When winter approaches, there are two kinds of bloggers:
The first kind are the scramblers – they know they should be capitalising on the seasonal festivities to capture more traffic, but they wait until the last minute, finally announcing their promotions and releasing targeted content just a little too late.
The second kind are the pros – they prepare their festive marketing strategy in advance, and when the time comes, they’re ready to execute. These are the bloggers that enjoy an annual boost in seasonal traffic, and reap the benefits.
In this post, we’ll explore tips and tricks for preparing your website for the festive period (and January Sales), generously shared by industry experts. This isn’t your usual compilation of seasonal marketing ideas, either. Whereas most people tend to have an expertise in either content creation and search engine optimisation, or in development and technology, we recognise that it takes both to amplify your results and generate traffic to your website.
So, are you a scrambler?
Or are you a pro?
If you’re currently in the scrambler category, that’s okay. It only takes a little bit of planning and some specialised knowledge to make it into the pro category. The planning part is up to you, but as for the knowledge…
We can help with that.
Content and Creativity
To get the best possible information on crafting killer content that will bring you a tonne of free website traffic through sharing and SEO, we went to a master in the blogging world: Scott Roeben. As the founder, owner, and genius behind VitalVegas.com, Roeben has received quite the impressive array of awards, including Most Valuable Las Vegas Blogger, Best Blog from the Las Vegas Digital Media Awards, and Best Las Vegas blog from Trippies in 2014 and 2015, just to name a few. His website, VitalVegas, sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each month, and that’s not even getting into his professional background in corporate blogging. When Roeben tells you how to get traffic to your website for free…you should do what he says.
If you want to be ready for the holidays, here’s what Roeben recommends:
Plan ahead and set long term goals.
Here are Roeben’s exact words on the subject: “Write for the season you’re in, but think about the many seasons to come. You’re not just creating content for the current holiday, but for people searching for your content in the years to come. If you create memorable, shareable content, when the season rolls around again, your search traffic will surge if you’ve done your optimisation fundamentals.” If you can manage to write holiday content that will remain relevant for years, you’re setting yourself up to see explosive results in the future with very little additional effort. Remember that the effect is cumulative, which brings us to Roeben’s next tip:
Be diligent with SEO and trust in your momentum.
Always do your homework on every post, which might mean that you have to allow yourself an extra week to work on creating great content. Don’t skip keyword research because you’re trying to get a holiday post up before the actual holiday comes around. Setting aside good SEO habits on too many posts will have an overall negative effect on your entire website…it even helps to go through old posts and update the SEO as you get better at it. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see amazing results immediately, either. As Roeben points out: “Trust in the power of momentum and understand virality doesn’t always mean popularity overnight. I often have posts that don’t really take off until years later. The effect in search is cumulative, so it’s about the big picture and meeting long term goals.”
Target those long-tail keywords!
“One of the most effective ways of winning during the holidays is brainstorming long-tail search terms. There’s a lot of competition for the words and phrases that immediately come to mind, so there’s work to be done in coming up with different ways of expressing the same thing. It’s not just about ‘Christmas decorating ideas,’ it’s also the ‘best ways to decorate your home during the holidays’ and ‘DIY projects for kids at Christmas.’ Delve deeper, add a twist, make it funnier or wilder or turn the topic upside down with the goal being to stand out from the white noise and to own less common terms.” If you’re completely lost as to ways to find long-tail keywords for your post, go to Google and start typing in your standard, short keyword and look to see what it auto-suggests. Complete the search and scroll down to the bottom of the page to look at related searches, too, and you’ll get a better idea of what your potential readers are looking for.
Stand out, but be authentic.
Looking at a common topic from a new perspective is a great way to connect with readers, and it’s usually a lot of fun, too. Just remember to stay true to your brand and your voice, and don’t force it. You want to sound like a human, not like a piece of junk mail. As soon as you start to sound like a robot, a marketing email, or an academic essay, you start losing readership. “Include words and terms real people say, the way real people say them, as opposed to obvious cliches,” Roeben recommends, and he’s right. Even if you’re aiming to pack your post full of SEO keywords, remember that your readers are human. To quote Roeben again, this time from his presentation at WordCamp Las Vegas 2015: “Write for humans. Massage for spiders.” SEO is great, but Google isn’t going to subscribe to follow your blog – people are.
Don’t wait for the holidays to write holiday content.
Have you ever been shopping in August and come across something that would make the perfect Christmas present for a loved one, so you purchased it and stored it away for December? Sometimes, content creation is kind of like that. Maybe you share a recipe that would be awesome as a holiday side dish, or you share entertaining tips that would definitely come in handy for surviving your family during the holiday season, but it’s the wrong time of the year for holiday content. “A key component to winning at blogging for the holidays is to not wait until the holidays!” advises Roeben, rather wisely. “Start planting the seeds throughout the year. If you’re doing a recipe or project in April you think will be appealing during the Halloween season, make mention of that in your post.” Just because people aren’t searching for that particular keyword right now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include it – readers will find you when they’re ready.
Link it all together.
Continuing on the same thought, Roeben adds: “Make sure to link such references within your own site to create an internal network of related posts about the holiday you’re looking to rule. By the time the season or holiday rolls around, your related posts will be showing up in search, and your fans will remember those posts and share them again.” Use categories, pingbacks, tags, and good old-fashioned “click here” links to make sure that posts with similar appeal show up to your readers. Doing so will help keep new readers on your website, and you’re more likely to get subscribers out of that search engine traffic since you’re offering a wealth of relevant information. Not only will you see a surge in targeted website traffic for the holidays, but you’ll also get more traction and see better results from the marketing you’re already doing.
Technology and Development
Having outstanding, well-optimised content on your blog is one of the most important things you can do to boost website traffic, but there’s more to a website than content alone. Technology and design can make the difference between your content being read, or your website being overlooked by potential readers. Master both sides, and your blog will be an unstoppable force this holiday season.
Ben Weiser is a WordPress developer with a secret weapon that puts him a step above the competition. He’s combined his marketing background with a talent for web development, and the result is a dynamic perspective that makes Weiser an extraordinary resource for creating websites with real impact. You can find him online at BenWeiser.com, and if you’re lucky, you might get the chance to hear him speak at a WordCamp event. As one of the rare few who have an aptitude for both the front end and the back end of WordPress websites, he understands how design impacts the effectiveness of content, SEO, and marketing efforts, and he’s agreed to provide valuable insight on the nuts and bolts of preparing your website for the holiday season.
Use great lead capture and tracking tools.
When it comes to holiday preparations, Weiser recommends focusing efforts on marketing first. Technology should support your marketing efforts and provide tools to make it easier to connect with your audience. In his own words: “Firstly, I use some kind of lead capture tool, and implement various tracking scripts to gauge the success of my marketing efforts from SEO, social media, and influencer outreach. Having some sort of lead capture is a must. Tools like LeadPages and MailChimp work nicely, and they both offer WordPress plugins.” Measuring your results is key – use your analytics to determine where to focus your effort, and where you need to improve.
Make sure your hosting can handle you.
“From a technical side of things, I make sure that I’m using a good managed WordPress host that can easily handle any spikes in traffic. It’s easy to get caught off guard with large amounts of traffic and then owe a hefty sum of money to your host,” Weiser continues. If you set a goal to boost website traffic with your holiday marketing efforts, it’s reasonable to expect that you’re going to see traffic spikes. Sort out your hosting before that happens, or else you might be stuck with a crashed website or a bunch of crazy fees, or both.
Optimise for website speed.
So, as yet another holiday season approaches, what kind of blogger will you be? With tips from two powerhouses in the industry, you’ve got the tools you need to take on the holiday season like a pro.