Adjust Search To Seasons, Cycles and Situations

Whether you are managing a pay-per-click campaign, optimizing a news release, launching a blogger relations campaign or any other of a dozen things to improve search and drive more traffic, be sure to make adjustments for the seasons, cycles and situations that impact on visitor behavior.

The Seasons

Children, adults, the elderly… consumers, businesspeople, government employees… men, women, transvestites… Catholics, Jews, Muslims… we are all subject to the changing seasons. The shifts in weather patterns we refer to as spring, summer fall and winter… the comings and goings of holidays, like Christmas and New Year and Independence Day… the taking of vacation time from school or work or retirement… the experience of longer days and longer nights thanks to the solstice.

As a marketer it is critical to understand the seasons, how they impact on business and how to communicate accordingly. Even the most subtle adjustments in messaging or communication or placement can amount to millions of dollars in increased (or lost) revenues. Likewise, it is important – if not critical – to understand that people change their search behavior in accordance with the seasons. There is a sudden increase in searches for boots and thermal underwear in the winter and for boogie boards and sun tan lotion in the summer. Are you adjusting your SEO and SEM accordingly?

As most corn farmers will tell you, the secret to a bumper crop is to plant the right variety at the right time – not too early and not too late.

The Cycles

At the moment, most of the globe is in a down economic cycle. As a result, consumers and businesses alike are more sensitive than usual to “price” and “value” messages. And they are more likely to get those messages while searching for deals – in newspapers and magazines and catalogs and on the Internet.

We are also in a green cycle right now. The world-at-large (except for China and the U.S.) is very concerned about the environment. So we now search for natural cleaners and organic foods and eco-friendly paints and sustainable production techniques.

By their very nature, most cycles repeat themselves, though the frequency often varies and some eventually just end. Some cycles are epic and some are subtle and short-lived. Regardless, you should take full advantage of the opportunities they provide for you as a marketer to tailor your search activities.

The Situations

Okay, so now this get a little bit tricky. What constitutes a situation that is important enough and enduring enough that it warrants your attention, yet is neither seasonal nor cyclical?

How about H1N1? According to the most recent report from ClickZ, the top search terms during September 2009 under the pharmaceutical and medical products category was “flu symptoms.” In all likelihood, flu-related searches will continue through the spring – all around the world.

Al Gore says we have pushed our planet into a “climate change” situation that we may not be able to escape from. It is getting warmer and the ice caps are melting and the ocean’s are getting watered down and rising. Cats and dogs are sleeping together. Mass hysteria. And suddenly people and businesses all around the planet are becoming sensitive to the ozone.

Like cycles, some situations last a long time, while others come and go quickly. As a marketer you need to be attuned to these situations and react accordingly – not simply to “take advantage” of the situation, but to communicate your ability to help the marketplace deal with the situation.

The Bottomline

As my favorite boss Ellen McConnell often told me: No matter how much you’ve done, there is always one more thing to do. Search is no exception to Ellen’s rule.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.