Pumpkin Martinis and SEO — Top 5 Things to take the Scare out of Seasonal SEO
My real gig here at Optify is IT and Operations, and normally Iâ€™d be blogging about technical issues related to Optifyâ€™s hosted SaaS application. But I also happen to be passionate about all things Halloween, and for several years Iâ€™ve had a web site devoted specifically to Halloween drinks. This is a classic labor-of-love, as it is not just a niche, but a niche in a seasonal market. Each year, as Summer is waning and the air is turning crisp and leaves are starting to change color, traffic suddenly starts to flow again to my site. You could set your watch by it. I use my hobby site as a test bed, and it turns out to be an interesting seasonal SEO â€śtest tubeâ€ť given that it is so narrow in focus.
I should first confess that while I put quite a bit of effort into setting up my blog several years ago, I tend to neglect it throughout the year. And this year was no exception. So as the season approached, I logged into the Optify dashboard to see how things were going. I was checking to see how my keywords were ranking and here is the chart I saw when I looked at the rankings of several main keywords over the last 2 years:
My main keyword â€śHalloween drinksâ€ť was doing ok, coming in at #4 in Google. â€śhomemade pumpkin liqueurâ€ť was also looking good at #5. But the terror begins when we look at the keyword, â€śpumpkin liqueurâ€ť, it had plummeted from the top 15 to the neighborhood of #75. The horror! My little site depends on this keyword as it is one of my unique contributions to this niche. Chills, panic, fight-or-flight — all set in, but I decided to put up a fight and see what I could do to push this keyword up in the short time I had to work with.
I shot into action with the tools of our trade; a landing page, new content, Twitter, Facebook, I tried it all. I did manage to push up my ranking a bit over the next two weeks. Here is the chart:
But I fear my effort was too little, too late. Historically, what I see is that the large drink sites come in a seasonal tidal wave, pushing my rankings down as Halloween approaches, then I bob to the surface again once it is over. I havenâ€™t been able to compete against their domain authority and the steady incoming traffic of their non-seasonal audience that follows them into â€śmyâ€ť season.
So now to the promised Top 5 things you can do to keep from suffering the dreaded seasonality and niche SEO issues Iâ€™m facing. Iâ€™ve consulted with Scott Fasser, one of Optifyâ€™s SEO and inbound marketing gurus to divine the top priorities. And note that diving keywords arenâ€™t just an issue for seasonal SEO, they can plague anyone at any time. Google is constantly tweaking and tuning the ranking algorithms so we all have to be on guard.
Here are Scott and Scottâ€™s Top 5 Seasonal SEO tips:
#5 â€“ Develop a social strategy and use social media to build an audience of friends who love Halloween Drinks.
It is becoming increasingly important and it demonstrably helps drive traffic and can help you adapt in real time to changes in your market.
#4 â€“ Optimize your blog for content marketing.
While this might sound obvious, my site runs on Googleâ€™s blogger platform, but I was surprised that it actually isnâ€™t optimized well for SEO, Iâ€™ve got some work to do. WordPress is very popular and there are many resources available to optimize your site. Whatever your platform, tools like Optifyâ€™s help you analyze and track the process of optimization.
#3 â€“ Know your customer and key personas, know your seasonal trends, know your competitors, and track your data.
Create content that will appeal to them so that they find you.
#2 â€“ ABCC â€“ Always Be Creating Content.
If you also have a season, be sure to prepare for and start your campaigns months ahead of time â€“ preferably year round, adding content to your site on a regular basis â€“ monthly? â€“ during the off-season and ramping up as you get closer to the big month.
#1 â€“ Build your authority.
You have to protect your niche site against the big publishing guns coming in late in the game to post their season specific content and steal your top rankings. This means building links from other related, niche sites, building your social networks throughout the year and building/publishing content.
Stay vigilant. As the wise folks say, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Use your tools to monitor your rankings, and if you see keywords starting to sink, early intervention is important. And use the custom alerting capabilities in Optifyâ€™s app to automatically alert when your important keywords take a dive or get overtaken by a competitor. If I had actually bothered to look at my reports, even once a month, I would have recognized my problem while there was still time to act.
I do have some unique and quality content in my niche, which is critical, but I have more work to do. I have a few technical issues, but mostly I need incoming links and more authority, which as all marketers know, takes an ongoing effort to make happen.
Thank goodness Iâ€™m better at IT than SEO. And now, shamelessly, Iâ€™ll start link building by recommending you enjoy Halloween and visit HalloweenDrinks.net to find a recipe for pumpkin liqueur.