How should sites plan their SEO strategies for seasonal events, which tend to be very competitive? 

The obvious example is Christmas, but recurring events like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and sporting occasions like the Grand National all provide spikes in traffic and interest which brands should look to take advantage of. 

Using examples for Christmas-related search terms, I’ll look at the best strategy for ranking for such competitive events. 

Broadly speaking, the answer is to publish early and not to mess with the pages too much.

The following chart, supplied by PI Datametrics, shows how different brands are ranking for ‘christmas decorations’ over the last 12 months. 

While three of the retailers here are ranking consistently on page one of Google, the other two (Selfridges and Wilko) are all over the place. 

So what’s the difference? 

(Click image for a larger version)

For obvious reasons, this is a seasonal term, with big spikes in the run up to Christmas and little or no interest in between, as this Google Trends chart shows. 

John Lewis has a dedicated page for Christmas decorations which it doesn’t change too much. It also has no other pages competing for the term. 

NotOnTheHighStreet.com has a similar strategy, which produces the same results. 

In contrast, Selfridges doesn’t seem to have a strategy for this particular term, and has been publishing a number of pages which compete against each other for the term.

As I mentioned in a previous post, more content doesn’t always help, and in this case the competing pages are harming the overall rankings for the term. 

We see similar patterns in searches for ‘Christmas Toys’. Amazon has barely touched this page, and therefore ranks steadlily throughout the year. 

Argos, since just before last Christmas, has ranked steadily, but seems to have muddied the waters by adding more pages lately. 

We can see this in the rankings for the past few months: 

John Lewis had the right strategy for decorations, but is cannibalising its own search rankings on this term with five competing pages. 

Toys R Us has no stability at all, with 11 pages ranking for this term at various times of the year.

This means that, when the Christmas traffic spike arrives, it has no control over which page will rank for the term and where it will sit on Google.

So what’s the best strategy for seasonal pages? 

There are a number of factors: 

  • Publish well in advance of the target event. Longevity is a factor here, and those brands, like Amazon, that have published the pages more than 12 months ago are still ranking highly. 
  • Don’t mess with the pages. Come January, these pages may no longer be relevant or attract any traffic but that doesn’t mean they should be unpublished. Just leave them be. 
  • Decide which page you want to rank. Set a landing page for your target term and make sure all other pages on the topic link to it.

    This sends a clear signal to Google of which page is more important, and can prevent unneccesary competition between pages on the same site. 

  • More content isn’t always the answer. Just publishing more pages on the topic won’t help you rank unless the underlying strategy is there.