Triage No. 5: The Quickest & Most Impactful Holiday Optimizations
As simplistic as these important tactics can be, back-to-basics page element updates, optimizations and the heightened importance and need to work under tight deadlines are the focus of this the fifth and final episode of Holiday Triage Week. In triage no. 5, Ben and Tyson recommend having your fundamentals ready and bringing your decision making back to the data, familiar themes throughout the week. Tune in to learn more.
Ben: Welcome back to Holiday Triage Week , on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro, and this week, we’re publishing an episode every day, covering the topic of the season, getting ready for the holidays, but before we get started, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are a team of SEOs, content marketers, and data scientists that help enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence, and make data driven decisions using a mix of software and our expertise. To support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re offering a complimentary digital diagnostic consultation. A member of our Digital Services group will advise you on how you can evaluate your historical performance, identify problem areas that are slowing your growth, and implement a foundation for sustainable success with your SEO and content marketing efforts. Just go to searchmetrics.com/diagnostic to get started.
Ben: Okay, joining us for Holiday Triage Week , for the last time, is Tyson Stockton, who is the director of Searchmetrics’ enterprise services team. Outside of shepherding Searchmetrics’ largest and most strategic to clients to SEO success, he has a well-manicured beard that proves he is a distant relative to the most interesting man in the world, and today, we are going to continue our conversation about SEO triage for the holidays by talking about the quickest and most impactful changes you can make to your existing holiday pages to affect your results this year.
Ben: Here is the last installment of holiday triage with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ director of enterprise services.
Ben: Tyson, we’re almost to the finish line. It’s almost the end of Holiday Triage week, and why don’t we start off by talking about personal grooming? I love the beard. I think it’s a signature for you. How long has it been there, and is this just a holiday thing, or has it been sticking around for years?
Tyson: Well, first of all, I have to thank you for finally, someone picking up on the inspiration behind it. No, I saw the Dos Equis commercials and ever since then I’ve just been trying to replicate it.
Ben: You just need a little of whatever the opposite of Just for Men gel is, you just need to paint it gray and you’re distinguished.
Tyson: Give it time, give it time.
Ben: It’s always give it time, it will happen.
Tyson: Alright, so yeah, what do we have today for the last installment?
Ben: We’re talking about the biggest impact you can make, which is how do you update the existing holiday assets you have to make sure that they’re relevant for this year?
Tyson: Ah, yes. I think this one comes across as sounding simplistic, but in a lot of these holiday efforts, we’re not talking crazy technical SEO and in the most part, and really this week, a lot of the things we’re talking about is a more heavy focus of back to basics on page elements and also the heightened importance and need to play the game as far as being able to get things acted upon, working in tight timeframes, getting different stakeholders to come together. Those are going to be important things, and as far as the big impact, refreshing whether it’s graphics, H1s, content, all those things, we’re still speaking to the on page elements. I think two kind of sides to that. It’s good news, because it’s not requiring a hardcore technical SEO, maybe that’s a skill set you have or don’t have on the team, or it’s like if you do have it on the team, it’s probably a smaller group. These, typically, are items that a lot of varieties of SEOs and skill sets of SEOs can accommodate. That’s the good news. You’re not having to go out and hire someone with a very specific need to fill on these.
Tyson: The other thing, too, is these types of refreshes and these types of signals, are, again, going to be very similar with a lot of traditional SEO work, so it is typically things that your team or yourself is going to have practice on throughout the year. So it’s like you’ve been going through the pregame, you’ve had the whole season, and now you are coming up to the playoffs, you have all this great experience you can put into play and you can actually make the best decision.
Tyson: To your question, though, as far as what can you do about it? What you’re doing is, you’ve got to go back to having your keyword researched, making sure that you have those fundamentals and that you are targeting the highest opportunity, highest search volume piece and you are including those in your H1s, you image alt text, the page title, those elements. Too, when it comes to content, it’s the same philosophy, but too, as well as common to the podcast and this organization, bringing it back down to data. What may be relevant from a content perspective, as a copy, is going to be somewhat similar year to year, but it’s also going to change.
Tyson: There’s going to be products that people are searching for now that they didn’t search for a year ago. If you’re in Searchmetrics Content Experience, using our platform to re-optimize some existing copy, make sure that you’re doing an on demand brief so it is crawling fresh live data. I would recommend that you do this early to start off, and then also to give it one last additional refresh right before the event. I think that is something that can oftentimes get overlooked where people are like “Okay, I’m coming up on a holiday 2018, I got in early, I start planning 4th of July, using that loll. I’ve already updated my pages, I’m good to go. I’ve got my other partners sending signals as well toward the pages” But then it’s like, especially if you go going that early, give it another push right before the event. Or say that it is right now today, and you are like “Okay, I’m looking at this end of year sale.” Go ahead get those going now, and right at, or right before publish a second updated version. Or, if you’re far enough ahead, get three updates in there.
Tyson: Each time you do that, it’s going to give the signal that hey, I care about this page, I am putting a lot into it, therefore the user experience is going to be better. It’s going to send a signal to a search engine that there’s more confidence that it is going to be a quality experience. That, inevitably, is going to help you win in the search space.
Ben: Updating your content in multiple phases to send a signal to a search engine that those are priority pages, is a key tip. I think that there’s a cautionary tale here, too. You can’t just slap the word holiday on other pages. If you have a spring sale page. You can’t just change that from a seasonal page, or an October sales page, you can’t just call it the holiday page the next month. What are the repercussions of, and what pages should you be pointing towards the holidays or updating?
Tyson: To that point, too, I think people have this built up notion that “oh, it’s just going to be easier to reuse this one page.” I think that’s, in most cases, not a reality. Usually, when you dig into the details of the CMS or how a page is created. It is typically pretty easy to create a page. Especially if you are using an existing template. The harder part is getting the links and things pointing to it. For these types of seasonal pages and things, there’s no problem to not be having a lot of links to it in the off season or outside of it. Then you build in and you kind of have, as we said earlier in the week, you have this tiered linking approach. You can have this tiered content approach.
Tyson: It’s fine. Search engines know that Black Friday page 10 months out of the year, nothing is going on with it, then all of a sudden it refreshes, and you need to send more links to it. That’s easier for a search engine to understand than telling them, hey this page was about Valentine’s Day, now it’s about Christmas. Now, the search engine is having to be like okay, what’s actually relevant. Even if you cleaned up everything that you can control, you still have no idea, as to like, I mean, you can dig into where it is coming from, but for the most part is going to be a little bit of a mystery as far as how many links exist outside that are pointing back to my site saying Valentine’s day, and now I’m telling search engines it’s about Father’s Day.
Tyson: Even if you control your own elements, you’re not controlling the entire world, so if your same Black Friday URL is used for Black Friday, but it is just lying dormant for most of the year, that is totally fine, that is normal in an eCommerce setting, and search engines can digest that and they can understand.
Ben: Really, really, I mean my assumption, is that the best way to do this, using the example of a deal page, if you have a 2017 deal page, the right way to handle this is you create 2018 deal page that’s a new page, and you do an internal link far in advance so you can show Google and a of the other search engines that you are passing on the link juice and the type of page that this is, as opposed to repurposing the previous year’s page. In the example where we are in holiday triage, you’re basically just taking that page and changing the date.
Tyson: Absolutely, and I guess an analogy to play off of that is, I think a lot of times people go into this approach looking at their inventory pages, and what they have today, as being like, okay I have a 4 bedroom house, maybe I’m going to use this room for an office, and then I am going to switch over and then I am going to switch over and use this room for something else. It’s not really that way when you are looking at a website. It’s not like you have a hard cap limit of I only can have 10 pages or I can only have 100,000 pages. Google doesn’t necessarily give you a cap on it.
Tyson: Yeah, there’s some drawbacks and we can get into the conversations around crawl efficiency, crawl bandwidth which teeter into it, but it’s not, you can’t look at it as I have these 4 options, I just have to use these only 4 rooms. You can have this variety, and then be closing the doors and blocking them off and moving away from them and coming back. You’re not changing the intent of it. If you’re keeping the intent intact on these pages, even if the copy is changing, that’s a lot easier for a search engine to understand. It’s a lot easier to keep all the signals going to that page, especially when you look at external signals coming to it that maybe you don’t control. It’s a lot easier and safer to do it in that regard than by to constantly reinventing what the purpose of the page is.
Tyson: It’s like refreshing and improving pages is normal and it’s a positive thing that we want to encourage from the SEO side, however, you don’t want to be like drastically, drastically changing the intent where then you have a search engine guessing or not having as much confidence of what the user experience is going to be.
Ben: Any last words of wisdom for the SEOs and content marketers listening as we wrap up Holiday Triage Week ? Any final recommendations, hacks, summaries?
Tyson: Yeah, I think over the week we hit on a few really good ones. Some favorites that I really like pushing in conversations around these topics is the first one, and it’s come up, I think, in almost every single of these episodes is being realistic. Know the time that you are starting, know the resources that your company has, the assets that you have and use that to maximize them. You want to understand where are your constraints and how to maximize the output within that, and then next year start earlier to try to expand what those constraints are.
Tyson: The next one, which, to your point on the last episode, too, of buying the case of wine and stuff, really lean in to your business partners and the other stakeholders. Your success, especially when it comes into crunch time, is going to be so heavily dependent on the others that you have to have those interpersonal relationships and skills to get other teams to evangelize for you. That’s going to be an important thing, whether it’s getting them a bottle of wine, getting them that bottle of Mezcal, maybe include or don’t include the worm. Those things are going to go a long way.
Ben: Include the worm
Tyson: That’s going to get you a little more equity. Those are two things that I think are really impactful and things that sound very simple, but it’s also easily missed. Don’t be sacrificing in it. The points in this episode, hey it’s just easier to duplicate this deals page or this sales page, don’t wash it up and kind of be like it’s not where it is at. Let’s just kind of do this. A lot of these events and sales are excellent, excellent eCommerce in particular, also in other sectors like travel tourism. The stakes are a lot higher, so it is worth leaning into and really going after them. You also don’t want to make a push and then sacrifice something else later, in the sense of like hey, we had a page that was cruising along, and then all of a sudden we changed the intent to be for this holiday and then in passed and we tried to revert back and we never got to where we were.
Tyson: Don’t be afraid to lean in and really evangelize to capitalize on this because the opportunity is there, but be realistic and make sure that you are not sacrificing something later that is going to come back.
Ben: Yeah. Thinking outside of the general landscape of SEO. The holidays can be a stressful time for a lot of people. For SEOs as we get up to the holiday, if you haven’t been planning, there is only so much you can do to make up ground. We hope that Holiday Triage Week on the Voices of Search podcast has been something that is useful for you, but we do encourage you to be realistic Obviously it is a time when a lot of us are working hard. Keep your head on straight, work closely with your cross functional partners, build those relationships, and do what you can, but at the end of the day, the right way to plan for the holidays is to start far in advance and there is only so much ground you can make up.
Ben: As we talk about the stress of the holidays, whether it’s at work, or whether it’s at home, we hope that this content has provided you value, and we hope that you have a happy and healthy and successful holidays and that you are enjoying this podcast. We hope that you have enjoyed Holiday Triage Week on the Voices of Search podcast. Thank you for listening to my week of conversations with Tyson Stockton from Searchmetrics. He’s our director of enterprise services. As the holidays come upon us, we’d love to continue the conversation. If you have questions for Tyson, you have a link to his bio in our show notes, or you can contact him on twitter. His handle is Tyson_Stockton. If you have general marketing questions, if you’d like to talk about this podcast, if you just need a digital hug over the holidays, you can find a link to my contact information, or you can tweet me at BenjShap, that’s B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.
Ben: If you’re interesting in learning more about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic, online visibility, to gain insights, head over to Searchmetrics.com/diagnostic for your complimentary advisory session with our digital strategies team. We’re happy to help you make up some ground if you’re behind for the holidays. We’re here for you if you need us. Searchmetrics.com/diagnostic
Ben: If you like this podcast and you want a regular 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 next week. Ho, Ho, Ho, SEOs. Happy Holidays, and that’s it for today, but until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.