How to Make Pancakes...and other seasonal searches
What is search seasonality?

Today is Pancake Day. It is the day many of us will bring up Google and type in our traditional annual search -“how to make pancakes”. Amazingly, last year, ‘how to make pancakes’ was the most searched for how to term on Google and of course almost every search was on or around Pancake Day.

Almost every website, across all industries will have peak seasons or set periods when search demand for their products or services boost in popularity. When do you think the search demand in the UK is highest for the query “self assessment”? – January when HMRC bump up their advertising and many of us realise we have not yet filed our tax return. What about “florist”? – February when we’re trying to make Valentine’s Day perfect.

This noticeable and predictable movement in a specific time period is search seasonality. For those in marketing, understanding search seasonality allows us to learn who searches for a specific terms and predict when in the year this happens, so we can capitalise on the buying habits of our target audience.

How can brands capitalise on this?

From a search marketing perspective, if you can truly understand and anticipate search peaks for your targeted terms, you can build your strategy and plan your campaign activities around these. Below we provide our top four steps to maximising search seasonality.

Step 1) Identify your seasonal search terms. Search marketing should always begin with research to better understand your site and its niche. Google Analytics will tell you which parts of the site are performing well, generating conversions and when. Google’s AdWords and online keyword planners such as ubersuggest.org offer a huge pool of search suggestions and information, and Google Trends provides a timeline of peaks and troughs of specific queries. All these layers of data demonstrate consumer behaviour online. Here’s a very simple example - let’s say you represent the website of a fashion company and are planning your search marketing campaign for the end of the year. You can see from the graph that searches for “Christmas Party Dresses” are non-existent in the spring and summer before a massive spike every November – and so this is therefore a seasonal opportunity. People start planning their party outfits in November.

Step 2) Create a specific landing page. Creating a specific page based on the seasonal search terms you have identified is essential. You should include relevant title tags, headers and importantly some great content (be it products, text or a combination) around your products so that search engines will pick up on the relevance and so will your audience.

Step 3) Get your communities involved. Don't just get a new page up and expect people to find it. Shout about it. Share from your site and on social sites with your audience to get people talking about it.

Step 4) Keep the pages live. After spending time and budget planning and executing your seasonal search campaign, to remove the page is tantamount to deleting all your work. If your page is a seasonal one – like “Christmas Party Dresses”, or “Valentine’s Day Gifts” – instead archive the page and remove it from the navigation bar on your site. Keep the page live, but hidden, ready for the following year.

Sometimes, search seasonality does not ebb and flow on a strict calendar but rather occurs around key events and product launches. With the release of the iPhone 6 in 2014, interest gradually grew across the summer, before spiking in early September (as predicted). Just as predictable is the rise in the query “iphone 6 review” just after the product launch. But what could not have been predicted was the spike in the search “iphone 6 bending” after YouTuber Lewis Hilsenteger posted his video of him bending a new iPhone out of shape. Almost every tech and news site joined into the sudden search spike with a well-timed piece of content. So as well as looking at existing data, you must also be tapped into the conversations of your online community, to make sure you can capitalise on those unexpected peaks.

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