Now is the time to start optimizing your website for all the potential holiday shopping traffic that is headed your way.

While the real shopping season doesn’t officially kick off for a couple months, your online efforts need to start right now in order to make the most of this opportunity. Many businesses rely on the holiday season to reach their sales goals, but always end up scrambling to handle the higher levels or traffic or desperately trying to attract more customers at the last minute.

You can start to prepare your website right now and make sure this holiday season goes as smoothly (and profitably) as possible.

Start with an SEO Audit

An SEO audit will look closely at a number foundational elements that could have an impact on your website’s performance. It should cover everything from a variety of technical issues and structural concerns to on-page SEO performance and more.

A constructive audit will be more than just a criticism of all the things that aren’t quite right. It should also help you discover new opportunities and take advantage of the impending potential.

Either way, your audit should provide the information you need to make an actionable plan, which includes:

  • Load times – People are in a hurry during the holidays. Even a second or two delay in the average load times can seriously increase customer dissatisfaction and decrease conversion rates. You can’t afford those losses during the holiday season. Make sure your content and images are loading properly. If that doesn’t speed things up, it may be time to look deeper into the website architecture and find other ways to reduce load speeds.
  • Mobile friendliness – The number of people shopping online is higher than ever (thanks to certain world events), and more of these customers are also going to explore their options on their mobile devices. This is especially true with last-minute shoppers who think: “Oh right, I forgot to get Soandso something this year. I better order it now.” They’re going to pull out their phone and order something before it slips their mind.
  • Bounce rate – Are your visitors immediately leaving your site? Are they going without making a purchase? Are they abandoning the shopping cart, even though they’ve loaded it up with potential purchases? All of these things contribute to a high bounce rate, and it’s important to tackle these issues to ensure your holiday traffic doesn’t have a reason to leave without making a purchase.
  • Keyword research – It takes time to start ranking for new keywords, but this audit can show you how you’re performing for certain words and phrases and help you determine how a few simple shifts in your strategy can be very beneficial for the holiday season. Start targeting the keywords that suggest the user is ready to make a purchase, such as phrases that include words like “cheap,” “shopping,” “in stock,” “for sale,” “buy,” “for Christmas,” etc.
  • Content opportunities – What content will your customers see first? What are they looking for when they arrive? There are many opportunities to add some new content to address customer concerns and encourage them to take action.

Like most other things in SEO, an audit will take some time to do it right. Yes, it’s possible to get a quick list of website errors, dead links, and other data, but a good audit has to go much further than that.

This audit has to get at the root of any problems and discover how the issues and their corrections can lead to new opportunities for your website and business.

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Don’t Wait to Dive Deep into Your Website

SEO takes time. It takes time to find the issues. It takes time to implement the corrections, and even more time for the search engines to see your updates and make the appropriate adjustments in your rankings. It takes time to determine what’s working and put a plan into action to build on those successes.

In other words, if you want to have your website ready for holiday traffic, you needed to start yesterday. But, in a pinch, starting today will work, too.

Be Ready for the Traffic

As you work to improve your website and offer a range of promotions throughout the season, you’re going to get a lot of traffic.

This is great – if you’re ready for it.

You could, in fact, find yourself with the enviable problem of having too much traffic – so much, in fact, that it slows or even crashes your website.

If that should happen, it could easily frustrate your customers and send them to your competition.

So, check with your hosting provider and make sure that the bandwidth is there to handle the incoming traffic.

Make Your Products Shine – For Customers and For Search Engines

Now is the time to really optimize the titles and descriptions for your products or services. This means the actual product descriptions and titles as well as the meta descriptions and titles. Give any other relevant content on the page a once over and make sure everything will appeal to your customers and the search engines.

Take another look at the headings and subheadings, re-read the body content, and check out the alt attributes of the images and make sure they’re all using keywords effectively. Make sure the anchor text in any links is effective and descriptive and use a URL that is search-engine-friendly and easy to remember.

Can you find opportunities to include new keywords naturally? Can you make the whole experience more attractive to your customers? Your website SEO services should cover all these elements. But that’s not all.

Does the website design feel outdated? Will a holiday-related theme help you out this year? Maybe you just need to take this opportunity to find and implement small improvements to make the design more user friendly, such as navigational improvements, new images, and better calls to action.

Get Your Promotions in Order

Whether your promotions are for the Black Friday rush or as part of an extended holiday season offer, you need to prepare your website to handle it effectively.

And the sooner the better.

This means creating the pages, building the campaign, prepping the social media posts, and creating new graphics and headers that highlight the promotion. Any promo codes should also be tested for accuracy and functionality.

Be clear about the details of the promo. If you can’t ship it in time for the holidays, you need to make that clear. As soon as inventory or capacity runs out, you need to take the promotional page down so no one feels the frustration of losing out on a great deal just because they were a day or even a few hours late.

Even if you aren’t discounting products or creating some kind of special sale, you can take the opportunity of the season and feature some of your most popular or profitable products throughout the website. Feature them front and center on your homepage and recommend them on other, relevant, pages.

Create the Perfect Landing Page for an Aggressive PPC Campaign

Google Ads and paid advertising on social media can be very effective for many companies, especially if they don’t have time for a full-blown SEO campaign. PPC gives you the opportunity to get a lot of the holiday traffic because you can target very specific audiences and ensure they see the products they’re interested in.

However, it’s important to remember that this requires careful management. Prices could easily go up as many competitors bid for the same, lucrative keywords. You don’t want to get sucked into a bidding war if the results aren’t going to be profitable.

Once you’ve got all that down, though, you’re going to need an effective landing page (or pages) on the site to keep these visitors moving toward a purchase.

Yes, you could connect your PPC campaign to your normal product pages, and this can work well enough in many situations, but you can really drive home the holiday promotion by creating landing pages specifically for the season.

A good landing page will make it easy for anyone to buy your products. Don’t weight the page down with unnecessary information. Make the headers clear, and the path to checkout even clearer. Highlight the benefits of your product, but it’s okay to assume that is someone has arrived on this page from your ad, they’re already interested in the product. You just need to show them how to take the next step.

Start Now

If you missed the “completely subtle” hints scattered throughout this post, SEO takes time. If you want to get your website ready to attract and convert all the potential holiday traffic, you need to start now.

Get planning, get working, and get the results you want. It starts with a deep audit of your website and doesn’t end until the season is over.

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