Want to Optimize for Holiday-Related Search Terms? Start Now
Christmas is right around the corner.
Okay, not exactly, but chances are, you’ve seen at least one store in full swing for Halloween, which is only a month before Thanksgiving, when holiday shopping season escalates to full swing. Regardless of how you feel about the eternal “Christmas creep,” whereby the anticipation and celebration of the winter holiday season gets earlier and earlier every year, it pays to think ahead—especially with your search optimization strategy.
If your business is one that especially benefits from the holiday shopping season, or if you have a line of products specifically intended for holiday shoppers, now is the time to start optimizing.
Why Seasonal SEO?
Seasonal SEO is a branch of tactics that involve optimizing your site for holiday- or season-centric keyword terms, like “Christmas gift ideas,” or “winter vacation destinations in Orlando.” Obviously, these keyword terms are only the subject of searches for a few months out of the year. So why would you spend your effort on something so fleeting?
The key benefit of seasonal SEO is also one of its key weaknesses. The strategy is a tradeoff; you’ll see a temporary, yet substantial burst of search activity for the seasonal keywords you choose, so think of it like sprinting, rather than running a marathon. Though seasonal keywords can be competitive, they’re generally less competitive and faster-changing than conventional keyword selections.
Ultimately, this tradeoff is only worth it to some businesses (i.e., businesses that don’t change much throughout the year don’t stand to benefit much).
Key Factors for Success
So what should you do to make sure your seasonal SEO and content strategy is a success?
- Create a subsection of your site. You’ll want to target holiday-specific keywords, so consider making an entire subsection of your site, either with a subdomain or with a branch of pages that exist specifically for the holiday season. You should be able to draw authority from your main domain, but still segment your strategy so you don’t confuse your efforts.
- Create gift guides and new product selections. Next, try to create “gift guides,” or other dedicated pages that give your readers information and allow you to show off your latest products. These can be standalone whitepapers, blog posts, or interactive search-based features; in any case, make sure they’re loaded with high-quality content, and optimized for your most important keywords.
- Create new holiday-themed content, but keep it secondary. If you have a blog, you should start loading it up with holiday-themed content. Launching a separate sub-blog is an option, but it’s probably enough to create a category for holiday-themed content and use that as your primary platform. Each new post is a new opportunity to rank for a long-tail keyword phrase, and another page to tightly interlink all your holiday-related content. Just make sure your mainstream content doesn’t get neglected in the wake of your holiday-focused efforts.
- Focus on link building. No matter what your intentions are, if you want your pages to rank in search engines, you need to have links pointing to them. Link building and earning is, arguably, more important than optimizing for specific keywords, so spend time building or earning links to your top holiday content. It may be hard to write for holiday-specific topics on off-site publishers (at least at this stage of the game), but whatever early momentum you can build will be worth the effort.
- Update your older content. If you’ve optimized your site and pages for holiday-specific keywords before, take a look at your holiday content from last year. Make changes to reflect the current holiday season, updating your dates and statistics, and possibly revising your product selections to reflect your current lineup.
- Remember top sale days. Consider gearing your efforts toward the major “sale” days of the year, including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Incorporating these day-based keywords into at least some of your posts is incredibly valuable for boosting your visibility on those specific days—just be prepared for lots of competition.
Of course, you’ll need to consistently monitor your results to gauge the growth of your campaign, and make changes in response to the developments you witness.
Why Start Now?
It’s currently September. It’s barely Halloween season, let alone Christmas season. So why start now?
Even with everything working in your favor, and assuming you’ve already started with considerable domain authority, it’s going to take several weeks to several months to build the content, links, and authority you need to rank. If you’re starting from scratch, it takes between 4 and 6 months to start seeing results, and depending on the level of competition you’re facing, it could be even longer.
Fortunately, targeting lower-volume seasonal keywords and building off an existing strategy should cut that time to 2 to 3 months—which means starting your strategy in September means you’ll be ready just in time for the shopping season to ramp up in November.
Balancing Your Strategy
Keep in mind that there are many ways, both direct and indirect, to increase your visibility for the holiday shopping season. There are hundreds of SEO tactics you can use, and you can support those tactics with complementary strategies like social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising.
No single strategy is as powerful as multiple strategies working together, so spend your resources wisely, and try not to get bogged down by individual tactics.