Christmas seoThis is the time of year that most of us in Digital tend to get super busy preparing for the crucial Christmas rush. The problem, of course, is that not all sectors online experience a Christmas demand peak – some are quite the contrary and suffer a fall in demand during December.

We’ve worked in a few sectors like this – Insurance, Property and Gardening are amongst the sectors I’ve worked in where this is the case; there’s the double whammy of little demand for your products/services at that time of year, combined with a huge increase in competition in some mediums.

But is December a pure write off? Is it just a month for people to relax, use up their annual leave, and perhaps start writing up the annual reports ahead of time? Well no, the reality is that most of these businesses can still be quite productive during December, and there’s plenty you should be doing from a search perspective.

Here’s just a few of things that we’ll be doing for our clients when the Christmas songs start playing (actually, they are playing already on some radio stations!):

Don’t turn it off!

Firstly, avoid the temptation during the quiet season to turn off all search activity – unless revenue is catastrophically low, this is usually a bad idea; most search campaigns (paid and natural) benefit from history, and big pauses in activity won’t help this.

Consider also, that in many sectors the buying pattern takes place over multiple visits and can sometimes last months – a stop/start campaign can disrupt this and cause you to lose the sometimes vital second chance of converting a customer.

Capture the seasonal search

Even if you’re a quiet industry, there’s usually some way you can make Christmas relevant to you.  Consider Gift Vouchers as a way to make your service relevant to those buying Christmas presents – if you can offer these, then a paid search campaign can be perfect for capturing and converting this type of traffic.

Also, many companies have at least a few products or services in their range that will do better at Christmas – a general insurer, for instance, will do very well from Gadget insurance at this time of year, as they make popular gifts.

Take advantage of the PPC Vacuum

While display advertising can be become very competitive to all in December, the specificy of search usually means there are subtle but useful opportunities to take advantage of in December. In Insurance, we noticed last year that advertiser competition dropped remarkably during December, earlier than expected. Although searcher demand for the same keywords also dropped, the drop in competition was more dramatic. Advertisers often under or overestimate the impact of Christmas for their business and as a result, the market becomes imbalanced. Don’t second guess this, keep your finger on the pulse, spot the opportunities, and take advantage as necessary.

Plan Ahead – Start your SEO ahead of time

It’s well known that SEO takes time to deliver – Although Google gives new pages a freshness benefit, it typically tends to favour older pages that have built up backlinks over a sustained period. If your seasonal demand begins in the spring, December is often the perfect time to start an SEO campaign. If a product doesn’t yet exist, make a page giving users information on pending release dates, previews and similar – by the time the product does launch, you’ll hopefully be a respected authority.

A key fact many people in search tend to forget, specifically in relation to e-commerce SEO, is that the best time to build links for an upcoming product is beforeits release. The demand of searchers who want to find out the product, combined with the relatively few sources of reliable information leaves a perfect opportunity for websites that might normally struggle to get links to their product pages, to pick them up easily.

Don’t fret about the Graphs

Finally, after doing everything you can to take advantage of what opportunities the holiday season provides you, you should switch your attention to planning the year ahead – there are many opportunities people don’t realise that they should be taking advantage of, but don’t confuse this quest with the less logical one to ‘flatten’ the seasonal impact. It’s always been said that it’s foolish to fight against nature, yet many companies try to battle the seasons every year.

Too many of the companies I’ve previously worked for or with have had an unhealthy desire to see flat graphs despite it being entirely illogical. An ice cream salesperson is unlikely to drive their van around in December selling Ice cream at below cost prices, so why should a business run that way? If you’re in the business of tennis racquets, you should expect to do better in the summer even if you can get a few extra sales at Christmas. Spend your quiet periods preparing for your busy periods, and make the most of your busy periods.

Matthew Oxley

Matthew Oxley