The products or services that your audience searches for may vary with the changing seasons. While certain products are searched for and purchased all year round, others may become more popular at certain times of the year. To maximise the chances of reaching your target audience when they’re most likely to search for your product, you need to plan and implement a marketing strategy using seasonal SEO.
In this article, we will demonstrate why seasonal SEO is important and how you can build a successful online seasonal SEO strategy to boost your online presence.
Some products and services are evergreen. Take for example toothpaste or washing up liquid, takeaways or a trip to the cinema. These are all popular throughout the year with no discernible peaks or troughs. But for those businesses that see a spike in sales at certain points of the year, a strong seasonal-focussed SEO strategy will be required to ensure they are as visible as possible to their target audience during these periods to maximise sales opportunities.
Which businesses are affected by seasonality?
Seasonality affects a wide range of businesses, industries and sectors - obviously the list is too vast to include them all here, but we can take a look at a few examples, such as:
Starting off with the most obvious example. Toy shops, florists, clothes stores, chocolate sellers and any sort of gift shop will be all too aware of the importance of seasonality. And it’s not just about marketing at Christmas - just ask any florist about what Valentine's Day or Mother’s Day means for their sales, or how important late summer / early autumn is for school uniform retailers!
Travel and tourism
Tour operators, hotels, travel agencies, theme parks and travel insurance companies - with only a few exceptions - structure their businesses around seasonality. The travel industry experiences its annual ‘peaks’, ‘wave’ or ‘Turn of Year (TOY)’ (depending on your niche) each new year which is often a make or break time for a lot of travel companies. In a fiercely competitive market, a good travel industry strategist will know exactly *when* people start searching for holidays or short breaks away and factor each stage of the buyer journey into their SEO marketing campaign (you can read more about this in our article SEO strategies for travel websites).
This includes wedding venues, festival planners, caterers, etc., and all businesses that provide services for events such as parties, weddings, school trips and corporate events where spikes are seen at certain times of the year (e.g. summer and Christmas).
Gyms and health clubs
Gyms and health clubs will be all too aware of seasonal customer habits when it comes to getting fit or losing weight. Most health and fitness businesses will see their peak profitability opportunities after Christmas and into January as people seek opportunities to work off the excesses of the festive period, as one chain of UK leisure centres can testify:
The data taken from Google Analytics above demonstrates that this leisure centre brand saw a considerable upturn in traffic volume from Boxing Day onwards (with a slight dip on New Year’s Eve for obvious reasons!). Similar trends will be apparent across the entire industry and this is where brands will need to ensure they ramp up their online marketing efforts to ensure they don’t become dwarfed by competitors and tumble down the SERPs.
Time-based vs event-based seasonal SEO
Time-based seasonal SEO focuses on optimising for specific times of the year, such as a particular season (e.g. summer or winter) or a specific month. This involves using keywords and phrases that people are likely to search for during that time period. For example, a business selling winter clothing might optimise their website for keywords related to winter fashion and use content to highlight their products as suitable for cold weather.
Event-based seasonal SEO involves optimising for specific events that may drive product or service purchases, such as Black Friday, Christmas, Valentine's Day, etc. For example, a confectionery retailer might optimise their website for keywords related to Valentine's Day and use content to highlight their products as suitable gifts for the occasion.
Why SEO is important for seasonal businesses
To put it bluntly, failure to implement a successful seasonal SEO campaign could mean missed opportunities. If, for example, you run a business selling luxury artisan cheeses then you will want to make sure your site is highly visible and ranking well at peak periods of the year such as in the lead up to Christmas, Father’s Day and Valentines Day. Your site may rank well throughout the year but resting on your laurels at what should be your most profitable points of the year is a big no-no - your competitors will be coming for you and will only be too happy to leapfrog your site on the search engine results pages.
Quite simply, the higher up you are on the SERPs, the more visible and attractive you become to your audience when you really need it.
When people search for products or services related to a seasonal business, they are more likely to find and visit the website of a business that ranks highly in search results, thus driving traffic to the website and ultimately leading to more sales.
Optimising for SEO can also help to establish a seasonal business as a reputable and reliable source of information and products related to their industry. This can help to build trust with potential customers and establish the business as a leader in their field - meaning customers are more likely to come back to you for their next related seasonal purchase!
So who’s getting their seasonal SEO strategy right?
One example is ASOS. Ranking top of the SERPs for the term winter clothing (as well as hundreds of other winter-related terms), this leading clothing brand has harnessed the best keywords, created enticing content and included relevant imagery (and been rewarded with a SERP image pack in the process). The page is well structured, has a great responsive design and is incredibly user-friendly.
Another site nailing its seasonal SEO is eFlorist. People searching for Mother’s Day Flowers will be greeted with eFlorist’s page at the top of the search results, accompanied by an enticing thumbnail image pack and a couple of relevant FAQs below. With great use of keywords and a page positively purring with high quality, optimised content, it’s gold stars all round for this online brand.
Tips for planning and implementing a successful seasonal SEO strategy
So when it comes to seasonal SEO strategies, how can businesses ‘be more ASOS / eFlorist’? Let’s explore some tips for ensuring your seasonal campaigns are match-fit.
You’ve heard the expression the early bird catches the worm? For a seasonal SEO campaign (or in fact any SEO campaign) to be successful, starting your preparations early is vital. Remember that SEO involves playing the long game, and it can take anywhere from 3-6 months to see results, so rule out any thoughts of quick wins or fast track success. Analysing customer search patterns takes time but is essential when it comes to understanding the key moment to launch your seasonal campaigns.
For example, there’s no point plugging your online Christmas gift store in December (or even November) when people have started searching for related products back in September. Not only will you miss out on sales opportunities, your site may not end up indexed or ranked in time for Christmas, meaning you won’t even feature in the search results at all!
To capture opportunities, it is important to understand how far in advance people begin searching for the seasonal product or a service in order to be present in the right moment of the consideration process.
Search for trends
Understanding customer search trends is incredibly important, especially if you’re a new business. This is where nifty tools such as Google Trends are a godsend. It allows you to see the popularity peaks and troughs of a particular keyword over various periods of time, and how that popularity compares to other keywords. You will also be able to gain valuable insight into what people are interested in, thus helping you understand buyer behaviour and enabling you to tailor your marketing efforts to better meet the needs and interests of your target audience. Let’s take an obvious example to illustrate the point:
This graph from Google Trends demonstrates how often the term ‘red roses’ is searched for on Google across the UK over a 12 month period…and where do we see the spike? Yep - right before Valentine’s Day. No brainer really. So companies selling red roses would generally need to start planning their Valentine's SEO campaign before October to allow them enough time to research keywords, optimise their website and ensure they’ve left sufficient time for their page to rank.
Now let’s compare red roses with another popular flower - sunflowers. The graph below highlights the different seasonal peaks between the two. What we can ascertain here is that while the term ‘red roses’ specifically reaches peak popularity just before Valentine's Day (and therefore exemplify an ‘event-based’ seasonal product), the term ‘sunflowers’ is predominantly searched for during the summer months (making them more of a ‘time-based’ seasonal product).
Choose the right seasonal keywords
Identifying the right keywords forms the beating heart of any successful seasonal SEO strategy. Tools such as Google Search Console allow you to see the keywords that are driving traffic to your website and which pages your audience is engaging with the most. By setting a date filter, you can identify which keywords are performing well during specific time periods, such as around Christmas or summer.
You can also use Google Keyword Planner to help you identify seasonal keyword opportunities and optimise your content to meet the needs of your audience. By targeting these keywords in your content, you can increase the chances of your website ranking highly in search results and attracting relevant traffic during peak periods.
Create seasonal content
Once you have completed your keyword research, it’s time to create your content. Without the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s necessary to stress once again that content should be prepared as far in advance as possible. Along with product or landing pages, some types of content that can be effective for seasonal SEO include blog articles, appropriate seasonal visuals (images, videos, infographics, etc) and collaborative content such as expert interviews or promotional posts on social media.
Keep your URLs evergreen
To ensure that your seasonal SEO efforts are effective year after year, avoid adding a timestamp to your URL. This will help to prevent users and search engines from identifying your content as outdated which can hurt your search rankings and subsequently reduce the effectiveness of your campaigns. Choose URLs that are timeless and can be used for multiple seasons, such as "unique-gifts-for-valentines-day" rather than "unique-gifts-for-valentines-day-2023". By using evergreen URLs, you can help sustain the relevancy of your content year after year, ensuring your seasonal SEO efforts are as effective as possible.
Build effective social media campaigns
Social media campaigns are a core element of any seasonal marketing strategy. For a social media campaign to be effective, similar rules apply as to your website - identify your target audience and demographic, identify keywords and hashtags that focus on your business's top products or services, create compelling content with season-appropriate visuals, monitor results using tools such as Google Analytics and ensure you launch your campaign at the right time (i.e. when people are most likely to be looking for related products and services).
Don’t delete! Keep and refresh.
Deleting seasonal pages from your website may seem like the obvious thing to do once the peak has passed, but from an SEO perspective, wiping pages is definitely not advisable! Firstly, by removing content relevant to important seasonal keywords for most of the year, will cause any links built to be wiped, and require the pages to be rewritten or recreated from scratch with a different URL the following season, meaning all the authority the original page had built up would be lost. From a UX perspective, deleting pages can also be problematic as users who come across links pointing to those pages or have saved or emailed the link for a future purchase will encounter an error page if they try to access the deleted content, potentially leading to lost sales.
When it comes to seasonal SEO, it really is a jungle out there - and many seasonal businesses will wonder how they keep from going under. But if you take away just one thing from this blog, make sure it’s the importance of planning your strategies as early as possible. Content is king, but timing, dear reader, is queen.
If you need any help with your seasonal SEO, drop us a line today. Our fantastic team will be happy to discuss your content marketing strategies and identify opportunities to get your site scaling the SERPs in the right way, at the right time.