Surviving the Bitter Holiday Code Freeze

For many retailers, the holidays are the season of not messing up. Many large retailers go into a code freeze, where no new development on the website is allowed to launch.

The idea is to prevent any errors that keep visitors from buying during the peak shopping season. For a lot of projects, including search engine optimization (SEO), it can be a major issue if there are changes that should be made.

The irony is that it's the peak season to keep errors down, but it's also the peak season to have the best website possible with driving traffic. While there's a lot that can't be done during a code freeze, there's still plenty to keep busy.

Here are a number of SEO items to consider:

Errors

Just because the site is in code freeze doesn't mean you can't do anything on the site. If you can find any SEO-related items that would qualify as an "error," you might be able to get a bug request processed. For example, does the non-www site bring up a dead page?

Training

Anyone involved in online production may be a candidate for SEO training during downtime. That could be SEO basics, keyword research, or how to look at your SEO analytics data.

Planning

It's also a chance to start planning and building big projects for the next year with developers. Many developers dive into large projects and many others are budgeted for, so it can be a good time to ensure everything is started with SEO in mind.

Content

Another place where changes can be made during a code freeze may be content. New content can be anything your visitors will want to read, and also opens up new keyword opportunities. Keep posting to the company blog or update a holiday gift guide, for example.

Links

Any link building efforts underway can still keep moving forward, as well as building relationships with partner sites. Find out the marketing campaign coming up for the year and see where links could be driven from those.

Social

While the e-commerce site may be a block of ice, your other online properties might be available to work on. That could include social sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or even a brand microsite. Update the content and look to drive more fans with those sites if possible.

The code freeze is often the least busy time for some, so it can be a good time to talk to them and see what can be done. Look into what you can do to make sure your SEO campaign doesn't hit the pause button for several weeks.

About the author

John Greer is a Senior SEO Account Manager at Range Online Media, a leading search and interactive marketing agency that delivers measurable success through comprehensive, online marketing services, including paid search marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), online media placement and social media, strategic planning, performance optimization, and more.

Prior to joining Range, Greer worked as the Content Manager and Director of Website Operations at TicketCity.com, as well as being part of the Web development team of BNSF Railway.

He has led SEO strategy for a number of Range's Fortune 1000 clients and manages natural SEO campaigns for clients such as Toshiba, Samsung and CompUSA. In this capacity, Greer combines his technical expertise with Range's client-first philosophy to consistently exceed clients' goals, cementing Range's reputation as an industry leader in SEO. Greer holds an M.S. in Management Information Systems from Texas A & M University and a B.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Texas.