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5 Ways to Prepare Your Online Store for the Holidays

Stores are gearing up for holiday sales both online and off; and, every year gets a little more competitive than the last. So, you need to take action now. There are obvious things to consider; but, it is important to take a close look at your marketing campaign and how it might be tweaked for the occasion.

1. First and foremost, your website should be lean and mean, easy to navigate and run without a single functional glitch. Make sure your software is up-to-date and your hosting plan can accommodate an increase in traffic. Holiday shoppers are particularly sensitive to shipping times. Make sure you offer an expedited shipping option if you can.

2. Depending on your products and market, you may want to add some “Gift Ideas” to your website. Be careful, however, not to completely overhaul your site just for the short-term. Major content changes could destroy a hard-earned SEO ranking. If you have a slider, that’s the perfect place to add sale information and gift ideas without having a negative impact on the overall site. Don’t worry about optimizing for different keywords. The timeframe is too short for real SEO benefits.

3. Turn up your marketing volume by advertising where people go when they are ready to buy. Unless you want to bring in all your traffic with coupons, print is not the most cost effective way to market. Running a Google AdWords paid search campaign is incredibly cost effective when run properly. Why Google? Well, about 67 percent of U.S. online searches are done on Google. So, you go where the customers are. Why AdWords? A paid search campaign puts you on the front page of Google immediately, which is exactly what you need when time is tight.

4. Bolster your directory listings. You should never just rely on Google Maps or Yelp to do your listing for you. You can clean up your own listings by claiming them and adding as much data as is allowed. Include your location, hours, pictures, services, coupons and anything else there is a place for. Be sure that every listing uses the same exact business name, address and phone number so that the search engines recognize them all as the same business. If you attend to your listings, you will be assured of being found by your own name and customers will have a place to sift through the reviews.

5. Reviews are critical to the shopping experience, especially if your online store is the only contact a customer has with your business. The average shopper consults 11 reviews before making a purchase, and those who read positive reviews about a product are twice as likely to make the purchase. Reviews can be in the form of testimonials on your page; but, actual reviews that you don’t control are even more powerful. Choose a couple of venues where you would like reviews deposited, then ask for them. Be specific about where you want them.

There are really a hundred things you could do to solidify your presence online and get ready for the crowds. These five things are the relatively quick and easy ones that you can either do on your own or with the help of an online marketing firm. But, you must start now if you want to have an impact on your holiday sales.