Jonathan Birch, creative director at Glass Digital, shares his five top SEO tips for Black Friday, Christmas, and beyond.
For stationery retailers, the festive season is one of the busiest and most profitable sales periods of the year. So, as online sales now drive more revenue than ever before, it’s becoming absolutely vital that you harness your business’ online potential.
Looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see the importance of having a strong online presence at this time of the year — Deloitte’s Christmas Survey 2018 estimated that a hefty 42% of UK consumers’ festive spending takes place online. And, considering that brick-and-mortar retailers have faced a 10% drop in footfall in the last seven years (BRC), many experts believe we’re seeing a slow shift towards an e-commerce driven market.
To help maximise sales this festive period, I’ve set out my top five SEO tips to make sure that your stationery retail site is up to the task:
1. Make sure your site’s foundations are strong
Before you can benefit from the more advanced SEO tips I’m going to discuss, make sure your website has a sturdy foundation for the festive shoppers that will be coming your way. Start by carrying out a complete audit of your site. Look for any 404-error pages that indicate the content is not loading. Then, to resolve the error, use a 301-redirect to the right page, or remove it if it’s redundant. You should also fix any broken links or lost landing pages, using 301-redirects to get them on track.
Additionally, you should make sure that a user can access your website efficiently, so ensure that your servers can handle increased traffic. Most users expect a site to load in seconds so, if yours is taking longer, it may be time to upgrade your hosting plan. You can also optimise your site for speed through methods like compression, enabling caching, and avoiding bloated code. Take a look at Search Engine Journal’s guide to improving page speed for more detailed advice.
2. Aim to deliver the best user experience
One of the best things you can do to boost both your conversions and your website’s SEO during the festive period is by making sure that you are delivering the best user experience possible.
Your site should be professional looking and easy to navigate, with logical categories, easy search options, and functional menus. Essentially, a customer should be able to find their way around without getting lost or bogged down when browsing.
The benefits of creating a good user experience are twofold. Firstly, you’ll be making a positive impression, which makes the customer much more likely to trust in your brand and convert. And, Google places great value in user experience, so if it crawls your site and judges that it is delivering one, you’re much more likely to rank highly in its search results. Prioritise your customers and the search engine will prioritise your website.
3. Create festive-focused landing pages and optimise others
Ahead of the festive period, you should be looking to create some specialised landing pages so you can target the likes of Christmas and Black Friday-specific search with your page titles and on-page copy. With these pages, aim to leverage keywords using high-search phrases like "Black Friday", "Cyber Monday", and "Boxing Day Sale", matching them with the products you’re selling on your page — "Personalised Pens — Boxing Day Sale", for example.
Even on your general product range pages, you should try and equip them with the most optimised content possible. You should always choose the high-search keywords that best describe what you’re offering. Not only will this ensure you’re targeting what most shoppers are searching but, by keeping your keywords accurate, Google will see that you’re offering a good user experience by helping people find exactly what they want.
You could also make sure any on-page content includes internal links to other related categories, as this is one way that Google judges which pages are the most valuable when it crawls your site. Read Yoast’s guide to internal linking for SEO to find out the best way to do this.
4. Produce seasonal content and gift guides
Alongside your optimised ranges and seasonal landing pages, you should begin to produce content that is focused on the festive season. This can take the form of gift guides — for instance, "how to choose the perfect pen for him this Christmas" — or more informative pieces, such as "how to wrap the perfect present.” This allows you to enrich the user experience and build your reputation as an expert, which will help your rankings, as well as point customers to your products for conversions.
Aim to launch your seasonal content in advance of the festive period so it has time to make maximum impact. If you plan to link to a time-sensitive page like "Black Friday deals" from your content, don’t be afraid to launch these early too — you can simply add a timer or date-available timestamp to build up anticipation.
5. Ensure you have user reviews
Remember that, when you’re pushing your products at this time of the year, you will be competing in a crowded marketplace. This is where having online reviews available to your potential customers will set you apart — 91% of people regularly read online reviews and 84% trust them as much as a personal recommendation (BrightLocal).
I have no doubt you already offer exceptional service and products, so why not reap these rewards by opening your site up to great, publicly visible feedback? Even if you don’t have the capacity to include reviews for individual products, signing up to a customer review site, such as Trustpilot, gives you something you can display on your website.
Your Google My Business listing is another good place to allow reviews, as they can show up on a search engine results page when a customer is looking for your products — take a look at Google’s advice hub to find out more about getting started.
Follow these five SEO tips if you want to maximise your visibility and sales this festive period. Put them into action now and you’ll reap the rewards.