Last minute tips for retailers for the holiday shopping season

Targeting holiday shoppers? Get the most out of your ecommerce website for the upcoming holiday season.

Stephan Spencer
Search engine optimization expert Stephan Spencer shares late-breaking SEO tools, tips, trends, resources, news and insights. Stephan is the founder and president of Netconcepts, a web agency specializing in search engine optimized ecommerce. Clients include Discovery Channel, AOL, Home Shopping Network, Verizon SuperPages.com, and REI, to name a few. Stephan is a frequent speaker at Internet conferences around the globe. He is also a Senior Contributor to MarketingProfs.com, a monthly columnist for Practical Ecommerce, and he's been a contributor to DM News, Multichannel Merchant, Catalog Success, Catalog Age, and others.
Stephan Spencer
3 min read

As the tail end of the year comes around, many Internet retailers gear up for what will hopefully be the busiest part of their year. Of course, this is also one of the most nerve-racking times of the year as well, especially for those who have a disproportionate amount of their business relying on the success of only a few months of the year.

As you gear up for the holiday season, SEO blends more than ever into all of your other marketing efforts. Here are a few tips to help you on your merry way.

Audit Time

If you haven't already, now is the time to do a quick audit of your site. For many, a code freeze is or will soon be in place, so there won't be any changes to the site, but this is hopefully an opportunity to fix anything that isn't working right. Especially if you just underwent any major changes in the last few months, this is a critical time to find anything that slipped through the cracks. And if you aren't under a regimented code freeze, it may not be a bad idea to implement a self-imposed one as this can be a dangerous time to make major changes to your site.

  • Double check your contact form, live chat or other mechanisms that are in place for customer contact.
  • Review the last couple months of log files or your site analytics, looking for any 404 errors for missing files... moved or removed pages, broken links on your site, or missing graphics.
  • Make note of your most active pages. While you probably won't be making any major changes to these pages, they might be good targets for including links to other key site pages to route holiday traffic.

Reach Out to Friends

An existing customer is much more likely to be receptive and to buy than a brand new customer. If you have an existing customer list and permission to contact them, now is a great time to kick off the season with a pre-holiday email or two. If you have a list but don't have a delivery mechanism in place, look to solutions such as ExactTarget or GravityMail to do the heavy lifting for you.

Map Your Blog

Hopefully you've already implemented a blog on your site. If not, then you've already found your New Year's resolution. (What a relief to have that out of the way, eh!) The future of Internet retailing is about being more than just a retailer. Today, anyone can setup shop online. The retailers that will thrive will be those who connect with and deliver more than a shopping cart experience.

For those who do have blogs in place, map out your blogging for the season just like you map out your sales and advertising calendar. Plan posts now and start working on them for publishing later so that you can keep on top of them during the busy holiday season. But make sure that your blog isn't just another sales pitch. Your blog should be about connecting and communicating with your readers. Share some holiday stories, maybe your favorite recipes, or offer helpful packing and shipping tips. Any product mentions should be done carefully and subtly and in moderation.

Go Social

If you've been waiting for your film debut, here's your chance. A light-hearted video on YouTube could be just the thing for a little extra traffic boost. Or if you have products that require complicated assembly, some short and helpful videos might be unexpected holiday hits.

Connecting Offline and Online

If you live and breathe SEO or web marketing, offline may be the furthest thing from your mind. Of course, there are other angles to the offline world. Hopefully you have the basic fundamentals covered, like making sure that your web address appears in all your mailings, advertisements, and anywhere else you may be marketing offline. If you have brick-and-mortar locations, it doesn't hurt to remind people that you also have a website.

Don't forget that many of the traditional offline entities now have online presences themselves. TV news, radio stations, and newspaper reporters are often looking for interesting holiday stories, from the "most unusual" gift ideas to how to entertain for the holidays. Come up with an interesting story idea and you may not only get valuable airtime or print mention, but a link from their site to yours.

Be smart, get creative and this holiday season could be your most successful yet.