If you run a seasonal business, you may be wondering how to maintain SEO during off-season periods. In this post, we cover solid strategies to maintain your rankings and maximize your conversions during a short period of time.
Seasonal SEO can be broken down into two different categories: time-based and event-based. Time-based SEO refers to a period of time during the year, such as a fall. Event-based SEO typically refers to a holiday, such as Christmas, or for B2B business an event such as a yearly conference.
Depending upon your business, you may focus on either one or both types of seasonal SEO.
Does Seasonal SEO Matter? If so, Why is it Important?
Optimizing your search engine strategy for seasonal SEO matters very much. Traffic patterns significantly die off during off-peak times, giving you a shorter window to obtain conversions. Therefore, the stakes are much higher when it comes to traffic opportunity. Seasonal SEO is important because during compressed time periods, the competition is much greater. Timely attention to SEO can make a huge difference in your overall ROI.
With that said, paying attention and nurturing SEO throughout the year can give you a major leg up on the competition. Below, we’ll examine both seasonal and non-seasonal SEO strategies that can boost your sales.
Understanding The Seasonality of Your Products
While you may know that your products or services are seasonal, do you know to what degree that’s true? Before making decisions on seasonal SEO, it’s a good idea to determine what portion of your offerings are seasonal, and to what degree. Here are a few tools that are helpful in determining that:
To better understand search trends surrounding your products, Google Trends is a great resource. Simply enter a topic to see search behaviors broken down by various metrics. For instance, a search for Christmas trees would — unsurprisingly — show a major uptick in the last few months of the year. Narrowing down the date range from October to the end of the year providers a much clearer picture of the spike in searches. In the chart below, you’ll see that around Thanksgiving searches spike tremendously.
Google Trends also allows you to compare one term to another, see regional (city or state) popularity, view related keywords, and more. Using this tool will allow you to gain valuable insight into the popularity of your products or categories. Another good use for this tool is to use it as research when considering introducing new products.
A great tool to understand how you website is performing in searches is Ubersuggest. This tool will scan your website and give you a heads up on common SEO errors that should be fixed. While tools like this are not very through and can miss a lot, it should provide you a good idea of what you may want to hire an SEO Expert for. Granted, it’s quite a bit to take in for non-experts, but focusing on using the tool to examine the competition is a highly valuable resource for you. This will allow you to understand what your competition is focusing on. With that knowledge, as well as knowledge from other tools such as Google Trends or Google Keyword Planner, you’ll be in a great position to prioritize content for search engine optimization.
Google Search Console
To better understand how your website is currently performing, including historical performance, Google Search Console is a fantastic tool that provides performance straight from the horse’s mouth. Recently, Google has made significant upgrades to the Search Console, such as being able to see more historical data. You’ll see metrics for clicks, impressions, SERP (Search Engine Results Page) position, most popular devices, Page Experience, Core Web Vitals and more. The most important aspect in terms of seasonal SEO is the listing of popular search terms and when they were searched for. You’ll be able to see exactly what searches lead to your site.
Understanding Performance Metrics
While it’s true that an SEO Expert is best to review and interpret metrics that you see in the above tools, there’s plenty you can identify. Armed with the knowledge presented above, you’ll be able to quickly identify key search terms and when they are searched for — both in relation to all searches on Google and in relation to searches that lead to your particular website.
From this information, you can begin to determine what keywords you should be focusing on, what attention-grabbing terms should be used in ads, and even what type of promotions might be idea for certain times of the year.
Let’s be honest: a single blog post won’t make you an expert in SEO. Frankly, it’s unlike you have the time — or possibly even the desire — to focus on search engine optimization. That’s understandable, as it’s not your job nor should it be.
At VANQUISH, we have the know-how and experience to assist with search engine optimization — whether it be seasonal, local, product, or other types of SEO. We’d love the opportunity to work with you.
Prioritizing for Seasonal SEO
You should now have an idea of key terms that relate to your business, when those key terms are popular in searches, and what related search terms may be useful. Now is the time to match this information with your business goals. It may be that some of the most popular terms relate to products that aren’t a main focus of your business.
TIP: It’s important that you focus on products that are key to your business. If you optimize for products which account for 10% of your business revenue, a large increase in traffic for those items may not be as ideal as a modest increase in traffic for products that constitute a larger revenue stream.
Before the Season: Preparing Content Throughout the Year
It’s now time to put everything into action. We’ll start with items which should be addressed during off-peak times, well before the season starts. Let’s remember: it’s crucial that your site isn’t dead throughout the year. While you may not receive much traffic during off-peak times, the content is still there and building up SEO all year long. Let’s dive in.
Create and Optimize Content for Seasonal Trends
Content development is a key tenet of online marketing that helps to bring traffic to your site, thus earning leads and conversions. When you write content related to the keywords and themes you’ve identified above, it drives interested traffic to your site. This traffic, by its very nature, is interested in your content and is much more likely to convert into a lead and earn you a sale.
In order to accomplish seasonally-focused SEO, you’ll want to write content — such as blog posts — featuring products your target market is looking for during the season. If you sell Christmas trees, like our client Crio & Sons does, you’ll want to write content about taking care of Christmas Trees. If you sell winter clothing, then a article about the current year’s winter fashion trends is a good idea. Try to capture attention by using words or phrases such as “essentials,” “top 10,” or “must haves.” Consider what your target market is thinking about when searching Google. This will help you be in the mindset of your audience.
The content you write should match your target market’s needs. For instance, if you know that winter coats are a more popular search term than scarves, then focus on writing articles about winter coats. It would also be a good idea to revisit product descriptions and update them to account for trends you’ve uncovered.
TIP: If you already have content from previous years, come back and update it. Add new content and further the usefulness and relevancy of the article. This will continue to build good SEO and provide an even better resource for your potential customers.
Analyze Past Performance and Determine Competition
Along the same lines, you should take a hard look at your competition. What products did they push last year? Was there any social media buzz about particular products from your competition? If so, perhaps coming out with aggressive pricing and a robust marketing effort can turn that social media buzz into an asset for your brand this year.
What products sold well? What customer feedback did you receive? Which products were abandoned in the cart the post? Using the sales data you already have will give you keen insights into how well your products performed in the past. This, of course, is influenced by the marketing efforts undertaken then — so be sure to consider sales numbers in relation to marketing efforts. For instance, if you ignored SEO and only marketed via Ad Words, then the products which were popular very well may have been popular because you paid for ads relating to them.
Take Action with a Strategy
If you want to create an effective strategy that won’t suck up all of your time, you’ll need to segment your strategy into different phases throughout the year. If you settle on the idea of working hard on SEO only when your products are most in-demand, you’ll be disappointed at the results.
Phase One: Ramp Up Period
The ramp up period involves the few months leading up to your busy season. During this time, you should be writing and publishing content on a regular basis. You should also start posting to social media on a more routing basis, perhaps teasing contests or other marketing efforts to come. For SEO, the focus should certainly be updating your website’s pages (product pages, blog articles, the homepage, et cetera) and asking yourself what content can be restructured, added to, and sometimes eliminated.
Use this time to develop engaging content. You’ll want to post some of this content now, as SEO doesn’t start working overnight. But you’ll also want to prepare content for specific weeks or days. If you’re using a Content Management System, then scheduling posts ahead of time can offload your work during times when you’re most busy.
Phase Two: Engagement Period
This period represents the peak of your products season. During this time, you should be posting to your blog as much as possible with content that is as targeted as possible. If you’re running contests or sales, taking advantage of posts on Social Media or using tools such as Google My Business to post marketing announcements is paramount. This phase is all about pulling all the stops you can to get traffic onto your site. Depending upon your business, adding your products to Google Shopping can bring in additional views.
This is also a great time to be placing ads (Psst.. we can help with marketing). You can place ads directly with Google Shopping, and of course on social media platforms or via the traditional search ads Google, Yahoo, and Bing offer.
Phase Three: Slow Down Period
At some point during the season, things start to slow down a bit. In the case of holidays, this can occur before the actual holiday. You’re most likely aware of when this occurs, but you should check with Google Trends to be sure your observations match the overall trend. This is a great time to kick off last minute sales and discounts, especially if you’re managing inventory. Often times ads can be cheaper to run during this time, as much of your competition may have already pulled their ads. Take advantage of the dynamic between your products and your target market. Sometimes, a measurable percentage of sales can be churned up with on-point SEO in conjunction with timely ads.
As things start to slow down, it’ll be important to take note of how the season went. Be sure to take notes you may forget — this will help during next year’s ramp up period. It’s also important to not loose momentum — it’s likely that many more people are aware of your business via the content you’ve created on your website and other marketing channels. Take advantage of this by starting to promote your target market’s next needs.
Next-Level Seasonal SEO
So far, we’ve discussed important concepts that will help you to become more aware of seasonal SEO tactics. We’ve also covered the various phases that you should use to develop your SEO strategy, but let’s now dive a bit deeper into the actual content you should be developing during both the ramp up and engagement periods.
Seasonal Images and Video
When it comes to SEO, it’s not all about keywords and related topics. Images play a big role — both into the psychological aspects of marketing and directly with search engine optimization. A webpage that has a diverse amount of content — text, images, video — is a webpage that is likely more useful. More useful pages rank higher, as they provide search engines with more signals in which they use to determine the worthiness of a page’s ranking.
Use images to your advantage. Be sure that they tie in with your products and the season (Christmas, 4th of July, Spring, etc). Great resources for photos are Freepik and Adobe Images. Great images can really make a big difference on whether or not a link to your article, or product, is clicked on.
The number one issue that we deal with for most eCommerce sites is poor imagery. It’s well worth the time to have professional photos taken of your products. Transparent backgrounds can make it very easy to theme your products for different seasons, and the clarity that professional images provide helps to build trust in your customer’s eyes.
Develop Collaborative Content
Is there an expert in your field that you can interview? If so, publishing an article with this content can give you a nice SEO boost due to their name and the generally informative content such articles provide. Another great idea for content is to collaborate with a social media influencer. There are plenty of influencers who have audiences that love holidays or seasonal products. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity — it’s often more affordable than you think.
Utilize Nostalgia to Promote Your Products
Everyone loves a good trip down memory lane. If your seasonal products are connected to a holiday, this can be even more important. Combined with seasonal images, stories, and other tid-bits of information, a dose of nostalgia can drum up excitement for your products.
Sprinkle in Contests and Giveaways
Everyone loves something for free — but as the old adage goes: nothing is free! For that reason, contests and giveaways can be helpful to you because you can collect email addresses for marketing purposes. There are many ways to use mailing lists to your advantage, but the key is to ensure your lists are organized and informational. Did someone sign up for a mailing list because of a contest about a specific product? Then they should be tagged with that product or product category, for instance. Not only do contests increase your exposure and encourage social media sharing, but they can also serve to ramp up excitement if used in conjunction with product announcements or other “reveals.”
There is a lot of opportunity when optimize your site for seasonal SEO. While some hard work is required, the benefits certainly outweigh the time required. As a recap, we covered why seasonal SEO matters, how to understand the popularity of your products throughout the year, the importance of performance metrics, and what you should do before, during, and after the season. We also broke down the strategy into three phases and tossed out some ideas for great content.
Even with the above information, you might still come to the conclusion that you are unsure where to start or what to do — or you might decide your time is best spent elsewhere. If that’s the case, we’re here for you. We offer SEO Services throughout both Orlando and nationwide. We’re here for you if you need us!