Make sure your SEO and SEM are ready for peak seasons and early shoppers

With Valentine’s Day just finished and Mother’s Day just around the corner, now is the time to consider your overall approach to peak shopping seasons, and how you can be better prepared for them in search.

First, realize that search results don’t happen overnight. SEO changes to your Web site can take weeks to be accurately reflected within search rankings. Paid search executions have more immediate impact, but because quality score systems reward advertisers with strong paid search track records, search clicks cost you more if you’re new to search. Work hard at search year-round. This way, the search engines will recognize you, and you’ll develop search strategies to put to good use when critical peak seasons come.

Second, remember that, between early-bird shoppers and early-bird advertising pushes, every holiday season gets underway six to eight weeks ahead of the actual holiday. Christmas starts mid-October; Valentine’s Day begins in December. Start your early-season search advertising with a focus on ROI, when keywords are cheap and a high ROI on search traffic is a realistic goal.

As the holiday approaches, the flood of last-minute shoppers and last-minute competition makes ROI much harder to attain. But that same spike in traffic and competition makes the fight over market share a lot more important. Worry less about ROI, and focus on spending whatever it takes to turn the flood of searchers into new, loyal customers. Within your search creative, highlight sales and last-minute deals that your customers are desperately searching to find, and that your competitors may already be offering in an attempt to undersell you.

Finally, consider leveraging the search engines’ near-instantaneous indexing of news results to gain last-minute organic wins with keyword-optimized press releases and keyword-minded news.

This article originally ran as part of the February 15, 2010 Technique, “Pump up e-commerce beyond Christmas.” To read the entire feature, click here.

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