5 Ways to Use SEO to Maximize Black Friday Returns
With Black Friday just around the corner, most e-commerce sites will be ramping up their marketing efforts in the lead up to the biggest shopping event of the year.
One area that should not be neglected is search engine optimization (SEO). With just a few simple tweaks to your site, you can increase your ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs), get more visitors to your site, and boost Black Friday sales.
Let’s look at how you can boost your Black Friday SEO and improve your sales on the biggest online commerce day of the year.
Preparing to Increase Black Friday SEO
Before we begin, it’s important to note that Black Friday SEO preparations should ideally start several months in advance. Namecheap’s senior SEO specialist Sergey Romanov even recommends preparing for Black Friday 2021 as soon as Black Friday 2020 is over. Leaving it to the week before Black Friday to optimize your site may not be as effective as doing it ahead of time.
That being said, much of the advice in this piece involves general best practices you can implement all year round, even if you have left it to the very last minute to think about SEO for Black Friday. We’ve broken these best practices down into five key areas.
This article assumes that you’re already somewhat familiar with SEO and have implemented basic techniques across your e-commerce site. If you’re completely new to SEO and don’t know where to start, be sure to check these out first:
- SEO Made Easy Masterclass
- You Don’t Need to Be a Magician to Optimize SEO
- How to Write Copy that Google Loves
Let’s get started.
1. Create Dedicated Landing Pages
For Black Friday, a dedicated landing page is essential. Depending on the size of your product offering, you may want to create several dedicated landing pages for your site’s deals.
Always keep landing pages brief and to the point. A landing page by its very nature has one primary objective, and in this instance, it’s generating sales. You don’t want to distract the customer with irrelevant information or including too many products on one page. As my colleague Isobel mentioned in her blog post about preparing your business for Black Friday, less is more when it comes to landing pages.
An effective Black Friday landing page should:
- Focus on one product, service, or event, or a related line of products and services
- Contain relevant SEO keywords (e.g. “Black Friday deals” and the specific product or category)
- Your offer (e.g. “20% off!” or “Buy one get one free”)
- A clear CTA
If your site has been around for a while, you might not even need to create brand new pages from scratch. Take a look at last year’s Black Friday landing pages and product pages, if they still exist. If they rank in Google, why not repurpose them by updating them and capitalizing on their existing rank strength.
2. Get Technical
Some of this preparation involves basic housekeeping. If you run an e-commerce store of any size, broken links can often occur due to changing stock, updating product pages, or modifying website architecture. Leaving things as they are is bad for SEO and bad for user experience. You need to resolve this generally, but especially before Black Friday rolls around when impatient customers are more likely to click off your site than continue shopping if they encounter a 404 error.
A 404 error occurs when a page cannot be found. Usually, it’s a URL of an old page that has since been deleted and no forwarding URL (a redirect) has been provided. A 404 error isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, mistakes happen, and things can sometimes fall under the radar. However, too many of them and search engines are going to notice a lot of non-functioning pages on your site and likely deem it less trustworthy. Not ideal for SEO at all.
You can find 404 error pages on your site by using a website crawler tool like Screaming Frog. Fix 404 errors by implementing 301 redirects. As the name implies, when a user encounters a broken link, they will be redirected to a working, relevant URL. On WordPress, there are plugins that make this easy, such as Yoast premium and 301 Redirects.
While we’re on the subject of redirects, they’re not just for broken pages. If your Black Friday pages from last year still exist and you decide against updating them (as we mentioned earlier) you should instead redirect them to this year’s pages.
3. On-page Tactics You Need to Implement
On-page SEO is all about optimizing the content and HTML code of each page on your site to increase your search engine ranking chances. It’s a combination of using the right tags (title tags and header tags) and relevant content with the right keywords. Internal linking also plays a big role. Search engine bots like to see a site where the subject is clear and the layout makes sense.
For example, say you have a product page selling “high heel shoes”. This is the subject of the page, so this keyword should be included in the URL, title tag, and mentioned in the content on the page, as well as meta tags and descriptions. This page should also be linked to relevant pages on your site, such as categories and subcategories (in this example, “shoes” and “women’s shoes”)
Hopefully this is something you’ve already implemented across your site. For Black Friday, you should apply these tactics to new landing pages, product pages, or promotional content you create using “Black Friday” targeted keywords. Use Moz Keyword Explorer or SEMrush to research seasonal keywords relevant to your niche. If you’re a keyword research novice, check out this helpful article.
Once you’re finished updating your site, ensure that you update your XML sitemap so that search engine bots understand the layout of your site and can find everything easily. If you want to improve how search engines read and understand your website data, you could also consider implementing schema markup to informational posts and product pages.
4. Make User Experience a Priority
This should be a priority all year long, but it’s especially important on such a high-traffic day as Black Friday. Your site should be easy to navigate and equipped to handle a lot of users at once. Three crucial areas you should examine to improve user experiences are site speed, design, and mobile optimization.
Site speed: Site speed and page speed are key ranking factors for Google. Beyond SEO, site speed can make site abandonment a real issue. Furthermore, 45.4% of consumers have indicated that they’re less likely to purchase from a slow site. You can evaluate your page speeds with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. You should be aiming for a page load speed of about three seconds. To learn more about speeding up your site, read this blog post.
User-friendly design: Make sure your website is easy to navigate and has a hierarchical structure that makes sense. Keep things simple by only including the most relevant information on each page, and be sure not to overload your menus. Check out this blog post on designing your website for usability for more information.
Namecheap SEO specialist Rodney Brazil also recommends optimizing your site for accessibility: “Try to include ALT text for images, proper H-tag markup, and subtitles for videos (in multiple languages if possible) to make the pages accessible to as many people as possible”.
Mobile optimization: If your website isn’t optimized for mobile yet, what have you been doing? Besides Google’s mobile-first indexing, the future of online shopping is very clearly on mobile. Black Friday 2019 broke mobile shopping records, with $2.9 billion dollars worth of sales coming from smartphones. If you use WordPress, most modern themes are designed to be responsive, meaning that they adapt your site to multiple screen sizes. Most website builders (such as Namecheap’s) also have responsive designs.
5. Promote, Promote, Promote
Now that you’ve decided on your deals, created landing pages, and cleaned up your site, it’s time to promote your Black Friday sale. There are all sorts of content you can create, from blog posts to gift guides. Be sure to include the SEO keywords you came up with earlier.
When it comes to off-page SEO, one effective tactic is link building. Link building is when other sites around the web feature backlinks (links that lead back to your site). When other sites link back to your site, it essentially serves as a virtual recommendation, and it’s among Google’s top ranking factors. Read more about getting started with link building here.
You should really be working on building backlinks all year round, but for Black Friday specifically, you could write a guest post for a site of a similar niche or ask them if they’d like to review your products or services. (Having external links on your Black Friday landing page will also help with SEO, so if anyone does promote or review your offering on their site or on social media, be sure to include a link to the content.) Before you get started with link building, be careful with the type of website you send your page to. Some sites carry a spam risk, so use an SEO tool first to make sure it’s legitimate. Getting backlinks from low-quality sites could backfire and negatively impact your page ranking.
You could also try implementing an affiliate program that gives a commission to other sites for promoting your Black Friday deals. For more information about affiliate marketing, check out this blog post.
As you probably noticed, a lot of the advice in this article is general best practice, but it also happens to align with a multitude of key search engine ranking factors. By implementing just some of these points, you should improve your ranking potential and hopefully maximize your Black Friday returns.