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Episode Overview: The busy holiday season leaves little time to act quickly with your SEO optimization efforts. You may have completely compiled your keyword lists and efficiently set your priorities straight, but the road to success depends on what optimization processes you use. Join Ben and Tyson for the third day of Holiday Triage week as they discuss the best optimization techniques to generate success within a short timeframe and which harmful techniques to avoid altogether.

Summary

  • Content adjustments are top priority and require a mix of technical changes and content relevancy updates.
  • Making large technical changes now can jeopardize your website – instead focus on content and internal linking strategies to drive traffic to your site.
  • The electronics category is a safe bet and is a great place to begin optimizing content by ensuring product descriptions are updated and completed.

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Ben:                 Welcome to Holiday Triage week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro, and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day covering the topic of how you can get ready for the holiday season as it quickly approaches. But before we get started, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions. And to support you, our loyal podcast listeners for the holiday season, we have put together a complimentary Holiday Triage checklist to understand how you can assess, prioritize, optimize, build and measure for the holidays. Go to searchmetrics.com/holiday.

Ben:                 Okay, joining us for Holiday Triage week is Tyson Stockton, who is Searchmetrics’ director of services. And outside of shepherding Searchmetrics’ largest and most strategic clients to SEO success, Tyson joined us again for Holiday Triage week to help us understand how you can focus your last minute SEO efforts to optimize for the holidays. All right, here’s the third installment of Holiday Triage week with Searchmetrics’ Director of Services, Tyson Stockton.

Ben:                 Tyson, happy Wednesday. We’re talking about optimization. It’s Holiday Triage week. Ho, ho, ho, SEOs.

Tyson:              There it is. It’s back again.

Ben:                 I had to keep it fresh. Don’t want to leave everybody hanging. I know it’s what you’re looking forward to. It’s the holiday season and to start off Holiday Triage week, we talked about how you can assess the previous performance of your website, how you’re going to prioritize and strategize what the actions you’re going to take. Now we’re going to talk a little bit about how you’re going to actually optimize your site. What can you get done when you’re this far late in the game that’s actually going to have an impact on your performance?

Tyson:              Yeah, and this is really where now we’re getting to the execution stage. So we went through the first pieces, we know where we’re competing, we know what we’re going to work on. As far as what those levers are, the first thing that you kind of have to take into account is make sure you’re really well in touch with what the limits are to your code freeze because this is going to basically define your sandbox of where you’re going to be able play. I would say, typically for most sites, the things that are going to be off limits are things like site speed, especially if it’s any heavy lifting there. Again, large template type changes, those are going to be … The big broad strokes on the site are pretty much going to be, I’m going to assume it’s going to be off the table for most of these sites because it’s just too much risk in this high volume, this high revenue period.

Tyson:              The items that I would say are typically on the table where you can get away with is definitely going to be content. If you’re just starting things now, more likely than not you’re going to have some content adjustments, refreshing it, making sure you have the proper year, sending the signal to the search engine to say, “Hey, this is still relevant content.” Even though it’s a late start, you are still giving it some attention, some refreshness. So content I would say pretty much is always on the top part of the list, especially for these late starts.

Tyson:              And then the other one that I would also highly recommend and not forget looking at is internal linking. Sometimes big changes that involve changing the logics and the facets of a category page or something like that might be off limits, but one-off links that you’re actually going into hard coded pages or you’re actually going into the CMS and changing it yourself, typically those links you can get away with. So I think those are probably the two most common levers of what is on the page and what are you sending to Google as far as the relevance of what the page is about and then the signals that you’re pointing towards it because you want to give these pages that push to go from being a dormant page that nothing’s really been happening to, to all of a sudden front and center on your website.

Ben:                 So, I think the important thing to think about here is we’re late in the game, you want to mitigate your risk as much as you can, right? The worst thing you can do trying to run a Holiday Triage checklist, when you’re really being Scrooge towards the site, is making technical changes that are going to take the whole site down. It’s the busiest time of the year, play it safe. Focus on your content, focus on your internal linking strategy to try to drive the juice to the right pages. Talk to me about some of the things that you think of when you’re looking at content optimization. That’s the easiest lever to pull. What are the tools and services, where are you looking to optimize your content?

Tyson:              Yeah, so the first one is your real basic elements. A lot of websites, and I noticed this last year, a lot of e-commerce sites were throwing the year in front of Black Friday or whatever the event was. So this is one that obviously you’re going to update those elements on the page, but then this is also a great opportunity to look back at the page and see how well you’re addressing the topic and how useful the content is to users.

Tyson:              So, I think certainly just knowing your customer, giving it the eyeball test is going to be a good starting point and it’s always going to be the starting point. But the other side too is also take advantage of other tools that exist and use things like content experience where you can actually put in the page what kind of tangent term, especially if you’re saying, “I’m not getting on Black Friday as a whole, but I want to be the running specialist in Black Friday this year. So I want to have running shoes Black Friday.” And then allow technology or allow data to also highlight those areas that maybe you’re missing on the page that you can quickly fill in and send a signal. Again, not just is it new and refreshed content, but it’s content that’s more relevant to the terms that you’re trying to rank for.

Ben:                 One of the things that’s interesting to me about the holidays when it comes to e-commerce is that you don’t always know what the popular products are going to be. It’s not always clear that the Snuggie is going to be the most important holiday purchase of the year, and so this really comes down to understanding not only what your historical performance is, but making some educated guesses on what’s going to have demand that maybe didn’t the previous years. Tyson, talk to me about where you should take risks and how you should think about products that may or may not have existed a previous year.

Tyson:              Yeah. I guess the first piece I would say on that too is when you’re doing your prioritization, you’re going to know certain categories are going to be higher search volume and are going to be higher priority. Electronics are always big during the Black Friday time, so that’s already a good place to start placing your bets. Then within specific products, this is usually an area that’s a little bit easier from the content side, because you’re already going to have things like product descriptions done, is just which product is going to pop, if you will. And then it’s going to be more of a linking play, so making sure and keeping that.

Tyson:              And really at this point of the checklist, this is where you’ll see us starting to bring in things more like relationships within the organization because now you’re going to be looking at more of being really closely in touch with the buyers for each category because they’re going to know the sales for each day during that period. They’re going to have some of that insider type information of what’s already getting some early traction. A lot of e-commerce companies use things like social listening tools to see what products are starting to spiral around before the event.

Tyson:              And so, I think there’s several ways to get at what the product’s going to be, but for me it’s not … I don’t care as much what the product is as long as I know that I can get that line of sight on it and then going into the action mode of how do I increase the links or make sure that it has a prominent placement on the website. So then it’s, again, sending the signal to a search engine that this page is high value and important for me, so then the actual page rank is going to be spiked or increased based on all the linking that I’m pointing towards it.

Ben:                 The important thing to think about is you’ve got to build the content that is relevant to this holiday season and you’re going to make some strategic bets in terms of what content you think is going to perform and that is an opportunity for you that might not have existed the previous year. And at the end of the day, what you’re doing with your linking strategy is you’re building your list, right? You’re showing Santa, Google in this case, what you want to be prioritized for this year. And that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast.

Ben:                 Thanks for listening to my conversation with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ director of services. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Tyson, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is Tyson_Stockton. Or if you have general questions about the show, if you’re interested in being a guest on the Voices of Search podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes or you can send me a tweet at BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.

Ben:                 If you’re interested in learning about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic online visibility or to gain competitive insights specifically around the holiday season, we’ve put together a Holiday Triage checklist for you. Go to searchmetrics.com/holiday to download the document. If you like this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss how you can build your holiday SEO strategies to gain authority and drive awareness. All right, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.

 

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