We're getting to the part of the year where people start to moan about tinsel appearing already in stores.

Retail was ever this way - preparation is everything.

Here are five search marketing tips for the holiday season, to get ahead of the game.

1. Prepare landing pages early like Currys, and keep them year-round

Many retailers make mistakes with their seasonal landing pages, whether for Christmas, Hannukah or Black Friday.

When we looked at UK Black Friday retailers in mid-November 2015, Littlewoods and Richer Sounds were making basic errors.

Richer Sounds had a 410 error - their landing page had been removed earlier in the year, but was still listed in Google.

Littlewoods had a whole host of pages indexed, but many were time-sensitive landing pages, used to surface offers throughout Black Friday from the previous year (see an example here). Consequently, these pages made little sense out of context.

Who managed their Black Friday pages properly? Well, Currys was the only UK retailer we found with a year-round landing page (see the chart below).

It's no coincidence that Currys was also the only UK retailer ranking on page one for many of the broadest Black Friday search terms.

Currys ranking year-round

currys search performance black friday

2. Capture visitor data (like AO.com) so you can keep engaging away from search

Let's stick with landing pages for a moment - below is one of my favourite examples, from AO.com.

It's a simple Black Friday landing page, but the call to action is clear. Relax, give us your email and we'll do the hard work, letting you know when deals arrive.

There's even a prize draw element to further encourage users to sign up.

Let's face it, once users have found you via search, you don't want to rely on their memory and intent to find you a second time. Getting their info lets you know who has and, more importantly, hasn't purchased yet.

This technique may also save you some money on paid search and social ads, if you can milk the (notionally) cheaper email channel a bit more.

black friday ao.com

3. Get your categories structured (like Debenhams) to take advantage of gendered and non-gendered search

According to Bing Network data from the holidays season, shoppers search categorically (e.g. 'handbags'). But, nearly half of top searched keywords included gender keywords like 'mens'.

Back-to-school searches provide a useful comparison here.

In our analysis from earlier this year, the top performing retailers had generic category landing pages (e.g. Kids' school shoes), above gender-specific landing pages or filters.

This page structure (/kids/shoes-boots/school-shoes/girls) allows Debenhams to take advantage of gendered searches and by splitting content content between pages.

Even for less obviously gendered products, your keyword research may show you that this strategy is sensible.

debenhams school shoes page

4. Drive November mobile searchers to store

The same Bing report I referenced above shows that eight out of 10 of the highest search volume days on mobile occur in November, and skew for weekends. Only two of the top 10 PC and tablet search days fall in this month.

While many of these mobile searchers will be window shopping from their own sofa or seat on the bus, intending to purchase on laptop at a later date, others may be ready to visit a store.

That's why your Google Places listings should be up to date. You can read a full post on how to do this, but in short you should:

  • Ensure opening hours are correct for holidays and addresses consistent.
  • Use Schema markup to identify customer reviews, surfacing them in Places.
  • Have mobile optimised store-specific pages on your website (see Schuh below).
  • Add stock check to these store webpages if possible.

schuh store page

It's not just about Places listings, of course.

Local search ads now appear in Maps, too, and retailers should be experimenting with Google's offline conversion tracking, in order to optimise PPC spend.

5. Make returns & exchange policy, and delivery & click-and-collect info as clear as day

It's not rocket science. Whether we're talking about metadescriptions, ad copy, landing pages or product pages - conversion is affected when customers don't know how easily they can get hold of a product.

More and more retailers offer free returns, same/next-day delivery, and click-and-collect. That means if you yourself offer it, you'd better make it clear as day and take advantage of all that investment in operations.

free delivery

Ben Davis

Published 20 September, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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