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Q2 is unique because there isn’t a singular event that reaches the whole population. From religious holidays to family-oriented events, spring is all about strategically choosing the targeted events that reach your customers.
Hear Jordan Koene, Searchmetrics Inc’s Lead SEO Strategist and CEO, share his thoughts, strategies, and tactics related to preparing to make the most of the spring SEO bloom.
- How to optimize for religious & family-oriented holidays
- Why Sports Media SEO’s are working overtime in Q2
- How to work with cross-functional partners
GUESTS & RESOURCES:
Benjamin: Welcome to Seasonality Month on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro and this month we’re going to talk about managing the ebbs and flows of your seasonal SEO calendar. Joining us again today is Jordan Koene, who’s the lead SEO Strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. And today Jordan and I are going to talk about how he thinks about managing Q2 seasonality.
But before we hear from Jordan, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise-scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data-driven decisions. And we’re happy to invite you, our loyal podcast listeners, to an upcoming AMA webinar workshop where Tyson Stockton, our Director of Services will be answering all of your questions about seasonality. So come prepared with your website, your data, and any questions you have related to optimizing your content for the holiday season and Tyson will answer your questions on our webinar in real time. So join our seasonal AMA webinar. Go to searchmetrics.com/webinar.
Okay, on the show. Here’s my conversation with Jordan Koene, lead SEO Strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. Jordan, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.
Jordan: Hey, Ben, looking forward to diving in here and helping on the seasonal topic.
Benjamin: Great to have you here talking about operations from an SEO perspective, not necessarily the strategy stuff that we normally talk about. Let’s get into details of what’s happening in Q2, not necessarily a time that people are really thinking about a specific big seasonal event. Lots of micro events. Talk to me about the seasonal calendar for SEOs in Q2.
Jordan: Yeah, so the calendar is a unique one and kind of bucketed into two general trends when we look at Q2. You have this kind of grouping of more horizontal type events that take place through Q2. things like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. We have some are religious holidays as well, Passover, Easter in the beginning of the quarter, and these kind of span larger audiences in groups of people throughout the entire quarter. Obviously they are for specific events.
Jordan: And then you also have more of the local or micro type moment events that take place in Q2, and these include things like you have a holiday like Memorial Day, like a National holiday, not necessarily a religious holiday, which has a lot of micro events in and of itself. And then as you get into June you have a collective of smaller, oftentimes regional type of events that take place. Things such as Pride. You have a few other events that take place throughout the month of June that are also the start of kind of like summer event and festival type season.
Benjamin: Yeah. The interesting thing to me about Q2 is in almost every other quarter there’s one unifying event, right? In Q4, it’s the holidays. I know Christmas is a religious holiday, but everybody buys a bunch of stuff. Q1, it’s cold. Everybody’s dealing with the winter, right? And Superbowl is not necessarily universal, but a big deal. It’s the biggest media event in the sporting world.
Benjamin: Q3, you get the summer, everybody’s on their summer vacation. Q2, you really have to cobble together the SEO strategy to reach the entire group. You get the Jews with Passover, the Catholics with Easter. You can have the LGBTQIA community with Pride. You can get moms and dads and students and kids. Mother’s Day, Father’s day, graduation. There’s all these different micro events that pick off a different portion of the population, but there’s no unifying single event for everyone.
Jordan: There’s really not, and the interesting thing is based on category, so different types of websites that are addressing different types of audiences, whether it be retail, like a Target or Walmart or an Ebay, they’re going to obviously focus on probably graduation during that time period and the big gifting events, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. And so that’s going to be the main focal point.
But then if you move over to say, media and news, it really starts to kind of shift tremendously over to other things such as the religious holidays like Passover, Easter, as well as the start of baseball, sporting events and the NHL and NBA Playoffs that take place during that time of year. So different types of categories are going to really focus their energy and their resources on different events in Q2.
Benjamin: So if Q2 is about segmentation, right? Understanding who your customers are and picking out the specific events that you’re going to optimize for. What’s the strategy when you’re doing target specific SEO? If you’re going after the Jewish population or the basketball fans or whoever it may be. How do you optimize for a specific segment of the population?
Jordan: Yeah, so as opposed to the big Q4 events where everybody’s obviously focused on the holidays, or even other quarters like Q1 when folks are really focused on fitness and health in the beginning of the year. In particular when people are trying to make their new year commitments. In Q2 the ability to be aligned universally across your marketing mix is really critical and having clarity that your SEO efforts and your other traditional or mainstream or retail based marketing efforts are going to be aligned with your SEO components. And doing so, as I’m sure you’re hearing all of our seasonal podcasts, doing this early and in advance, right? You can’t just wait till the last minute. You can’t wait two days until Father’s Day and suddenly start your SEO efforts.
Benjamin: I think this is one of those times when you need to buddy up with your business intelligence, your analytics team, your reporting. Really understand what your key metrics are and understand who are your most valuable customers. So getting out of just SEO and more into broad marketing, this is a time of the year where understanding the people that are most likely going to be your customers really matters, right? If you understand that you get a lot of parents, dads and grads, Mother’s Day is going to be an important time. If your brand skews religious or non-religious, right? You have to understand your community, understand your customers, and build the content in advance that’s gonna make an impact to them.
Jordan: That’s a really good point. And I think doing this before Q2 starts is not only a great exercise for Q2 itself, but also all the other holiday seasons, and ensures your SEO investments, whether it be around content, technical optimization, and when those technical optimizations get implemented, these aspects of your SEO planning become more apparent, especially as you get into Q2, and many of the events and the micro moments are very isolated and very small in comparison to some of the major events that take place in other quarters.
Benjamin: So talk to me about that process. When you’re an SEO and you’re serving as an operator how are you going to understand the overall picture of who your customers are? What are the micro segments so you can do your keyword research and your content creation in advance? What’s the process of working and building those business relationships with the people that have the broader marketing data?
Jordan: Yeah, so that’s always a tricky one, right? And it varies based on how the SEO in the organization is aligned. So what I mean by that is, and this is the most traditional scenarios. I’m not saying that they’re the only ones, but it’s the most traditional scenarios. That is either have an SEO who’s in the product organization and is highly technical and technical focused, or you have one that’s in a marketing organization that is aligned more strategically to these various departments and resources within a marketing organization, like say analytics, research teams, the content team, these SEOs who sit in a marketing organization by default and in theory should have a competitive advantage in acquiring and ensuring that their SEO plan is aligned with that marketing team in the organization.
Jordan: The ones that are in product, you have a little extra work to do, and you actually have to kind of get outside of your own comfort zone, step into the marketing arena and start having those conversations and debating those conversations, or when, how to do things, and align yourself with those marketing stakeholders so that your product efforts, and in some cases also content efforts, are supporting that marketing calendar and message.
Benjamin: I’m not sure if we’ve ever mentioned this on the podcast, but Jordan and I worked together at a company called Ebay back in the day. Did we ever mention that?
Jordan: I have no idea if we did. If we did it must have been in an early episode.
Benjamin: I think we’ve mentioned it once or twice. Basically every episode that we’re on together. And when we were at Ebay there was a constant seasonal calendar driven by the brand team. And that’s one of the things that we focused on, was not necessarily just looking at the quantitative data and understanding hey, are more people on Ebay Catholics, so we should prioritize Easter over Passover? But it was more, let’s understand what the broader activities the marketing team is taking on and building those relationships.
Benjamin: If the other marketing efforts are going to happen, we should be supporting it from an SEO perspective. So it is not necessarily just a data-driven exercise. Some of the times you’re taking a cue from the brand team as they’re trying to position the company to get a specific message across.
Jordan: And one of the fascinating things I think we learned during that time, Ben, was that you don’t always get it right. The SEO to marketing calendar and the ability to sync those two things up is very difficult. You don’t control what happens in SEO and you often are even in less control when own marketing organizations or customer organizations are steering the ship. And so getting those things aligned takes practice, takes time. And I think that’s one of the greatest things that anyone who’s managing seasonal SEO efforts can take from this. Is you gotta keep trying, keep chipping away at it, but you may not get it right the first time.
Benjamin: You don’t always get it right, and worst comes to worst, you just end up doing a podcast like five years later.
Jordan: Is that when we all go back to now?
Benjamin: There’s always a fallback everyone.
Benjamin: So Jordan, one of the things that I’m interested to hear, in each quarter there’s a specific couple of industries that it ends up being a heavier time. Q4, obviously e-commerce, right? Media and publishing in Q3. As the kids are off to school, you’re going to be playing more video games and watching more TV. Hopefully out playing and doing something athletic as well, but that’s the nature of the beast.
Benjamin: In Q2, what are the industries that are heavying up and seeing more SEO traffic and just a seasonal peak?
Jordan: That’s a great question, Ben. And there are some categories that have more prevalence during the Q2 period. Notably we touched on one earlier and I think we should definitely dive into this one a little bit more, but it is certainly particular sporting news. You see a tremendous amount of activity in Q2 with certain, the start of … it’s a more of a combination of the fact that there’s a lot of sports that are happening or taking place. So that combination creates a lot of awareness for news outlets like CBS Sports, ESPN, and the like.
Jordan: And then you also have in Q2 a great deal of informational or content-based types of sites that are creating a lot of awareness. So these can be also verticalized. Like say in the travel category, you might have TripAdvisor who sees a good amount of traffic during the Q2 season. Not necessarily in the same way that you do from a transactional standpoint earlier in the year, like you do in Q1 or in Q4, but actually more from the informative and learning perspective because people are taking their summer vacations and they’re planning those summer vacations. So they’re figuring out what kind of events they want to do, what kind of cities they want to visit, what day trips they want to take. And so you see a huge influx around the content that’s being consumed during Q2 more so than say the transactional nature that takes place in other quarters.
Benjamin: It makes sense, right? You’re coming up on the summer months, so people are doing their research for their big annual trip. That’s when most people are taking their vacation. When the kids are off of school, and you’re seeing the rise in sports media. You have the NBA Playoffs, NHL Playoffs, you have Major League Baseball. It’s one of the few times of the year that you have three leagues, and generally with the leagues there is the beginning of a season there’s a lot of interest and then at the end of the season. And so you’re hitting a peak time for three of the four major sports leagues.
Jordan: Right. And I mean and there’s also the fact that there’s other seasonal activities that take place during Q2, but they’re not annual based, like things like the World Cup. It just so happens that this year they had the Women’s World Cup that started in Q2, but that doesn’t take place every year.
Benjamin: Any comments on equal pay for women as it relates to SEO?
Benjamin: Hey, hey, pay the ladies. Pay the ladies-
Jordan: Pay the ladies.
Benjamin: … anybody that’s a sports fan, SEO or not, pay the ladies.
Jordan: Pay the ladies. Agreed. I can’t disagree with that. So …
Benjamin: Where do we go from here?
Benjamin: So Jordan, kidding aside, this is a time of year when you’re cobbling together all of your events, you’re working with your brand team, you’re trying to understand who your customers are. If you’re in sports media, if you’re in a travel planning site, it’s a busy time of the year. For a lot of people the middle of the year is actually the downtime. What do you do with your time off? Is this where the SEOs are taking their vacation, or are you buckling down and doing more technical and big ops type stuff?
Jordan: I actually think this is one of the busiest periods of time for SEOs, especially the ones that are incredibly technical because this is the most opportune time of year to execute many of your critical releases that will improve core aspects of SEO. Things like your site speed, the code or the code debt that you have acquired, improving things like the interlinking modules and the experiences that you have on your site.
Jordan: This quarter and the beginning of Q3 are some of the most fundamental technical SEO time periods. If you’re not executing on that roadmap during these quarters, the likelihood of you being able to get those things done in Q4 is next to zero because nobody wants to test those big infrastructure-like changes in the busiest period of time. And I’m not just talking about retail, just internet traffic at large increases significantly as we move into Q4. So just the number of page visits per second per day increase and thus the willingness for businesses to be volatile because they’ve made a major change is much lower.
Jordan: In fact, tons of companies outside of even e-commerce just have quiet periods through good chunks of Q4 and early Q1 largely due to the fact that people are off on holiday, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that if you’re a technical SEO, you’re not able to tap into those resources to get the things done that you want to on your technical roadmap.
Benjamin: This isn’t the time to get the hard work done.
Jordan: That’s right.
Benjamin: Right. Like this and Q3, when you don’t have the major holidays, people are generally away. This is the time to place your bets, to do the big optimizations, to tackle the hard projects because at the end of the year you’re running into the big holidays. At the beginning of the year, depending on what your business is, you could be impacted by the Super Bowl, the winter, the post-holiday rush as well. So this is really the time to buckle down, and more than anything, it’s also the time to start getting ahead and doing your planning for the big things you need to do at the end of the year.
Jordan: That’s absolutely right and I think that it’s one of the greatest learning experiences, especially when you’re working in larger technology organizations. How to capitalize on this time period becomes a kind of a learning experience for everybody who’s doing SEO. And I think that companies admire SEOs who are thinking along with the businesses strategy and anticipating how the business is going to react to these types of requests during those busy times of year.
Benjamin: Jordan, any last comments about managing seasonality in Q2, and this beginning of the middle part of the year?
Jordan: I think the one thing is, you’re going to hear over and over again, is make sure that you’re starting early. Seasonality is a part of the planning process and so take that to heart. And when it comes to Q2, think more broadly when it comes to the events that take place as there are so many smaller moments that occur throughout the quarter. And if you can think in anticipation on how you want to capitalize on the ones that address your target audience, you’ll find a lot of success in this quarter.
Benjamin: And pay the ladies.
Jordan: And pay the ladies. Yes, of course.
Benjamin: Congratulations to the United States women and the World Cup winners.
Jordan: Absolutely. I was a big fan. I was watching all the way through, so that was really exciting. And I’m super excited for the … go back to back for the women’s team. That’s just unreal and it’s unprecedented. I think the achievements they’ve reached-
Benjamin: Pay the ladies. And that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, the lead SEO strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics Inc.
Benjamin: We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is jtkoene, J-T-K-O-E-N-E.
Benjamin: If you have general marketing questions, or if you’d like to talk to me about this podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes, or you can send me a Tweet at benjshap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.
Benjamin: If you’re interested in attending our seasonality AMA webinar with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’s Director of Services, we’re going to answer all of your holiday optimization questions. So come with your webpages and your datasets, and Tyson will look at them in real time.
Benjamin: To Register for our seasonal AMA webinar, go to searchmetrics.com/webinar.
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Benjamin: Okay, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.