tree, train and star of david holiday ornaments laying on a piece of wood

The 12 Days of Paid Search Optimizations

When it comes to the holiday shopping season, preparation plays a major role in whether a paid search advertiser ends up on the naughty or nice list. No matter how good a retailer’s deals may be, your paid search campaigns won’t be positively impacted if you aren’t fully prepared with clean campaign structures that follow critical best practices.


As our gift to you, we’ve put together our list of the “12 Days of Paid Search Optimizations” so your brand gets everything it want this holiday season – high performance without compromising spend efficiency. Now, of course, you don’t have to limit these optimizations to just 12 days. Taking these points into consideration throughout the entire season can ensure a very Happy Holidays for retailers.


12. Audits. While clean account structures should never be considered seasonal, they are especially important going into the busy holiday season. Are there negative keyword conflicts, ad disapprovals, unnecessary tracking on keyword URLs, or any other potential issues keeping you from achieving your business goals? Audits are crucial to obtaining spend efficiency. Therefore, no brand should ever consider going into peak retail season without a full review of both paid search campaigns and bid platform settings.


11. Seasonal Budgets. When forecasting your paid search budgets, it’s important to plan past major shopping days. Though it’s the obvious choice to allocate the most money towards Cyber Monday and Black Friday, 40% of holiday purchases are made after these events. If you’re unprepared for this, your campaigns could be at risk of going dark during peak holiday shopping times. Not only should you be considering your seasonal budget, but also your daily budgets, which brings us to our next point…


10. Daily Budget Caps. One of Google’s latest AdWords updates now allows your campaigns to spend up to twice as much as their daily budget if Google determines demand is there. Given the increased traffic around the holidays, advertisers can be almost certain to see this in their campaigns. If your brand is not in a position where you’re prepared to spend up to twice your daily budget, you can lower CPCs, leverage account budgets,  run scripts, or even restructure your campaigns to counteract this.


9. Search Query Reports. No matter how hard digital marketers try, there will always be a search query driving costs, but not consumer action. Again, determining what these are is always important, but it’s especially critical during the most wonderful time of the year. In addition to identifying inefficient queries, which you can set as negative keywords, you can also discover which queries are the most profitable ones. This way, you can set these as new keywords, which allows you complete control over their bids at a time not often synonymous with low CPCs.


8. Ad Copy Refresh. During such a competitive season, retailers can’t rely on generic ad copy to stand out on the SERP. Whether you’re creating a sense of urgency for customers to shop your brand before the holidays or counting down to key shopping events with ad customizers, even simple ad copy adjustments can make a substantial difference for your brand.


7. Ad Extensions. Not only should your ad copy be updated to reflect holiday deals and verbiage, but ad extensions should also do the same. For example, you can showcase your brand’s quick delivery time in your callout extensions or drive users to a specific holiday promotion page in your sitelinks.


6. Mobile. It’s been “The Year of Mobile” for many years in a row now, but with very good reason. Last holiday, mobile made up more than half of iProspect’s paid search traffic. Be sure to adjust your mobile bid modifiers and budgets as needed to effectively capture this massive potential traffic.


5. Automation. Though you may not have a workshop full of elves to help you tackle your holiday to-do list, automation is the next best thing. You can use third-party platforms to set up automation rules that make it easier to achieve your business goals. If there isn’t room in the budget to spend on these platforms, though, scripts and automated rules are effective ways to manage bids and activate and pause key account elements when need be.


4. Audience Lists. Ideally, your account has audience lists built with site visitors from last holiday. From there, you can start to build similar audiences to bring valuable potential customers to your site. If you don’t have these lists, no need to expect a lump of coal in your stocking. You can still create audience lists to target users visiting your holiday pages during the current season. These lists will benefit you in the short run, and you can make good use of them next holiday season.


3. Shopping Campaigns. Don’t forget to make sure your Shopping campaigns are in order going into the busy season, especially given their benefits to retailers. Shopping ads appear at the top of the page (which is especially important on mobile) and drive higher quality traffic since consumers have more complete information about your products prior to clicking on your ad. To make the most of the ad format, make sure your feed includes your complete inventory (or as close as possible) and that any disapprovals are resolved. Additionally, think outside of the standard shopping ad! Google has launched a variety of formats and features, including showcase shopping ads and special offers, that will help your brand stand out during the most competitive time of the year.


2. Landing Page Experience. A relevant landing page is important for so many reasons. From improved quality score to an increased likelihood of converting a positive landing page experience is the gift that keeps on giving. Be sure to audit your keywords and ensure that all clicks lead to only the most pertinent pages for a potential holiday shopper’s query.


1. And A Plan For Your Next Holiday! You’ll probably prefer to tackle one busy season at a time, but consistently monitoring performance and revising your current plan based on what’s working and what needs improvement will set you up for success next year. Pay attention to the details, and you’ll thank yourself later – trust us.


Happy holidays to digital marketers everywhere, and may your high traffic retail days be merry and bright!