Christmas Sweaters Making a Splash in Search Engine Marketing

Everything that’s old becomes new again… and that goes for those bulky, decorative Christmas sweaters that were such a fashion faux pas in the 1970s and 80s. But ugly as they may be, they’ve made a huge retro comeback over the past few years.

And as society learns to appreciate bulky sweaters adorned with snowflakes, reindeer and even holiday lights, search engine marketers are also taking advantage.

“Christmas Sweater” and various iterations, such as “Ugly Christmas Sweater” have been searched more often over the years, according to Stacie Susens, director of corporate marketing for software provider Kenshoo. This Google Insights for Search graph shows that this activity has really picked up since 2008, and interest this year seems even higher.

But in the search auction marketplace, just because more people are searching on a phrase like “Christmas Sweater” doesn’t mean that the price per click will automatically increase. But overall cost may rise because you could be buying more clicks. Instead, competition on those search queries and the interest/relevancy of the advertiser ad is what can drive up (or down) the price per click.

Here’s a look at who was winning the paid search battle on Google Shopping for the term “Christmas Sweater” on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011.

These three retailers – J. C. Penney, Kohl’s and The Sweater Store – all drove customers back to a landing page that highlighted Christmas sweaters. A fourth – Skedouche – drives traffic to its home page… but a look at Skedouche’s title tag also shows the retailer specializes in “Ugly Tacky Christmas Sweaters For Men and Women.”

Walmart and Target also invested in “Christmas Sweater” as an SEM term. Both discount retailers use their paid search ads to drive browsers to search results pages.

In the case of Walmart, no items can be found. As for Target, they sell a book called The Christmas Sweater. Neither sell retro wearable knit tops… if you want to call them that.

But is this a good practice because it blocks retailers that sell Christmas sweaters from getting visibility, or is it a bad practice because the consumer clicks and doesn’t get a Christmas sweater?

The only way to say if this is a good or bad practice is to see if it’s driving results, Susens says.

“In some cases, a consumer will click and not find the sweater but search the site and find something that is available and purchase it,” Susens says. “If that happens frequently enough, the sales revenue could outweigh the cost for this strategy.”