As an eCommerce business, you know your demand skyrockets every year at around the same time. As soon as the sun comes out and you can hear the birds chirping, everyone is eager to prepare their garden for summer.
Just as swiftly as this garden makeover spirit arrived, it disappears again towards the end of the summer. This seasonal demand has a notable impact on your overall business but how do you prime the search engines accordingly so you’re in a favourable position when your customers need you?
This is where having a seasonal SEO strategy helps you to look at the bigger picture of your marketing strategy and create a solid plan to help your website gain more visibility during seasonally-specific peak traffic periods.
For an online retailer in the home improvement sector, demand is expected to increase during spring and before the summer months as well as towards the end of summer when your customers are focused on winterising their gardens. However, these season trends would look very different for a business selling cheap flights. It goes without saying that the weeks after Christmas and the start of the new year are going to be colossal months for booking travel followed by last-minute deals in the run-up to July and August.
Trends can be:
Whether you’re looking to rank your content for this summer or prepare for next summer, we’ve assembled three tips to get your seasonal SEO strategy sizzling:
Often, the best way to predict the future is to look at what happened in the past.
This is because humans are led by habitual behaviours. These are a form of automatic and routine behaviours which can sometimes be triggered by cues such as a change of seasons. This knowledge can be used to inform your SEO strategy, so take a look at your analytics traffic peaks and troughs over the last 2 years and you should see a clear pattern of traffic unfolding throughout the year. Google Analytics and Google Search Console can be very useful for this but keep in mind Search Console only displays data from the past 16 months. Double this up by looking at Google Trends data to see when the peak times are for your business.
Looking at the last 2 years for artificial grass, we can see that traffic tends to peak around April - May which is when the weather really starts to improve. Users are looking out of their kitchen windows and thinking ‘I should probably sort out this garden before the summer rolls around.’ Prompted by the change of season, your customers will once again be sprucing up the garden this spring.
In the same way, we can see that ‘gifts for boyfriend’ gets a huge surge in the run-up to Christmas as you’d expect and then gets a second wind around valentines day:
Cheap Holidays….as you’d expect. Peaks in January and July:
If you operate in a seasonal business you can map out when you expect your peak times to occur so you can ramp up your SEO efforts way ahead of time.
When predicting trends it can be insightful to look at your competitors’ performance, too. A very useful platform for this is SEMrush. SEMrush allows you to compare your website performance against that of your competitors in the Traffic Analysis tool. This is another way to discover trends.
So, you want to rank for ‘artificial grass Surrey’ in time for the peak period, which is just before the start of summer. The best way to do this is to start way ahead of time and generate a content plan to position your website as an authoritative resource for artificial grass-related terms. One of the best ways to rank for a short tail keyword is to build a long tail keyword content plan that supports your short tail keyword through internal linking:
You’ll need to establish the questions your audience will be searching for in different stages in the buying cycle and consider what content the site should contain to satisfy their search expectations. Of course, this should be driven by keyword research. For example:
Before the purchase decision phase, you’ll want to make sure your landing pages for short-tail keywords are well optimised with useful content. Some examples could be:
For your existing landing pages, you want to make sure that you are choosing evergreen URLs and are not including the year in the URL. This is to ensure the search engine as well as your reader continue to perceive this content as relevant, even in the years to follow.
You will also want to make sure your landing pages for subsequent ‘actions’ have been written. For example, if users purchase your item, what is the next thing they’re likely to search for? Installation? DIY guides?
One thing to remember with new landing pages is that it takes some time for them to build up a page authority and therefore, they might only start ranking for your chosen keywords after a while. This is why it is so important to be prepared ahead of time.
So your users have made the purchase - success! However, your SEO strategy doesn’t stop there. Not only should your website be a tool to sell your product, but you’ll also need your site to provide ‘aftercare’ content to keep users coming back to your site even after they’ve made the purchase. Once again, this should be driven by long-tail keyword research. It’s important to get this content out during, if not before the peak period so that your customers are well supported through the cycle.
Make sure that you always stay on top of the results your other marketing efforts bring so you can determine whether the increase in traffic stems from the success of your seasonal SEO campaign or a different marketing channel altogether.
Once you are happy with the pages you created and adapted as part of your process of optimising for seasonal SEO, go into Google Search Console and request indexing. This way Google will visit your website faster and will detect the changes you made which then in turn will affect your ranking position.
So you’re now generating tons of traffic to your site, but you aren’t getting any purchases?
Why? Traffic is just one piece of the puzzle. You’ll need to give serious consideration to your on-page experience and make it easy for your customers to make a purchase. Make sure your products are clearly described and your users can very easily find the exact product they need.
For this, you may consider restructuring your website. If your business experiences the impact of seasonality, then it may be a good idea to create special categories for events and specific seasons such as the beginning of summer, Halloween or Christmas.
Frequently used and highly recommended is the hub structure. Using this structure, the user, as well as the crawler, can see at a glance which pages belong together and how they are interrelated.
Another essential step to optimise your users’ on-page experience is to ensure the checkout process is clear and efficient. The worst thing that could happen otherwise is that your user has found exactly what they came to you for, they are ready to make a purchase and end up having to leave your website after not having been able to complete the transaction.
According to the peak-end rule - a cognitive bias that affects how people remember events that happened in the past - there are two types of important moments in a user's journey. These are the intense negative and positive moments as well as the final moments of the overall experience. To avoid the customer dismissing the entire interaction with your company as negative after an all-around positive experience but unsuccessful checkout attempt, we need to make sure that the all-around user experience runs smoothly.
Whilst paid search is the best tool for seasonal search campaigns, you can ensure your site is ranked in the best position it could possibly be during your peak times by thinking way ahead of time and creating a content strategy that really heats up your traffic.
“But doesn’t SEO take 3 months”…this is such a vague statement made up by the cowboy SEO companies.
It’s comparable to saying, 'but doesn’t it take 9 months before you see a baby?' Of course, it does! But you’ll see visible growth in the meantime.
Working on your SEO will have an immediate effect on the site and you’ll see improvement in rankings, but ranking in positions that will give you a return on investment takes time depending on the competitiveness of your industry, the current state of your website, and the amount of time you have to invest.
One of the many benefits of this seasonal SEO technique is that the content will still be there next year. It’ll need repurposing slightly, but you’ll be in a great position the next time your seasonal peak rolls around.