Don’t Miss Seasonal Opportunities on Your Blog for Spectacular Traffic. Read to the bottom of this post for an example of how I’ve used the same content three times in 18 months to generate 50,000 page views on one post.
One of the skills that I encourage bloggers to develop is to think ahead about what events might be coming up that will impact the niche that you’re writing about.
The web is a fairly rhythmic place and every year there are waves of activity across search engines and other websites that are quite predictable.
- In November and December every year millions of people go online searching for gifts in the lead up to Christmas.
- At Superbowl time people go online looking for the ads that were featured during the game.
- Every Thanksgiving the numbers of searches for Turkey recipes go through the roof
- During the Olympic games (every 2 years for Winter and Summer games) people go online searching for results and medal tallies.
- At the end of American Idol’s season (and other localized versions) people head online searching for results, inside gossip and related information
- Everytime a blockbuster movie is released people hit the seach engines looking for reviews
The list could go on… and on.
One tool for looking at what people are searching for at any given point in time is Google’s Hot Trends page which shows the latest popular searches.
However as bloggers wanting to capitalize on these mini frenzies of online activity around different topics a tool like Google Trends is limited in how useful it is. The problem with it is that it gives information on what people are searching for today and not what they’ll be searching for in a few weeks or months time.
You see, with 4th of July upon us, one of the keywords people are searching for online today is ‘fireworks’. It comes up 17 times in the top 100 list as I’m writing this (update – a few hours later fireworks appear in 38 of the top 100 terms). The term spikes on July 4 and at the end of the year (just before New Years) every year. Here’s Google’s Trends graph on the term ‘fireworks’ (click to enlarge in a new window).
You can see that this year’s spike is about to happen (or has just started).
The problem is – that if you write a post related to fireworks today you’re too late to capitalize on the majority of traffic that is out there for the term. You’ve not allowed long enough for the search engines to find you or for other blogs and sites to link up to you.
At the very least you will have wanted to write your post a couple of weeks (if not months) ago.
This same principle applies not only to fireworks but any seasonal event that happens in your niche. This is why last year I started writing my How to Optimize Your blog for Christmas Series in November. It’s why the best blogs on the iPhone (did I say I wouldn’t mention it?) started way back when it was announced (or even before) and why I know bloggers starting blogs on events that won’t even happen for over 12 months.
Before I give you a couple of tips on how to capture some of this seasonal traffic to your blog lets look at five of the more obvious seasonal trends/holidays/events to illustrate just how rhythmic a lot of it can be. The following is Google’s Trend graphs for Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day, Valentines and 4th July. As you can see, it’s very predictable stuff.
Of course it is never really too late to blog on a topic. With tools like Google’s Blog Search, Digg and Technorati a story can still hit it big very quickly – but to be found particularly by search engines you need to be planning well ahead.
Take Home Tip – Start a Blog Diary
Get a Wall-planner or diary (or use an online calendar) and start brainstorming events that happen in your niche. These might be annual events, one off event or even semi-regular ones. Add these events to your diary but also make a note of them two months and one month before they arrive – telling yourself to start writing on those topics to get ready.
You’ll find that with keeping a record of the events in your niche for a full year that you’ll start to notice annual trends that will help you plan for following years.
One last tip – Reposting Seasonal Content to Build Momentum
Here’s another quick tip if you have seasonal events in your niche – you don’t have to write new content every time the event happens.
I wrote a month ago about giving Underperforming Posts a Second Chance with Updates. The theory was that sometimes putting an old post back in the spotlight with some good updates can give an old unsuccessful post a second wind.
What I’ve found is that this technique is not only good for under performing posts – but also previously successful seasonal ones.
The most topical example that I can give you of me experimenting with this technique is my post How to Photograph Fireworks Displays. This post is 13 months old – yet it has appeared on the front page of my blog 3 times (once when it was written in the lead up to last year’s 4th July, once just before New Years in December 2006 and once a week ago).
On each occasion I’ve updated the post with new images and information to freshen it up so that regular readers are not just seeing the same old information.
The reason for updating to post is to give it a second (and now third) chance to be read. The information is relevant and useful and as a result the post continues to grow momentum.
Every time I repost it it gets a small SEO boost having been featured on the front page of the blog, it gets fresh incoming links from other blogs and sites, it gets bookmarked by readers on social bookmarking sites and it enjoys larger and larger traffic. This year it’s even reached the number one position for it’s keywords on Google as a result of the strategy.
Readers seem to love it also. I’ve had so many emails today from readers saying that they’ve read the post previously but appreciate me reposting it because they were going to have to go searching for it from last time. New readers have not seen it before and appreciate finding it for the first time.
In terms of traffic – this post has grown in it’s readership every time I’ve posted it. First time around it generated around 5,000 page views, the second time it was closer to 15,000 and this time it’s upwards of 30,000 – with another 18 hours to go until things will peak.
The alternative to this updating strategy would have been to write multiple posts on essentially the same thing for each time that I republished it (or to link to it from the front page). While this might have driven a few readers back to the post it wouldn’t have had the impact that it’s had this time around.
What type of seasons and rhythms happen in your blog’s niche? Do you plan for them? How do you attempt to capture the waves of traffic as they come rolling in?