The chances are that you’re aware of special days in your calendar when there is a spike in sales or general user interest. But are you missing these predictable peaks as part of your SEO strategy?
Seasonal events are a golden opportunity to make extra sales and improve brand awareness. In order to do that, people need to connect the event with your business and land on your site. This is where seasonal keywords come in. Keywords are at the very heart of promoting organic web traffic. It only takes a few simple steps to tailor them to seasonal events.
The process doesn’t start weeks, or even months, in advance – it’s something you should be thinking about a year ahead.
Here is how to plan your seasonal keyword marketing plan effectively:
One year to go
In order to make things run as smoothly as possible, it’s a good idea to define some baseline points. Your checklist for things to establish at the ‘one year mark’ should look something like this:
What are you trying to achieve through seasonal awareness? Are you after sales or brand awareness? How will you measure your success?
You may not be spending money to acquire traffic through ads, but producing content still can cost money. Establish how much are you willing to spend to see results, and start thinking about the kinds of offers you can make to entice customers.
Where is your content going to be placed? Are you just using existing content or producing new pages? Will you need extra content producers? Making these points clear a year in advance will make it much easier to manage the subsequent stages; it helps clarify what you’re doing and where you stand.
Six months to go
This is when your keyword campaign needs to begin taking shape. To do this effectively, you need to become familiar with Google’s Keyword Planner. This is a free-to-use service designed for advertisers considering Adwords.
Getting to know Google Keyword Planner
In order to use this tool, you’ll need to set up an Adwords account with Google. It’s free to use, and there is no obligation to start a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to familiarise yourself with the interface. For seasonal info, focus on the ‘Get search volume for a list of keywords or group them into ad groups’ feature.
How to get what you need from Keyword Planner
Draw up a list of keywords that are relevant to the event in question. For example, if you sell chocolates, and your objective is Mother’s Day, search for ‘Mother’s Day flowers,’ ‘Mother’s day gifts’ etc. It’s not just about hitting the keywords that are directly relevant to your product, but also the most popular keywords for the event in general. These might not be as useful for direct conversions, but they show you the types of content that people search for in that period and the keywords you can target.
Make a list of the keywords that are relevant, and start thinking about the kind of content and promotions you can build around those topics. Now that you have keyword content covered, use the ‘time period’ toolbar to see when the frequency of these keyword searches begins to increase. This tells you the exact time when you should stage your campaign launch.
Five months and counting…
You’ve established your list of keywords, and you know when people will start searching for them. At this stage you might have what looks like a three, or even four, month gap between your six-month countdown and when people actually start typing those keywords into a search query, but that’s no reason to get complacent.
The reason these campaigns have to start so early is that getting content to appear in the results of Google and other search engines is like turning sand into stone; it takes a lot of time and a critical amount of pressure which, in this case, is user exposure.
Giving yourself a good five month cushion also allows time to make revisions to your content. It’s often easier to see where things aren’t working once they’re online, and you don’t want that to happen close to launch.
What about time critical content?
You may have spotted a problem here. On the one hand, you’re planning a campaign that targets a specific event with time-critical offers and promotions, while on the other you’re being asked to get content up four to five months in advance, when there is limited interest. How is that supposed to land with customers? The answer is simple. Your early content is there to hold a place in the search engine results page (SERP).
There’s nothing wrong with putting in relevant, useful, placeholder content well in advance, then switching it to the actual promotional content once the event kicks off. That way you get to appear higher up the rankings and make your pitch as fresh as possible.
Two months to go
The time to start the launch on your promotion is either when you see that spike in keyword searches for an event or two months in advance, whichever comes first (you’ll find it’s usually one and the same). So what are you doing to promote your content?
Here is the checklist for the channels that your campaign should cover in addition to the content that you’ve been building up:
Ideally when the promotion launches, it will ride a wave of social mentions. To give this the best chance of happening, release a few hints early on, and consider reaching out to loyal customers by tweeting and sharing updates on Facebook so that they’re primed to respond at launch. You could even offer special discounts to this proved converter as a reward.
Hopefully you’ve been gathering leads and building a subscriber list. Again, give a hint of what’s on the way in your regular emails, and then release a dedicated newsletter that’s just for the event. This way when the promotion hits, it has the best chance of getting early conversions, which will in turn build awareness and momentum.
Use your connections
All those cultivated relationships with influencers and industry websites can come into play at this point too. Make sure you have some interesting content that’s tailored for each promoter, and then provide a link to your specific event, once you’ve got permission, either in the text itself or in your bio.
So to round up, in this year-long period, you’ve identified your objectives; gathered your keywords; used them to map your promotion launch date; placed your keyword-relevant content where it gets maximum exposure; and released your offers and promotions either through that content or other tailored release methods.
It seems like you’re at the end of what has hopefully been a successful campaign. However, it’s not over. Getting this kind of seasonal release right is a cycle, not a linear progression. Your content and landing pages may be irrelevant once the event has passed, but they’re still perfectly placed to perform the same role next year.
Salvage as much of this space as possible by changing landing pages to a more generic take on the special day in question and generalising content to make it relevant to the ‘event’ rather than ‘this year’s event.’
By taking this approach, you’ll make sure your content is in a prime position to perform well a year in advance of your next promotion. With that established, you can go back to your checklist and begin the process all over again!