7 Ways to Optimize Your SEM Campaign for the Holidays

A Last-Minute Guide to Optimizing Your Search Engine Marketing for the Holidays!


The holiday season is well under way, and many eCommerce businesses identify November and December as peak months for revenue (and advertising opportunities). In November alone, there are three major “shopping holidays”:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday.

Last year, online shoppers spent $4.45 billion on Black Friday and Thanksgiving (1). So, if you haven’t begun your holiday search marketing campaigns, or you are still looking to refine them, the time to start is now! (Don’t worry, you still have time.) Here are 10 ways to optimize your SEM campaign for the holidays:

1.     Review Last Year’s Analytics

Did you run paid search campaigns last year? If so, reviewing your analytics from last year’s holiday season is a great place to start. Review your previous keywords, ad copy, promotional offers and incentives, identify dates and times of peak traffic, etc. Find the ones that were most successful, and be sure to include them in this year’s holiday ads.

2.  Review Your Competition

Although we always recommend reviewing your competitors’ digital advertising campaigns before you begin your own, this can be especially insightful during the holidays. Google some of your primary keyword phrases for your holiday campaigns, and see how competitors are incentivizing consumers in their ads. For example, are all of your competitors offering free shipping in December? Are they promoting a buy-one-get-one-free deal? Competitor ads can give you some good options for your own ad promotions (or help you understand how to differentiate yourself in the market).

3.  Optimize Ad Copy for the Holidays

Take time to revisit your current ad campaigns and modify the copy for the holidays. Changing “sale” to “holiday sale” or updating your campaigns to match upcoming holidays (e.g. “Black Friday Deal”) is a good way to connect with online shoppers searching more specifically with seasonal terms.

4.  Review Your Landing Pages (to make sure they match holiday campaigning)

If you haven’t already done so, it is a good time to check in with clients regarding new landing pages. Make sure that your existing landing pages will have sale banners or deals, and if not you’ll need to change your landing pages to their new landing pages on Black Friday (see automated changes above).

Also, make sure that your ad copy relates to what’s on the landing page, so site visitors have a smooth user experience. If the ad is for a “Black Friday Holiday Sale”, the landing page should also be Black Friday-specific.

5.     Plan Your Calendar, and for spending peaks

Take time to sit down and plan out your next two weeks of tasks, day-by-day. Consider printing out a monthly calendar and add sticky notes for daily reminders. Add client goals, sale dates, important national holidays (like Black Friday and Cyber Monday), daily budgets, etc. Remember to take advantage of convenient tools offered by Google, like automating ad copy changes by the hour or pausing ads automatically at 11:59 p.m on Fridays.

6.     Ad Extensions

Adding a new site link for your holiday sale landing pages and naming it “Holiday Sales” or “Black Friday Sales” could help increase traffic to your site, because it gives customers a clear direction to what they’re looking for. Additionally, if your customers’ primary way of purchasing or receiving leads is through the phone, adding a call extension is a great way to increase your CTR.

7.     Mobile-first strategy

On Thanksgiving Day 2014, over 52% of all online traffic came from mobile or tablet devices (3). According to PayPal, 35% of Americans say they would shop online at the dinner table on Thanksgiving to get a good deal (4). These statistics suggest it’s time to look at your current mobile advertising strategy. If your products have historically been performing well on mobile devices, you can assume that Black Friday & Cyber Monday would be the most excellent days to increase your mobile boosts.

Other quick tips:

  • Make sure conversion tracking is set up appropriately in Google Analytics before you begin, so you can properly track your ad traffic and conversions.
  • Consider working with a digital marketing agency who is a Google Partner, to help manage your campaigns professionally.



(1) http://fortune.com/2015/11/28/black-friday-sales-2/

(2) http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2013/11/26/advanced-holiday-adwords-strategies

(3) http://www.boostmedia.com/blog/ad-text-tips/holiday-marketeer-your-november-guide-for-holiday-sem-ad-copy-optimization/

(4) https://www.paypal.com/stories/us/holiday-predictions-big-buys-bathrooms-and-binge-watching




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