Here we are, in the early days of winter, as the darkness descends and we all feel a little bit down. If your blog is anything like mine, you’ve probably been feeling the squeeze of seasonality in the past few months. My traffic always goes down this time of year, and I’m left feeling a bit low.
Luckily I know that something good is coming – and no, I don’t mean the holidays (though those are great for personal reasons, obviously!). The “December Traffic Bump” is right behind the holidays – that final week of December where blog traffic takes off and we begin to see how good January’s going to be. (And let’s not forget that end-of-year ad spend which increases our earnings too!)
This year I’m conscientiously getting ready for the December Traffic Bump like I never have before. I want to make sure my site is ready for new visitors, with accurate and up-to-date information to satisfy all their questions and help make me money too. I’ve put together this to-do list of blogging tasks to help you do the same.
Bonus! I created a cool spreadsheet to help you complete these tasks for your site and top posts. Sign up below to receive access to the spreadsheet. (You’ll need to Make a Copy and fill it out for yourself.)
Ready to get ready for the December Traffic Bump? Here’s what you need to do.
🎧 Want to listen instead? Check out the audio version on the Site School podcast!
1. Ensure All Your Title Dates/Years are Correct
It depends a lot on your niche exactly how many dates and years you might have in your titles.
While I never used to include years in my titles, I’ve definitely started doing more seasonal content in the past few years – and all of that needs to be updated! There’s also good evidence that adding the year to your SEO titles can help with click-through rate, so you might want to start doing it if you aren’t already.
In any case, one of the most important (and certainly easiest) ways to improve the accuracy of your site for next year is to get these years updated.
☑️ SEO To-Do: Go through your Posts pages on WordPress or in your Blog Archive; ensure that any dates/years you have in titles are updated for 2022.
2. Check Rankings for Your Top Posts
Now that you’ve done the easy task of just updating some dates/years, it’s time to dive into your top posts. There are two steps to check your rankings and ensure you’re well-placed for the coming bump.
Don’t know your top posts easily? It’s time to build a spreadsheet that will help you better understand your entire site! Check out the BOSS Spreadsheet; I built this system to manage all of my sites and loads of other bloggers use it too. It’s much more powerful and functional than Google Analytics reports.
Once you’ve built your spreadsheet and have identified your top posts, head over to Google Search Console, click Performance > + New > Page. Enter each unique permalink of your top 5-10 posts and double-check what Google is reporting for your average Position for the post. If you want to dive deeper, compare the current 3-month window over the last 3 months, and over 3 months last year if your post is over a year old.
Next, you want to double-check the actual Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for your primary keyword on each of your top posts. Open an Incognito window and google your primary keyword. Double-check where you’re showing up. If you’re not in the #1 spot, open each post above you in a new tab of that Incognito window. (You’ll need those other pages for task #3!)
☑️ SEO To-Do: Check your average Position for your top 5-10 posts in Search Console, and check your actual ranking for the primary keyword of each of your top posts too.
3. Improve the Content on Your Top Posts
Using the posts ranking higher than you on your primary keyword for each top post, come up with a to-do list to help improve your posts. If, for example, you rank #4 for a primary keyword on one of your top posts, you’d open the pages ranking #1, #2, and #3 as part of this process.
Here’s what to look for when you look at posts ranking higher than you:
- Is the post/page title more engaging or interesting than yours? Improve your title using the Coschedule Headline Analyzer.
- Look at their blog post structure (this is super easy if they have a table of contents; otherwise you’ll need to scan down the page to check their headers) – do they have any sections/topics that you don’t? Add those sections if they make sense for your content.
- Look at their domain and the general authority of their site on the topic. Do they have a domain that’s more closely aligned with the topic than you? More blog posts/pages about the same topic? Consider how you can add more content/posts to support your existing top posts.
This work is the hardest part for sure – and it takes time to do this for all 5-10 of your top posts. Start working on this one now to get it done by the start of the December Traffic Bump!
☑️ SEO To-Do: Using posts ranking higher than you for primary keywords, improve your titles and add sections/new posts to help improve your expertise and authority in top posts.
4. Add/Optimize Affiliates in Your Top Posts
If you have affiliates in your top 5-10 posts, this is the task where you look at them again to make sure you’re making the most you can.
If you don’t have affiliates in your top 5-10 posts, now’s the time to add some! (Here are the top affiliate programs I recommend for travel bloggers.)
Look at each of your top posts in turn, and consider:
- Are the affiliates you’ve included the best fit for your brand, niche, and expertise?
- Are you using the best affiliate program possible? (i.e. Does CJ vs ShareASale offer better terms, if a merchant is on more than one platform? Or could you use a direct affiliate program for any products vs linking to Amazon?)
- Have you offered enough options for people to buy? I’ve found that having two options helps a lot – Booking.com and Hotels.com; Amazon and directly on the company website.
Again, this can be a time-consuming process, but optimizing your affiliate links now will help you earn even more from the increased traffic coming your way – so it’s worth it!
☑️ SEO To-Do: Audit and optimize your affiliate links in your top posts.
5. Improve Your Internal Linking from Your Top Posts
We all know how important internal linking is important to SEO – these links signal the value of your content to Google. But internal linking is also important because it keeps people on your website: if they click another link, your engagement metrics improve and that can in turn improve your rankings even more!
You want your readers to find more interesting things to read on your site, so it’s up to you to ensure the links are there for them.
Look at each of your top 5-10 posts and all of the internal links you have in those posts. Ensure your top 5-10 posts all have at least three internal links – ideally at least one in the introduction.
☑️ SEO To-Do: Audit and add links until there are at least three internal links in each of your top posts.
6. Set Up Email Forms & Funnels
Another way to capitalize on your new readers in the December Traffic Bump is by capturing their emails and getting them engaged in your email funnels. Ideally, this is something you’d roll out across your whole site so that you throw your email net as wide as possible.
When I did this for my site, I created a new column in my Blog Archive spreadsheet (built with the BOSS Course) and noted on each row which form/funnel I needed to add to each post. Sometimes, I discovered I needed a whole new form/funnel and had to build it – other times I discovered a post that didn’t have an email opt-in to an existing funnel I already had.
If you need to build new funnels, this can take time, so this first audit is a good task to do during a Netflix night. You can then work on building the funnels you need over the next few weeks.
☑️ SEO To-Do: Go through your posts and ensure you have as many email capture forms rolled out as possible (and make sense for each post!).
7. Add Dates/Years to Post You’ve Improved
Now that you’ve made solid improvements to your top posts, you can potentially add the dates/years to these posts and republish them to ensure they look bright and shiny to Google and future readers.
Here’s where you can add this info:
- You can add it in the title, such as “How to Visit Alaska in 2022”
- You can add a blurb to your post that reads “This post was originally published in February 2018, and was updated in November 2022.”
Google can see all of this, will reevaluate your content, and see that it’s fresh and relevant. That can improve your rankings too.
☑️ SEO To-Do: Add “updated in” blurbs and republish top posts you’ve improved, and add the date/year to your post titles where it makes sense.
8. Run a Broken Link Checker
If you’ve made it this far in this post, nice work! This last task is pretty easy to start – but can take a while in phase two, so start it now.
Install the plugin Broken Link Checker and start it running now. In a week or two, you’ll get a report back of all the broken links on your site. You can then work to fix them to ensure that Google doesn’t see broken links on your site and your new readers don’t find them either.
The Broken Link Checker can affect page speed, so I recommend running it for a few weeks, a couple of times a year, then deactivating it.
☑️ SEO To-Do: Install the Broken Link Checker plugin and use it to fix broken links across your site. Prioritize broken links in your top posts!
Bonus: Optimize Your Ads
If you’re running ads on your site, now’s a great time to make sure you have all the settings correct and are taking advantage of any additional options to earn money when the December Traffic Bump happens. Here are some ideas:
- Try doing the Mediavine RPM challenge, even if you aren’t on Mediavine. This will help you optimize your content so that it’ll earn as much as possible on any ad network (though not all steps are applicable if you’re on another ad network).
- If you have the option for running video pre-roll ads through your ad network, create a new column on your Blog Archive (just like you did for email forms/funnels) and ensure you’ve got videos on as many blog posts as make sense.
These are just a few ideas; I recommend reaching out to your ad network directly to see if they have any additional suggestions to add, specific to your site.
☑️ SEO To-Do: Consider any opportunities you have to improve your ad earnings, depending on your network.
Don’t forget, you can grab the free spreadsheet by signing up below. Make a Copy to use it as your own to-do list prepping for the December Traffic Bump:
Have any questions about the December Traffic Bump and how to get ready for it? Let me know in the comments!