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SEO Insights: Black Friday Industry Report - Part 1

25th November 2015 > QueryClick

Last year, online shoppers in the UK spent an estimated £810m on Black Friday - which eclipsed both Cyber Monday and Boxing Day as the most valuable shopping day of the year - and this figure is expected to increase in 2015.

When your e-commerce clients are used to multi-million pound return on investment on their search marketing campaigns, there are certain opportunities you can’t afford to miss.

The growth of this shopping phenomenon in the UK over recent years has inevitably led to a huge increase in search volume around the event. However, in a young and rapidly evolving marketplace, little conclusive research exists into how to conduct an effective Black Friday campaign, and into which particular brands are leading the way.

With e-commerce clients making this shopping extravaganza a higher priority than ever before, we’ve made it our mission to identify the evolving keyphrase trends and high-performance content opportunities that can define a Black Friday campaign. With particular focus on the mobile phone industry - a major force in the e-commerce market - and using a unique set of in-house SEO tools, an investigation is underway to find out exactly what’s going on.

Black Friday Insights: Hypothesis & Keyphrase Research

Prior to compiling a research report, our series of hypotheses around Black Friday consisted of a list of fundamental assertions:

1. The US Market Is More Mature Than The UK:

Although a relatively new commercial event in the UK, Black Friday has existed in the United States of America for a far longer period of time (in fact, the etymology of the term can be traced back to at least the early 1960s). As a result, the US market is currently far more developed than its British counterpart, and can be used a point of reference when seeking to establish trends and opportunities.

2. Searches Targeting Offers, Deals, Sales & Gifts Will Increase Around Black Friday

With online consumers searching for reduced prices and deals on a range of products, search volume for keyphrases targeting these offers will increase as Black Friday approaches. Furthermore, with Christmas only a month away, it is also likely that ‘gift’ related keyphrases will also increase during this period.

3. UK Search Behaviour Will Evolve In 2015

It is almost certain that search trends and behaviours for Black Friday in 2015 will have evolved dramatically from previous years. This evolution will not only be defined by the growing maturity of the UK market, but also by the release of new products such as the iPhone 6s - particularly relevant in the mobile sector.

4. Major E-Commerce Sites Will Dominate The Rankings

Due to their size and authority, it is expected that major players within the mobile phone industry will dominate the rankings. These huge brands - particularly EE, O2, Vodafone, Three, and Carphone Warehouse - are likely to be competing with other powerful e-commerce sites such as Amazon for the top rankings.

5. High-Volume Keyphrase Gaps Will Appear

The speed of Black Friday’s growth and the brevity of the event itself means that even the largest of e-commerce retailers are likely to suffer to some extent from the emergence of high-volume keyphrase gaps. Search marketing agencies and clients have not yet had sufficient time to analyse keyphrase trends, and user search patterns are likely to alter - at least fractionally - every year, and so even an optimised site is likely to miss out on an assortment of high-volume search terms.

Black Friday Insights: Research Findings

To inform a data-led process, a set of high-performance keyphrases was identified. By isolating a range of popular search terms from Black Friday 2014, partnered with a variety of established long-tail terms from the US market. Keyphrases relating to mobile handsets released in the past year were also included, as these are likely to be popular searches during the course of Black Friday 2015.

The performance of this keyphrase set will be measured over the Black Friday weekend in order to evaluate the extent and direction of this year’s market evolution, and to identify which brands are performing strongly within the industry.

Crucially, this information will then be used to identify consistent search trends and to increase forecast accuracy for next year. A complete illustration of high-performing brands, keyphrases, and content won’t be available until after the event, but our initial findings - partnered with finding from the keyphrase research process - are indicative of a variety of important trends.

Observations From The Keyphrase Research Process

Validating part of our hypothesis, keyphrase research confirmed the anticipated lack of maturity within the UK market. A lack of long-tail keyphrases, in particular, was indicative of an e-commerce marketplace that is still developing.

Generic, short-tail terms such as ‘black friday uk’ and ‘black friday online’ gained the expected performance figures, but 2014 - the breakthrough year for Black Friday in the United Kingdom - proved too early to attain any conclusive data on the likely progression of longer tail search terms.

However, in contradiction to another assertion taken from our hypothesis, search queries around ‘deals’ were alone in their family in enjoying an increase during last year’s Black Friday period, with keyphrases targeting ‘gifts’, ‘sales’, and ‘offers’ failing to perform.

The strong performance of terms surrounding ‘discount codes’ was also notable, and this previously unnoticed category that will be subjected to further analysis in future.

SearchLens Analysis

The performance of our bespoke Black Friday keyphrase set is currently being continuously assessed using SearchLens, a powerful in-house rankings tool developed at QueryClick.

SearchLens not only provides accurate data on brand performance for a variety of search terms, it also generates automated reports that tell us exactly what we need to know. The report above is built from the initial stages of our investigation, and shows that - in the build up to the Black Friday weekend - many major players in the mobile industry are already coming to the fore.

Carphone Warehouse, in particular, is performing strongly at this stage, enjoying ranking positions 1-3 for 79 keyphrases within this set. The brand is probably benefitting from a strong landing page featuring a variety of deals on high-profile products, and attracting followed inbound links from 67 different domains.

It may appear obvious, but it’s surprising how many e-commerce retailers fail to create a dedicated landing page for their Black Friday deals. These landing pages are useful to both user conversion rates and to search engines, as a correctly indexing page with a clear raison d'etre is far simpler than one that targets more than one primary keyphrase or function.

The Carphone Warehouse landing page is also boosted by a number of visible deals on flagship products, a sure-fire way to set social media tongues wagging and to make your content instantly shareable.

The Importance Of Content

Performing informed, data-driven keyphrase research is critical to executing a successful search marketing campaign. However, this research is rendered ineffective unless your keyphrases sit on an effective platform or landing page. Finding content that’s likely to increase conversions, attract links, and drive traffic in a young and developing market can be difficult, but as many brands are proving it’s far from impossible. We’ll perform a full analysis of the most successful Black Friday content in our upcoming post-Black Friday report.

Black Friday Insights: 2015 Analysis

Scheduled for mid-December, our next SEO Insights report will contain a full analysis of Black Friday 2015, evaluating developing search trends, identifying the winners and the losers, and providing QueryClick’s own recommendations for a successful data-led search marketing campaign next year.

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