Is your website ready for the holidays 2016?

by Lindsey Winsemius - Posted 5 years ago

It is almost Halloween, and I’ve already caught glimpses of Santa and tinsel making appearances on store shelves. Holiday creep is in full swing, and it isn’t going anywhere. That means businesses who rely on the holiday season should be getting prepared.

As Cyber Monday looks to surpass Black Friday, this is a great opportunity for small businesses to capture their share of the holiday spending. You just need a good marketing plan, and to make sure your website is ready.

Website Readiness Checklist:

Santa isn’t the only one who should be making a list and checking it twice. I’ve brought back our website checklist and updated for this year, so you can be sure your website is ready for Cyber Monday, and all season long.

 Loading Time

The time it takes your website to load is probably one of the most important design features of your website. A website that takes too long to load will chase your visitors away faster than the abominable snowman.  Mobile web users are even more fickle than desktop users, and are quick to click away if a site won't load. The recommended load time is 3 second or less. Test your site by visiting it from different devices, and use these tips to improve website load time.

Broken Links

The links on your website might degrade over time. You should be testing your links and contact forms all year long. But it is particularly important during the busy holiday season to ensure your links are working properly: The button on your homepage to your hottest selling product. The link to the Amazon page selling your book. The sign up form for your newsletter. Make sure all your buttons, links, and forms are working properly by continually testing them.

Mobile Optimization

I probably don't need to tell you that mobile web browsing and shopping are at an all-time high, and it continues to grow. More people now access the web from a mobile device than from a desktop. On Black Friday, mobile sales accounted for 27.9% of total online sales, and 28.5% of Cyber Monday traffic came from mobile devices. Test how your website displays across different devices. Doing paid advertising? Make sure your ads and the page that the ad goes to, are mobile-friendly. Here's how to optimize your website for mobile searches.

Referral Sites and Outside Links

Do you get a lot of your traffic from referral sites? Social media, partner sites, guest posts, and directories are all important referrals sites that can increase your website traffic. Make sure any business listings or other outside links are still working properly and sending visitors to the correct web page. It is also a good time to check and make sure your information on outside sites is accurate and up-to-date.

Website Trust

Check to be sure new visitors to your website know they can trust your business. With so many options available for web users, trust is a key feature in convincing them to choose your business over others. The good news is that people are willing to buy from new brands, with 41% of last year's shopper's buying from a brand new business. The key is gaining consumer trust. Trust comes from testimonials and reviews, a good design, social media engagement, symbols of trust like the BBB logo, and so on. Use these 7 Steps to Gaining Web Visitor's Trust to get started.

Search Engine Optimization. 

Now we're getting a little technical, but this part is important too. Meta data tells the search engines what they need to know about your website. Yes, we're talking about Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Valuable content is one of the best ways to get relevant keywords into your website. Get those holiday search terms into your website by writing holiday-themed blogs, updating your meta data, or even getting a special homepage or web page designed for the holiday season. Keywords like "great holiday gifts", "best electronic gifts for dad", or other pertinent terms will help holiday buyers find your website. Tip: Longer key terms, or more specific terms, will bring you the most targeted traffic. For example, instead of just using "gifts for her", you might consider "stylish gifts for moms", or "electronic Christmas gifts dads will love all year".

With the increase in mobile searches, search engines like Google are favoring content that best matches searchers. For example, we tend to ask questions when searching from a mobile device: "What is top children's gift in 2016?" or "How do I make fruitcake?". When creating content, answer the questions your consumers might be asking.

Search for your business. 

One great way to check how your website is displaying in search results is to google your own website. Bing it. (Yeah, that just doesn't have the same cachet as 'googling it', but Bing matters too.) And don't forget about Safari, which is still the number one browser for mobile devices. The search display of your site in search listings is often pulled from your Title and Description tags on your site, so make sure they are optimized (your web software should let you edit these, or your web manger can help). Here are some ways to stand out on the search engine result page.

Marketing Plan:

Do you have a plan for the holidays? Don’t wait until the last minute. Last minute marketing is just as disastrous as last minute shopping. The most savvy of marketers have already created a plan for the holidays last year. But it isn’t too late… Get started on a plan right now.

Are you ready for the holidays?