As the season turns from summer to fall, I’ve had search engine optimization (SEO) seasonality on my mind. At Forthea, we’re spending the months between peak traffic seasons (summer and Christmas) to identify new opportunities for our clients.
In much the same way that a retail store spends a considerable amount of effort and money renovating their storefronts to market their seasonal wares and specials, a company should renovate their website to get ready for the holiday season.
From Storefront to Webfront
I’ve found that speaking about SEO in the abstract leaves my poor listeners (or readers) with glazed eyes and more confusion than when we started. To counteract that, I’ll focus on tangible examples to spell out what I mean. When I’m talking about SEO seasonality, I’m referring to the changes in the way users interact with search engines in different times of the year.
Take, for instance, the variations in the way users search for jewelry. Through the nifty (and free) tool Google Trends, we’re able to track the popularity of search queries over time. In the chart below, I have three critical search terms tracked since 2004: Jewelry Mother’s Day, Jewelry Valentine’s Day, Jewelry Christmas.
Unpredictably, we see annual spikes around the corresponding times of years, with Christmas trumping all (unsurprisingly). For all intents and purposes, there aren’t any real differences in jewelry for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas, so it’s up to webmasters to identify these annual spikes and continually optimize around them. Every industry has peak seasons, and once you identify those critical times of years, you can begin to identify fluctuations in data and create strategies around it. Updating your website copy to match seasonal trends is a proven way to keep your site relevant throughout the year.
Sprinkle a Little SEO on it
There aren’t many terms more obtuse to the general public than SEO. In our office, we have a running joke that when a website is underperforming, we can just sprinkle a little SEO on it. But search engine optimization isn’t just pixie dust you can bring out to make a website soar. In writing about SEO practices, I always try to demystify the process as much as possible. It’s not magic we’re performing; it’s a ton of research, good writing, and attention to detail. The fundamentals of SEO are leveraging the elements of a webpage to tell Google what you value most. When a search engine crawls a page, not all elements of that page carry the same amount of weight. While Google and other search engines are notoriously protective of their search algorithm, we know that the elements of a web page that impact search results most are
- meta description,
- H1, H2, H3 tags,
- content, and
- image alt tags.
By placing a keyword in these high value positions, Google builds a stronger connection between your page and the keyword, and as a result, the page will be ranked higher when a user searches for it. Below you’ll see the results of a search query for “Internet Marketing Houston.” As you can see, we’ve optimized the title and meta description for this term, creating a strong association between our page and the keyword.
In addition to the title and description, strategically using a keyword within the page itself, and any headings on the page, further builds the SEO equity. All of these elements build a clearer image of what is on the page, and what you want the page to represent. So when a user searches for that keyword, Google will serve up your page. This page-level optimization is an essential component to any search engine optimizer’s job. With the proper research into keywords, and solid implementation of that research, your webpage already has a leg up on most of the competition. After that, it’s about perfecting more advanced SEO practices (increasing site authority, inbound links, social strategies, etc.).
Webpages, You’re Doing it Wrong
One of the most unfortunate vocabulary words used to describe websites is a simple one: publishing. When a page is ready to be viewed by the world, we publish it. But traditionally, publishing is something you do when something is finished and set in stone. If you’re maximizing your website’s reach, you need to think about your site as a living document. One that is nimble and responsive. Let’s look at the Google Trends chart again:
If you’re selling jewelry online, you’re working in a very competitive space. Anyone in the space has to compete with large chains (like Zales or Kay), manufacturers (like Tacori or Tag Heuer), online retailers (like Amazon or Blue Nile), and independent/local stores. In such a crowded field, you need to do everything you can to rise above the crowd and you can start with SEO seasonality.
Stop treating web pages like finished products and look to optimize around what’s relevant for users. Updating your website to reflect the changing seasons can keep your site from getting stale. So take the time to identify trends and opportunities so you don’t miss out on organic traffic (those Google users have to go somewhere, so why not your site?).
Optimizing towards seasonal keywords like “Valentine’s Day Jewelry” instead of simply “Jewelry” doesn’t cost anything but time, so what’s there to lose?