How to create the perfect gift guide for the holidays

Sometimes, we need a helping hand when choosing a gift. Whether that’s because the recipient is a bit tough to buy for, or they have a niche hobby which you don’t share, there are many reasons why gift buying is just that little bit more challenging. 

When customers aren’t sure what to buy, they frequently turn to search engines. “Best gifts for dads”, “what to buy sister’s boyfriend”, “ideas for friends who love sewing”, the list goes on and on. According to Google, searches for “unique gifts” increased 110% in just two years, and 57% of shoppers say they actively look for recommendations for gifts.

The opportunity for merchants is then to not only provide the right products, but to help customers find those products. Gift guides are an easy way to attract the right customers over the holidays, and boost your store’s seasonal SEO.

Why gift guides are valuable for your store

Getting a helping hand when choosing a gift can often be a lifesaver over the holiday season. Bear in mind that many customers are shopping for more than one gift, looking at ideas for a variety of different recipients all with unique interests and preferences. If a customer is unfamiliar with your products, they won’t have the time to fully research every single option available. 

In fact, these customers may not even know what to search for to discover your store in the first place. Your usual target keywords and topics are focussed on the customers who buy products for their own use. During the holiday season, you need to target the customers buying for your usual audience.

Gift guides are a fast, convenient way for these gift buying customers to understand your products in the context of the person they want to buy for. They also add valuable, seasonal content to your store which is fresh, relevant, and useful. These are all qualities which also attract the interest of search engines, making them more likely to perform better during this crucial season. 

You’re targeting the season, and what users need right now. You can target keywords you normally wouldn’t, speak to a whole new audience, and position your brand as a top option for gift buyers. They’re also fairly simple to put together, if you pay attention to some key SEO best practices.

#1 - Write articles which target different types of search intent and long-tail keywords

Search intent along with keywords are the secret to attracting your target audience. By combining both, rather than creating what you think search users might want, you’ll create exactly what they’re already looking for.

Search intent is essentially the goal behind a query. Generally speaking, it can be grouped into four categories - informational, transactional, researching, and navigational. These can help to better understand what a user actually wants to see from your content. If they’re ready to purchase, they want to see product pages, for example. However when they’re considering a purchase, they’re more likely to have research in mind - they’re still weighing up options, looking for ideas etc. 

So, it helps to think about how you can tailor your gift guide content to suit that intent. What information will they need? How long should the content be? Combine this with long-tail keywords and topics that focus on your usual customer as the subject. If you sell coffee, then you may target topics like “Unique ideas for coffee lovers”, or “Work-from-home gift ideas”. 

#2 - Consider unique audience personas and their product knowledge

Especially during the holiday season, you’ll have a lot of customers who may be interested in your products but know little or nothing about them. All they know is their gift recipient likes your brand, or product category. For example, their recipient might be interested in homebrewing so they look to your store as it came up in a search. They have no affinity to your brand or products, they’re just looking for someone else. 

These customers will need a slightly different approach to content. They’ll need more information, but presented succinctly and in plain, easily understandable language. They want to know:

  • What the product is 
  • What’s included 
  • How much it costs 
  • Who the product is suitable for 
  • Where to purchase it 

If they can’t easily find that information in the gift guide, then it won’t be useful for them. If we use the coffee example again, then your usual audience might know exactly what an Aeropress is. However if the person buying for them doesn’t drink coffee, then that word is meaningless to them. How can they know if it’s a good purchase, if they don’t actually understand what it’s for? 

This is how you should approach every product recommendation in a gift guide. Ultimately, this will make it more useful and therefore more likely to rank in search results.

#3 - Enhance guides with images and videos

The key to successful gift guides is to show and tell - emphasis on the “show”. Describing a product is one thing, but without some kind of visual element, it will be difficult for some gift buyers to really understand or contextualize your products. Especially in more complex categories such as beauty, health and wellness, and food and drink etc., if a customer has little product knowledge they need that visual aid. 

Not only are images and videos helpful for customers, but they’re also great for your SEO in more ways than one. They make your content more useful for customers, meaning they stay on your store longer and may explore the rest of your site. This demonstrates to search engines that your gift guide is a good fit to rank higher for this audience and the keywords they use. Plus, images offer additional keyword placement opportunities through alt tags. This can help images rank higher in image search. When a customer buying a gift wants to go by what the product looks like, they may turn to an image search in place of a traditional blue link SERP. 

As always, however, apply best SEO practices to ensure these visual elements add to your gift guides rather than take away from them. If an image is too large, this can slow down page load speed and as this is a ranking factor, it can negatively impact your SEO. Use image resizing or file size reduction tools to ensure all images you add are optimized. Be sure images you use are highly relevant and uncluttered - it should be clear which product is being discussed at a quick glance.  

#4 - Make it easy for readers to become customers 

Now that your gift guide is optimized, it’s time to seal the deal. The customer has read the guide, they want the product. It’s up to you to direct them to the right page to do that quickly and easily. The worst thing you can do here is require them to go find it somewhere else on your store, digging through sub-categories and catalog pages to find a product in your gift guide. 

Make use of smart internal linking within the body of the article, making it clear where these calls-to-action are throughout. Use different styling to highlight links, and clear language. This is not just useful for customers, but for search engines. Internal linking can help to show contextual relevance, and gives search engines more clues as to how your products relate to one another and to keywords. 

As well as internal linking, consider adding a “gift ideas” category to your top-level main menu which can follow site visitors as they navigate through your site. This can be as simple as a landing page which contains temporary collections which match up with the different gift guides you publish over the holiday season. If the reader doesn’t use the internal links throughout the guide, they’ll still have clear and easy access to product pages through this primary navigation link. It also provides a valuable additional piece of seasonal SEO content to rank in search. 

In following a few simple tactics, gift guides can become a valuable asset to your store’s seasonal SEO strategy in the run-up to the holidays. More search users will discover your highly relevant content and become customers, which will only serve to boost your SEO and holiday sales all at once.