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How to Fine Tune Your Blog for Christmas

christmas“What are you doing for Christmas?”

I was a little shocked to be asked that question last week by a friend. It’s usually a question that gets asked in the last week or two leading up to 25 December as plans are made with family and friends for the day’s celebrations. I’m not sure if my friend is just super organised – but the question got me thinking not only about what I was personally doing for Christmas and the end of the year but what I was doing on my blogs.

You see there are only 42 days til Christmas and when you’re running an entrepreneurial blog on a topic with some sort of a consumer focus 42 days isn’t that long to make sure you’re ready if you need to make significant changes to your blog.

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to run a series to help readers fine tune their blog for the holiday season.

But before I get into the ‘how to stuff’ – let me explore the ‘why’.

Why would you need to tweak your blog for the holidays?

Let me start by saying that you may not need to do so. Some blogs will already be well optimised for the holidays (either intentionally or by accident) while others won’t have a commercial nature that could be capitalised at this time of year. But for those of you who do do have entrepreneurial blogs read on for two reasons why this time of year can be more profitable for some bloggers:

1. Readership Changes

While I’m a firm believer that the holiday season (and for me, Christmas in particular) is about much much more than making money – it is a time of year when people do tend to go shopping. As a result – if you have a blog that is on a topic that people go shopping for you’ll be well positioned (or could be) to make a little extra income in December. This is largely for two reasons:

  • Traffic – Many product related sites experience an increase in traffic for the six or so weeks leading up to Christmas as a result of an increase of people jumping online to research gifts (for others and for themselves). For some the increase is dramatic while for others it is a gradual thing.
  • Mood - Another factor to consider is that the ‘mood’ of the traffic you do have is often different at this time of year. People are quite often in the mood to spend. They have a list of gifts that they need to buy for their friends and family and when they come across something on that list they’re more likely to take action. They’re often also in a ‘researching’ or investigative mood as they consider the gifts they want to buy, look at the alternatives available and are looking to compare prices – as a result they are more likely to investigate relevant ads and even make purchases.

2. Advertiser Changes

Another change that often happens in the last quarter of any given year is that the competition among advertisers to have their ads seen increases. I’ve found that even on blogs where there’s not much change in traffic that earnings can increase just because advertisers are willing to pay more to put their ads in front of your audience. It’s really a demand and supply thing – advertisers are willing to pay more for the privilege of showing their ads to your readers who they know are in the ‘mood’ to buy.

This is a niche by niche thing as some are obviously more relevant to the Holiday Season. I’ve already noticed a slight bump in what advertisers seem to be paying on both the AdSense and Chitika (aff) ad networks.

The combination of the changes in readership as well as changes in what advertisers are willing to pay can lead to significant improvements in earnings in the next couple of months. The exact period varies from blog to blog but generally things improve over November up until the day or two before Christmas (with some blogs doing well into the new year as they capitalise on online sales).

Why start fine tuning your blog now?

Most bloggers won’t really notice the changes ramp up until December when the Christmas rush really starts – however there are some good reasons to be fine tuning your blog right now!

  • The Web is Slow – while in most aspects the internet is a very immediate medium there are some things about it that take time. One of these is the way that sites are indexed by traditional search engines. The changes you make to your blog today can take weeks (and sometimes longer) to be reflected in Google and other SEs. If you want to have your blog optimised for traffic in a month you will need to make the changes now.
  • Time for Testing - some of the tweaks that I’ll be suggesting over the coming days will need testing. There are no ‘rules’ that work on every blog and so I always suggest that when you make changes to things like advertising programs that you track the results you get from changes and continue to tweak things as you go. This takes time to do and so if you want your blog to be running at its peak at the end of the year you need to do the work now.
  • There’s no time like the Present - some of the improvements that I’ll suggest over the coming days could help you increase your earnings in the short term. Good ad optimisation will help your December earnings but it should also help tomorrows totals – so you’d be silly to only make the changes in the month and miss the benefits of the short term also.
  • Silly Season Busyness – if your life is anything like mine the end of the year can be a crazy period. Here in Australia this is accentuated by it being Summer (with lots of distractions) but the end of the year brings it’s own pressures that can distract you from optimising your blog later. Do it now while you can.

I’m sure others will add more reasons to get your blog in order now ahead of the next few months – we could talk about ‘why’ for a long time. But in my next posts I’ll turn my attention to the crux of the matter – ‘How’.

My aim for this series is to keep the following posts fairly practical with suggestions along the way of how to make changes. Keep in mind that every blog is different and there are no ‘rules’ that work across each one – so experiment and track your results as we go.

A lot of it will be familiar to long term readers – but hopefully it’ll be a helpful refresher that leads to a profitable couple of months.

Tomorrow we’ll start with a look at the most popular advertising systems being used by bloggers – Adsense.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Lynda says:

    Good ideas for updating a website before Christmas. The changes will take some time to get indexed – does that mean that the changes will still be reflected in the search engines after the holiday season is over? Do you get a feeling for how long it takes to be added and go from there?

  2. Luke Meshios says:

    Depends on the type of site, imo. I can’t see changing my seo blog ( http://www.wmseo.com ). As most of my readers want clean and easy + simple content to read. But I could understand other blogs pumping up their Amozon links and stuff…

  3. Very interesting ideas. It is worthy trying them out.

  4. Ana says:

    Good advice. I do have a Christmas related blog that’s already ready for the season. I don’t know if my SEO and Marketing Blog will see any changes though!

  5. sean says:

    Great Posts . Another things I have experianced is that if you want to tap the niche market you have to think small. That is if you want to bring in substantial visitors you got to write for a community that is very selective and specific . I think comunicating with your fellow bloggers both offline and Online is a must for bulidng a word of mouth effect . While logic says ,most visitors to a blog comes from Blog directories and Blog searches ,however I get more visitors from search engines .You can use vertical social networking websites to get some mileage. But be careful you have to tread honestly .Desist from writing anything that is remotely concerned with spam.

  6. Dr. BLT says:

    Thanks for the tips. This is a very useful post. I might also add that for musicians, it doesn’t hurt to add links to original Christmas songs. After posting this song of mine at my site last Christmas, it hit the top 30, landing at #21 among the mp3 downloads tracked at mp3000:

    Black Santa
    Dr. BLT ft. Michael C.
    words and music by Dr. BLT (c) 2006
    http://www.drblt.net/music/BLKSanta.mp3

    This year, after only being posted at my site a few weeks, this song of mine is also poised for chart success:

    Brand New Christmas Song
    words and music by Dr. BLT (c) 2006
    http://www.drblt.net/music/BNewXaSong.mp3

    If I can make it without a record contract, so can you.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!
    and may all your New Year’s dreams come true!

    Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen
    aka, Dr. BLT

  7. Rico A says:

    While placebloggers such as myself can have some tough issues with optimizing our sites for certain times of the year, events, etc., because of our necessarily limited geographical scope (and therefore web presence), we can really shine when it comes to Christmas/holiday optimization.

    For example, even though people are turning more and more to the Internet to shop (which helps product blogs), there are still numbers of people crowding local malls and shopping districts looking for interesting ideas for gifts.

    If you’re a placeblogger, why not feature a few exciting or offbeat retail ideas in your area and link up to the local homeless services donation page. That should drive some place-related search traffic to your page if done correctly.

  8. Jess says:

    Although this is an older blog I still wanted to comment and say thanks for posting, this is really good information not just for blogs but for sites gearing up for the christmas season, thanks you

  9. Andrew says:

    Thanks. I wish I could go back in time and work on my blog a little but I think I have it about right. Its Christmas time and that can’t be delayed!

    http://www.411onholidays.com/blog

Trackbacks

  1. [...] On the WorldWideWeb, Darren Rowse has been writing a great series of articles on How To Fine Tune Your Blog For Christmas. These have been really helpful as this is Blogtrepreneur’s first Christmas – Im pretty excited about the whole thing. [...]

  2. [...] PS: don’t forget that Google has a similar tool that updates weekly at Zeitgeist where as of writing this you’ll see that ‘Christmas’ terms are starting to climb the rankings (hope you’ve optimized your blog for Christmas!). No doubt they’ll release their 2006 summary Zeitgeist in the coming weeks. If you enjoyed this post Subscribe to the Free ProBlogger Newsletter [...]

  3. [...] Darren tells us “How to Fine Tune Your Blog for Christmas“ [...]

  4. [...] A number of people have asked to see links to the complete series of posts on Fine Tuning Your Blog for Christmas in the one post – so here you have it – all 13 tips side by side. Enjoy: [...]

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