Hopefully in the last few months you’ve been improving your site performance on the back of Google’s page experience update anyway, but now you’ll also need to make sure your servers and site are ready to handle the increased traffic. Otherwise, all that work will have been worthless.
Failing to offer a great user experience during these busy sales will not only harm your organic rankings, it’ll result in higher bounce rates and cart abandonment.
According to a study conducted by Google, an increase in page load time from 1 to 3 seconds increases your bounce rate by 32%.
Ideally, a website should load in less than 2-3 seconds says John Mueller and for ecommerce sites it’s recommended to lower this to less than 2. Here’s some ways to achieve that:
Obviously, the impact of these implementations varies from site to site, so you should run a few speed tests using Google’s Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse tools to find out where your quickest wins are. Make sure you include your Black Friday and Cyber Monday pages, the homepage and any pages in your check-out process in this analysis.
Where performance improvements can’t be made, or whilst you work on improving them, be more communicative via your interface so users know what’s going on as that will also help reduce your bounce rate:
Besides improving the load speed of your cart pages, there are a few other things you can implement to improve your checkout flow, reducing cart abandonment and boosting your website sales during peak season:
For example, when placing an order with Mixbook, you get a limited time to edit or upgrade your order before it ships:
To target competitive terms around competitive holiday sales effectively, you should have a dedicated landing page that’s optimised in advance of the season starting.
The page should be kept indexable all year round and display evergreen content for customers, such as other relevant deals or offers, to ensure the pages retain ranking value. It also means next year you won’t have to launch a new page and start from scratch (of course, you’ll have to keep the page on the sitemaps, ensure it remains crawlable, and keep some internal links to continue channelling link equity to it).
Next year you’ll just have to make some updates on the page content to target relevant terms e.g. you should include the relevant year on some of these elements, to assure customers that your sales are current, but avoid using years in URLs if you want to keep reusing them (e.g. www.example.com/black-friday-2021). This is particularly important if you’ve been running a Digital PR campaign to build links to your Black Friday page, as this will allow you to accumulate the benefits of the backlinks acquired every year.
This article explains in even more detail how to deal with seasonal products, categories and recurring events.
Now you’ve created and optimised dedicated landing pages for your holiday sales, you need to make sure you advertise them on your site. A banner for your landing pages on the homepage and across the site will help visitors immediately notice your upcoming sales as soon as they land.
You could also use a timer to generate a sense of urgency, and it’s a good time to start promoting your USPs more obviously too e.g. memberships, samples, trials, next-day delivery, free returns, etc.
Check out Lookfantastic’s example below:
Besides including this information on your USP banners, you should also keep your delivery and return policies visible on your product pages and ensure they are clearly explained. Things such as cost, delivery time or locations can get in the way of your sales. However, a good delivery message can help your consumer’s decision making and improve website conversion rates, and, similarly, having a good return policy can be a huge trust influencer when it comes to purchasing decisions.
A few things to include:
Make sure all of these are visible on the home, product, checkout and basket pages. Boohoo.com have a great example of this, with instructions on how to return a product depending on your location in Europe:
Make sure you include keywords with commercial intent in your keyword targeting strategy for the sales period. These are the terms searched by customers who are likely to buy and you’ll find them by looking at the ‘competition’ tab on Google’s Keyword Planner, which reflects how many people bid on that keyword in Google Ads.
Usually, when more brands are bidding on a keyword, it’s a sign that there’s money to be made. Prioritise optimisation for ‘medium’ and ‘high’ competition keywords with your transactional seasonal pages where possible as these queries will help you capitalise on the demand peak and have a higher ROI.
The ‘suggested bid’ column in Keyword Planner can also be used this way, with transactional terms having a higher figure. These will be more competitive, however, so you need to be aware of your limitations there.
For example, the term ‘Japanese green tea’ highlighted below has a suggested bid of £0.50 because not everyone searching for this query is ready to make a purchase, some of them might just be looking for a definition or associated health benefits. Alternatively, the query ‘buy black tea’ has a suggested bid of £2.02, even when its search volume is significantly lower.
Here’s some further reading on how you can adapt to seasonality to make the most of period spikes.
According to Google, more than 70% of consumers started their holiday shopping experience without knowing what they were going to buy. Creating gift guides to reach undecided shoppers is a good use of time, especially if you categorise them by product category, buyer personas, occasion, price ranges, etc.
Popsugar and Allure have some great examples of this, and don’t forget to include them in your Digital PR strategy for Black Friday, so you can channel the link equity acquired through external backlinks to the products listed.
Work with your PPC team to get data around the best-performing ad copy variations from their paid search campaigns and incorporate these findings into your SEO strategy to increase your organic CTRs.
Prioritise your Black Friday and Cyber Monday pages but apply these learnings to your discounted products too. You’ll need to prioritise your efforts, so start with the ones that bring the most revenue to the site and work down your list.
Over the last few years, live chat widgets have become an essential customer service tool and have proven to increase conversions, as users who have the chance to ask questions are more likely to complete a purchase than those left answered. Get one if you haven’t.
If you already have this tool, use the questions asked by potential customers to improve the content on your site and include the answers in your marketing materials.
Lastly, don’t forget to have an emergency point of contact in your Dev and SEO teams in case any issues arise over the holiday season. Don’t leave anything to chance!
These last-minute tactics can make the difference between appearing at the top of SERPs or remaining on page 2, and will help you avoid a potential disaster in terms of lost sales. Furthermore, these tips can be applied to other sales seasons and also contribute to your overall SEO strategy outside of those times.
If you want more quick wins to boost the organic performance of your ecommerce website all year round, check out this post or carry on down to read some related articles below.