In the second week of December, we’re quickly approaching the end of the biggest gift-giving, and therefore the biggest shopping, period of the year.  So, here’s one of the most important questions a good search marketer can ask himself/herself to take advantage of the huge spike in search traffic:  “What am I searching for?”

This is not a philosophical, soul-searching question aimed at self-discovery, but instead an attempt to determine which terms and phrases we, as experienced (or not so experienced, in some cases) search professionals, might be using to narrow down and qualify our options during our own holiday shopping.

Without regard to the specific products I’m hoping to find for my friends, relatives, loved ones, etc., there are some common themes that continuously come up during my online searches for the perfect gifts.  Free shipping, fast shipping, Christmas discounts…these are just a few of the features and/or incentives that I tend to include in search queries during my holiday shopping.

So, how do you use your own searching practices to optimize your holiday search campaigns?  By using those ideas to add to your keyword lists, of course!

Any feature, sale or special offer should be exploited during this peak shopping season.  Are you offering free shipping, a buy one get one free offer or bonus accessories during December?  Add a new ad group, or multiple groups, and add those features as keywords – as part of long-tail terms, not by themselves, obviously.

Among the longtail terms that I’ve found to be useful during the holidays:
Holiday Deals on Product X
Product X Free Shipping
Product X Christmas sale
Product X Holiday Special

There are countless other variations on the theme, and all should be explored during this time of high search volume.  Any feature that might entice potential customers to find your product or site must be examined, and ad copy for those keywords should always focus on them as well.

While my PPC Hero colleagues have discussed in detail (here, here and here) the benefits of testing and optimizing ad copy and landing pages, those efforts are far less effective when they aren’t coupled with good keyword lists that take advantage of seasonal keyword additions and optimization.  

Good luck and happy shopping!