by Jayson DeMers
Seasonality is something that most businesses deal with on an annual basis. Whether it’s actual physical seasons or holidays, different times of year bring unique needs and demands. This is even true with something as technical as SEO.
Understanding Seasonal SEO
We account for seasonality in almost every other aspect of business, so why wouldn’t we think about it regarding SEO? Seasonal SEO isn’t all that different from traditional SEO – it just takes specific time periods into account.
There are a couple different types of seasonal SEO. There’s time-based, which generally takes physical seasons into account (winter, spring, summer, and fall), but can also include an extended period of time as it relates to a particular social occasion – such as the approaching World Cup (which will last for roughly a month.
Then there’s event-based seasonal SEO, which focuses on isolated events like Christmas, Easter, or Independence Day. Event-based SEO strategies generally have a smaller scope and focus than time-based SEO strategies, but this isn’t always the case.
It’s best to view a seasonal SEO strategy as a category of your overarching SEO strategy. It always feeds the big picture, even if it’s quite different in approach and execution.
How to Thrive With Seasonal SEO
Being successful with seasonal SEO is all about looking ahead and anticipating what your customers will be looking for during a select time period. Time-based SEO is slightly easier than event-based SEO.
However, both can be done successfully with the correct planning and execution.
1. Develop Some Ideas
As always, content is the meat of your SEO strategy. As think about seasonal SEO, start developing some content ideas.
Chances are, you already have some ideas based on your professional knowledge of your field, but don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper. Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a good place to start. You’ll also want to analyze the Keyword Planner tool with Google Trends. This helps to ensure you aren’t just identifying keywords that have experienced a sudden unrelated spike.
Good seasonal content is magnetic and actionable. It needs a compelling title and introduction to pull people in, but it also has to be insightful enough to move people to action. This article from Beattie Development is a good example. It’s seasonal (discussing summer), but also actionable (giving readers clear examples of why they should move during the summer). The hope is that the article will encourage people to move during what can be a slower time for the company.
2. Create Content in Advance
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is waiting until the “season” has arrived to create content. For example, many businesses wait until after Thanksgiving to start creating Christmas-related content. As a result, they feel rushed and end up developing shallow content that falls flat.
To be successful with seasonal content, you need to develop an editorial calendar and create the content in advance. When the appropriate season arrives, this allows you to focus on publishing and sharing. (If you develop your content well in advance, you may need to make some tweaks and updates at the time of publishing. This is totally normal and acceptable.)
3. Nail the Timing
Timing is one of the most important ingredients for successful seasonal SEO. Every business will operate on its own schedule, but you may find it helpful to segment your efforts into three phases: (1) the build-up phase, (2) the execution phase, and (3) the slow-down phase. Here’s what happens during each of these periods:
- Build-up phase. During this phase – which starts a few weeks prior to the peak of the season – your main focus is on creating content and building awareness. Take an HVAC company, for example. If the peak of their business occurs in July and August, they start the buildup phase in April or May. Not only are they optimizing their marketing message, but they’re also being strategic with the keywords they use throughout their content. The Estes Services blog is a good example to study.
- Execution phase. The execution phase takes place during the actual peak of the season or event. Using the HVAC industry as an example, the execution portion of a seasonal SEO strategy would take place in the heat of the summer months. This is when you actually publish the content and focus on driving traffic to it.
- Slow-down phase. Just as you ramped up towards the season or event, there’s also a slow-down phase during which you gradually shift back towards your normal SEO strategy. The goal here is to create a smooth transition that leverages the gains you’ve experienced over the previous weeks or months.
Mastering these phases takes some experience. It may take a few seasons for you to get used to how each phase leads into another, but you’ll eventually get the hang of it.
4. Avoid Dated URLs
Because of the time-bound nature of seasonal SEO, it’s easy to get too specific. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is using dated URLs. You’ll commonly see fashion websites do this – dating the month and year within a blog post’s URL. The problem with this approach is that it severely limits how you can use the URL in the future.
Even if your content is seasonal, you want your URLs to be evergreen. This gives you the opportunity to continue reaping results well after the peak engagement period has concluded.
5. Refresh Content in the Future
Your seasonal SEO strategy will get better with time. Not only should you be reviewing analytics to understand which keywords and content were most effective, but you can also refresh and update your content in the future. This will make your job far easier when future seasonal periods arrive.
Give Your SEO a Boost
Not every business will benefit from an investment in seasonal SEO, but it can deliver healthy returns for businesses that have products and services that perform particularly well around holidays, events, or weather patterns. Consider your business and head back to the drawing table to figure out if you can enhance your SEO strategy moving forward.
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