Every year Black Friday ads leak ahead of the official release by retailers. Only a few retailers have taken control of their ads and use them for their full potential. This year the first companies are already missing out on the SEO value of their Black Friday ads.
Despite what Google tried to communicate recently, links are still the biggest factor for ranking in search engine results. Knowing how hard it is to come by organic links these days, it puzzles me every year how many retailer miss out on the huge SEO opportunity of Black Friday ads.
In a world where online sales will soon amount for more than 50% of sales, the importance of ranking on top in search engines keeps growing despite other channels like social media. How can then Dell afford to let their Black Friday 2015 ad leak?
A week ago the scans of the Dell Black Friday 2015 Ad surfaced on the so called Black Friday sites. This was unusually early, which is an indicator that this ad leaked without the knowledge of Dell.
The Dell Black Friday 2015 ad got huge media exposure. The deals advertised in the leaked ad immediately spread the technology blogs and news sites. Also video game sites reported about the Dell ad because of the stand-out $299 Xbox One Bundle deal. Sites that published the Dell Black Friday deals included Forbes, ZDNet and GameSpot. There are hundreds of stories about the Dell Black Friday deals online by now. All have one thing in common. The articles have not a single link to dell.com. Instead the articles link to one of the Black Friday sites that have published the leaked ad scans.
Dell is not the only example. The Harbor Freight Black Friday ad leaked every year early as well. Initially I thought the tools retail chain got it right this time. An online version of the Harbor Freight Black Friday 2015 Ad appeared on the Harbor Freight site before the ad leaked.
Now media outlets could link to that page in their coverage. But then Harbor Freight deleted the digital Black Friday 2015 ad for their site, just before the scans of the print version leaked. Now all that free link juice goes again to Black Friday sites. On top of that the site has now broken incoming links.
If a retailer indeed faces the problem of having their Black Friday ad leaked without their knowledge, they need to react to salvage the situation. Getting a Black Friday ad leaked is not a bad thing by definition. It gets the word out to the vast Black Friday fan communities and generates media buzz. If retailers want to benefit from the SEO value of their ads they need to act.
One way to do that is to publish a preview of their Black Friday ad on their site and issue a press-release announcing it. On top of that an outreach campaign to the journalists who have covered the leaked Black Friday ad will generate links to the preview ad. Journalists will update their original post or write a new article.
The best strategy to gain the most SEO benefit from Black Friday ads is the controlled release. Walmart is the champion in that discipline. They have been in full control in recent years, after suffering high profile leaks of their Black Friday ads year after year. Now the Walmart Black Friday 2015 Ad appears always first on Walmart.com.
For Walmart this strategy works best. I favor for smaller retailers the strategy of releasing only a few deals at a time before the full release. This "seeding of deals" multiplies the articles and blog posts and generates over time much more links to retailer's site. This strategy also works with Black Friday sites, by giving them a first look. This way they can share it with their sizable and influential Black Friday communities first. Other media outlets will either pick up on the partial release of the ad from Black Friday sites, or through an outreach effort.
Don't Miss: See the first leaked Black Friday 2016 Ad
Black Friday is the only time the ads stuffed in newspapers become an insanely powerful online asset for SEO. Retailers should not waste it.