Voices of Search
Holiday Triage No. 2
Competitive Advantages

Episode Overview

Triage No. 2 Identifying and taking advantage of your holiday-specific competitive advantages.

Your competitive standing becomes more important during the holiday season. Understanding your biggest strengths, and, almost as important, your competitor’s biggest weaknesses is key. In triage no. 2, Ben and Tyson talk about how to find the niche’s where you can press your competitive advantages. Listen in and learn how to find and leverage your advantages.

Episode Transcript

Ben                              Welcome back to Holiday Triage Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro. This week we’re going to publish an episode every day, covering the topic of the season, getting ready for the holidays. Before we get into the weeds of today’s podcast, to help you implement what you’ve learned from Position Zero Month I’d like to invite you to Searchmetrics upcoming webinar, which we’re calling Zero or Bust? Do’s and Don’ts in Pursuit of Position Zero.

Ben                              Join Searchmetrics Inc. CEO Jordan Koene, and Eli Schwartz, the Director of SEO and Growth at SurveyMonkey as they discuss the fundamentals of position zero, and why it’s great for your brand, the impact of position zero on your visibility, and winning content strategies for featured snippets. This webinar is going to be held on Thursday, November 8th, at 11 am Pacific Standard Time, 2 pm Eastern Standard Time. To sign up, click on the link in our show notes, or head over to the News and Events section of the searchmetrics.com website.

Ben:                             Again, that’s Zero or Bust? Do’s and Don’ts in Pursuit of Position Zero webinar in November 8th, which you can sign up for by clicking on the link in our show notes, or by heading over to the News and Events section of the Searchmetrics website.

Ben:                             Okay, joining us again for Holiday Triage Week is Tyson Stockton, who is the Director of Searchmetrics’ enterprise services team. Outside of shepherding Searchmetrics’ largest and most strategic clients to SEO success, Tyson is currently third in Searchmetricss’ fantasy football league standings. Today, we’re going to continue our conversation about SEO triage for the holidays by talking about how you can identify and take advantage of of your holiday-specific competitive advantages. Here’s the second installment of Holiday Triage Week with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’Director of Enterprise Services.

Ben:                             Tyson, welcome back to Holiday Triage Week on the Voices of Search podcast.

Tyson:                          Thanks, Ben. Hopefully, by the time people are listening to this, it will no longer be third place, but it’s moved up to number one.

Ben:                             You know, the truth is I didn’t actually look at the Searchmetrics’s fantasy football standing. I just assumed you were third. I’m not actually-

Tyson:                          That’s probably a good guess, actually. I’d have to check, but it’s probably a good guess.

Ben:                             I’m not in the league. I turned down the invite, because I am a one fantasy football league sort of guy. That’s not what we’re here to talk about today. Let’s talk about your area of expertise, SEO and holiday triage.

Tyson:                          Perfect.

Ben:                             Great, so today I want to talk to you about identifying competitive advantages during the holidays. I think one of the keys that we’ve talked about offline is figuring out what assets you have, and how can you take advantage of deals, specials, inventory that you have, any cross-functional campaigns. Talk to me a little bit about the ways that you can take advantage of what your company has and its strengths.

Tyson:                          Yeah, and I think when it’s competitive-based, it’s heightened during the holiday time, but I wouldn’t really say that it’s something that’s extremely unique from what you would do throughout the year and in your general business planning. During the holiday times too, you want to think about, what are our strengths, and also what are our competitor’s strengths. Knowing that maybe it’s not your best strength, but if it’s a pretty big weakness in the competitor or something, that’s like, hey actually they don’t have the ability to do this. That’s going to move it up on the list as far as the opportunity and where I’m going to prioritize the client.

Tyson:                          It’s the obviously pieces of, what do we have, what do we do well, what do our competitors do well? If you’re in e-commerce, one of them that you’re going to have to address, you’re going to have to think about is, how do we compete with Amazon? What’s our niche, what’s our ground that we have that they don’t? If you’re a retail chain, and you have brick and mortar stores, think about what ability you have to tap into local inventory. It’s going to be very much a case-by-case example, but in theory and concept I wouldn’t say it’s that different than how you should be approaching your general search strategy.

Ben:                             I think there’s something that occurs to me is, it’s pretty easy to understand what assets you have as a company, what inventory, what deals you’re going to do. Understanding the competitive piece, understanding what capabilities other people that are potentially going to be ranking for your keywords are, how do you figure that out?

Tyson:                          As far as what their coverage, you can use Searchmetrics within Research Cloud or a project section. You’re going to get that visibility of, what are my competitor’s pages ranking on, what are my pages ranking on? It’s like, that’s going to be a pretty straightforward for approach as far as, if you’re in Searchmetrics doing the research cloud, boom, compare domain-by-domain comparison, you can look at your URL-to-URL comparison. It’s like, where we’re at as far as from the available technology for those kind of things, I’d say is pretty simple and easy.

Tyson:                          Something else that I would say you want to be aware of in more of the business sense of it, but you also want to think of too is, assets not specifically as a tangible, like, this is my URL, this is their URL. Also, it’s more in a sense of, what am I known for versus what is my competitor known for, or what is our target market looking for maybe that I align to better on? Or, if it’s coming back to more specific search elements, is you could be looking at, I notice my competitor does really well on category-type pages, but they’re not getting that much traffic flowing into their product pages, or vice versa.

Tyson:                          That, to me, can be an area of focus if I know my pages are okay, but really the competitor ones are that much worse, so then you lean into that area and take advantage of that oversight, or hasn’t come up on the roadmap yet, whatever it is. I think combining those very specific, very technical data-driven opportunities, but then also taking that, combining that with the human element of thinking of assets more of a, why would someone be searching, or why would someone be wanting to click on my pages versus a competitor. I think that’s a piece that can often be overlooked when people talk about search.

Ben:                             Talk to me about how you do deal promotion, things that are time-sensitive. If you’re doing a Black Friday deal that you think is going to be special, what are the ways that you can boost your SEO for things that are sort of … I don’t want to say flash sales, but content that comes and it goes?

Tyson:                          Perfect, yeah. The first piece that I would look at on that is, is this a sale or event that’s consistent every year, or is this a promotion that we’re just doing this one year, and we’re not sure if it’s going to come back? The obvious ones are for your Black Friday, where it’s like, year-round I don’t care about it. During the month of November I care about it. In those, the recommendations is going to be more of re-use the assets from last year, keep that consistent URL. I’ll refresh the content, the creative, like, a refresh. Those things, I feel like, have been more discussed.

Tyson:                          The ones that are a little more challenging are the, we’re doing this promotion with X brand on these products categories, and we need to come up with a way that people are going to find this. Yeah, we’re going to be pointing towards it in our different marketing channels, but we never had this page, or we never had this offer before. Therefore, we’re starting from scratch. That, obviously in the world of SEO is more challenging, because you don’t have that ramp-up time. If you do have the luxury of getting going early on, that’s always going to be a recommendation. With these type of promotions, the special events, you’re also going to be a little bit limited with how early you can launch.

Tyson:                          The biggest kind of thing I’d say from an internal site-wide that’s the obvious ones would be on page elements, headers, titles, content, all those fun points, is really don’t forget, and don’t neglect your internal linking. It’s more significant in a large enterprise business, that that’s a super-effective lever. Sure it is in smaller websites too, but it’s typically less of a concern, because you don’t have millions and millions of pages. In those large sites, really comb over and have different tiers to then try to work with the different stakeholders, and maybe you get pushed back on trying to get some links on the page.

Tyson:                          What I mean by that is, you can take … My event is on X date. I know that these will be links that no one will care about, and I can get them up whenever, even if that page has a X promotion or X sale coming soon, or check back on this date as a teaser. That’s totally fine, but you’re starting to build some link-tos that send some signals to that page. Then, you’d have your second bucket, as far as, these are ones that I may not get away with too early on, but they’re still going to give me a nice push. Then, ones of, I won’t get away with it early, but right before the event I can get a link there.

Tyson:                          That’s going to be an example like, home page links, or something that’s really visible. Yeah, sure, you’re not going to get away with having a link on the home page two weeks before a sale, but the day of or night before, then all of a sudden you can. As far as internal linking, yeah, it impacts a little bit limited when it’s that close, but that’s why too, I like to think of that, and then kind of, again, set my stages, like phase one, phase two, phase three, or how many that’s going to be relevant to you.

Ben:                             Yeah, I think that when you get down to the home page link, because that page is likely to be crawled frequently, it’s going to be one of the most popular pages on your site, am I wrong in thinking that you will be able to build link juice faster through that link, even though you’re pushing that off till the last minute because it’s a highly visible link? You still make up that ground because of where the placement is.

Tyson:                          Yeah, and the reason why it’s not going to be as much as … I mean, sure, the frequency of crawling will impact it, but it’s really how much value that page has to offer. It’s like, every link, it’s not just being like, I need to get to 10 links. Really, you’re looking at the value of each link, and the more prominent and the more strength that a page has that’s linking out to you … Meaning internally … Is going to pass that value. It’s like, the home page is going to pass way more value than a link buried in a blog from two years ago.

Tyson:                          Ideally, you’re running crawls, and if you’re running a Searchmetrics site structure call, you’re going to have the internal linking, and then you’re going to say, what’s my SAS score, what’s my CHI rank of what’s going into the page and what’s going out of the page. You’re going to see, if you throw a quick link on your homepage and then crawl, that’s going to jump up way more than you’d see from maybe five links that are buried super-deep in the site that no one sees.

Ben:                             Right, it’s not about link volume, it’s about link value. I think the key takeaway here is that the sooner you can get your content published, even if it’s teaser content, even if it’s you’re just building the shell of pages and saying, come back on a specific date, you start building that value. The more you can get your content published, and the more linking you could do as early as possible will lead you to higher value when it’s go time for your Black Friday deals, or your cross-functional promotional deals.

Tyson:                          Absolutely. Your strategy’s going to shift a little bit too, where it’s like, if you’re a top 10 retailer, you know you’re going to get back links. Enough people are coming to the site that it’s like, sure back links are going to give you still a boost in SEO, but it’s like, you’re a top five player. You’re going to get those in nature. If you’re the small fish in the pond, and it’s like, I don’t have these millions of users visiting me and just linking to me naturally, then that might be a shift. I might have a higher focus on back links for a smaller site than I would if I’m one of the big players in the game.

Ben:                             Okay, I think that’s a good stopping point for today, and that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ Director of Enterprise Service. We’d love to continue this conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Tyson you could find the link to his bio in our show notes, or contact him on Twitter where his handle is tyson_stockton.

Benjamin Shapiro:         If you have general marketing questions, or if you’d like to talk about this podcast you can contact me. There’s a link in our show notes, or you can tweet me @benjshap. That’s B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. Don’t forget, Searchmetrics is hosting the Zero or Bust? Do’s and Don’ts in Pursuit of Position Zero webinar on November 8th at 11 am Pacific Standard Time, so click on the link in our show notes, or head over to the News and Events section of the Searchmetrics website to reserve your seat.

Benjamin Shapiro:         If you like this podcast, and you want a weekly stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the Subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss how you can repurpose evergreen assets for the holidays.

Benjamin Shapiro:         Lastly, if you enjoyed this podcast and you’re feeling generous, we’d be honored if you’d give us a review in the Apple iTunes store. Okay, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.