How Search Impacts Holiday Shopping

Most businesses accept online shopping as a necessary part of their business models, and search as an important driver of brand recognition and shopping decisions. With the 2012 holiday season upon us, let’s take a quick look at how search impacts holiday shopping and what you can do today to capture more customers.

My favorite search stats of the season comes from Google’s Holiday Consumer Intentions 2012 Study: Forty-nine percent say that search will influence their holiday shopping decisions. For those shoppers who don’t know what to purchase, 37 percent of consumers say search is their go-to source for gift ideas. And 46 percent of consumers said they’d be shopping around for gifts and deals this holiday season due to the economy.

All in all, 80 percent of holiday shoppers will research products online before deciding what to buy. And they’ll be consulting social media, video and online reviews to help make those purchase decisions. Search has become an integral part of that shopping research process for online and offline shoppers alike.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit late to launch a search engine optimization campaign that will positively impact rankings for your 2012 holiday shopping season. SEO programs typically take 30 to 90 days to ramp up, so the window for devising a holiday SEO strategy and executing it has closed as we roll into November. But there are still some quick tweaks you can make to influence searchers’ click and purchase decisions.

Selling features in title tags. Search engines typically use the title tag for a page as the blue underlined link that searchers click on in the search results page. Include selling features like “holiday special,” “open extended hours” or “free shipping” in your title tags to stand apart from the competition.

Decorate your search results. For pages that have video, reviews or pricing information on them, use structured markup to trigger “rich snippets.” These visual inclusions in your search result can attract searchers’ attention and encourage them to click through to your site instead of the competition’s.

Review quotes. It’s too late to implement a reviews feature on your site, but you can quote reviews from other sites like media sources, Yelp or Epinion to influence shoppers who do land on your site. Choosing keyword-rich quotes may also help your rankings, in addition. Be sure to credit the source of the review.

Jill Kocher is a seasoned SEO professional and all-around technogeek. By day, she manages Resource Interactive’s SEO practice here in Chicago and serves as contributing editor at Practical eCommerce. By night, Jill landscapes her home in the far northern suburbs of Chicagoland while enjoying a glass of wine and thinking about SEO some more. Family discussion centers primarily around SEO, analytics, social media, mobile apps, android, iOS, how-was-your-day and cats.

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