5 Website Optimization Holiday Trolls You’ll Want to Avoid at All Costs

By Cristina McComic

When people think of Christmas characters, they think of a jolly old fat man in a red and white suit who delivers presents to nice children who are fast asleep under the Christmas tree–gorged out on turkey and candy canes. How joyful–thanks Hallmark and Currier and Ives! But what many people don’t know is that there are many not-so-cheerful Christmas-time characters from European and Germanic folklore that were designed to frighten children into behaving. In light of the holiday season and the cheerful spirit of Christmas, we’ve decided to write an article naming website optimization issues after 5 of the most sinister Christmas trolls in history–reminding digital marketers and online retail proprietors that they too need to behave!

1. Krampus= The ultimate punishment for not keeping your website maintained

Every hero has a villain–the anti-hero that broods in darkness and wreaks havoc among the community that the hero saves. Santa’s anti-hero is Krampus, a hideous “half goat, half demon” anthropomorphic figure that dons a large pair of horns and carries a bundle of sticks to beat naughty children with. On Krampusnacht or “Krampus Night”, celebrated on December 5th, Krampus visits each house and beats bad children with the bundle of sticks, imprisons them in a basket and throws them in a stream, or just straight-up takes them to hell. Krampus originally came from pagan folklore, however, he later became fused into Christian traditions especially in Austria and parts of Germany.

Just like the good little boys and girls who are told to keep their room clean, you as a digital marketer or website manager need to keep your website up to date or else you’ll be getting a visit from the digital “Krampus”. Keeping your website maintained means updating your user interface, deploying successful SEO tactics and making good use of Google adwords, and last but not least using cutting edge testing solutions to keep your website funnel well-oiled and smoothly running. Be a good marketer and you’ll be getting gifts from Santa–increased conversion rates, return on your website investment, and loads of revenue (hooray for all)! Be neglectful and Krampus will take your profit margins straight to hell!

2. Gryla= Eats your conversion rates when you don’t personalize your website

Gryla is the ogress in Icelandic folklore who kidnaps, cooks, and eats children who don’t obey their parents. According to legend, Grýla is had three different husbands and 72 children, all who caused trouble ranging from harmless mischief to murder–including the Yule Lads.

Speaking of eating–the website “Gryla” will eat up your conversion rates if you fail to personalize your website. Personalizing your website can include customizing your web design– shifting the font, layout, colors, and CTA buttons to optimize for your target audience, serving targeted ads and recommendations to users based on your knowledge of what they want, and also sending personalized email marketing messages so that the right group received the message just right for them. Ecommerce stores can now use real-time personalization, learning what a customer wants in just a click or two and delivering a uniquely tailored version of the website based on the traits identified in that particular person. Likewise, AI and machine learning algorithms has made it easier to auto-segment which groups and demographics should receive which email marketing messages and product recommendations they should receive. Personalizing your website creates a seamless user experience for your customer so they see what they want much quicker and enjoy their shopping experience. This will successfully ward off Gryla from eating your online profits.

3. Jólakötturinn “Christmas Cat”= Keeps tabs on your whereabouts like website cookies in a re-targeting campaign.

Just like the slinky Icelandic Yule Cat or Christmas Cat that belongs to Gryla, website cookies cling on to you (or your IP address) and follow your every move as you navigate through digital space. Cookies collect information about what sites you visit, what online products you look at, and can even tell where in the buyer funnel you were before you clicked X out of your window. This is why you might see a re-targeted Facebook ad displaying the same shoes you were scoping out online very recently–the website has sent its Jólakötturinn to spy on you. While it may seem a little creepy, cookies serve a purpose and can be great tools to find out more about your website visitors in terms of the things that pique their interest. Think about deploying your own “Jólakötturinn” cookies on your site so you can find out what your visitors are interested in. Perhaps having that re-targeted Facebook ad pop up on their feed is just the right amount of push to remind them how much they wanted that item to begin with and to go back and make the purchase on your site. You know what they say–if you can’t beat’em, join em!

4. Belsnickel= Having and old, outdated, tattered up website design

No that’s not a homeless person–it’s Belsnickel, the dingy old man who exists in German and Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas tales. According to legends, Belsnickel pays children a visit sometime before Christmas, wearing tattered old clothing and raggedy fur and carrying a switch to frighten them into behaving.

Speaking of tattered appearances–in the world of websites, you’re bound to get a beating if you don’t regularly update your site’s user interface and website design to suit the times. Once your online customers start leaving your site and your public image and conversion rates take a dive due to the clunky interface and unappealing, unprofessional layout, you might think seriously about “SWITCH-ING” it up and using optimization tools like Sentient Ascend to give your website a makeover. Remember–for ecommerce sites like online travel and retail, your website layout and design defines much of your online customer experience. First impressions matter and you only get one chance–so freshen up your site design or you’ll be getting a whipping from “Belsnickel”!

5. Frau Perchta= Getting your website hijacked by SEO pirates

Frau Perchta is the witch in German and Austrian folklore that is best known for gruesome punishment of the sinful: ripping out their internal organs and replace them with garbage.

Similarly, in the dark world of the interwebs, the digital “Frau Perchtas” take the form of website pirates that hijack your website and fill your content with garbage links to low-quality, low-brow sites in an attempt to either sink your SEO and/or boost their own SEO position by using your site for linkbacks. Why do they do this? Because a website’s ranking position is determined in part by the quality of their content and also the quality of their links. Links coming from reputable sites with high SEO ranking (search engine optimization) boost their ranking, while links coming less reputable sites sink your ranking. Dirty website warfare tactics include hackers “attacking” the SEO of reputable sites by gutting out their content and filling it low quality backlinks provided by link farms. Scary stuff. Remember to safeguard your site from unscrupulous website hackers, or else you might find your site victimized “Frau Perchta” style!

Keep your website fresh to keep off the trolls!

Your website is your digital face to the world so keeping it updated in terms of design and functionality not only affects your public image–it affects your conversion rates and therefore your overall revenue. Whether it’s employing cutting edge multivariate testing tools to boost your website design, using website cookies to collect data on your visitors, or personalizing your website’s content, ads, and product recommendations–it’s your responsibility to keep your website up to date and savvy to keep away the digital trolls. So now–has your website been naughty or nice?