SEO is typically a slow burning channel, so ideally your holiday SEO preparations would have begun months ago. It would be difficult to begin a link-building initiative that would affect your 2020 holiday SEO efforts at this point, and you probably won’t be able to produce a library of content in the next six weeks either. However, SEO can still be useful during the holiday season when you think of more simple ecommerce optimizations.

2020 has been an unusual year, and shopping trends have followed the unpredictable market. We wanted to approach this holiday season with better information for our clients, so we got to work. We commissioned a study where we dove into all of the newest trends in Black Friday and holiday shopping. In this post we’ll look more closely at some of the most interesting data points, and how they might affect your SEO optimization strategy this holiday season.

Start with the low-hanging fruit

54% of shoppers say they want to do their holiday shopping by early November to avoid crowds, which means that any SEO tactics not already in place don’t have any time to slow burn this season.

A low-hanging fruit audit is essentially an analysis of which keywords you already rank for, hopefully you’ll find a few that are on the verge of greatness (organically ranking in positions 4-10 for example). This kind of audit is a great way to see what might be reasonable to work on in such a short period of time. Because these keywords are already doing well, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get them in prime shape to bring in a lot more traffic over the holidays. Once you have this list of low-hanging keywords, you can use it as your list of keyword optimization priorities.

These next three ideas are predicated on the fact that you already ran a low hanging fruit analysis, and therefore you know which pages and associated keywords to focus on. Let’s dive in.

Internal links

Internal links are one thing that you can easily control, and when used well, they can send additional relevancy signals to Google while still driving conversions. Each internal link you build with an optimized anchor text will help Google know that your URL is worth ranking for your intended KW target. Internal link audits can be used to drive internal site authority to the pages that you identified before as on the verge of high-volume ranking. These pages have the potential to yield high results in a short period of time, and internal links are a great way to build the authority of those pages internally.

When it comes to the impact internal links have on conversions, think of your site as a map, your internal links pointing customers to the next steps they could take. Are those steps clear? Can they navigate easily between them? 68% of shoppers plan to do most of their holiday shopping online due to COVID-19, which means digital channels will be hot. Having clear internal links will increase the ease of purchase on your site, helping you take advantage of that influx of traffic, and bring in the needed end-of-year revenue.

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Title tag refresh

This has the potential to significantly help some potentially under optimized pages discovered from your low hanging fruit audit. If the title tag isn’t optimized for your low hanging fruit keyword, explore more options to see if there’s a way to squeeze in a keyword. Of course you’ll want to ensure that any changes you make won’t undo any success for another (possibly higher priority) keyword. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot for a quick bump. It’s an easy fix, but it can make a big difference.

Semantic analysis

Semantic analysis is the process of finding similar words to your ranking words that you can include in your content or on your pages. To do this most effectively, you’ll need a tool that analyzes semantics (similar to TF-IDF), at 97th Floor we use Palomar, to do the analysis for you. This is not an intuitive process you can do on your own, but rather an analysis of thousands of similar web pages to find data-backed ideas you’d never think of alone.

This process is also one of the fastest ways to get a page ranking in a short period of time, so it’s a great idea to use this analysis as a way to bolster those low-hanging fruit pages that you decided to focus on this holiday season.

Bonus: claim unlinked brand mentions

In addition to the earlier tactics we’ve discussed, SEOs for ecommerce brands during the holidays may also want to focus on reclaiming unlinked brand mentions. Basically, unlinked brand mentions are places online where your company has been mentioned, but no hyperlink has been added to send ranking authority and traffic to your own site.

In order to reclaim these, you’ll need to reach out to those sites that reference your brand or product and ask them to link to you. It’s important to relay to those sites how that link may also be helpful to them.

Then, to make the most of traffic coming in from these newly linked mentions, update your schema mark-ups for your product pages, and make sure all is running smoothly for rel="canonical" and appropriate 301 or 302 redirects (yes during this time of special offers changing product is usually one of those special times you will want a handful of 302 redirects). The holidays mean a lot of product shifts for a web team, and you want to make sure you stay on top of what is going on to avoid any technical mishaps.

Of course all of these optimizations are for the here and now, but, like I mentioned earlier, SEO is a long game play. So while you’re getting your pages prepped for this holiday season, don’t forget to spend some time also refreshing your digital strategy for 2021, because, as the data has told us, online shoppers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.