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This is the holiday season again, and you know what that means… the year is almost over and it’s time to start preparing our SEO strategy for next year!
As your current SEO strategy comes to an end, it’s time to position your site for a successful Q1. Specifically, if your strategy is primarily focused on link acquisition and manual reach, the end of the year is the perfect time to move some of your efforts to other areas: response rates to reach are traditionally lower in November and December, since people are away from their emails on vacation.
Here are some of the ways this “downtime” can be used to invest in strategies that will lay the foundation for a successful start to 2020.
First of all, it’s not that you have to abandon your current link building strategy – backlinks are just as valuable in December as they are in March.
However, website owners are generally less responsive during the holidays and your time will be better spent on activities that will prepare the site for links in the future.
Rather than making a desperate effort to squeeze out the last ROI this year, invest in long-term initiatives that will pay dividends in the future. These initiatives include:
Optimize your year-end SEO strategy by prioritizing activities that will impact the long-term future of your website.
As the year draws to a close, it’s a good time to check out the competitors and review what they’ve been doing in search terms.
A good place to start is with your competitors’ content, analyzing which pages are helping them gain organic visitors. Tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush make it easy to compile a list of top pages on competitor sites. Please review these pages to determine if it would be feasible or necessary to create similar pages on your own site. During the review, consider:
It is important to ask these questions rather than simply copying your competitors; Not all of the top competitor’s pages will make sense for your site, audience, and goals.
You can also use these tools to track the movement of keywords for your competitors over the past year. Comparing this data to the performance of your own site can help you identify areas where the competition might be outperforming you.
SEO is not just about getting new keyword rankings and organic traffic sources. Search results are always changing, and if you don’t defend your ranking, you will lose them. Monitoring the growth of your competitor’s keywords will help you detect potential threats before they turn into losses. If you see that competitors are profiting in the areas where you are weakest, consider:
Whether you discover new opportunities or identify potential problems, reviewing competitors’ strategies will provide valuable information, and the end of the year is the ideal time to do this analysis.
In addition to analyzing your competitor’s content strategies, End of the Year provides the opportunity to review your own content initiatives.
The start of a new year is always hectic, and it’s very easy to fall behind your editorial calendar with everything else. Instead, it is preferable to take advantage of the slow time at the end of the year to start planning your editorial calendar and get ahead of what is scheduled for the next year.
Of course, the holidays are a critical sales time for many companies, and creating seasonal content can be a priority for your business. However, if you want this type of content to be viewable during the holidays, most of that work needs to be done long before the holiday season hits.
Instead, by leveraging information from your competitor analysis, you can prioritize future content marketing activities, such as refreshing and updating existing pages, repurposing content to new formats, and creating new pages, to complete the most impactful tasks first. Plotting everything out and creating deadlines before the madness of the new year begins will prevent big initiatives from inevitably slipping away.
Plus, you can spend this time creating content and building a queue of content to release consistently for the next several months. As a content creator, I can tell you how much more effective it is to work ahead of schedule rather than struggle to meet deadlines.
If you have the time and resources available in the fourth quarter, it is optimal to allocate those resources to planning and content creation.
Finally, take some time at the end of the year to audit the technical SEO and onpage of your website.
Unfortunately, technical improvements and fixes are often the first things to take a backseat when bandwidth drops. So if you’re considering making a late push on link building or finally making the technical fixes you’ve been putting off, I recommend spending your time fixing technical problems.
Some common problems that arise over time are:
Cleaning up these issues will help improve your site’s overall search performance.
Most of these issues will be discovered through a site-wide audit, using a tool like Screaming Frog, but you should also take this time to review page-level SEO issues.
As mentioned above, there are small-scale page optimizations that you can do on your main pages to defend against new competing pages in the SERPs. These optimizations include:
These optimizations can perfectly coincide with content updates for the new year, and can often be the difference between a position or two in search results.
The end of the year can be a slow time, particularly for link acquisition, with holidays and vacations, which means people are away from their offices. However, there are still plenty of other SEO tasks you can work on to end the year strong and set up your site for future success. To review, these activities include:
Instead of getting another “out of office” response, use this time of year to prepare your brand and your website for next year, if you need help, count on our digital marketing agency.