Leveraging seasonal keywords: Your 6-step guide to holiday SEO success

Whether it’s Black Friday, Christmas, or your summer end of season sale, having a solid SEO strategy is vital for eCommerce success. As nice as it would be to put some great deals up on your website and watch the customers roll in, it requires more work and planning than that.

If you want to achieve your goals and have the SEO department be the darling of the company, you need to implement proper processes to get people spending on your website during these key sales periods. The good news is that this doesn’t need to be as complex as it might seem.

In this blog, we’ll provide you with six key tips to help your holiday SEO efforts succeed. If you want to discuss how our eCommerce SEO specialists can help your brand take its seasonal performance to the next level, get in touch today!

1. Work in advance

Staying a season ahead of your customers is easier said than done – there’s always something important which needs your immediate attention. But if you want to maximise your seasonal SEO success, working in advance really is vital.

Google and other search engines can take a few weeks to properly rank a page for all relevant searches, so if you’re forced to work on everything last minute and only get your Christmas page up in mid-November, the odds are that your organic performance is going to be disappointing. 

And the same goes throughout the year. If you’re in fashion eCommerce, work on your summer dress pages during winter and early spring, so when the weather starts warming up you’re already ranking. It can be difficult to start, but once you’re in the habit or working a quarter in advance, it pays huge dividends.

To easily get a quick overview of what times of year your products peak, check out our post on how to put together a seasonal dashboard to speed up your planning for the next 12 months.

2. Retain your URLs every year

Hands up if you’ve ever created a URL such as /christmas-2023 or /summer-sale-2023. My guess is that most people, much like this very writer, have to raise their hands now.

On the surface, the logic does make sense. If you create a URL focused on the year, search engines will understand this is new and relevant to people searching for information about ‘Christmas 2023 gifts’ or similar. And these are the exact people you want to attract.

It doesn’t quite work this way, however.

When you create a new URL it gets indexed by Google. Then, as you create internal links it gains relevance around a topic. Afterwards, you’ll start getting links from external sources – this could be anything from media links to people sharing the page with friends or co-workers via social media. With each new link, your page builds link equity and topical authority, meaning it can rank slightly better than before. 

If you create a new page every year, you’re throwing all this hard work away and essentially building your presence on Google from scratch all over again.

Instead, you should create static URLs (/christmas or /summer-sale, for example) which don’t include years and use them annually. While your new URLs will face the usual struggle to get off the ground the first time around, you’ll start from a much higher base the following year and be able to improve quickly. This helps you maximise your chance to rank well and drive organic revenue through these pages. 

As a nice side-benefit, having one page per event – instead of having to trawl through around ten for each you’ve created over the years – makes adding content and navigating your CMS so much easier!

3. Update before you create

On the subject of creating pages which you can use again and again, your seasonal content plan should always start with ensuring the pages you’ve already created are working as hard as possible.

While creating new pages is more exciting and expands the number of keywords you could potentially rank for, driving real results naturally takes a little longer. Enhancing pages you’ve already created, on the other hand, can drive improvements in revenue quickly and give you a stronger base to build from throughout the season.

Use Google Search Console and similar tools to establish exactly what keywords your pages rank for before. Then, conduct an audit of the page’s content and a competitor review for the priority keywords to establish any tweaks you could make to improve performance. Sometimes, something as simple as adding an extra paragraph explaining a concept which you currently miss can make all the difference.

Once you’re confident in the ability of the pages you have live to perform, you can move onto new page creation.

4. Focus on matching intent

One could argue that matching user intent is the most important ranking factor. You could create a page which attracts thousands of quality links, covers a topic in excruciating detail over 10,000 words, and is written by leading experts. But if users just want to buy something and leave, your page isn’t going to rank as well as your competitor’s standard product page.

Before you start creating your page, review what type of page currently ranks. If category pages rank, that’s what you’re going to have to create. Google monitors user behaviour across millions of searches every day – it knows how people respond to different page types for different queries and serves users the kind statistically proven to engage visitors.

You can also use this research to help you prioritise. For example, say you sell consumer electronics and want to create a page on the ‘best Black Friday deals for televisions’. However, but studying rankings, you learn that third-party review pages rank for this term rather than retailers. That’s a sign Google knows people want third-party opinions for this query, and you’re going to struggle to rank well. In this instance, de-prioritising this page to focus on others you have in mind might well be the best course of action.

5. Use holding pages

While you may plan to have the big launch of your seasonal campaign start on a specific day, the most organised shoppers will often start searching long before this to plan out their purchases. 

This is the exact type of customer you’d expect to be ready to spend on the big day. So, if they land on your site to be greeted by an out of date category page or a blank template page, they’re likely to bounce and are much less likely to remember you when they’re doing their seasonal shopping.

As soon as the seasonal event ends, replace the page with a well-designed template which lets people know all the relevant information about next year’s event and encourages them to sign up for exclusive member offers.

Doing this not only gives new visitors a great early experience with your brand, it provides people with a solid reason to further engage with and provide an email address, allowing you to bring them into your ongoing sales funnel. 

6. Don’t ignore your blog

When you’re thinking about building out and optimising pages for seasonal events, your category and product pages will naturally be your go-to. After all, the main focus of any event is to bring in as much revenue as possible so these pages which focus on ranking for major commercial terms are the most important for your goals.

However, just because the blog is less effective from a direct revenue perspective, it doesn’t mean it can go ignored. 

Round-up posts which provide people with insights on what products might be right for them or answer common questions are a great way to capture people performing research before pulling the trigger on a purchase, building brand recognition and affinity in the process. This increases the chance they’ll visit you later and convert.

And from a pure SEO perspective, supporting content with strategic internal links to category and product pages helps to boost your rankings for said category and product pages. In a lot of cases, these internal links are an essential part of good performance and a common missing part of SEO strategies, so putting a real focus in here can help keep you ahead of the curve.

Happy holidays

So there, you have it: six tips on how you can be successful in your holiday SEO efforts.

While SEO constantly changes, following the foundational principle of working in advance, making the most of your existing pages and aligning your content with user intent will help you achieve success year after year. Looking for more insights on how you can improve your seasonal organic performance? Get in touch today to discuss how we can help you.