Despite the trend in growing online sales and increased online shopping, your business isn’t going to automatically pull in all those Christmas sales without effort. What’s more, with so many users carrying out their shopping online, it means much tougher competition. We go through some top tips that’ll help your website to make the most of the festive season, whether you’re a large ecommerce site or a small local business.

Get the essentials right first

Before we look at what things could be done around Christmas specifically, it’s important to consider that fundamental elements of SEO will remain essential to Christmas success. That means your on-page SEO must be in perfect shape: amongst other things, your content should be well-written and unique, and along with your meta tags and URL it should be targeting a specific keyword identified during the keyword research process.
Your website should also be following technical SEO best practice, and although it’s not the place of this blog to go through what all of that entails, for starters ensure it’s as quick as possible and fully mobile friendly.
Particularly for many ecommerce sites, the run-up to Christmas is the most important time of the year, so ensure your category and product pages are fully optimised to drive conversions.

Christmas SEO for online retailers: targeting seasonal searches

For many online retailers, Christmas brings a whole host of new target keywords which new landing pages can be created for.
Big retailers like Debenhams and John Lewis have landing pages ranking for the broad and massively high-volume term ‘christmas gifts’, as well as filtered pages targeting more niche (but still very competitive) search queries like ‘christmas gifts for him’ and ‘christmas gin gifts.’
debenhams christmas website
On both websites, the Christmas section has been added to a prominent position in the main navigation bar, and the subcategories are well-linked to both in the navigation and within the text. Even if you’re working on a small site, you could still benefit from the principles followed by these large international retailers: if you have Christmas products, house them in their own section on the site, structure the pages in a logical way and ensure that good internal linking is in place.
JL christmas navigation

What else can websites do to target seasonal searches?

First up, think about the sorts of Christmas-focused content you could be creating that allows you to target some long tail search terms.
Christmas gift guides are popular content pieces at this time of year, and it could be useful for your site to publish a gift guide and link to important products, but consider that unless you get pretty niche with the focus of your blog, it’s going to be tough to rank organically.
A quick search in Semrush highlights some less-competitive long tail terms that content could be created around, such as:

  • ‘christmas ideas for 11-year-olds’
  • ‘what to buy your staff for Christmas’
  • ‘gift ideas for someone who likes to bake’

Obviously, the content you create will be dependent on what your website provides, but the concept remains the same – get niche and focus on the long tail terms to boost its chance of ranking organically.
Whatever you’re writing on, honing your keyword focus to include the year could increase your visibility for searches where the year is included. This should become clear during the keyword research phase. For example, you may see that competition levels for ‘Christmas ideas for 11-year-olds 2018’ are significantly lower than without the 2018. 
When you create your Christmas content, don’t delete it once January comes around. Keep the page up year round, and rather than needing to create new content on a similar topic next year, simply update the existing piece. This allows you to retain the authority that the page builds over time. If you do focus on the year in the content, perhaps keep this out of the URL, as this avoids the need to change URL and risk the page’s authority.

When should you start optimising for Christmas?

How long it will take your newly-created pages to rank in Google depends on a lot of factors, and the topic’s been covered in detail in this useful study by AHrefs.
The study found that of the 5% of newly published pages that are ranking in the top ten within a year, it takes them between two and six months to get there. Obviously, your chances of ranking depend on all sorts of factors including the authority of your site, the competition and how many resources you can put into SEO, but I think the thing to take away is that the sooner you can publish your Christmas pages, the better. Definitely think in terms of months, not weeks.
That’s not to say there’s nothing you can do in the short-term though…

Christmas SEO for local businesses

It’s not just ecommerce sites that can benefit from a festive focus to their SEO.
Consider people who are out in town doing some rather panicked last-minute Christmas shopping. They’re probably going to turn to their phone to look for some shops to go to. Someone looking for some earrings might search for ‘jewellers’, and local SEO is going to be really important here so that your business is the one people click on.  
With this in mind, ensure that you optimise your Google My Business profile and make full use of all its functionality to maximise your chances of displaying in the local pack.
If your opening hours extend over Christmas, ensure that you update your Google My Business listing so that people looking for you know you’re open. See Google’s guidelines for setting special hours.

Use Google Posts to promote Christmas offers

Google Posts display in the local panel and on maps. They’ll display for direct searches of a business name, or when that business is clicked on after a more broad search.
Google Posts are suitable for all sorts of business types, and at Christmas could be used to highlight any festive offers. Whether you’re a restaurant looking to promote your Christmas menu and get more bookings, a local retailer highlighting a Christmas sale or even an ecommerce site looking to promote some top Christmas products, Google Posts offer another free opportunity to stand out on the SERPs.
Google Posts last for one week, so remember to update them in the run-up to Christmas. This great blog on Google Posts goes into much more detail on setting them up and how you can track engagement.

christmas google post
An example of a festive Google Post

Depending on your business, it’s likely to be a long-term and challenging process to get your Christmas landing pages ranking, and the earlier you can start getting them indexed, the better. However, every business can get some Christmas-themed Google Posts out quickly and for free, and local businesses will always benefit from optimisation of their Google My Business listing.
If you need any support with your SEO in the run-up to Christmas,  get in touch.