Content is a critical element in any SEO strategy. You need to be able to prove your relevance to Google with articles that get attention and to take advantage of seasonal spikes in search traffic. To meet these goals, it’s common for a site to have both evergreen and seasonal content strategies. Both content types are important to help your users throughout all of the customer life cycle stages, including when they are researching, ready to purchase, or acting as a brand ambassador for you.
Both evergreen and seasonal content strategies offer many benefits to your SEO strategy. The key is uncovering ways to exploit that content to increase its value for longer.
What is Evergreen Content?
Evergreen content is designed to fit the needs of your users all year long. Evergreen content is a great way to show value and relevance to your users. One great use for evergreen content is to answer your visitors’ frequently asked questions. You can provide useful product details and information that educates your customers. For example, a surf shop could produce a lot of great content about surfboard styles, when to use what type of board, or how to choose the best board for your body type. All of these are questions both new and seasoned surfers ask.
Every website needs an evergreen content strategy if they want to drive organic traffic (great content can even attract return users). To maintain value for your users and relevance for search engines it’s smart to plan annual refreshes on your evergreen content. New technologies, bigger product selection, and cultural trends can impact your services and businesses. Your content should reflect these improvements.
How Does Seasonal Content Boost SEO?
In addition to great evergreen content, your content team should also be employing a seasonal content strategy. Seasonal content is created to meet a need at a specific time. The most obvious seasonal content includes things like holiday gift guides, event articles, articles about popular holidays like April Fool’s Day, and “New Year New You”-style aspirational articles. If you represent a tourist destination or hotel, you can use seasonal content to help your future guests learn more about your location and activities.
Search engines are always looking for the most relevant answer to search queries. Seasonal content allows you to put your horse in the race. The best part about seasonal content is that it readily lends itself to content refreshes that can boost your organic ranking and increase traffic. The key is knowing when and how to refresh your seasonal content to give it the best chance it has at winning the seasonal content race.
How Do You Refresh Seasonal Content?
Some of this may seem obvious, but there are subtle ways you can get the most out of your seasonal content. The easy answer is to write a new article each year about an event (like the Melbourne Cup) and how your company or service is participating. Many content strategies implement this philosophy, and each year their team writes a new twist on the event and posts it on a new URL, creating a new page to the site.
Don’t do this. Sure, you will be creating engaging, relevant content that search engines love, but you will be missing a big opportunity. Remember organic rankings are more than just great content. You need links to pages, that can take time to build. Posting a brand new article and then building links can take weeks to months, and for a seasonal event or activity, it’s possible you’ll miss your window of opportunity.
Instead of creating new seasonal pages, refresh the content on those URLs. Updating old articles with fresh content is encouraged by search engines and can aid in boosting your overall organic rankings. Here’s a super-secret tip to refreshing seasonal content on old URLs: incorporate details about past event with the new updated content. If you created a series, for example, the best cities to travel to in 2016, reference those cities in your 2017 article and link to relevant content about them. Think of it as a compare and contrast article. What is the difference between the two seasons or events? This strategy allows you to tap into your reader’s FOMO, which can push many to action.
When Do You Update Seasonal Content?
As your content and SEO teams start developing your 2017 content strategy, it’s important to consider the best time to release seasonal content. Conventional marketing wisdom might tell you to release seasonal content a week or two before the big event. Again, this strategy can lead to a huge missed opportunity. There are two factors that will impact your seasonal content and whether it will drive organic traffic. The first hurdle your seasonal content has pass is the search engines. In order for your awesome updated seasonal content to get ranked, it has to first be indexed. This can take days to weeks to months depending on how active your site is and whether you have your technical SEO up to date. If you post an article about holiday shopping the first week in December, it may not show up in organic search until after the holidays. That may work for frugal shoppers who give gifts in January to save money, but it will certainly miss your target audience who wants to know what they should buy much earlier. Make sure your team considers the impact of indexation when they create your seasonal content calendar.
The next hurdle is timing. Most people do their research for just about everything weeks to months before they plan on making a purchase or using a service. For example, in the holiday shopping guide example, a little keyword research shows that trends for “holiday shopping guide” queries start gaining momentum in early November. Updating your annual gift guide should happen in October so that your article has time to be indexed and be ready for users when they start their searches in mid-November.
If your seasonal content revolves around travel, your window is going to be much earlier. For most people, they are researching travel destinations and activities six to nine months before going. You want you content to be fresh and ready when they are searching in April for a trip they plan on taking in September or October. Using tools like Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, and others will help you see when you should be planning on updating content for seasonality.
Paying attention to how fast your site is being indexed and when search trends are the highest will help you boost your organic traffic for seasonal content. If you are able to hit the sweet spot it’s possible to increase your organic ranking for seasonal content by as much as 20 places.
A Word of Caution
Before you run off to start brainstorming and mapping out your seasonal content, there are a couple speed bumps you should be aware of and plan for. The first speed bump, and one that is the bane of social media teams everywhere, is timing of content. Posting a holiday shopping guide in October is going to make for great social content until December (when all of the procrastinators are posting their seasonal content). Prep your social teams and explain the reasoning behind your strategy. In the long run, this will help them as they develop their posting calendars. If possible, have your development team develop a way to pin your blog content on the front page of your blog. This will give your SEO team the freedom they need to grow organic traffic while working with your social team to increase the interaction of the articles.
The next thing to keep in mind is that your seasonal content is just that: seasonal. As the popularity of a seasonal topic fades, search engines will start showing more relevant content about seasonal queries, usually in the form of evergreen historical content. With this knowledge deep in your grasp, don’t be surprised when your seasonal content rankings bounce all over the place during off-season time periods. Give your directors and upper-level management a heads up about this. If they know you are expecting this, they will be more understanding when your reports show these changes.
Seasonal content is great way to revive your site with fresh and engaging content. As you begin your 2017 content strategy planning, add seasonal content to your calendar. Refresh seasonal content you may already have to maintain the valuable links the articles may have earned. Pay attention to timing, being sure to post content so it has enough time to be indexed and appear during peak search windows. If your coordinate with your social team in advance, they can give your content and add boost after it’s been live for a few weeks. Give seasonal content a chance and watch it pay off.