SEO

How To Super Charge Your Online Marketing for The Holiday Season

With the holiday season just around the corner, it still isn’t too late to tweak and optimize a dedicated holiday search marketing campaign. The fourth quarter of the year is essentially a ‘party season’ of sorts for those that have marketed products online, and even with consumer spending on the down trend this year, Christmas will still account for a large percentage of North American affiliate earnings. Here are five actionable tips to ramp up your promotional efforts ranging from e-commerce optimization, link building, local search, and pay per click marketing:

  • Shopping Cart Optimization – The holiday season presents a great opportunity to optimize shopping carts for SEO, and this is the proverbial ‘low hanging fruit’ if you’re using a commercial shopping cart, or a well known one such as zen-cart. Common things to avoid include:
    • Multiple session ID’s
    • Unnecessary depth in directory structure
    • Duplicate content through product archives
    • Sitewide changes by SEO plugins – These will cause a short term dip in rankings that you really don’t want!
  • Link Building & Organic SEO – Ideally, you should have crossed your half way mark in building links for the holiday season. While low level link building such as blog commenting and directory submissions provide good passive SEO, more active efforts such include:
    • Paid links – Directly bought, or through sponsorships and partners.
    • Widgets & Quizzes- Incorporate pop culture and symbols of the holiday season in to build links.
    • Good Ol’ Link bait – Nothing new here. Get viral, and spread the season’s cheer on social networks.
  • Local Search Optimization – Don’t ignore the humble one-box for local shopping queries. Some tips to follow include:
    • Change LBL titles to reflect holiday shopping keywords such as ‘New York Toy Store | Christmas Gifts‘.
    • Include review requests in all holiday email campaigns with links to appropriate local business citation sources, in the US & Canada.
    • Ask staff, family, and friends to leave reviews on Google Local and on other sources with context to Christmas gifts (boosts conversion).
    • Use Google Coupons to stand out from the rest of the listings.
    • Complete all fields in the local business centre, including store hours, methods of payment, links, contact details etc.
    • Buy P.O Box addresses in cities or areas represented by your business, but where you do not have a physical location.
    • Insert keywords in your business name for core products and/or services. This can boost conversions by as much as 1.8x
  • Pay Per Click Marketing – With PPC offering the best insight into tracking ROI metrics, its only natural to tweak every variable as much as possible, including:
    • Keyword Type Matching – Be careful to include the right mix of broad, phrase, and exact match to get a good mix of traffic versus conversions.
    • Local Business Ads -Local ads stand out from the rest, and when it’s the holiday season, standing out from the rest can be a very profitable move.
    • Day Parting (Sort of) and Geotargeting- As Christmas grows closer and closer, people will be less likely to buy items that need to be shipped, and will prefer buying locally instore instead.Time your ad coverage by real buying cycles i.e lower your spend on keywords that drive non-local customers to your business the day before Christmas (not applicable to e-tailers or e-commerce sites).
  • Email Campaigns – Email campaigns can have great conversions provided the following are kept in mind:
    • User Generated Content rocks, and customers are far more inclined to buy top rated products, than the one’s being promoted at discount.
    • Call to Actions have never been more important, as a potential customer is bombarded with many similar offers.
    • Incorporating shareability into your email contents – Tell a story that promotes a product, engages customers to take a quiz, and to then forward offers to their friends to get a bigger discount, coupon, or freebie.
    • Design is important as brand recall is tough to gain especially when everyone else is advertising in ‘red and white’.

Dev Basu is a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal. He owns Powered by Search, a full service internet marketing agency located in Toronto, Canada; and blogs about online marketing for small businesses, search marketing, and all matters in local seo and social media. Catch up with him at his blog, twitter, or connect on Linkedin.

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11 thoughts on “How To Super Charge Your Online Marketing for The Holiday Season

  1. Awesome post Dev! Since we are talking about Online Marketing in General, maybe some targeted media buy, right before the holiday season can be beneficial as well.

    Also getting some additional traffic & buzz from the social media would be gr8. Social Media Friendly content can be produced to feed the social community like Digg, StumbleUpon & Youtube. E.g. 10 X-mas Gift Ideas for Geeks

  2. Thanks for that very timely reminder, Dev. Clearly the usual reminder on focus, focus, focus is particularly apt here. Decide what it is that you are selling that is particularly different and preferably unique, then make sure you are the site to be found for that.

  3. @Saad @Ben – Thank you for the kind words. I think social media would be great from a link bait stand point, that will supplement seo for better serp rankings.

    @Barry – You’ve hit the nail on the head in terms of process. Wish you all the best for any christmas promotions you’ll be doing.

  4. Great post Dev! We could all use a shot in the arm to get things going! BTW – 1 question on your post…the PO Boxes…can you tell more?

  5. Thanks for the advice! We utilize Google Adsense and other affiliate marketing…Keeping the faith that it will take-off. We do have an email campaign and our list is growing…

  6. I agree with all the points but not too sure about SEO. SEO should be a long term and and on-going online marketing strategy and will be very difficult to switch your focus and attention between different seasons and holiday periods for fairly competitive keywords.

    Even with link building – it does take time with the link building work to actually come into effect from an SEO point of view.

    Nonetheless, it is extremely important for PPC.

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