Unless you’re Walmart.com or Santa.com, the holiday season is one of the most difficult periods of the year to attract and retain website traffic. Not only are there over 1.3 billion websites out there (we counted them all), but many people just don’t care about the Internet this time of year. They’d rather be spending time with family or spreading goodwill to all.


But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost! You can still make people notice your site during the holidays; you just have to work a little harder and prepare a little more. Here are a few sure-fire ways to stand out and be memorable during the happiest time of year.

1. Tailor Your Website to the Holidays

If your goal is to attract people during the holidays, you have to make it seem like you’re aware the holidays exist. This involves prettifying your site in the proper colors, creating festive banners and classy animation (keyword here is CLASSY; wacky cartoon reindeer need not apply), and overall making your website look and feel like a lovely present.

But unless you’re a cat, the best part of a present isn’t just the gift wrap and the box; it’s the awesome stuff inside. So summon all your creative energies and write a bunch of awesome holiday-related content. Make sure to cover all the holidays – write about elaborate Christmas traditions, how to use creative presents to tie the eight days of Hanukkah together, and anything else that comes to mind and hasn’t been done a billion times before. As long as you create interesting, original, and inspiring content, your viewing audience should be thrilled to bits that they chose you to entertain and educate them.

“That sounds boring; give me wads of paper that I can psychotically chase after for no good reason any day.”

If you need proof as to how a good look and good content can help a website during the holidays, look no further than The Next Web, a technology-oriented webzine that has actually seen its traffic increase during the holidays while most other sites sink. Their secret? According to Martin Bryant, the site’s managing editor, “people are still online during the holidays. There’s just not as much good quality, fresh content for them to share, so the right articles can really hit big.” Next Web gives them that content, and then they reap the sweet, sweet rewards.

2. Be VERY Socially Active

The problem with creating great content is that it doesn’t sprout legs, walk up to your audience, grab them by the collar, and demand they pay attention to it NOW. No, if you want people to see your content, and the website attached to it, you need to turn social media into a second full-time job. Engaging with people via Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit (among other places) in a personable manner will do wonders toward convincing them that you and your website are interesting and worthy of their time, especially around the holidays.

But remember to keep it personable; if you come across as little more than a bot, people will assume you ARE a bot, one meant to be ignored and blocked immediately. And while you certainly want to publicize your website, drowning social media in spam post after spam post will result in the Internet giving you coal in your stocking, in the form of zero traffic.

And unless your computer is powered by a steam engine from the 1800’s, that’s a pretty raw deal.

In short: a human being with a website is more likely to win over the crowd than a website with a website.

3. Make Your Site Stronger

Just because less people are online during the holidays, doesn’t mean the series of tubes turn into a ghost town. There are still tons of people surfing at various times of the day, and if you make your site particularly holiday-friendly, a whole slew of them could be coming your way. The last thing you want is for your site to attract attention, only to die horribly under the weight of sudden traffic ad make everybody so sad they have no choice but to visit a better site and forget about yours forevermore.

So don’t ignore your back-end. Increase your speed and memory, and erase anything useless and outdated that’s simply taking up precious space. Upgrade your website’s whole server if need be. You’re trying to win over an audience that’s fickle and impatient, even by Internet standards. Don’t annoy them.

4. Start Early

As helpful as everything we’ve mentioned can be, all these tips are useless if you start worrying about them in the middle of December. By that point, plenty of other websites have been hyping the holidays for weeks, and they’re the ones that are getting the clicks going forward, not you.

Let’s face it; even the most hardened webhead isn’t likely to spend the little bit of downtime they have during the holidays actively searching out new websites. They’ll hit the places they know for a quick laugh, a funny picture, or an inspirational quote attributed to the wrong celebrity, and then move on to presents and five helpings of ham.

Then they’ll go back online and stare at pictures of ham until they’re hungry again.

If you want those people to visit your site as well, you need to creep into their clicking routine early on. Start writing holiday content weeks in advance, become a Facebook and Twitter guru early on, get your back-end ready for a rush that might not come for a good while, and deck the halls with festive imagery before even the malls do.

Taking these small steps can help your website gain and keep traffic any time of year, but it’s especially important during the holidays. You’re competing with Santa, Frosty, and Hanukkah Harry, and you absolutely need to be at your best if you want to conquer that trio.