The Yahoo Search Marketing team has a post up this week reminding site owners that online holiday shopping increases pretty much every year. In fact, more than 80% of shoppers bought at least one thing online last holiday season. With the holiday sales cycle already gearing up, it's a good idea to start fine tuning your site and campaigns to drive more business. While most of the five tips Yahoo has to offer are a recap of the fundamentals of good online marketing, they're still worth reading and putting into action.

Two of their tips:

Engage the bargain hunters--According to the BizRate and Holiday Mood Study 2006, nearly half of the consumers polled named "free shipping" as a primary motivator to purchase. Other shoppers named "online only sales" and "repeat buyer discounts."

Keywords count--According to our internal data, "Christmas" was, not surprisingly, the most holiday-related search term in 2006 with more than three million average monthly searches. Other popular terms included "Christmas decoration," "Hanukkah," "holiday gift" and "gift for dad." Make sure that your keyword selection includes holiday-related keywords and seasonal products and promotions.

They also offer up some tips on writing better titles, optimizing your landing pages, and combining search with offline advertising.

That said, I'd offer my own bit of advice.

If you haven't given your site a tune-up in the last month or two, it's probably a good idea to sit down and take a look at the status of your search marketing campaigns and your web pages. Double check your site using tools like Yahoo!'s Site Explorer or the Google Webmaster Tools and make sure you have no indexing problems. Take a look at your page titles and spend a little time with your analytics tool to see if there are any conversion problems you could fix.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the marketing side of things and forget about all the basics. Before you spend too much time and effort driving holiday shoppers to your site, make sure your site is ready for them.

September 26, 2007

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


Good advice. Most ecommerce webmasters don't take an objective look at their site nearly often enough, but it's especially important at this time of year. There is an article posted on about holiday optimization.

Establish a tight budget and stick to it yearlong. Avoid the temptation to spend excessively when coffers are full.Seasonal businesses require special time management skills. Plan schedules carefully. Some periods may call for only 25-hour workweeks, while others reach double or triple that.Create a special cash reserve account for use only in leaner months. Set money aside whenever you can.Use slow times to devise new marketing plans, do customer surveys, catch up on maintenance or strengthen client relationships. Send mailers, make calls, set up meetings.Use only a small core of permanent employees. Consider temps, part time workers and interns for busy times. Planning ahead is crucial to having the right staff with the right skills, when you need them.Create a cash flow forecast. This will help you identify patterns and see what you are up against. Include a worst-case plan to anticipate any nasty shocks.
Keep stock levels low. Carrying unneeded inventory ties up cash you may need elsewhere.Shop for the best deals from suppliers; then build strong relationships with them to establish credit.Offer off season sales or rates, and look for ways to generate revenue during quieter periods.
Work on your Web site. Off-season is a great time to fine-tune your online presence.
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