Online holiday shopping is increasingly popular among Americans and search-friendly content can set brands apart.

A new report from comScore shows online retail spending will reach new heights in 2012. According to comScore’s Q3 2012 U.S. retail ecommerce sales estimates, spending reached $41.9 billion in Q3 2012 – up 15 percent from the previous year. The latest uptick in ecommerce sales represents the twelfth consecutive quarter with year-over-year growth. The potential for the trend to progress into the holiday season is high.

When looking closely at the activities online shoppers are projected to engage in this year, search should clearly be a top priority among online retailers in 2012. According to Google’s Pre-Holiday 2012 Consumer Intentions report, 49 percent of online shoppers will use search engines to inform their purchasing decisions and 37 percent call the channel their “go-to” source. Overall, 80 percent of shoppers will conduct some form of online research before buying products or services for the holidays, and well-positioned custom content can provide prospective customers with the information they need to discover the perfect gifts for loved ones.

Content marketing can help brands increase visibility for their products, even on the crowded web. Whether a strategy includes video content, social media marketing or solely depends on written text, information optimized for search supports the shopping efforts made by millions of Americans.

Google also reports that shoppers are turning to the web at various stages in the shopping process. Approximately 32 percent will research online, evaluate the product in person and then return to the web to make the purchase. Therefore, a content marketing strategy must include branded media that speaks to readers no matter their position in the sales cycle. As the holiday season approaches, marketers must develop branded content that takes advantage of new online shopping trends, and consumers’ willingness to conduct the bulk of their product research via popular search engines.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.