30 second summary:
- The best time to prepare for the holidays was 6 months ago. The second best time is now.
- Stay Ahead: Set a start date for next year's holiday season by considering link acquisition requirements for target SERPs.
- Vacation related URLs on your website are not temporary. They should be an evergreen part of your year-round organic strategy.
- Tap last year's Google Search Console data. Identify vacation terms that you've popped up for and make sure you have intentional pages for them.
The end of the year holiday season is stressful. And whether you are celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or winter solstice, Las Posadas or Festivus as a digital marketing expert, your daily work does not do much to relieve this stress.
Between the Q4 rush, the shortened weeks due to public holidays and juggling a litany of “real” vacation preparation, the holidays for people like you and me often make us feel like we have more work to do than there are hours in the city by day .
I get it. That is much. Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, we must keep the promises we have made to our teams and customers. We have to meet quotas and set key figures. As a result, every year around this time, Victorious receives numerous requests for guidance on how to best prepare organic search channels to take advantage of the holiday season, especially Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The problem is that these requests are usually three to six months late. But as the old saying goes, “The best time to start is yesterday. The next best time is now. “If you've read this article and feel a little behind the eight, read on.
Understand the requirements for link detection
If you work in an organization that is based on metrics and needs data to inform projects, one of the simpler ways to know when to start your SEO vacation prep is to determine the number of Refering Domains (RDs) that are required for competitive parity from an outside perspective with the sites you want to emulate. Once you have that number, you can work backwards to land on a start date.
Here is an example. For the Black Friday Clothing Deals query, the average number of RDs for the top five results this year is 51.
Now let's say that your link capture efforts – if you shoot all the cylinders – can get you 10 links per month to a given URL. For the example, let's assume the URL is brand new and does not contain RDs.
From here it's a simple math problem. You take the average number of RDs for the top 5 results, subtract the current number of RDs from your destination URL and divide that by your monthly link acquisition rate. The product is the number of months it will take you to reach competitive parity.
So in our example we need to start 5.1 months before the planned vacation – in this case on Black Friday – to ensure that we have met the external requirements of these specific SERP requirements.
Note: Not all links are created equal. Depending on the quality of the links you purchase, you may need more or less than average. However, it is recommended that you start with the absolute count found above and adjust your efforts as the months progress.
Understand content needs
With your start date set, understanding your content requirements is a good next step. We use SurferSEO for this. With SurferSEO we can figure out the number of words to strive for, the mix of important and semantically related keywords and much more.
After navigating to SurferSEO's content editor, paste the query for which you want to collect information, change the settings as you wish, and click "Build Query".
At Victorious, we typically use the "Mobile" setting in the switcher shown above as this is a better representation of what Google is looking for when there is mobile-first indexing. Additionally, we include NLP entities to give us as much information as possible about the semantic makeup of the five best results.
After running the query you should see:
Competitive selection is very important. You need to make sure that you are not picking abnormal results. For example, in our results for Black Friday Clothing Deals, Walmart is in the top 5 with a total word count of five. Although this number is incorrect, a quick review of the URL in question reveals that the content and ranking is due to the strength of Walmart -Domains are very low overall. For this reason, we will not include the result in our list of competitors to be checked.
After selecting your top five competitors, SurferSEO will return content guidelines to follow in the form of total word count, a series of paragraphs and more. While you can spend some time going through and changing the options available, we recommend that you make it easy for yourself and continue your recommendations by clicking the “Let's Go” button.
At this point, you should now have a range of word counts to target with your content, as well as some insight into each of the words and NLP entities that you should include to ensure competitive parity from a content perspective.
From there, it's so easy to let your writers know about the prompt and the guidelines provided.
Create Evergreen Deals Pages
When I asked the strategy team here at Victorious about their hot takes on vacation SEO tips, I got a great scalable suggestion from one of our strategists, Vlad Davniuk, and Lead SEO, Pablo Villalpando: create one for every permutation of vacation deals Unique landing page You identify yourself in your keyword research process.
For example, instead of creating a new page every year targeting things like "New Year 2020 Deals", "New Year 2021 Deals", etc., consider creating a single "New Year Deals" that you update every year based on a review of that what Google rewards this year in terms of content for this query.
By maintaining a page that you update annually, you can create links across the year instead of having to reset them every new year, which ultimately saves you a lot of time and resources.
Treating these pages as part of your core strategy – being careful not to neglect them, but also not to overly focus them – can avoid a lot of stress that you would experience if you had to do this process from scratch every holiday season . Thinking of these pages as "evergreen" pages gives you a template to work with and templates always save time.
Do you still have to convince? Here are the tactics ASOS uses in the wild. While navigating to the Black Friday Clothing Deals URL, we encountered the following:
However, a quick look at the screenshot taken a few months ago from the Internet Archive's Wayback machine shows that:
If a $ 3.4 billion company like ASOS uses this tactic, there's no harm in giving it a try!
Google My Business advertising postings
Another tip from victorious strategist Vlad Davniuk concerns using Google My Business posts. If you are a local business, your Google My Business can be an immediate source to grab vacation attention through the use of posts promoting your vacation deals. Take a look at the example here (although it's not specifically related to vacation deals):
The only caveat with this one is that your prospect needs to be quite a long way on their buying journey as the posts only show up when your business is specifically searched.
Below are the steps to publish a post on Google My Business according to Google:
- Sign in to Google My Business on your computer.
- If you have multiple locations, open the location you want to update.
- Click in the menu
- At the top of the page, select the type of post you want to make: update, event, offer, or product.
- Click the items you want to add to your post: photos, videos, text, events, offers, or a button. Enter relevant information for each post you choose.
- Choose whether to publish or preview your post.
- To publish your post: In the top right, click
- To preview your changes: If you'd like to change your post, click Back in the top left. Edit your draft until it's ready to be published.
Check out the clicks and impressions from the Google Search Console last year
Another tip from Kenny Spotz, one of our top SEOs, is to dive into your website's Google Search Console data for insights into previous Cyber Monday, Black Friday and general vacation queries that your website was in showed up last year.
If you're new to Google Search Console, here's how to get to the type of data shown above:
- Navigate to your website property in the Google Search Console
- In the left navigation click on "Search Results"
- Click on "Date" and set the range to 16 months
- Click Query and filter the data on "Query With," "Black Friday" (or whatever variations you've identified, such as Cyber Monday, Christmas, and others).
Once you've identified the queries for which your website has appeared in the past, match them up with the URLs on your website that are shown for those queries and see that they adequately reflect the intent of the query.
What you're looking for are queries that you have ranked in the past and that are served through URLs that fundamentally do not match the intentions of those queries, such as: B. a general curling iron product page that Google has popped up for in the past Black Friday questions.
Once you have the list of intentions mismatched, you can group the queries by topic and build content based on those topics. And since Google has already shown that your website is preferred for these queries, you can assume that a certain authorization has already been established for them. As a result, creating pages specifically devoted to these vacation themes can be a quick win.
If the holidays this year surprised you, then the above measures should be prepared to be better prepared next time. Ultimately, organically preparing for the holidays is no different than the approach you now take with “concrete” product launches.
And this is where most people make the mistake. The pages you create to get the attention and sales of your vacation shouldn't be timed. The more you consider it a core aspect of your organic strategy, the easier it will be to plan, execute, and maintain a system for it in the future.
Houston Barnett-Gearhart is the Director of SEO at Victorious, where he not only oversees the strategy team responsible for delivering superior SEO campaigns to Victorious's customer base, but also drives product innovation and the idea of new ways to serve our customers to offer more amazing SEO.