It's never too early to get started for the biggest shopping weekend of the year. That’s the main lesson Courtney Harrington and Jonathan Meyer teach in their webinar aiming to help eCommerce sites get geared up for the holiday season. You may be thinking, “it’s September, why do I need to worry about Black Friday?” For three reasons, because Black Friday and Cyber Monday represent the biggest shopping event of the year, online shopping is more prevalent than ever before, and your competition is already planning around it. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer strictly American events, as countries all over the globe offer significant deals within the global eCommerce marketplace. To stay competitive, eCommerce sites need to be ready for the coming holiday shopping season sooner rather than later.
Creative and determined shoppers will be able to find their deals one way or another. Regardless of how they shop from your online store, whether on a mobile device or a desktop, eCommerce merchants can capitalize on the most successful revenue-generating event of the year by ensuring that their sites are optimized to handle traffic, maintain secure transactions, and offer a beneficial customer shopping experience. By following Courtney and Jonathan’s tips, we can guarantee that we are ready for a happy and successful holiday season.
Black Friday through Cyber Monday is now considered a globe holiday shopping weekend. In 2021, the online Black Friday revenue an estimated $9 billion, with an estimated 88 million online American shoppers, just in one day. This is both good news and a warning to eCommerce sites. The good news is that there is clearly enough “pie” for everyone, meaning that the numbers of online shoppers is so huge that there will be some shoppers that spill over from the big e-tailers, providing other sites with an opportunity to increase their sales.
This also serves as a warning to eCommerce sites that wait too long to prepare for the coming holiday season, if you’re caught off guard then you run the risk of missing out on significant sales. Shoppers will be ready, with credit cards in hand, to buy and if your site isn’t ready to handle the Black Friday and Cyber Monday influx, then they will go to your competition.
Luckily, we can claim our piece of the Black Friday & Cyber Monday pie by making ourselves visible and by relying on our data to streamline our preparations.
As always, one of the top priorities should be Search Engine Optimization (SEO). When it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the influx of site visitors has the potential to be astronomical for anyone ranking high on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERPs). Working to optimize content on your site to both offer an enjoyable shopping experience and appease the Google site crawlers will work to increase your ranking and drive holiday traffic to your site.
To help with this, the WooRank Assistant is an excellent tool to have at your disposal. The Assistant widget sits on your site and offers a full SEO report on the page level. This can help any eCommerce merchant streamline their SEO strategy by showing them where to direct their attention specifically. The Assistant also checks web vitals, so important pieces of meta data, like titles, tags, and meta descriptions can be optimized to their full value. Additionally, the Assistant can determine if a webpage offers a positive mobile experience. In 2021, approximately 43% of Black Friday sales were completed on a mobile device, so ensuring that you’re able to offer a good mobile purchase, while being easy to find on a mobile device, can prevent you from missing out on almost half of your sales opportunities.
Prioritize your content’s message and value to the visitor first, and then structure it in the way Google prefers. You can do this by ensuring that each page has strong, healthy Core Web Vitals (CWVs). CWVs are the main metrics that Google uses to measure the experience a website offers to its users. The three main metrics include:
Basically, these metrics look at how long it takes for web content to load on a webpage, how different pieces of content on the same page affect one another, and how long a visitor must wait before they can interact with the content. The longer a visitor has to wait to purchase what they want, the more likely they are to move on to another site. Additionally, if one piece of content forces all the other pieces of content to move around the page, a buyer might accidentally buy the wrong thing, which adds to their negative experience. The WooRank Assistant can assess your website’s performance against these metrics and offer suggestions on how to improve them.
Alternatively, another useful tool is Google PageSpeed Insights. PageSpeed Insights is an excellent tool that also monitors website performance against Core Web Vitals. The accuracy of the data this tool collects will be largely dependent on the amount of traffic your site receives. However, PageSpeed Insights’ Opportunities feature offers suggestions on how to improve the speed of a webpage and is a real benefit to its users. Used together with the WooRank Assistant, these tools can ensure fast, proper optimization in time for the holiday shopping season.
Some things that significantly benefit both the visitor and the website owner are strong security and accessibility. Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers have the intent of buying a product or service and are willing to trust you with their personal credit card information. These buyers are willing to spend a great deal of time, and potentially money, on your site, so we need to provide as much comfortability as possible, so they do not regret their time on the site or their purchase. We can do this by ensuring that our site is SSL secure, allowing for personal information to be encrypted and transferred safely.
Next, we need to ask, “Is our site accessible for everyone?” For instance, does our site have the proper functionality to help a visually impaired visitor navigate successfully? In addition to standard optimization, if we take the extra steps to optimize for proper accessibility, for example, optimizing our product descriptions so a screen reader can get an accurate depiction, then we offer a heightened level of inclusivity that guarantees a beneficial experience.
Keyword research is essential to any eCommerce operation and it’s mission-critical for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s also important to note that Black Friday and Cyber Monday keyword research differs from standard research slightly. Instead of short phrases, or single words, keywords for these shopping days should be longer and more conversational. Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers are looking to seize the deal now, so their long-tail keywords are hyper-specific and longer phrases all together.
For example, a long-tail Black Friday keyword might be something along the lines of:
Some excellent tools to research and track trending keywords are Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends. With Keyword Planner you can track when certain keywords are spiking, so you can see when the average shopper starts their gift search before the holiday shopping season. This can give you good insight on how to structure deals and Black Friday content on your site, as well as what your competition might be looking at keywords-wise. Google Trends allows us to see search interest on specific topics or see which types of gift searches are more trending than others. Other resources, like Answer the Public are a great tool to determine what type of potential search queries shoppers will be using to find what they need.
Once you have your list of keywords, strategize on how to use them properly. Generating landing pages, gift guide articles, and product reviews with those keywords, that also sponsor a beneficial customer experience, will help you gain a competitive advantage on one of the most important shopping days of the year.
One of the easiest ways to quickly get ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is to use your historic data. Look over your site analytics and reporting from the year prior, to not only get a sense of what worked but also of what might not have worked.
You can compare last year’s top search terms, the overall experience from last year, and what areas of your site got the most traffic and conversions. It’s important to track data from different timeframes as well, as recently as within the same month. Supply constraints have forced shoppers to start earlier and earlier each year, by looking at recent data you can get a sense of when certain types of product searches start to gain traction. Things are always changing in the eCommerce space and will need to be verified often to enhance the customer experience.
Tools like Google Analytics and Hawksearch offer detailed reporting to help eCommerce site owners visualize their own data.
Tools like Hawksearch can offer powerful site search functionality too. Along with SEO, site search is another eCommerce feature that needs to be made an immediate priority. Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers are in a hurry, so the easier it is to find the product or service they’re looking for once they have made it onto your site, the better.
Proper navigation, facets and filters are essential to narrow down product search terms. As previously stated, shoppers will be equipped with hyper-specific search queries, and will not settle for irrelevant search results on a website where they are looking to buy.
The purpose of every eCommerce site is to get the right products in front of the right customers. Search functionality can help you see which items are converting and are not converting, allowing you to review your marketing strategy.
Holiday shoppers tend to have different expectations, for example they might be as concerned with what items are in stock and what items are the best sellers. eCommerce site owners can use their search functionalities to make sure that they are meeting those new expectations and creating the best experience they can for their customers.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are unique, global shopping events. eCommerce sites can seize these opportunities by working to get their sites prepared now, ensuring a safe, seamless shopping experience that not only benefits the customer but also boosts traffic, conversion, and revenue this holiday season. Prioritize SEO, security, and search functionality as the foundations for a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year.
Don’t wait, start now!