While spring does not officially start for a few weeks, much of North America is breathing a deep sigh of relief and delight as the gray remnants of the Snowpocalypse begin to melt away. The bravest flowers appear, and the outdoors become a friend again (rather than a frosty, car-freezing, driveway-blocking enemy). And, to say it in numbers rather than wry imagery, March is when web searches for “springtime” spike, according to Google Insights for Search:

The thawing of spring transforms not only city streets--it also means abundant opportunity for retailers. Across industries--apparel, home goods, sporting goods, and more--sellers experience seasonal uplifit as temperatures rise. The particularly severe winter (following the bite of recession), provides retailers a unique opportunity to address pent-up spring-related consumer needs and yearnings.

That well-worn, heavy coat begins to feel a little too warm; those thick wool turtlenecks bought at Black Friday sales last year start to scratch. Consumers’ attentions turn to airy linen shirts, light dresses, and scarves as decoration--rather than defense against frostbite. Months of cabin fever mitigated only by streaming video subscriptions give way to the sudden urge to venture outside and soak in some much-needed Vitamin D.

New Year’s resolutions to exercise gain new life with sidewalks filled with sunlight instead of ice. Families scour group buying deals for camping excursions and outdoor dining experiences. Couples begin to think about weddings and make local, weekend vacation plans. The garden, no longer a permafrost wasteland, beckons the family green thumb. The lake, once again liquid, reminds the family anglers that they need to buy new fishing equipment for the season.

As cities defrost and consumers move in different purchasing directions, brick-and-mortar retailers know the decades-old, familiar dance of spring clothing sales, moving lawn furniture outside stores, and restocking baseball and soccer inventories. For retailers with an online advertising presence, the rite of spring selling entails a series of seasonal actions as well:
  • Tweaking keyword lists to include the influx of spring-related searches
  • Infusing fresh ad creatives--for both Search and Display campaigns--with sunny, warm-weather themes
  • Building out new campaigns and ad groups to reflect any new inventory
  • Considering and acting on any spring seasonality and holidays that affect your business. A few big ones for the US:
    • Spring break
    • Earth Day
    • Mother’s Day
    • The end of the spring semester
    • Memorial Day
    • Easter and Passover holidays
  • Taking some time to make sure that your website content and any social media campaigns you have are aligned with your new spring creatives posted through Google AdWords
  • And, because summer follow spring, it also is the time to start strategizing around summer sales and summer seasonality.

Happy springtime, everyone, from all of us on the Google Retail team!

Posted by Paul Nauert, The Google Retail Team


In 2005, MagnetStreet, a custom magnet developer, was 80% reliant on its Real Estate customers. Although Real Estate customers kept MagnetStreet employees busy from August to November, the rest of the year was stagnant. In order to resolve this staffing and seasonal production slump, to acquire new customers and to expand its product portfolio, MagnetStreet looked to Google and its suite of free tools.

MagnetStreet realized they were not utilizing an SEO or SEM strategy. So they leveraged Google's Keyword Tool to learn more about terms such as “magnets” and “promotional magnets", and how they could expand their keyword selection to be in front of actively searching magnet customers.

David Baird, Vice President of Marketing at MagnetStreet, was surprised to find out that “save-the-date wedding magnets” stood out as keywords of rapidly growing interest. This new product keyword trend spurred an information-gathering project that started with understanding what a save-the-date magnet was, and ended with a solution regarding how to enter the wedding market.

MagnetStreet was also pleased to learn, via Google Trends and Insights for Search, that this new venture revealed an interest peak in January, with a more consistent level of interest throughout the year than the real estate market. These Google tools also offered geographic data that gave MagnetStreet the opportunity to intelligently market to the local areas that showed the most interest in their product suite.

MagnetStreet continues to use Insights for Search to help them expand into new markets, discover additional product offerings, and to inform design, staffing and media decisions. They have expanded into selling wedding invitations and programs in addition to various occasion invitations and announcements.

When looking back at his business’ success, Mr. Baird credits Google’s tools with helping him to make smarter, low risk decisions and giving him the opportunity as a small business owner to compete with Big Box players.

Click here for more information on this success story.

Posted by Keri Overman, The Google Retail Team

(Cross-posted on The Official Google Blog)

Since we introduced last November, we’ve been busy developing new features that we proudly unveiled as New York Fashion Week hit the runways.

More of the boutiques you love
We’re welcoming hundreds of thousands of stunning new boutiques, including those from designers Helmut Lang, Michael Kors, Billy Reid and Thakoon.

Trend data to excite designers and fashion enthusiasts alike
Over the past few months, we’ve watched usage of Boutiques soar. Shoppers aren’t just creating their own customized boutiques, they’re enthusiastically taking our Stylyzer Quiz and sharing what they “love” and “hate” about products while browsing. As a result, we’ve gained a unique, aggregate view into the latest fashion trends—a reflection of what shoppers think and feel about the colors, silhouettes, patterns and prices of individual products from across the web.

Recently we unveiled Designer Analytics, a tool that enables our design partners to benefit from this collective knowledge—giving them insight into how their products are searched, shopped and loved. With easy-to-understand data visualizations, Designer Analytics shows what colors, shapes and patterns are most loved and hated broadly (in categories such as shoes, dresses and handbags) and even down to how specific items are performing. Designers can also see how their stats compare to brands like them. Designer Analytics is available when logged in, and looks like this:

We also launched a public version called Trend Analytics that gives curious fashionistas a view into the latest, site-wide fashion trends. Using aggregate data from both and Google Search, it shows the hottest colors of the season, the most-loved products and the must-have trends.

New boutique features to help you express your style
We added some enhanced features for boutiques, including a photo gallery and video upload (celebrity, designers, blogger and featured boutiques only) to give more opportunities for people to express who they are and share their unique point of view.

Posted by Abigail Holtz, Product Manager

Think that Valentine’s Day is the only holiday for retailers in February? Think again: between January 1 and the present, searches for the term “presidents day sales” have increased by almost 100%.

As the graph below suggests, queries for “presidents day deals” have grown over the years, and this observation is worth advertisers’ time; creating new ad text and having a coupon code for shoppers looking to score a bargain this weekend may be valuable.

Below are a few quick tips and tricks that retail advertisers can use to capitalize on the traffic and queries surrounding this day that connotes bargains and three-day holiday plans (in addition to recognizing our nation’s forefathers, of course!).
  • Create a new landing page. Create a page or tab on the site that has information on special deals and sales!
  • Develop a discount code for President's Day sales. Some of the highest queries for Presidents Day are “coupon codes,” and “discount codes.” Don’t miss out on this traffic and be sure to have a code for your site!
  • Use ad text that advertises sales and the discount code for President's Day. Be sure to link the destination URL to your new landing page that advertises the new sales. Additionally, insert your discount code in new ad text on search, mobile and display networks.
  • Be discoverable on mobile and tablets. Connect with consumers looking for competitive deals and researching items of interest.

Posted by Jieun Baek, The Google Retail Team

Ah, alas! February 14th: That special day of the year when love is in the air, Cupid is on the loose and men around the country are searching to find their romantic side - Valentine’s Day. Well gentlemen, the big night has finally arrived and whether you’ve been preparing for months or just noticed that big heart around the 14th on your girlfriend’s calendar (hint!), planning the perfect Valentine’s Day is right at your fingertips – literally!

That tiny cell phone in your hand is the gateway to the world and to your little lady’s heart. Mobile devices have changed the way we live, work, and play. Over 122M people in the US are now smartphone users who have access to information instantly & everywhere.*

For the sake of our Valentine’s example, let’s call our little lovebirds Shannon and Matt. Matt has been quite the busy bee lately, traveling around the country for work. So when Valentine’s Day arrives he panics. However, thanks to his smartphone, within 15 minutes Matt is able to find the number of a local florist along with a 10% discount ad, research reviews on the best Italian restaurants in the city, make reservations, and map directions to the location from Shannon’s house. This last-minute effort has turned into a picture perfect night for the couple and for the mobile advertisers – the ultimate love triangle!

Mobile searches tend to peak on weekends when people are on-the-go and away from their computers. Advertisers with mobile specific targeting have an even greater advantage this Valentine’s Day as it occurs on a Monday, so they’ll have the benefit of capturing optimal weekend traffic.

Valentine’s Day shopping typically begins three weeks prior to the holiday. However, flower & gift online traffic shares continue to rise due to last-minute shoppers – so advertisers, be sure to keep your campaigns running through February 14th!

Whether you’re cuddling over a candlelight dinner (made from a recipe found on your mobile phone, of course!), popping the question - or maybe just a bottle of champagne - this Valentine’s Day is bound to be a success with your lady and your mobile phone nearby.

*comScore 2010 US Digital Year in Review Report

Posted by Terra Teague, The Google Retail Team

(Cross-posted on the Small Business Blog)

Please enjoy the second post in the series of tips and tricks for advertising within your industry. This week: Retail! Up next is Travel.

There are countless varieties of products, services, and companies within the Retail industry, but one thing unites us all: seasonality. Whether you’re selling school supplies, MP3 Players, or sports gear, you probably have a ‘hot season’ and some semblance of a ‘down season.’ I think our biggest trap as Retail advertisers is to only focus our efforts on the hot season; whereas Retail marketing should really happen year-round.

You have a lot of options and resources -- both free and paid -- available for marketing your business throughout the year. Below I’ve outlined a few of my favorite tools and tips.
  • Figure out when your hot season actually starts. Many marketers assume they know when their hot season starts and ends or they base this year’s strategy on last year’s season. Use Insights for Search to better understand when customers begin to search for your products. If you look at search volume on ‘swimsuits,’ you’ll notice that queries actually begin to rise in January and maintain steady volume throughout July. Don’t fall into the trap of advertising swimsuits only in the summer!
  •  Use different types of campaigns at different times. Once you fully understand your seasonality, think critically about the different types of advertising you’ll do throughout the year. For AdWords customers, for example, I recommend exploring the Remarketing Tool to keep track of customers who may have visited your site during the down season. When hot season strikes again, you’ll be able to reach these customers when they are more actively pursuing your products. Remarketing is also a great way for AdWords customers with multiple seasons to reach people throughout the year. For example, if you sell flowers, you can set up a cookie to target people who purchased flowers from you on Valentine's Day, and then begin showing them ads for your Mother's Day specials in April.

  • Through it all, continue to optimize your account structure. Once you’ve established the initial structure of your account, be sure to track performance and optimize your keyword lists and ad texts, particularly during down seasons. I recommend using the ‘Search terms’ report on your broad match keywords or the Opportunities Tab to identify new keyword ideas as well as negative keywords. For your ad text, look at which ads converted best in the previous hot season, and see if any consistent themes jump out. You may notice that mentioning ‘Save 20% on Gifts’ worked better than ‘Save Big on Gifts’ and you can edit your text accordingly for the next hot season.
  • Take advantage of free offerings, particularly during the down season. For Retailers with physical locations, it’s imperative that you create a listing on Google Places. Particularly as consumers increasingly search while they are on the go, it’s important that people know when they are near your physical location!
Think of how much more time you have when you’re in the down season -- and use this time to optimize and grow your business in advance of the hot season. Our customers’ interests and behaviors change each year and yes, it can be difficult to keep up. Lucky for us, we have plenty of options to reach our customers at different phases of the conversion cycle and many tools to better understand our customers. Best of luck in 2011!

Posted by Tim Freeth, Team Lead, AdWords Retail

Although many men and women live by the Boy Scout motto of “be prepared” when it comes to Valentine’s Day gift giving, some have adopted a different philosophy… wait until the last minute.

This Friday, millions of procrastinators will be buying gifts for their loved ones online to arrive in time for Valentine’s Day on Monday. For some retailers in the "Flowers, Gifts, and Greetings" categories, Friday is their second biggest sales day of the year (#1 is days leading up to Mother's Day). This means that potential last minute search assets for retailers will be highly generic terms such as “flowers” and “valentine’s gifts“. The top searches in the last seven days for the Flowers and Gift categories are listed below.

Merchants looking to drive efficient sales volume tomorrow think and value at a geo-level. Monitor the search penetration against the conversion rates for particular cities and offer localized deals to consumers. For example, over the last seven days, Insights for Search indexed the highest search volume for flowers in Boston, with Philadelphia and San Diego following closely behind.

Don’t neglect in-store last minute purchasers who will be perusing the Internet for gift ideas, store locations, hours of operation, inventory selection and deals. Be prominently positioned with gift solutions both online and in-store to ease last minute purchase anxiety. Friday is only the beginning of the weekend warrior purchases prior to Valentine’s Day, so go ahead and let the procrastinators know it not too late to express their love.

Posted by Brett Goffin, The Google Retail Team

Percy Sledge sang first sang it in 1966, and Michael Bolton made it famous again in 1991, but it’s become clear that when a man loves a woman he waits until the last minute to search for a Valentine’s Day gift.

Looking at Google search data over the past month only three out of the top 100 ‘Valentine’s Day gift’ queries contain ‘gifts for her’ related searches. And out of all Valentine’s Day searches, 90% of queries skew towards gifts for men.

So ladies out there looking for the perfect present seeking ‘Valentine’s day gifts for him,’ ‘Valentine’s day ideas for men,’ and ‘what to get your boyfriend for Valentine’s day’, don’t fret, your guy still has two weeks to get searching and according to a recent NRF study, he will outspend you 2:1 ($158 v. $75).

Maybe Percy had it right all along when he sang those lyrics, “When a man loves a woman, Spend his very last dime…”

Posted by Kelly Smith, Google Retail Team

(Cross-posted on the Google Mobile Blog)

Looking to reach out to your customers on mobile? Join us for our live streamed discussion on February 10th, 1:05pm EST with Mary Meeker, Partner at Kleiner Perkins, Google’s Dennis Woodside, SVP of Americas Operations, and Jason Spero, Head of Americas Mobile Advertising on the future of mobile and mobile marketing. To learn more about the event and live stream, please visit the Google Mobile Ads blog.

Posted by Suzanne Mumford, Google Mobile Ads Marketing Team

While the 2011 economic forecast may be looking sunnier, mother nature must have missed the memo. So much of the country has been blanketed in snow and ice the last several weeks (and may be for weeks to come), and nasty weather can have an interesting effect on retailers big and small, online and brick & mortar.

While schools, offices and roads were closed, the web becomes one of the few outlets still available to people for communication, work, and entertainment, and retailers with a strong online presence are in luck.

The East Coast cannot catch a break this winter, with storm after storm keeping snow plows busy and travelers delayed at airports since before the holidays. Has it been bad for retailers though? Not necessarily. Apparel retailers in Philadelphia actually saw a mid-week search peak on the 27th when they were in the middle of one of the worst blizzards. In fact, most retailers still posted gains in the month of January.

In the Midwest, Chicago was one of the cities that really got the worst of it with 70 mph winds, around 20 inches of snow and temperatures in the double digits below zero. From our Insights for Search tool, however, it’s clear that product search interest in the shopping category has picked up significantly in this metro area over just the past couple weeks and is continuing an upward trend into early February. “Boots”, “shoes”, and “dresses” tops the search term list here.

In Dallas, TX this month, shopping was probably the least of everyone’s concerns with Super Bowl XLV taking place this weekend and preparations for that being hindered by the thick layer of ice covering everything from roads to the Cowboys Stadium. Still though, ticket sales are climbing and event shopping took place online.

It seems that despite Mother Nature’s best efforts, strengthening online retail sales have not been set back by the sleet and snow for the first several weeks of 2011, though certainly the effects must be varied across pure-play e-tailers, multi-channel retailers and pure brick & mortar stores. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

Posted by Tiffany Lin, The Google Retail Team

(Cross-posted on the Google Merchant Blog & Google Mobile Blog)

As we announced last November, millions of people have downloaded Google Shopper for Android to help them shop on the go. Today, we’re excited to let you know that Google Shopper, our popular Android shopping application, is now available for iPhone as a download in the App Store. Google Shopper turns your iPhone into a shopping assistant, so you can:
  • Learn more about products and read relevant user reviews
  • Compare prices at online and local stores
  • Save and share products for later consideration
Let’s say you’re planning a special meal for Valentine’s Day - but you need a cast-iron skillet to get the recipe just right. With Shopper, finding one is easy enough: just type in “cast iron skillet” or say it using Voice Search. Then, from the results, you can choose a specific product that appeals to you. Alternatively, if you were in the store and wanted to see product reviews, you could also scan the barcode of a particular product.

Once you’ve selected a product result, you can compare prices across web retailers, and even find where you can purchase the item nearby, which is especially useful for those of us who are last-minute shoppers. For some retailers, we also provide inventory information so you can see if a particular store branch has the item in stock, has limited availability, or if the item is out of stock and you should head to a different store.

If you’re not sure about making a purchase or are building out a gift list, you can “star” products for future consideration. You can also share items with friends across your social network to let them know about products you love or great deals you've found.

You can download Google Shopper for free in the App Store. Shopper is available for iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 with iOS 4.0+ in English only for the United States and the UK.

We hope you enjoy shopping with Google Shopper!

Posted by Richard Hung, Senior Product Manager, Google Shopper

Editor’s note: Woodcraft Supply is one of the nation’s oldest and largest suppliers of quality woodworking tools and supplies, offering more than 20,000 products through its retail stores, catalog, and website. We’ve invited today’s guest blogger, Nancy Miller, VP of Internet Sales and Development for Woodcraft Supply, to talk about how Google has helped her increase search revenue and transform Woodcraft’s online store. To learn more about her experience, read the case study.

At Woodcraft, we strive to provide the best experience for our customers, which means helping them find the right tool for the project. To this end, our retail stores are staffed with knowledgeable woodworkers. Online, we need a powerful search engine.

Prior to our switch to Google Commerce Search, Woodcraft had been using another popular third-party search solution - but we just weren’t seeing the same level of satisfaction on our website as we were in our stores. Visitors to our site often couldn’t find the products they were looking for, and our support team fielded a lot of complaints. Our customers were frustrated and our conversions suffered so we decided to make a change.

After thorough research, we picked Google to host our e-commerce search; their service provided better results, improved rankings, and an intuitive administrator interface. Google Commerce Search is simpler to maintain and much more effective than our old solution - even before customization. In fact, during our testing period we moved half of our traffic to Google Commerce Search and left the remainder on our existing solution – and with Google our conversions from search were 27.7 percent higher and our search revenues were up 34 percent!

Beyond providing a multifaceted search experience with better results, and increasing our online sales, Google Commerce Search has made our customers and employees much happier with our website. The complaints have virtually disappeared, giving us more time to focus on our passion: woodworking.

Above: Nancy Miller, Kyle Crabtree, Chris Brown, Matt Hall, Steve Markle September Fleming, and Daniel Pennock with their latest woodworking project.

It’s no secret that today’s consumer is online more than ever before! In 2010, we conducted over 60 research studies with the help of partners such as Compete & OTX to better understand how consumers are utilizing the web--and to help you reach them! From all of this research, we learned some pretty cool facts. For example, did you know Google provides the most dating site search referrals1? Or that 25% of new vehicle buyers utilize the mobile web during their research process2? Neither did we. Watch this video to see some of the coolest (in our minds!) insights gleaned in 2010!

Sources: 1 Google & Compete Personals Study 2010. 2 Google & Compete Automotive Buy Flow Study 2010.

Posted by Lauren Dale, Google Large Advertiser Marketing Team