Research SEO

The Seasonality of Search

A press release from Internet measurement firm Comscore highlighting web traffic trends for the month of August dropped into my inbox recently.


From the press release:


Back-to-School Frenzy Impacts Web Activity as Americans Prepare for New School Year:

  • More than 27.5 million people visited a Book site in August, an 11-percent increase versus July, making it the highest growing site category for the month.
  • Parents took school supply shopping to the web, with the Consumer Goods category growing 5 percent to 26.2 million visitors in August.


Traffic Driven to Sports Sites for NFL Coverage and Fantasy Football Drafts:


  • With the start of the NFL season, traffic to Sports sites picked up during the month reaching 123.5 million visitors, a 5-percent gain versus July.


The traffic trends Comscore called out were the result of seasonal behavioral shifts: the book and school supply sites due to back to school activities and sports sites due to the start of the NFL season.  SEO professionals understand the importance of planning for seasonal search trends in their industry —it’s probably safe to say most SEO professionals look to their analytics with an eye toward extracting seasonal search trends.

Mining analytics for seasonal trends is an important part of understanding how the changing seasons can impact traffic to your site but the problem is that it is limited to your site and the keywords you are ranking for.  It can couch larger industry trends if you are ranking poorly for key high volume keywords and will not expose industry microtrends for keywords for which you are not ranking.  To get a true sense of seasonal trends in your vertical, seasonal analysis using keyword search volumes is necessary.

Using analytics as the sole data source for seasonal trends can result in a skewed view of the seasonal peaks and valleys of a vertical.

This kind of analysis need not be an activity that is limited to firms who are far along the SEO maturity scale or that takes hours of jockeying in Excel. We built a simple tool that you can plug keywords and search volume into and it will auto-chart  month over month aggregate search volumes thus exposing seasonal search trends.  Mixing and matching keywords by industry theme will expose industry mico trends.  Download the three part package on the seasonality of search that includes an article that describes several methods for exposing the seasonality of your keywords, a calendar that shows when to start link-building activities for seasonal events, and the tool described above.  Readers from beginner to advanced should find something of interest.

As we move from the summer season towards the holidays and your thoughts turn to seasonal activities do you approach seasonal behavioral analysis differently?

-Nathan Safran
Senior Research Analyst