Techniques to Boost SEO Rankings for the Holidays

The holiday season is a stressful time, but a solid SEO strategy is one marketing element retailers don’t want to overlook. Even if you have the utmost confidence in your paid search efforts, there are still many opportunities to reach consumers organically. The following techniques will help put your business in front of more people searching for what you can provide during those crucial holiday shopping moments.

Use Schema Markup

Schema markup is a code that tags elements on a webpage to make it more readable to search engines. By incorporating structured data in a logical, organized way around your site, you’ll offer users an expanded view of your brand and products.

With schema implemented, search engines like Google can easily identify relevant information on your site to answer queries. For instance, you may use schema to highlight certain features and extra information about products, such as price, review score, and whether it’s in stock.

These details appear directly in search results in the form of rich snippets (see below). More product information on the SERP not only allows you to occupy additional real estate on the page, but also increases your chances of attracting customers likely to convert.

This rich snippet result includes product rating, price, and in-stock status.

Google’s Knowledge Graph is the future of search, with voice, video, and image search expected to bring the most organic impact by 2020. In fact, according to Andrew Ng, a leader in artificial intelligence, predicted that “50% of queries will be on speed or images.” (Source: Fast Company.) Schema markup helps Google develop a deeper understanding of your brand and show your site to the most highly relevant users, regardless of where and how they’re searching.

Optimize for Voice Search

We predict that purchases led by voice search will see a 2x to 3x increase this year over 2017. If you’ve thought little about reaching people through voice search, it’s a good idea to get started before the holiday rush.

Creating content for voice search is all about connecting with users on a deeper level, with your brand voice serving as a strategic initiative. Think about your customers and your potential customers. What’s important to them when they research products? What questions are they asking? How is your business uniquely qualified to fill their needs? The primary goal of the content on your site – especially on holiday landing pages – should be to answer these questions as comprehensively as possible, for every step of the customer journey.

Here are some basic steps to follow as you start optimizing your site for voice search:

  • Use resources like Answer the Public or Keywords Everywhere to gain a better understanding of the questions users are asking about your relevant search terms.
  • Write content that addresses these questions in a clear, concise manner and uses natural, conversational language.
  • Adopt the same approach for your metadata and ensure you maintain a consistent brand voice throughout.

An example of the search result for “voice search” on Answer the Public.

Implementing structured data, as previously recommended, will also help with voice search. Imagine a consumer asking their voice assistant about a product. With the appropriate schema markup applied, the device can recognize pertinent info on your site and deliver it right to the user. A majority of Google Home results come from featured snippets, so look to capture these opportunities, as well.

For more data and insights about voice search, download our free Search Without Screens research report.

Migrate to HTTPS

In July 2018, Google’s Chrome browser strated marking non-HTTPS sites as not secure. If you haven’t transitioned your site to HTTPS yet, this is the equivalent of greeting your customers with a giant warning sign on the front door. To avoid this fate, check these items off your list:

  • Make sure your domain has a registered secure certificate installed on the server.
  • Your domain and all subsequent subdomains should be HTTPS.
  • Ensure all internal, external, and paid search links are HTTPS.
  • Update your default URL to HTTPS in Google Analytics.

Avoid the dreaded “Not secure” label. (Source: Google Blog)

When you’ve made the switch to HTTPS, you’ll improve your URL quality score and reduce bounce rates: essential ingredients for a happy holiday season!

Update Your Google My Business Listing

If you have a brick-and-mortar presence, your Google My Business profile can be a powerful way to direct searchers from the SERP to your store. However, it won’t do you much good if it’s not regularly maintained.

During the busy holiday season, on-the-go shoppers search for nearby stores where they can find that elusive item on their gift list. Google My Business helps you reach these consumers with information about your brand in Search, Maps, and other places in the Google Network.

Provide users with as many details as possible, including accurate location addresses and phone numbers. If you have special holiday store hours, update your listing to reflect them. Nobody likes to drive to the store in cold, wintry December weather only to find it closed.

You can also publish Google Posts from your GMB dashboard. These bite-sized updates are perfect for informing customers about current promotions, sales, and holiday events. They can appear directly in Search and Maps results, further boosting your visibility in local searches.

Make sure you update your Google My Business Listing so people know when you’re open.

Mind Your Mobile Speed

This holiday season, we predict that purchases made from mobile phones will comprise over 45% of all online purchases and over 68% of all online visits. With so much action coming from mobile devices, your brand can’t afford to lag behind.

Did we mention holiday shoppers (particularly those of the last-minute variety) aren’t the most patient bunch? If your mobile site takes more than a couple seconds to load, they’ll likely be off to the next search result. Prevent this pitfall by optimizing your mobile site for lightning-fast performance.

Large images with bloated file sizes are often to blame for sluggish mobile sites. Compress these elements to get yourself back on the fast track. Likewise, consider the use of videos and JavaScript on your pages. While they enhance the user experience if used strategically, they can also be major drags on load time.

You can also build Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) that offer a fast, easy-to-navigate experience across mobile devices. Not sure how your site stacks up against the competition? Try Google’s mobile speed test to see if you make the grade or still need to accelerate.

A Season’s Worth of Resources

The holiday preparation doesn’t stop here. We have a growing collection of free tools available on our Holiday Readiness Resources page, including a workbook packed with useful tips, one-on-one clinics with our search experts, and more. You’ll also want to check out our on-demand webinars for insightful sessions on a wide range of holiday-relevant marketing topics.

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