For digital marketers working in e-commerce or retail, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the most important days of the year. These two days mark the start of the holiday shopping season, and many brands are offering special deals and incentives to their customers, increasing sales volume, site visits and activity. And with 2021 expected to be the highest retail holiday season ever, we wanted to take a look at the early data to see what happened.
At BrightEdge, we were curious to see if there were noticeable changes in how Google treats searches on Black Friday and Internet Monday in the weeks leading up to and after the events. This insight can reveal whether there are experiences that are better served on transaction days. We’ve tracked 500 ecommerce related keywords (including informative, mobility, and transactional intents) over the past month to see how results are fluctuating to accommodate shoppers these days. While we haven’t seen any dramatic ups and downs with audio sharing, we’re seeing some pretty interesting ups and downs this year.
Here are some ideas we collected:
- Amazon’s dominance less evident in the heat of Black Friday and Internet Monday
For the 500 keywords we measured, we saw Amazon’s voice share of organic results decrease while over the two days we saw brands like Apple, Nintendo, and Healthline increase their organic presence.
- Regular web results become more diverse as the holiday season begins
As we head into the holiday season, we’re seeing more players gaining market share in organic products, with the “other” category up about 5% from what it was during Black Friday and Internet Monday.
- Informational content still matters
As the shopping continues, contrary to what we might expect, we’ve seen Wikipedia increase visibility in organic results. This may be due to the rise in shopping feeds and paid results which are organically required to meet more informational needs during these times. Interestingly enough, Wikipedia’s increased visibility is almost a mirror of what we see with Amazon.
When we looked at favorite page types, we didn’t notice much fluctuations, but there are some movements that are in line with what we’ve seen with audio sharing.
- Category pages continue to dominate e-commerce
If you’ve joined our webinar, Decisive Transformations in Ecommerce: Preparing for the 2021 Holiday Season, you’ve heard us discuss the importance of category pages. Based on the data, we see that category pages are only gaining prominence because holiday shopping is in full swing.
- Home still lose ground
During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we saw home pages give a floor to articles and product pages on search engine results pages. Although this wasn’t a drastic shift, it was enough to suggest that richer, deeper experiences work progressively better during peak shopping periods. If you are launching new products or implementing promotions, a big splash on your homepage is great, but you need to make sure these deals are prominent on your category and product pages as well, as these may be the pages your customers see in search results from instead of your home page .
- Article and product pages lose momentum after Cyber Monday
Although simple and growing, it is interesting to note that on peak days the types of pages we see less prominent are product pages and articles. This is interesting to note because we see that category level pages go up about the same percentage. These anecdotal evidence suggests that at peak shopping seasons, the more experience level bonus tier you can offer, the more likely you are to be rewarded in organic results. This makes sense in combination with what we’re seeing with audio sharing as well, with brands like Nintendo and Apple introducing popular products this season and winning category-level pages related to those products.
It was also interesting to see the before, during and after aspects across the types of sites. We were curious about the most notable chart of Pages during Black Friday and Internet Monday. A schema is a markup language that helps search engines understand the context of the content it crawls (so instead of a string of numbers, a schema can be used to tell the crawler that this is a time or date). The results suggested a lot of page structure information, but also some revealing insights into what gets carried over and what isn’t by this year’s winners.
- Site engineering blueprint does not translate to higher ratings
At least we see that the e-commerce winners provide context for who they are, but that’s not a direct correlation to better rankings. Fewer winners announce in the top three by site type and organization chart than those in the bottom third of results.
- More present FAQ chart with higher ranked pages
In contrast to architectural content, we see that the FAQ chart is more likely to be in the top 3 rankings than in the bottom third of the keywords we evaluated. This supports a key observation we made: researchers prefer a richer shopping experience as evidenced by the predominance of category pages, fewer home pages, and more brands winning in the days of peak shopping. In the context of richer shopping experiences, easy access to answers about products that create a positive experience will also follow. If you have Q&A content, even if it is linked to a separate page, make sure that it is easily recognized by search engines on those pages.
- The product chart is still important
From what we’ve observed with the slight increase in Wikipedia’s audio share during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we suspect that could affect how much of the product chart is in the first three results. We note that outside the org chart, it’s the most prominent type we’ve encountered in ratings 4-10. Make sure to incorporate the product chart on both the category pages and product pages to help engines understand the context of the content.
In the end, there are hundreds, if not thousands of factors that will determine how and why a page will rank in a particular position for a particular keyword for a particular user. But looking at the overall circumstances, we see some subtle differences in how results are handled before, during, and after peak shopping times. For e-commerce, it seems important to focus on the shopping experience that your category page offers by providing helpful answers to customer questions while making it easy to access the products they might be shopping for. Shopping season and I wish you a wonderful return in the fourth quarter!