Each year I talk to partners about getting their websites Q4-ready in order to maximize their revenue in October through December. Thing is, we usually have that conversation in September, even October. Then it becomes this mega ordeal to rush, rush, rush in order to get content in place, strategies planned, all while keeping up on the normal day to day tasks of being bloggers.
Pinterest announced yesterday that they are seeing holiday search trends start now, which is months earlier than in years past. Pinterest is attributing the early search trends to the craziness of this year: “In the face of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, people are looking forward to looking forward. 2020 has been a hard year, and consumers are craving the comfort of the holidays. They want this season to feel more festive than ever before, and they’re asking for brands to help them get there.”
Predictions for Q4 2020
1. Shopping will be mostly online this year. If you haven’t already, get a strategy in place for e-commerce.
2. Because of this, people will miss the feel of going out and actually shopping. Your holiday content should include beautiful product imagery and video that makes online shoppers feel inspired.
3. Sales will happen earlier this year and people will complete their shopping earlier as well.
What seasonal content performs in Q4?
Content we typically see perform well in Q4 is tied to holidays and events that happen between October and December.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Elections (depending on the year, 2020 is a presidential election year)
Black Friday & Cyber Monday
How publishers can prepare for Q4 now
1. Lay the foundation now for a trustworthy site
The #1 most important thing for you to be doing on your website right now in order to prepare for being a site that performs in Q4 is publishing consistency. Whether it’s two posts a week or five, make sure that you’re consistent. If you’re not publishing consistently throughout the first three quarters of the year and then all of a sudden are publishing five times a week in September, Google hasn’t had enough time to view you as a trustworthy, authoritative blog by the time October hits.
The second most important thing you should be doing now is making sure each post you publish is high-quality, thorough and useful for your reader. Watch our SEO Cheat Sheet Checklist to know what you should be implementing for every post you publish. SEO should become second nature for you with every post you publish.
Related: How to conduct your own SEO audit
Related: SEO tips for beginners
Related: How to optimize your content for SEO
And #3, the slower months, leading into Q4 is a great time to make sure your site is in the best possible shape it can be in! Take this time to dive into user experience, site layout, navigation, speed, user engagement opportunities, Pinterest optimization, video expansion, all of the things that will help you monetize more efficiently come Q4.
2. Research Trending Timelines
People begin searching for Q4 related things (recipes, gifts, costumes, etc.) way earlier than you would anticipate. This is particularly true of Pinterest. It’s generally better to get your seasonal content either updated or published sooner than to be the last one to publish. This gives it some time to gain engagement metrics, and move its way up in the search engines. People typically begin searching for Q4 holiday content at least one month before they search on Google. Both platforms have helpful trending tools that allow you to dig further into a topic for more specifics.
Google Trends: https://trends.google.com/trends
Pinterest Trends: https://trends.pinterest.com/
3. Look at historically performing Q4 content
This is a BIG ONE! Dig into your Google Analytics account and see what did well in Q4 last year. This tells you what your audience wants to see! There are several things you can do with this data:
1. If the content is something like a gift guide, many of the product links could be broken from the previous year, either out of stock or unavailable a year later. In this case, instead of publishing a new gift guide on the same angle (angle examples: Gifts for Foodie Friends, Gifts for Best Friends), just update the gifts you recommend in your post that performed a year ago.
Related: How to maintain your content
2. You can use this data as insight into what new content to publish. If you tried publishing some Halloween makeup posts and they went gangbusters, try a few new ones! If you’re a recipe site and out of all your Thanksgiving recipes your published, it was your gluten free ones that were most successful, publish more of those this year and less of the others.
3. You can take your most successful posts and create round-ups that include links to those particular posts.
Using your performance data from last year is an absolute MUST before you plan your 2020 Q4 editorial calendar. Posts that didn’t perform at all, obviously tell you to stay away from those topics this time around. Updating content that did perform a year ago will help boost the amount of “new” content you’re publishing. Remember, if you are going to update the date of the post for this year, make sure a large majority of the post has been genuinely updated and made better for the user.
4. Follow trends closely throughout the year
You’ll also want to be brainstorming new content ideas for Q4. Throughout the year, like starting now, pay attention to what people are interested in. From reading other blogs, listening to what your friends are interested in, using tools like Feed.ly or Crowdtangle or just in your general internet surfing, keep track of what was popular throughout the year. Pinterest publishes monthly trends, as do we, right here on BlogHer.com. This will help you come up with ideas for new content. And don’t wait til Q4 to start publishing about these trends. Do that now and then later, in Q4, you can interlink to these older posts that have had time to gain traction on Google or Pinterest.
5. Get Pinterest ready
Pinterest can drive an enormous amount of traffic to your blog in Q4. It’s where people go to search for ideas. It’s where they go when they aren’t exactly sure what they’re looking for, but are open to creative ideas. Create content each month with a Pinterest plan in place.
Make sure your article images have Pin Share buttons on them
Include a text call to action to ‘pin for later’ on each article you publish each month
Make sure you have a Pinterest Business account
Create board that are dedicated to Q4 holiday content
When you first create the holiday related Pinterest boards, they can live at the bottom of your profile, but as the holiday gets closer, move the board to the top. Plan ahead to re-pin your content. Pinterest has been cracking down on spamming their platform with the constant re-pins, but scheduling several re-pins a day should still be ok. Start now though, to build up that consistency in your strategy. If you’re creating pin graphics for your blog posts (and you should be!), create several different image options. This will help later on, when you want to re-pin your holiday content.
6. Have a plan for E-commerce
Most publishers somehow incorporate products into their content during Q4. If you’re going to include products in gift guides and make recommendations for what to buy in your DIY content, you should use affiliate links. It takes time to apply to programs such as Commission Junction, Rakuten, Amazon or RewardStyle. And then to get into the habit of including these links on your products takes time as well. Get all of those things in place now, so when Q4 comes, it won’t look so unnatural that all of a sudden you have affiliate links.
7. Implement a video strategy
Including videos on your Q4 content (particularly recipe sites) can have a big impact in both your average RPM and your SEO performance. Same with crafts, DIY, any holiday content that is particularly visual. Don’t wait until September to think about what a video strategy would look like on your site.
October, November and December are often times the peak money making season for publishers. Don’t wait til the last second and haphazardly throw together a plan, start now, during the slower months. This will not only help your bottom line, but also your stress level when you have so much else on your plate during those months.
Originally published on April 1, 2020