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Five SEO tips that capture holiday attention and boost sales

December 9, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The best time to prepare for the holidays was 6 months ago. The second best time is now.
  • Stay ahead: pinpoint a launch date for next year’s holiday season by backing into link acquisition needs for target SERPs.
  • Holiday-related URLs on your site are not temporary. They should be evergreen components of your year-round organic strategy.
  • Tap into the previous year’s Google Search Console data. Identify holiday-related terms you’ve surfaced for and make sure you have intent-aligned pages for them.

The end-of-year holiday season is stressful. And whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice, Las Posadas or Festivus, as a digital marketing professional, your day-to-day job doesn’t do much to reduce that stress.

Between the Q4 rush, the abbreviated weeks due to bank holidays, and having to juggle a litany of “real world” holiday prep, the holidays for people like you and me often leave us feeling like we have more work than there are hours in the day.

I get it. It’s a lot. Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, we must make good on the promises we’ve made to our teams and our customers. We’ve got quotas to hit and metrics to make. As a result of that fact, every year around this time, Victorious receives a lot of requests for guidance on how best to prepare organic search channels to capitalize on the holiday season, specifically Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The problem is that these requests tend to come three to six months too late. But as the old saying goes, “The best time to start is yesterday. The next best time is now.” So, if you’ve found yourself reading this article and feeling a little behind the eight ball, read on.

Understand link acquisition needs

If you work in an organization that is metrics-driven and requires data to inform projects, one of the more straightforward methods to discerning when to launch your SEO holiday prep is ascertaining the number of Referring Domains (RDs) that are needed to have competitive parity from an off-site perspective with the sites you want to emulate. Once you have that number, you can work backward to land on a start date.

Here’s an example. For the query “black Friday clothing deals”, the average number of RDs for the top five results this year is 51.

Holiday shopping - Black Friday

Now, let’s say that your link acquisition efforts — when firing on all cylinders — are able to net you 10 links a month to a specified URL. And for the sake of the example, let’s assume that the URL is brand new with zero RDs.

From here, it’s a simple math problem. You take the average number of RDs for top-five results, subtract the current number of RDs of your target URL, and divide that by your monthly link acquisition rate. The product of this is the number of months you need to achieve competitive parity.

So, for our example, we’re looking at needing to start 5.1 months before the holiday we’re planning around — in this case Black Friday — to make sure we’ve appeased the off-site needs of these specific SERPs needs.

Note: Not all links are created equal. You may need more or less than the average based on the quality of the links you’re acquiring. Yet, starting with the absolute count arrived at above and adjusting your efforts as the months’ progress is recommended.

Understand content needs

With your launch date locked in, understanding your content needs is a good next step. To do that, we’ll be utilizing SurferSEO. SurferSEO allows us to find out the word count we need to strive towards, the mix of important and semantically-related keywords to include, and more.

Creating a query for holiday shopping

After navigating to SurferSEO’s Content Editor, you plug in the query that you want to gather intel on, change the settings to your liking, and hit “Create a query”.

At Victorious, we usually default to utilizing the “Mobile” setting in the toggle shown above because it’s a better representation of what Google is looking for given the presence of mobile-first indexation. Additionally, we include NLP entities to give us as much info about the semantic makeup of the top five results as possible.

After running the query, you should see something like this:

List after running a search query for holiday shopping

Competitive selection is very important. You need to make sure that you’re selecting non-anomalous results. For example, in our results for “black Friday clothing deals”, Walmart is in the top five with a total word count of five. Although this number isn’t accurate, a quick review of the URL in question shows that it is very thin on content and most likely ranking due to the strength of the Walmart domain as a whole. Because of this, we won’t include the result in our list of competitors to review.

After you’ve chosen your top five competitors, SurferSEO will begin returning content guidelines to follow in the form of total word count, a number of paragraphs, and more. While you can spend some time going through and modifying the options available to you, we recommend making it easy on yourself and moving forward with their recommendations by clicking “Let’s go”.

Result on search query performance

By this point, you should now have a word count range to target with your content, as well as insight into the individual words and NLP entities that you should include ensuring competitive parity from the content perspective.

From there, it’s as simple as unleashing your writers on the prompt and guidelines provided.

Create evergreen deals pages

When I asked the Strategy team here at Victorious for their hot takes for holiday SEO tips, I got a great scalable suggestion from one of our strategists, Vlad Davniuk, and Lead SEO, Pablo Villalpando: create a singular deals page for each holiday deal permutation you identify in your keyword research process.

For example, instead of creating a new page every year targeting things like “New Years 2020 deals”, “New Years 2021 deals”, etc., you should create a single “New Years (year) deals” page that you update every year based on a review of what Google is rewarding that year content-wise around that query.

By maintaining one page that you update on a yearly basis, you open up the ability to accrue links year-over-year rather than needing to “reset” with each new year, ultimately saving you a lot of time and resources.

In treating these pages as a part of your core strategy — taking care to not neglect them, but also not hyper-focus on them — you can avoid a lot of the stress you’d experience if you had to do this process every holiday season from the ground up. Approaching these pages as “evergreen” pages provides a template for you to work from and templates are always time savers.

Still need convincing? Here’s the tactic being utilized in the wild by ASOS. Navigating to their “black Friday clothing deals” URL, we’re met with the below:

Creating evergreen deal pages for holiday shopping 2021

However, a quick review of the screenshot captured just months ago by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine shows this:

Archive of deal page

If a $ 3.4B company such as ASOS is utilizing this tactic, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot!

Google My Business promo posts

Another tip from Victorious Strategist Vlad Davniuk involves the use of Google My Business posts. If you’re a business with a local presence, your Google My Business can be an immediate source of capturing holiday attention through the use of posts promoting your holiday deals. See the example here (though unrelated to holiday deals specifically):

Use Google My Business promo posts

The only caveat with this one is that your potential customer will need to be fairly far along in their purchase journey since the posts won’t surface unless your business is specifically searched for.

That said, here are the steps to publishing a post on Google My Business according to Google:

  • On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
    • If you have multiple locations, open the location you want to update.
  • From the menu, click
  • At the top of the page, choose the type of post you want to create: Update, Event, Offer, or Product.
    • Click the elements you want to add to your post: photos, videos, text, events, offers, or a button. Enter relevant information for each post addition you choose.
  • Choose to publish or preview your post.
    • To publish your post: In the top right, click
    • To get a preview of your changes: Click If you want to change your post, in the top left, click Back. Edit your draft until it’s ready to publish.

Look at previous year’s Google Search Console clicks and impressions

Another tip from another one of our Lead SEOs, Kenny Spotz, is to dive into your site’s Google Search Console data to glean insights into any previous Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and general holiday queries that your site surfaced for last year.

If you don’t yet know your way around Google Search Console, here are the steps to getting to the type of data shown above:

  1. Navigate to your site’s property within Google Search Console
  2. Click “Search Results” in the left-hand navigation
  3. Click “Date” and set the range to 16 months
  4. Click “Query” and filter the data by “Queries containing”, “black Friday” (or any other variants you’ve identified, for example, cyber Monday, Christmas, and the others)

Once you’ve identified the queries that your site has shown up for in the past, reconcile those against the URLs on your site that are surfacing for those queries, and assess whether or not they adequately address the query’s intent.

What you’re looking for are queries you’ve ranked for in the past that is being served up via URLs that are fundamentally mismatched with those queries’ intents, for example, a general curling iron product page that Google has a history of surfacing for Black Friday-related queries.

Once you’ve got the list of intent mismatch, you’re able to group the queries thematically and build out content based on those themes. And because Google has already shown to favor your site for those queries, you can make the assumption that you have some authority built up already for them. As a result, building out pages dedicated specifically to those holiday-related themes can be quick wins.

In conclusion

If the holidays took you by surprise this year, the above should get you set up to be better prepared next time. At the end of the day, prepping for the holidays organically is not unlike the approach you take now around “tangible” product launches.

And it’s here that most people make the mistake. The pages you build out to capture holiday attention and sales should not be treated temporally. The more you look at them as a core aspect of your organic strategy, the easier it will be to plan, execute, and maintain a system around this in the future.

Houston Barnett-Gearhart is 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 innovation of product and ideation of new ways to deliver even more amazing SEO to our customers.

The post Five SEO tips that capture holiday attention and boost sales appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Ecommerce Holiday Checklist: CRO Best Practices

December 8, 2020 No Comments

While some brands put CRO testing on hold during the holidays, there are some eCommerce-specific best practices to implement to make the most of the season.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Taking a PPC holiday: how to take a break from your ads without disaster

November 22, 2020 No Comments

One specialist shares her top 5 tips for taking a PPC holiday without disaster striking.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Five SEO tips to dominate local search this holiday season

November 21, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • 60% of consumers have been shopping online more often since COVID-19.
  • Making your local SEO strategy a top priority for small retailers and those with multiple locations.
  • Shoppers are browsing more frequently and making more purchases, although they are smaller in value.
  • Local retailers should focus on creating in-store experiences online and pick up.
  • Understanding your local audience and optimizing at the hyper-local level is key.
  • Jim Yu, Founder and CEO of BrightEdge highlights five great ways your business can use local SEO to dominate search and translate it into sales this holiday season.

A shorter than usual shopping season, last-mile shipping uncertainty, and ongoing health and safety concerns are just a few of the factors driving wild shifts in consumer behavior in the lead-up to holiday season 2020. Given how wide-reaching and long-lasting the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be, we couldn’t possibly have predicted or envisioned the circumstances we now find ourselves in. Local businesses already pushed near the brink may find this shopping season more competitive than usual, making your local SEO strategy a top priority.

This holiday season more than ever, marketers need to keep a hand firmly on the pulse of their market and opportunities. Activating as much relevant, real-time consumer data as possible is going to be key.

1. Offer payment options, COVID precautions, and other key conversion information front and center

We know what the important issues are for shoppers this season:

Consumers are browsing, researching, and shopping across online channels. They are more value-conscious than before and are looking for reassurance that their privacy and data are protected when making purchases online.

Get ahead of frequently asked questions by updating your website, social profiles, local listings, and landing pages with answers. These are critically important optimizations—so much so that Google, Yelp, and other listings platforms are highlighting this information for consumers on business profiles. If consumers can’t find what they’re looking for on your listing, they’ll simply move on to the next.

2. Really get to know your audience this holiday season

Planning campaigns based on historic data simply won’t cut it this year. Agile marketers and smart automation will come together to power the messaging and experiences it takes to convert in upended markets.

Nielsen released consumer profiles late in October based on research and surveys undertaken in different periods throughout the COVID pandemic. It’s impossible to predict just who you’ll find at your door (or in your online shopping cart) this holiday season, but expect to see each of these consumer types in the mix:

local search this holiday season - consumer expectations

You can see the very different motivations and types of shopping happening this year. Those who’ve escaped a direct impact from COVID may be compensating for luxuries they’ve forgone this year—trips that were canceled, or large purchases put on hold due to the initial uncertainty. At the other end of the spectrum, you see consumers who are affected both financially and physically, having less money to spend and also constrained by lockdown measures.

Understanding both your macro market and micro opportunities, at the individual web visitor level, is key to capitalizing on your opportunities to convert this holiday season.

3. Feed browsing behavior with high quality, engaging content that complements holiday season search

In our recent research, BrightEdge mentioned that 60% of consumers have been shopping online more often since COVID-19. It’s a behavior that 73% of those plans to continue after the pandemic. Shoppers are browsing more frequently and making more purchases, although they are smaller in value.

Feed browser behavior with engaging, quality content to rule holiday season with SEO

This holiday season, it’s critical that the content on offer is personalized and engaging; that it is an accurate reflection of their needs, intent, interests, and behavior in the moment. Activate your search insights with dynamic content optimizations to keep in step with changing consumer behaviors.

Think like your COVID-weary customer—what is giftable this year? As Nielsen points out in their recent article on the consumer types retailers can expect this year, “From a necessity that can no longer fit the budget, to a product that has been harder to get in stores this year, the definition of a ‘gift’ will look very different this year.” Help shoppers understand how your product/service delivers comfort, entertainment, security, or is otherwise a necessity for that special someone in their life.

  • Use all of the tools available to expand and add interest to your search results.
  • Upload new photos and videos often.
  • Use Google Posts to highlight promotions, in-store and virtual events, products and services, etc.
  • Make sure your on-page SEO is on point and that pages have proper schema markup.
  • Work closely with your paid search team to ensure your organic and paid strategies complement, not cannibalize, one another.
  • Keep it interesting and get more traction across channels by switching up your content types.

4. Focus on creating experiences

Consumers have been spending significantly more time watching and reading the news, participating in hobbies, and engaging with TV, movies, and games at home. They are hungry for experiences to fill at least some of the void left by closed restaurants, shuttered concert venues, canceled events, and the inability to travel.

Even outside of the influence of the pandemic, the customer experience was expected to surpass product and price as the key brand differentiator. Regardless of how much thought or planning you put into it, customers are having an experience with your business. It’s a worthwhile place to focus your efforts on the eve of this holiday shopping season.

July 2020 survey insights from YouGov show that consumers have been engaging with product demonstrations, pop-up shops, and installations. Some of these experiences translate naturally online—product demonstration videos, for example. Events you used to hold in-store could work as Facebook Lives or omnichannel promotions.

Focus on creating smooth omnichannel experiences to rule holiday season with SEO

Give traditionally local shoppers ways to engage, such as QR codes in the window to drive them to an online experience when in-store shopping is not possible (perhaps preferable for them).

Whatever the format and channel, think about the experience you are curating for your audience. How do you show them you are invested in their satisfaction and happiness? How do you facilitate their moving from one piece of content or channel to the next? How do you capture and keep their interest?

Think of your customer interactions not as touchpoints but within the context of their overall shopping journey. Grow My Store is a tool from Google that assesses any retail site, whether for an online or a physical store and brings back recommendations to help improve the customer experience.

5. Highlight your local relevance

Recent Yahoo! Small Business Research found that the vast majority of shoppers (75% of those surveyed) want to shop at and support small businesses. Another survey, this one by Alignable, found that 32% of respondents said they would be spending more money at locally owned businesses in Q4 2020.

How do you make your local relevance clear to shoppers and the search engines you rely on to get you in front of them?

  • Make sure all locations are claimed, verified, and optimized.
  • Localize your content. Engage audiences with on-location photos and video. Refer to local landmarks, get involved in local events and organizations, and build links from within the local community.
  • Do local keyword research and optimize your listings, landing pages, and website.
  • Make clear the fulfillment options you offer local customers: BOPIS, curbside pickup, and contactless delivery.
  • Make the most of your local reviews with close monitoring, rapid response, and highlighting positive reviews across other channels.

Use Google’s Local Opportunity Finder to quickly assess your local presence and get tips and hints for optimizing your GMB.

If you want to keep nearby shoppers off Amazon and away from major box stores this year, focus on meeting customers where they’re looking for products and services like yours: in local search. Keep them reading and browsing out of entertainment, not in an effort to find information that should be readily available. Proactively head off concerns about payment methods, COVID precautions, special hours, and more by keeping your site and local listings up to date.

This promises to be an unusual shopping season for many. Local essential is for small retailers and local SEO for multiple locations is vital for enterprises and Now that you can’t count on previous experience, it’s critical to tap into your search insights.

Customers are telling you what it’s going to take to win their business. Are you listening?

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.

The post Five SEO tips to dominate local search this holiday season appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Four digital marketing strategies to prepare for a wild holiday season

November 13, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Ecommerce has become an increasingly important element of any business, but it is more important than ever going into the 2020 holiday season.
  • With the plethora of brands vying for ad space online, companies must make the most of their marketing budgets by adjusting their digital strategies.
  • Socium Media CEO Owen Loft offers four tips for breaking through the noise to get in front of your customers and boost sales this holiday season.

Retailers already set up for online sales had an immediate advantage, but others quickly fell behind. Instead of reaping profits from consumers who have chosen to shop from home, retailers without online infrastructures have missed out on booming sales opportunities. Online shopping was already trending upward before the pandemic, but the pandemic pushed the shift from physical to ecommerce ahead by five years.

Businesses cannot afford to overlook digital. But one question remains: How can they bolster their online presence and get in front of their target customers in the current landscape?

Holiday season 2020: A perfect storm of competition

Reaching customers who have flocked online has become more challenging (not to mention costly) as large retailers take control of valuable advertising space. And big-box stores aren’t the only ones driving up the cost of digital advertising — political candidates have sunk more than three billion dollars into campaign advertising this year.

Major retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart are taking more online-centric approaches to holiday shopping this year. Many have already announced that they will keep their physical stores closed on Thanksgiving. Some will even remain closed on Black Friday or offer limited shopping hours, pushing customers to stay home and shop online.

With the coronavirus pandemic stretching into the fourth quarter of 2020, major elections, and the holiday season, marketers have major competition for valuable online ad space.

Revamp your digital marketing strategy to reach customers at home

To break through the noise and make the most of your marketing budget in the current environment, you must adjust your digital marketing strategies. Here’s how:

1. Prepare for the early rush

In years past, Black Friday signaled the start of holiday shopping. This year, however, Amazon’s annual Prime Day — typically held in the summer — was rescheduled to early October due to the pandemic. Some experts predict this will be the starting point for holiday shopping in 2020, which amounts to roughly an extra month and a half of holiday-related advertising and deals.

Another reason for the early start? Getting ahead of anticipated shipping delays. Some businesses already have felt the coronavirus-related strain on deliveries; pair that with additional demand, and customers will probably start shopping early to make sure their gifts arrive on time for the holidays. It will be more important than ever to start your holiday marketing efforts early. You’ll also want to communicate shipping cut-off dates clearly on your website so customers can plan their purchases accordingly.

2. Leverage your email lists

With major events converging at once — COVID-19, the 2020 election, and the holidays — consumers will be bombarded with ads across the internet. Considering this perfect storm, it might be easier to reach your target customers in their inboxes. And if they subscribe to your business’s emails, it means they’ve had positive experiences and trust your brand. They’ll be more likely to order from you, a known quantity, rather than the thousands of other retailers jockeying for their attention.

3. Highlight gift-able items in your ads

Some items in your business’s inventory simply won’t wrap well, while others are practically made to be gifted. Analyze your inventory and determine which products would fit in a gift guide for your business.

To do this, harness the data you already have. Which products are popular with your customers? What were your top sellers during the 2019 holiday season? You should also research consumer trends to see what up-and-coming products will be popular this year, which will allow you to highlight them in your marketing.

Once you’re armed with that knowledge, make sure you have adequate inventory of those products — even if those items aren’t your typical bestsellers — and plan your marketing strategy around them. With high-quality images and video and updated ad copy ready to go, those products are sure to fly off the shelves.

4. Be flexible

While online shopping is by no means new, ecommerce in the time of COVID-19 is unprecedented. Retailers — even major ones — can’t predict how consumers will behave this year. With a slew of retailers staying closed during the traditional holiday shopping times, some consumers may shift to ecommerce for everything. Others may decide to play the waiting game in hopes that physical stores reopen before the holiday season kicks into gear.

Because it’s impossible to know precisely what consumers will do, your tried-and-true marketing methods may not work. If you don’t already, prepare some contingency marketing plans in case you need to pivot quickly and try a new strategy to reach your customers.

Ecommerce has steadily become an important part of business, but this year it is absolutely critical. With a veritable trifecta of competition due to the pandemic, election, and holiday season, marketers must reassess their digital marketing strategies to ensure they can reach customers and boost sales.

Owen Loft is Co-founder of Socium Media, a performance-focused digital marketing agency specializing in paid search, paid social, and SEO. He can be found on LinkedIn.

The post Four digital marketing strategies to prepare for a wild holiday season appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Holiday marketing: Get the data that puts you ahead of the competition

November 11, 2020 No Comments

What you will read in this post:

  • Understand holiday season traffic trends
  • Optimize for strong SEO and PPC keywords
  • Analyzing keyword-driven traffic for seasonal marketing
  • Which sites won the most keyword traffic?
  • Black Friday marketing: November 2019
  • Christmas marketing strategy: December 2019
  • Build strong display and referral partnerships
  • Analyze historic conversion data
  • The biggest display and referral sites (and the brands winning traffic)
  • Black Friday marketing strategy: November 2019
  • Christmas marketing: December 2019

Already imagining the taste of the delicious holiday meals and the laughter of your kids when the entire family comes together? Sorry, we know you’re a marketer; you don’t have time for that. You’re busy worrying whether you have everything you need so your marketing strategy can ensure the biggest possible chunk of holiday traffic and generate maximum sales.

This post investigates seasonal marketing statistics of the past few years and provides some eye-opening insights from SimilarWeb’s Digital Marketing Intelligence that helps plan your seasonal marketing.

But first, let’s quickly look at how the COVID-19 pandemic changed consumer preferences and spending this year. Keep these in the back of your mind when you set goals for this year’s holiday marketing strategy.

According to a recent report published by McKinsey & Company, consumer behavior has shifted in five main areas:

  • Increased online buying
  • Increased interest in household goods
  • Higher focus on essentials (health, hygiene, security, and sustainability) 
  • More mindful buying (consumers are researching more, looking for cheaper alternatives and value)
  • More readiness to break loyalty to a brand

Pay attention to the last point. Consumer loyalty has suffered during the time of crisis. This can be meaningful for your retention marketing and also serve as an opportunity for your acquisition marketing and content SEO strategyOne thing is for sure: Competition is going to be more fierce than ever during November-December.

Content created in partnership with SmilarWeb.

Holiday Marketing 2020

It’s now more crucial than ever to know how to leverage your digital marketing channels and optimize campaigns in real-time to reach relevant consumers and stay ahead of the competition. You need the most up-to-date data on overall traffic trends and impactful digital marketing strategies to ensure you can pivot and optimize campaigns as trends emerge.

So digital marketers, to learn how to stand out from the countless online businesses vying for your customers’ attention away from, tune in as we deep dive into SimilarWeb Pro data focused on SEO, PPC, and affiliate channels.

This article will help you understand the data behind seasonal marketing and how to translate it into a strong digital marketing strategy. Make sure you are well-positioned to beat the competition.

Prime Day isn’t usually part of the official holiday season. However, in 2020 “usual” doesn’t count. Due to the wrinkle of COVID-19, Prime Day was pushed back and correlated with the seasonal kickoff this year.

We decided to look at its impact in previous years to understand how this might affect the shopping-heavy fourth quarter of the year and help you draw conclusions for your holiday season marketing push.

Amazon’s annual two-day event has grown in significance over the past few years and not only impacts amazon.com (and it’s dozens of subdomains), but the whole ecommerce space.

In 2019 we witnessed more than 8% growth in traffic during the Prime Day week, compared to the year before. Shopping in December has been increasing over the years as well. Meanwhile, traffic during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday week did not increase in 2019 compared to 2018 when a record growth of 12% year-over-year (YoY) occurred.

This year we are faced with the question: How will COVID-19 impact consumer behavior during the holidays? Analyzing shopping behavior on Prime Day may indicate what you can expect for the remainder of the year.

According to Amazon, 2020 Prime Day sales topped last year’s by almost 40%. And based on our data, half of the 50 best-selling products are private label brands. That’s good news for ecommerce. Or is it? Forbes tells us that Amazon avoids comparing numbers with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so we are wondering if Prime Day sales met the goals.

Looking at the data provided by SimilarWeb’s digital marketing intelligence tool, we see that non-amazon retailers saw increased traffic of just below 30%.

Target, for example, created a rival Deals Day, which led to a 54% week-over-week (WoW) traffic increase. BestBuy, with its exceptionally attractive deals, experienced the most significant growth among top retailers. Next in line was Costo with a traffic increase of 59%.

It looks like last year’s trend for Prime Day continued. If this is true for the remaining two months of 2020, Black Friday will be less significant, and shoppers in December will look for the best deals. For marketers, it means now’s the time to buckle up; you might need an extra-aggressive holiday marketing strategy.

Optimize for strong SEO and PPC keywords

However heavy holiday traffic in 2020 will be, you need to grab your share. It’s a good time to review your keyword strategies for SEO and PPC. After all, they are both major traffic drivers.

SEO means optimizing your website’s content, structure and user experience according to Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). This starts with an effective keyword research for organic searches and competitor analysis, followed by a review of your pages, and optimization of your pages according to your research findings.

For SEO, it’s crucial that your pages stay focused on the topic at hand which means your meta tags need to be relevant and your pages need to include related and relevant information around the right focus keyword.

Another important factor is that your content needs to be linked to from other pages on your site as well as from other websites. As your content pages gain authority and rank over time, they will move up the SERP.

The process of optimizing your pages should have started months ago so, now is an excellent time to re-check your internal linking, meta titles, and image ALT tags and ensure everything is in the right place.

It’s also critical that you check search volume changes and new trending keywords to make sure you’re still targeting the best keywords. People’s searches are constantly changing so there may be a new keyword phrase growing in search volume that your competitors aren’t targeting yet. The closer we get to the holidays, the more competition gets fierce over major seasonal terms.

Keyword analysis for PPC is one of those critical tasks for the holiday season. To get optimal results with PPC, you have to be on the ball with the latest trending keywords.

This is the time to finalize your budget, adjust your bids and overall strategy, so you can easily adapt and pivot during the busier times ahead as you see campaign results and understand how your audience is responding. You may also want to adjust based on what your competitors are doing to drive clicks.

Analyzing keyword-driven traffic for seasonal marketing

During the holiday period, brands largely dictate what shoppers are searching for. That’s because consumers don’t want to miss out on their uncounted deals and special offers.

For you, this is an opportunity to hook onto the right keywords and go head-to-head with your biggest competitors. It’s a once-in-the-year chance to “steal” large amounts of traffic from under their nose and convert them into paying visitors. Once you’ve acquired new customers, it’s hard for others to win them back.

How do we know this? Our keyword research tool provided us with data from previous years. Contrary to other keyword research tools, SimilarWeb Pro leverages actual user search queries and clicks to provide highly reliable data.

Holiday marketing

You can use the tool to receive the freshest keyword-related data and identify trends before anyone else. Can you see how you would lead the keyword competition for paid traffic? The tool also lets you generate and prioritize keywords, optimize traffic share, benchmark against your industry, and more.

Holiday marketing

Next, we want to see if brands also snatch the majority of the traffic. Spoiler: No! SimilarWeb data shows that publishers and Black Friday sites receive the majority of search traffic in the U.S..

This underlines the importance of partnering with affiliate and coupon websites- such as Slickdeals and CouponChef – that know how to leverage search traffic and seasonal trends. The top winners were bestblackfriday.com and blackfriday.com, both with approximately 11% traffic share, followed by bestbuy.com and walmart.com at around 9%.

Which sites won the most keyword traffic in the holiday season?

Black Friday marketing: November 2019

A review of popular keywords in November 2019 shows that three out of the top ten paid search keywords were related to gaming, representing 24% of total paid search traffic.

Battlefield 5′, ‘Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’, and ‘Fire Emblem Warriors’ were popular video games, and it’s fair to assume that they appeared on innumerable wish lists that people were attempting to fulfill. It seems Black Friday marketing that considers Christmas wish lists are a good bet.

It is also interesting to note that amazon.com claimed over 96% of all traffic from these terms in the time period analyzed. When we look at Black Friday keywords specifically, things get more interesting.

The top PPC-related queries at that time included the term ‘Black Friday’ in combination with a branded term. The keywords ‘Black Friday ads 2019′, ‘call of duty black ops 4’, ‘Nintendo Switch Black Friday’, and ‘black Friday deals’ claimed traffic shares ranging from 9% to 12%.

Specific Black Friday campaigns paid off. Most of the traffic winners were well-loved retail brands such as Best Buy and Walmart.

Most searched organic terms related to Black Friday in 2019 were ‘deals’, ‘black friday’, ‘cyber monday deals’, and ‘black friday ads 2019’ claiming respective traffic shares of 3% to 5% each. Unlike PPC-driven traffic, none of the leading organic search terms were branded.

Not only did big box retail names win traffic from these keywords, top affiliates such as blackfriday.com and bestblackfriday.com also made it into the top 10, which you can see in the graph below.

To sum this up:

  • Top organic searches were generic 
  • Top PPC terms were 50% branded and 50% generic
  • Organic search traffic went to retailers, brands, and affiliates 
  • PPC traffic went to popular household brands

The top ten winners can be seen below.

Christmas marketing strategy: December 2019

As expected, the overall November trends continued throughout December. The highest traffic-driving keywords were again gaming-related gifts and gadgets. The three most searched terms were ‘just dance 2020’, ‘star wars jedi fallen order ps4’, and ‘the witcher 3’. 

Interestingly, Amazon scooped up over 96% of all traffic for ‘just dance 2020’, and ‘the witcher 3’; rd.bizrate.com won 97% of the traffic for the keyword ‘star wars jedi fallen order ps4’.

Holiday marketing

Now let’s take a closer look at terms related to the December holidays to see how Christmas marketing campaigns compare.

Most searched organic terms were ‘cyber monday’, ‘deals’, ‘ugly Christmas sweaters’, and ‘laptop deals’ with traffic shares of  3% to 9%. 

Paid keyword terms with the highest traffic shares were ‘cyber monday deals’, ‘siberian husky christmas blowups’, ‘black friday deals’ – still a high traffic share, however 68% down month-over-month (MoM), ‘christmas tree’, ‘icicle christmas lights’, ‘die hard christmas book’, and ‘nintendo switch games for christmas list’. Interestingly, several of the top keywords were related to Christmas decorations, with gift-related keywords coming in closely behind them.

Ugly Christmas sweaters’ was the top Christmas related keyword driving organic traffic in December.

See the ten winners for Christmas related keywords here:

Build strong display and referral partnerships

Referral sites and a Display Ads strategy are crucial during this time. Why? Consumers are looking for deals, but they also know that not every ‘deal’ is a good bargain for them. They trust 3rd party sites to review and guide them through the jungle of deals during the holiday seasons.

We found that SimilarWeb data supports this assessment. Some of the affiliate and display publisher sites driving the most traffic fell within the 10 top winners of keyword traffic over the holiday season in 2019. 

Here’s your opportunity to generate more traffic to your site. A display publisher will show your display ads on the ad space of their websites. Rather than publishing your display ads by yourself, use affiliates to do it for you. The same goes for other referral sites such as deal comparison sites and review sites that can help you win a bigger chunk of the traffic share.

Use SimilarWeb’s digital marketing intelligence tool to find your best affiliates by analyzing performance statistics of display publishers and referral sites. You can compare relevant sites and identify the biggest traffic providers. The tool also lets you benchmark against your main competitors for traffic from the significant sites.

Analyze historic conversion data

Looking at the stats from 2019, we see that direct traffic brought the highest conversions volume on average in November. Retailers experienced the largest growth in converted traffic from Display and Referral channels during this month, growing MoM 42% and 32%, respectively. Also, referral was the best converting marketing channel at 11%, overtaking even direct traffic, which converted approximately 9% during that same period.

Referral traffic spiked during the last week of November. Display ads’ traffic growth wasn’t as concentrated and was used more evenly to promote future deals and increase brand recognition.

The biggest display and referral sites (and the brands winning traffic)

Black Friday marketing strategy: November 2019

When looking at retail winners, Kohs and BBB experienced the largest increase in overall traffic during the last week of November in 2019. Other big winners include CostoWalmartTarget, and Wayfair.

During this time, Costco and Sam’s Club saw the highest growth of referral traffic during, growing 241% and 199% from October to November, respectively. Another big referral traffic winner, Walmart, came in third, increasing its traffic on this channel by a whopping 114%.

Referral leaders have received more than 50% of referral traffic from the top two coupon and rebate sites, with bestblackfridaydeals.com sending about 45% of all referral traffic to the competitive set during November. Walmart seems to have had a solid relationship with the referral site. About 81% of all its outgoing traffic went directly to the retail giant.

While slickdeals.net was the second-largest referral site during that period, it only drove about 6% of traffic. However, display traffic tells a very different story, as slickdeals.com claims the number one spot.

Bestblackfridaydeal.com dropped down to the third spot with shares of  18% and 2% of display traffic, respectively. Cosco.com scooped up about 73% of that traffic in November. Shopping-category leaders utilized display advertising traffic analytics to increase their brand awareness on affiliate sites.

Did we mention the importance of display and referral sites for your holiday marketing? The numbers speak for themselves.

Christmas marketing: December 2019

Now, take a look at the interesting shifts in winners throughout the holiday season of last year. November’s big winners were overtaken in December. As Christmas approached, michaelkors.com grew by 191% when compared to October the same year, claiming the number one spot for overall growth.

While neither Walmart or Target landed in the top spots for MoM growth, the retail conglomerates did win massive overall traffic. Walmart.com saw a mind-blowing 450M visits while target.com was able to rake in upwards of 250M.

Swagbucks.com was the top referral site in December 2019 for the best-performing sites during that period with an 8% traffic share. It drove about 63% of its traffic to worldmarket.com. Other big referrals sites were slickdeals.net and cashbackholic.com.

Among the display publishers, Rakuten secured the largest traffic share with almost 17%. Dealmoon could seize 9% and Slickdeals managed to grab 4%. In fourth place was Dealsplus, everyone else in the top 10 got less than 2%.

The holiday marketing games are on, roll up your sleeves!

During the holiday season, optimizing your digital strategies is more critical than during any other time of the year. You can only be sure of it’s efficiency when you build on reliable data about you and your main competitors’ performance. Make no mistake, they are getting ready for the winter games as well.

Understand how different channels work together to drive success. Leverage marco and seasonal market trends and determine how to make consumer behavior work in your favor. In our example, we’ve learned that brands who partner with affiliates have the best chance of winning traffic from top keywords. 

Now use SimilarWeb Pro to find the best affiliates to partner with, the most successful channels to utilize, and the highest trending keywords in real-time. Get started by opening an account now!

And if you can’t wait to see how you can fine-tune your marketing strategy for this holiday season, use the form below to download the most-up-to-date data for this year and get the competitive edge you need to blow your competition away.

Holiday marketing

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The Holiday Landscape for Travel: Make Every PPC Dollar Count

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More people are traveling compared to prior months in 2020. One PPC expert discusses how to win market share, solidify bookings, and return to profitability.

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Facebook Ads Holiday Checklist [2020]

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Between online shopping highs, COVID, and elections, Facebook advertisers must prepare for Q4 like never before. One Sr. Social Strategist shares his top tips.

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How to utilize holiday season traffic for 2020’s Q1 growth

December 28, 2019 No Comments

Q4 is the most competitive time period for ecommerce businesses, deals and promotions offered to capitalize on holiday season traffic bring hordes of potential purchasers to your site.

One of the most valuable groups of users that comes out of the holiday season is net-new users, who could have found out about the product from an ad, friend, influencer, or some other referral. These users are more expensive to acquire because they have no knowledge of the brand, so they need more touchpoints when compared to your current customers.

Whether or not you convert those new users into customers in Q4, convincing them to be long-term customers should be an important part of your Q1 strategy. In this post, I will walk through the value of some of these different holiday audiences and how to engage with them in Q1 to turn them into paying customers.

Holiday audiences

Often, the largest and best-converting Q4 audiences are current customers who are loyal to the brand and looking for some type of discount during major holiday times like Cyber Monday and Black Friday. These audiences are highly valuable, and you don’t have to pay much to bring them back to your site, but there are other audiences you should consider to help you reach your goals in Q1. These pointers will help you figure out how you can engage them.

1. Potential customers who visited but didn’t convert

Plan to re-engage potential customers who visited the site but didn’t purchase.

This could be for a variety of reasons:

  • They didn’t find the product they were looking for
  • Increased competition
  • They didn’t think the deal was enticing enough, and others

With this audience, your lowest-hanging fruit is the group of users who added something to their cart or added payment information but didn’t convert. I recommend getting in front of them with special promotions or discounts.

2. First-time purchasers from Q4

First-time purchasers from Q4 will be even more valuable if converted into long-term customers. Consider two segments: those who purchased during Cyber weekend and new customers in general. You can infer that customers that purchased during Cyber weekend are more inclined and driven to purchase when there is a deal, so make sure to target them with ads that speak to this.

All of the audiences above represent retargeting audiences. In order to help reach acquisition goals in Q1, I recommend using data from these audience segments to build acquisition audiences as well – notably, building Facebook lookalike audiences from your segments of highest-life-time value (LTV) and most frequently engaged customers.

Other interesting LAL audience tests for Q1 could include building audiences off of first-time customers and potential customers who visited the site but didn’t convert.

Messaging

Now that you’ve established the holiday customers to re-engage in Q1, it’s time to develop the messaging and offers to advertise to those users. Since many of these customers converted because of the discounts and sales offered in Q4, messages to consider would be incorporating Q1 holidays into the media plan and offer another discount or sale.

Audiences to target with these ads include

  • First-time purchasers
  • New users generated from lookalike audiences
  • Users who visited the site without converting

For longer-term customers, consider showcasing new products or top products to retarget customers. To see what resonates the best with users test these with a variety of creatives – carousels, videos, and single images that feature these different product groupings.

Another strategy is to showcase complementary products to users who purchased a specific product or product type during the holiday season. For example, if someone purchased an Xbox, retarget them with Xbox games in Q1.

The holiday season brings increases in traffic, new customers, and site revenue. Don’t just celebrate these wins, use the data to keep winning by building strong audience segments and messaging to help push growth in Q1 2020.

Lauren Crain is a Client Services Lead in 3Q Digital’s SMB division, 3Q Incubate.

The post How to utilize holiday season traffic for 2020’s Q1 growth appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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