, and don’t forget to push them live at the right time — or you’ll risk losing out on some big revenue. 

Consider SEO factors like page speed, Core Web Vitals, and other ranking factors to prevent any negative effects to your organic traffic. We recommend working with your website developer to create a plan that minimizes impacts on your SEO strategy and maximizes visitor purchases.

7. Ensure your local business listings are up to date.

If you have a brick-and-mortar location, make sure your Google My Business listings properly display your address and hours of operation. If your location will be open at different hours during the holiday season, make sure that is communicated, too. Otherwise, you risk frustrating customers who show up to a locked door with no notice.

Local SEO is important for online businesses, too. Make sure you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing; this will give you control over your listed contact information in the SERPs. Your GMB listing also allows for Google reviews, which can be a boon to your brand awareness.

8. Create a plan for out-of-stock products.

COVID-19 caused a long-term disruption in the supply chain for many online businesses. While you can hope those issues will be resolved prior to this year’s holiday season, you need to plan for the possibility that they won’t be.

Communicate with your suppliers and manufacturers now to get a lay of the land. Then, decide what steps your team will take to avoid customers turning to your competitors if the product they want is unavailable.

We recommend:

  • Enabling pre-orders
  • Enabling email notifications when products are back in stock
  • Internal linking to related products
  • And more, as detailed in our “Out of Stock Product Page” guide

Pro tip: Keep our Out of Stock SEO Flowchart handy in the months to come.

Out of Stock S E O Flowchart. Logo: Inflow. Attract. Convert. Grow.

9. Create an FAQ/Q&A page.

An increased number of customers to your website will also mean an increased response from your customer service. Head off some of the repetitive questions with an FAQ or Q&A page that’s easily accessible from your homepage, if you don’t already have one.

Use this page to address some of your customers’ biggest (and most searched) concerns about your brand, including:

  • Shipping and return policies
  • Product how-tos/details
  • Phone orders
  • Order statuses
  • Personal information use
Mountain House F A Q page. A banner at the top states: Frequently Asked Questions. Still not finding what you're looking for? Reach out to our team and they'll get back to you with an answer. Below the banner are six tabs indicating 6 different categories of F A Q questions. Seven questions are displayed under the first general tab.

10. Confirm your platform can handle traffic increases.

Finally, ensure that your eCommerce site can handle that increased traffic during the busiest time of year. 

While there are plenty of predictions for how this year’s online shopping season will go (based on Black Friday 2020 performance), no one actually knows how much shoppers will spend during these vaccinated holidays. Be prepared for the best-case scenario — that browsers will flood your site — and make sure that your eCommerce platform can handle it.

Speak with your website developers or your platform representatives to discover which preemptive steps you can take to prevent a dreaded site crash.

Kick Off Your Holiday SEO Campaign Now

Your SEO strategy will take time to implement and start working, and Google’s algorithm won’t work twice as hard just because it’s the holiday season. So, if you want your site to attract and retain holiday shoppers, now is the time to evaluate your SEO strategy and start making optimizations.

Work with your digital marketing team or agency to identify your biggest priorities before the holiday season, and use our tips above as guidance when determining your strategy. 

Want a helping hand (or just an extra set of expert eyes)? Request a free proposal from our eCommerce SEO marketers anytime.

In the meantime, review our other digital marketing holiday guides at the links below: