A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Robust Content for the Holiday Season

Searches are seasonal in nature. Common sense dictates that the things people search for during one part of the year would be very different from those during another and vice versa. Winter will see more searches related to warm clothing, heating, and insulation services, while summer will likely have vacation planning, outdoor sports, and more on the keywords agenda.

While search marketers make it a point to continuously monitor the performance of their keywords and modify their PPC marketing bids based on rising and falling demand or on website traffic and conversion rates, this process of modifying content marketing to suit seasonal changes is only just catching on.

Remember, two things set apart the holiday season from the rest of the year. Firstly, holiday shopping is a necessity, not a choice.

And secondly, people have taken to search to find just the perfect gift in the shortest possible time.

These are exemplified by Bing’s latest infographic that shows you in real time the number of searches U.S. consumers are conducting and the dollars they’re spending.

bing-holiday-revenue

That’s 64,000 searches and $3.3 million spent in 30 seconds!And it’s not even November yet!

Your job as a marketer is to feed users’ what they want and help them use your content as all the window shopping they’ll do all through the holidays.

Zero in on the Right Keywords

Much as we hate to admit it (especially after not provided), keywords form the backbone of any successful content marketing strategy. Identifying your ever-changing keywords and tailoring content in the holiday season around those keywords is what will keep that cash register ringing throughout the holidays.

Use tools like Google Trends to identify when your keywords are most active and create a content roadmap based on that.

pumpkin-spice-latte

Google Trends tells you the seasonality of a term like “pumpkin latte” – clearly people search for pumpkin lattes in the fall and the rest of the year sees little or no action around this particular keyword phrase.

pumpkin-spice-latte-searches

It will also tell you keywords related to your original keyword or phrase. Use these keywords while creating your content over and above your core keyword lists. Make sure that your content has references to these related keywords to improve its rankings during the right time of the year.

Most sites these days have (if not, they must!) onsite search options. Comb through the onsite searches made by your users to learn about what is trending on your site currently and give you an idea of what to promote.

Identify what keywords are performing for your competitors and build content around those. Tools like Alexa, SEMrush, and Google’s own Keyword Planner Tool give you a fair idea of what draws traffic to your competitors’ sites and what you ought to start building up content for.

Use Google Webmaster tools to identify the phrases that bring you the most traffic and conversions on a seasonal basis.

Use Rich Content to Make Your Point and Be More Engaging

Google Panda’s release three years ago sounded the death knell for sparse, weak content that was created with the sole aim of sending links back to websites. With new Panda updates out this month, the focus on great content is even sharper.

The success of rich media platforms like YouTube and Pinterest point toward the voracious appetite that users have for great visually appealing content. Leverage rich media like images, infographics, videos, podcasts, and more to reach your content to your users.

Offer users shopping inspiration through beautiful boards on your Pinterest page or Instagram account. Tap the holiday season’s shopping fever by running contests that reward engagement in the form of holiday goodies.

YouTube is a huge contender when it comes to holiday window shopping. As the second largest search engine in the world, YouTube combines Google’s search muscle with the browse-ability of Facebook or Pinterest. Create “how-to” video guides on YouTube to help shoppers mix and match their holiday purchases. Offer advice on what to buy for whom, what are the season’s latest trends, and so on via interactive videos on YouTube.

Holiday Shopping Needs Mobile-Ready Content

We have all been bombarded with constant updates about the rise and rise of smartphones that having a mobile friendly website is a given. During the holidays, however, it’s not just your website that needs to be mobile-optimized.

According to research by Google and Ipsos Media, 52 percent of online shoppers used their smartphones throughout the shopping process while holiday shopping last year.

Using them “throughout the shopping process” refers to using smartphones for:

  • Checking out gifting options and ideas
  • Hunting down the best deals and discounts around via mobile
  • Searching for store locations
  • Price comparisons across brands – both in-store and at home
  • Actual purchases

Make sure your content enables users to navigate through this “shopping process” successfully with posts about gift ideas, deals, and more.

Custora’s Pulse E-Commerce Survey showed that nearly 40 percent of all holiday sales on Black Friday were done on mobile devices. This means, people don’t just research on mobile anymore. Mobile purchases have finally become a real thing, big enough to threaten sales via desktops.

Let your content reflect this changing customer dynamic, by not just offering interesting or useful information, but also featuring products and services that readers can click though and purchase directly on their mobile devices. From Pinterest posts that link back to your website to Facebook posts with a “Buy” button enabled to even mobile-friendly emails that let users shop straight through their inboxes, let your content be actionable on mobile and not just instructional.

Time It Right, Plan Ahead of Time

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The data above shows that even a week after Cyber Monday, the lift in online sales touched 80 percent over regular sales.

Similarly, in 2013, Christmas shopping saw multiple peaks throughout December with a spike on the Monday preceding Christmas. Halloween, too, has turned into another “shopping holiday,” the exception being that purchases are thankfully limited to costumes, Halloween décor, party-related items, and candy, of course.

If holiday shopping has transformed from a handful of appointment shopping events to a two-month-long jamboree, that means you need to be ready with your content at least by mid-September for your business to stand a fighting chance for holiday shopping market share.

Plan your content calendar to time the release of new content according to the current time of the year and while still offering solid visibility for your brand. Content needs to be released in stages across the appropriate platforms to build up to a crescendo on the holiday. Here’s a look at a sample content calendar for the holidays, put together by Alan Harris from Vertical Response.

holiday-promotion-schedule

Notice how Harris builds up to the main event (on the 30th of the month) by publishing various forms of content like postcards, email campaigns, and social media posts starting from the beginning of the month?

For all those of you who are not 100 percent clued-in, the same piece by Harris also offers a very handy list of “marketing holidays” for the rest of this year.

Over to You

Understanding the psyche of the “holiday shopping ninja” equips you to be faster, more relevant, and more conversion-oriented during the time of the year that really matters. So nudge over your deals and discounts related posts and make room for content that speaks to users, not at them.

Even if you didn’t care about your bottom-line, a due diligence of search trends for this season will make sure you are not dressed as Mr. Blobby this Halloween but rock the party dressed as Elsa (from Frozen), Spiderman, or even a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!

In other words, “happy searching” leads to happy holidays!

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