Whether your business is large or small, there can be no denying that SEO can work wonders for your website performance, page visits and rankings during the festive season. In this blog, we highlight seven stars to consider within your Christmas SEO strategy.

Before you jump into your festive SEO strategy, you must take a moment to step back and critique the fundamentals of best SEO practice throughout your website.

Getting these fundamentals right will be critical in ensuring your seasonal SEO strategy leaves you SNOWED (sorry) under with page visits and leads.

Below, we thought we'd provide a handy checklist for you to work through before you start work for the Christmas season.

  • Ensure your content is well-written and unique, get a fresh pair of eyes to check for any typos that you may have not picked up on.
  • Make sure your header tag features appropriate keywords.
  • Double-check that all your internal links are working and are free from dreaded 404 errors.
  • Optimise your images. Large image files can drag your page speed through the mud. Here at Adido, we find that Tiny PNG is incredibly useful for compressing large image files.
  • Check keyword usage, length and branding within your websites title tags and meta-titles.
  • Ensure your pages are named clearly and appropriately within URLs.
  • Use schema mark-up to get your website featured on Google's SERPs and rich snippets.
  • Check how your website pages render on different devices such as tablets and smartphones.

2) New keywords

Like any other holiday period, Christmas is accompanied by a plethora of seasonal keywords being used as search terms by consumers.

No doubt achieving a page one ranking during the Christmas period can be tricky with such a large volume of competition. This is why keyword planning for your seasonal peaks is vital.

There's very little reason for your business to focus on generic keywords with massive search volume such as 'Christmas gifts', 'Christmas presents', and 'stocking fillers'.

However, it's still worth putting together a list of generic Christmas themed keywords. Once you've done so you can get more specific with your keyword planning by combining them with keywords specific to your businesses' niche.

Tools such as Toptal's Mergewords are brilliant for this aspect of keyword research. Once you've got your results from Mergewords, put them into Google's Keyword Planner and filter out those with zero search volume. Use whatever's remaining to begin your onsite optimisation.

3) Exclusive search terms

Taking your keyword research a step further means delving into the world of long-tail keywords.

While you will have already done this to a certain extent, it's entirely possible that by focusing on optimisation towards exclusive search terms your business can benefit even further.

From the consumer perspective, exclusive search terms can be quite common, everyone has at least one loved one that is notoriously difficult to buy for.

But how can your business capitalise on this?

Well, crafting content such as gift guides focusing on users within your businesses target market would be a great start. These users tend to search with higher buying intent as they know that they are looking for a certain type of product and have a vague idea of what that could look like compared to users searching for more general search terms.

With Google's BERT algorithm update, it is also becoming increasingly important for websites to understand the context within which consumers search. Luckily there are a host of online tools that can help with long-tail keyword research which has been impacted by BERT and become potentially even more competitive.

One such tool would be Answer The Public which provides its user with a variety of contextual phrases used alongside specific keywords.

4) Backlinks

As you probably already know, Backlinks are one of THE most important ranking factors for Google searches. As such, acquiring backlinks from websites with a high domain authority is one of the best ways to improve your organic rankings.

To get backlinks from these websites you need to think about what sort of content you need to push out to gain a place on these external pages.

For retailers, backlinks could simply be having one of your products featured on an external gift guide. Beyond this, backlinks could take the form of blogger reviews about your products or services or reaching out to your mailing list through a dedicated campaign with your new infographic or other such content to try and gain coverage of it on their website relating to your businesses offerings.

An effective outreach strategy is another great way of building backlinks to your website. There are several ways to build your backlinks via outreach.

Simply monitoring the #JournoRequest on Twitter can be incredibly effective and time-efficient, though may not lead to links on sites with high domain authority. Another tool, which we use here at Adido, is Response Source. Response Source features a comprehensive database of media contacts and journalist enquiry services for promoting your content.

5) Google My Business

For those running smaller local businesses, consider the following scenario.

You're still looking to find that perfect gift for a loved one, it's nearly Christmas Eve and you're running out of time.

In your search to promptly find something thoughtful, you Google 'Jewellers near me' and browse through the closest businesses to you and check their opening hours before heading out to buy something.

In this scenario, local SEO is going to be absolutely crucial for your business generating sales and more generally attracting visitors over the festive season.

To ensure your local SEO is up to scratch, optimising your Google My Business profile should be at the top of your list of priorities.

Below, we've provided a handy checklist for doing just this.

  • Double-check your business address and contact details are correct and consistent.
  • Verify your opening hours and be sure to list holiday season hours, no one likes arriving at a store to find it's closed earlier than usual during the holidays.
  • Ensure your business is listed under the correct category.
  • Make sure you have some company photos listed, these could include images of your key products, staff engaging with customers or happy customers at your stores POS.
  • If you can, add a 360° virtual tour of your premises.
  • Write an attention-grabbing introduction. Use sub-headers, bullet points, and keep paragraphs short but sweet.
  • Detail what payment methods your business accepts.
  • Check and respond to existing reviews, this shows prospective customers that you're engaged with and care about what people have to say regarding your business.
  • If you're fortunate to have multiple stores, create a listing for each of them.

6) Mobile searches

Fun Fact 1: In 2019, around 60% of all search queries are made via mobile.

Fun Fact 2: 40% of searchers will go back if your web page takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots here. Your website needs to be mobile-optimised, or better yet mobile-first, and it needs to be fast, really fast. If your site isn't living up to these expectations then you're going to find yourself at a major disadvantage this holiday season.

So how do you know if your website is mobile friendly? Well, it should feature lightning-fast loading speeds, content should be readable on a mobile display meaning your consumer needn't faff around with pinching and zooming, and it should be simple and intuitive to navigate.

Those are just a few good indicators and no-doubt any SEO professional worth their salt would be able to reel off another dozen indicators off the top of their head. The point is, Christmas is the time of giving, so, give the people what they want!

How you ask? well, we've compiled a couple of pointers just for you to get you started on a mobile-ready site.

  • Ensure your site is responsive on mobile
  • Find ways of improving overall site speed, think compressing images, minimising the use of custom fonts, turning on browser caches.
  • Javascript, HTML and CSS are your friends, don't block them.
  • Display dominating pop-ups are a big no-no.
  • Avoid redirects wherever possible.
  • Tell Google about your site.

7) When should you start optimising?

SEO is not like PPC, it takes time and patience to see results.

Highlighting this, a study by AHrefs indicates that of the 5% of new pages achieving the lofty feat of a page one ranking within a year, it tends to take between 2-5 months for them to get there.

However, Christmas is by definition seasonal. Undoubtedly, your consumers will frown upon it if Santa starts to crop up across your site in mid-June. Getting your Christmas themed pages and content to rank highly in time for the festive season is challenging then.

We'd suggest aiming to push out your festive content and beginning page optimisation at the beginning of Q4. If your content is good this gives you a fighting chance of reaching page 1 and gives you time to react to the latest industry trends ahead of the holiday season.

If you do happen to leave it late, that's okay, all is not lost, though we would recommend setting aside some of your PPC budgets to drive extra traffic to your target pages via Google Ads.

on the seventh day of christmas adido gave to me...

seven search engine stars,

six sales a starting,

five campaigns that bring us gleeeee,

four happy shoppers,

three boxed brands,

two travel trends,

and a festive guide to ppc

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