by Michael Mothner
Founder & CEO
Yes, it is true that major e-tailers and businesses with big online Holiday pushes started planning many months ago. Fret not; it is never too late to enhance the Holiday results of your search engine marketing campaigns! This article is designed to give you some easy to implement ideas to help get more bang for your buck this season. With today’s challenging economic environment, everyone can use a boost!
1. Get Some Last-Minute Inbound Links
The organic ranking algorithms of Google, Yahoo! and MSN all place great weight on the quantity and quality of inbound links from other websites to site when determining rankings. When we recently launched an SEO and PPC campaign with a major shoe retailer, the first thing we set out to do was leverage their relationship with their suppliers to get in-bound links. A link from UGG.com to our client with the anchor text “ugg shoes” looks great in Google’s eyes. Multiply this across a few dozen manufacturers and this can result in a relatively easy and dramatic boost in search engine rankings. You may not have connections like this – few do – but if you apply the same logic, almost everyone can go out and leverage relationships to establish quality in-bound links: think friendly bloggers, partners, clients, or vendors.
2. Make Sure Your Call-To-Action Is “Above The Fold”
Nobody’s website is perfect, and it is too late to deploy a major site redesign, but you may be able to make some simple changes that will boost your results overnight. One of the biggest factors our testing has revealed is the importance of having your call-to-action easily seen on the majority of users’ screens without having to scroll down the page (otherwise known as ‘the fold’, like a newspaper). Examples of a call-to-action are the “add to cart” button in an e-commerce store or the contact form on a lead generation page. Don’t test this on your top of the line 22” monitor; go borrow an average laptop and test your site. If you can’t take action on your pages without scrolling, some simple rearranging to get the most important content and call-to-action above the fold can deliver some immediate and potentially dramatic improvements to your site’s conversion rate.
3. Incorporate Holiday Messaging In PPC Ad Creatives
One of the things we implement for nearly all of our e-commerce clients during the Holiday shopping season is subtle messaging in our PPC ads that reinforce the Holidays. If you have a special (free shipping, guaranteed delivery, a deal or discount), that’s even better; however, simply adjusting your ads to reinforce the messaging for the time of year makes you appear timely, relevant and topical. Most importantly, users respond strongly to this. Changing an ad title from “Shoes On Sale Today” to “Holiday Shoe Sale” would do the trick nicely.
4. Send More E-mail Blasts To Your Customers
This is one of the most powerful, cost-effective and under-utilized methods to generate more sales in the holidays: maintain a high level of communication with your customers. Send out holiday gift ideas, discount codes, specials, or just bug them to come back and buy again! Your cost per conversion will be next to nothing (especially when compared to the competitive pay-per-click marketplace), and it is easy to do. If you aren’t sending consistent email blasts to your customer lists, you are leaving money on the table, and if you are, think about increasing the frequency, especially during your busiest time of year. The worst-case scenario is you get requests to be removed from your mailing list, but those customers are generally the ones that weren’t going to purchase from you again anyway. So I say: fire away!
5. Look Again At Your PPC Daily Budgets
One of the first things we look at when optimizing a pay-per-click campaign is the daily budgets in Google and Yahoo! and how they are affecting the performance of your campaign. If you have a daily budget of, say, $100, and yesterday you spent about $100, the implication is that your daily budget is not sufficient given your bids and the volume of clicks available. Depending on your delivery schedule in Google (accelerated or standard) this implies your campaign is either going offline at some point during the day everyday, or your ad is only showing up on a certain percentage of searches being performed. Either way, your visibility is being limited.
What to do? You can either raise your daily budget so your ads are showing more often during the day, or you can maintain your daily budget and lower your bids. While lowering your bids will in turn lower your average position, you will generally end up with more clicks – and therefore more results — for the same cost as before. The general rule of thumb is to have your daily spend determined by the factors that you control and will give you the greatest results, not by search engines arbitrarily holding back your visibility.
Granted, this list could have been 50 tips rather than 5, but we have to start somewhere!
Organic and paid search optimization is an incredibly complex, evolving and dynamic world, and requires constant attention. However, by employing one or more of the ideas above, you can almost certainly boost your search marketing results this Holiday season without spending a dime more!