One of the latest trends in search is the growing use of digital assistants powered by voice search. In 2014, Google conducted a Mobile Voice Study which revealed that 55% of teens and 42% of adults use voice search more than once a day. More recently, Gary Illyes, webmaster trends analyst for Google, noted that the number of voice searches have more than doubled since 2015 while the company’s CEO Sundar Pichai recently stated that voice searches currently represent 20% of all Google searches.

Voice Search SEO in a Virtual Assistant World - Amazon Echo/Alexa

Amazon’s Alexa is one of the more popular voice search-based virtual assistants

Voice search-based assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Google aren’t just on smartphones anymore either. Other than the iPhone and iPad, Siri is on the Apple Watch, the latest Apple TV, and in your car via CarPlay. Likewise, Cortana and Google have recently expanded to cars and tablets. You may have also heard of Alexa – Amazon’s voice service for their handsfree Echo device. Alexa answers questions, gives information on local businesses, and reads the news, among other features. As voice assistants become increasingly present in our daily lives and their accuracy and usefulness continues to improve, the number of voice searches will only continue to grow.

And while all of this change will ultimately make our lives easier, voice search and the use of virtual assistants presents a new search engine optimization challenge. Namely, how will search engine optimization change in an environment where the user no longer looks at the screen and only the first result is typically read?


Voice Search’s SEO Impact

As of this writing, voice-specific search analytics and metrics do not yet exist. Google has suggested that voice search reporting will be coming to Search Console’s Search Analytics report. Voice search reporting in Google Analytics would segment out how people search for your site using a keyboard versus voice search, but at this point it’s hard to predict when that capability will arrive.

So in the absence of any data, we can assume that the primary SEO impact of virtual assistants and voice search will be to make the top search ranking even more valuable. With most voice assistants reading the first result aloud and then stopping, it’s likely that as these assistants improve fewer searchers will work their way down the google rankings.

The number of voice searches have more than doubled since 2015.

That’s a long way of saying that search engine optimization will become even more important in the era of voice search. So let’s look at how exactly we can optimize sites for voice search.


SEO Optimization Strategies for Voice Search


1. Include an FAQ page on your website

People use conversational speech when they use voice search, and they often ask questions with common phrases. These phrases include words like “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, and “how”. For example, rather than searching “Samsung VR”, people are more likely to search “What is Samsung VR?” The chart below shows how question phrases have grown on a yearly basis. To increase your business’ chances of being picked up by a voice assistant, use an FAQ page on your website with questions that begin with these common phrases, and include conversational answers. You ultimately want to focus on ranking as highly as possible for the questions consumers will ask about your product/service.


2. Use long-tail keywords targeting spoken phrases

Because voice searches are conversational in nature, marketers should focus on using long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are phrases with anywhere from 3-5 keywords that are specific to a product or service but not necessarily the most common searches. Google AdWords’ keyword planner can assist you in identifying relevant, longer keywords for your business in the form of questions. For example, rather than using the target keyword “Cancún vacation”, try using “What’s the best Cancún vacation package in winter”.


3. Focus SEO efforts on listing, ranking and review sites

Just as in the pre-voice search era, virtual assistants are looking to provide the best, most credible results as quickly as possible. This means that, increasingly, the search deck will be stacked in favor of those organizations that are well-represented on the third-party review/ranking/listing sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Capterra, etc. where voice assistants gather most of their information. Make sure that you’ve established at least a basic page on all list sites, and encourage your customers to leave you reviews on Google, Yelp, or wherever they prefer. For more prominent brands and individuals, keep an eye on Wikipedia, which is where most of the assistants start when asked general knowledge questions.


4. Think location first

If your business has a physical presence, it is even more crucial to optimize your content for voice assistants. Voice searches are often on smartphones are usually location-dependent, ending with “nearby” or “near me”, and will display different results based on the searcher’s proximity to your business.  It’s crucial that you make sure your business location is listed on all the major directories (Google, Apple and Bing Maps), and that details such as your hours and phone number are correct.

When it comes to the description you’re posting on these sites, think about what consumers will search for to find your business. For example, if you are a Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant in Washington DC, you may want to use keywords like “best pizza in Washington DC” or “Neapolitan pizza restaurant with vegetarian and gluten-free options”.


The Future of Voice Assistants

While voice assistants present a new challenge to marketers, they are also an additional opportunity to reach a target audience. Voice search will continue to grow, making up an estimated half of all searches by 2020. So make sure that you’re continually thinking about the conversation you want to have with your potential customers. Put yourself in their shoes, and act accordingly. You’ll be glad you did.

Content is king, engagement is queen.

How do you get your business found online? The answer is content marketing. But before we jump into how to develop your content marketing strategy, let’s talk about what content marketing actually is. Because you’ve got less time than the attention span of a goldfish to capture your target audience’s attention, and if you don’t someone else will.

Defining Content Marketing

More than 3 billion people use the internet every day to find answers to questions, keep in touch with friends, play games, and more. And your goal is to capture a tiny percentage of that traffic and redirect it to your call-to-action. Content marketing is the practice of establishing yourself as a go-to resource for the types of content that will catch your target audience’s attention. Various content marketing tactics could include:

  • Positioning yourself as an online thought leader and expert by answering user questions in forums and discussion groups (for example, on Quora, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc.)
  • Providing fun, shareable entertainment content such as games, memes, or videos (you may want to check out our Six Video Marketing Best Practices)
  • Posting aspirational lifestyle images (of food, decor, etc.), along with how-to tips (we’ll call this the Pinterest/Instagram approach)

But whichever channel you choose, remember that the goal of content marketing is to encourage your audience to take action and join a conversation with you – this could range from signing up for a newsletter, liking a status, or sharing a blog. And that means that you need to give your audience what they want, not what you think they want.

Content marketing is the billboard of the internet, there to catch people’s attention as they whiz by

In a competitive web environment, developing a content marketing strategy requires careful planning and proper execution. The following five content marketing tips will guide your content marketing strategy so you can outwit the competition.

1. Focus Your Content Marketing on the Right Keywords

Many marketers make the mistake of using content keywords that don’t reflect the words their target audience actually uses to describe the product or service they’re looking for (and thus the terms they use to search for it). These keywords could be irrelevant to their products or services, too broad, or too specific. To address this issue, you can research what keywords are popular among your target audience by using a secret weapon: Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner tool. Typing your content topic or target URL into the Keyword Planner will bring up monthly search volume forecasts, which serve as a proxy for the popularity of the terms you’re using.

The example below shows that, if we’re targeting our content toward, well, content marketing, we need to word it properly because much smaller numbers of people are searching for “marketing content”.

Screen shot 2016-06-20 at 11.20.37 PM.png

Google AdWord’s Keyword Planner provides you with keyword ideas for your content marketing strategy

2. Monitor Traffic Driven by Your Content Marketing Efforts in Google Analytics

Content Marketing: Developing a Strategy that Sticks

Where to find your top performing content in Google Analytics

Forecasting hypothetical search traffic volume is one thing. Monitoring how your content marketing efforts perform “in the wild” gives you actual data on what specific content your target audience is most interested in consuming from your own efforts.

To access this information, make sure to install Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools/Search Console on your site. Then, navigate down to Behavior/Site Content/All Pages. This data will show you what content is receiving the most traffic.

A bit further up in the left-hand menu, under Acquisition, you’ll also see a tab titled “Search Console”. If you’ve set up your Google Search Console, this tab will show you how well you’re performing against your specific target keywords.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the features that Google Analytics has to offer, but if you’re focused on content marketing these reports are ones that you don’t want to overlook.



3. Plan Ahead by Setting up Your Content Marketing Calendar

Screen shot 2016-06-21 at 12.05.58 AM.png

Use Facebook’s post scheduling tool to schedule content before your vacation

Creating a content calendar is an excellent but often-overlooked organizational tool to ensure you never miss a posting. Planning ahead is also essential during the summertime. If you know you’ll be on vacation, create content in advance and schedule appropriate times and dates for your posts. You can schedule posts within WordPress and Facebook, but you may want to use a management app such as Postfity if you have multiple platforms for your content.

You also want to be thinking about important dates for your target audience. Think about dates such as when their fiscal year ends and when holidays are. For example, you may want to get your content out in front of July 4th so you can capture the most search traffic. As we’ve previously discussed, you can also use Google Trends to identify when your target keywords are in heaviest demand.


Screen shot 2016-06-21 at 12.02.50 AM.png

An example of a content calendar


4. Keep Your Content Marketing Theme Consistent Over Time

Content Marketing: Developing a Strategy that Sticks Snowball

Content marketing. It’s kind of like a snowball rolling down a mountain.

When you’re planning your content strategy, keep in mind that repetition and consistency will carry the day. Your theme and viewpoint should remain the same over time, which will allow you to generate enough impressions on your content to capture meaningful traffic. That means that your themes need to stay consistent across social media channels.

It can be very easy to get distracted by posting interesting pictures on Instagram that don’t support your brand’s message, but your topics and themes should address the same topics for your target audience, even if your video and blog executions are completely different. Inconsistent themes confuse your audience about what your company does and how they can help them, which is the last thing you want.

5. Make the Most of Your Content: Leverage by Leveraging it Multiple Times

Content on the internet is a living thing. Data will change, perspectives will change, and once you’ve written something it doesn’t need to stay static. So, make the most of your content by posting it across numerous channels while consistently measuring performance. Make tweaks and changes to your blogs and share them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other channel in order to reach as much of your audience as possible. Break down different elements and share them across channels, while keeping a close eye on metrics such as what content got you the most clicks, how particular traffic behaved on your site, and how your audience interacted on each channel to refine your posts. Social media analytics tools such as Klout will assess your performance across channels, but we’ll talk about that more next week.

We hope these tips gave you a basis for developing a content marketing strategy that sticks. Look out for next week’s blog post on tracking social media marketing metrics.

Search is the top traffic driver to content sites

Most people understand the importance of having a search engine optimization strategy. But why isn’t your strategy working? SEO is complex and ever-changing, so it could be failing for many reasons. If you aren’t seeing results, it may be time to take a step back and identify what mistakes you could be making.

Here are some common SEO mistakes you should avoid:

1. You’re impatient with your SEO plan

In a perfect SEO world, every business would see their search rankings and traffic volume improve as soon as they posted their content. Unfortunately, SEO isn’t an overnight fix. Search engine rankings are the web equivalent of a personal reputation, and like a reputation they take months (and sometimes years) to build. An SEO strategy is not a quick fix – you’re competing with thousands of other sites for keyword-based virtual real estate, and much of that competition depends on how others view (and share) your content. It’s also hard to predict when you’ll see search traffic increases from your strategy. So, the first thing you need to do to have a successful SEO strategy is remember that you’ll need to stick with your plan for six months, minimum.

SEO strategies typically take 6 months to show results.

2. You don’t use analytics to refine your SEO

If you are’t using a web analytics tool such as Google Analytics (and its close cousin Google Search Console)Why Your SEO strategy is failing, you’ll have no idea how well any of your content is performing in drawing traffic. Analytics allows you to set up goals and monitor metrics such as site and page traffic, bounce rates, and page conversions which are factored into Google’s search rankings. Search Console shows you which keywords are appearing in greater or lesser density on your page, as well as how your site ranks for your focused terms.

But most importantly, simply creating an SEO plan won’t get you results. Creating engaging content that draws in traffic and converts that traffic is truly a trial and error process, and analytics allow you to make subtle tweaks that will make your SEO strategy more and more effective. For example, if your search rankings are high but you aren’t seeing conversions, this might be a sign that it’s time to improve your site’s design. If you’re finding that for some reason people attach to certain topics on your site but not others, then you’ll know you can’t go wrong by giving your audience more of that content. Monitoring analytics on a regular basis allows you to make continuous tweaks based on your traffic data, which is the core of any SEO strategy.

3. You’re not posting content regularly

Why SEO Strategies Fail - a Googlebot

Googlebots love fresh content

The more engaging, fresh content you provide, the more likely users will be to find that content, and the more site traffic you’ll receive. Googlebots love fresh content, and frequently updated sites have better chances at higher search rankings. Now, you don’t need to blog every single day, but you should strive to maintain at least a weekly rhythm to your posting. Creating a content calendar can help you maintain a regular posting schedule.

SEO strategies also extend to social media, where posting regularly on publicly searchable platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter is just as important as posting on your blog. Getting your content shared on social media (and having users visit your site from these platforms) is one of the quickest ways to grow your search rankings, and so as tedious as it might seem you do need to schedule regular updates for the major social media platforms to drive traffic to your blogs.

4. Your SEO strategy is targeting the wrong audience

Identifying your target audience is the core of all marketing, including SEO. If you don’t understand who your customer is, there is no doubt that your SEO strategy will fail. One way to identify your target audience is to use Google Analytics’ demographic feature. Your customer’s age, gender, sex, and location can tell you a lot about how they behave on the web. Someone who is 70 years old behaves differently on the web than a 25-year-old.  Knowing who your customer is also allows you to identify what what keywords you should be using and what you should be posting.

Your site’s bounce rate is a good indicator of whether your SEO strategy is targeting the right audience or not. A bounce rate is a measure of single interaction visits to a website, and is provided by Google Analytics and other tools. An average site bounce rate is about 40-55%, and anything lower is considered excellent. Alarmingly high bounce rates indicate that you’re receiving large volumes of poor traffic, which means that your SEO strategy is not targeting the right audience.

If you don’t know who you’re writing for, your SEO strategy is doomed

5. You’re using the wrong keywords

When choosing SEO keywords, remember to focus on what your target audience thinks you’re selling, not what you think you do

Keywords are the cornerstone of any SEO strategy, and the keywords you feature in your content need to be relevant to your target customers’s needs. The best way to identify your target keywords is to use keyword search tools such as Google AdWord’s Keyword Planner to identify the most commonly searched terms that are related to your business. One of the most common mistakes we see are businesses who insist on describing their products or services in ways that their target audience just doesn’t search for. Your goal is to find a balance between keywords that are descriptive for what you do and in high search volume. If your keywords are too specific, customers will have a difficult time finding you and those who do will be a narrow audience. If your keywords are too broad, you may get lost in the competition.


An example of Google AdWords’ Keyword Planning Tool

And a last note here – avoid keyword stuffing at all costs. Keyword stuffing is when content or meta tags are loaded with keywords in an attempt to boost rankings. This tactic will backfire because it’s picked up by web crawlers as spam and puts you at the bottom of rankings.

We hope that these tips help you better understand how to improve your search rankings. If you feel like you could still use a hand with your SEO strategy, why not contact Young Marketing Consulting?

One of the most common questions we get from our search engine optimization clients is “when will my SEO start working?” The answer, very often, is it depends. If you’ve got a strong web presence with optimized SEO architecture and good traffic volumes, the effect might be immediate. If you’re building a site from scratch, SEO is more like a snowball at the top of a mountain: you’ll need to keep nudging it down the hill until it gathers enough momentum on its own. Either way, the root of a strong search engine optimization campaign is regular content creation. And today we’d like to show you a few SEO tools you can use to make sure you’re putting out the most attractive content to your search audience so that your SEO efforts will start drawing traffic as soon as possible.

How fast does SEO work? 6 months is a good timeframe to see results.

At Young Marketing Consulting, we group SEO content into two categories:

  • “Evergreen” content designed to draw regular search traffic for your target keywords over a longer period of time
  • “Breaking news” content designed to help your site catch a rising, but temporary, wave of interest

The latter type of content is what you’ll want to focus on when trying a “fast-acting” SEO/content marketing campaign. Today, we’re going to look at three content marketing tools to help you build a breaking news-based SEO strategy.

How to Use Google Trends in Your SEO Strategy

The first tool in your fast-acting SEO toolkit is Google Trends. Originally released as Google Insights for Search in 2008, Google Trends’ current iteration is a fantastic SEO tool if you’re looking to capitalize on larger search trends. For example, let’s look at a graph of search interest in the terms “SEO” and “search engine optimization” over time:

What this graph tells us is that “SEO” has become familiar to a large audience over time, and that people quickly grew tired of typing “search engine optimization.” But historical research isn’t the main use for Google Trends. It’s a fantastic tool for helping you refine your content to capitalize on high search volume in the hopes that you can leverage the news cycle to catapult your SEO content to viral status.

As an example, let’s say you were a company looking to capitalize on the intense fascination with all things Donald J. Trump. Here’s a list of what’s most popular:

If you want your post to go viral, riding the amber waves of Trump’s hair is clearly the way to go.

How to Use Twitter Moments in Your SEO Strategy

The second tool for fast-acting SEO is Twitter Moments. Twitter Moments simplifies Twitter’s massive content stream by highlighting only trending topics within a broader category such as “News”. This dashboard allows you to peruse the day’s most popular topics and quickly craft content in response to a trending story. The more quickly you post and market content in response to a trending story, the more likely you’ll be to catch a wider audience while they’re still interested.

A look the Twitter Moments "News" category - a great SEO intelligence tool

A look the Twitter Moments “News” category – a great SEO intelligence tool

Twitter Moments allows you to follow topics so that you can keep continually informed of a conversation, and heavily features multimedia content such as videos, images, vines, and GIFs. You can also embed Moments content on your blog or site, which can help if your SEO strategy is to respond to topics as quickly as you can. You’ll always have the most relevant content available on your site, which will be helpful when pursuing a social media content marketing strategy.

How to embed a Tweet from Twitter Moments

How to embed a Tweet from Twitter Moments

How to Use Hootsuite Insights in Your SEO Strategy

Investing in a social media analytics tool such as Hootsuite Insights, formerly known as UberVU, can also help boost your SEO effort’s impact. Hootsuite Insights collects data from more than 100 million sources across 25+ social media channels, showing you what people are saying about a particular topic. More granular than Twitter or Google’s tools, Hootsuite can show where conversations are happening, who’s having them, and what the tone of the conversations is. This kind of data can be invaluable for the viral content creator seeking to drive SEO. Imagine a post based on the data below titled “Four Reasons Why Japanese Men Love Bread and Coffee So Much.” That’s the kind of juicy, fast-acting search engine optimization you can create with Hootsuite.

Hootsuite Insights can show you where to market your content for SEO purposes

Hootsuite Insights can show you where to market your content for SEO purposes

One of the most useful features in Hootsuite Insights is Conversation Maps, which shows the most commonly used phrases and words relating to a search and can help you optimize your SEO keywords when posting viral content.

What is Lady Gaga eating? A heaping bag of SEO goodness!

What is Lady Gaga eating? A heaping bag of SEO goodness!

For example, these results from a “Doritos” search tell us that people commonly associate Doritos with eating, Lady Gaga, and tacos. So, if you’re writing a blog post about Doritos, you’ll want to include those words in your post. Conversation Maps is a real-time trend identifier that serves as an excellent SEO tool when it comes to content creation.



So, if you’re looking to speed up your SEO, there you have it. Using these three essential SEO tools will help you identify what topics users are searching for, and what what they’re saying about these topics, in real time. With Google Trends, Twitter Moments, and Hootsuite Insights, you’ll always be posting exactly what the internet is looking to read, and you’re only a few posts away from a fast-acting SEO strategy. Good luck!


Welcome to the third and final post in our series on maximizing the time you spend on marketing. Here’s what we’ve covered so far:

Now, it’s time to get tactical. Your goal during this stage is to structure your marketing channels so that you can “set and forget” them. In other words, build your marketing platform so that it’s always working for you in the background while you tend to sales and operations. To do that, let’s dive into the four tactics that will help you maximize the time you spend on marketing:

  1. Implement the Basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  2. Establish a Digital Advertising/Search Engine Marketing Presence
  3. Set up Your Marketing Automation System
  4. Prepare for Inbound Lead Generation


1. Implement the Basics of Search Engine Optimization

“SEO is like breathing. You just need to do it, every day.”

This quote is from Frank, our head of Digital Marketing, and it sums up the essence of search engine optimization. So many SEO books have been written, and so many more blogs have been posted on various SEO tips and recommendations, that the core of SEO can be obscure for the layman. But SEO’s three pillars are much simpler than they seem:

The three phases of SEO

The three phases of SEO

  1. Optimize your website “under the hood” so that your pages have the strongest density of key terms you want to be known for in the right places in your site’s code (your URLs, your page titles, etc.)
  2. Publish regular content that includes your keywords, which will keep your site fresh in search results
  3. Get people to share your content and link to your website (ideally using your keywords in their links)

We recommend using Google’s excellent Keyword Planner tool to identify the target keywords you’ll use as the cornerstone of your search engine optimization strategy. Once you’ve got your SEO terms, review your website and make sure that those terms are reflected in the areas of your site such as your URLs, header tags, and internal links. After you’ve taken care of the basic nuts and bolts, it’s time to start creating new content. Set aside a day, write four blog posts that feature your target keywords, and then set them to publish weekly for four weeks. Repeat this process each month, track your progress using Google Analytics, and Google Webmaster Tools, and adjust your content as necessary.


2. Establish a Digital Advertising/Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Presence

Search engine marketing goes hand-in-hand with SEO. But whereas SEO is a more passive, “organic” channel, digital/PPC advertising lets you jump to the front of the search engine results page (SERP) line. Because of that efficacy, your pay-per-click advertising strategy should be different than your SEO strategy in one significant way:

Use SEM to target new audiences, rather than the existing terms where you rank well organically.

For example, if Young Marketing Consulting was ranking highly for, well, marketing consulting, but not as highly as a digital marketing agency, we would want to invest in PPC advertising campaign to put us in the top results for Washington DC digital marketing agencies.

SEM/PPC Ad Best Practice from Google

How do you write good PPC ad copy? Look no further than Google!

The next thing you want to do in a strong digital marketing campaign is to create an experience that will reward your leads for giving you their information. What offer will draw their interest enough to click on your ad, and once they land on your page what will give them that extra nudge to sign up?

Finally, you want to think about where (and when) your audience will be. If you’re selling breakfast food, there’s little point in advertising after 10 am or so. And if you’re only operating in the Washington DC metro area, for example, you’ll want to limit your ads as appropriate.

Once you’ve established the areas above, you’ll just need to set your budget, turn on your campaign, and let the software do the work.


3. Set up Your Marketing Automation System

Marketing Automation is one of our favorite aspects of digital marketing. Ultimately, what we all want is to make the process of generating and nurturing leads as pain-free as possible, which is the promise of marketing automation. There’s only one problem: setting up an automation platform requires you to invest a lot of upfront work to get up and running. Luckily, you’re working with a marketing firm with a lot of marketing automation experience.

The most important key to success for any marketing automation effort is to have your business rules clearly defined ahead of time. Think of your business rules as a series of IF/THEN statements. If a lead does X, what should happen? Keep building out these statements until you reach the end of the line. Take your ideal workflow to everyone who will be affected by your marketing automation and see if there are any outliers you aren’t covering. Once you’ve got your business rules blessed, it’s time to build your system.

One of the most common questions we get asked as a marketing consultant is to recommend a particular software suite for marketing automation. There are roughly four thousand possible choices, and the real answer is that most of them are exactly the same. They all allow you to customize your fields and workflows, create autoresponders, group and track leads and contacts, etc., so the tool you use will come down to personal taste. Pick the tool that best fits how you’d like to work and you’re off to the races.

Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic

Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic

4. Drive Inbound Lead Generation through Offers

Finally, now that you’ve got your marketing automation infrastructure in place, the last step is to continually put out offers to your audience that will entice them to take action and either give you their contact information or make a purchase. These are the “carrots” that will draw potential leads to you, and there are a few tips for making them valuable. The ideal inbound lead generation content is:

  • Time-Sensitive – it’s hitting your lead at the right time, driving them to take an action within a certain window
  • Unique – it separates your offer from the others out there
  • Valuable – what you’re offering is valuable enough to drive action on your potential lead’s part
  • Personalized – something that speaks to your individual lead’s core
  • Repetitive – you’re not just doing it once and seeing what happens. You’re putting the offer out over a long enough period of time to see if it truly performs

With the above set up, you’ll be in great shape to maximize your inbound lead generation in no time!

Thanks very much for reading our series. If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything related to SEO, SEM, marketing automation and inbound lead generation, please contact Young Marketing Consulting today!



“Search engine optimization is kind of like eating. You just have to do it every day.”

Frank, our head of digital marketing, said the above to me the other day and he couldn’t be more spot on. When helping our clients grow their web traffic, the team spends more time examining content marketing performance in Google Analytics than we’d care to admit. But one of the most common questions we receive about web traffic around this time of year actually has very little to do with search engine optimization (aka SEO) at all. Since we’re fast approaching the dreaded December web traffic slowdown, I thought it would be a good idea to spend a bit of time helping you to understand what’s happening.

Though most reports I’ve seen on the phenomenon are anecdotal based on individual sites or agency experience, a consensus among marketers is that the typical site’s traffic drops 20-40% during the period between Thanksgiving and New Years. Digging a little deeper, we can use Google Trends as a proxy for web traffic in various industries. As you’ll see below, search volume generally falls off a cliff in December. There are exceptions for consumer products and retailers that are heavily involved in holiday shopping, but by and large you should prepare for your lowest web activity levels of the year.

What’s Behind December Web Traffic Declines?

Don’t worry, your website’s search engine optimization hasn’t suddenly gone haywire. Web traffic declines in December because people spend much more time doing offline activities during the holidays: traveling, visiting with family, opening presents, carving the ham, etc. And, unless you’re in retail, entertainment, or consumer products, your site will likely see its lowest traffic levels of the year during this period.

So What Can My Business Do to Keep Healthy Holiday Traffic Levels?

Whenever you’re looking to drive organic web traffic, publishing volume becomes key. Continue your regular updates, understanding that you’re speaking to a much smaller audience. Because of that fact, you may want to take a moment to respond to those individuals who are visiting you on social media in December. You can also post more shareable holiday-themed content (if that kind of material lends itself to your business), and if you’ll be running year-end discounts or offers make sure to get your email marketing out early enough that people haven’t already tuned out their email.

The important thing is to recognize that December traffic declines are temporary. If you don’t see traffic return to normal by later in January, then it might be time to dive back into your search engine optimization efforts.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process by which your website is discovered by search engine users. Given that 89% of consumers use a search engine to inform their purchase decision and 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results, search engine optimization has become one of the most important marketing activities a business can undertake.  And while you’ve probably seen thousands of articles on the subject, improving your business’s search ranking isn’t nearly as complicated as most marketing firms would have you believe.

A good SEO strategy involves three elements:

  1. Posting content on your website that’s relevant to your target audience’s search terms
  2. Ensuring others recognize your content and website as authoritative
  3. Performing various technical enhancements on your website that improve a search engine’s ability to understand your site and categorize your content appropriately

To boil things down even further…

Search Engine Optimization is the act of creating relevant content and marketing that content to your audience on a regular basis.

What Search Engine Optimization Can Do for Your Website

Think of SEO as a tiny snowball at the top of a mountain. The longer and farther it rolls, the more snow it picks up until it’s an avalanche. The more relevant content you’re posting that’s getting found by your audience, the more people who are talking about you, linking to you, and sharing your content, the higher your site will climb in Google’s search rankings. But the process takes time. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind what SEO can’t do for your website.

The Limitations of Search Engine Optimization

“Organic” search engine optimization refers to the number of people who are naturally searching for the content or services that you provide. It’s important to realize that SEO will not help you grow this audience. Nor will it immediately skyrocket your website traffic volumes. In other words, if you’re looking for large results in a compressed period of time you may want to consider pay-per-click advertising or another channel where you can guarantee a higher volume of impressions right off the bat.

A Simple Guide to Implementing Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization begins with quality. Search engines like Google measure quality in two ways: the functionality of the website, and the actual content on the site. Functionality could relate to navigation issues, mobile optimization issues, usability issues, etc.; sites with poor user experiences that drive viewers away will see a corresponding drop in their search rankings.

When it comes to content quality, knowing what your target audience is looking for will facilitate higher traffic flows to your page and keep your audience on your site once they arrive. The longer a visitor spends on your site interacting with your content (filling out a form, scrolling, watching a video, etc.), the better a search engine will consider your site’s quality to be. You should also research what competitors have provided and try to be unique; people want to know what makes your product or service different. Furthermore, search engines are getting smarter and smarter at filtering out practices like keyword stuffing (repeating the same keyword 25 times on a page), so you’ll need to work harder to keep your audience engaged by providing uniquely insightful expertise.

The Bottom Line

A study shows that search is the number one driver of traffic to content sites. Ultimately, Google is in the business of giving its customers what they want, which is the most relevant answers to their searches. If you follow the tips above, you’ll be taking the first step toward search engine optimization.


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