Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and that means the Christmas and holiday season are already in full swing. Consumer purchases are starting to rise, as they do every year, and most major retailers are starting to roll out special holiday promotions to attract even more consumer spending.
Obviously, if you have a physical location, responding to the holiday season in some way is almost universally a wise choice. Whether you offer special products, reveal certain discounts, or just decorate your business, you’ll stand to earn a little more cash (and probably some more consumer goodwill toward your brand).
But what about the digital realm? You can list your special products and promotions pretty easily if you have an e-commerce site, and use social media to communicate any themed messages you might have in mind, but should the holidays affect your baseline SEO strategy?
First, and most importantly by far, consider whether your business needs any holiday-specific web strategy. This should be a no-brainer for most companies; if you’re a retail store that sells consumer products that could be used as gifts, the Christmas season means a lot to your bottom line. If you’re a financial advisory firm, probably not so much.
The lines get blurrier toward the middle. What if you’re a retailer of big-ticket appliances like microwaves and refrigerators? You’re in retail, but these aren’t exactly common gifts. What if you’re a marketing firm? B2B companies generally have less to gain during the holiday season, but companies could ramp up their spending to attract retail consumers of their own or use up that last bit of budget for the year. There’s no clear answer that can apply to everyone, so use your best judgment here. If you don’t have much to gain from a holiday strategy in general, forget about it as an SEO tactic.
If you’ve decided that the holidays could be a benefit for your SEO strategy, consider your timing carefully. At the time of this article’s publication, it’s nearly Thanksgiving. If you’re reading this now and you’re just starting to consider implementing an SEO strategy, it might be too late to reap the benefits this year. As you’re undoubtedly aware, it takes months of work before you start to see results. By the time you get things up and running, we’ll be well into 2016.
On the other hand, if you’re reading this in early autumn or if you already have some fundamentals for a holiday strategy, you could still see a benefit. With a few months ahead of you, you should have plenty of time to see results mid-season. If you already have a head-start, a few weeks could be all you need to ramp back up. If neither of these apply to you, you’ll have to wait until next year to get a jump on your next strategic opportunity.
Think about what products you want to push this season. Do you have an entire section of your site dedicated to “Christmas Ideas?” Or are you more interested in amplifying the visibility of evergreen products that might also beneficial for the holiday season? If the former, optimizing for holiday traffic is your only choice for dedicated visibility—you’ll definitely earn some residual core traffic that wanders to those areas of your site, but you won’t have much of a chance for those pages to rank unless you do some work for them. If the latter, you may see a natural spike in organic visits from the natural ranks you already have—meaning no additional holiday work is necessary.
There are two options when it comes to holiday-oriented SEO: reinforcing the work you’d probably be doing anyway, or trying to optimize for holiday-specific inquiries with holiday-specific keywords and phrases like “Christmas ideas” or “holiday shopping guide.”
The former strategy can be implemented pretty easily, as it goes along with the work you’ve already been doing. You’ll see an increase in visibility and traffic in time for the holidays, but the real benefit is that come January, your work will still be relevant and useful for your brand.
Compare that to the strategy of optimizing for holiday-specific terms. This might be a major boon for your company in the short-term if the holiday season is your best opportunity to make a profit, but when January hits, all those keywords will become irrelevant for another 11 months or so. Consider this when determining whether it’s worth the extra effort—again, there’s no right or wrong way to approach it.
Optimizing for holiday traffic isn’t for every business. If the holidays don’t affect your business much, you absolutely don’t need to worry about it. Even if the holidays do give you an increase in traffic or consumer spend, it may not be worth adjusting your strategy—it all depends on your goals, your customers, and your business cycle.
If you’re a retailer who thrives on holiday sales, optimizing for holiday-themed keywords is usually a prudent investment. However, you need several months to ramp up a strategy properly, so think carefully about when you’ll implement your work. If you aren’t a retailer but you still want to get some extra benefits around the holidays, focus your work on key pages and products that might be particularly relevant during the season—your work will remain evergreen, making it a better long-term investment than a short-term one.