As Kayla mentioned in her introductory post on Friday, this week we’ll be giving you one post a day about ramping your e-commerce PPC acc0unt for the upcoming holiday shopping season. Today I’ll be giving you some tips on doing effective holiday-focused keyword research, and be sure check back tomorrow for Kayla’s post, as she’ll be telling you how to put these new keywords to good structural use!

In the spirit of the holiday list making (and checking off), here is your holiday PPC keyword research checklist:

1) Make a list of all the holidays people will be shopping for. There are a lot of holidays in November, December and even January that you’ll want to be prepared for, i.e. that you’ll want to include in your holiday keyword lists. Take the time to list out all the gift-giving holidays/events. Because I’m feeling especially generous in my thoughts of the holidays, I’ll start you out. Hopefully I won’t miss too many!

Winter Holidays of Importance to E-Commerce Accounts:

  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday
  • Green Friday
  • Hanukkah
  • Free Shipping Day (December 17th)
  • Christmas
  • Kwanzaa
  • Boxing Day (or day after Christmas sales)
  • New Year’s Day (and the sales that tend to follow)

A few more tips on using holiday names as keywords. Make sure you include all common misspellings and spelling variations of holiday names. Hanukkah, for example, earns a different spelling every time I try to write or type it, and Kwanzaa is also easy to misspell. Also keep in mind that not everyone searching for Black Friday deals will be using the term “Black Friday” so be sure to consider all terms people will use for each event.

2) Make a list of all possible gift recipients, considering the relevancy of your products. If I’m selling ties, for example, I can likely assume that they will be purchased predominantly for male gift recipients (fathers, grandfathers, brothers, boyfriends, uncles). Why create a list of likely gift recipients? Because you’ll want to capture everyone searching for “Christmas gift ideas for boyfriends/fathers/grandfathers.” This list could get quite extensive, as people will be searching for gifts for family, friends, co-workers, service providers (mail delivery staff, hairdressers, cleaning staff, babysitters, etc.), so really consider everyone your products might be relevant for.

3) Make a list of all your products. I know you already have this list in your PPC accounts, but it’s still helpful to think through your products when making phrases for holiday gift searches. Go a step beyond this and make sure you include relevant generic holiday product terms, like gift, present, stocking stuffer, etc.

4) Make a list of possible holiday promotions. Online shoppers are savvy and they’ll be scouting out good deals for the holidays, so in this list of list-making tasks be sure to think through the deals people will most likely be searching for. Of course people will be searching for general holiday sales, but also keep in mind that shipping is a great selling point for e-commerce holiday shopping. Go beyond “free shipping,” as many shoppers will be scouting out online stores that provide “guaranteed delivery by X” (whatever holiday gift they’re searching for).

As a side note, you can also use this list to create holiday promotions to advertise via PPC.

5) Utilize keyword research tools. Once you’ve got a basic list of holiday search terms, don’t forget about the available keyword research tools to help you expand your lists. If you’re an AdWords user, definitely take advantage of Google’s Keyword Tool (under the “Reporting and Tools” tab in AdWords). AdCenter also has a great keyword research tool.

6) Start putting your lists together. Now that you’ve got your keyword lists of all pertinent days, recipients and products/promotions, start putting them all together. You might find it useful to use Excel’s concatenate command to come up with some of your search phrases, but I recommend taking a more human approach to begin.

Start thinking through how people would search for your products as holiday gifts using the terms you generated. You might also want to consider plugging some of your terms into Google Insights to get a basic idea of search volume. This will prevent you from under or over estimating your holiday search traffic and will allow you to budget accordingly.

7) Brainstorm some negative keywords. Last, but certainly not least, it’s also a good idea to think through negative keywords to help keep your holiday traffic as focused as possible. Keep an eye on your search query/term reports after you implement your holiday campaigns, but being proactive about adding negatives will go a long way in saving you money. Google Insights and the keyword research tool in AdWords are good tools to use for this. Plug in a holiday search term and pay attention to related terms that pop up.

For example, when I used the AdWords keyword tool to find search terms related to “Christmas gifts for Dad,” I saw a number of phrases related to homemade gifts. Unless I’m advertising homemade goods, I would definitely want to use “homemade” as a negative for my holiday campaigns.

I hope these tips get you started in your keyword research for the holiday season! Check back tomorrow for Kayla’s tips about implementing a good account structure for your holiday PPC efforts.