Is Your Website Ready for the Holidays?

Why is it important to get your website ready for the holidays? To make a long explanation short: not getting your digital storefront ready in time is like showing up to Thanksgiving and realizing you forgot to buy the turkey. To put it in numbers: the U.S. eCommerce holiday season is set to be worth $53 billion. With the holiday season, the Internet has its own traditions, and one of those traditions is an influx of website traffic -- and everything that tends to come with that happy problem. Is your website ready for the holidays? Here’s the essential 5-point business checklist to prepare your website for the holiday rush.

1. Be Secure

A snuggly blanket, a warm fireplace, and a secure website -- these things are comforting. Making sure your website is secure from start to finish isn’t just a nice thing to have -- it’s absolutely essential. Target’s holiday hack in 2013 had widespread reverberations, highlighting how damaging even a one-time security issue can be to a company’s reputation. While you may never have Target’s problem of 40 million angry customers, it’s certainly not an area to take risks in. Therefore, ensuring that your website is 100% secure for the influx of online transactions that is sure to take place during the holidays is key to a successful holiday website strategy.

2. The Same Old Issues, Back Again for the Holidays

The truth is, many of the steps you’ll take to prepare yourself “for the holiday season” are things you should be thinking about every month -- not just the ones with the most traffic. Things like website speed, ease of navigation, and responsive Web design are always going to matter. As Kissmetrics points out, consumers are impatient, and this is never truer than during the holiday season. An incredible 47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less. And of course, if your website is already on the slow side, experiencing an influx of holiday traffic isn’t going to make it faster.

3. Are Your Keywords Prepped?

Some industries are highly impacted by holiday searches, others -- not so much. There’s no particularly heavy traffic when it comes to, say, holiday plumbing tips, because the problem is year round, or evergreen.

If holiday keywords are a meaningful metric for your business, though, the time to prep is now -- not in December.

Keyword research is essential for incorporating terms into your content so that you are already ranking better before the holidays hit. If you’ve been on the fence about spending money on SEO and PPC, this is a time of year when the investment can really pay off. You’ll want fresh, quality Web content ready to go on your site in order to help keywords gain traction, whether that’s with informative blogs or something more visual, like infographics.

4. Dust Up Your Site

When was the last time you actually went through your website to update product and service descriptions? This is often a task that frequently gets relegated to the “it’s okay for today, I’ll tackle it tomorrow” bin. Make sure the content on your site is 100% original (because duplicate content isn’t search engine friendly), as well as 100% factual. Pricing, promises, and promotions are all things to keep updated and accurate.

5. It’s Already Time to Look Ahead

In the best of circumstances, the 2015 holidays exceed your wildest expectations. Low bounce rates, engaged consumers, great ROI, etc. But once the last presents are unwrapped -- what next? Now is the time to think of how you will keep the consumers you gain this holiday season, continually engaged into 2016. Does your website currently offer leaving viewers a way to subscribe to an email update? And when it comes to that: are you even offering much to your email subscribers right now? While email never has the buzz social media does, the statistics don’t lie about its ROI, and that’s because email allows you to create returning customers more easily. CMSWire advises spending a full 25% of your marketing budget, in fact, on turning existing customers into loyal customers that will help to support your business throughout every season. And this starts, of course, with call-to-actions like an email subscription pop-up on your website.

Is your website prepared for the holidays?

When it comes to this time of year, when the rush of gift shopping and online sales are ever-present, there are a lot of holiday checklists to keep track of. When it comes to your website, keep it simple. Make sure your site is prepared to: capture the holiday market, work well for those who do want to make a purchase, and engage in call-to-actions to keep them coming back for more.