With Google devoting less space to search ads, those positions become more valuable than ever.

It’s that time again—online retailers across the board are now starting to plan for what could be poised to be another great holiday season. EMarketer has reported to see an increase of about 6% in e-commerce sales worldwide through 2016.

While online retailers prepare their holiday strategies through channels such as Amazon, eBay and other third-party marketplaces, search marketing is still king for those retailers focused on expanding (and maintaining,) their presence across the web.

When talking about search marketing, the coveted first page of Google for your desired keyword is still the holy grail for many retailers. However, every year, as new competitors enter the marketplace and Google makes changes to the SERPs (search engine results page,) it gets increasingly difficult and expensive to keep up.

Earlier this year, we saw Google make probably one of the most significant changes to its search result page in many years which affected the pay-per-click search marketing landscape for many businesses, particularly small businesses that relied on lower bids to get placement somewhere in the SERP. This change was Google decided to get rid of its side ads and maintain a clean search, result only displaying ads at the top and bottom of the SERP.

What this means for search advertisers is that there is less real estate on the search results page and those placements are more valuable than ever. While this change has affected some online retailers in a positive way and some in a negative way, it has never been so important as it is today to truly optimize search campaigns for the new landscape of today’s SERP.


So, as you get ready for the holiday season to make sure you’re fully optimized in search, here are some search marketing holiday tips:

1. Keep a Close Eye on Your Click-Through Rate: Your ad copy is now more important than ever. ACTR (ad click-through rate) is one of the most important metrics you need to be looking at. During the holiday season, make sure your ad copy is very holiday-centric. Make sure your value propositions are clearly and constantly stated.

2. A/B Test Ads Constantly: In order to ensure great ads showing, constantly work on testing your ads—this is called A/B split testing. Every few days compare the CTR of the ads running and keep the best CTR ad running. Create a new one, and constantly compare it to the best ad running. That is the best way to ensure the best ads show.

3. Be Mobile-Ready: It’s no secret that Google places very heavy focus and emphasis on mobile and makes it its priority to give mobile users the best possible experience. It’s 2016: If your website isn’t mobile-ready, stop everything you are doing right now and focus on that. While having responsive design is of great importance to search engine optimization, the same can be said for paid search, as it’s just as important to Google for its advertisers to provide a great mobile experience to its users.


4. Use Google Ad Extensions: You’d be surprised how many new ad extensions Google has to offer its advertisers to make their ads stand out. Extensions can provide such additional information in a search ad as customer ratings and reviews, information about the merchant (“free shipping”), street address, click-to-call option, app download promotion, and more, Ad extensions are great and important for a number of reasons—if you know how to use these properly and take advantage of them, they can surely put you ahead of the competition. Ad extensions will create more visibility (as Google reported they tend to increase ad visibility) and provide more value to the consumer, as it provides more information and different ways to interact with your ad.

5. Google Shopping is Key: Google seems to be placing more focus on its shopping platform. If you Google any product, the first thing on a results page will be the Google Shopping results. Start learning and understanding how to optimize your Google shopping feed for optimal results this coming holiday season, as it will be a great source of traffic.

Pablo Palatnik is the owner and operator of ShadesDaddy.com, a large independent online retailer of eyewear. He’s also been in the search marketing industry for over 12 years.