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How to Prioritize and Categorize SEO Holiday Topics

Episode Overview: When it comes to last minute SEO optimizations, knowing where to start and what to prioritize is key to winning the optimization battle. Join host Ben and Searchmetrics’ Director of Services Tyson Stockton as they continue their Holiday Triage week discussion reviewing one of the most vital steps in the Holiday Triage week checklist – prioritization.


  • The best practice for your prioritization efforts is to identify what will have the most widespread impact or effect that requires the least amount of work.
  • Understanding what your brand’s purpose is, your competitors, what your differentiators are, like what holiday specials and deals you’re offering, will present clear opportunities that you can easily seize.



Ben:                 Welcome to Holiday Triage week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day covering the topic of how you can get ready for the holiday season as it quickly approaches. But before we get started, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions. And to support you, our loyal podcast listeners, for the holiday season, we have put together a complimentary Holiday Triage checklist to understand how you can assess, prioritize, optimize, build, and measure for the holidays. Go to Joining us again for Holiday Triage week is Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ director of services. And outside of shepherding Searchmetrics’ largest and most strategic clients to SEO success, Tyson is going to talk to us about how you can prioritize what you should be doing for the holiday season.

All right, here’s the second installment of Holiday Triage week with Searchmetrics’ Director of Services, Tyson Stockton. Tyson, ho, ho, ho. Welcome back. Let’s go. It’s Holiday Triage week on the Voices of Search podcast.

Tyson:              Curve ball on the ho, ho, ho SEO this time, huh?

Ben:                 Hey look, we’ve got to keep it fresh. I’m sure there will be another ho, ho, ho SEOs before the end of the podcast.

Tyson:              Fair enough. Fair enough. So prioritization.

Ben:                 Prioritization. We’re going to talk about what you need to focus on when you’re running some last minute optimization strategies getting ready for the holidays. Talk to me about what makes the list and what doesn’t.

Tyson:              Yeah, and I would say given that this whole conversation is in the context of, “Hey, last minute. You’ve got to get stuff done. You’re behind the mark already.” And I think this is the five categories or the five steps. This is going to be the most critical that people that are starting late or not where maybe they want to be. And that’s as simple as you don’t have as much time, you’re probably not going to get to everything. So you want to hedge your bets and go all in on the areas that have the greatest opportunity for success.

So what I would do in the prioritization, I would pick up where we left off in the last one of our lists of URLs, keywords and terms that we’re wanting to win on. The first piece I’m going to be looking at in this prioritization is “What is the greatest opportunity?” So I’m looking for the search volume, but this is where it’s going to shift a little bit from if we had an earlier start. If we had an earlier start and we could make larger changes to the site. At this point you might have restrictions or things like code freeze. So you want to be realistic in what you can actually achieve.

So when I’m looking at my URL list, and I’m seeing the delta of if I’m on page five and even if it’s a high search term, but I’m on page five and I know that I have some significant limitations of what I can do with the page, then I may not go after that term and I may go after something that I’m more on the cusp of a striking distance. Maybe let’s say bottom of page one, and on that, even though it’s a smaller search volume, I have a greater chance that I’m going to move that keyword or that URL that’s ranking on that group of keywords from a low page one, high page two into that area that’s getting more significant amount of traffic.

Ben:                 So, I think what’s important here, obviously prioritizing because you can’t accomplish everything. And one of the things that we’ve recommended before is that you need to categorize the different types of pages as well. You’ve got to think about where you’re going to win. That way when you conduct certain optimization strategies, when you’re actually doing the technical work, what’s actually going to hit the page, you get to replicate what you’re doing. Talk to me about some of the holiday topics that you might categorize your pages into.

Tyson:              Yeah, and I think that’s going to be one that’s going to vary a fair amount depending on industry. And then I’d also say this could be something you could take into account the size of business you are as far as how much domain authority you have. And I think this is going to be key step because you want to be realistic on what won in those terms before. Say you’re a smaller e-commerce site, you’re not necessarily a mom and pop shop, but you’re not one of the big box stores and you’re looking at a term like Black Friday. Well that’s going to be a super tough term for a small website to be ranking in the portion that’s going to be attributing some significant traffic.

Ben:                 It’s not super tough. It’s damn near impossible.

Tyson:              Fair. That’s, I mean I guess that’s a little more realistic. I was trying to give a little more holiday hope to the listeners. But…

Ben:                 Look, let’s be holiday realistic. You’re not going to rank for Black Friday if you’re a mom and pop shop. You need to be focusing on your industry specific or your category specific topics.

Tyson:              Exactly. And I think to that point, and to your original question, what you want to do here is you want to think about what is your unique offering? What are you bringing to the table that maybe competitors wouldn’t be able to replicate or might not be as competitive a term, and then take into account, are you going to have the assets for those terms? And that’s really where I would say the majority of these last minute efforts should take place. You could be looking at creating different types of shopping lists for different types of users that might suit your demographic portfolio. It could be a special type of sale on a niche category that you offer that may not be as represented by the Amazons and the Walmarts of the world. So I think this is an area where you want to still be mindful of what the search volume is because you know you still have to have a search demand on these pockets that you’re carving to compete in.

But you also want to be realistic that. It’s not just the big five e-commerce sites that are dominating positions one through five. And I’m going to be left back on page four because I’m a smaller website.

Ben:                 Yeah. I think where we call this the prioritize step, it’s as much about strategy as it is prioritization. You need to understand what your brand’s purpose is, what your differentiator is, what are the assets you have and where do you have the biggest opportunities. It’s one of the reasons why we started off Holiday Triage week with assessing your previous performance. You need to understand what you’ve done successfully before to try to figure out where you should put your eggs in the basket to use an Eastern metaphor. Sorry, I’m totally off holiday topic.

Tyson:              And Hallmark would still be okay.

Ben:                 All right, well good. So, we’re going to strategize, prioritize, you’re categorizing things. You’re figuring out where you’re going to categorize some of the holiday topics. We’re going to figure out which one we have the best opportunity for, and then we’re prioritizing the activities that we’re going to take. Talk to me about how do you determine what optimization tactics you need to implement and how are you going to figure out what makes the cut?

Tyson:              Yeah, and this you’re going to pull a little bit from the first step here as well. We touched on doing maybe not a full technical audit, but a technical site just quick check. You’re going to use this in determining what levers you pull. Also, one thing that’s going to … It’s a little bit of a double edged sword but your options are going to be limited starting this late in the game.

Most e-commerce sites are going to be going into a code freeze or a partial code freeze so you’re probably not going to do any significant heavy lifting. You might be stuck with the template, you could probably change other types of existing templates. You’re not going to create something new. Also you can probably get away with more content plays here because typically those are easier changes the product or dev will allow to go on during a soft code freeze. So, these would more than likely … Content is definitely going to be on the upper part of this list but you might want to, if you’re really not happy with the template and you can’t make the change. Maybe bring up to your developers and your product team like, “Well can I reuse a template that already exists that we’re using elsewhere in the site? Can I use it here as well for these holiday pages?”

Ben:                 The metaphor through my head is it’s December 24th. You want to put your Christmas lights up. Should you try to find lights that are going to wrap the whole house or should you just put them up around the front door? I think the answer is pretty clear here. You’re going to do what’s going to have the biggest effect with the least amount of work because we’re so far late in the game.

Tyson:              And with that, I would say if you’re prioritizing in that sense of analogy, you’re probably just prioritizing the milk and cookies and just forget the lights altogether.

Ben:                 Maybe you’re just putting the lights around the tree.

Tyson:              You just want to get them in the door, get them down the chimney, so to speak.

Ben:                 Just put an arrow towards the top of the chimney so Santa knows where to go.

Tyson:              Exactly.

Ben:                 All right, that’s a great strategy. Good tip. And that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ director of services. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Tyson, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is Tyson_Stockton. Or if you have general questions about the show, if you’re interested in being a guest on the voices of search podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes or you can send me a tweet at Ben J. Shap. B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.

If you’re interested in learning about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic online visibility or to gain competitive insights specifically around the holiday season, we’ve put together a Holiday Triage checklist for you. Go to to download the document. If you like this podcast and want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to continue our Holiday Triage series, talking about how you can optimize to make the most out of your holidays. Okay. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.


Tyson Stockton

Tyson Stockton

Tyson has over 10 years' experience in the digital marketing industry. As Vice President of Client and Account Management, Tyson manages the Enterprise Client Success team and SEO Consulting efforts at Searchmetrics. Tyson has worked with some of world’s largest enterprise websites including Fortune 500 and global eCommerce leaders. Prior to Searchmetrics, Tyson worked on the in-house side managing the SEO and SEM efforts of a collection of 14 sports specialty eCommerce companies in the US, Europe and Australia.

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