Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on September 28th, 2009

Are You SEO-Ready For The Holiday Season?

In a year that almost every business is up against the ropes, it is never too early to prepare for the holiday season. It’s a time to be thankful that our businesses are still operating, but the stress of a less than joyous bottom line is discerning. While everyone holds their proverbial breaths through Q4, it’s time to set in motion your holiday marketing blitz. Search and SEO needs to be part of the advertising equation, no matter the size of your business. Here are five quick tips to prepare your website for the online holiday season.

1. Link Cleaning

Some websites may suffer from multiple copies of home pages, category pages, or product pages. These copies get indexed by the search engines and divide the “link juice” between the pages, hurting the ranking for each page more than you may think. Straightening out your internal linking structure can result in a higher ranking right at shopping season.

2. Gift Pages

If you haven’t already done so, creating a section of gift pages on your website for the holidays. Break it down into sub-sections to be more user-friendly: him/her, price ranges, or a horizontally-specific “gadgets” section.

3. Increase PPC Now

It is almost October, which means people are gathering the holiday gift lists from relatives over the new six weeks. Increasing your PPC spend now will build your advertising rankings in Paid Search over the next six weeks. So when consumers are clicking away their dollars, you’ve made sure that you’re getting the click.

4. Meta Updates

This is another quick fix you can make to ensure your site’s SEO juice. Make sure that the most important terms you are targeting are listed in the beginning of the meta title. If your title tags are based on category structure, make sure they are ordered in importance.

5. Unified and Planned Message

Before you start your season-long holiday marketing blitz, make sure that all the advertisements, PPC campaigns, website copy, online newsletters and email material has consistent messaging. If you have a series of ads that will appear in Paid Search and also feature in your gift section on the website, make sure that it is in sync. This can make or break a conversion.

Some companies who deal with a high volume of traffic over the holidays tend to do a code freeze with their SEO through the holiday season to minimize the errors that may occur. This not only keeps the website running consistently, but prevents breakdowns at crucial moments in the buying process. Nothing will lose a customer for life faster than a checkout module not functioning correctly. Especially if it that holiday “IT” toy of the season. If you can’t deliver the Elmo Tickle Hands, than someone else will.