If you don’t know where you are headed, how will you know when you get there? Setting goals is important for any business activity and the same is true for your SEO initiatives. There is no better time to highlight this fact than during the holiday season when millions of people are searching for products to buy. Check out these tips for SEO marketers during this holiday season.
Benchmarking for Organic Search
Goal: Identify your competitors and list their SEO strengths. See where they are weak, where they are strong and then plan your strategy accordingly.
A good rule of thumb for any time during the year is to note where your web property stands in comparison to your industry peers. Benchmarking allows you to see how successful you are compared to others who you may be competing with. Are you below average for your industry? Above average? Setting a clear standard enables you to see if you are truly doing your best. Only looking at your activities and their results in isolation does not give you a clear picture as to how successful you are with your SEO initiatives. There are lots of free and paid tools out there that allow you to take a peek inside your competitor’s activities. While it is impossible to know everything that another company is doing, you can get a pretty good idea. For instance Rank Tracker allows you to download their software and run reports on where any website is ranking for given key terms. Go to your competitor’s website and view their source code. Try and determine which keywords they are trying to rank for. Perhaps you notice that they aren’t aiming for long tail keywords you could take advantage of. Another free tool SEMRush (Rank Tracker as well) allows you to see the backlinks leading to your competitor’s website. Check out reviews that your competitors may have, look at the content on their site, see how they are doing in social media. Taking all of these factors into account, you can then develop a strategy to rank better than them in search. Perhaps you may notice tactics that aren’t being used or being implemented properly where you can be stronger. At the very least you will know who you have to worry about and who is not really a threat.
Make Pages for Your Popular Products
Goal: Make highly optimized product pages for items that will be popular this holiday season.
During most of the year, it may be ok to have products and their descriptions lumped together in categories with other similar items. During the holiday season however, targeted searches for specific products often jump. It is hard to make a page with many different products on it rank well for everything that resides there. Make separate pages for products/services that you know will be hot sellers this year. Write separate meta descriptions and page titles. Keep those pages in directories named after the target keyword phrase you are trying to rank for. This will allow for those pages to rank much better in search because they are about a single item that someone may be searching for. You don’t have to go crazy with all of your product/service offerings, just the ones that you know will be popular.
Ramp up Your Content Production
Goal: Create an editorial calendar and stick to it. Come up with a list of topics that match how many times you will be posting throughout the holiday season. Try and write as much as you can up front so you aren’t scrambling to get something out when its time to publish.
If you are serious about online marketing, you should already have a blog going. During the holiday season, you should increase the amount of content you are adding. So if you contribute to your blog once a week during the year, make it twice or three times. If you are already at that level during the year, try and make it every day. Don’t just change the amount of content your write but what you write it about. Center your strategy around hot selling items or services for the holiday season. Review pieces are very popular as people take to the web to learn more about the products they are searching for.
Use the Media to your Advantage
Goal: Identify something newsworthy and get the media to write about it.
Depending on your industry, this tactic may be more or less difficult to pull off. During the holiday season, news media and reporters are always looking for contextual stories about the holidays. This could be wacky gift ideas, stories of giving to charitable organizations during the holidays, helping those in need or whatever the case may be. If you can get local or even national media to showcase something your business is doing, this is powerful in terms of search. Not only will there be extra content out there about you and your business, this could also turn into a potential backlinking opportunity if you can get media outlets to link back to your website in a press release.
Get Your On-Site in the Holiday Spirit
Goal: Change your on-site optimization (i.e. meta-descriptions, title tags, website copy) to reflect the season.
It is important, especially if your business is seasonal, to modify your onsite optimization for the holiday season. Re-write title tags and meta-descriptions to take advantage of important marketing opportunities. For instance many people read the rich snippets of information found in search engine results pages before they click a link to a website. These are marketing opportunities in organic search. Place your offers, special deals or product descriptions right inside these snippets of text.
Goal: Come up with interesting, fun or informative content that is highly shareable in social media.
It is becoming more and more common for people to turn to their networks on social media to get input about what they should buy, impromptu reviews on products and services, or simply to get a general opinion from their friends. Coming up with viral content to share across your company’s social media networks is a great way to increase your visibility during the holiday season. Maybe you have a short holiday related video, or perhaps an image. Even just a blog post giving people tips on your products/services is a great thing to do. Just make sure that whatever you share, keep self-promotion out of it or at least to a minimum. Also, make sure it is either useful or entertaining. People share content because it is either fun to look at or because it helps people solve problems.
There are still some days left in this year’s holiday season. While some changes can take weeks to have an impact, you can still put some of these ideas to good use and perhaps increase sales that much more. Do you have any last minute tips for holiday marketers? What is something that could be implemented quickly but still have a large impact on business?