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Once again we are swamped as B2C retailers fine tune their sites for the holidays.  Here are my top 6 tips for things merchants should be doing.

1) SEO Review:  Yes, late October is not the best time to start this, but review Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics and see how you are doing on your money maker terms.  Compare where you were at last year and dig deep.  An overall increase can hide some major problems.  Fine tune your content, make sure you are using canonical links, and that there are no problems with your Google Sitemaps.

2) Post your holiday shipping deadlines:  Traffic to shipping policies pages increases this time of year so use it to motivate your customers and get them buying now, not later.  Make sure deadlines are visible to create urgency and maybe even post a banner ad on your site.  Don't forget regional differences in delivery times.

3) Schedule Newsletters:  Do this before things get crazy.  Create your "shipping deadline approaching!" and "Last week for surface shipping!" emails and schedule them to go out when appropriate.  Automation is key to surviving the holidays.

4) Feed the Deal Hunters:  Post some coupons to the deal sites to help drive traffic.  Every little bit of extra traffic counts.

5) Plan & refresh your Social Media: Sure a quick tweet or Facebook post only takes a minute but you won't have any.  Plan and schedule them in advance.  If you are not using Pinterest yet, get on it.

6) Schedule a debrief with your team:  Set aside some time when the dust settles in January to meet with your team and key suppliers to review success and what you need to improve for next year.  Encourage everyone to keep notes about what is causing them the most pain. Knowing this will happen keeps the team motivated to work through the busy times and focused on creating ideas on how to improve it.  Nothing shows the cracks quite like the busiest months.  Don't leave the meeting for two long or people forget.

None of these cost any money and are much easier to do now then when you are in the middle of your season.
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