One of the most common problems ecommerce websites have at Christmas is the sheer volume of competition. Regardless of what your website sells, there will be competition. And it's unusual this would just be one or two websites - it's normally at least 10 or 20, if you're lucky. So today is September 2nd: Let's take a look at how you can help yourself this Christmas with a little work today.
113 Days to Christmas
We are almost at the milestone of the year that is 100 days until Christmas. This may seem arbitrary but actually if you hit 100 days to go and you've not started (or maybe even completed) your SEO for Christmas then you are more likely to fail this year than not.
Below are 10 ways for you to prepare your website for Christmas this year. These 10 ways to prepare are ideal for almost any website selling anything, from Santas Magic Key, to Wedding Photography, to Fashion Photography, to Piano Lessons.
These 10 ways to prepare your website are not exact sciences, they do need to be tweaked for each website and requirement. Some pages on your website will be evergreen for attracting users from search pages but others will be seasonal. It is those later pages we are looking at today, sure these methods may help other pages but those seasonal pages are our SEO Targets today.
- Santas Grotto Must Be Fully Stocked
Before you begin to optimise your website you should consider the "normal" everyday stuff. Look at your stock levels, price compare with competitors, hell compare your products directly with theirs (is your product a higher quality and look nicer?). All this everyday stuff needs to be done on a regular basis throughout the Christmas period, if you aren't on the ball with this you will struggle before the starting gate.
- Tweak Your Design to be More Festive
For this you may need the help of your website designer / developer. There are some obvious changes like adding a few images of presents and Christmas trees to banners etc but beyond obviously looking nice a festive design really helps. A festive web design helps your user to believe that you are a) prepared for Christmas (and so can deliver) and b) your shop changes with the times (and is as such upto date). It's a relatively easy way to look more professional, seasonal and ready.
- Put The User Experience First
A great user experience at Christmas can mean the difference between you getting a customer and your competition getting that buyer. You should aim to make sure you have every bit of information possible, be that about the product, your delivery and returns, your history and anything else on your website. The more information you have the longer someone is likely to stick around and more importantly buy. More information can literally translate in the mind of a user as more trustworthy. So lots of information and clear images is key. Click here to read more about the meeting of seo and webdesign, in my guest post for @boagworld.
- Clear Your Navigation
One of the first rules of SEO is to make a website easy to navigate, this is more important during the Christmas season, for the reasons explained above. During the Christmas period you may want to consider cutting down / re-designing your navigation to be simpler. Links to key categories and categories which traditionally sell well for you at Christmas will help. They both help move the user from A to B but also help search engines to see these are your more important pages right now, which can potentially mean more traffic!
- Offer That Something Extra
Nothing says Christmas (and New Year Sales) like the "special offer". This can be as simple as Free Gift Wrap or Buy One Get One Free - or more decisive like "10% off everything". It doesn't matter which route you take on your website but you should be clear about the offer, post it here there and everywhere. Write a blog about it to advertise it, have a banner on your homepage and if possible permanently in your page header. If you have a bricks and mortar store you can take advantage of "late shoppers" by having the Pick Up in Store option, this means you get an extra few days of Christmas sales compared with the rest of the internet who must leave a few days for shipping. Take advantage of this.
- SEO Keyphrases for the Holidays
The idea is pretty simple. It is Christmas so using terms such as presents, gifts, santa etc will all help show your users and the search engines that you are ready for the season. But more than this do research into which terms are more searched for at this time of year to do with specific products, if you sell novelty socks does the search "novelty socks" garner more searches that "funny socks" for instance. For more info on how to do this read my previous post about seasonal search trends.
- Prepare for Beyond Christmas
Now not all websites can / will do this, indeed most won't. Christmas as a season reaches beyond Christmas day, it reaches to new year! That is great as it gives you a few more days to swap over to a new year sale, this is a trick most website owners and designers forget about. If you can show your website is awake and not behind you will likely get more sales, ok if you are very Christmas gift orientated it won't help unless you have a clearance sale but if you sell things like piano lessons or wedding photography or baby clothes this is your chance to gain more sales. Swap to a new year sale, change your banners but keep offers alive and if you've surplus products shift them with bigger discounts when someone signs up to your newsletter.
- Make Use of Online Social Marketing
This is one of the most obvious techniques most people forget about in an effort to make their website perfect. A perfect website is great but no website is perfect so at some point stop and consider what else you can do. Using social media and your followers to help promote can really help you. For instance if you've an interesting special offer consider letting just one social platform know, this makes it exclusive and your followers feel loved. Of course it's exclusive and special so users are likely to tell friends about it, and whoops quite soon you've a much bigger audience - mainly because you were secretive. This can also work well for email newsletters.
- Email Newsletter Fatigue
It can be quite annoying the number of newsletters that pile up each Christmas in your inbox. Everything from gifts for cats to brand marketing basics and beyond. You should join the hordes of emails but make it personal, use their names to customise the subject line and email - making an email personal means its much more likely to garner a sale. Further to this make the email clear, don't fill it with 25 different offers, just one or two quite clear special offers.
- Use Analytics Now and Next Year
Do you remember last year? No? go to your analytics and find last November and December. Use these stats to look at most popular pages and most popular keywords for those pages or most popular searches on your website. This information can be critical to helping you target your website this year, it ties right in with number 6 in this list. Further than this keep an eye on this years stats if you notice lots of visits to product pages but not to checkout pages take a look at your calls to action, can you improve them make the process simpler or even remove a step from the process. Simple is key, analytics is the key to moving your site forward.