Digital searching will drive holiday shopping this year, judging by the National Retail Federation’s latest Holiday Consumer Spending Survey. Consumers plan to do 46 percent of their shopping online, an increase from 44 percent last year, and 21.4 percent of those purchases will be made from a smartphone. Some of the hottest gift items include Star Wars remote-controlled Millennium Falcon Quads, Oster Flip Belgian Waffle Makers, Google’s Nest Cam, the nabi Jr. learning tablet and the Garmin Forerunner 220 smartwatch, according to retailer reports compiled by Flipboard.
What does this mean for bloggers? Keyword content associated with such hot items can result in increased organic traffic and user engagement. You can use seasonal keywords to promote your blog year-round by deploying a few strategic keyword research strategies.
Identify Seasonal Events
The first key to successful seasonal marketing is long-term planning. Consumers start searching and shopping online well before actual seasonal events, and businesses also need sufficient lead time to stock inventory. Retailers plan seasonal marketing three seasons in advance, according to Monster.com, which is a good practice for bloggers to follow as well.
Create an annual marketing plan developed around the seasonal calendar. Almost every month has at least one major holiday you can use to plan posts and promotions around, such as New Year’s Day in January, Valentine’s Day in February and St. Patrick’s Day in March.
Also look for non-holiday seasonal opportunities. For instance, winter means people will be shopping for hats, gloves and shovels. Sport seasons, TV seasons, movie release schedules and political elections all have seasonal cycles.
Do Keyword and Social Media Research
After identifying the seasonal events you plan to leverage, the next step is doing keyword research. Starting with broad category terms, review last year’s popular organic and paid keywords to start identifying niches. For instance, in early November 2015, a Google search on “Halloween costume ideas” yields 34,300,000 results. Enter this phrase into Google Trends and look at the related search results; other keyword phrases that come up include “homemade costume ideas” and “couples costume ideas.”
You should also do some social media research. For instance, searching Twitter Advanced Search for “Christmas gift ideas” from October 5, 2015 to November 5, 2015 identifies the hashtag “#christmastime” as a related search term. The top result for a current YouTube search on “Christmas gift ideas” is a video on “DIY Holiday Gift Ideas” with over 1,102,000 views.
Your research will help you brainstorm ideas for creating seasonal content. Creating relevant content involves more than just dropping keywords into your blog posts. Make your content relevant by identifying how your brand is relevant to consumers’ seasonal interests.
For instance, if you blog about fashion, you might write a post for readers who are searching for Christmas gift ideas and suggest season-appropriate clothing. You can also provide useful information with a seasonal theme; for example, at the beginning of the 2015 college football season, the DISH Network’s The Dig blog posted a calendar highlighting the year’s biggest games week-by-week with TV listings telling what channel to tune into.
Promote Your Content
Use recommended/related content, your email list and social media pages to promote your content. For instance, in early November 2015, Family Circle’s home page currently features a link to a blog post with Thanksgiving recipes, which is categorized in the recipes category under a holiday subcategory. Below the post are suggested topics for further reading which include “Upcoming Holidays,” “Holiday Dates,” “Thanksgiving Celebration Ideas,” “Stocking Stuffer Ideas,” “Black Friday Deals” and “10 Best Turkey Recipes.” Using categories to cross-index your blog like this helps direct readers and search engines toward your content.
At the bottom of the Family Circle page are links for sharing the blog post on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter — make sure to include social share buttons on your content as well.
You can also use your email list to drive traffic to your blog. Send your list periodic updates announcing seasonally-relevant content, featuring subject lines and excerpts designed to attract attention.
Schedule Your Promotional Cycle
Google Trends research has established that search traffic for a holiday event begins picking up 45 days before the event. Consequently, posting 45 days ahead of time will allow you to participate in 90 percent of the available traffic, whereas if you wait to the week before an event this drops to 50 percent, and waiting to the week of the event falls to 20 percent. Use the 45 Day Rule to optimize your promotional cycle.