With the temperature dropping, snow gathering on the streets, and festive decorations from every culture’s celebrations appearing in shop windows, it's clear that the holiday season has arrived. For most, that means buying presents, planning gatherings, or scheduling that long-overdue vacation. For those in the eCommerce world, it's time to start thinking about a holiday update to your website, backend, and SEO.
For those who read our guide on updating your website for Black Friday, some of this will sound familiar, but the holiday season is one of the biggest spending seasons of the year. Your website needs to work fast, handle increased traffic, be prepared for increased sales (and deliveries!), and be visible enough that all those eager shoppers can find your great products or services.
Making these updates is relatively easy with a great web builder or eCommerce platform. Still, some details will help you understand what changes you will need to make, why they matter, and how you can leverage this knowledge for any future update. So, let's stop stalling, get into the holiday spirit, and talk about your holiday update and how to prepare your holiday SEO for 2023.
Five Ways to Make a Holiday-Ready Website
There’s no one way to prepare your website to catch all those shoppers, so we’ll be discussing five different approaches to holiday marketing ideas. You can fine-tune your keywords and SEO, showcase your holiday spirit on your landing page, update your content with festive material, give your backend a well-deserved tuneup, reroute your website navigation, and more. If you do any one of these, you’ll already have an advantage, but if you want a holiday-ready website, make sure you touch all five of these tips for SEO and marketing.
1. Identify Relevant Keywords for The Holidays
Keywords and keyphrases are major factors in how you can make your website more visible on search engines through a process known as SEO. Search engine optimization is often associated with organic traffic, meaning traffic that arrives on your website naturally as part of web searches your users are likely to perform. Unlike sponsored search rankings that operate on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, SEO can be much less expensive but requires more work and sometimes a little luck.
The idea is to place holiday keyphrases like “best Christmas gift ideas” on your website to guide Google users to your storefront. An increase in traffic leads to an increase in sales, all without buying a single advertisement, which is why despite the hundreds of billions spent on online advertising, over 50% of website traffic comes from organic search in 2023. Investing in good SEO is strongly recommended, even if you’ve set aside money to advertise.
For your holiday SEO strategy, start by finding some seasonal topics related to your service or product. This could include things like dental services for Halloween or cooking appliances for Thanksgiving. Remember that for holidays like International Women’s Day or Father’s Day, this could mean including the phrase “for dad” or “for my girlfriend.” Regardless, keep your audience in mind and what specific holidays may mean for them.
Next, update your content for the season. Winter holiday keywords aren’t going to get a lot of attention during the off-season, but they spike heavily later in the year. Remember to look for long-tail keywords to match specific search queries related to your offerings. This will help users find exactly what they need on your website.
Finally, optimize your titles and meta descriptions to improve your click-through rate (CTR). These terms refer to the blue text you find on a Google search engine results page (SERP) and the text underneath it. You can even get ideas from your competitors’ paid ad titles and meta descriptions for some help on what will rank.
Remember to research the subject thoroughly, and consider using some SEO tools to help you find those important keyphrases or check where your website currently ranks.
2. Create a Holiday Landing Page and Show Your Holiday Deals
When the holidays arrive, you decorate your house to fit the season, and your landing page should be no different. Updating your landing page or creating a new one doesn't have to be hard, and in some cases, it won’t cost you anything, meaning a free landing page.
In most cases, you should highlight a single product, service, or sale on your landing page. This gives first-time visitors a sense of urgency and a fear of missing out on a great deal, especially when paired with an email or outreach campaign. You can use clearance sales on older stock to further attract eager buyers looking for a hot deal in time for the holidays as well. Just make sure to have links to other related offerings in case the product or package isn’t quite what your visitor is looking for, and make sure you’re utilizing your hero area to its fullest potential.
Another great way to grab attention and give your visitors a sense of value is to offer your customers a holiday bonus or advertise a customer loyalty program. This approach has several benefits, including free feedback from your customers if you offer rewards for filled-out questionnaires or signups (a 10% discount can go a long way to enticing your users). You can even send out emails if you decide to act on your visitors' feedback, which is a great way of showing them that you value their input.
3. Put Some Holiday Spirit into Your Content
If your website has a social media presence or a blog with plenty of visitors, you’ll want to tailor your content around the holidays. This is usually as easy as learning from your SEO or simply knowing your customer base well enough to know what they will be looking for around the gift-giving season. Be sure to use bright, vibrant, exciting colors and visuals when you have the option, and keep the message friendly, uplifting, relatable, and heartfelt. Memes from classic holiday movies are a fun way to approach this task, as is attaching sentimental messages to any ads or educational material.
One great approach, if you have a strong user base, is to make user-generated content a focal point. You can generate this through holiday contests or simply share some interesting statistics from your users. An example of this is Spotify’s annual Wrapped Report, which shows each user what they listened to over the course of the year. In a world filled with advertisements designed to get you to buy something, a company that shares genuinely interesting facts can be a breath of fresh air and give your company a cozy image that your users will want to share.
4. Check Your Website’s Technical Issues
Now that we have an idea of how you can update your website, let's look at some ways to improve its performance. SEO and SERP rankings aside, you’ll need to check your website for indexing issues and broken links, then optimize it for fast load times to deal with fresh incoming traffic. Making sure your website performance is top-notch for the holiday season will reduce bounce rates and ensure a frictionless experience for your visitors.
Start by using Google Search Console’s built-in page indexing report. This can tell you why certain pages are not indexed by Google (meaning not showing up in search results) and show you what you can improve about each page’s experience. It can even show you historical data about your indexed pages, which can be valuable when paired with a solid SEO strategy.
Google Search Console can also show you if you have any broken links. It’s generally not a good look when one of your links leads to nowhere, especially given that you’re expecting an increase in site traffic. This is a ‘devil-in-the-details’ aspect that should not be overlooked if you expect to present your website at its best. Lastly, make sure your website is working at top speed.
5. Optimize Your Mobile-Responsiveness
It cannot be said enough: the mobile-first approach is critical for any eCommerce storefront. Last year, a majority of shoppers expected to make a purchase on their phone, and by not thinking about how people shop on mobile devices, you stand to lose a significant chunk of that audience if you’re not ready, so make sure your website is mobile-responsive.
Start by cutting back your content a bit, spacing out your links, and using a large, understandable typeface. Make your images and CSS lightweight and quick loading, and make your buttons large enough to be tapped. Optimize your forms for a mobile interface and eliminate pop-up advertisements. Difficult-to-close ads on mobile are not only frustrating, as they take up valuable screen real estate, but even worse, they redirect people off of your website from simple accidental taps.
Finally, check your mobile responsiveness score. This is usually free and can give you valuable insight into why your webpage may not be loading quickly. With a good eCommerce platform, this usually is not an issue, but checking is the first preventative step to ensuring a good user experience.
A Holiday Update is All You Need
Holiday eCommerce is lucrative, and not tending to your website's health before diving into end-of-the-year sales traffic is a risky decision. Sales at the end of the year have consistently increased every year, with even 2020’s pandemic-driven online shopping spike outdone the very next year. Over $220 billion was spent in the US alone in 2022, and projections for 2023 put it well over $250 billion.
Making your website holiday-ready is a relatively small task and one that is even easier with great eCommerce solutions like Ucraft Next, especially considering the holiday element updates and metrics you can use to fine-tune your website further. The simple fact is that consumers come out in droves at the end of the year. All you need to do is be visible and have a little holiday spirit.