The impact of search on Black Friday

Black Friday sale sign blocks and keyboard and cupJon Falgate explains how you can prepare your e-commerce website for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the biggest global sales events of the year.

Considered one of the most valuable shopping periods of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to grow in popularity. What was once sales at bricks and mortar stores has become an international long-weekend shopping event.

But as more and more retailers (and basically everyone) jump on the bandwagon, and the race to the bottom line is literally causing deaths, have Black Friday and Cyber Monday become saturated, too competitive, and just a bit ‘over’?

First, let’s talk about the opportunity. On Cyber Monday last year, 80 per cent of online transactions in the US came from the top 100 retailers. But that remaining 20 per cent is still massive, leaving potential revenue for small businesses. And considering the forecasts suggest that Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t going anywhere any time soon, it appears there is still a buck to be had.

So, what can you do to maximise the impact of search for your business and make the most of the Black Friday sales?

Getting the right landing pages

The key to targeting anything via search is to understand how people are searching, and what they are trying to find – and to create high-quality, targeted pages. Seasonal sales or events are no different, but with SEO, building the right page is only half the battle. At some point...

… you’re going to need links!

‘Black Friday’, as a generic keyword, is very competitive; it's about as competitive as they come. SEO tool Ahrefs suggests that you’ll need 619 links to your page in order to rank top 10. I’m guessing that just priced you out of competing with Argos and Amazon this year, right? Don’t worry just yet – there are hundreds of long-tail keywords (for example, use Seedkeywords to get creative), which will drop in competition as they drop in volume.

Black Friday is competitive, though, and with that comes a requirement for link equity. For this reason, make sure your Black Friday URLs don’t contain a mention of the date, ie /black-friday, not /black-friday-2018.

This way, you can use the same URL and collect links to the same page each year. This will consolidate your equity into one ranking page and build your authority over the years.  All you need to do is switch the date out in the titles and descriptions each year.

Informational and local SEO

Let’s not forget about the high street: people are looking for Black Friday information and recommendations online for locations they can physically go along to.

I can see keyword volume for Black Friday keywords containing my city and lots of informational volume that I could tailor to my location. You need to understand who your customers are, where they interact with you, and how that all fits together. Approaching your content in a way that pre-empts these problems will mean that you will find your niche among the generic marketing going on around you.

And if you still haven’t embraced on-SERP SEO, such as optimising your content to appear on the search results page as a featured snippet or highlighted product, or even claimed your Google My Business listing, you have your work cut out to win Black Friday this year. But building the foundations now means you’ll be in a much better place once next year rolls around.

Get ahead of the big boys

You’ll find that everyone ramps up their link building and pay per click (PPC) spend as Black Friday approaches, to force their landing pages on to page one of search results. This is expensive search engine marketing (SEM), though, and the best time to get a sniff of page one is very early on.

The first uplift in keyword trend starts a full month before Black Friday, which is probably lots of research about where the good deals are expected, as the competition doesn’t start to get stiff until well into November. There is a window of opportunity that you should be ready for, but remember that the earlier the traffic, the more likely consumers will be researching.

Avoid the competition

A lot of being an SEO means that I’m good at understanding when a keyword is prohibitively expensive, based on the predicted volume of sales from high rankings.

If Black Friday is just too competitive, even in your local area and for your most niche terms, don’t forget you have a lot of other channels that cost a lot less than SEM.

I’m talking about things such as direct marketing, social media, in-store advertising and, especially, cross-selling and internal linking/signposting to drip-feed news about your planned offers to your existing customers and web visitors. Join all of this up and leverage your free or low-cost channels as much as possible.

Alongside platforms such as Google Reviews, social media interaction needs to be a key aspect of your campaign. As many as 59 per cent of millennials share their experiences through social media, so effective use of Pinterest and Instagram can be a great way to get in front of your customers at the key moments.

The 2018 Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales again look set to be one of the biggest events of the year for e-commerce, so it's essential that you stay ahead of your competitors. By preparing early, optimising with the needs of your customers in mind, and knitting together your online and offline channel strategies, businesses of all sizes can make the season a success.

About the authorJon Falgate

Jon Falgate is a strong advocate that great SEO comes from putting your customers first – keywords, links and content count for little if they're not adding value to your users. As head of organic search at Further Digital Marketing, Jon gets to ponder these existential issues while managing some of the most talented SEOs and outreach specialists in the UK.


  • 'Wal-Mart employee trampled to death', New York Times, 28 November 2008 [online]
  • 'Tuesday in CE: a single-day spending record was set on Cyber Monday', Dealerscope, 28 November 2017 [online]
  • '5 ecommerce techniques for connecting with millennial shoppers', Neil Patel blog, nd [online]

See also