Holiday Wish Lists Lie In Retailer’s Query Logs

holidaySearch accuracy is an important factor in capturing and increasing sales throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, when retailers can expect to make the lion’s share of their revenue. But returning meaningful search results becomes even more challenging with seasonal products. Will online Christmas shoppers be able to find that snowflake design tablecloth when they visit their favorite ecommerce site? Will queries for a snowman-shaped tape dispenser meet with Frosty results or simply a frosty reception? It’s doubly important, then, to optimize search for those seasonal or gift-related intents.

Online retailers don’t have to risk forfeiting any of their increased holiday site traffic due to poor search results. In fact, their query logs from previous holiday seasons hold a wealth of information about customer search behavior that can allow them to fine-tune their search capabilities in anticipation of next year’s holiday and winter rush. These logs are one thing that retailers should be checking to ensure their customers fill their stockings with the items on their wish lists.

How many parents of teenaged fans found buying a Maroon 5 calendar last Christmas more difficult than scoring backstage passes? Given the multiple potential formulations (including M5, Maroon Five, etc.) the parents may well have met with a “do not enter” sign!

But optimizing for holiday search means consulting past logs to see just how customers formulate this query, as well as anticipating variations, and making sure that the retailer’s in-site search recognizes every formulation and returns desired results to contented customers.

By delving into retailers’ voluminous query logs analysts look into the past to predict future queries. With an eye toward market trends, competitive analyses, new products and holiday products, search analysts can key in on the language customers are most likely to use when tracking down the next seasonal hit, enabling retailers to capture these customers with their very first entries. And that’s a season’s greeting that both customers and retailers can love.

About The Authors: Joseph O’Donnell is a Search Analyst at, and John Holland is a founding partner of, Search Strategy Solutions, the only company for large online retailers that specializes in growing revenue and engagement by improving search and findability.

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