Technical SEO 20 min read

Winning the Seasonal SEO Battle. Top tips for yearly success.

By Carly Bell 2 February, 2024

Planning for, and coping with, Seasonality comes with the territory for SEO teams.

And there is a huge amount of planning, implementation and analysis involved. But how do you set yourself up with a strategy that ensures you consistently win the Seasonal SEO battle. Year after year? 

In our webinar, Winning the Seasonal SEO Battle, Scott Donnelly, Head of Digital Strategy at QueryClick shared his thoughts on the topic including:

Understanding Seasonality

  • The 2 different types of Seasonality
  • How to identify your Seasonal peaks
  • Why sometimes it is not so clear-cut

Developing Seasonal SEO strategies for:

  • Pre-Peak
  • During-Peak
  • Post-Peak

Seasonal SEO Do’s and Dont’s

Understanding Seasonality

Scott opened the webinar by explaining that understanding the nature of Seasonality is key in all of this. So here is a quick definition to set some context:

Seasonality: Refers to the idea that there are predictable annually occurring changes in the way that customers behave throughout the year. This essentially enables us to predict what customers want to buy and when they want to buy it – and plan activity around that.

When it comes to SEO, this really means you need to have an understanding of when people want to search for particular products around particular events. And ensure that your brand is positioned to capitalise on that.  

There are 2 broad types of Seasonality

Seasonality falls into 2 different categories:

  • Holiday or event-based seasonality
  • Time-based seasonality

We take a closer at them both below:

Holiday or event-based Seasonality

This refers to Seasonality tied to peaks in search behaviours that take place every year.

Some of the most common examples of this are Christmas, Easter or Black Friday. But there are a number of others dotted around the calendar- for example, you are consistently going to see a spike in searches for flowers in February in the run up to Valentine’s day. And we see another slight peak for flowers as we get into March around Mothers’ Day.

In the case of flower-buying it then tails off dramatically for the rest of the year. So, understanding these Seasonal curves is vastly important for retailers especially if your product has such a Seasonal edge to it like flowers do. They represent pivotal periods when your products are in peak demand and, how well you do in the peak, can often be make or break for you in terms of your financial performance.

Time-based Seasonality

This refers to different times in the year where specific products are more likely to be bought by customers. So, for example, customers are more likely to want to buy shorts in the summer and they are more likely to want to buy hats and scarves in the winter. Other examples, include Gym memberships and travel, where both peak in and around January as people try to get fit after some of the excesses of the festive period. And book summer holidays to try and escape the dark days of winter.

And understanding and planning for these peaks in search demand is really key. To know when you need to be most visible on search.

While both of these types of Seasonality are essentially the same in terms of consumer behaviour, time-based Seasonality typically offers a longer window to be active in. However, it can also be a little more unpredictable with things like the macroeconomic climate being more likely to impact things.  

How to identify your Seasonal SEO peaks

The first place to really try and understand your peak periods is to take a look in Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

If your marketing team is in-house you will probably have that information to hand and you will most likely know when you are going to have your peak period. But if you don’t, and you work in an agency and you are onboarding a new client, these are two really good places to delve into and find out when traffic spikes for them. And, also, what does that behaviour look like in the run up to the spike?

This is going to give you a good understanding of what is going on with your website right now. But if you are looking to develop and roll out new products – and understand how Seasonal activity impacts search – there are a number of tools out there to that are helpful including:

Google Keyword Planner

The place to start is in Google Keyword Planner which is free to use and can be found within Google Ads. However, one of the slight limitations with the Planner is that, whilst you can get great historical data, if you aren’t running a reasonable sum of money through a Google Ads account you will get ‘range’ data. Which can be useful but is far more indicative in terms of actual peaks – and you also don’t actually really know what those searches look like.


However, if you have a decent toolsuite and you are able to invest in something like Ahrefs, you are going to be able to get this information at a far more granular level.

It will really help you understand what those trends are for key search terms, year-on-year over the course of the last few years. In fact, it goes as far back as 2015.


Semrush is also another great tool that helps you to understand this. Providing key data on Seasonal search terms including the detail on when they start to spike and peak. As well as how things look during the rest of the year for context and comparison.  

But sometimes it’s not so clear cut…

However, sometimes when you look at this data the picture is not so clear.

The example here is from one of our clients. They don’t really have any core Seasonal peaks but there are spikes that happen throughout the year. However, within this, there is product-based Seasonality which means we have to actually dig a little bit deeper to unearth what causes these spikes. And what’s driving revenue for them at any given time over the year.

So that we can develop our SEO strategy off the back of that. To make sure that we are capitalising as much as we possibly can on this activity.

How to develop Seasonal SEO strategies

Now we move on to developing your Seasonal strategy. And it is important that you are clear – not only on ‘what’ you are going to do – but also ‘when’ you are going to do it.

This is where it helps to look at things in the following 3 distinct buckets:


The first bucket for this is what we would call ‘Pre-Peak’.

This covers anything that needs to be done or put in place before the actual peak period itself including:

Research and planning – it starts with research and planning – which you should be starting as early as possible – even in the realms of five to six months in advance.

At this point in the webinar Scott used the real-world example of when he used to work with a chocolate company where they used to do planning for Christmas in July. That is when they had to start understanding what demand there was going to be, what they were actually going to do from a product perspective, how it was going to look and feel, what content was going to be added to the website and how customers were going to search for it – so that they could actually optimise for that in advance.

One of the key aspects here is not only identifying the peak for activity, but also working back to know exactly where the demand starts to surge. Because, in reality, it doesn’t just happen overnight. For example, the Christmas surge in demand doesn’t happen on Christmas Eve. It actually starts somewhere in October and all the way through November. Before really ratcheting up again in December.

Content creation – knowing the timelines here is vitally important because of the knock-on effect on the creation of Seasonal content – which needs to be done as early as possible – to avoid a rush to create and upload it around deadline times for Seasonal campaigns.

Adding to site – it can also pay dividends to add it to the site early. This doesn’t mean that you need to make it prominent on the site, on the homepage for example, but it needs to be somewhere that allows it to be indexed and crawled. So that when you move it more centrally on the site to meet peak demand, and add it to the main navigation, customers are actually finding it through Organic Search.

Promotion – with Seasonal activity it can be great to create and promote some lead gen content in advance. Things like a video or blog post on the ‘top 10 big Christmas gadgets’ for this year, for example, which is something that customers start to pick up in their research phase.

Supporting activity – it is also worth looking at how you can leverage some of the other channels that you have at your disposal, alongside SEO. In order to promote this content and get your message out there nice and effectively. So that SEO content is working a lot harder and is not working in a vacuum.


During the Peak itself – when it comes to SEO – you are a little hamstrung in terms of making any changes that are going to quickly impact things. The lesson here is pretty much if you are not ready at this stage then you never will be for this year.

This is even more evident with events like Black Friday, where the window is quite small, and also at Easter – which has a lot less lead time than Christmas for example.

Supplementary activity and working with Paid colleagues – what you can do at this stage is work closely with other channels. For example, if you are seeing certain search terms that are starting to spike in Google Search Console and that you didn’t expect to see you can feed this into your Paid Search team.

Work with Paid Search to assess brand performance – working closely with your Paid Search team is something we strongly suggest you do anyway. For example, an event like Black Friday is a very heavily branded search-based event (we have a beauty retailer client and 77% of all their Black Friday traffic comes through branded Black Friday terms and we also work with an Activewear Leisure brand and 99% of their Black Friday traffic comes in the same way).

So, the key is to work cohesively with Paid teams to ensure that you are not necessarily spending money on all of those branded searches. Because the reality is you are probably going to capture the vast majority of them anyway. You can also help inform our Paid colleagues where the search demand is coming from in a non-brand sense – so that they can focus their efforts on actually driving true incremental value in revenue through PPC.

Hygiene checks – when it comes to actual activity the one thing that you must also do is continue doing hygiene checks. Making sure that everything on the site is working as expected so that you don’t end up with any downtime or any issues in terms of indexation of your pages that could hamper overall performance.

Post Peak

At this point the Peak has come and gone. And the focus turns to:

  • Reporting – here we need to make sure that we can look back and say – ‘what was actually happened and how is that going against expectations?’ And then use the core learnings that can then feed back into the next period so that we’re constantly learning and adapting. And also making the kind of required changes that we need to as we move forward throughout the year and head towards the peak again next year.
  • Leveraging evergreen content – now the last thing we can do is to define if there is anything we can leverage within an evergreen content space. Seasonal peaks happen the same time every year but is there content that can live on the website that might capture that demand or something that we can reuse and resurface next year?

Currys are a big Black Friday player and they have done really well here by creating a Black Friday page that has basically been static and stayed the same year on year.

Here are some of the key features of it:

  • it is the same URL every single year which means the URL builds up authority over time
  • by resurfacing it and by bringing it back they have a better and better chance every single year to do well when it comes to Black Friday searches
  • it is often heavily branded but there are non-branded searches like ‘Black Friday electric offers’ or ‘electrical offers Black Friday’ which they do very well for
  • Curry’s bring up their Black Friday page well in advance, weeks or months before the peak
  • they just ask you to register to win a £100 gift card and these little incentives are great in order to kind of get people involved so that you’re aware and this builds up black Friday performance when the day comes
  • but also it’s also a great data capture exercise helping them build their customer database that they can then use intelligently when they actually move into peak time
  • Other things you can also do with these type of pages, to make them more relevant, is to change things like page titles, (for example updating the year in the page title) so that customers know this is the right page.

Our Seasonal Do’s and Don’ts for SEO

Here is a quick summary of our Do’s and Don’ts for Seasonal SEO.

First the DO’S:
  • use the same page year on year to build authority YOY – if you don’t you are starting again from a standing start each year.
  • after the peak remove Seasonal pages – from the main navigation but include links to them somewhere on your site to keep them live so they are being indexed constantly in readiness for next year.
  • create new content every year – which is designed to support the main page. For example, content that is talking about the wider part of your overall industry but then relating it back the page in the upcoming Peak period
And then the DONT’S:
  • don’t delete the page – it is fundamentally the worst thing that you can do
  • don’t use the current year in the URL – this can be managed in the titles
  • don’t apply 301s or 302s – as any value you have is going to disappear
  • don’t start late – due to the lead time that we know SEO has!

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