It may be July, but now is the time that most big brand publishers start planning for Q4. For many publisher niches, peak website traffic comes in October through December. Pair that with the increased online search interested, more advertiser dollars and the highest sales season of the year, and this can be a very lucrative few months for content sites. Don’t wait until September to think about seasonal editorial trends and content strategies.
The content we typically see perform well in Q4 is tied to holidays and events that happen between October and December.
Main Q4 Events
- Veteran’s Day
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
- Giving Tuesday
- New Year’s
Q4 Tips For Publishers
1. Work year-round for a trustworthy site.
Your brand reputation and authority (something Google takes into consideration via E-A-T) is something you should keep in mind at all times, not just Q4. With millions of publishers vying for top Google spots for high-volume seasonal terms, domain authority can be the deciding factor.
Consistency is key when building brand authority. 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.
And always make sure you publish high-quality, thorough, and useful content for your reader. Take the time to flesh out your posts with images, videos, and other enhancements that help you stand out.
And since these summer months can be slower for traffic, it’s a great time to get your site in the best shape ever to head into Q4. Take 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 October.
2. Follow trending topics.
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 on Pinterest at least one month before they search on Google so make sure you’re following these Pinterest best practices. Both Google Trends and Pinterest Trends have great tools that allow you to dig further into a topic for more specifics.
3. Look at what performed best last year.
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, just update the gifts you recommend in your post that performed a year ago.
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 last year, try a few new ones this time around! If you’re a recipe site and your gluten-free Thanksgiving posts were the most successful holiday ones, 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 this year’s 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. Build a content calendar.
Now’s not the time to be unprepared for your content plans. If possible, you should be publishing at least three times a week during these months. Choose your topics wisely and schedule them in advance so you have the time you need to double-down on quality.
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 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 boards 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 one re-pin per holiday related post should 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 and affiliate.
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.
Earlier this year, Google released a Product Algorithm Update, targeting low-quality affiliate pages. Follow affiliate marketing best practices like adding a disclosure, avoiding thin content and researching products before you recommend them to your audience.
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 oftentimes the peak money-making season for publishers. Don’t wait till 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
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