Holiday SEO – Is it too late?

Is it too late to help your website in organic search for the Holidays?

There are a few ways to answer that question. First, this is getting posted in mid-December so the answer is no. Unless of course we don’t mean Christmas….there is time to improve for Easter or St Patrick’s Day.

But I think my favorite way to answer is to simply say yes because Christmas comes every year and in December of 2008 you can absolutely effect change for the Holidays…..Christmas 2009 that is…
Perhaps that’s just my nice way of saying “no, you’ve waited way too long to start thinking about SEO for Christmas shopping traffic”.

Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing process that takes time to develop and needs to be nurtured. Unless your a site like CNN your website isn’t getting crawled all that often. So the first thing that has to happen is that your pages need to be crawled with your new changes in place. This takes time. Then your changes need to be put into the engines index, this takes time. Then your “new” pages need to be moved into multiple data centers for the search engines. This takes time.

Being a well optimized site means always being a well optimized site, not just at Christmas time or other peak times for your business. Have quality content that attracts links, have unique page titles and meta descriptions throughout your site that are keyword focused based on quality keyword research. Make sure your site is technically sound, can be crawled easily and follows Google best practices.

I’m going to go back to keywords for just a moment. I can’t stress enough the importance of good keyword research and using the right keywords. This very quick example makes my point. It’s the little things that make the difference.
Giftcards are pretty popular for the holidays, a quick easy present. You can stuff a gift card in stockings and they’re great for employees – if for no other reason, they don’t take up much space when you’ve got them around the office before the X-Mas party. So if you sell gift cards most certainly you have a page dedicated to them on your website, hopefully at www.yourwebsite.com/gift-cards with a great, keyword rich title and great text based content.
Did you notice something in my last few sentences?? Take a another read. Did you notice it? I used the term ‘gift cards’ 3 different ways. The all seemed the same to you, certainly didn’t confuse you at all – in fact you probably didn’t even notice. To Google those are 3 distinct searches, and there are other variations I didn’t use that would be the same thing to nearly everybody – except computers. So which one is best? That’s where keyword reserach comes in….here’s a quick look at estimated daily search volume in Oct/Nov. These aren’t absolutely values but the comparable volume is very important to note.

‘gift cards’ – 3,411

‘gift card’ – 119

‘giftcard’ – 27

‘giftcards’ – 27

Which would you rather rank high for?

So with all that being said; with the “right answer” of not waiting too long to put good SEO practices in place and focusing year round there is something you can do…
Maybe not on Dec 17th but maybe only a few weeks sooner.
And I’m not talking about PPC (pay-per-click), although it can help about 30 minutes after you start – that’s also when the billing starts. PPC is an entirely different subject for another time and place.
What I’m talking about is the early December meeting that is about generating more traffic, quickly and inexpensively. You know the one I mean. The one that leads to a call to an SEO like me and often gets the answers I noted above.
But you can do something that is cheap, has quick results and can get you attention quickly. It can get you links and traffic.
Go Viral!

Create content or do something so amazing, so outrageous, so funny that people simply must share it and talk about. And when I say talk about, I mean link to it! Have you seen WillitBlend.com? This is a classic example of viral marketing. They’ll put just about anything they can think of in a blender – iPhones, golf balls, pennies – you name, they’ll blend it. This site – a site about blenders has over 53,000 links to it! It’s been up since Nov 2006…that’s a lot of links, fast.

So what can you do? Well that’s for you to figure out. But think like this – what’s the last thing someone in your business or industry would do?? Do it. Put it on video, put it on your website, put it on YouTube – optimize the listing and then think of the next to last thing somebody would ever expect to see from your industry – do that. Then do it again, and again. You can make a video around the office with a webcam that costs twenty bucks, YouTube is free, press releases can be free. Have people in the office send it to their friends – hey they do it anyway with your corporate e-mail for other people’s viral marketing might as well be helping the company. You can even go crazy offline. Make sure the local news knows about it and if you get lucky comes out with cameras – and for every story on the news and every story in the newspaper there’s a website with the same story, with links – valuable links. Have a Santa carwash, offer free gift cards for anyone dressed up as an elf that visits your store, create a video around your office where every single person dressed as an elf or Santa – except maybe one guy to add a twist, have a Santa suit contest, come to work dressed up as a gift, company snowball fight. Think outside the box (don’t we all love that expression) – in fact think so far outside the box you can’t even see the box anymore. Then get it out on the web. Get it on YouTube, in Facebook, on Flickr, MySpace, in press releases, etc…
Don’t stop with holidays – do it year round. Do it the day after Christmas, craziest gift, things you must return, sled damage to your office, everybody at the office brings their worst gift – again, get it on video and get it out there.

When it’s done well a viral campaign can take off and page huge dividends. Don’t give up. If the first doesn’t work, or the first 10 don’t go great keep trying. There’s a few reasons why. First, a little bit is better than nothing. Even if a “campaign” only gets you a few links it’s still a few links and getting a few one-way links is worth the time. The other reason is that when one does take off, when done right it can also generate attention to your previous campaigns and could give them new life and they could take off anytime. It takes luck sometimes and maybe one gets lucky and that leads to content that was actually better than the one that finally took off also taking off.

So don’t ignore SEO year round then hope a few tweaks in mid-December can payoff, focus on SEO year round and from the beginning – when done well it will pay off when traffic goes up for holiday shopping. And remember, it’s never a bad idea to go viral!



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