Christmas SEO - optimise now before it's too late

As the UK enjoys a last gasp of sunshine, Christmas seems like a very long way off indeed. Even the sight of tinsel on the High Street is still enough to produce gasps of outrage.

But as a business owner you need to think ahead if you are to make the most of the festive season. This is particularly true in the field of SEO. It can take some time for changes to your optimisation strategies to have an impact – so if you want to really boost your sales this Christmas you need to start thinking about SEO now.

Why is seasonal SEO important?

Competition for custom is particularly fierce during the festive period. Although consumer spending obviously jumps, it can be more difficult for less established businesses to get their slice of the pie.

Conversely, though, in the current climate an increasing number of customers will be willing to shop around for a good deal, rather than stick with whichever outlet they most commonly choose. This creates some interesting and potentially valuable opportunities for online retailers. If you want to seize these opportunities you need to increase your visibility – and SEO is the primary means by which most online retailers can achieve this.

Concentrate on keywords and link building

Chances are you have already identified this year’s ‘must have’ product for your sector. This is one of the most important keywords on which you should focus. You can help your cause by writing themed ‘linkbait’ blog posts, and developing internal linking strategies using the name of that product as the anchor text.

Generally speaking, you should also avoid using the manufacturers’ standard product descriptions on your website. These are seldom written with SEO in mind, and they can severely damage your optimisation efforts. Instead, concentrate on writing carefully constructed product descriptions that hit all the relevant keywords.

Blitz your social media

Social media is an increasingly important aspect of any marketing campaign. Think about ways that you can use tools like Twitter and Facebook to drive traffic and boost conversions.

You might choose, for example, to run a competition on Facebook. Have users tag themselves in a photo or join your group in exchange for the chance to win a prize. Alternatively, invite all of your online followers to an event in your shop (if you have one). Lay on some entertainment and offer a discount on all purchases for the evening. Events and promotions of this sort can help you to make the most of your existing online communities.

Think about PPC

Given that Christmas really is just around the corner, you may not have time for your optimisation efforts to kick in. In these cases, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising will really come into its own.

You can improve your chances of appearing at the top of search results by bidding on relevant keywords. These keywords will probably (but not necessarily) be the same ones for which you are optimising your content. Generally speaking, your PPC campaigns should focus on the products for which you anticipate there will be the highest demand, and those on which your margins are highest.

It is worth remembering that Google Adwords is not the only PPC channel. Depending on the nature of your business you might also want to consider buying ads on sites like Facebook.

Make sure that you track your PPC campaigns closely over the course of the festive period and beyond. It is often possible to significantly improve your click-through rates with a relatively modest change to your strategy.

Keep conversions in mind

Finally, you should always keep in mind that the purpose of your campaigns is not just to drive traffic. Instead, you should always be aiming to convert leads into sales. In order to improve your chances of doing so you will need to optimise not just your content but also the website itself.

There is a range of tools available to help you improve user experience and conversion rates. For example, you might use one of the many free A-B testing tools available to help you judge the impact of a new landing page design. Alternatively, you could use mouse tracking tools to help you understand how your users interact with your site, where they are clicking, and what is being ignored.

Christmas is a big deal for online retailers. If you are to make the most of the increased earning potential that the festive season brings, you need to start acting now.

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