If you’ve worked in SEO or marketing, odds are that you’ve heard the term “seasonality” thrown around a few times. We’ve all understood the general idea of it – interests change during different times of the year. But how exactly can we apply this idea to our SEO campaign?
In this article, I’ll discuss what exactly seasonality is and how it benefits SEO, tips and tools for creating a seasonal marketing strategy, and how to go about developing your SEO strategy from scratch!
Seasonality itself refers to the idea that there are predictable changes in consumers that happen over a one-year period based on seasons and holidays. Essentially, there are different times of the year in which products/ideas/activities are more popular than at other times of the year, and these affect what consumers will buy and when.
This can be due to holidays, weather changes, or social marketing campaigns.
When applied to SEO, seasonality refers to the changes in search patterns and user behaviours that occur at different times of the year – and using this data to inform your marketing strategy.
For example, during December, there may be a significant increase in holiday and gift-themed search terms. While in the spring and summer months, searches related to holiday rentals, bathing suits, and travel will see an increase.
Understanding the behaviour of your users can provide you with valuable insights that inform your marketing and SEO strategies. You can take advantage of this seasonal behaviour and search trends by specifically focusing SEO efforts on them – effectively increasing seasonal (and overall) search visibility, traffic, and conversions.
Creating a seasonal SEO strategy can have lots of benefits for your business:
Content created during the current season (landing pages, informative blog posts, creative content articles, and seasonal assets or widgets) can be tracked for YOY growth. Backlinks gained one year will continue to have SEO benefits for the entire site year-round. These don’t have to be promoted or available in the main menu, but they should be indexed and crawlable at all times.
Keeping seasonal landing pages live year-long, has the opportunity to bring in traffic all year too. Users may navigate to these pages when searching in the off-season – putting your brand on their radar when it wouldn’t have been otherwise.
This will also establish your website as a place they can navigate to for seasonal products when the peak-season comes, meaning organic growth in these areas can also assist in direct traffic conversions.
Top Tip: When creating your landing pages and blog posts, avoid putting dates in the URL (e.g. /black-friday-2022) otherwise you’ll have to set up redirects every year, which isn’t optimal for SEO. Instead, opt for an evergreen url (e.g. /black-friday) and change the content on the page to reflect the current year instead.
In the UK, January is a popular month for health campaigns, for example: Veganuary, and Dry January. During this month, companies will usually release new vegan products and alcohol-free drinks.
Using Google Trends, we can see that users are searching for “vegan food” and “alcohol free” more often around January. Implying that demand for these products is higher at this time of the year.
Interestingly, we can see that searches for these products begin to see a rise in December, a month before the Veganuary or Dry January campaign even starts – We’ll get into this later.
If I were doing SEO for an eCommerce business that specialised in vegan food or alcohol-free drinks, I’d use this information to develop a seasonal SEO strategy for these products.
But what, specifically, does that mean?
In this article, we’ll discuss how to navigate seasonality in SEO. You’ll learn about the different types of seasonality, and how to understand and determine seasonal behaviour.
We’ll also go over the different tools you can use to find this data, and finally, we’ll walk through how to use this data to develop an SEO strategy using a case-study example.
Now we understand what seasonality is, and why it’s important for SEO, but how do you apply this knowledge to your SEO strategy? Before developing a strategy, we want to understand the two different types of seasonality, how to find seasonal data, and what tools can be used to do this.
SEO can take 3-6 months to begin to have an effect (sometimes longer), this is why it’s important to start your seasonal strategy at least 5-6 months to give it the best fighting chance before the season begins.
A timeline would typically look similar to the following. We’ll go into more detail when we look at developing a seasonal strategy below.
A note from the past… Remember when we saw above that “alcohol free” was being searched in December despite Dry January taking place the month after? This is because users are anticipating this seasonal event. If we were to disregard this data and have our content ready for January, rather than December, then we would be missing out on all that extra traffic.
This is why we want the content to be uploaded months in advance – to capture the audience in their “research” phase.
There are two main types of seasonality:
Holiday and Event-Based Seasonality – This type of seasonality refers to changes in search behaviour based on one-off events that occur throughout the calendar year. This includes Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, the World Cup, and any other planned holiday events.
Time Based Seasonality – This refers to the different times of the year when users are more likely to shop for certain products. For example, scarves and hats may be bought more during autumn, while gym memberships are bought more frequently in January.
Now we’re going to determine how exactly to find seasonal trends within a specific market and begin to develop our full seasonal SEO strategy using three parts; preseason, in-season, and postseason.
If you’re not already aware of seasonal trends, it makes it difficult to begin research. Before we begin developing our seasonal SEO strategy, we want to understand the season trends within our sector. There are a few ways that we can do this.
The first point of contact should be senior staff at your company, or (if you’re an agency) asking your client directly. Odds are, they will have experience in understanding what products sell well at different points of the year and can give you some quick guidance to save you some time.
Google Search Console is a great tool for discovering seasonality related to your website.
You can determine overall traffic trends for your website by using filtering and year on year comparisons.
If you already know the page that you’d like to build a seasonal strategy for then you can use Search Console to get year on year data that shows when users will navigate to this page.
To do this, navigate to GSC and click “Performance” on the sidebar.
Change the date filter to show the last 12 months and take a look at the dips and peaks. To rule out any one-off events (i.e. a pandemic) compare the last 12 months to the 12 months before, and maybe even the 12 months before that if you have the data available.
Let’s get more granular. Hover over the line to see the start and end dates for the peak you’d like to investigate.
Now change the date filter to show data for just this peak time and scroll down to see search terms that are being used during this peak season. Compare these search terms to the previous period to see which have the highest changes in impressions and click-throughs.
Now we have a list of keywords that we can use that are relevant to this seasonality intent, and are already generating impressions for our site.
If you’re a SEMRush user (or plan to be), use the “Keyword Overview” option on the left-hand side to search for a specific keyword.
We can then see if this keyword is more popular during different times of the year by looking at the “Trend” box. In this graph, each bar represents the months of the year in order from January to December.
In this case, we can see that “new vegan food” trends are higher in January than any other month of the year and can use this data to create content or optimise pages for this (and related) keyword(s).
Other monitoring tools such as Sistrix and Keywords Everywhere also offer similar insights.
Google Trends is one of the best tools for analysing seasonal changes in keywords. Here you can see the historical search data for a keyword.
We can see that “Alcohol free” tends to peak in January, but if we get more granular, “alcohol free wine” peaks at the same time, but also peaks at different points throughout the year. Knowing this sort of granular information can be extremely helpful when it comes to really drilling down into the type of content you’re going to produce.
So now we understand what seasonality in SEO is, the benefits of strategising for it, and the tools we can use to find seasonal trends.
Now that we have an idea of seasonal trends within our market, it’s time to begin strategising! There are a few tips and tricks for creating a seasonal SEO strategy and the first is that you’re going to want to plan your strategy in 3 parts:
Don’t forget: Begin strategising for these seasonal trends at least five to six months before the season/holiday/event arrives.
You need time to write the content and publish it; time for Google to see and index these pages; and finally time for the users to begin searching for these products in their research phase.
Preseason is when the bulk of the work takes place…
Here is when you will use your knowledge about your market to form a strategy.
Now you’ll begin to create the content.
Content ideas should come from the keyword research you did the month before. It’s also considering the types of questions people are actually asking around these particular topics. Use the People Also Ask section in search results to find relevant questions to answer. Tools such as AlsoAsked and Answer The Public can also help with this.
Reddit and Quora can also be a great source for content ideas, and tools such as Keywords People Use can help you find what people are talking about on those sites more easily.
Getting the content up and crawled as soon as possible is the goal. Users will begin to research the season or event months before. By ensuring you have your content up early, you’re putting your website in the line of sight and you’ll hopefully start capturing all of that preseason research traffic that would otherwise be missed.
And so, if you weren’t able to upload the content last month, now is the latest you’ll want to have the content on your site.
It’s at this point when you may also consider starting to outreach any seasonal long-tail content that you intend to build links on.
Now is when seasonal products will begin to come out. Create promotions for the seasonal landing page. Plan to make your seasonal content as multi-channel as possible to support your SEO efforts, building a journey with CTAs. Shout about the seasonal promotion in a newsletter, email marketing and on social media.
Ensure any reactive digital PR pieces are in place and ready to send/set live when the time is right.
During this process, keep in mind future events and begin strategising for them.
Now’s the time! It’s peak season and/or the day of the holiday we’ve been strategising for.
At this point, you want to know for sure that your pages are indexed and receiving traffic.
It’s all over. Now what?
During the off-season, there are loads of ways that you can continue to bring traffic to your site.
If you find that there is an expected dip in traffic during a certain time of the year, then worry not – we can use this dip as an opportunity!
Look for one-off events during your slow season and create a seasonal strategy related to that.
For example, let’s say that you run an eCommerce garden centre site that sells beach and garden supplies. Christmas may not be your strongest sale time. But there’s an opportunity here. You can use the power of Christmas to bring more traffic to your site and awareness to your brand by creating fun digital PR-led content around Christmas
Users will find this content memorable and have a better chance of remembering your brand when the time comes to buy beach or garden supplies.
As mentioned before, they will continue to get traffic throughout the year. Links that you’ve already built to this page during peak-season will continue to have a positive impact on the entire site all year long.
Turning pages off will mean you’ll either have to add a redirect or the page will display a 404 error, neither of which have a positive effect on SEO. It also means you’ll lose any keyword rankings and backlinks may be lost, you then have to rebuild these things if you were to turn the page back on the following year.
Keeping these pages live is great for your site. This is why you want to make the URL non-date-specific.
Change the content on these landing pages to reflect the current year instead.
You can also use these pages to direct traffic to different pages using a CTA like:
“Looks like you just can’t wait for Valentine’s Day! We have some exciting things planned for next year, but for now, check out our [product category] instead.”
What does your audience do in the slow season? Can we get content in front of them somehow?
Launch campaigns that target their alternative interests. For example, if you sell tax software, can you launch a campaign on saving money during the holidays or budgeting for holidays during the summer?
Or partner with a company that specialises in these things to share an audience and increase brand awareness. Continuing with the garden centre example, partner with a winter cabin or hot tub company. Create content that recommends and supports each other through the slow seasons.
This will help get your brand name ‘out there’ during the slow season.
Use your research to create a content calendar – when do certain topics peak? Can you find one to focus on in every quarter?
You can use this calendar to make note of seasonal topics and ideas throughout the year so that you can have everything in one place.
What’s next? Odds are there is another seasonal event that you can begin to strategise for!
Take advantage of that opportunity and start bringing in that potential traffic.
As with everything SEO, seasonal strategising is about making long-lasting and impactful improvements to your website. It’s a long-term investment for a strong foundation on which to grow organically. Taking advantage of these seasonal SEO opportunities is a great way to capture new traffic and build brand authority with your audience and Google.
Using tools that show seasonal trends, you can find these opportunities within your market and begin to win this traffic as well. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it! The opportunities for SEO, let alone seasonal SEO, stretch as far as your imagination.
So, now you can begin strategising for the next big event in your market, but feel you need a little extra guidance with your online marketing? Our team of SEO experts are here to help! Get in touch today to discover more about our services.
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