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Search engine optimization

Online sales the Monday after Thanksgiving have doubled since 2006 as fewer Americans braved Black Friday crowds, instead waiting for Cyber Monday to begin their holiday shopping on the Internet. With so much possible revenue crammed into such a short time span, officials at SEO.com advised business owners to explore every possible advantage for outpacing the competition in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

“The online world basically mimics the offline world without the geographic constraints,” said Claye Stokes, director of search engine optimization at SEO.com. “You have to set aside an entire day to go store to store. But you can see a lot more websites in a smaller amount of time and do more cost comparisons.”

Though it’s too late for some Internet marketing services to increase the bottom line this Christmas, Stokes had some last-minute search engine marketing tips for business owners hoping to make their companies more visible on the Internet in time for holiday shoppers.

One of the most effective ways to find more online customers is to list products the company sells in Google Product Search, according to Stokes.

“A lot of websites aren’t doing that yet,” he explained.

Listing a business in Google Product Search allows shoppers to easily find your products when they search online. The items appear in a box with Google’s shopping results, and local businesses are highlighted when online shoppers click to find out where the items can be purchased.

“Google Product Search is great for local companies,” Stokes said. “If they get into these product feeds, it’s a good way to let Google and local customers know you have these products.”

The Bing search engine has its own product feed called Bing Shopping. Merchants may use the Google and Bing shopping feeds for free.

Once products are listed in the shopping feeds, it’s important to advertise holiday markdowns and reduced shipping costs so the search engines quickly notice the business and move it to the top of the search results.

Listing a company in Google Product Search is simple, but it requires some data entry or development, and a Google Merchant Center account.

“If businesses get a shopping feed put together before Cyber Monday they have an opportunity to really benefit from one of the busiest days of the year,” said Mike Hohl, vice president of sales and marketing for SEO.com. “But this is going to help you every day, until Christmas and beyond.”

Hohl said retailers also sell more items during the holidays when they prominently feature their products on their home page.

“Featuring items on the home page will get more attention for those products,” he said.