4 ways to use your holiday data to improve your SEO strategy

The holiday season is a huge opportunity for ecommerce merchants for a wide variety of reasons. Normally, we think of the sales and new customer acquisition potential, however it’s also a goldmine for up-to-date data. 

When you’re building a strategy for the year ahead, this data will help you to understand more about your products, customers, and store. It will also help you to see how visitors discover and engage with your store, how it performs, and if there are any areas for improvement. This in turn will give you the data you need to build a strong SEO strategy for success in the months to come. 

Today, let’s take a look at five areas where all that holiday data will come in useful for your store’s SEO.

#1 - Discover slow loading pages

Speed is everything in user experience and page ranking. 40% of site visitors will wait no more than 3 seconds for a page to load, and 64% of customers will simply shop with a competitor if they encounter performance issues. Search engines want to recommend only the best sites to its users. Slow loading pages mean a poor user experience, and therefore are unlikely to perform well in search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Over the holiday season, you’ll likely have observed an increase in traffic, especially to some of your key landing pages. This will leave with data on page performance you can use to make improvements. For example, if you identify the pages with the highest bounce rates you can dig deeper into if load times are the cause. 

Take these pages, and run them through tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights to identify what’s causing slow loading times. Other tools such as SEO Manager can also run health checks on pages of concern, highlighting actions you can take to immediately make improvements. The results of these tools will give you a great starting point to boost your store’s SEO. 

#2 - Optimize your mobile experience

Mobile experiences are vital to your store’s SEO. These days, more and more people are using search and shopping on the move via their smartphones. In fact, nearly 60% of all searches and 59% of web traffic in general are mobile. And according to Google, during the holiday season 61% of shoppers’ online shopping was done on a mobile device. Mobile friendliness is also a ranking factor for Google, forming part of its key user experience indicators.

Analyze the mobile traffic to your website over the holiday season to identify areas where you could improve. For example, if you notice a higher bounce rate at checkout on mobile than on desktop, it may be time to review the checkout experience on mobile. Does it take too long? Could you make use of auto-fill, or removing certain fields from checkout information to speed things up? Perhaps you notice that it takes quite a number of clicks for customers to reach a product page from a landing page, meaning your navigation on mobile could be improved. Or maybe you notice a much lower conversion rate on a product page which is a bestseller on desktop - this could indicate that the page layout or content needs to be tweaked.

#3 - Highlight and analyze high performing pages

In the run up to the holiday season, you plan and perfect your page content to attract as much traffic as possible. However, you won’t really know how it will resonate with your target audience until the holiday season is in full swing. So, take the time to analyze page performance once the holidays are done and dusted. 

Look at any pages which saw…

  • High volumes of traffic
  • Lower than average bounce rates 
  • Higher the average time spent on the page 
  • Higher conversion rates 

High performing pages are worth investigating, as they can help you to improve pages which performed poorly over the same time period. Compare the layout and content of these pages, and note any differences that could make a difference. This might be better use of content such as images and video, or better placed keywords throughout the product description. Tweak the content of poor performing pages, and keep track of key metrics to see if they improve. 

If the page in question is something other than a product page such as a blog, find ways to capitalize on its success. That may mean creating a landing page around the same topic. For example perhaps you published a blog article on how to choose the right sneakers for different types of activity. This may originally have been to target customers shopping for gifts who may be less familiar with your products. However, if this article gained a lot of traction over the holiday season, you may want to create a landing page that goes into more detail, targets more keywords, and acts as an additional SEO resource for potential customers. 

#4 - Discover new keywords and phrases

While you may have a keyword strategy going into the holiday season, you can’t always predict how a potential customer will discover your brand. For example you may have targeted “hand poured soy candles”, but some customers discovered your brand through a more niche keyword you didn’t plan for. 

After the holiday season, conducting keyword analysis and research can allow you to see…

  • Success of keywords you planned for and strategized around 
  • Keywords you planned for which didn’t yield results 
  • Keywords customers used to discover your brand you didn’t plan for 
  • Keywords your competitors performed better for

Looking into these will help you to not only focus your existing keyword strategy in the new year, but also to discover new potential avenues of discovery. You’ll also be able to discover keywords around gifting and gift buying, allowing you to better strategize for this audience. This is especially useful if your brand has high potential for year-round gifting such as products for babies, stationery and office supplies, and pet care products. 

Search is a major part of the customer journey. Its ever evolving nature makes it essential for merchants to keep on top of, and one way to do this is by looking at your data and making improvements. The holiday season provides you with a wealth of up-to-date information, giving you insight into how your store is performing and the success of your holiday SEO efforts. Doing a deep dive into this data will help you build a solid foundation for your best SEO strategy to date.