Elite SEMphoto is one of the fastest growing Search Engine Marketing agencies in the country. Sara Goodman, SEO Account Manager, and Adrienne Gaines, Manager of Client Strategy, at Elite SEM share their search marketing holiday strategy tips for this year:

1. Leverage Historical Data to Your Advantage

You have the data from last year – use it! The best way to learn and grow is taking what you have gathered previously and shaping a new and improved strategy. Start by pulling performance reports for the Holiday period – October, November, and December. Pull key metrics: impressions, clicks, average CPC, spend, orders, ROAS etc.

Once you have this data, start crafting a story. On which days, or even more granular, at what hours of these days were you most profitable? What time did demand peak? When did it trail off? Use pivot tables, graphs and charts to help formulate your story. Most likely, you’ll find a key time period when conversions skyrocketed (or even plummeted). Use what you know in order to better adjust bid strategies for this year.

2. Utilize Promotional Ad Copy in Paid Search

Make sure you are creating promotional ad copy for all your paid search campaigns to support whatever promotions are going on on-site. To maximize the impact of promotions:

  1. Spend more of your budget during the promotional period, and scale back before or after if need be.
  2. Bid towards a higher position for keywords that you might normally not. For example, maybe during a non-promotional period, you would usually bid non-branded keywords towards 2nd position. Switch up your strategy and bid towards 1st position during promotional periods to maximize conversions!
  3. Take advantage of countdown ads – this is especially important during the holidays. i.e. your ads can countdown towards the last day for purchases to ship by Christmas.

3. A/B Test Seasonal Ads and Landing Pages

A/B test holiday-focused ad copy against the best performing non-holiday ad creative on top volume exact match terms. Initially you may see that the legacy, non-holiday ad, is dominant, but watch CTRs for changes to see when your target consumer shifts their mindset from a general need to a holiday-specific need.

The same goes for Landing Pages. A/B test your best performing non-holiday landing page against a page that features seasonal best sellers and a seasonal theme. Watch conversion rates for the indication that it’s time to make the switch. Once you see the performance shift in your tests, apply the changes to the rest of the account (as applicable).

4. Pay Attention to Assisted Conversions

It’s important at all times and definitely during Holiday periods that we are not simply pausing keywords because they don’t have any conversions associated. Look to see how many assisted conversions non-brand keywords drive before pulling the plug.

A non-brand key term like “black leather shoes” might appear to be over-spending and receiving little to no orders. But in reality, if you look at how many assisted conversions this non-brand keyword has driven, it could tell a completely different story. Maybe “black leather shoes” didn’t convert right away or at all, but it may have assisted another conversion, say “zappos.com”. Where did that initial click and conversion stem from? That’s right – “black leather shoes” – the keyword you may have wanted to pause initially because of “poor” performance.

5. Optimize for Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

More users than ever are spending their time on mobile sites. Optimizing for both mobile search and a fast mobile user experience will ensure a positive site interaction, encouraging users to stay on the site longer and increase conversions. When the time comes, a seamless mobile to desktop experience will promote users to add to their carts and check out.

6. ‘Tis The Season for Keyword Research

Perform keyword research to identify any relevant holiday-specific search terms for your market. This research can include a focus on “holiday gifts for kids”, “kids Christmas gifts”, “unique holiday gifts for kids”, “gifts for her”, “gifts for him”, etc.

Be creative in terms of brainstorming for the holidays! Review last year’s organic keywords, as well as on-site search terms for high search count and high conversion terms. Also, take a look at your competitors. They offer valuable insight into what your consumers are looking for and how to mass market appeal to them.

7. Include Holiday Promotions in Meta Data

Incorporate holiday specific promotions into your on-page optimizations. For instance, include “Free Shipping For The Holidays” in your homepage title tag and meta description. This will display in the search results and drive users to your site organically.

8. Add Merchant Promotions

Stand out in Google Shopping by implementing Merchant Promotions. Add eligible promotions in Google Merchant Center and watch your click-through and conversion rates increase. Consumers love a good deal during the holidays and highlighting special promotions through Google Shopping can help boost your sales.

9. Focus on Seasonal Products within Google Shopping

Segment out your Google Shopping campaigns to focus on the products that make the most sense for your business this holiday. This can be done by creating a seasonal custom label, which will allow you to group together all of your seasonal products and bid more aggressively on them. You can even take it a step further and break out and bid directly on seasonal/top performing items.

10. Start Now!

Like any holiday season it always feels too early. Nonetheless, like a grocery store that sells Christmas decorations in October, we too must meet the demand of the consumer. According to Google, 6 out of 10 advertisers start holiday advertising before October 16. This doesn’t mean that consumers are buying, but this does mean that they are shopping.

On the SEO side, it can take weeks, even months for the search engines to update and refresh their rankings and results. Create targeted content now, so you can post in October and November. Don’t make any major SEO site changes come November to avoid losing any momentum you’ve gained throughout the year.

11. Conduct a Holiday 2015 Post-Mortem

Holiday Season 2016 will be here faster than you can imagine!  After all of that money you spent advertising in 2015, what did you learn?  What tactics are worth doing again?  In which areas did you waste time or money that you should avoid in 2016?  Make sure you are properly measuring your data, pulling insights from your data, and storing it in a safe place for next year.

For more great holiday tips and detailed plans on how to execute on them, review our free webinar with Elite SEM.