23 Essential Tips for Preparing Your Website for Holiday Shoppers
Updated September 2023
How to Prepare Your Website for the Holidays
The holidays are right around the corner, which means we’re fast approaching the busiest shopping time of the year — which means more profitable traffic will potentially come to your website.
The operative word here is potentially.
The gap between global e-commerce sales growth and retail sales growth has shrunk, likely producing a modest 2023 holiday season where e-commerce sales will slightly outpace brick-and-mortar. Online retailers will probably kick off their promotions in October, creating an elongated holiday shopping season where consumers wait for the best discounts.
According to Outbrain, this year’s holiday season will look much like last year’s, with retail sales growing 4.5% to $1.328 trillion. E-commerce sales will grow 11.9%, but brick-and-mortar gains are expected to revert to pre-pandemic norms, growing only 2.8% YoY.
Before you start associating dollar signs with holiday cheer, there’s one thing you’ll need to do (especially if you run an e-commerce business instead of a brick-and-mortar store): Get your site ready for the holidays.
Not only do you want to ensure that your website is equipped to handle the demand for your products or services. But you also want to be sure you’re catering to the user experience. That means optimizing for the holiday-minded consumer.
Christmas is always the most profitable time for Create customers and those with an online business. To make this the best year, you must consider your Christmas activity now.
If you are like most business owners, you started planning for the holiday season a while ago. You probably have your advertising and holiday email campaigns figured out, and you set a date for decorating your store windows. But are you forgetting your online presence? Use our tips for preparing your website for holiday shoppers.
Since many small businesses depend on the holiday season to make it through the year, procrastinating is not an option. Even if you are a brick-and-mortar business and don’t do e-commerce, your potential consumers most likely conduct research online before they ever walk into your store. By preparing your website for holiday shoppers, you will be ahead of your competition.
Shoppers spent a record $211.7 billion online during the 2022 holiday season.Retail Dive
The holiday season is crucial for small businesses. Most SMBs generate around 20% of their annual sales in November and December. With shoppers finalizing their lists and checking their available credit card balances, now is the time to get the ball rolling for your holidays. Here is what you need to start preparing your website for holiday shoppers.
Why It’s Necessary to Prepare Your Website for the Holidays
As you know, the holiday season arguably provides the best opportunity to get your numbers up before the end of the year. It’s also a great way to unload stagnant inventory and generate new interest in your brand, turning potential customers into recurring ones.
According to forecasts by eMarketer, overall retail spending will increase 4.5% to $1.3 trillion for the 2023 holiday season, with ecommerce accounting for almost 20% of sales and contributing 48.5% of incremental spending gains.
However, the impact of global economic conditions, the persistence of inflation, the rise of buy now, pay later options, and shoppers’ waiting for discounts will impact the 2023 holiday shopping.
As a result, online retailers are expected to have a tough time increasing their end-of-the-year sales compared to last year due to inflation and the ongoing recession.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that online shoppers will be skimping on their gift lists. They will, however, likely be more discerning about where they shop by doing more comparison shopping and price matching to find the online retailers offering the best price or deeper discounts.
This is why getting your site ready for the holidays is so important. If you don’t do what you can now to cater to your online customer base — especially under the current economic state — you won’t see the revenue you’re hoping for. Of course, your competitors who are preparing will see that revenue.
So, how do you prepare your website for the holidays?
Preparing your Website for Holiday Shoppers
We won’t lie to you — getting your site ready for the holidays takes some doing. That’s why you’ll have to start now to work out any kinks and avoid making any grave mistakes.
Consider the following tips for your website holiday prep checklist:
1. Focus on Mobile Consumers
Most holiday shoppers will first look for you online, even if they plan to visit your brick-and-mortar store or location. And in 2023, they will be using a mobile device to do so. If your business website is not based on mobile-first best practices, you have a problem!
In 2023, mobile retail ecommerce sales are projected to exceed $510 billion. The vast majority of these sales will happen on a smartphone.AppNova
Take time to understand how content behaves on different devices, like tablets and smartphones, to HD TVs. You need to do better if you do not have a website that looks and functions fantastic on all of the above.
2. Determine What Worked in the Past
Dig into your reports from Google Analytics or other analytics tools. What worked well last year? Which strategies didn’t work? What has changed during the past several months that might impact how you interpret and apply the data to this year’s activities?
Also, analyze the current data, not just for your website but for your competitors. What are your competitors saying about the holiday season? If you pay attention to what they say, you can adjust your strategy to better compete with them.
3. Test Your Website
Before traffic to your website ramps up with holiday shoppers, there are a variety of volumetric tests that can help you understand your website’s capacity and vulnerabilities. Load tests, for instance, will help you understand your website’s capacity under normal conditions, while spike tests will assess how the system handles sudden traffic spikes.
The increased traffic volume during the holiday season typically impacts the availability, response time, and errors. When running readiness tests, pay particular attention to these metrics since these factors frustrate consumers and could cause them to abandon your site.
The number of online shoppers has been growing over the past few years. In 2023, there are 80 million more digital buyers than there were in 2022—a 3.1% year-over-year increase.Oberlo
4. Make Sure Your Website Looks Holiday-Ready
Spreading holiday cheer is essential, especially during tough times. The shoppers aren’t just looking for great gift ideas and deals. They’re also looking for some holiday cheer.
Your regular, bland (no offense) homepage and landing pages aren’t cut it. You want to encourage your recurring and potential customers to indulge in the holiday spirit with you, which means doing a light redesign of your website to make it more festive.
A few things you can do include:
- Use festive colors and holiday-like font styles
- Incorporate holiday-themed imagery or wintery imagery where appropriate
- Banners that display holiday cheers and sayings
- Add a music widget that plays holiday-themed music
Keep in mind the layout and flow of your website. You want to add to the user experience, not take away from it. For example, please don’t overdo it by changing your cursor from an arrow to a candy cane.
5. Focus on Holiday-Related Content
As a website owner, you already know how valuable your blog content is for bringing in user traffic and increasing sales conversions. Around the holidays, your blog is even more helpful as it can be leveraged to reach customers who aren’t shopping for themselves but for others — which means you have an even larger audience to pool from.
Of course, it’s also essential for retargeting your regular audience, who already enjoy reading the content you regularly produce.
The key to driving more traffic to your eCommerce store isn’t just about putting out holiday-themed content that will rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for holiday shoppers. It also involves announcing a stronger value proposition that speaks to your audience’s most pressing pain points.
Holiday shoppers seek the best products and services as gifts for their loved ones. You must convince them that your products or services are the best gifts for those people. You must publish high-quality blog content with valuable advice, information, etc.
Holiday-oriented content can look like this:
- Holiday Gift Guides
- Budget Ideas
- Holiday Recipes
This type of content is excellent for helping those not sure where to start with holiday shopping while allowing you to promote your products or services.
6. Include Holiday Keywords in Your SEO
As part of preparing your website for holiday shoppers, you must consider your search appearance! Most holiday shoppers start with a Google search. If your content is buried somewhere on your site, no one will ever see it, and it’ll not be beneficial. So, give shoppers what they are looking for!
Identify holiday-specific keywords and phrases that shoppers are searching for. Remember that holiday shoppers are not shopping for gifts necessarily as much as they are searching for gift ideas! But don’t simply target keywords based on data from last holiday season; it may be outdated by now. Instead, we recommend using terms you would search for if the roles were reversed.
In addition to putting out holiday-inspired content, you must approach your SEO strategy with some yuletide cheer. Once again, using relevant keywords around the holidays is incredibly important.
But what’s more important is ensuring those keywords are relevant to your products or services. That’s the key to boosting your product or service pages and content in the SERPs.
One way to make these keywords even more relevant is to use specific modifiers, including:
- The current year
- Holiday + the current year
- Holiday + shopping, recipes, travel, etc
- Store gift cards or shop gift cards
- Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Small Business Saturday/Christmas sales
- Christmas + the current year
7. Tune Up Your Website
To prepare your website for holiday shoppers, you must provide an excellent user experience! Nobody likes a slow or broken website, especially during the holidays! Here are some simple website tune-ups you should consider before the holiday rush starts in earnest:
Update Your Plugins
Many, if not most, business websites and online stores use plugins to provide additional flair or functionality. But there is more to a plugin than functionality. Security plays a crucial role in the process. Developers are always looking for exploits that make it easier for hackers to break through their software and potentially make it to your website.
Plugin creators know that security is an issue, so their updates are usually designed to fix bugs and exploits that scammers can use to their advantage. Security plugins update more frequently because they aim to keep your website secure. If you’re not regularly updating your plugins, you could put your business at risk this holiday season.
Fix Broken Links
Preparing your website for holiday shoppers includes fixing any broken links on your site. Google hates them, and broken links also provide a bad experience for your website visitors. It makes your website seem less trustworthy or credible, which can be a deciding factor.
Our favorite tool for identifying and fixing broken links is Screaming Frog. You may also want to check and ensure any permanent (301) or temporary (302) redirects are pointing to the correct pages by using Redirect Check or the Redirect SEO Tool from Rank Math.
Get Better Web Hosting
Not all web hosting is created equal, you know! Look at how different website hosting options affect the speed and performance of your website. A cheap, shared hosting plan is never a good idea, especially during the holiday shopping season. You will lose any savings when a shopper abandons their shopping cart on your site or checks out your competitors instead.
If your website host cannot handle increased web traffic over the holidays, it can result in crashes, slowdowns, and, in worst-case scenarios, an actual website shutdown. Not exactly the holiday shopping experience you want to provide.
So, upgrade your website hosting before the holiday season. Here are some top-rated WordPress hosting providers in 2023 that can help you improve your site performance, often for less money than you think.
8. Optimize for Site Speed and Performance
During the holiday season, websites become the most traversed entities imaginable. While heavier traffic volumes can boost sales, it can also have the opposite effect if your website is equipped to handle the overload.
Page load speed is not only a Google Ranking Signal; it also affects the user experience visitors will have on your website. Load time and page speed significantly impact your sales every day of the year, but never more so than during the crazy holiday rush.
Website performance has a significant, measurable effect on conversion rates. Studies have consistently shown that fast page speed will improve conversion rates. In other words, the quicker a webpage loads, the more likely a user is to perform the targeted action on that webpage. Fortunately, increasing page speed is a relatively quick and easy fix.
The first thing you’ll want to do is check your site speed using the proper tools. Once you zero in on what’s causing your site to load slowly, you can fix them for better overall performance.
Next, you’ll want to cater to your visitors’ time. People are in more of a rush this time of the year than usual, so it’s in your best interest to put all essential information right in front of their faces. Keep your landing and product pages as simple and streamlined as possible, purge your pages of outdated information and imagery or videos, and make sure your site’s navigation menus are intuitive.
You’ll also need to optimize for mobile and other smart devices since more people shop on their phones.
9. Double-Up on Checkout Security
Since 2014, Google has been pushing for “HTTPS everywhere” across the web. Essentially, every website and application should have a secure, encrypted connection. You may have noticed the green padlock symbol on e-commerce and other websites. It is essential for all business websites because Google made having an SSL Certificate an absolute requirement in July 2018.
An SSL Certificate not only makes sites more secure during the busy holiday shopping season, Google considers it an important search ranking signal. Better security at checkout benefits your customers and you, as a single security breach can impact your business website and traffic for many holidays.
10. Protect Customer Data
Preparing your website for holiday shoppers includes protecting their data! Shopping online is always risky; some websites don’t safeguard customers’ data adequately, putting these individuals at risk for identity theft and other issues. Investing in robust security software is an excellent way to protect your customers’ critical data.
Your technical support staff should keep apprised of the latest developments in online security to help your customers stay safe. To help alleviate your customers’ concerns, you can include information on your website about the security protocols you use and offer tips on how your customers can shop online safely.
11. Highlight the Necessary Products
Part of optimizing your website and catering to the user experience means anticipating the needs of your visitors. During this time of the year, people will seek the perfect gifts. You must anticipate which gifts regarding your products or services they’ll align with the most.
In anticipating what people will be looking for, you’ll want to highlight those products or services by displaying them front and center on your home page, product or service pages, and any other landing pages you create. Combine this display with holiday sales and concise calls to action (CTAs), and your visitors will have their work cut out for them.
12. Start a Holiday Newsletter
One of the best ways to spread your holiday promotions and drive more traffic to your sites is by delivering the Christmas cheer right to the inboxes of your email list.
You can start by sending anticipatory emails, such as a countdown to holiday sales and upcoming special deals. You can also incorporate limited-time holiday offers that expire to create a sense of urgency.
Don’t forget to include social sharing links in each email. This will allow you to tap into your subscribers’ family and friends network, generating even more site traffic and sales conversions.
13. Simplify the Checkout Process
The abandoned shopping cart rate is at 70% across all industries. One of the primary reasons why online shoppers abandon their carts is the lengthy checkout process.
By streamlining your checkout process, you’ll have fewer abandoned carts and more sales this holiday season. A few ways you can accomplish this is by doing the following:
- Cut out any unnecessary pages during the checkout process.
- Provide a guest checkout option (with an auto-fill feature) so people don’t have to spend time creating an account.
- Offer multiple payment methods beyond credit and debit, such as Klarna, AfterPay, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.
Don’t forget to ensure that your website is safe and secure from cyber criminals to avoid repercussions and a loss of trust. A WordPress security plugin like Wordfence can make it easy to secure and protect your WordPress website.
14. Decorate Your Website for the Holidays
Another way to prepare your website for holiday shoppers is by decorating your site! A fresh and inviting storefront shows that your business is active, responsive, and ready to sell. Especially new home page designs and seasonal themes show a higher level of engagement, which enhances the user experience.
In most cases, a top-to-bottom redesign of an e-commerce storefront is unnecessary. Some sites, especially those with lots of information displayed on the front page, can lose traffic by shifting the location of popular menu items. Nonetheless, some elements always benefit from a fresh look, especially during holidays. These can include:
- Graphic page headers
- In-text pictures
- Group photographs of team members
- Holiday-themed images of your team and location(s)
- Personalized service messages, including automated email text
- Holiday-themed newsletter graphics
Shifting the color theme of a site to reflect the season is another idea to consider. This can be as simple as replacing images with holiday-themed images or replacing background colors with a more seasonal combination. But take it easy; you don’t want to scare potential shoppers away!
15. Use Humor
Sometimes, the best way of preparing your website for holiday shoppers is to make them laugh. Of course, how you do this is mainly up to you and what works for your brand.
JibJab allows brands to personalize hilarious videos and send them to current clients and potential new consumers. The site offers a series of customizable holiday cards yearly to make your customers laugh, share, and repeat.
In 2023 E-commerce will share 20.8% of all retail market. E-commerce sales are expected to surpass $6.5 trillion during 2023. E-commerce websites will take up 22.3% of total retail sales.Manaferra
16. Create Your Holiday Content Now
Before shopping, consumers turn to the Internet for gift ideas, check social media recommendations, and research current trends. Preparing your website for holiday shoppers must focus on content creation. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
- Create content designed specifically for holiday shoppers coming to your store or business. This can include a case study of how your product improved their lives, a holiday-themed recipe that uses your ingredients, or simple holiday decorating or cooking tips.
- Design visual content, such as infographics, that answer basic questions about your product or service. How-to instructions can be beneficial.
- Create a holiday version of your logo. This can be as simple as adding a pop of red color, some ornaments, or a holiday garland.
17. Focus on Popular Products and Categories
Every holiday shopping season has a must-have item or trending product category. Take a look around and see what is driving sales this holiday season. Promoting that product or category on your site can make it more appealing to customers looking for hot items.
By the end of 2023, it’s expected that $344.5 billion mobile commerce sales will come from smartphones, compared to $56.7 billion from tablets.BuildFire
And don’t forget to add that hot product or category to your search marketing strategy (see below.)
18. Organize Your Website by Categories
Consider updating your website’s main navigation to match your holiday shopping categories. Many visiting your website during November and December will likely purchase gifts. Make it easy for them to find your top recommended gifts so they will be more likely to buy.
19. Update Your Catalog
The holiday shopping boom is a great time to roll out new inventory and fresh product lines. Do you have a hot holiday item or items? You can begin generating buzz for these new additions in the days and weeks leading up to the start of the holiday shopping season.
20. Create Your Coupons
If you plan to offer coupon discounts during or after the holidays, it helps to prepare them beforehand. Be sure to add them to your e-commerce site and select appropriate options, such as the number of times they can be used and expiry dates. And don’t forget to promote your coupon codes through email marketing, social media, and your business website and store!
On the eCommerce site, which features shops of handmade goods, crafts, and other unique items, there’s been a 156% increase in searches for custom or personalized gifts in the past three months compared to the same time a year ago.Zoovu
21. Focus on Your Customers
Browser problems, incorrect stock levels, and missing orders are everyday customer issues your staff will need to work through. Having enough team on hand is an essential ingredient in helping your website survive the holidays. If possible, offer a live chat support option to those browsing your website.
Keep an eye on your social media profiles if a customer tries to reach you through those networks. Some customers may prefer to use email to contact you; using a ticket system to handle incoming customer emails is an excellent way to keep track of issues. Help your staff cultivate a customer-centric attitude and try to anticipate common problems so that you can develop solutions ahead of time.
22. Keep Your Customers Up to Date
Provide sneak previews to customers who have signed up to receive company newsletters. Email information about upcoming seasonal sales, specials, discounts, and other perks. This is also an excellent time to remind people of important holiday shipping dates and additional time-sensitive information affecting purchasing decisions.
BONUS TIP: Become a hero to your frantic holiday shoppers by reminding them of the significant holiday shipping deadlines for 2021!
23. Show Off Your Expertise
Prepare your website for holiday shoppers by establishing your expertise! If you are a business or product brand with a specific experience with a holiday-related topic, it is time to jump in and start sharing. For example, if you are a doctor, wellness coach, purveyor of health supplements, or self-styled weight-loss guru, focus your content on how people can stay healthy during the holidays.
Are You Ready to Prepare Your Website for Holiday Shoppers?
The holidays can be challenging for online business owners, regardless of brand reputation and customer base. Consumers are more demanding in today’s digital world than ever. There’s also a whole lot more competition to contend with.
With 20% of all business done in just a few frantic, critical weeks and months of the year, the holiday season is crucial for every business, even if a company does most of its business in a physical store. The holidays are approaching: Now is the time to plan, prepare, and succeed. Our small business holiday website tips provide you with a step-by-step guide.
As far as the eCommerce arena is concerned, digital sales are anticipated to rise by a whopping 11.3 percent, for a total of $206.88 billion. This means that online sales will account for roughly 19 percent of total holiday retail sales, thereby setting a new record in the process.Visiture
Following this guide on preparing your website for the holidays, you should see positive results to ring in the New Year. We are here to help!
Need Help Preparing Your Website for Holiday Shoppers?
Are you interested in selling your products online but unsure how to attract eager holiday shoppers? Our professional e-commerce designers will be happy to help you with this. But first, look at our portfolio and read our case studies.
And if you are unsure how to add e-commerce SEO ideas for Christmas, let’s talk! We will listen to you, answer your questions, and help you prepare your online store for the holidays!
Is Your Website Ready for the Holidays?
Are you preparing your website for holiday shoppers by adding new content or services? Is your online store all decked out for eager consumers? Do you have other tips for preparing your business website or online store for the upcoming holiday season?
Feel free to add your comments below so our audience can benefit, and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our holiday website tips with your audience!
For more content relevant to your business or product brand – check out the range of articles on our web design blog. (This one, on preparing your eCommerce website for Christmas, is an excellent place to start!)
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