“We have just witnessed the Diamond Jubilee. The Olympics is fast approaching. And we all know how quickly Christmas comes around. The seasonal trends and changes are endless throughout the year. Whilst those in the souvenir business were probably rubbing their hands with glee throughout the Jubilee celebrations, those that failed to rank for their search terms early would have missed a trick. A successful natural search campaign can take a while to plan, some time to kick in, and then you’ve got to bear in-mind delivery cut off times. Therefore, with Christmas just six months away, seasonal SEO planning needs to start within the next month, no later.
“I am going to share an example calendar based on my experience with our on-going retail clients as it counts down to the peak date. Remember; these are on-going relationships so we haven’t started from square one – most onsite issues were dealt with and links were created. We concentrated on one particular direction when we knew a well-timed improvement in rankings would support the website’s objectives.”
- 4 months prior: Mark the peak date in your diary and brainstorm. This is where the plan comes together. It will help if individuals with different experiences can come up with new ideas. You will also want to review data from the previous year as you work out the commercial implications of your strategy. Mature search marketers know when to run a campaign and when not to, and that decision should be driven by the potential return.
- 3 months prior: A full quarter before the peak you need a comprehensive plan in place. Who is doing what by when? I think project management is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of natural search. I’ve seen campaigns with great tactical execution fail due to poor project management.
- 2.5 months prior: Your outreach and content production should be in full swing. Never underestimate the time and effort required to get this right. This may need to be earlier if you have compliance issues or a lot of people involved in the sign-off of content.
- 1.5 months prior – Six weeks away from your peak, now should be the prime time to be acquiring links. And I mean acquiring them not outreaching. Say you’ve got a guest posting plan, now isn’t the time when you should be approaching people, now is the time when you should be publishing.
- 1 month prior: A month away from the peak date and you need a plan B if things haven’t worked quite as you planned. This might be a bit of Press Release Syndication or a competition to hit ‘comper’ sites. Not every element of your campaign will go to plan, however with a month to go, a strong Plan B and a bit of brute force might tip you over the edge.
- Two weeks prior: In every sector there will be delivery times or lead times that you need to adhere to. It’s no use for your campaign to deliver you to the top of the result for Valentine’s Day cards on the 14th of February because by that point it’s already too late, and from the 15th of February that search ranking has next to no commercial value.
- Date of the peak: The timing of the peak. I still recommend tools like Google Insights for Search to try and pinpoint the exact moment when you’re going to see the highest demand. For annual events, you could also look back through your analytics and sales figures for the last few years and work out when the highest demand is.
First rule of thumb should be this: If you are considering SEO, you should be thinking about the seasonal nature of your business as well as how it effects how your customers use search. A calendar is imperative; therefore one of the main challenges is that it forces businesses to start thinking like publishers - although businesses should already know when their hot seasons are. One can never assume.
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