Tips for Using Google to Get Holiday Clicks & Conversions

    October 23, 2008
    Chris Crum

We’re quickly approaching the end of October. For businesses, that can only mean one thing. The holiday season is nigh! For online businesses, this means that it’s time to kick-start the tactics you should have been using all year. The clock has already begun to tick for getting people to your site and for you to cash in on online shopping for the holidays.

There are a variety of ways that you can use Google to boost your holiday sales beyond simply optimizing your site for the search engine (which is a given). In fact, Google has been so kind as to offer some holiday tips regarding several of their services: Product Search, AdWords, Checkout, and Analytics.

Google Product Search Tips

Google Product Search - Data Feed or Single ItemWhen it comes to Google Product Search, Google points out that if you’ve never submitted to it, you can start submitting your products by using existing feeds that you’ve prepared for other shopping engines to save time and effort.

Google also says, "Use key attributes like MPN, UPC, ISBN, condition, or brand to accurately describe the products in your feed. These values are crucial for increasing your products’ visibility to relevant queries." There are services you can use to create you feeds if your company doesn’t have "the internal resources to build and submit feeds." You can also of course post a single item.

 Google AdWords Tips

As you’re probably aware, Adwords is a wildly popular advertising platform, but are you going about putting your ads together in a way that lets them reach their effectiveness potential? Google says to Write clear, specific, and compelling ads to convince people to click on them. "For instance, if you are running a special holiday promotion, you could mention it in your ad text to drive additional interest."

You can geo-target your AdWords ads right down to specific neighborhoods (or as wide as an entire country or the whole world). This lets you adjust the relevancy of your ads to the audience they reach. Google also suggests, "Use the Keyword Tool to help you build your holiday keyword list so your ads can appear when holiday shoppers search on Google for gift ideas related to your products and services."

Create AdWords Display Ads

I’ll go a step further and suggest incorporating some display ads into your holiday AdWords campaigns. This is a new feature that Google is offering, and display advertising is a trend that is making its way back around now that targeting and personalization technologies are better equipped for success than they were years ago. Not only will display ads potentially attract more eyeballs, they are (in my opinion) better for branding and leaving a lasting imprint in the minds of those who view them.

Google Checkout Tips
Google Checkout Badge

If you use AdWords, display Google Checkout badges in your ads. According to Google, ads that do this have a 10% higher clickthrough rate than those that don’t, and why not? This is a classic advertising strategy. It makes the ads look "clicky". It’s basically a call-to-action. It tells the customers, "click me to buy this."

Google also offers a couple of cost-saving tips when it comes to Google Checkout, which are sure to be appreciated as the economy puts a strain on businesses. You can reduce transaction processing costs if you use AdWords with Google Checkout, because when you do this, you are eligible for free processing on some or all of your Google Checkout sales. They also offer reduced shipping costs via discounted FedEx rates.

Google Analytics Tips

Analyzing data is an important part of moving forward with campaigns and making adjustments to your site, and in that spirit, Google also has a couple tips for using their Analytics service. These include getting the most out of you AdWords campaign by evaluating geographical performance data, and learning where shoppers are exiting your site so you can make improvements to it to keep them there until they buy.

Google Analytics Dashboard

For a more detailed look at Bounce rates, I suggest reading Jason Miller’s article and watching our accompanying WebProNews video interview from SES San Jose with Google Group Manager Brett Crosby and Web Analytics: An Hour a Day author Avinash Kaushik. Search Engine Roundtable also points to some additional holiday tips from Google in video form.

Google or No Google, the Holidays Are Coming

One could argue that these tips are just a ploy to get people to use Google’s services. That would probably be correct, but the fact is that many are already using these services, and may not be utilizing them to their full potential. Is Google the "be-all, end-all" of getting conversions from your site? Of course not. You’ve got other options to make money online during the holiday season.

Other possibilities include: Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay, Amazon, other shopping search/comparison sites, social networks, etc. But people commonly use Google, and that is a cold hard fact.

Here are a few additional bonus tips for converting sales:

Guiding Your Customers to the Checkout

Making Efforts To Earn Customer Trust

Marketing To Your Local Audience

Making Usability a Focus

Given the data released recently from different parties, it’s hard to tell just what kind of a holiday season businesses are in for. The economy would obviously indicate reduced spending plans for many consumers. However, while Hitwise says that holiday traffic is on the way down, the E-Tailing Group says that 49% of consumers they surveyed still intend to do their gift buying online. Make of that what you will.

I would still expect to make some sales online, but the number is likely to be up to how much effort you put into making them. The point is, economic conditions may create a less-than-stellar outlook for your holiday sales, but there are still tools at your disposal that can help you overcome those conditions and have a successful holiday season.