With Valentine’s Day here, many people are scrambling to buy their loved ones something before it’s too late. However, if you’re an online retailer or marketer, you don’t have the luxury of leaving things to the last minute when it comes to seasonal holidays.
According to Google Trends, consumers were searching Google and YouTube for Valentine gift ideas as early as January 7. This means marketers need to start optimizing for search engines well in advance, especially before busy periods like Christmas.
Seasons for SEO
Most businesses have several peak seasons through the year. Valentine’s Day and Christmas are obvious examples, but have you considered St. Patrick’s Day, April Fool’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Diwali, Veteran’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day? Large sporting events like the Super Bowl can also be used to your advantage, as can actual seasons like spring and summer.
Optimizing your content for the events that make the most sense for your business can improve your search engine rankings, attract more shoppers and boost your sales. But the trick to making seasonal content work lies in knowing when your peak seasons are and what your audience is searching during these times.
Understanding Your Peak Seasons
Measuring your SEO progress throughout the year will give you a more accurate picture of your seasonal trends. Most analytics tools will tell you when your traffic spikes naturally, where your visitors are coming from and when your sales dip and rise.
Once you’ve figured out these prime times, you can use a keyword research tool, like Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner, to understand the correlation between traffic spikes and particular keywords. Look for keywords with a decent search volume and relatively low competition. You can then use these keywords in your content to power up your seasonal campaigns.
Generally speaking, you can count on these related keywords to trend each year in the search results as well as on social media. For example, Google Trends has shown that the search phrase “Christmas gifts” starts to pick up steam around mid-October and peaks at around December 13.
When to Start Seasonal Campaigns
Any SEO campaign takes time to develop and implement, so you need to start planning your seasonal campaigns at least three to four months in advance. This involves:
- Deciding which products or services you want to show up in search results
- Identifying which keywords perform best around the product or service
- Developing keyword-rich landing pages for these seasonally related keywords
- Using social media channels to promote and share the content
Keep in mind, if you post an article in December about holiday shopping, it may not show up in organic listings until after the holidays. Content takes time to get ranked by search engines and you need to allow time for promotion, so don’t leave it too late.
Remember also that people do their online research weeks or months before they plan on making a purchase and peak times for specific search queries vary from one industry to the next. For example, if you’re in the travel industry, people planning a holiday in September might look for online deals in April.
The Tradeoff of Seasonal Keywords
Seasonal content has its own advantages and disadvantages compared to evergreen content. It may only be effective for shorter periods, but it also comes with less search engine competition. On the other hand, your stronger, long-term keywords will probably earn you more traffic over the course of many years.
If a large percentage of your sales happen during these busy seasons, seasonal content can bump your bottom line. Furthermore, if you have little competition for your niche keywords, you’re likely to enjoy even higher search engine positions.
Making the Most of Seasonal Content
If you decide seasonal content will benefit your business, here are some best practices you should bear in mind:
- Think of seasonal content as an additional strategy to your main SEO strategy
- Make your seasonal content as evergreen as possible, so you can reuse it
- Update existing popular content and product pages with additional keywords to make them more relevant to the current season.
- Try leaving seasonal pages live all year round to maximize search rankings.
- Update your local directory listings during busy periods with links to relevant seasonal landing pages.
- Promote your seasonal content via social media. Social signals such as shares and links should improve the ranking value of the seasonal content.
- Test your seasonal SEO efforts every year. Measuring the results will give you clues about where you’re going right and wrong.
Right Content at the Right Time
Almost every business has seasonal peaks and troughs. The key to succeeding with seasonal SEO is knowing when your busy periods are and publishing the right content at the right time. If you do, you’ll be able to take full advantage of when customers are most likely to be shopping for your kinds of products and services.