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Seasonal SEO Tips & Examples For Year-Round Search Improvements

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Seasonal SEO Tips & Examples For Year-Round Search Improvements

In the world of SEO, we talk often about technical issues and how to resolve them. We look at content strategy, keyword research, backlinks, and PR.

But one thing that we don’t talk about enough is seasonal SEO – specifically its impact, and how to leverage it to improve marketing performance.

A solid understanding of seasonal SEO is essential for building a winning SEO strategy, getting insights from your performance data, and providing accurate reports to your clients.

In this column, you’ll find actionable tips and real-world examples to help you navigate seasonal trends and put them to work for your SEO strategy.

What Is Seasonal SEO & Why Is It Important?

Seasonal SEO is the way your website performance and business is impacted by external predictable annual events such as Christmas, Easter, summer, winter, etc.

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Understanding seasonal SEO is important because:

  • Generally, we need to utilize it for the benefit of our business.
  • It helps in planning and deciding which SEO projects to execute and when.
  • It helps us navigate marketing in “low season.”
  • It can affect our data, reporting, and how we make decisions that take into consideration the impact of seasonality on SEO metrics like clicks, impressions, and rankings.

Having a more detailed and deeper understanding of the impact of seasonality on SEO will help you make better business and marketing decisions.

Do You Need To Think About Seasonality If You’re A B2B Business?

I can hear some people saying, “My client(s) are B2B, so events like Christmas, Halloween, etc. don’t really have much of an impact on us.”

This is mostly true. If you’re a SaaS client in the financial industry, you probably aren’t thinking about how seasonality can impact your business.

But here’s an example of when seasonality can interfere with your B2B data.

Your B2B client performs a website migration in November and follows all the SEO guidelines you have shared with them.

They still see their website take a deep fall in December.

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Is this because of the migration or perhaps seasonality?

The performance dip can be the natural impact of the migration process and it’ll just need some time to recover.

But when adding seasonality to the equation, we do understand that this dip has been slightly magnified as the result of the “low season” most B2B businesses go through in December.

So you may see a deeper drop than what you would expect for the migration.

In this situation, understanding and taking seasonality into account can help you communicate to the clients what to expect and also evaluate the performance of the migration process in a balanced way without panicking.

How To Navigate Seasonality In SEO

1. Start Yesterday

The best time to start looking into analyzing the impact of seasonality on the performance of a business is yesterday. And the second-best time is now.

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Asking about seasonality is one of the client onboarding questions I always ask, regardless of what type of business this is.

It may sound basic, but sometimes you’d get the information you didn’t expect.

If you’re working on an annual or six-month SEO plan, this is the right time to look into the upcoming seasons that you should integrate into your plan.

It usually takes three to six months to start seeing the impact of any SEO efforts.

So if you’d like to rank for “Black Friday” terms or “Back to School,” plan this four to six months ahead to give your content a chance to be indexed, and settle in SERPs.

When the time comes, you’re not working from scratch but fine-tuning and building on existing assets.

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2. Know Your Hills And Valleys

Here are some more places you can start looking into the seasonality of your business:

  • Google Search Console.
  • Google Analytics.
  • Google Trends.
  • SEMrush and other third-party tools that allow you to compare your performance against competitors.
  • Online reports about industry trends.

GSC Tips

Google Search Console is where any SEO expert should ideally live, and when analyzing seasonality, it’s the best place to start.

Try to map your performance data for the last 12 months against seasons. If you find unexplained dips or peaks, look to match that with the current season (summer, weekend, information from your client, etc.).

You may also want to look at the month-over-month change for the past 16 months to understand the expected percentage change for each season.

Screenshot from Google Search Console, February 2022

Here are a few things you need to take into consideration when analyzing GSC performance data for seasonality:

Look at the data with and without brand search terms.

You can filter out brand search terms using the custom regex in the query filter. Just list all different variations of the brand name of your business separating them with a pipe “|”.

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Look at how other B2B or B2C (whichever is more relevant) clients performed in the same time period.

If you work in an agency and have access to different properties, this is particularly helpful.

See whether the dips and peaks are common across them. Personally, I see a drop in performance in most B2B clients in December.

Important Tip: GSC will only show you data for the last 16 months.

Always back up your data so you can save your historic data for future reference.

Be aware of other marketing activities.

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An increase and decrease in the overall performance due to the increase and decrease of brand keywords search volume may not be directly related to your SEO efforts but rather the impact of the marketing campaigns of other marketing channels (like Facebook or LinkedIn Ads).

Filtering them out can help you remove the noise and have a clearer picture of seasonality and SEO.

Semrush Tips

Semrush offers a “Traffic Analysis” tool that allows you to compare your website performance against a few of your competitors over time.

Here’s the traffic analysis graph showing the performance of zara.com against hm.com for the last six months:

semrush competitor seasonality reportScreenshot from Semrush, February 2022

From the graph, you can pull any number of insights.

For example, you can see that for both websites, there’s a peak in November.

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This is something you may want to take into consideration while reporting. This increase in organic traffic, while a positive thing, will not continue at the same level for the month after. Keep that in mind when doing your November and December reports.

You may want to highlight this; otherwise, you’ll be reporting temporary seasonal highs as an overall improvement in organic performance in November, and then in December, you’ll be reporting what may be your average or even above-average performance as a monthly drop.

The Wheel Of Seasonality

One more thing that can help you know how your business will be impacted by seasonality throughout the year is this diagram by VennDigital.co.uk.

The diagram gives you an idea of what to expect in terms of seasonality for four major industries: Automotive, Retail, Travel & Finance.

Your business probably falls under one of those categories, and by studying this diagram, you can have a better understanding of seasonality and why your data is the way it is.

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seasonal seoImage from Venn Digital, February 2022

4. Talk To Business Stakeholders

There are two things that need to be done when it comes to the impact of seasonality on your SEO plan.

First things first, talk to your stakeholders.

Don’t wait till a low season arrives and then discuss the reporting and why many of your metrics went down. Do that early on.

This helps all parties stay on the same page and reduces reporting stress when drops happen.

If you know that your B2B business will likely experience a low season in December, start this discussion in October or November.

pdf seasonality seoScreenshot from Google Trends, February 2022

You may want to:

  • Prepare a simple deck outlining the different seasonal trends and their impact on the business performance. Adding supporting data from tools like Google trends can definitely help. Below you can see, that even for a technical term like “PDF” there’s still some seasonality over time.
  • Provide an action plan if needed for each major trend impacting seasonality.
  • Always leave a footnote for monthly reporting when relevant and explain the results.

5. The How

Now, let’s talk about the actual SEO work.

You’ve read all of this and now you’re asking yourself, what should I do?

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Here are 10 seasonal SEO tips to add to your arsenal:

  • Start with analyzing your current content assets and see if any existing seasonal content needs a refresh.
  • Make sure you have a category page for each season that is relevant to your business; for example, pages for Black Friday, Christmas, Back to School, etc.
  • For each of those category pages, you can have as many child pages as needed targeting long-tail search queries. Your Christmas page may link to other pages for Christmas Trees, Christmas Gifts, etc.
  • Ideally, the URL can be homepage.com/christmas/christmas-trees.
  • Use breadcrumbs similarly to Home > Christmas > Christmas Trees
  • For seasonal pages, don’t use the date or year in the URL.
  • Don’t use date or year in the title or H1, unless you plan on annually updating them.
  • Link to the seasonal pages from the header and the footer, at least 30 days earlier to the season.
  • Once the season is over, remove the links from the header and footer. Do not delete the page, but instead, you can update it with a relevant message to your customers and provide links to other valuable pages on your website.
  • Last but not least, plan your backlinks acquisition ahead of time too. Build backlinks in advance, to give Google enough time to capture the value of your content.
travel seasonality seoImage from almosafer, February 2022

One great example of how you can adapt your website to seasonality is how some travel agencies update their footer links according to what destinations are popular at a specific season, in addition to their consistent list of overall top destinations.

A Final Note On The Impact Of Seasonality On SERPs

We cannot discuss seasonality in SEO without discussing the great research done by Tom Capper, at Distilled who noticed that “SERPs change when they become high volume”.

Tom tracked the behavior of SERPs for the keyword term [mothers day flowers] over the period of two weeks before Mother’s Day and how this impacted the top results in Google.

From the graph below, we can tell that as we approach day 0 (Mother’s Day) while the search volume for “mothers day flowers” is increasing, rankings have changed for many of the top results for that term.

mothers day seasonality seoScreenshot from Distilled, February 2022

This is one of the most powerful graphs showing how impactful seasonality can be on the performance of a website in SERPs.

More resources:


Featured Image: Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

Whether you are new to paid media or reevaluating your efforts, it’s critical to review your performance and best practices for your overall PPC marketing program, accounts, and campaigns.

Revisiting your paid media plan is an opportunity to ensure your strategy aligns with your current goals.

Reviewing best practices for pay-per-click is also a great way to keep up with trends and improve performance with newly released ad technologies.

As you review, you’ll find new strategies and features to incorporate into your paid search program, too.

Here are 10 PPC best practices to help you adjust and plan for the months ahead.

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1. Goals

When planning, it is best practice to define goals for the overall marketing program, ad platforms, and at the campaign level.

Defining primary and secondary goals guides the entire PPC program. For example, your primary conversion may be to generate leads from your ads.

You’ll also want to look at secondary goals, such as brand awareness that is higher in the sales funnel and can drive interest to ultimately get the sales lead-in.

2. Budget Review & Optimization

Some advertisers get stuck in a rut and forget to review and reevaluate the distribution of their paid media budgets.

To best utilize budgets, consider the following:

  • Reconcile your planned vs. spend for each account or campaign on a regular basis. Depending on the budget size, monthly, quarterly, or semiannually will work as long as you can hit budget numbers.
  • Determine if there are any campaigns that should be eliminated at this time to free up the budget for other campaigns.
  • Is there additional traffic available to capture and grow results for successful campaigns? The ad platforms often include a tool that will provide an estimated daily budget with clicks and costs. This is just an estimate to show more click potential if you are interested.
  • If other paid media channels perform mediocrely, does it make sense to shift those budgets to another?
  • For the overall paid search and paid social budget, can your company invest more in the positive campaign results?

3. Consider New Ad Platforms

If you can shift or increase your budgets, why not test out a new ad platform? Knowing your audience and where they spend time online will help inform your decision when choosing ad platforms.

Go beyond your comfort zone in Google, Microsoft, and Meta Ads.

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Here are a few other advertising platforms to consider testing:

  • LinkedIn: Most appropriate for professional and business targeting. LinkedIn audiences can also be reached through Microsoft Ads.
  • TikTok: Younger Gen Z audience (16 to 24), video.
  • Pinterest: Products, services, and consumer goods with a female-focused target.
  • Snapchat: Younger demographic (13 to 35), video ads, app installs, filters, lenses.

Need more detailed information and even more ideas? Read more about the 5 Best Google Ads Alternatives.

4. Top Topics in Google Ads & Microsoft Ads

Recently, trends in search and social ad platforms have presented opportunities to connect with prospects more precisely, creatively, and effectively.

Don’t overlook newer targeting and campaign types you may not have tried yet.

  • Video: Incorporating video into your PPC accounts takes some planning for the goals, ad creative, targeting, and ad types. There is a lot of opportunity here as you can simply include video in responsive display ads or get in-depth in YouTube targeting.
  • Performance Max: This automated campaign type serves across all of Google’s ad inventory. Microsoft Ads recently released PMAX so you can plan for consistency in campaign types across platforms. Do you want to allocate budget to PMax campaigns? Learn more about how PMax compares to search.
  • Automation: While AI can’t replace human strategy and creativity, it can help manage your campaigns more easily. During planning, identify which elements you want to automate, such as automatically created assets and/or how to successfully guide the AI in the Performance Max campaigns.

While exploring new features, check out some hidden PPC features you probably don’t know about.

5. Revisit Keywords

The role of keywords has evolved over the past several years with match types being less precise and loosening up to consider searcher intent.

For example, [exact match] keywords previously would literally match with the exact keyword search query. Now, ads can be triggered by search queries with the same meaning or intent.

A great planning exercise is to lay out keyword groups and evaluate if they are still accurately representing your brand and product/service.

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Review search term queries triggering ads to discover trends and behavior you may not have considered. It’s possible this has impacted performance and conversions over time.

Critical to your strategy:

  • Review the current keyword rules and determine if this may impact your account in terms of close variants or shifts in traffic volume.
  • Brush up on how keywords work in each platform because the differences really matter!
  • Review search term reports more frequently for irrelevant keywords that may pop up from match type changes. Incorporate these into match type changes or negative keywords lists as appropriate.

6. Revisit Your Audiences

Review the audiences you selected in the past, especially given so many campaign types that are intent-driven.

Automated features that expand your audience could be helpful, but keep an eye out for performance metrics and behavior on-site post-click.

Remember, an audience is simply a list of users who are grouped together by interests or behavior online.

Therefore, there are unlimited ways to mix and match those audiences and target per the sales funnel.

Here are a few opportunities to explore and test:

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  • LinkedIn user targeting: Besides LinkedIn, this can be found exclusively in Microsoft Ads.
  • Detailed Demographics: Marital status, parental status, home ownership, education, household income.
  • In-market and custom intent: Searches and online behavior signaling buying cues.
  • Remarketing: Advertisers website visitors, interactions with ads, and video/ YouTube.

Note: This varies per the campaign type and seems to be updated frequently, so make this a regular check-point in your campaign management for all platforms.

7. Organize Data Sources

You will likely be running campaigns on different platforms with combinations of search, display, video, etc.

Looking back at your goals, what is the important data, and which platforms will you use to review and report? Can you get the majority of data in one analytics platform to compare and share?

Millions of companies use Google Analytics, which is a good option for centralized viewing of advertising performance, website behavior, and conversions.

8. Reevaluate How You Report

Have you been using the same performance report for years?

It’s time to reevaluate your essential PPC key metrics and replace or add that data to your reports.

There are two great resources to kick off this exercise:

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Your objectives in reevaluating the reporting are:

  • Are we still using this data? Is it still relevant?
  • Is the data we are viewing actionable?
  • What new metrics should we consider adding we haven’t thought about?
  • How often do we need to see this data?
  • Do the stakeholders receiving the report understand what they are looking at (aka data visualization)?

Adding new data should be purposeful, actionable, and helpful in making decisions for the marketing plan. It’s also helpful to decide what type of data is good to see as “deep dives” as needed.

9. Consider Using Scripts

The current ad platforms have plenty of AI recommendations and automated rules, and there is no shortage of third-party tools that can help with optimizations.

Scripts is another method for advertisers with large accounts or some scripting skills to automate report generation and repetitive tasks in their Google Ads accounts.

Navigating the world of scripts can seem overwhelming, but a good place to start is a post here on Search Engine Journal that provides use cases and resources to get started with scripts.

Luckily, you don’t need a Ph.D. in computer science — there are plenty of resources online with free or templated scripts.

10. Seek Collaboration

Another effective planning tactic is to seek out friendly resources and second opinions.

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Much of the skill and science of PPC management is unique to the individual or agency, so there is no shortage of ideas to share between you.

You can visit the Paid Search Association, a resource for paid ad managers worldwide, to make new connections and find industry events.

Preparing For Paid Media Success

Strategies should be based on clear and measurable business goals. Then, you can evaluate the current status of your campaigns based on those new targets.

Your paid media strategy should also be built with an eye for both past performance and future opportunities. Look backward and reevaluate your existing assumptions and systems while investigating new platforms, topics, audiences, and technologies.

Also, stay current with trends and keep learning. Check out ebooks, social media experts, and industry publications for resources and motivational tips.

More resources: 

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Google Limits News Links In California Over Proposed ‘Link Tax’ Law

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A brown cardboard price tag with a twine string and a black dollar sign symbol, influenced by the Link Tax Law, set against a dark gray background.

Google announced that it plans to reduce access to California news websites for a portion of users in the state.

The decision comes as Google prepares for the potential passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), a bill requiring online platforms like Google to pay news publishers for linking to their content.

What Is The California Journalism Preservation Act?

The CJPA, introduced in the California State Legislature, aims to support local journalism by creating what Google refers to as a “link tax.”

If passed, the Act would force companies like Google to pay media outlets when sending readers to news articles.

However, Google believes this approach needs to be revised and could harm rather than help the news industry.

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Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s VP of Global News Partnerships, stated in a blog post:

“It would favor media conglomerates and hedge funds—who’ve been lobbying for this bill—and could use funds from CJPA to continue to buy up local California newspapers, strip them of journalists, and create more ghost papers that operate with a skeleton crew to produce only low-cost, and often low-quality, content.”

Google’s Response

To assess the potential impact of the CJPA on its services, Google is running a test with a percentage of California users.

During this test, Google will remove links to California news websites that the proposed legislation could cover.

Zaidi states:

“To prepare for possible CJPA implications, we are beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users. The testing process involves removing links to California news websites, potentially covered by CJPA, to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.”

Google Claims Only 2% of Search Queries Are News-Related

Zaidi highlighted peoples’ changing news consumption habits and its effect on Google search queries (emphasis mine):

“It’s well known that people are getting news from sources like short-form videos, topical newsletters, social media, and curated podcasts, and many are avoiding the news entirely. In line with those trends, just 2% of queries on Google Search are news-related.”

Despite the low percentage of news queries, Google wants to continue helping news publishers gain visibility on its platforms.

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However, the “CJPA as currently constructed would end these investments,” Zaidi says.

A Call For A Different Approach

In its current form, Google maintains that the CJPA undermines news in California and could leave all parties worse off.

The company urges lawmakers to consider alternative approaches supporting the news industry without harming smaller local outlets.

Google argues that, over the past two decades, it’s done plenty to help news publishers innovate:

“We’ve rolled out Google News Showcase, which operates in 26 countries, including the U.S., and has more than 2,500 participating publications. Through the Google News Initiative we’ve partnered with more than 7,000 news publishers around the world, including 200 news organizations and 6,000 journalists in California alone.”

Zaidi suggested that a healthy news industry in California requires support from the state government and a broad base of private companies.

As the legislative process continues, Google is willing to cooperate with California publishers and lawmakers to explore alternative paths that would allow it to continue linking to news.

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

Every week, we share hot SEO news, interesting reads, and new posts in our newsletter, Ahrefs’ Digest.

If you’re not one of our 280,000 subscribers, you’ve missed out on some great reads!

Here’s a quick summary of my personal favorites from the last month:

Best of March 2024

How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

tl;dr

Glen’s research reveals that just 16 companies representing 588 brands get 3.5 billion (yes, billion!) monthly clicks from Google.

My takeaway

Glen pointed out some really actionable ideas in this report, such as the fact that many of the brands dominating search are adding mini-author bios.

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Example of mini-author bios on The VergeExample of mini-author bios on The Verge

This idea makes so much sense in terms of both UX and E-E-A-T. I’ve already pitched it to the team and we’re going to implement it on our blog.

How Google is Killing Independent Sites Like Ours

Authors: Gisele Navarro, Danny Ashton

tl;dr

Big publications have gotten into the affiliate game, publishing “best of” lists about everything under the sun. And despite often not testing products thoroughly, they’re dominating Google rankings. The result, Gisele and Danny argue, is that genuine review sites suffer and Google is fast losing content diversity.

My takeaway

I have a lot of sympathy for independent sites. Some of them are trying their best, but unfortunately, they’re lumped in with thousands of others who are more than happy to spam.

Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updatesEstimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updates
Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele’s site fell off a cliff after Google’s March updates 🙁 

I know it’s hard to hear, but the truth is Google benefits more from having big sites in the SERPs than from having diversity. That’s because results from big brands are likely what users actually want. By and large, people would rather shop at Walmart or ALDI than at a local store or farmer’s market.

That said, I agree with most people that Forbes (with its dubious contributor model contributing to scams and poor journalism) should not be rewarded so handsomely.

The Discussion Forums Dominating 10,000 Product Review Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

Tl;dr

Glen analyzed 10,000 “product review” keywords and found that:

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My takeaway

After Google’s heavy promotion of Reddit from last year’s Core Update, to no one’s surprise, unscrupulous SEOs and marketers have already started spamming Reddit. And as you may know, Reddit’s moderation is done by volunteers, and obviously, they can’t keep up.

I’m not sure how this second-order effect completely escaped the smart minds at Google, but from the outside, it feels like Google has capitulated to some extent.

John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...

I’m not one to make predictions and I have no idea what will happen next, but I agree with Glen: Google’s results are the worst I’ve seen them. We can only hope Google sorts itself out.

Who Sends Traffic on the Web and How Much? New Research from Datos & SparkToro

Author: Rand Fishkin

tl;dr

63.41% of all U.S. web traffic referrals from the top 170 sites are initiated on Google.com.

Data from SparktoroData from Sparktoro

My takeaway

Despite all of our complaints, Google is still the main platform to acquire traffic from. That’s why we all want Google to sort itself out and do well.

But it would also be a mistake to look at this post and think Google is the only channel you should drive traffic from. As Rand’s later blog post clarifies, “be careful not to ascribe attribution or credit to Google when other investments drove the real value.”

I think many affiliate marketers learned this lesson well from the past few Core Updates: Relying on one single channel to drive all of your traffic is not a good idea. You should be using other platforms to build brand awareness, interest, and demand.

Want more?

Each week, our team handpicks the best SEO and marketing content from around the web for our newsletter. Sign up to get them directly in your inbox.

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