Every company has a certain degree of seasonality.
Fortunately, this SEO force when measuring and taking countermeasures is somewhat more predictable than others.
Here you will find a process for diagnosing a seasonal SEO problem, tactics for overcoming the slump in the slow season and advice for the transition from the slow to the high season.
Diagnosing a seasonal SEO problem
Your website traffic will fluctuate throughout the year. It is therefore important to know when the greatest demand movements are occurring in your industry.
Understanding general seasonal search patterns can help prevent a technical, algorithmic, or competitive problem from being misdiagnosed as a seasonal problem.
Google Trends is the global standard for identifying general search patterns.
Identify your industry patterns by inserting 2-3 short-tail topics that are relevant to your company.
This determines exactly which of the following four main patterns of SEO seasonality fits your company.
1. Holiday or event based seasonality
This type of seasonality is the most obvious and clearly fits a major holiday, sporting or cultural event.
Here is the seasonal search demand for the "Super Bowl"::
2. Seasonality of several months
This type of seasonality typically lasts 3 to 9 months, and then search demand drops.
Seasonality spanning several months fluctuates for a variety of reasons, including meteorological, tax, and cultural reasons.
Here is the seasonal search demand for "tax software":
Here is the seasonal search query for "skis":
3. Peak and taper
This type of seasonality most often occurs at the beginning of a calendar year. With the beginning of a new year, search and lifestyle searches are increasing.
Here is the seasonal search query for "strength training":
Here is the seasonal search demand for "healthy recipes"::
Here is the seasonal search query for "housing":
4. Constant fluctuations in demand
This last level of SEO seasonality is the biggest challenge for companies.
Constant fluctuations make it difficult to predict the search volume because there are constant peaks and valleys caused by both macro and micro industry forces.
Here is the seasonal search query for "Hospital Information Management":
After you identify your seasonal SEO patterns, go through this checklist to rule out the possibility that your website may experience a decrease or increase in traffic due to another SEO force.
Tactics to overcome the slump during the slow season
Now that you have a better idea of how to identify your company's seasonal patterns, here are some tactics you can use to keep your marketing engine running.
Expand your audience intelligence
Where's your buyer in the slow months?
Just because your buyer doesn't search for your product all year round doesn't mean you can't add value to their lives all year round.
Use tools like SparkToro and Facebook Audience Insights to understand the websites, social channels, YouTube channels, and podcasts that your buyer is consuming.
Here's an example (from SparkToro) of the type of data you would benefit from when you sell to Coloradans interested in skiing:
This tells us which external channels your company should be present on (through earned, own or paid media) in order to be in front of this audience all year round.
With the same search, here is some additional SparkToro data that you can collect to identify other topics that interest your buyer:
Note that there are many non-skiing issues that your brand can align with in the slow season.
Conduct persona research
When was the last time you had a live conversation with your customer?
Use the slow season to deal with the passions and activities that keep you busy all year round.
The aim of this exercise is to identify the external channels, topics and trends that your buyer is dealing with throughout the year.
Start co-marketing and PR campaigns
After knowing the channels and topics your buyer is interested in in the slow season, how can you align your brand so that it is present and relevant in your life?
For example, let's go back to targeting skiers from Colorado.
Since your brand knows that skiers are also interested in cycling, adventure and beer, they can launch a campaign that is marketed with another organization in one of these areas.
The campaign will expose your audience to their audience and vice versa.
Use this public information also for public relations.
Skiers are keen to stay fit for the next ski season.
Can you write a byline post or guest blog post for another publication's website with a training plan to keep fit during the summer months?
The goal of all of this is not to push your products into the throats of your buyers in the slow months.
You simply want to be present and relevant in the minds of your buyers all year round.
Create a seasonal editorial calendar
Publications in your industry don't just write stories in the high season. So why should your company work differently?
Align your editorial calendar with topics that peak in certain months to topics and events that are relevant to your buyers by the end of the year.
Here is an example of how this could be done for a patio furniture company.
In the slow months, there are many issues your buyer wants to address outside of your core products.
Fill this gaps in content for your customers and think of your editorial calendar as a 12-month continuous cycle, rather than publishing content only during the main buying season.
Transition from slow to high season
Below are some SEO strategies you can use to speed up your upcoming search campaigns.
Align SEO with other marketing areas
SEO is an afterthought in many organizations.
Identify SEO opportunities that you can leverage based on campaigns that other marketing teams are running.
SEO shouldn't live in a silo. So get out there and see how you can expand your search footprint through content, partnerships, PR or incoming links.
Conduct a competitive topic analysis
Does your SEO footprint match the topics your buyer is looking for in the peak months?
A competitive topic analysis shows you how well you are positioned for each topic for which your company has to rank.
Before the content planning sessions, identify the current vulnerabilities in which you need additional investment to be best positioned in peak months.
In the coming summer months, many companies are staring at the SEO downturn.
Use this as an opportunity to expand your SEO footprint by better leveraging your search trends, audience insights, and a seasonal editorial calendar.
All screenshots from the author, June 2020