E-commerce Holiday SEO Keyword Optimization: 6 Keys to Success

For many retailers and brands, success pivots on holiday sales. A single day during November and December might bring in double or even triple the amount of average same day sales in other months, particularly on traditional retail discount days.

But consumers begin window shopping online well ahead of Thanksgiving, planning gift purchases and often waiting for the right sale on a major household purchase, yet many e-commerce sites don't publish holiday content until November, which is too late for the early birds and for search engines, which can take weeks to add new pages to their index.

The remedy to this problem? Start early and plan smart.

Plan Site Content Around Holiday Calendar and Peak E-commerce Sales Days

Top searches from the last quarter of 2012 show that consumers are shopping for deals and gifts around holiday terms as well as known retail discount days – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and more recently Free Shipping Day and Green Monday. In order to best capture these potential customers during their research phase, e-commerce sites should plan to have categories and landing pages optimized for related terms. For example:

Consumer Holidays

  • Halloween – "Halloween costume ideas"
  • Thanksgiving – "Thanksgiving gift basket"
  • Christmas or Hanukkah – "Gifts for Dad"
  • New Year's – "New Year's champagne flutes"

Retail Top Sales Days

  • Black Friday – "Black Friday promotions"
  • Cyber Monday – "Cyber Monday flash sales"
  • Green Monday – "Christmas gift shipping deadline"
  • Free Shipping Day – "Christmas gift free shipping"

2. Conduct Gifting and Holiday Keyword Research

The next step is to drill deeper into category terms. Review last year's organic and paid keywords, as well as on-site search terms for high search count and high conversion terms.

Google Trends and Google AdWords Keyword Research Tool are invaluable sourcing for brainstorming keyword lists and uncovering potential new target terms for holiday 2013 optimization.

google-insights-secret-santa-rising-term

A quick review of Google Trends shopping results reveals that "secret santa gifts" was a rising term in Q4 2012. With a little bit of creativity, terms like this can be a great way to expand visibility of the site's holiday gift guides.

3. Identify Products to Include in Site Gift Guides and Categories

With target terms identified, such as "secret santa gifts" or "top gifts for coworkers," what follows should be a review of appropriate products to build out a rich landing page. Gift cards, accessories, novelty items, and personalized products are good bets, in addition to top sellers and items in the range of $25 to $50 (gift averages may vary based on industry).

secret-santa-gift-category-page-example

4. Publish Holiday Pages Early

While waiting for the merchandising team to upload holiday products to these new categories, site owners can get a head start by publishing a landing page with a coming soon banner placeholder to drive interest and give search engines time to index the page ahead of the peak November and December sales season. This tactic also works well to capture early bird holiday shoppers; according to a 2013 Google Consumer Study, 30% of shoppers start their holiday purchase process before Halloween.

5. Optimize Categories and Products With Keywords in Attributes, URL and Copy Blocks

Finally, it's time to apply keyword insights to meta descriptions, title tags and URLs. Pages will hold more SEO value if they also contain paragraph text copy using target terms, as post-Panda search engine optimization is increasingly tied to relevant content.

google-serp-meta-info-modcloth-gifts-category

6. Build Links Through Features in the Blog, Email, Social Properties

wine-gift-basket-ideas-pinterest-result

Lastly, drive links to holiday pages by highlighting gift categories on the site's blog, in scheduled email blasts, and Facebook, Instagram, and other social properties. Pinterest is particularly suited for promotion of gift content. Consider creating a holiday gift idea pinterest board (optimized with keyword targets in the name and description) and include top identified holiday products, therein driving deep links and eyeballs to the site. This is where creativity counts. With a little luck, a Pinterest board may even index on the first page of search results.

Go ahead, start brainstorming and tipping the marketing team off to this year's clever holiday acquisition strategy!