Free webinar: Is your SEO ready for Black Friday?
You can download the presentation slides here. You can also download our checklist for preparing for Black Friday.
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- 3:04 – Why prepare for Black Friday early? And why focus on SEO for Black Friday?
Due to the pandemic, more businesses moved online. What we’re seeing now is that the holiday retail landscape is still changing. For example, shoppers are starting very early with preparing for Black Friday. Nowadays, a customer’s research phase can start even 30 days in advance or more. People really take their time to research a product, then wait for Black Friday to purchase it.
In addition, sustainability is also a trend these days. And we’re not only talking about the products people buy. Businesses also want to operate in a sustainable manner, so they can continue growing.
Because the online landscape is getting busier, there is more advertising competition, which makes advertising more expensive. This can be unfortunate. As a business owner, you can’t tell for sure how much money you will have to spend on ads until the check comes.
That’s why it’s increasingly important to have an SEO strategy for this “sales holiday”. A strategy can help you drive more sales, while simultaneously saving costs. So why should you start early? Because SEO takes time to work. After you’ve published a page, it will take days or even weeks for your page to be crawled, indexed, and ranked on search engines like Google.
Besides creating a strategy, you could also try to get backlinks from other sites, get in touch with journalists, and produce stuff that gets attention. These are all valid tactics, but they do take time. You need to email people, wait for responses, gain popularity, and wait for Google to discover your content and evaluate it.
So, while it might feel weird to start marketing and communication about a sale way ahead of the actual sale, you need all this run up in order to get ahead of the competition. And more importantly, get noticed by your customers.
7:06 – 6 optimization categories to work on
- Product pages
- Structured data
- Content strategy
- Speed & mobile
- Create buzz
Optimization for product pages
- 9:00 – Be clear with your product/SEO titles
You know what your product is and what it can do. But other people might not. That’s why you have to help them understand what they’re looking at. Make it as easy as possible for them to understand what you’re trying to say.
- 9:29 – Differentiate your page
If your product pages are generic, you’re missing out on opportunities to stand out from your competition. In addition, they might be hard to distinguish from other pages on your website.
- 10:13 – Emotional triggers
While it shouldn’t be the primary focus for page titles, you could use them to trigger an emotional response. For example, if you say only 10 items left in stock! that might give your customers a sense of urgency. Of course, you want to make sure that you’re using the right keywords and sending the right message. Because the title turns up in the search results. It’s your snippet text. In other words: it’s an advert for your page. So anything you can do to kind of entice or compel is going to be pretty valuable.
- 11:45 – Optimize meta descriptions
How do you make sure your meta descriptions aren’t generic? They have to spark interest. People should want to click on it. So, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Try to think of their problems and how can you help solve those problems with your product or service. And don’t forget to make every single product and page description different.
As for Black Friday, people are very price sensitive. They will absolutely demand that you have free shipping and free returns. So you really need to make use of every letter to try and convey everything. If you put in the work, it’ll make a difference. Instead of skimming over results, people will actually click on your page.
- 11:45 – Optimize your URL
Your URL should be easy to understand. It should explain what you’re looking at. If you have a set of URLs that you’ve been using for a long time, don’t change them. People might know them by heart. If you do change or delete them, make sure to redirect them. You don’t want your visitors to run into dead ends!
However, don’t go out of your way to change all of your existing URLs if they’re okay. If you’re starting from scratch, though, you might want to spend extra time and effort on crafting clear URLs.
- 15:30 – Optimize media (photos, videos)
Be unique! Don’t use stock photography. People have seen so many stock photos that they’ve become blind to them. Instead, take your own pictures (or hire someone to take them for you). And make sure your images have a high resolution and high quality. Don’t forget to shoot your product at multiple angles, as well as show the context of your product so customers can get a genuine feeling of how it looks and feels. Basically, you should provide your customer’s questions with answers using images.
- 18:45 – Customer reviews
Social proof really helps to convince people that they should buy your product, and that the product is valid. It aids conversion, because you’re taking away people’s doubts. So, actively look for reviews. They could even be reviews from a third-party website that isn’t registered by you.
- 20:06 – How to get reviews
What you can do is ask, and you need to make sure that you’ve built a process to collect reviews. Say thank you to those who have bought your product and ask them to follow your review process: please go here. Follow this process, fill out this form, and give them the opportunity to upload a photo of the product they’re using. Try to make it as easy as possible. The more of those reviews you get, the more human your business becomes, and the more likely someone sees a review on your site of someone who looks like them.
- 21:28 – Make the next action really clear
You need to consider that there are multiple options that customers might want to take. Of course, this depends on where they are in their customer journey. Your objective is to get them all the way across the line. In other words: get them to buy without taking multiple steps. For example, if people have questions, make sure there are routes to answer their questions. Help people who don’t understand your product sector become experts.
You can use the period leading up to Black Friday to establish a content strategy to help people with their questions. Besides, people are going to do a lot of research way in advance of Black Friday, then wait for the moment to purchase. So you’ve got to make sure that you’ve answered those questions way in advance.
Optimization for structured data
We talked about broad marketing strategy stuff, which is about convincing humans to take action. Next, you need to convince search engines that you are the right supplier. And a big part of that is structured data.
When we’re talking about structured data, we’re talking about rich results. Getting featured snippets in rich result format is super rewarding as a product or store owner. It’s located at a so-called position zero. Which means you’re at the top and you’re standing out.
- 26:43 – Adding structured data to your product pages
It’s definitely worth looking into structured data if you can. Especially if the competition is high or your competition isn’t using structured data, because it might help you get that edge over your competitors.
An important tip: Describe your products as richly as possible. Don’t just copy-paste the manufacturer’s description. And don’t do the minimum amount of configuration in something like WooCommerce. Really go through every single one of those tabs. Fill in all the information that you have, and make it rich and full.
Getting your content strategy in check
- 28:11 – Keyword research
What we would recommend is getting some input from your keyword research. That’s because you need to know who your users are and what terms they’re using to search. Their search terms are your keywords, so you have to find out what terms your customers are using. Do they use words that you’re using as well, or are they searching for something totally different than you thought?
There are actually four types of search intent. For ecommerce, there are three that are most important. There’s informational intent that helps people understand your product and answers questions they might have. Next, you have commercial intent that will help customers make their choice, because it guides them through the buying process. And finally, there’s transactional intent. This means the buyer intent is already there. Customers just want to buy products.
Look into this, and decide where you should focus on. Then, look into how many people are searching for these kinds of keywords and reflect on what people are searching for. Where is the opportunity versus my competitors? Is there a gap where you can add value and compete? Then, decide where you’re going to spend your energy on accordingly.
- 30:43 – Aim for the long tail keywords
Make sure that you have different types of content for different types of intents as Jono said. Also, a great tip is to find related keyphrases. That’s because you might be using words that your audience just isn’t using or they’re using a different version. So you’ll have to look into related keyphrases to your own keyphrase.
- 33:42 – Authentic content
With blogging, you can really add a personal touch to your website. Which is good, because people are more likely to buy from you when they feel like they know you a little bit. And that might help with conversion as well.
We added some tips to help you out. First, you have to be relatable. Always put yourself in your reader’s shoes. What problems do they have and what questions are they asking about? Use those in your content strategy. Next, write in a way that’s relatable to your reader and focus on their needs. Sounds simple enough, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating content about your products or services.
Next, you have to create high-quality content. Your goal should be informative, funny, relevant, and just a little bit different from others. This might be challenging, but it’s definitely worth investing time in.
And last but not least: You need to be consistent. Make sure you think about concept planning to make it easier for yourself to show up. This also ties a bit into relatability. There is a lot of competition out there, so make sure you always have something unique to bring to the table. Also, make sure that your brand voice is shining.
- 38:18 – Storytelling
Storytelling is effective on product pages because it allows you to show people why your product is awesome instead of telling them. And showing is always more convincing than telling. Once again, it is very important to focus on the problem instead of the product. This usually results in great sales copy.
And if you use stories on your product pages, you’ll automatically shift away from your product to the problem and a solution your product offers. And sales copy will benefit from that.
Speed and mobile optimization
Speed is now officially a ranking factor. And it’s only gonna get more important. When a website is slow, you get annoyed consciously or subconsciously. When that happens, you are less likely to convert, browse, engage, recommend, et cetera. There’s a solid relationship between faster and better in terms of real money.
- 43:39 – Optimize your website for speed
You’re broadly gonna be looking at something like getting a caching plugin or system depending on what platform you’re on. If you’re on WordPress, that might be WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, or NitroPack. Others exist, but these are the good ones. And they will do some of the heavy-lifting on preventing your website from becoming slow.
The next win is changing and optimizing the way your theme loads or works. That might need some development resources or other plugins and logic. Also, think about removing bottlenecks and kind of legacy stuff. A lot of templates and themes were built many years ago and have just been iterated since best practices changed and evolved. So you’re gonna want to rip out some of that old stuff.
The big wins for many people are going to shave some kilobytes off your images, compress your videos better, and make sure you are lazy loading stuff below the fold. Make sure you’re not shoving loads of high, big images down people’s mobile phones when they’re not immediately visible on the page. There are combinations of plugins and modifications you can use for this.
When you’re taking photographs or compiling your videos, take the extra effort to consider: Where is the trade-off between quality and file size? If you knock the quality down from 70 to 60, it might become a little pixelated, but if it also halves the file size, then maybe it’s a good trade-off.
Do that really with finesse about every single one of your assets and reduce the overall overhead. That’s really good practice. Aim for really high-quality media, but make sure that you are balancing that with a small file size, and that you are using plugins to optimize your media.
Create a buzz
- 47:03 – How to create a buzz
Creating buzz is just getting the word going and getting your deals out there. We recommend starting off with a marketing plan. Create a plan of attack, and especially a calendar. So what’s going out, when, where, and how. When, what days, and where are you doing it? Facebook, Instagram, email marketing, etc. And how: what you’re trying to say in these messages. And some recommendations for how you can announce your sale: you can remind people, do some exclusive deals, or sneak peeks. Just get people involved in your products. Get people excited in the run-up, so they’re ready to buy.
And also a perfect opportunity to optimize is optimizing your social snippets. So for instance, if you want to get on people’s wish lists, make sure that your social snippets look attractive. With Yoast SEO, you can really easily optimize your social snippets so they look attractive to people. Maybe you can even get in those Pinterest top 10 lists for your certain niche. Get on a gift guide or get something fun going.
One of the big bits we haven’t touched on yet, which is a huge part of SEO, is getting links. You definitely shouldn’t be going out and buying links. We would recommend against handing over large sums of money to third parties like agencies to go and buy links for you. But you do need to be thinking about links if you want to convince Google that you really deserve the top slot. Having lots of other sites authentically and naturally link to you and saying good things about you is gonna be a huge part of making that happen.
And one of the tactics you can use for Black Friday in particular: think about the types of things that journalists want to write about and cover. And you can maybe go look at what they’ve done in previous years, what kinds of topics trend, what kinds of things get covered in newspapers? What’s popular on Google Discover and in Google News? And then do your own versions of that.
And that might be top guide lists, it might be recommendations, comparisons, brand overviews, that sort of thing. But you want to be creating content specifically designed to get in front of journalists and publishers so that they link back to you and they say to their readers, “Look, we found this awesome, interesting, funny thing. Here’s a link. Go check it out.” And that will drive your SEO directly. You can really turbocharge how visible your pages are by getting links of that kind. It’s tricky to do. There’s a lot of noise. Everyone else is doing it. But if you’ve got the time and the budget, then trying to craft those kinds of campaigns can be a huge deal.
Then there’s email marketing. For Black Friday, it’s important to keep it simple. Inboxes are overflowing. People just want their information as easily as possible. So look at what you did last year, what worked and what didn’t. Make sure that you use segments to distinguish your actual current customers and potential customers. And make sure that you have different offerings for different target groups.
Just keep it simple and maybe think about what you’re doing after purchase. Maybe follow up with a drip feed to help people get a good experience after buying. And think about planning what you can do to help people through email marketing. It sounds a bit boring, but it can be the most direct way of talking to your customers or potential customers. If you have an email list of people who bought last year and you’ve got tactics that work, then you can build on that.
- 50:41 – Analyze your marketing/sales after and during Black Friday
Analysis is a big part of Black Friday. If you can get your analysis going quite nicely, that will help you in the future as well. So first of all, start out with setting targets for your KPIs. What metrics and KPIs do you use, and which ones are relevant for your business? Don’t measure stuff just for the sake of measuring. What is success for you? Determine what defines success and see what metrics fit with that. So does that mean opens and clicks for your newsletter? Is it engagement? Or what’s relevant for you? And you can compare that with your regular stuff.
Next, check your ecommerce tracking. If you own an online shop, you want to gather your ecommerce data as well. That is easily done in Google Analytics and it really facilitates you. But make sure it’s set up correctly and make sure to read up and see if you’ve done that correctly to get the most out of it. Especially things like funnel reports on checkouts that might have multiple steps. You really want to see where people are dropping out and then you can do the work just in time for Black Friday to fill in some of those gaps and make things easier.
Then there are Google Tag Manager tags. This is very important for Black Friday, but also for your regular campaigns. Use UTM tagging whenever you’re using an internal link as well. So for UTM tagging, as a source, make sure that you add Facebook, newsletter, Instagram, or whatever sources you’re using. The medium: Is it social or email? Is there something different? And for a campaign, well, we’re trying to be original here, ‘Black Friday 2022’. If it’s interesting for you, you can add the content GTM as well to see how your buttons, text and images are performing. See what’s working and what isn’t, so you can adapt if necessary. If this sounds alien to you, it’s definitely worth going and checking out the Google Analytics help documentation.
Keep an eye on your real-time stats in Google Analytics because we’re talking about a limited time period here. Monitor activity as it happens on your sites so you’re able to identify changes and sudden drops in your goals and funnels. And check them regularly to see if they’re performing like you expect them to be. Maybe your checkout is broken or something happens so you can act upon it when it happens, and not after Black Friday.
Questions during the webinar
Don’t high-quality images slow the page down? As in they tend to be large files.
Yes, they can, but you can optimize the files and make them a bit smaller. And if you’re using a decent platform like WooCommerce with some performance plugins or Shopify out-of-the-box, those systems will find the best combination of size, file, and dimensions and try to manage that trade-off.
But typically, bigger is fine and the systems will constrain that for the most part. You can also use https://squoosh.app/ to reduce image sizes, which is built by a bunch of Googlers, so that’s a really good one. It’s good for adjusting one image at a time. If you want something systemized, then look at Photoshop or whatever process you’re using to produce them.
You mention internal links. Where do you suggest putting them on a product page?
We’ve produced this pdf showing what the structure of an ideal product page should look like. Show off your product features and include pain points as well – help people overcome objections. Add internal linking and help people understand those pain points and features you’re using. Get them in context, just work them in there throughout, and make it flow naturally. And related products are good, but don’t just dump out a few. Show people a cheaper version, a bigger version, or show it in blue, and steer people through to those alternative routes.
What is the best loading time for a product ecommerce site and how can you make it faster?
‘Best’ is complicated. Just as speed is a complicated thing to measure. I would suggest running your website through Google PageSpeed Insights, which will give you two scores. It will give you a) ‘how did this test perform out of a hundred?’ And if you have enough traffic, it will say b) ‘here’s how real users experience your site out of a hundred’. And if that’s showing big red lights, then try to make it faster. This will depend on who your audience is and how your site’s built. But make it faster until Google stops saying it’s slow.
Do you recommend specific review sites?
I think we named Trustpilot and G2. Those are the two most popular ones. And next to your own platform as well. I’d also check out Google Reviews, if you’re doing local stuff. Google Maps, Google Reviews, and Yelp (and similar) are really important as well. We know they directly feed into Google’s algorithms, so it’s worth looking at those.
If you have a product that is out of stock, would you delete it even with an SEO strategy on that page or keep the page with internal links to other products?
It depends. Is it going to come back in stock? If it is, then don’t delete the product. Otherwise, you’re going to start again with a brand new page and a brand new set of links and metrics. If you know that one day it might come back into stock, you can do some nice stuff. You can add a little email box saying, ‘Let me know when it’s back in stock’, and still maintain all your internal linking. You might add a little overlay: ‘Here’s some related stuff you might want instead’.
If it’s gone forever? That’s tricky. It’s probably not a good experience just to serve a 404, but you don’t want to be doing lots and lots of redirects back to the homepage. Really think about the user and remember if you delete that page, all your hard work has gone. So don’t be in a rush to do that. It’s really about what’s the best experience here.
If we have a unique handmade product with no SKU, can you provide advice for the best info to get higher ratings in SEO?
Do people know about the product? Is it something they’re searching for? If so, then you might have a huge advantage, because many people are competing for the same products in the same spaces. If you’re doing something unique(ly), you’ll stand out. So, write big old blog posts, and win hearts and minds. However, chances are that you’re going to struggle in things like Google Marketplace because your product doesn’t fit neatly on a shelf with an SKU. But you can go down other routes and use social media or other channels to gain awareness and demand.
If you’re selling handmade jewelry or something specific, make sure that you describe the product. For example, if people are looking for a blue bracelet, they’ll be able to find you. In addition, make sure you use your uniqueness to profile yourself on social and give people an idea of the type of products you’re selling, so they can come back to you and recommend it to their friends. Traffic will be more organic that way.
If you have handmade products, you’re most likely working in a niche. A niche most likely uses long-tail keywords, and you can definitely own that space. Long-tail keywords are keywords with like four, five, six or more words in them. So maybe even ‘handmade’ is already a niche for some products.
Resources and further reading
- Slides from the Black Friday webinar
- Black Friday preparation checklist
- Product page SEO: 5 things to improve
- How to handle out-of-stock products for ecommerce SEO
- New in Yoast WooCommerce SEO and Yoast SEO for Shopify: The product identifier check
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