URLs would live forever in a perfect world. Now that the end-of-year holidays are over, take responsibility for removing seasonal content. URLs accumulate equity from backlinks, but soon Thanksgiving Day table decorations are no longer useful to consumers searching on sites for Valentine’s Day gift.
Google and Bing now require marketers to have a new level of sophistication and attention to details and user experience to push ahead in the search rankings for 2017.
The more details marketers can give search engines about content, the more likely the engines — Google and Bing — are to serve the correct pages from Web sites. Marketers need to take consumer behavior shifts into account.
Merkle, in a recent white paper titled The Fundamental Guide to Search in 2017, explains how marketers should organize and optimize seasonal pages “to conserve value for seasonal pages year after year and to preserve the customer experience even after a page expires.”
Rather than building new pages for seasonal products and categories each year, repurpose old URLs aimed at Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Merkle put together a checklist for ecommerce SCO, Here are four of the many tips
Tip 1: Remove internal linking from the site in the off season, but allow seasonal URLs to live year round. A few months prior to the next season, update your page with this year’s content and link to the page appropriately throughout the site. This strategy allows you to maintain backlinks to the page year after year. Search engines will already be familiar with your Valentine’s Day page and will have it indexed and ready to serve to searchers when you choose to update it for the coming year.
Tip 2: Expiring content can anger consumers. For products that are out of stock and only temporarily gone, serve the page with a 200 status code and include out-of-stock messaging with backorder dates, if applicable. If a page is expiring, use a 301 redirect that points to a nearly identical page. Rankings currently applied to the expiring page would (hopefully) be picked up by the target page. Redirecting expiring content to a similar page also preserves the user experience since it is sending users to a near-similar piece of content.
Tip 3: Remember the Codes. Both 404 and 410 status codes communicate nonexistent pages, but remember they have different nuances. The 404 status code says that a page does not exist, but it may come back. Pages serving a 404 will be de-indexed eventually.
Tip 4: Remove internal linking to seasonal pages and out-of-stock products in the navigation and throughout the site. This keeps users from navigating to those pages unnecessarily, and search engines from crawling them too frequently. Also remove out-of-stock products from XML Sitemaps.
Technology continues to evolve and so should a marketer’s strategies. It should come as no surprise that the forecast for this year cites mobile as a hugely important strategy. Mobile devices took responsibility for 48% of organic search visits in third-quarter 2016, per Merkle. Today, it accounts for more than 50% of organic searches, according to the agency.
While most responsive or adaptive sites should not need additional optimization for this continued shift, if brands have a separate mobile URL, they will want to consider Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
The white paper also provides insight for mobile SEO. For a faster user experience, Merkle suggests moving to HTTP/2, which is the newest version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) used to deliver content over the Web. It allows for multiplexing, server pushes, header compression, and more.
Look also into progressive web apps (PWAs), which delivers an app-like experience through a mobile browser. Local caching through PWAs provides users with faster load times and the ability to browse offline.
Google’s ever-increasing focus on structured data is another trend to keep in mind when planning for 2017, per the white paper. The more ways marketers can give search engines details about the content, the more likely they are to serve your site for the proper queries. And that includes when serving answers for voice search.Merkle says to give the search engines the details through structured data. The array of markup that can be used with structured data gives webmasters the tools to identify and lay out many different types of content so that search engines can accurately understand