If demand for your products spikes during the holidays, you have an opportunity to drive revenue with holiday SEO.
The sooner you start planning your holiday SEO strategy and publishing content, the more holiday traffic you will get from search engines.
The holiday SEO planning process involves thoughtful keyword research, creating optimized content for the season and linking your holiday content properly.
This article describes each step of the holiday SEO planning process in detail.
September is the perfect time to plan your holiday content and start publishing content. Big commerce released a study showing that content published 45 days before a holiday will rank for 90% of its keywords on the day of the holiday. If the same content is published 7 days before the holiday, it will rank for only 50% of its keywords. So, publish your content well ahead of the holidays (at least 45 days in advance).
Ignore the 45 day rule at your own risk!
Keyword research will help you discover the holiday and gift keywords that your customers use during the season.
Start your holiday season keyword research with some simple questions: Do people give your products as a gifts? If so, who is the likely recipient? What specific holiday occasion do people use your products for?
For example, if you sell holiday candles you know that they are often used as part of a holiday dinner table setting or displayed on a mantel. So, you could target keywords like “christmas dinner table setting” and “holiday mantel decorations”.
A watch maker could focus on keywords that include the recipient of the gift. For example, “groomsmen gifts”, “watch gift for dad” and “watch gift set for a couple”.
Use Google’s Keyword Planner and the tool keyword.io to build out your target keywords list. The highest value keywords are relevant to your products, have high search volume and low competition.
Keep in mind the difference between holiday keywords and gift keywords:
Holiday keywords target shoppers who are looking for an item for a specific holiday – e.g. “christmas gift for my boyfriend” and “holiday cards”.
Gift keywords target shoppers who are searching by recipient or non-holiday occasion – For example, “gift for a teacher” and “groomsmen gifts”. Gift keywords can drive valuable traffic all year.
Target both holiday and gift keywords.
You will find the best keywords by drilling down to find the most relevant keywords for your products. For example, a jewelry brand could target “jewelry gift for new mom” and a toy brand might target “gift ideas for toddlers”.
Don’t forget less popular holidays that drive meaningful traffic – e.g. “Hanukkah gifts ” and “Kwanzaa gifts”. The table below illustrates the search volume for many Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa keywords. Although the christmas keywords have much more traffic, they are also much more competitive. Consider targeting the lower volume holidays to take advantage of this opportunity.
How to Evaluate the Competition for a Keyword
Some keywords are so competitive that you have little chance of ranking on the first page of the search engine results. It is best to avoid optimizing content for these keywords and focus your effort on more attainable keyword rankings.
To evaluate the competition for a keyword, simply type the keyword into Google and see which websites rank in the top 3 positions. In the example below for the keyword “christmas gifts” you will see some stiff competition. These competitors will be tough to outrank because they are each well established websites and their page titles include the keyword phrase “christmas gifts”. These titles are well-optimized for this keyword.
For an example of a keyword with less competition, see the results for “scented yoga candles”. You will see that the titles of the pages that appear in the top 3 positions do not specifically include “scented yoga candles” so they are poorly optimized for this keyword.
So, instead of targeting a super competitive keyword like “christmas gifts”, target less competitive variations like “unusual christmas gifts” , “christmas gifts for mom” and “christmas gifts for husband”.
Choose the best keywords based on search volume and competition. Then, start planning content for each keyword.
Creating content can be time-consuming. That is why we recommend starting by creating collections of existing products that target high value keywords.
For example, an online toy retailer could create a new collection titled “holiday gifts for toddlers” or an online candle seller could create a collection of products titled “yoga candle gift sets”. Creating a new collection typically requires choosing products on your site and writing a brief description.
Create gift guides to attract searchers looking for “gift ideas” – i.e. target keywords like “christmas gift ideas” and “gift ideas for recent grad”.
Finally, writing articles, reviews and comparison guides that target your high value keywords will help you rank. Publish blog posts that target high value holiday keywords. Create an individual blog post for each keyword and include the keyword in the title for each post.
Important: Do not remove your holiday content from your website after the season ends. During the holiday season you will generate some links and authority for your holiday pages that you can leverage next year, if you keep them live on your site.
Linking Your Holiday Content
Finally, make sure your holiday content is properly linked (internally and externally).
Internal links for your holiday content will help users find it and increase its search engine authority to help it rank. During the holiday season, we recommend linking your most important pages (e.g. your black friday page) in your navigation, footer and somewhere in your homepage. Then, when the season is over keep the page live but remove the most prominent links. Be sure to leave at least one link to each holiday page to avoid orphaning the page.
External links are harder to get but can have a huge impact on the rankings for your holiday content. Every time a website links to your holiday content search engines consider this an endorsement of the content and give it better rankings.
Before you write a new piece of holiday content, think about who would be interested in linking to it. If you can think of a number of blogs, partners or vendors who would link to it then you may be able to generate some links for it and get it to rank. And don’t forget to let them know about it when the content is published.
To succeed at holiday SEO, start early. Beginning your planning in the August/September timeframe is best. Use keyword research tools to find the perfect low-competition keywords that your customers use during the season to find gifts. If you can create linkable content, you will have a much better chance at ranking.