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How to do SEO for fast promotions
November 18, 2019
With just a few weeks to go until Black Friday, and the start of the hectic holiday season, Croud's SEO Associate, Kailin Ambwani, who is based in our New York office, shares what you can do to optimize, even your shortest sales, for organic search.
It’s common knowledge that SEO efforts take time to yield results. It can be anywhere from four weeks to six months for a new page to rank on the first page for relevant results, yet when updated, the page will then generate organic traffic for months, even years, to come.
However, these page characteristics are not the norm for limited-time promotions, where the products and deals are different every time and typically run for less than a month. Despite the differences between these types of pages, there are still some tactics you can employ for incremental organic traffic during your sales.
Optimize one category-level sale page
SEOs need a substantial page to work with, one that can host optimized content long enough to earn high rankings. It’s much easier to improve rankings for a pre-existing page than it is to earn rankings for an entirely new page every time the promotion period comes around. For this reason, it’s best that all time-sensitive campaigns have their own landing page which consists of all products pertaining to the sale, rather than just changing the general product listing page. For one-off sales, this can be a “Sale” page, whilst holidays and other recurring promotions should have their own dedicated pages.
The generic “Sale” page should then be optimized to rank for generic sale terms, such as queries that are relevant to any sale, or users just looking for any deal. SEOs know the deal -- include the target term in on-page elements, make sure there’s some copy on the page, and so on. Also make sure there is up-to-date, full structured data markup on the page too so that Googlebot can easily understand the page.
An evergreen Sale page should be well-linked to from other high-value pages internally. It should reside in your site’s global navigation menu and ideally be linked from somewhere high on the homepage - if not the hero banner, then in the body above the fold.
Given the importance of internal PageRank, these small optimizations will help the page perform well in SERPs and will allow updated promotional content to be more easily discoverable and indexed by search engines. This generic “Sale” page may include links to other sales-specific pages and seasonal or holiday content, both for overeager users to find, but also so that those pages can retain some link equity until they’re brought to the front for their limited time.
Strategize specific seasonal landing pages
Organic value can still be found for more season or event-oriented promotions that don’t take precedence year-round but are recurring. Christmas gift sets, Valentine’s Day “Sweetheart Packages,” Black Friday deals, Labor Day promotions, Mother’s Day specials, Wedding Season bundles, and so on, should all have their own specific landing page. These can be either product category pages, or product detail pages, but it’s best to keep them consistent, content should be updated, and the page should be refreshed, but not completely re-built.
Since these pages are only relevant for a short period of time, and everyone else is launching them too, they need to be highly focused in order to earn rankings quickly. They should target consistent but specific search terms; for example, your Christmas bundle page should focus on terms like ‘Christmas gift set’, rather than ‘holiday gifts’. Long-tail keywords with a monthly search volume of 100 may seem less attractive than popular keywords with 25K searches, but a clever SEO knows that these can bring in significant, and often higher converting, organic traffic if well-executed. All on-page SEO elements should target the keyword, and there should be a substantial amount of body copy clearly explaining to both users and Google why your timely promotion is the perfect fit for their anticipated splurge or last-minute present.
Distributing link equity is a bit trickier for these pages since they can’t just live in your navigation or right at the top of your site all year. It’s very confusing to see a banner for Christmas sales in the middle of July. It’s a trickier line to walk, since you don’t want users finding these pages at the wrong time, but you don’t want to orphan them and obliterate all internal equity. A good way to resolve this is to build their relationship with other relevant content on your site. This includes contextual links on related blog posts, which will stay live even once the season passes, thus ensuring that there is always a live link between your site and these seasonal pages.
All seasonal and event-oriented campaigns should be supported by relevant blog content, which will serve to further include the landing pages in the site’s architecture and capture top-of-funnel organic traffic. Not everyone is immediately searching for the exact gift set they want to buy at Christmastime; usually, they first search for gift ideas, or holiday party ideas, or something else around the event. Blog content can typically be launched earlier than the promotional landing pages, giving SEOs more time to build rankings and a wider net to cast into the sea of Google searchers. Each relevant blog post should include contextual links back to the landing pages. Though not mandatory, it helps to include a link directly to a few of these blog pages from the site -- a Featured Posts section on the blog’s home page, or even a holiday banner on the main site, for example.
Work across channels
You’re likely already driving paid traffic to your sale product pages, but are they working together? PPC should work successfully alongside SEO rather than running separately and yield stronger results overall. The SEO-driven improvements to your generic Sale and specific landing pages have impacts on PPC, too. In turn, paid advertising has been known to indirectly improve organic performance (as Search Engine Journal can attest to in more detail).
If your SEO efforts are successful, Google will interpret the pages as highly relevant to the targeted search queries and rank them higher -- search ads will also be given a higher Quality Score, which in turn can allow them to be placed higher in the SERP while bidding less. Further user engagement and conversion are much more likely, too, when users arrive at a page that delivers exactly what the ad promised.
Aligning these two channels as much as you can strengthen your visibility in SERPs for your target terms, and stand out against the mass of Black Friday blowouts, Valentine's Day gift sets, and Spring kick-offs. With an ad close to the top of the results and a page ranking within the top three positions, a site has a pretty solid shot at getting that user’s attention. With both channels working together, you can strategize even further. Since time is such a critical, and limiting, factor for sales, a cross-channel approach has even more benefits than usual.
SEO efforts take time to show results, so they often cannot change their strategy with mere days to go before the sale starts or ends. PPC, on the other hand, can switch out ad elements much quicker. Even after SEOs have done all they can for the pages, PPC can continue drawing from their work, expanding their ads to cover relevant non-branded keywords instead of their more focused terms. With SEO laying the groundwork, PPC can lay out a day-to-day advertising strategy leading up to and during your promotional period, maximizing traffic and conversions sitewide.
To find out more about Croud's SEO services or how we can help you can optimize your campaigns for the upcoming sales period, get in touch.