Without question, November and December are among the busiest months of the year. If you work for an e-commerce brand, in many cases the development teams have placed a hold on any new SEO or development requests. So what do you do? How can you make the most of the job searchers looking for information on what’s best for them and the people they’re shopping for? 

During the past holiday season, mobile searches related to "best gift" grew 70 percent year over year while searches related to cheap or inexpensive gifts grew about 35 percent.The following on-page optimizations will help you take optimizations into your own hands in order to capitalize on search intent during the height of the online shopping season.

1. Metadata is your friend  

In thinking about the intent of the page; “does it provide the user with more information?” or “is this a transactional page where users can buy a product?” with that in mind, include the related informational or transactional keywords in the Meta Data of that page. For instance, if you offer free shipping, add that to the start of the product page. Or, on product pages, meta description could include reduced pricing options, the names of new arrivals or exclusive products now available.

The Google SERP is continuously evolving but the presence of metadata is still visible in the organic listing text of the search results page.  That’s on-page SEO real estate that can influence CTR.

2. Have a plan for "out of stock pages"

Think about the experience you want to provide to users if the product they’re searching for on your site is not available or is out of stock (indefinitely).  Many e-com sites miss a huge opportunity to guide the customer to an alternative by having a plan in place for this very scenario.

Don't just 404 the product page; that’s not helpful to anyone. Instead, help users continue their shopping experience on your site by suggesting similar items that may relate to their search or provide information about when their desired item will be back in stock. Is there a customer service number you can provide? Or should users sign up for your email to be notified of back-in-stock items? Being thoughtful at this stage may translate into a sale at a later time.

3. Work towards fast load times

Page speed is a critical component of online performance—not to mention what most users expect. Having fast load times impact rankings in Google, user engagement and conversions. Site speed has been a ranking factor since 2010. Moreover, here are some metrics around conversion rate and user experience from a KISS Metrics study:

  • 47 percent of consumers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less
  • 40 percent abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load
  • 52 percent of online shoppers state that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty
  • A 1-second delay (or 3 seconds of waiting) decreases customer satisfaction by about 16 percent

There are many free tools at your disposal. Page Speed Insights is provided by Google Developers to help easily identify the elements on your mobile or desktop site which are hampering fast load times. For the more advanced SEOs, Webpagetest.org provides even greater detail in the form of a document waterfall.   

4. Rank as a direct answer by giving your category pages the most content love

Category-level pages present the best SEO opportunity to rank for generic searches. Why? Because these pages are designed to address a topic or theme related to your product or service.  People are inherently curious and they have needs and problems to solve every day…which they usually type into Google. There’s data around this:

  • 92 percent of business purchases start with search.

          Source: Forrester/ Internet Retailer B2B Buying And Selling Online Survey

  •  81 percent of shoppers research online before buying

          Source: Adweek/ +GE Capital Retail Bank’s Major Purchase Shopper Study

But I’m sure you also realize the rise of Extended Search elements which surface in the SERP and provide a quick “answer box” to a query. Your site could earn a top spot on the SERP above the organic listings if you're able to answer questions like:

“what’s the best way to freeze meat?”

“where can I buy a cute ski jacket?”

“where can I see Elsa at Disneyland?”

Google processes 3,000,000,000 searches per day. By addressing user questions directly and adding unique content to Category pages you increase the chances of these types of pages surfacing on page one. 


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