100 Days Until Black Friday: What Can You Do to Prepare?

100 days until Black Friday! If you’re a consumer, you’re rejoicing, thinking about your upcoming purchases. If you’re a retailer, on the other hand, you might be freaking out a little. Don’t fret! We have a list of paid and organic to-dos to help you prepare. Before we get started, be sure to check out some of our recent search marketing hacks featured in this previous blog.

Start Testing Ads

If you’re following the same strategy all year for your ads, you’re not going to get the results you’ve been looking for. A/B testing may seem like a chore but now is the best to test your ads on Google and Bing. Be sure to create at least two to three ad variants per ad group for at least 30 to 60 days. Use a spreadsheet to track the campaign, ad group, variants, and choose KPIs that make sense such as CTR and CVR. You can start by testing out ad variants in low-performing ads, so as not to make sudden changes to ads that are already performing well.

Check out our Ad Copy Championship Playbook or blog highlighting some of our best practices to get started. We’ll also be sharing a how-to guide conduct ad copy tests in a future blog so stay tuned!

Now is the best time to review your Google Ads or Bing Ads account.

Small Ad Changes, Big Results

Google Ads can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Start with small steps you can implement before you tackle the big stuff. Review your account setup and make sure you’re following these basic protocols:

  • Focus on top-performing products.
  • Organize campaigns and ad groups in a way that makes sense.
  • Use our Ad Copy Championship Playbook to optimize ad copy with our best practices.
  • Always keep your budget in mind when conducting keyword research.
  • Intermediate-Expert: Regularly adjust keyword bids, regularly add negative keywords, and review your Google Shopping Feed, as needed.
  • More information and steps are available on our blog.

Save Time, Use Scripts in Ads

Stop wasting your time conducting manual or repetitive tasks in Google Ads. Focus on what matters to your brand during the holidays and let scripts do all the hard work for you. A script is simply a snippet of JavaScript code that has the power to perform commands right in your AdWords account. (Source) Find out more about scripts, like the Broken Link Checker, on our blog or download free scripts from our team right here.

The Power of Ad Extensions

“Ad extensions typically improve click-through rate and overall campaign performance because they make ads more useful.” (Source: Search Engine Land) Ad extensions can show business locations, phone numbers, reviews, social information, and more. There are sitelink, callout, structured snippet, and price extensions as well. By utilizing all these extensions, you’re essentially giving the user more information about your brand, products, or services to help them a purchasing decision. Best of all, ad extensions coupled with your existing ads and sitelinks, will take up more space on the SERP for both desktop and mobile results. There are also “no costs to add extensions to your campaign.” (Source: GoogleFind out more about ad extensions on our blog. (Don’t forget about ad customizers, either!)

Example of ad extensions.

Google Speed Update

In July, Google rolled out their speed update. Our SEO experts highlighted some steps you can take to make sure you don’t get penalized right before the holidays.

  1. Understand that voice search is the digital marketing trend of the next few years and that mobile voice-related searches are 3x more likely to be local-based than text. Hypothetically, local queries will be more affected by the speed algorithm update.
  2. Think with Google shows that “…voice activated speaker owners would like to receive the following from brands; deals, sales and promos (52%), personalized tips and info (48%), events and activity information (42%), business information such as store location (39%) and customer service support (38%).” (Source: Think with Google). It can then be projected that transactional queries from voice popular industries like, entertainment and fashion should see an impact.
  3. If retailers have the top five rankings for high-volume search queries, they should make sure those pages are loading lightning fast, since that is where the most impact should be felt in terms of ranking.
  4. The Speed Index will not only affect organic ranking. For paid ads, UX is a part of the Quality Score and if the top landing pages or top ads have low PageSpeed, the Quality Score would be reduced. We suggest checking the landing page experience in Google Ads for high-converting campaigns.

Voice Search Fundamentals

In a recent survey we conducted, we found that:

  • 20% of people surveyed use a voice assistant.
  • 46% use voice search 1-2 times/day.
  • 64% use their mobile phone for voice search.
  • 28% use voice search for shopping.
  • 26.2% used a voice assistant to purchase household items.

You can make an impact but it takes time to see those results. The best place to get started is by preparing your content for voice by doing the following:

  • Maximize content aimed at your customers’ decision-making processes.
  • Add content where you can make sure of structured data for best results.
  • People aren’t robots. Adopt a more conversational tone in your content.
  • Get favorable Google reviews as part of your local SEO strategy.
  • Optimize the format of your content and keep in mind some mobile best practices.

Search engines are turning into answer engines. To understand this phenomenon, we recommend conducting your own tests. Ask who, what, where, when, and how questions to a voice assistant. Make a note of the response. Write out that question on desktop and see what the search results are. Compare those differences. What source was mentioned? How was the question answered? Was the answer correct or helpful? Did the voice assistant answer the question the first time or did you have to provide more context to get the results you were looking for?

For more information about voice search, download our Search Without Screens: Exploring the Rise of Smart Assistants & Voice Search whitepaper or read our blog on how to survive the voice search revolution.

Voice Search for Retail Websites

Consider the following for retail websites:

  • Create the customer journey. Understand the context of the speech by outlining the buyer’s preferences in terms of location, price, style, etc. Compare to similar profile buyers.
  • Create Q&A-style content and local content, such as “near me” searches if your site has local stores.
  • Add robust, compelling content that answers your users’ most common questions.
  • Create content in a webpage with a headline that asks a common question, immediately after the headline. Provide a succinct answer or definition to the question and use the rest of the page to provide further elaborate details on the topic.
  • The key is including textual context that uses the natural language phrasing that real searchers would use. Images, video, quizzes, etc. should be accompanied by descriptive, textual content.
  • Google Answers: Tailoring content throughout your site to answer common questions your audience wants to know. In our blog, How to Show up on Google Answers: A Quick Guide, we highlight some of the steps you can take to achieve this in more detail.

Switch to HTTPS Now

Is your website secure? If not, you’ll get penalized by Google and people searching for your website will get a notification that your site isn’t secure. If this isn’t corrected by the holiday season, you might see your website traffic drop. Find out what HTTPS is and how to implement it on our blog.

Dominate Local Search Results

People love to procrastinate, especially around the holidays. This is the perfect opportunity for brick and mortar stores to be available with last-minute shipping, order online and pick-up in-store options for popular item, and more to get that foot traffic. Optimizing for local search results is key. Here are some recommendations:

  • Optimize information on your website about your business.
  • Update and secure any business listings on online directors.
  • Build a solid link building strategy and make sure it’s natural.
  • Media coverage. Build relationships with locals, other businesses, bloggers, etc.
  • Respond to reviews. (80% of local customers trust online business reviews!)
  • Be on social media. Focus on platforms that make the most sense for your business.
  • Be optimized for mobile. Avoid Flash videos, PDFs, etc.

If you need more throughout directions, check out our blog on how to rock local search results.

Use local SEO best practices to get people to your physical location.

Google Posts

Google Posts are essentially messages published by your verified brand. They are displayed on both desktop and mobile search results. Multimedia elements such as GIFs, images, and videos can be added alongside text. Google posts allow you to share time-sensitive promotions, events, and more about your brand which can be especially helpful during the holiday season. Google Posts can be added through your Google My Business account. You’ll find an option to create Google Posts in your Dashboard. Find out more about Google Posts and how they work on our blog.

NetElixir’s Holiday Planning Resources

Free resources, no strings attached, no commitments needed. Really! We have one-on-one holiday clinics, our Holiday Readiness Workbook, holiday planning calendar, webinars, and more via  https://www.netelixir.com/holidays/ We also have a guide on how to make the most of these resources in our blog.

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