As Black Friday fast approaches, businesses are preparing themselves for the most competitive sales event of the year - and SEO plays a pivotal role in making sure you stand out amid this frenzy.
Search engines serve as gateways to potential customers, so developing an SEO plan that provides targeted traffic, increases conversions and maximises profits on Black Friday is absolutely essential to staying afloat during this year's extravaganza.
Navigating the ever-evolving digital landscape can be challenging, and requires taking an approach that maintains pace with current trends and buyer behaviours.
ICS-digital recently hosted a webinar delving into all aspects of Black Friday SEO, with insights from across the many facets of a digital marketing strategy.
Here, we recap some of the key takeaways from the session as we share a selection of top SEO tips tailored specifically for Black Friday campaigns. These industry insights and best practices-backed advice will allow you to optimise your website, leverage keywords effectively, create engaging content and implement successful link acquisition strategies - equipping you to take full advantage of this Black Friday.
With global Black Friday sales surpassing $40 billion in 2022, it’s important that your site can handle the expected influx of traffic on a technical level.
Every year, it seems there are headlines about major retailers losing millions as a result of website crashes during peak periods. Costco reportedly lost up to $11 million back in 2019 as a result of a Thanksgiving outage.
In addition to more technical or hardware solutions like load balancing, server capacity and scalability, there are several easy items to implement (or check are optimised) in your site’s backend:
Basket abandonment is every online retailer’s nightmare, with up to 70% of shoppers abandoning their cart prior to checkout according to studies. Common abandonment reasons, and mitigating strategies for Black Friday as well as more generally, include:
Aside from establishing the right customer base for your product, it’s crucial that you also prepare for the specific buyer personas of Black Friday.
Buyers who usually fit specific demographics may transcend several during this event, as personality contributes towards search habits.
It’s important to consider each persona carefully within on-site structure, keyword research and content strategy in order to cater to the ones that best fit your brand and products, to maximise sales potential.
As always, it’s not just consumers with their payment cards at the ready you need to cater to. Give consideration to those who may have pre-purchase questions about particular products or may wish to read reviews or check out a range of merchandise - or promotions - before landing on their chosen item.
A typical three-tiered approach is illustrated below, although it’s by no means the only funnel or user pathway that exists:
When it comes to targeting those with purchasing intent, SEO optimising product descriptions well ahead of Black Friday is vital.
In our webinar, ICS’s Head of Content, Matt Chappell, discussed at length the importance of having an effective evergreen content strategy for your product pages, based on purchase-focused keywords. Indeed, Matt pointed to research that suggests shoehorning ‘Black Friday’ keywords into title tags and meta descriptions actually can have an adverse impact on organic acquisition and murky the typical conversion funnel.
Instead, apply the following best practices to product pages year-round, including Black Friday messaging to complement, rather than detract from, core content:
According to a report carried out by Demand Gen, nearly half of buyers engage with between three and five pieces of content before making a purchase decision. Therefore, appealing to users across the length of the funnel is absolutely critical to optimising your on-site conversions.
ICS’s Senior Business Development Manager, Tom Wardman, recently summarised the benefits of a content hub and why it should be one of the most crucial components of your SEO strategy:
Gymshark’s multilevel Black Friday content hub saw strong results upon its release in 2022 - make note of their use of above-the-fold messaging to lead on one of their most compelling promotions that year:
Just because you might not be going over the top with the optimisation of product pages for seasonal keywords doesn’t mean you should swerve these altogether - quite the opposite.
As you would expect, most searches for queries including the term ‘Black Friday deals’ take place in November - up to 38 million searches that included these were made around the event itself in 2022.
However, what may surprise you is that over three million searches were made in October, with a similar number falling after the event in December. This shows the importance of having a pre and post-event messaging strategy, with your Black Friday content needing to be produced well in advance of the day itself.
When it comes to your Black Friday content strategy, we very much favour the creation of temporary collection pages focused around your promotions. These can span multiple categories and allow you to group products in a more abstract way than you might do otherwise - all without interfering with the journey of your typical consumer.
Ensure you have a clear internal linking structure between such pages and your most popular categories - particularly those you expect to perform well during the event or have active promotions running for.
As always, you should add these to your primary navigation and both your visual and XML sitemaps. Make use of temporary redirects (302s) when the time is right to ensure any authority and potential consumers are routed through to the most relevant pages outside of the event.
Circling back to our Black Friday audience personas, consider some of the main user behaviours you may wish to appeal to in your messaging.
The time-sensitive nature of Black Friday is certainly a pull when it comes to consumer psychology and factors such as fear of missing out (FOMO) and the inevitable dopamine release of bagging a good deal. Lever these with visual countdown timers both pre and during the event, as well as highlighting your headline promotions in percentage terms.
Of course, your on-page and content strategies are only part of the puzzle when it comes to Black Friday SEO success. High-quality backlinks are critical when it comes to providing ranking boosts, and there’s no better way to acquire them than through organic digital PR campaigns.
As ICS’s Digital PR Director, Laura Smith, mentioned during our Black Friday webinar, ‘hero’ creative campaigns can supplement content hub performance and brand awareness, but it’s really important you find a compelling ‘hook’ to convince publications to provide a link back to your site during the event.
Do you have a strong enough promotion or value proposition to be featured in mainstream buying guides in the first place? If not, you may wish to rethink your overall discounting strategy before you start to even engage in off-page SEO.
It should be evident from this article that a well-executed SEO strategy can make all the difference to your online sales success during Black Friday.
It's also important to recognise that SEO is not a one-time fix, but an ongoing process. Applying these top tips to your Black Friday campaigns is just the beginning. To maintain a strong online presence and continue reaping the rewards of SEO, you must consistently invest time and effort into optimising your website and staying attuned to the latest industry - and social - developments.
For hands-on support with the creation and execution of your Black Friday SEO strategy - including our bespoke cross-service packages for 2023 - get in touch with ICS-digital’s team of technical, content and digital PR experts today. You can also download our free strategic insights report below: