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Your Technical SEO Guide to Holiday Season

This year, marketers have seen an unprecedented shift in digital: target audiences exclusively communicating with you online, major eCommerce holidays such as Prime Day cancelled, and two impactful algorithm updates from Google.

It’s safe to say that more holiday shoppers than ever before will start their search online this year, and your SEO strategy needs to be in good shape to secure the SERP. Read on for technical SEO best practices this holiday season.

Developing Your Seasonal Pages from Performance Data

When creating new seasonal pages, evaluate your SEO opportunities to optimize by analyzing these indicators on existing pages:

  • Search volume and competition
  • Relevant keywords and their rankings
  • Historical engagement metrics
  • SERP relevance

Finding Your Keyword Sweet Spot

Having designated landing pages for seasonal content allows your brand to target seasonal keywords, rather than product keywords related to the season. Beware of targeting too broad or too specific:

  • “Too Broad” Example: “Gifts for mom” (LMS 165,000) is a highly-competitive keyword with blog and article sites ranking well in search results.
  • “Too Specific” Example: “Gift ideas for moms who enjoy reading” (0 LMS) does not present any SEO opportunity, as it does not experience any search volume.
  • Appropriate Target Keyword Examples: keywords such as “Reading gifts for mom” (LMS 1,300) and “Book gifts for mom” (LMS 320) are more likely to potentially rank, and still experience a large amount of searches.

Maintenance of Seasonal Content

It is SEO best practice for seasonal product listing pages or blogs to be kept live on the site year-round to maintain page authority and rankings from one season to the next. We strongly recommend not deleting, redirecting, or temporarily redirecting seasonal pages after the holidays.

  • If necessary, a “Coming Soon” message can be placed on seasonal pages when they are composed of products that are not available throughout the year.
  • As long as the URL remains in the HTML sitemap, it is safe to remove seasonal pages from the site’s main navigation. It’s best to reincorporate them back into your nav about 2-3 months prior to the anticipated spike in seasonal traffic (now, if you haven’t yet!).

Internal Linking Management

It is important to leverage internal linking opportunities across the site to help drive traffic to seasonal pages when appropriate; this will also enhance crawlability and spread authority throughout your site.

  • A successful internal linking strategy can help drive top-of-funnel traffic down the funnel towards conversion points.
  • Seasonal category pages should be linked from the associated product and subcategory pages.
  • Avoid sending mixed signals to your crawlers and users: don’t link to seasonal pages from irrelevant content on the site, and resist linking to multiple seasonal pages from a single product or subcategory page.
  • Ensure anchor text for internal links sounds natural and contextual to the seasonal page to which it’s linked. For example, “explore our options” does not provide context and would not be optimal anchor text, whereas “Reading Gifts for Mom” could be optimal anchor text.

Content Refreshes

Metadata and on-page content should be refreshed prior to the seasonal page’s peak time.

  • Any refreshes should be implemented at least 2-3 months prior to the season to ensure search engines have an ample amount of time to crawl the new version of the page and incorporate changes into updating their search result rankings.
  • As mentioned above, if products on a seasonal page are time-dependent and not yet available, use a “Coming Soon” placeholder message to indicate to users and crawlers that the content and products will be updated and available shortly.

XML Sitemaps

The following governance rules are specific to eCommerce sites’ XML sitemaps:

  • Avoid redirect chains - when a URL refers to a URL that, itself, is already redirecting. Redirect chains can present issues for site speed, indexation, and user experience. 301-redirected URLs should be removed from the XML sitemap and the 301 redirect chains themselves should be reviewed periodically for optimization. 301 redirects should point old URLs to the correct destination in the most efficient way possible.
  • Always keep recurring seasonal categories & pages (such as Back-to-School, Christmas, etc.) live in the XML sitemap, ensuring that they are not removed or redirected, in order to maintain the pages’ authority and avoid any “redirect chains.”
  • Categories and pages that either no longer exist on the site or return no products (and will not contain any products again in the future) are considered Discontinued and should be removed from the XML sitemap. 301 redirect the URL to the most topically relevant category.
  • Categories and pages that will only exist for a limited time should include the “unavailable_after” meta tag to set the date at which the category/product will expire. This will tell Google to stop indexing that respective category / product after that date. If the category / product will not return in the future, redirect the pages using the Discontinued Categories governance rule.
  • Products that will continue to be offered but are not currently in stock should have implemented out-of-stock schema on the page and a clear out-of-stock label in the copy. Do not change the status code of the URL (redirecting is unnecessary). If a product is discontinued, refer to the Discontinued Categories governance rule.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we’re ready to help. Reach out to Rise to learn how our data-driven SEO team partners with clients for successful organic search performance, in and out of holiday season.

09/22/2020 at 02:06