10 Holiday SEO Tips to Prep Your Site for this Shopping Season

Optimize your site and generate customer sales with our list of 10 actionable SEO holiday tips.

To help your eCommerce business prep for the 2021 holiday season, we’re publishing a multi-part blog series with digital marketing tips you need to implement today.

With the 2021 holiday season less than six months away, now is the time to start prepping your site’s SEO strategy — so you can give it time to work.

Based on our work with dozens of eCommerce businesses, we’ve gathered 10 tips you should get started with today. Check out the full guide below, or use this list to jump to your favorite:

  1. Ask about staff and contractors’ holiday schedules.
  2. Plan site migrations and major updates accordingly.
  3. Identify and refresh any existing holiday website content.
  4. Create new holiday content.
  5. Create new discounts and sales content.
  6. Prepare any on-site interstitials.
  7. Ensure your local business listings are up to date.
  8. Create a plan for out-of-stock products.
  9. Create an FAQ/Q&A page.
  10. Confirm your platform can handle traffic increases.

Want assistance creating your SEO holiday strategy? Contact our team anytime for a personalized proposal.

10 SEO Strategies to Get Your Site in Shape Before the Holidays

In many ways, your SEO strategy for the holiday season should be no different from your long-term SEO strategy. Your content should be fresh and well-optimized, your site should present a great user experience, and your tech SEO should be in tip-top shape.

However, there are also some holiday-specific strategies to consider. Shoppers behave differently during the gift-giving season (which stretches longer and longer each year), and your site should be tailored to their needs and wants.

Here are 10 holiday SEO tips we recommend from our years of experience working with online businesses:

1. Ask about staff and contractors’ holiday schedules.

Before you can create a holiday-specific SEO plan, you need to know when your team will be available to help you out. Whether you’re working with an in-house SEO team or contracting your work through an eCommerce digital marketing agency, get on the same page about timelines and projects way before the fall — or else risk your optimizations never seeing the light of day.

We also recommend specifically reaching out to your website development team. If you want to implement or test certain site changes before (or even during) the holiday season, you’ll need their assistance. Your developer may be stacked with holiday projects over the next few months; get on their “to-do” list early to ensure your site updates are complete long before the first frost.

2. Plan site migrations and other major updates accordingly.

On the same note, if you do have plans to migrate your site or perform other intensive site updates, now’s the time to make it happen. Waiting until you’re closer to the holiday season not only gives you less “fix it” time, you also have fewer opportunities to test your changes on shoppers. 

The last thing you want is to implement changes that negatively affect conversion rate before the busiest shopping period of the year.

3. Identify and refresh any existing holiday website content.

When it comes to holiday SEO content, start with the path of least resistance. Does your site have existing holiday content that you can spruce up for this season? While it may not have been applicable in last year’s pandemic, 2021 may be the perfect time to update it for this year’s customer.

Update your old holiday gift guides with new and popular products, rewrite your seasonal copy with your brand’s social team, and look for refreshed images to add to your site. Of course, don’t forget your keyword optimization, either.

4. Create new holiday content.

Don’t have any existing holiday content to mine from? Gather your copywriting team and get to work now, so that your optimized pages have time to rank before the shopping begins.

There are plenty of opportunities for generating holiday sales through SEO content like:

  • Holiday gift guides and online catalogs
  • “Best of” products lists
  • Holiday contests and sweepstakes (also great for email list growth)
  • Product comparisons and reviews
  • Holiday gift landing pages (like Nordstrom’s, below)
Nordstrom's Holiday Gifts landing page.

While your long-term strategy should also help customers find and learn more about your products, it’s even more important during the holiday season. Remember: Many shoppers are buying based on others’ gift requests, not their own interest in the product.

Short on holiday content ideas? Start brainstorming with our eCommerce content strategy guide.

5. Create new discounts and sales content

Similarly, you can also create temporary content for any holiday discounts and sales your business plans to run. The first priority with this strategy is generating holiday sales; SEO may be secondary, especially if you plan on removing those discounts from the site later.

For a compromise between the two approaches, consider creating a “Discounts and Sales” page on your website. That way, you can continually update it throughout the year with your current promotions and optimize it for those customers specifically searching site promo codes, anyway.

Home Science Tools' discounts and sales webpage.

6. Prepare any on-site interstitials.

If you plan on advertising holiday discounts and sales on your website, you’ll want to prepare and test any pop-ups, slide-ins, and other interstitials ahead of time. 

In addition to testing their conversion potential, you should also consider SEO factors like site loading speed, Core Web Vitals, and other page ranking factors to prevent any negative effects to your site traffic. We recommend working with your website developer to create a plan that minimizes impacts on your SEO strategy — and maximizes visitor purchases.

7. Ensure your local business listings are up to date.

If you have a brick-and-mortar location, make sure your Google My Business listings properly display your address and hours of operation. If your location will be open at different hours during the holiday season, make sure that is communicated, too. Otherwise, you risk frustrating customers who show up to a locked door with no notice.

Local SEO is important for online businesses, too. Make sure you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing; this will give you control over your listed contact information in the SERPs. Your GMB listing also allows for Google reviews, which can be a boon to your brand awareness.

8. Create a plan for out-of-stock products.

COVID-19 caused a long-term disruption in the supply chain for many online businesses. While you can hope those issues will be resolved prior to this year’s holiday season, you need to plan for the possibility that they won’t be.

Communicate with your suppliers and manufacturers now to get a lay of the land. Then, decide what steps your team will take to avoid customers turning to your competitors if the product they want is unavailable.

We recommend:

  • Enabling pre-orders
  • Enabling email notifications when products are back in stock
  • Linking to related products
  • And more, as detailed in our “Out of Stock Product Page” guide

Pro tip: Keep our Out of Stock SEO Flowchart handy in the months to come.

Download our Out of Stock SEO Flowchart

9. Create an FAQ/Q&A page.

An increased number of customers to your website will also mean an increased response from your customer service. Head off some of the repetitive questions with an FAQ or Q&A page, if you don’t already have one.

Use this page to address some of your customers’ biggest (and most searched) concerns about your brand, including:

  • Shipping and return policies
  • Product how-tos/details
  • Phone orders
  • Order statuses
  • Personal information use
Mountain House FAQ page.

10. Confirm your platform can handle traffic increases.

Finally, ensure that your site can handle that increased traffic during the busiest time of the year. 

While there are plenty of predictions for how this year’s shopping season will go, no one actually knows how much shoppers will spend during these vaccinated holidays. Be prepared for the best-case scenario — that browsers will flood your site — and make sure that your eCommerce platform can handle it.

Speak with your website developers or your platform representatives to discover which preemptive steps you can take to prevent a dreaded site crash.

Kick Off Your Holiday SEO Campaign Now

Your SEO strategy will take time to implement and start working, and Google’s algorithm won’t work twice as hard just because it’s the holiday season. So, if you want your site to attract and retain holiday shoppers, now is the time to evaluate your SEO strategy and start making optimizations.

Work with your digital marketing team or agency to identify your biggest priorities before the holiday season, and use our tips above as guidance when determining your strategy. 

Want a helping hand (or just an extra set of expert eyes)? Request a free proposal from our eCommerce SEO strategists anytime.

Import Data to AEP Faster and Cleaner with Merkle’s Data Ingestion Accelerator (Vlog)

When implementing any of the modules of Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) from Real-time CDP, Customer Journey Analytics, Adobe Journey Optimizer, or Offer Decisioning, the first – and often most time consuming – aspect to the implementation is ingesting…

When implementing any of the modules of Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) from Real-time CDP, Customer Journey Analytics, Adobe Journey Optimizer, or Offer Decisioning, the first – and often most time consuming – aspect to the implementation is ingesting data into the Experience Platform in order for it to be used.

How to Conduct a Technical SEO Audit

The technical elements of your website’s SEO are crucial to search performance. Understand and maintain them and your website can rank prominently, drive traffic, and help boost sales. Neglect them, and you run the risk of pages not showing up in SERPs. In this article, you’ll learn how to conduct a technical SEO audit to […]

The post How to Conduct a Technical SEO Audit appeared first on CXL.

The technical elements of your website’s SEO are crucial to search performance. Understand and maintain them and your website can rank prominently, drive traffic, and help boost sales. Neglect them, and you run the risk of pages not showing up in SERPs.

In this article, you’ll learn how to conduct a technical SEO audit to find and fix issues in your website’s structure. We’ll look at key ranking factors including content, speed, structure, and mobile-friendliness to ensure your site can be crawled and indexed. 

We’ll also show you the tools you need to boost on-page and off-page SEO efforts and performance, and how to use them.

Using a technical SEO audit to improve your SEO performance 

Think of a technical SEO audit as a website health check. Much like you periodically review your digital marketing campaigns to get the most from them, a technical SEO audit evaluates site performance to identify areas for improvement. 

These areas fall into three categories:

1. Technical errors

Identifying red flags in the back and front-end of your website that negatively impact performance and, thus, your SEO. Technical errors include crawling issues, broken links, slow site speed, and duplicate content. We’ll look at each of these in this article. 

2. UX errors

User experience (UX) tends to be thought of more as a design issue rather than an SEO one. However, how your website is structured will impact SEO performance.

To better understand what pages are important and which are lower priority, Google uses an algorithm called Page Importance. 

Page Importance is determined by type of page, internal and external links, update frequency, and your sitemap. More importantly from a UX perspective, however, it’s determined by page position. In other words, where the page sits on your site.

This makes website architecture an important technical SEO factor. The harder it is for a user to find a page, the longer it will take Google to find it. Ideally, a user should be able to get to where in as few clicks as possible

A technical SEO audit addresses issues with site structure and accessibility that prevent them from doing this.  

3. Ranking opportunities

This is where technical SEO meets on-page SEO. As well as prioritizing key pages in your site architecture, an audit helps convince Google of a page’s importance by: 

  • Identifying and merging content targeting the same or similar keywords;
  • Removing duplicate content that dilutes importance, and; 
  • Improving metadata so that users see what they’re looking for in search engine results pages (SERPs).  

It’s all about helping Google understand your website better so that pages show up for the right searches.

As with any kind of health check, a technical SEO audit shouldn’t be a one-and-done thing. It should be conducted when your website is built or redesigned, after any changes in structure, and periodically.

The general rule of thumb is to carry out a mini-audit every month and a more in-depth audit every quarter. Sticking to this routine will help you monitor and understand how changes to your website affect SEO performance.

6 tools to help you perform a technical SEO audit 

Here are the SEO tools we’ll be using to perform a technical audit: 

These tools are free, with the exception of Screaming Frog which limits free plan users to 500 pages. 

If you run a large website with more than 500 pages, Screaming Frog’s paid version offers unrestricted crawling for $149 per year. 

Alternatively, you can use Semrush’s Site Audit Tool (free for up to 100 pages) or Ahrefs Site Audit tool. Both perform a similar job, with the added benefits of error and warning flagging, and instructions on how to fix technical issues.  

1. Find your robots.txt file and run a crawl report to identify errors

The pages on your website can only be indexed if search engines can crawl them. Therefore, before running a crawl report, look at your robots.txt file. You can find it by adding “robots.txt” to the end of your root domain:

https://yourdomain.com/robots.txt 

The robots.txt file is the first file a bot finds when it lands on your site. The information in there tells them what they should and shouldn’t crawl by ‘allowing’ and ‘disallowing’.  

Here’s an example from the Unbounce website: 

Screenshot of Unbounce's robots.txt

You can see here that Unbounce is requesting that search crawlers don’t crawl certain parts of its site. These are back-end folders that don’t need to be indexed for SEO purposes.

By disallowing them, Unbounce is able to save on bandwidth and crawl budget—the number of pages Googlebot crawls and indexes on a website within a given timeframe.

If you run a large site with thousands of pages, like an ecommerce store, using robots.txt to disallow pages that don’t need indexing will give Googlebot more time to get to the pages that matter. 

What Unbounce’s robots.txt also does is point bots at its sitemap. This is good practice as your sitemap provides details of every page you want Google and Bing to discover (more on this in the next section).  

Look at your robots.txt to make sure crawlers aren’t crawling private folders and pages. Likewise, check that you aren’t disallowing pages that should be indexed.

If you need to make changes to your robots.txt, you’ll find it in the root directory of your webserver (if you’re not accustomed to these files, it’s worth getting help from a web developer). If you use WordPress, the file can be edited using the free Yoast SEO plugin. Other CMS platforms like Wix let you make changes via in-built SEO tools

Run a crawl report to check that your website is indexable

Now that you know bots are being given the correct instructions, you can run a crawl report to check that pages you want to be indexed aren’t being hampered.

Enter your URL into Screaming Frog, or by going to Index > Coverage in your Google Search Console. 

Each of these tools will display metrics in a different way. 

Screaming Frog looks at each URL individually, splitting indexing results into two columns:

1. Indexability: This shows where a URL is indexable or non-indexable

2. Indexability status: The reason why a URL is non-indexable 

Screaming Frog indexability check

The Google Search Console Index Coverage report displays the status of every page of your website. 

Google Search Console index coverage report

The report shows:

  • Errors: Redirect errors, broken links, and 404s
  • Valid with warnings: Pages that are indexed but with issues that may or may not be intentional
  • Valid: Successfully indexed pages
  • Excluded: Pages excluded from indexing due to reasons such as being blocked by the robots.txt or redirected

Flag and fix redirect errors to improve crawling and indexing

All pages on your website are assigned an HTTP status code. Each code relates to a different function.

Screaming Frog displays these in the Status Code column: 

Screaming Frog internal checker

All being well, most of the pages on your website will return a 200 status code, which means the page is OK. Pages with errors will display a 3xx, 4xx, or 5xx status code. 

Here’s an overview of codes you might see in your audit and how to fix the ones that matter:

3xx status codes

  • 301: Permanent redirect. Content has been moved to a new URL and SEO value from the old page is being passed on.

301s are fine, as long as there isn’t a redirect chain or loop that causes multiple redirects. For example, if redirect A goes to redirect B and C to get to D it can make for a poor user experience and slow page speed. This can increase bounce rate and hurt conversions. To fix the issue you’ll need to delete redirects B and C so that redirect A goes directly to D.

By going to Reports > Redirect Chains in Screaming Frog, you can download the crawl path of your redirects and identify which 301s need removing. 

  • 302: Temporary redirect. Content has been moved to a URL temporarily.

302s are useful for purposes such as A/B testing, where you want to trial a new template or layout. However, if 302 has been in place for longer than three months, it’s worth making it a 301. 

  • 307: Temporary redirect due to change in protocol from the source to the destination. 

This redirect should be used if you’re sure the move is temporary and you’ll still need the original URL. 

4xx status codes

  • 403: Access forbidden. This tends to display when content is hidden behind a login.
  • 404: Page doesn’t exist due to a broken link or when a page or post has been deleted but the URL hasn’t been redirected.

Like redirect chains, 404s don’t make for a great user experience. Remove any internal links pointing at 404 pages and update them with the redirected internal link. 

  • 410: Page permanently deleted.

Check any page showing a 410 error to ensure they are permanently gone and that no content could warrant a 301 redirect.  

  • 429: Too many server requests in a short space of time.

5xx status codes 

All 5xx status codes are server-related. They indicate that the server couldn’t perform a request. While these do need attention, the problem lies with your hosting provider or web developer, not your website.

Set up canonical tags to point search engines at important pages

Canonical meta tags appear in the <head> section in a page’s code.

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.yourdomain.com/page-abc/” />

Source code highlighting canonical tag

They exist to let search engine bots know which page to index and display in SERPs when you have pages with identical or similar content.

For example, say an ecommerce site was selling a blue toy police car and that was listed under “toys > cars > blue toy police car” and “toys > police cars > blue toy car”. 

It’s the same blue toy police car on both pages. The only difference is the breadcrumb links that take you to the page. 

By adding a canonical tag to the “master page” (toys > cars), you signal to search engines that this is the original product. The product listed at “toys > police cars > blue toy car” is a copy. 

Another example of when you’d want to add canonical tags is where pages have added URL parameters. 

For instance, “https://www.yourdomain.com/toys” would show similar content to “https://www.yourdomain.com/toys?page=2” or “https://www.yourdomain.com/toys?price=descending” that have been used to filter results

Without a canonical tag, search engines would treat each page as unique. Not only does this mean having multiple pages indexed thus reducing the SEO value of your master page, but it also increases your crawl budget. 

Canonical tags can be added directly to the <head> section in the page code of additional pages (not the main page) or if you’re using a CMS such as WordPress or Magneto, plugins like Yoast SEO that make the process simple.

2. Review your site architecture and sitemap to make content accessible

Running a site crawl helps to address most of the technical errors on your website. Now we need to look at UX errors. 

As we mentioned at the top, a user should be able to get to where they want to be on your site in a few clicks. An easier human experience is synonymous with an easier search bot experience (which, again, saves on crawl budget).

As such, your site structure needs to be logical and consistent. This is achieved by flattening your website architecture.

Here are examples of complicated site architecture and simple (flat) site architecture from Backlinko’s guide on the topic: 

Infographic of complicated site architecture
Infographic of simple (flat) site architecture

You can see how much easier it is in the second image to get from the homepage to any other page on the site.

For a real-world example, look at the CXL homepage:

Screenshot of CXL homepage + menu navigation

In three clicks I can get to the content I want: “How to Write Copy That Sells Like a Mofo by Joanna Wiebe.”

  1. Home > Resources
  2. Resources > Conversion rate optimization guide
  3. Conversion rate optimization guide > How to Write Copy That Sells Like a Mofo by Joanna Wiebe

The closer a page is to your homepage, the more important it is. Therefore, you should look to regroup pages based on keywords to bring those most relevant to your audience closer to the top of the site.

A flattened website architecture should be mirrored by its URL structure. 

For example, when we navigated to  “cxl.com/conversion-rate-optimization/how-to-write-copy-that-sells-like-a-mofo-by-joanna-wiebe/”, the URL followed the path we took. And by using breadcrumbs, we can see how we got there so that we can easily get back. 

To create a consistent SEO strategy and organize the relationship between pieces of content, use the hub-and-spoke method.

Portent describes this method as “an internal linking strategy that involves linking several pages of related content (sometimes referred to as “spoke” pages) back to a central hub page.”

Hub and spoke model illustrations

In our example, “Conversion rate optimization” guide is the hub, “How to Write Copy That Sells Like a Mofo by Joanna Wiebe” is a spoke. 

Depending on the size of your website, you may need help from a web developer to flatten the architecture and overhaul navigation. However, you can improve user experience easily by adding internal links to relevant pages.

At the bottom of “How to Write Copy That Sells Like a Mofo by Joanna Wiebe”, for instance, you’ll find links to other spoke content. 

Internal linking example (further reading)

It can also be done in body content, by linking to pages related to specific keywords.  

Internal linking example (contextual link)

“Optimization” in the above image links off to CXL’s conversion rate optimization guide.

Organize your sitemap to reflect your website structure

The URLs that feature on your site should match those in your XML sitemap. This is the file that you should point bots to in your robots.txt as a guide to crawl your website.

Like robots.txt, you can find your XML sitemap by adding “sitemap.xml” to the end of your root domain:

https://yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml 

If you’re updating your site architecture, your sitemap will also need updating. A CMS like WordPress, Yoast SEO, or Google XML sitemaps can generate and automatically update a sitemap whenever new content is created. Other platforms like Wix and Squarespace also have built-in features that do the same.

If you need to do it manually, XML-sitemaps will automatically generate an XML sitemap that you can paste into your website’s (/) folder. However, you should only do this if you’re confident handling these files. If not, get help from a web developer.

Once you have your updated sitemap, submit it at Index > Sitemaps in the Google Search Console. 

From here, Google will flag any crawlability and indexing issues.

Screenshot of listed sitemap in Google Search Console

Working sitemaps will show a status of “Success”. If the status shows Has errors or Couldn’t fetch there are likely problems with the sitemap’s content. 

As with your robots.txt file, your sitemap should not include any pages that you don’t want to feature in SERPs. But it should include every page you do want indexing, exactly how it appears on your site.

For example, if you want Google to index “https://yourdomain.com/toys”, your sitemap should copy that domain exactly, including the HTTPS protocol. “http://yourdomain.com/toys” or “/toys” will mean pages aren’t crawled.

3. Test and improve site speed and mobile responsiveness

Site speed has long been a factor in search engine rankings. Google first confirmed as much in 2010. In 2018, they upped the stakes by rolling out mobile page speed as a ranking factor in mobile search results. 

When ranking a website based on speed, Google looks at two data points:

1. Page speed: How long it takes for a page to load

2. Site speed: The average time it takes for a sample of pageviews to load

When auditing your site, you only need to focus on page speed. Improve page load time and you’ll improve site speed. Google helps you do this with its PageSpeed Insights analyzer. 

Google Page Speed checker

Enter a URL and PageSpeed Insights will grade it from 0 to 100. The score is based on real-world field data gathered from Google Chrome browser users and lab data. It will also suggest opportunities to improve.

Poor image,  JavaScript,  CSS file optimization, and browser caching practices tend to be the culprits of slow loading pages. Fortunately, these are easy to improve:

Site speed opportunities from Google PageSpeed tool
  • Reduce the size of images without impacting on quality with Optimizilla or Squoosh. If you’re using WordPress, optimization plugins like Imagify Image Optimizer and TinyPNG do the same job. 
  • Reduce JavaScript and CSS files by pasting your code into Minify to remove whitespace and comments
  • If you’re using WordPress, use W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache to create and serve a static version of your pages to searchers, rather than having the page dynamically generated every time a person clicks on it. If you’re not using WordPress, caching can be enabled manually in your site code.

Start by prioritizing your most important pages. By going to Behavior > Site Speed in your Google Analytics, metrics will show how specific pages perform on different browsers and countries: 

Site speed performance in Google Analytics

Check this against your most viewed pages and work through your site from the top down.

How to find out if your website is mobile-friendly

In March 2021, Google launched mobile-first indexing. It means that pages Google indexes will be based on the mobile version of your site. Therefore, the performance of your site on smaller screens will have the biggest impact on where your site appears in SERPs. 

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool is an easy way to check if your site is optimized for mobile devices:  

Screenshot of Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

If you use a responsive or mobile-first design, you should have nothing to worry about. Both are developed to render on smaller screens and any changes you make as a result of your technical SEO audit will improve site and search performance across all devices.   

However, a responsive design doesn’t guarantee a great user experience, as Shanelle Mullin demonstrates in her article on why responsive design is not mobile optimization.

You can test your site on real devices using BrowserStack’s responsive tool

Screenshot of BrowserStack’s responsive tool

Standalone mobile sites should pass the Google test, too. Note that separate sites for mobile and desktop will require you to audit both versions.

Another option for improving site speed on mobile is Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). AMP is a Google-backed project designed to serve users stripped-down versions of web pages so that they load faster than HTML. 

Google has tutorials and guidelines for creating AMP pages using code or a CMS plugin. However, it’s important to be aware of how these will affect your site. 

Every AMP page you create is a new page that exists alongside the original. Therefore, you’ll need to consider how they fit into your URL scheme. Google recommends using the following URL structure:

http://www.example.com/myarticle/amp 

http://www.example.com/myarticle.amp.html

You’ll also need to ensure that canonical tags are used to identify the master page. This can be the AMP page, but the original page is preferred. This is because AMP pages serve a basic version of your webpage that doesn’t allow you to earn ad revenue or access the same deep level of analytics.

AMP pages will need to be audited in the same way as HTML pages. If you’re a paid subscriber, Screaming Frog has features to help you find and fix AMP issues. You can do this in the free version, but you’ll need to upload your list of pages. 

5. Find and fix duplicate content and keyword cannibalization issues to fine-tune SEO

By this stage, your content audit has already begun. Adding canonical tags ensures master pages are being given SEO value over similar pages. Flattened site architecture makes your most important content easy to access. What we’re looking to do now is fine-tune. 

Review your site for duplicate content

Pages that contain identical information aren’t always bad. The toy police car pages example we used earlier, for instance, are necessary for serving users relevant results. 

 They become an issue when you have an identical page to the one you’re trying to rank for. In such cases, you’re making pages compete against each other for ranking and clicks, thus diluting their potential. 

As well as product pages, duplicate content issues can occur for several reasons:

  • Reusing headers, page titles, and meta descriptions to make pages appear identical even if the body content isn’t 
  • Not deleting or redirecting identical pages used for historical or testing purposes
  • Not adding canonical tags to a single page with multiple URLs

A site crawl will help identify duplicate pages. Check content for duplication of:

  • Titles
  • Header tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Body content

You can then either remove these pages or rewrite the duplicated elements to make them unique. 

Merge content that cannibalizes similar keywords

Keyword cannibalization is like duplicate content in that it forces search engines to choose between similar content. 

It occurs when you have various content on your site that ranks for the same query. Either because the topic is similar or you’ve targeted the same keywords.  

For example, say you wrote two posts. One on “How to write a resume” optimized for the phrase “how to write a resume” and the other on “Resume writing tips” optimized for “resume writing.”

The posts are similar enough for search engines to have a hard time figuring out which is most important.    

Googling “site: yourdomain.com + ‘keyword” will help you easily find out if keyword cannibalization is a problem. 

If your posts are ranking #1 and #2, it’s not a problem. But if your content is ranking further down the SERPs, or an older post is ranking above an updated one, it’s probably worth merging them:

  1. Go to the Performance section of your Google Search Console. 
  2. From the filters click New > Query and enter the cannibalized keyword. 
  3. Under the Pages tab, you’ll be able to see which page is receiving the most traffic for the keyword. This is the page that all others can be merged into.
Google Search Console query search

For example, “How to write a resume” could be expanded to include resume writing tips and become a definitive guide to resume writing.

It won’t work for every page. In some instances, you may want to consider deleting content that is no longer relevant. But where keywords are similar, combining content will help to strengthen your search ranking.

Improve title tags and meta descriptions to increase your click-through rate (CTR) in SERPs

While title tags and meta descriptions aren’t a ranking factor, there’s no denying they make a difference to your curb appeal. They’re essentially a way to advertise your content.

Performing a technical SEO audit is the ideal time to optimize old titles and descriptions, and fill in any gaps to improve CTR in SERPs.

Titles and descriptions should be natural, relevant, concise, and employ your target keywords. Here’s an example from the search result for Copyhackers’ guide to copywriting formulas:

SERP result for Copyhackers copywriting formulas guide

The meta description tells readers they’ll learn why copywriting formulas are useful and how they can be applied in the real world.

While the title is also strong from an SEO perspective, it’s been truncated. This is likely because it exceeds Google’s 600-pixel limit. Keep this limit in mind when writing titles. 

Include keywords close to the start of titles and try to keep characters to around 60. Moz research suggests you can expect ~90% of your titles to display properly if they are below this limit.

Similarly, meta descriptions should be approximately 155-160 characters to avoid truncation.

It’s worth noting that Google won’t always use your meta description. Depending on the search query, they may pull a description from your site to use as a snippet. That’s out of your control. But if your target keywords are present in your meta tags, you’ll give yourself an edge over other results that go after similar terms. 

Conclusion

Performing a technical SEO audit will help you analyze technical elements of your website and improve areas that are hampering search performance and user experience. 

But following the steps in this article will only resolve any problems you have now. As your business grows and your website evolves, and as Google’s algorithms change, new issues with links, site speed, and content will arise. 

Therefore, technical audits should be part of an ongoing strategy, alongside on-page and off-page SEO efforts. Audit your website periodically, or whenever you make structural or design updates to your website.

The post How to Conduct a Technical SEO Audit appeared first on CXL.

The Ultimate Handbook On Writing The Perfect Call-To-Action

Add To Cart. Start Free Trial. Click Here. Book Tickets. Learn More. How do these phrases make you feel? Do they make you want to click on a button or link? Yes, but only when they are positioned and designed correctly. With the right message, they urge you to take action — whether to get…

Add To Cart. Start Free Trial. Click Here. Book Tickets. Learn More. How do these phrases make you feel? Do they make you want to click on a button or link? Yes, but only when they are positioned and designed correctly. With the right message, they urge you to take action — whether to get more information about the product or service or make a purchase.

From email marketing and blogging to landing pages and social media posts, these phrases or Calls-To-Action (CTAs) tell your target audience what they should be doing once they click on the button or link. Simple examples of CTAs are “Shop Now!” and “Know More.”

The Ultimate Handbook On Writing The Perfect Call To Action

The more information you provide your potential customers through your CTA, the better. You can then persuade them to take immediate action utilizing a clear and direct message. A CTA comes in different forms:

  • Button
  • Text hyperlink
  • Plain text with no link

A CTA can also run longer, such as “Never miss an update from us; subscribe now!”. The possibilities are endless.

A/B test CTA alternatives with VWO

However, many marketing teams still neglect their CTAs across platforms. Research shows that 70% of small business websites lack a CTA on their homepage.

In fact, 90% of site visitors that read your hero banner also check out your CTA copy.

Therefore, you not only should use CTAs more often in your marketing but also learn to properly formulate them. This article is about the latter.

But before we jump into writing the perfect call-to-action, let us first study the key types of CTAs.

Key types of CTAs

1. Lead generator

Lead-generation CTAs aim to convert visitors into leads. Their placement is often strategic depending on where the content sees a high percentage of new visitors. This could be on the hero banner of the homepage.

If you use an eCommerce website builder, you can also easily place a CTA as a floating banner in the corner of the web page. This CTA should be visually appealing complemented by a crisp copy that communicates its value appropriately.

Lead Generator CTA
Image Source: Automizy

2. Social butterfly

Despite the rise of digital marketing, word-of-mouth still rules all forms of promotion. The digital version of “word of mouth” is, in fact, sharing the content through social media platforms. This comes in handy during blog promotions as you can create in-line sharing CTAs or add social sharing icons on the sidebar of posts to nudge readers to share within their network.

3. Continue reading

Have you ever come across CTAs such as Find Out More, Explore Our Products, and Learn More? These are the most used CTAs on websites, emails, and even social media posts. They help guide users to the page of their interest.

Continue Reading CTA
Image Source: Waste2

The copy should be convincing enough to make the user click. They work well on hero banners and can also be used for blogs and other resources.

Six ways to write a persuasive CTA

1. Using action words in the copy is a must

You have to be clear and direct with your CTA. You will not always get an option to write a sentence for a CTA. Therefore, it is best to get straight to the point asap. Tell your potential customers the action you want them to take. For instance:

  • Promoting a new eBook? Write a CTA like “Grab Your Free Copy” or “Download Now”.
  • Run an eCommerce store? Use words like “Buy,” “Order,” “Save,” and so on in your CTA.
  • Want your site visitors to share their contact details? Start your CTA copy with “Please share your details in the form below…”.

Let us go back to the eCommerce example. If you launched a new range of superhero t-shirts, you want to be sure your audience understands how to purchase those. Simply writing “Our latest superhero t-shirt collection is now available” is not going to cut it.

A call-to-action such as “Click here to buy your superhero t-shirt today” is more direct and informative. It compels your audience to go for it!

VWO’s GPT-3 powered AI copy generator can provide various copy alternatives for the existing CTAs on your page. Take a free trial to see how this works.

2. Creativity is key

Slapping a few words together would not make your CTA valuable. When writing calls-to-action, you need to strike a balance between wittiness and clarity. You want your CTA to be easily understood, but you also want to stay away from generic CTAs used by everyone else in the industry. So what do you do? Set context behind your CTA copy.

Netflix Creative CTA
Image Source: Netflix

Netflix plays it simple, but it gets creative with its surrounding copy, giving its customers a clear picture of what they will receive when they get started. Therefore, do not hesitate to get a little creative with your pitch.

3. Stir up those emotions

The idea behind writing a CTA is to elicit a response from your target audience. If your CTA is enthusiastic, your audience will be equally jumpy.

With a CTA like “Shop Now & Get 70% off!” you provide them with a massive benefit. And who would not be thrilled to avail such a high discount?

Similarly, a CTA like “Find Your Dream Home With Us” excites potential homeowners and makes them eager to click on it. Also, add an exclamation point and give your CTA copy a little extra kick. Here is what you can do to evoke an emotional response from your CTAs:

  • Add adjectives: “Book Your Dream Holiday With Us!”
  • Make a promise: “Lose 20 Kgs In 6 Weeks!” 
  • Leverage your USP: “Purchase Your Hand-Made Soap Today”
  • Back up with a number: “Buy Now & Get 70% off!”
  • Play upon their FOMO: “Get Your Free T-Shirt! Offer Stands Till Midnight”

Your CTA copy must be conversational even when it is intended to be transactional.

4. Take your audience to the land of promises

Show them what is in it for them? Will buying from you make them happy? Feel more satisfied? Get better at their jobs? Save money? Play on your USP because it is not enough to identify the problem faced by your customers. You have to make a solution available to them.

Project management tool Basecamp gives you the exact reason why a website visitor should sign up and use their software. The brand highlights their USP clearly, suggesting the user to give Basecamp a try in the CTA copy.

Basecamp CTA
Image Source: Basecamp

5. Appeal to their FOMO

Fear Of Missing Out or FOMO is an effective motivator. In an age of instant gratification, most people are scared of missing out on the latest trends. When they think they might lose out on an opportunity to experience something or benefit from it, they will quickly initiate action.

Pretty Little Thing CTA
Image Source: PrettyLittleThing

UK-based fashion retailer Pretty Little Thing sets a fantastic context for FOMO. It powerfully highlights the benefits that the customers would miss out on if they do not shop now.

From halving next-day delivery expenses to giving 10% off on mobile app downloads, the eCommerce store covers all its bases. It creates a deadline (without actually setting a date) and creates a real sense of fear to prompt the audience to act.

6. Play with colors and choose the best size

Colors matter when designing your CTA. A study by Emma shows that color is the main reason why 85% of people purchase a specific product or service. For example, orange initiates immediate action while blue builds trust and security.

Yellow creates a lower level of anxiety but gets attention. On the other hand, red increases a sense of urgency. You can also take help of the following color chart to understand which emotion relates to which color:

Colors And Emotions
Image Source: Forbes

Besides colors, find the best shape and size for your CTA button. A button size of 44 x 44px is recommended. The key is to make it stand out but not so much that it ruins your design. Also, round the corners of rectangular buttons. Our brains tend to avoid pointy corners.

Examples of some incredible CTAs

1. Sephora

Sephora gives all the reasons to its website visitors why they must check out their latest product line. The CTA is short and precise, directing the potential customers to check out the new Amika range on Sephora.

Sephora CTA
Image Source: Sephora

2. Tesla

The electric vehicle and clean energy company leverages its USP while marketing solar panels. The copy surrounding the CTA explains what the solar panels are for, shines a light on the costing, and shares three benefits customers will avail on ordering them.

Tesla CTA
Image Source: Tesla

3. Apple

This tech giant thrives on simplicity. Just like their products, Apple keeps its CTAs short and to the point. In their hero banner, it gives clear information about their latest phone range, i.e., iPhone 12, and Apple gives two CTAs to choose from.

iPhone CTA
Image Source: Apple

Remember, your audience can come to your website wanting different experiences. Apple knows this, and their homepage banner reflects that.

4. Spotify

As soon as you land on Spotify’s website, their goal is pretty straightforward. They want to nudge visitors to try out their service without the hassle of submitting their credit card details. The CTA “Get Spotify Free” is simple and self-explanatory.

Spotify CTA
Souce: Spotify

Besides, they use a stunning contrast of blue and green, drawing the visitors’ attention to the primary banner copy and the CTA.

AIDA: The framework model for CTA copy creation

Many copywriting models are used in this day and age. However, one has stood the test of time, i.e., AIDA — Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. And it can be personalized to write a compelling CTA copy.

Attention: The key is to formulate a copy that will grab the audience’s attention, provoke curiosity in them to learn more, or create a sense of urgency. Here is an example: “Limited Collection; Buy Now” — similar to what Pretty Little Things did.

Interest: The copy should be able to hold attention by generating interest. You can do so by demonstrating common consumer pain points, testimonials, or sharing interesting facts. You could write something like “Add To Wishlist” or “Check How Out Dave Fetched 50K Unique Visitors For His Website.”

Desire: Sell your benefits, not your product or service. Use persuasive, motivating language to spark the necessary willingness to convert mere readers into customers. An example could be “Lose 20 Kgs With Us In 6 Weeks!” 

Action: This is rather direct and you nudge your potential customers to take the next step, i.e., “Subscribe To Our Newsletter,” “Download A Brochure,” “Add To Cart.”

Find the CTA that appeals to your visitors

While the best practices and examples of effective CTAs make a good starting point for researching CTA design and copy, the only way to remove guesswork from this exercise is by A/B testing various CTA alternatives along with their positioning. 

PriceCharting, a US based company that provides current and historic prices of new and rare video games and consoles such as Atari 2600 and Super Nintendo, changed its CTA from “Download” to “Price Guide” and increased click throughs by 620.9%! You can read details about this A/B test here.

Banner A/b testing

Over to you

Writing the perfect CTA is challenging but fun. Some key points to remember are to keep the CTA copy short and relevant and place them in an ideal position where they are likely to get higher impressions.

Of course, you would not get your CTAs right the first time, so be sure to experiment a lot and monitor which CTAs are fetching you maximum clicks. You will soon get the hang of writing CTAs that get you the desired results.

What Will Adtech and Martech Look Like in the Future? (Vlog)

On the martech side, data management platforms (DMPs), which leverage third-party cookies to identify, collect, and target audiences, will become obsolete, as evidenced by the major DMP providers moving on to new products. Brands need to quickly pi…

On the martech side, data management platforms (DMPs), which leverage third-party cookies to identify, collect, and target audiences, will become obsolete, as evidenced by the major DMP providers moving on to new products. Brands need to quickly pivot away from the DMP and move to a cookieless approach. Through a customer data platform (CDP), you can start building, integrating, and testing cookieless martech integrations to stitch together known and unknown profiles with cookieless signal collection. However, the CDP can’t stand alone, and now more than ever, you need to develop a broader marketing data platform to support breadth and depth of first-party data integration and management. 

The Trick to Writing Error Messages That Won’t Frustrate Users

Technology fails you when it tells you there’s a problem without telling you how to fix it. Error messages on forms often frustrate users because they do just this. Most forms use the same error message for every field, no matter what input error is. K…

Technology fails you when it tells you there’s a problem without telling you how to fix it. Error messages on forms often frustrate users because they do just this. Most forms use the same error message for every field, no matter what input error is. Knowing that there’s something wrong with their input doesn’t help […]

The post The Trick to Writing Error Messages That Won’t Frustrate Users first appeared on UX Movement.

How to Create Human-Centered Websites with Your Clientele in Mind

Reaching users on a human level requires insight about who your target audience is and how best to serve them. Designers should start with site visitor demographics and branch out to psychographic, hitting all the points a person needs to make an infor…

Reaching users on a human level requires insight about who your target audience is and how best to serve them. Designers should start with site visitor demographics and branch out to psychographic, hitting all the points a person needs to make an informed decision about purchasing or converting into a lead. In a study of […]

How to Connect All Your Data (Vlog)

It’s time to shift away from third-party, blackbox identity providers built on third-party cookies and weak identity signals and build your own first-party identity graph to gain competitive advantage. Preparedness for the future means managing first-p…

It’s time to shift away from third-party, blackbox identity providers built on third-party cookies and weak identity signals and build your own first-party identity graph to gain competitive advantage. Preparedness for the future means managing first-party data and IDs, along with first-party interactions with consumers (this can include website visits, delivering paid ads at scale, etc.). Behind these interactions, this identity engine no longer depends on third-party cookies and works primarily off first-party data and interactions, creating a brand-level identity graph.