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Seasonal Traffic and How to Capture It for Your Blog

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.

For example:

  • 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).

Fireworks


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.

Yearly-Events

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?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Jason says:

    Great tips. It seems like someone could just cash in being a purely seasonal blogger alone. Get a URL for a season, every time the holiday comes around put up a bunch of posts… Work on another blog as the seasons change…

    Thanks for the tips.

  2. This is very good advice Darren, stuff that a lot of people miss.

    I used to have an AdSense website with lots of articles about selling on eBay. Every holiday season, my earnings would increase at least 10x – all from one article I wrote about Black Friday.

    My current company and website are small business and marketing related. I have not noticed any trends quite as striking as with my old eBay website, however I will say that business in the summer time is slowwww when compared with the winter. Everyone is having too much fun.

    Keep up the great writing,

    – Mason

  3. BeachBum says:

    I purchased Blakeize.com 2 minutes after Randy Jackson said it on American Idol. I then created a blog about Blake Lewis and started posting about his singing on American Idol. This was about 2 months before the final show.

    Traffic was minimal because a few fan forums dominated the first page.

    So wouldn’t a forum be a better choice thne a blog for seasonal traffic?

    I’m holding on to blakeize.com because I hear Blake is recording a CD due out Nov or Dec.

    Michael

  4. Rosinha says:

    Great tips!

    You’ve just given me some ideas to build a blog based on seasonal traffic!

    Beijinho (kiss)

  5. Rhys says:

    Every March 1st I get a huge traffic spike. I’m third on google UK for “Dydd Dewi Sant” – Welsh for “Saint David’s Day” (patron Saint of Wales). I generally blog about the day, usually try to teach my readers Welsh, or something Welsh related.

    It usually goes down a treat.

  6. Armand says:

    As usual, amazing tips from Darren.

    Unfortunately I don’t think my blog has any connection with any seasonal events, but it’s worth investigating and improvising if necessary.

  7. HH says:

    men you make things look soooo easy… I read all your posts and I have 2 visits a day!!! hehe, something must be severe wrong

  8. HH! says:

    Oh and 1 of those 2 is myself!

  9. David Finch says:

    Darren, once again great tips and insight. Thanks for reminding me about Google Trends. I think your comments about timing is key. Showing up to early, you miss it. Showing up to late, they’ve missed you.

    I’ve blogged about events before, but this has giving me some ideas… thanks!

  10. Another good reason to configure your permalinks so the post-page URLs don’t include a date?

  11. Great Article! Very useful advice from your experience. Thank you. I can implement this technique pretty well on my own blog site. Looking forward to seeing the results.

    All My Best – Joseph

  12. Dave says:

    I’m having the same trouble as Armand. I wrote a seasonal entry the other day, saw a quick spike in readership (although my blog is still really young and doesn’t have much to begin with), and then nothing. Great idea, though. I’ll keep it in mind.

  13. SUPER JABS says:

    I never really considered this before.

    My site covers such a broad spectrum of topics and I am now thinking that maybe the problem. But that’s how I got the audience I have now.

    But I think these tips are awesome if one can be savvy enough to slide them in.

  14. AmeyJah says:

    Hey darren great tips, it is more useful for regional blogs. So that those blogs can capture the momentum. I would also like to try this trick as it is one of the useful tips from you.

  15. Danilo says:

    It makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the tip and I’ll watch out for the events. Nice thing about a bilingual site is that I can write about events on more then one country. ;)

  16. Pua says:

    i kind of paid attention to hawaii’s big seasonal events and i tell you we do have big ones. will make up a blog diary of seasonal events immediately and post about those ahead of the time for SE to pick up on it. missed july 4th which is a good one in hawaii with fireworks at beachfront 5-star resorts. will take my chance for newyears fireworks in hawaii. thanks darren! aloha and happy 4th, pua

  17. Frank says:

    You are right. On the other hand, pre-writing can be difficult, because most informations will be released during an event, not before. But only a notice about an event including some useful tips few months ago can help to be present in search engines and listings. Later if the event start you can add, add, add and people will find it immediately.

    I realized the traffic power of events last year. At the beginning of this year I made an overview of some relevant events, fairs, trends and shows. It’s very funny to see the growth of traffic and of course of revenue too.

  18. At Home Mom says:

    Good point. I hadn’t even considered writing seasonal stuff ahead of time in order to get it indexed. Thank you.

  19. Steve says:

    Darren – thanks for the advice.

    You’re a sharp cookie!

    Cheers from Canada,

    Stephen Martile
    http://www.stephemartile.com

  20. Teejay says:

    I have been thinking of putting one but the trends show nothing that is related to my niche. There may be times you can use it if there is something related.

    I think I will still use the tip but for link baiting for purposes.

  21. HH! says:

    OK, I took my seasonal post out of the hat.. but my eternal problem is this…. now what? How should I make people know about the sole existence of my post?

    HH

  22. jen says:

    Hi Darren, I just want to clarify your successful photographing fireworks display bit:
    “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).”

    Does this mean that when you update and repost it on the frontpage of your blog it’s still sitting in its old form from the last time? Or do you do something magic with your blogging software so it only appears once?

    But it’s a great post and a great idea. Thanks.

  23. Deano says:

    The second peak you see on fireworks will be bonfire night in the UK (November the 5th) maybe worth your while to set up for that peak too.

  24. Shine says:

    Hi Darren,

    This is awesome. Haven’t thought of the possibility of reposting before. Updated development, consolidation of comments, new images, subsequent changes could all be integrated…

    Another AHA tip. Thanks so much!

  25. Andrew G.R. says:

    Great post. One thing that has been very effective for me is a calendar. We did an “Official Sick Day Calendar” for 2007 – and every time there’s a holiday, I see a nice spike in traffic. I’d suggest finding a calendar that’s appropriate for your audience as a way to generate some extra traffic all year long.

    Be well.

  26. Nice tips Darren!

    I must also be going to see what are the days that I could bank upon. I have few very good blogs but they are new. And don’t know if it would show up but will keep the work going and hope for the best.

    Thanks

  27. Don says:

    Simply stated, you need to have an editorial calendar for your blog much like a magazine would, radio talk show host, etc.

    I’ve created a simple one in Excel since I rotate around a few different themes – business, money and real estate.

  28. Hey Darren!

    Nice tip,
    It seems that u have done hard research on this topic…
    even it is very useful for me….

    Thanks

  29. fucc says:

    great article! linked from my site!

  30. Honestly am i beginning to feel Darren is a super natural when it comes to giving ideas. The article is just freaking me out.

    I am starting my calendars right away. Thanks Man.

  31. The seasonal technique was one I had captured about 4 years ago, I created http://www.googletrend.info which captures the top searches from all major search engines, and explains seasonal trending ( http://www.googletrend.info/trending.php ) quite well. I created the site for this exact technique, seasons… I found in the summer, people really start looking for hot topics such as bathing suits… woman are prone to this search and go straight to “bikinis” excellent way to capture the teen market as teenagers like to browse, not much of a way to make a profit from bathing suits as teens are not likely to buy, however, for social networking, this is a great trend to grab some new teens. After watching the trends for only one week, all 100 and more, you will see what people really look for online the most as they are similar in comparison and the niches are usually quite new… Watch for those news topics, real traffic generators, not the best for recurring readers though!

    My first 1000 visitors per day was by using WOW (World Of Warcraft) as one of my hot topics, WOW! did that grab alot of traffic, lol… still one of my top traffic generators. You can see this just by searching digg hot topics :O

    I love your blog darren… I will continue to inform my readers of your excellent source of beginners information and content. :)

  32. Hey darren… great idea for you, might capture some new readers. Create a blog called “Make Money With WOW (World Of Warcraft)” Watch your traffic soar as the topic hits the market :) Guarantee a boost! Just a test

  33. cgedas says:

    hi there,

    I want to ask one thing. I read this post and started to use some tips. The video game FIFA 2008 will be released in a few weeks by EA sports. So I started the blog about FIFA 2008 cause I’ve been playing this game for about ten years.

    However, maybe it’s to narrow to write about one game? Should I run the blog, for example, about all EA games or about all soccer video games?

  34. Gisele says:

    That was an excellent post and something I would not have thought of.

    Thanks for the idea!

    Gisele
    http://www.mybeautymatch.com

  35. Paul says:

    Great post. Never thought about targeting keywords for specific times of the year.

  36. Nice tip,
    It seems that u have done hard research on this topic…
    even it is very useful for me….

    Thanks

  37. Missy says:

    How fitting that you wrote this post on July 4th. (very clever, as always)

    Missy.

  38. Daren this is really cool stuff. I always wonder how you think about such interesting posts and how you write your post is amazing too.

    its fun reading it. keep’em coming’

    Jessica

  39. This is something that I never even thought of! I write about WordPress and the like on my blog, so I know to really kick up the posts when something big happens with WordPress, but I never thought about “real life” sorta things like that.

    Excellent post!

  40. stephen says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Timing is critical. Articles pertinent to the time of year is important. Knowing how people use search-engines means your site will attract the right people at the right times. Great article, well written.

  41. juliemarg says:

    I’m spiking right now as people search for fun things to do for the 4th of July

    http://thingsyoushoulddo.com/category/holidays/4th-of-july