5 ways to make use of the holiday downtime to improve your website

7 min read

5 ways to make use of the holiday downtime to improve your website

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is a time to reconnect with friends and family, spread joy and love, eat our weight in food, celebrate surviving 2020 and … improve your website and marketing operations.

Yes, you read that correctly.

With holidays coming up and post-pandemic recovery on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to give your website and marketing operations an end-of-year spruce-up so you can hit the ground running in 2021.

Here are 5 ways to make use of the holiday downtime to improve your website and marketing operations.

1. Perform a content audit

The holiday season is a perfect time to shed some unnecessary kilos from your website and give it a makeover, so that it can start the new year fighting fit and looking fab.

A content audit involves creating a full inventory of all the indexable content on your website, and then scrutinising each piece of content to work out which pieces to keep as-is, which to improve, and which to remove or consolidate.

While compiling spreadsheets and analysing data might not sound like the Christmas fun you were hoping for, trust us, it’s worth the effort. Here are just some of the benefits of a content audit:

  • Allows you to see content gaps (for example, are there buying stages or personas that haven’t been adequately catered for?)
  • Helps you organise your content into topic clusters (more on this later)
  • Shows you which elements of your strategy worked and which didn’t, so you can ditch the latter and double down on the former, and keep organic traffic growing in leaps and bounds

2. Perform an SEO audit

Just like you need to peek under the hood of the car every now and then to make sure everything’s in working order, your website also benefits from regular tinkering to make sure it’s running like a well-oiled machine.

An SEO audit is a way of evaluating the search engine friendliness of your page by looking at all of the various technical aspects that could affect your ranking.

It’s important to do this routinely (every 6 months at least), because in the world of SEO, things move fast – Google has been reported to change its search algorithm 500–600 times a year.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of some things you might look at during an SEO audit:

  • Site speed Indexing issues
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Backlinks and broken links
  • Keyword rankings
  • Website architecture

(For a non-technical, easy-to-follow SEO audit guide, check out this one by SEO expert Brian Dean.)

3. Create a content pillar page

Remember how I said things move fast in SEO? That's because the way people search for information is quickly evolving.

Say, for example, you wanted to buy a new pair of running shoes. Would you just type ‘running shoes’ into Google, or something like ‘best running shoes under $100’? Research shows it’s more likely to be the latter.

Google is getting much better at interpreting conversational queries and serving up the best possible answers to your questions – and you can help Google do this (and give your website a healthy ranking boost while you’re at it) by organising your website into topic clusters, which groups your content under broad topics that you want to rank for.

(Hint: performing a content and SEO audit beforehand will make this step a whole lot easier.)

And at the core of these topic clusters? The pillar page.

pillar page cluster

For a real-life example, check out our very own content marketing pillar page.

A pillar page gives a general overview of that broad topic on a single page, while leaving room for more in-depth information – i.e. all the content in your topic cluster.

Your pillar page effectively tells Google that you’re an authority on this topic, so results from your website will be more useful to searchers.

If, for example, you are a digital marketing agency, one of your pillar pages might be about SEO, with cluster blog posts about keywords, Google search algorithms, and so on.

Because a pillar page is typically a lot longer than a blog post, the holiday downtime is a perfect opportunity to get this project underway.

4. Improve how you display your product/service

Did you know that most people only stay on a website for 15 seconds? That’s not a lot of time to grab their attention. Any incremental changes you can make in the way you display your product or service and communicate your message to improve your bounce rate and increase conversion rates can therefore have a significant impact.

Use the holiday break to gather research about how users are experiencing your website. Quantitative data, like site analytics and heatmaps, can be useful in showing you exactly how people are interacting with a page, while qualitative data – that is, feedback from real-live humans – can help you gain insight into the motivations behind that behaviour.

Some questions you could ask yourself during this process include:

  • Is it difficult for people to find what they’re looking for because the design or layout is confusing?
  • Does my messaging adequately communicate the benefit I provide to users?
  • Are my call-to-actions clear, compelling and relevant?
  • Is the hierarchy of my navigation intuitive?
  • Are there elements of the page that are detracting from the experience, such as annoying pop-ups, or large images that slow the loading time?

5. Improve your marketing technology stack

Have you been eyeing up a new piece of software for the past few months? Now could be the perfect opportunity for a marketing tech stack upgrade, thereby enhancing your ability to collect, analyse and use data related to customer behaviour and marketing activities.

Whether it’s a simple plugin or a full-blown marketing automation platform, the quiet period during the festive season is the ideal time to test-run any new tech, as the tests will have minimal impact.

This means you can work out any kinks early, so you can then reap the many benefits of a new-and-improved marketing tech stack – better efficiency, more and better leads, faster conversion rates, more accurate insights and so on – when business starts in earnest in the new year.

It might be called the “silly season”, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be smart about how you spend it. It might seem like a lot of work, but investing some of the upcoming downtime into your website will pay dividends in the new year. Just be sure you have the resources on hand to do the work – and remember, you can always enlist the expertise of a digital marketing agency if it all seems like too much.

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This blog was originally published on 5 December 2018. It was updated on 3 December 2020.

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