Using paid search to get in the minds of holiday shoppers

Ads to brighten the holidays

Article updated Nov. 15, 2017

With all of the competition out there for online businesses these days, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed when seeking out new and repeat customers. This is especially true around the holidays because every business will likely take steps to get more eyes on their stores, products and services. That’s where paid search comes into play.

Paid search campaigns can help get your business in front of holiday shoppers.


With the holidays right around the corner — and because I want to help all of you earn more sales — I thought it would be a good idea to give you some quick tips for using paid search to get in the minds of holiday shoppers.

Things to think about before using paid search

Assuming you’ve got a little bit of SEO knowledge under your belt, let’s get started on your paid search campaign. Before you just start spending your money, do a little research and create a plan. You’ll want to consider the following:

What keywords are your customers are searching for?

Think of the actual phrases holiday shoppers might type into their search engines, such as:

  • best Christmas presents for boys/girls
  • the perfect Hanukkah gift for men/women
  • what to buy my in-laws
  • gifts for people who have everything

Paid Search SERP

It might help to create a list of all possible keywords you think your potential customers will search for, and then do some research on the ranking of those keywords. You can use the keyword planner through Google AdWords to see statistics of keywords and how they might perform in a paid search campaign. Google Trends is another awesome tool.

What products/services are you offering?

Do you sell products people might actually want to purchase as a holiday gift? Even if you don’t have traditional goods and services that are associated with the holiday season, you can create campaigns that match the spirit.

Use the holidays to your advantage — create colorful marketing campaigns, package deals or gift cards that can be used as gifts.


Perhaps you’re an esthetician. You could create a campaign to “look your best for the holidays.” Or a stylist could offer a package to “create the best outfit for this year’s Christmas card.” The possibilities are endless, regardless of your business, as long as you’re considering your shoppers’ holiday wish lists.

Does your website already have content that coincides with potential keywords customers could search for?

Do you have a blog? Does your site feature keyword-rich content and product descriptions? Even if you’re just beefing up for the holidays, be sure to have relevant content.

Paid search ads might hook your visitors, but your content will reel them in.


There’s no point in using paid search functions if your site isn’t engaging. Use unique product descriptions that are both useful and fun. Highlight features and benefits while naturally scattering keywords throughout the text.

What is your budget for an ad campaign?

Every small business owner knows that a budget is a necessary part of the business game. The same can be said for ad campaigns. Before you start looking into paid search options, you need to know how much you can spend ahead of time.

Paid Search Budget
Photo: kenteegardin via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

Google Adwords, Facebook ads, Twitter campaigns and more. The opportunities are endless, and there are a number of ways to spread some holiday offers. Speaking of potential platforms …

What is the best platform for paid search campaigns?

There isn’t a cut-and-dry answer for this. You know your customers. You know their favorite products, how they connect with you and more. Regardless of the platform, do what you think is best for them.

As always, you want to go where your audience is.


If your audience is on Facebook, you wouldn’t start a fresh ad campaign on Snapchat and hope for stellar results. And yes, Facebook and Twitter are also considered search engines that offer paid searches.

Does the platform you are considering offer analytical tools?

How will you know who’s clicking your ads? Will you be able to tell how your campaign is performing? Consider these questions before settling on a paid search possibility. The good news is, you aren’t committed for life. If you determine that you like one platform over another, you can switch. Or, you can always use more than one!

Can you choose the audience that will see your ads?

Most search engines that sell paid searches allow you to choose the exact demographic you’re trying to reach. In fact, some will let you choose the age, location, educational background and income of the audience. Again, determining these demographics means you must understand your audience. Who are your people? Who will your paid searches will appear in front of? Take them into account when selecting a platform.

What are your sales goals?

What numbers do you need to stay in the black and/or reach the next level? Be realistic here. What would a successful campaign mean to you? And if the pros outweigh the cons, spending a little bit extra up front for a paid search could mean the difference between numbers in the black and numbers in the red.

Once you have all the answers to the questions above, you can buy some paid search ads and make a boatload of cash, right? Sorry, but no. Now, comes the tricky part.

Trial and error — and more trial and hopefully success

The unfortunate reality is that paid searches aren’t an exact science. Sure, some entrepreneurs will enjoy large gains from paid searches, but some campaigns can fall flat. People might click on your paid search links but not buy for a number of reasons.

However, there are a few tips for success you can use to make bank from holiday shoppers.

Add quality content to your site before you pay for search results. Add some keywords to your site that will help with organic SEO and assist with the paid search campaign you’re going to create. Think crystal clear product descriptions! Consider creating a blog that is timely for the holidays, too.

If your sales page is confusing — or worse, non-existent — fix that, too. Once you reel in a customer, they need to know where to go to spend their money. There’s no sense buying a lead if they can’t figure out how to buy from you on your website.

Make sure your pages are clean. User-friendly sites with lack of clutter make great impressions. Nothing makes a potential customer bail faster than a poorly designed website.

Get your customer service in check. As soon as a sale comes in, you need systems in place to address the order from purchase to delivery (and follow-up, too!).

Need a little help?

If optimizing your website for search sounds like a little too much effort this close to the holidays, GoDaddy’s Search Engine Visibility solution can help. This affordable tool walks you step-by-step through optimizing your website to improve rankings on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Get ready for the holidays

It’s not too early to start thinking of the holidays. Many businesses start testing paid search campaigns ahead of time so they’re ready for the hustle and bustle of shopping season. And it’s important to remember that your ads might not be raging successes this year. There is good news, though. By getting a jump on it now, you’ll be able to start analyzing what works and what doesn’t.

Best wishes for the holidays and happy sales!

Check out our free checklist, “How to sell more this holiday season” for more tips

Image by: Hades2k via / CC BY-SA