As we look ahead to the rest of the year, uncertainty looms overhead. Yet if the holidays we’ve experienced thus far in this “new normal” are any indication, people are really feeling over-the-top about celebrations this year.
In fact, Pinterest reported that compared to when people usually start making holiday plans (normally September), this year they saw their users start searching and saving for the holidays all the way back in April!1
This anticipation is driven by the eagerness to return to normal, the desire for distraction, and the very real need (in this chaotic economy) to plan a budget through the rest of the year.
Since holiday enthusiasm is already starting to ramp up, now’s a great time to make sure you’re prepared! Publishers who are ready early are poised to maximize their traffic and revenue later this year as well as capitalize on the early holiday enthusiasts that are already starting to plan.
5 major trends we’ll see in 2020 fall and winter holidays
This is a critical time for planning and creating, so today, we’re digging into some of the early trends that we see to help jumpstart your holiday content so you can have a successful Q4.
As things are likely to change as we move further along in the year, we’ll continue to share updates and insights here on the blog.
1. People are feeling celebratory
People are getting more excited about the holidays than ever before. Looking forward to a season of celebration is a welcome relief from quarantine and the uncertainty around the pandemic.
A lot of people have more time on their hands since they’re not going out or traveling as much and they’re putting it into celebrations and planning!
- We’ll see people attempting more ambitious and creative recipes
- The baking craze will likely continue into the holidays (cookies, desserts, festive breads, etc.)
- People are looking for DIY decorations and crafts for kids and adults
- Families want fun games to play at home and pass the time
- Folks are already planning ahead for Labor Day celebration and road trip ideas
- People are also looking for smaller day-to-day celebration ideas (like National Pancake Day!)
2. The theme of “nostalgia” continues for fall and winter
People want to celebrate old favorites and put new twists on the past. Shopping network channel QVC is reporting an increase in demand for nostalgia in its 2020 holiday trends.
- Revitalizing traditions
- Reusing and upcycling
- Thrifted costumes and decor
- Freshening up old decorations and giving them a modern twist
- Traditional and “like grandma made” recipes
3. People are on the prowl for hot deals
Many are facing tough economic times right now and looking for ways to be more frugal.
This means that a lot of people are trying to get ahead of the holiday expenses by planning early, budgeting ahead, and keeping their eyes peeled for deals.
One study found that 47% of Americans think they need to start saving earlier this year for Christmas presents, and 16% said they are already saving up for the holidays.3
- They are scouring for great deals. Amazon Prime Day has been put on pause, pushed out to later in the year. Some think it could get canceled altogether, and if that happens, we may see even more people participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales than usual. People are anticipating huge turnouts for these online sales days!4 Be prepared to share amazing deals throughout the rest of the year and help your readers stay in budget.
- Another thing to keep in mind is that some stores may close for certain holidays this year, even if they have traditionally stayed open. For example, Walmart announced that they will be closed on Thanksgiving this year to thank their staff for all the extra hard work they’ve endured as a result of COVID. Other retail establishments could follow suit for Thanksgiving and other holidays, so be prepared and share any helpful info with your readers looking to navigate these changes.
- In addition to finding a great deal, people are also seeking out affordable luxuries. Finding ways to indulge in small things is helping people cope right now such as purchasing at-home spa treatments, making themselves a fancy steak dinner, or buying new power tools to tackle their home improvement projects. Share cost-savvy ideas that help people indulge a little.
4. It’s all about fostering togetherness
Two in three people say the extended lockdowns have brought them closer to their families.3
Families are spending more time together — eating together, watching TV together, celebrating together. In fact, 41% said they have been eating more family meals together since the onset of the pandemic.3
For those who can’t spend time with their loved ones in person, they’re still looking for ways to stay connected. A lot of people are going to be physically apart this year for the holidays. According to one study, 51% of Americans don’t expect to spend Christmas with family.4
Share your ideas to foster quality time together — whether virtually or in-person — this fall and into the holidays.
- Movie marathon ideas (scary movies, holiday movies, etc.)
- Smaller family get-together ideas for the holidays
- Virtual Friendsgiving options
- Online holiday celebrations for co-workers
In addition to celebrating with friends and family, this is a time to help people come together as a community.
Continue to share ideas and opportunities to support the Black Lives Matter movement and help elevate Black voices and initiatives. Additionally, share volunteer opportunities such as grocery shopping for at-risk individuals, donating food for families struggling in these economic conditions, etc.
5. Celebration with a side of safety
People want to make sure their celebrations are safe. Whether that’s figuring out how to incorporate social distancing, making their masks more festive, or figuring out fun ways to celebrate virtually, they want to protect themselves and their loved ones.
- There’s a large increase in digital grocery and online shopping compared to past years — how will this change how families do their holiday shopping and gift planning?
- We anticipate large interest in Halloween costumes that incorporate mask and no-contact trick-or-treating alternatives such as trunk-or-treating or virtual ideas.
- Virtual Friendsgivings will be big this year — how can you help people adapt traditions to spend time together over video?
- In-person gift exchanges will look different this year — expect Secret Santa alternatives like a return to snail mail.
5 SEO practices to start TODAY so you’re well-positioned for reader holiday interest
Finally, we wanted to share a few SEO tips for your holiday content strategy. Our VP of Audience Development, Hank Azarian, put together some helpful SEO recommendations to keep in mind this holiday.
1. Start planning now if you haven’t already
Work on your holiday content strategy ASAP. It’s a critical time for your business, so having a game plan well in advance will help you reach your goals.
Focus on a few core areas of content, updating existing posts when appropriate, and using redirects when necessary to clean up and combine multiple posts on the same topic.
If you publish local content, make sure it takes social distancing into account and include more outdoor-oriented events where possible.
Some key holiday buckets to plan and focus:
- Crafts / DIY / costume / kitsch
- Local things to do around the holidays
2. Learn from the past
Review last year’s holiday content performance and see which content did the best for you.
Look at your analytics to see which pages had the most traffic, which pages your readers spent the longest time on, and which pages had the highest bounce rate.
Keep in mind there is generally a higher upside for more broad and popular content topics (e.g. holiday lights, family activities) compared to more niche and local posts (e.g. recycling info, weekend sales). However, higher volume topics can be more competitive to rank for, whereas niched-down content can be easier. Striking the right balance between the two can help you capture both long and short term traffic and revenue gains.
Use your insights from last year and from leaders in the SEO space to help you understand what worked, what didn’t, and where there are opportunities to improve in 2020.
3. Audit your existing content
After reviewing your past content, see if there’s anything you can update. Find the pages that are not performing well and consider how you can make the content more valuable and effective for your readers.
Be on the lookout for:
- Out-of-date or past-year-specific-content (such as 2019 gift guides) that you can freshen up for this year
- Keywords where you ranked higher for before and then slipped
- New assets you need to make or redo (e.g. updating old photography)
- Video content you could add to high-earning posts to capitalize on those ad dollars this year
- Content gaps where you can create new posts
Knowing people are looking for the latest and greatest, updating old content can go a long way toward keeping your content at the top of the rankings.
4. Anticipate trends
Get ahead of what this season’s trends will be that are relevant to your readers. We’re here to help you out with some of the bigger trends (listed out above), but you know your audience best.
For inspiration, we recommend checking out industry research, following the news, scouring social, and when in doubt, asking your audience!
Top keyword opportunities to keep in mind:
- Gift guides for specific family members and/or people — these are very popular and you should update them a few times throughout the holidays to capitalize on shifting topics.
- Carefully pick and choose DIY keywords — there are lots of keywords but they can also be very competitive.
- For Christmas-specific content, lead with “Christmas” instead of “Holidays” where appropriate for the post title and general content optimizations to boost your SEO — there’s a 6:1 difference in search volume!
5. Publish early, update often
Give your content time to move up the search rankings. Publish your content at least a few months in advance so you can start promoting when people are looking for your helpful tips and tricks! You may even want to prioritize getting your content out there sooner given the earlier interest we mentioned above.
Make sure your content is updated throughout the season where appropriate to keep it relevant as the holidays near. Gift guides, activities, local recommendations, etc., should be refreshed and repromoted to keep them top of mind for your readers.
One way to keep posts up-to-date and optimized through the holiday season is to keep tabs on monthly changes with your keyword research tool, like SEMrush. Start by picking a high-volume, thoughtful keyword for the holiday season. Then, each month, tweak it based on the growing volumes for other similar keyword searches with that term.
For example, see the month-over-month changes for “boyfriend gifts” in the table below:
Use those to optimize your post. Starting with “gifts for boyfriend” as you approach November and December, you might decide to tweak to include “christmas gifts for boyfriend”, “gift ideas for boyfriend”, and “christmas gift ideas for boyfriend” as you see a boost in volume for those keywords, even though the average volume is rather small overall.
This is a broad-to-specific approach. Alternatively, you could use a more specific, lower-volume keyword and work your way up to compete for those broader, high-volume keywords as the holiday nears.
Stay flexible this holiday season
There are a lot of unknowns right now, so get creative and get sharing. Think about the issues and concerns you’re facing in light of the upcoming holidays and use that for inspiration.
In the face of uncertainty, people are trying to plan further out, so focusing on the holidays now and getting your content ready in advance will help both your business and your readers. Get ready to be nimble and flexible should the current uncertainty require a change of course!
Please let us know how we can support you. We’ll continue to share updates on trends and topics we think will be valuable to you, but please reach out if there’s anything specific you want us to cover.
- Pinterest, Earlier than ever: Holiday Trends, 2020
- QVC, Holiday Trends, 2020
- OnePoll and Juice Plus+, Quarantine Quality Time, 2020
- Christmas, Christmas Lockdown, 2020
- The Drum, Christmas trends on social as mentions top half a million in the UK in new report, 2020
- IAAPA, Formulating Fear: Designing Halloween Around the Coronavirus, 2020