If you want to boost holiday traffic to your website, it’s best to start preparing before the winter season arrives. Just look at how far the holiday seasons have spread. In October, October I walked into a local “big box” store that had already started stocking Christmas lights, trees and decorations in their outdoor section.
So it’s probably never too early for winter vacation marketing.
And online, “Cyber Monday” 2018 was responsible for sales of nearly eight billion dollars. Could that number possibly increase year on year? I think it’s a safe bet that it will. And remember, Cyber Monday is almost a a month before Christmas.
Whether we need retail access to a plastic Christmas tree in October or a massive online sale a couple of days after Thanksgiving is controversial, but when it comes to your website, the sooner you can get started on your holiday preparations.
Even if you’re not selling a product or service, the things we’re going to talk about can help boost traffic to your blog or website during the holidays. There is something here for everyone.
Okay, as time is of the essence, let’s jump to the nine easy steps to boost holiday traffic to your website.
9 Ways to Boost Holiday Traffic
1. Ask yourself what you want to achieve
Do you want new or existing visitors to buy specific products? You may want to add more references to your mailing list. Maybe you just want to boost blog traffic that tends to spike during the holidays.
Knowing what you want your end result to be will help focus your efforts. It will also help you avoid spending time or money on changes or tactics that do not bring you closer to your goal.
Do you have a record of your holiday traffic over the last few years? If you run an established site, you should have at least a rough idea of your seasonal traffic spikes and dips.
You can use Google Analytics to take a closer look at holiday and seasonal traffic over the years. Use those as a baseline to measure how well your efforts to boost traffic are performing for those periods.
2. Consider a Makeover (Minor)
For your website, that is. You can’t change the whole theme of a business website for a specific holiday, but if you’re using WordPress, you can add a little touch to the proceedings with holiday-themed plugin.
You can also make seasonal versions of the main headline or logo of your website, which will give the holiday effect without completely changing the appearance of the website.
In WordPress (or most large CMS), you may also look at your post tags and categories. When you succeed in attracting a visitor to a specific post or page, having a seasonal tag or category attached can increase your chances of the new visitor clicking the category to find similar articles and stick around on the site.
While you’re at it, check out the mobile accessibility of your website. Mobile traffic is hovering about 50% for most sites all year round, but during holiday seasons, it can increase. If you checked the Cyber Monday article I got in touch earlier, you know, three billion dollars worth of those Cyber Monday sales last year came from mobile devices.
3. Look at the Competition
Take a look at what other websites in your niche are doing to attract holiday traffic. If they are high in the search results for a holiday related season, look why that is and see if you can use similar tactics to increase the opportunities for your website.
I’m not talking about copying directly from other websites, of course. But instead analyze what makes them rank highly in search results and then adjust, or better yet, improve on it.
Can you tailor their methods to your target audience? You may have a different demographic that can be targeted in a way that other businesses can’t duplicate. Take a look at what makes your website or business unique and focus your efforts on attracting that group’s holiday traffic.
To that end:
4. Start digging into vacation keyword data
This is a necessary step if you want to get the best shot at gaining traffic around any vacation. Not everyone is a keyword research pro, but everyone can find keyword data if they have the right tools. If you can tap into popular keywords relevant to your products and services by making minor updates to existing content on your site, take time to do it.
But you can also make an impact on traffic by targeting alternative keywords, or “longtail”. Depending on your niche, this can be a much more effective use of your time than targeting popular keywords.
Though, anything you can do as long as popular keywords in the question helps.
The bottom line is that to attract visitors to your site, you need to know what they are looking for. So, improve your keyword research game! Or start one if the idea is new to you.
In fact, if you’ve never done it before, you’re likely to see more dramatic results at first than someone making incremental improvements to their existing keyword research and implementation.
5. Evaluate Your Website Hosting Platform
If your efforts to drive traffic are successful, your site must be able to handle the action. How much of your website’s ability to handle holiday traffic is up to you since you (or someone you hired) built and maintained the site.
But more fundamentally, the performance of your website depends on the platform and the servers on which it is running, which means your web host.
It is important that your host is flexible, and can change if needed to meet growing needs. GreenGeeks employs scalable computing resources, so you can add more RAM to improve your website performance whenever you need it.
And our PowerCacher technology can improve performance by jumping and binding, especially if you’re running a WordPress website.
A. stress test is a good performance indicator. Measure what kind of traffic your website – and your hosting company – can handle. It populates a website with multiple users (actually robots, but page load is page load) and measures response times.
To do a demonstration test, I set up a WordPress site in GreenGeeks and loaded it with Theme Unit Test Data.
This graph shows the type of stress response you want to see.
You can see that as the virtual users and applications increase, the response time stays constant (average 33 milliseconds). Adding more users did not increase the time needed to load a page. In the three-minute test, 7216 page requests were made (average 41 requests per second).
A second spike in the line indicates a response time, but the tip of that spike represents a response time of less than a third.
If you run a similar test and see a slowly increasing response time or more than two or three spikes, it could be a sign that it’s time to find a new home for your site.
6. Evaluate Your Own Website
The host is a critical link in the chain, but as I mentioned, much of the responsibility for the performance of your website falls on your shoulders. If you have never really experienced the performance of your website, now is a good time to get started.
Google’s Lighthouse is a great tool that will give you a great deal of performance data. Not to mention advice on how to improve areas that might be slowing you down.
Google’s Page Speed Insights is a lighter weight performance analyzer that you can use if Lighthouse too much information. Speed Insights Page also provides recommended solutions for areas that find it lacking on your website.
Tools like these can be a bit overwhelming to use. They look at everything, so tending to every issue they highlight could take a very long time (and in some cases, it may not even be possible). So remember that you don’t have to fix everything that the tests recommend.
Focus on the adjustments that will have the most significant impact.
7. Reuse and recycle
Just because an article is a few years old doesn’t mean you can’t highlight it and work to pull in new traffic. Holiday-themed articles tend to be more time-consuming than other pieces, so take advantage of that fact by going through your website and seeing what can be reused.
The same goes for highlighting a product. Naturally, we want to focus on the newer products that may seem more timely or exciting, but old standbys and regular sellers can also be given a little more prominence.
People still need the basics during the holidays.
8. Everyone Loves Free Stuff
Promotions and donations can always be relied upon to attract a crowd. And, of course, they are an excellent email address harvesting tool. If you are not a merchant or do not have a holiday themed product to give away, a gift card is always a hot holiday item.
If your site runs on WordPress, you can manage donations using a plugin. There are also specialist services that can handle gift mechanics for any website. I was about to recommend Amazon’s gift feature that was embedded in most product pages, but it looks like it’s over, so pretend I never mentioned it.
Remember to post the winner’s name, and a little blurb from them if they agree to it. Also, email the results to your mailing list. That will make your first contact with a new login something that they will be personally interested in. Win / win (even if they lose).
9. Get Out Onto Social Media and Do Some Direct Promotion
As I mentioned, exploiting search keywords to gain more search traffic is a powerful tool. But personal connection is just as powerful, and of course, easier to do through social media.
Did I say “easy”? Forgive me.
It certainly is say be done, but how easy it will be depends on your current social media presence.
If your social media presence could use some help, consider using a tool that can centralize many of your accounts. Most of them also allow for scheduling and automation, and a bucket of other features that you never thought of, but which can save you a lot of time.
Of course, most of your social media interactions should be personal, unscheduled or automated. But these tools can still save time.
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
The efforts needed to achieve a holiday traffic boost can happen a lot to address in a short amount of time. Ramp up your social media game, new keyword research, improve websites and updates – yes! All at the same time, you may be deep in your knee in vacation preparations in your offline life as well.
I started this article saying that we should start preparing for holiday traffic before the winter season arrives. If you want to increase your Christmas traffic specifically, planning ahead is essential. Do yourself a favor and be prepared (to avoid stress)!
You don’t have to start making changes to your routine or website in June or July, but you can get started notes months in advance.
Take forward planning seriously. Keep track of what you’re doing and its impact on visitor numbers. You can use that research year after year, building on it with little modification. It can be a lot of work at first, but as time goes on you will learn what works for you and when it works best.
If you are an online merchant, you know that holiday sales can have a big impact on your bottom line. And that is true no matter what kind of products you sell. So putting yourself in a position to leverage holiday traffic is not only a gripping drama, but an essential one that can’t start too soon.