For a long time, our team has defaulted to two forms of content: seasonal and non-seasonal. Seasonal was as you might imagine it: Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years — very clear cut, time-driven trends that inform sharp spikes of demand as they approached.
However, as time has passed and we’ve done more and more top and middle funnel content for our clients, we’ve come to realize that this polarization is doing our work, and the data available to us, a disservice.
Thanks to the great tool that is Google Trends, we can take topics that we imagine as non-seasonal, and prioritize them appropriately based on the data trend that almost every query on the internet has.
For example, let’s take a concept like “will you be my bridesmaid“. If taking on the very surface, this may seem generally non-seasonal, with perhaps a few increases near entertaining seasons.
However, the trend is actually way more inclement than that, showing a massive spike right after Christmas, a common time for people to be proposed to.
Similarly, if you had pitched something on “proposal ideas” in the heat of summer, it likely would have fallen on deaf ears.
It’s hard to say why, but September seems to be the time most people start considering their proposal in December, and a pitch in that time period would have likely had the most success.
On the same wavelength, if we had never looked at the trend for kitchen colors, we may have pitched a content asset into the drop period of summer, something that might not have been obvious to someone not interested in a kitchen.
The optimal strategy for content like this, if not hyper-competitive and for a domain with some existing authority, is to post it around two to three months before the height period. This gives the content time to age/slowly track up Google search results.
Since most of these topics are not so seasonal that it wouldn’t be applicable generally throughout the year, too, it would still make sense to post a few months previous.
But when applying outreach, to maximize return on effort, one should time it directly in the peak period. That, timed with some content age, should give a high authority site a window to generate some search traffic in the first year.
This way, you’re capturing not just search demand, but also link demand, by pitching the evergreen asset in the period of its demand peak. Even when pitching general bloggers, you’ll be more likely to pick up the now-deliberate coverage of someone who just happened to be thinking about it then, even if they haven’t written about it previously.
Strategic Planning Around Trends
Using this thought process, we can now start mapping out the search trends of all of our top and middle funnel evergreen content, and identify height and lull periods of each.
We can then create an “Outreach Calendar” for repromoting each of these assets when they approach their peak periods, and avoiding those that are off-season. With enough content in our inventory, we can intelligently maneuver around and make sure we are promoting the highest opportunity content in every peak appropriate to it. We can also leverage these trends throughout the year to do more sophisticated social sharing.
In addition, we find new periods of leverage around non-saturated demand points. Everyone is pitching holiday content: not as many people are pitching proposal ideas in September.
To give you a better sense of what a spreadsheet like this might look like, I’ve added the following document with example queries in the marketing space for the top twenty evergreen pages for the lifestyle brand Brit.co. I’ve mapped out optimal months for each.
If I was the only person in charge of email outreach at the company, I could follow this timeline down the calendar throughout the year, slightly adjusting or reprioritizing based on search volume as a potential differentiator for a given month.
However, even if search volume pushes us to emphasize one post over another, it’s likely the market for each is finite, and therefore, it still makes sense to leverage the peak periods for each.
Although this process is great for generating additional links, we can also leverage the same methodology for seasonal updates (and timestamp tweaks) to make sure we’re as fresh as possible when the height period comes.
That’s nothing new for trending content, but for evergreen content, it might not be a consideration many assess appropriately. An update like this can also give each piece additional attractiveness in the eyes of people you’re pitching, who of course prefer new assets over old.
It’s also smart to apply this methodology to seasonal content that may have more peaks than you might think. For example, the query “printable calendars” seems very skewed towards the beginning of the year. If we thought very surface level, we never would have inputted the query into trends and learned that August, school season, is also a peak.
Using this knowledge, we can repromote in August and generate the valuable links that’ll be necessary to get the content ranking well in front of its biggest season.
Additionally, we should also look at general topic trends. Although printable calendars is still a very big term, its general skew is downward. We should expect outreach success to drop with time. For some topics, this may mean eventually removing it from our outreach calendar.
Lessons from This Process
For us, the lessons from this analysis is that the world of seasonality is not black and white: seasonal and non-seasonal. Every query has trends, and if we apply these trends intelligently to our social and outreach strategies, we can reap the rewards of a smarter process.
Of course, seasonality does not mean a topic has a large outreach market: we talked about that in our post on increasing website traffic. You should strongly consider that when choosing what topic to pitch.
Overall, this concept is not hard to do, but can be easy to overlook. Those that apply it will have real advantages over those that don’t.