Holiday SEO: Don't Leave Your Optimization 'Til the Last Minute

By Catherine Potts | Nov 12, 2009
More Articles by Catherine

I read an interesting post today over at Small Business SEM regarding optimizing a site for the holidays. The question for Matt McGee was submitted by someone wondering whether or not it was too late to start optimizing for holiday sales. In short, Matt’s answer was “yes” but he had some tips and thoughts for attempting to overcome the late start.

The Problem

In order to increase sales over the holidays for the writer’s company that specializes in personalized gifts, she wondered if she could somehow speed up her SEO results since her company was getting a late start in doing so for the holiday season.

The Short Answer

“Yes” and essentially, Matt says, the efforts should’ve been started months ago and the holiday sales niche is quite competitive.

Expect to have to wait awhile. Rarely do results come over night but if you’ve studied up and listened to the professionals, it could get you results a little sooner.

Toward the end of the post Matt discusses the all important trust factor in how fast your efforts will yield results. If you’ve ever heard about velocity rates (how fast links are built vs. actual traffic) and this can definitely plays into whether or not Google “trusts” what is going on.

If the search engines trust your site, there’s a better chance your updates will have some impact sooner. If you don’t have a trusted site, none of the above may help – at least not as soon as you want it to. (SBS)

The Long Answer

Stoney deGeyter over at Search Engine Guide addresses site architecture as an essential piece in your site being indexed properly.

This is crucial. If the search engines come to your site and can’t get access to the pages that need to be indexed then you simply won’t be in a position to get good rankings. (SEG)

Matt’s first suggestion is that the writer optimizes her page titles. By this he means that titles include include keywords and he even suggested focusing it a bit more by using terms like “I’m looking for a gift under $30” or “free shipping.” These are things that holiday shoppers will be searching on.

Second, optimization of the site’s internal links by replacing generic links with anchor text like “click here” with something more specific like the actual product “personalized stopwatches” and link to the product’s page and add new internal links to the already existing ones.

This is where good site structure will help Google find things you want found. Make sure the map has no roadblocks.

This refers to how often Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. visit your site to crawl it and update their indices. Companies with static, brochure-like web sites probably don’t get visited too often, so the search engines would be slower to pick up changes. As a retail site, you may get crawled more often — if so, that’s a good thing. The sooner the spiders crawl and index your new, optimized pages, the better. (SBS)

Third, improve content. As with every site, content should be quality and optimized with your keywords. Can you write something about your best selling products? Can you add in that with these particular best sellers come free shipping?

Get Social

Then, Matt suggests incorporating social media if you haven’t done it. This is big right now and is expected to stay big.

Spreading the news about your products and the related deals could yield needed traffic to your site. Especially because there was a recent report that twitterers followed retailers based on the coupons and deals offered. Getting the word out is huge for traffic (Twitter) and if you use a thoughtful strategy, you just might be able to get those shoppers to your site! Here is one to start: CheapTweet is based on votes and conversations being held on Twitter. If you create buzz, people will talk about it and you will get traffic.

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