How Do You Deal With Seasonal Content and the SEO Implications

Most businesses have an element of seasonality, but some need to worry about it more than others. Online clothing stores may want to use content marketing to feature a swimwear shop in summer months, but it would look out of place in winter when users would rather see hosiery, hats and scarves prominently in the navigation. Similarly, gift shops usually want to feature prominent landing pages for special occasions, but once they’ve passed don’t want the website to look like it’s not updated regularly by promoting Valentine’s Day in May!

Why do I need to consider SEO when removing seasonal landing pages?

On the other hand, you also need to think about the impact of removing the content and the impact that can have on your SEO and rankings. If you only have a Valentine’s Day page on your website for 2 weeks out of 52 in the year, how are you going to build up enough SEO authority on the page to maintain high rankings when those two peak weeks do roll around?

So what are your options when rotating seasonal content and what implications do they bring for your rankings?

Deleting the pages

Completely removing the pages from your website (including from the backend (CMS) as well as what the user sees) might be a simple option, but it’s not desirable from any almost any viewpoint.

What are the SEO implications?

Deleting the page is a bad idea from a technical SEO point of view for a number of reasons:

  • It leaves you with no content on your website relevant to the important seasonal keywords for the majority of the year. This makes it difficult if not near impossible to maintain high rankings for those keywords for when they matter
  • Any links built that point to those seasonal pages will be lost, along with any positive SEO authority they passed along to your website
  • You’ll need to rewrite or recreate the pages from scratch again next year, most likely with a different URL – effectively starting from scratch next year with your rankings for those important keywords
  • In order to keep any SEO benefit you’ll need to get your developer to help you to set up a 301 redirect each time you delete a page to point the deleted URL to a live page on your website.
  • Alternatively you’ll need to ensure you have a useful 404 error page that will keep traffic on the site. You don’t want users to see a standard broken link page in their browser like this one.

At the very least your 404 error page should display as a branded page of your website and ideally help users to find another relevant category or product – suggested products or a search box are a good place to start. However, it’s important to note that this will not retain any of the SEO authority that the old page had built up.

What are the UX Implications?

Although deleting the page will clear the out-of-season content from your menu and keep your site up-to-date for now, deleting the page is not ideal from a user-experience point of view for a few reasons:

  • Users who come across any links pointing to those pages – either social shares or earned links from content marketing – won’t find what they were looking for
  • Similarly, users may have saved or emailed the link if they saw a product that they wanted to buy for another occasion – maybe as a birthday gift – but will come across an error page if they try to access the deleted content
  • Effectively, you could lose out on potential future sales

How easy is this to do? Can I handle it in my CMS?

Deleting a page is usually easy to do in almost any Content Management System (CMS) and, depending on what CMS you’re using, it could be your only out-of-the-box option. That is, you may only have the option to either have a page live or delete it completely from the website. If you want to go with any of the other options below (making the page inactive or hiding it from the menu) that may require custom coding from your developer to add that functionality to your CMS.

Making the pages inactive

You may wish to just ‘pause’ the pages – switching them to ‘inactive’ or ‘draft mode’ – so you can still see the old content in the backend of your CMS, but users can’t see the pages when visiting the website.

What are the SEO implications?

While users can’t see the pages, you also need to remember that search engines can’t either, so all of the SEO issues associated with deleting the pages apply here too.

However, you do have the somewhat lesser drawback that you won’t need to re-write or re-create the page next year, you can just reactivate it, and any links sill pointing to the page from around the internet will work again. That is, if they haven’t been identified as broken throughout the year and deleted.

And if you created a 301 redirect for the URL when you deactivate the page, you must remember to remove the redirect when the page is live again.

What are the UX Implications?

Again, as deactivating the page effectively ‘deletes’ it from the front end of your website, the same UX issues will apply here too as they do with deleting the page.

How easy is this to do?

Many CMS systems will allow you to do this yourself – look out for buttons or options such as ‘unpublish’ ‘draft mode’ or ‘deactivate’. However, there will be some content management systems that don’t offer this option, so you may have to pay your developer to edit your CMS to allow you the option to deactivate content.

Hiding the pages from the menu

With this option you leave the page live on the website, but you remove any links to it from your menu and navigation system so that users can’t see it or easily navigate to it. However, they will still be able to find it if they have the direct link or do a very specific search for it (either on your website or via Google).

So with this option you really get the best of both worlds – you clean up your navigation and menu so out of season pages aren’t prominently displayed, but users who really want to find the content can still find it, as can search engines.

What are the SEO implications?

This is by far the best option for SEO. With the pages continuously live you have relevant content on your website for your important seasonal keywords year round. This means that you can continuously work on improving your rankings for those keywords, so when the season rolls around you’ll be ready with strong rankings, rather than scrambling to get back up and missing the boat as the season flies past again for another year.

What are the UX Implications?

This is also the best option for user experience. Users who aren’t interested in your out of season category pages won’t see them in your menu, so your website appears up-to-date and relevant. But if they come across a link to those seasonal pages on another website or via social media they will find a live page, and even if it’s not what they’re looking for, they won’t be greeted with an error and can easily navigate to another page.

How easy is this to do?

This option is a feature of some CMS systems but it’s not as common as the other options. Look out for tick boxes in the pages’ advanced settings such as ‘show in menu’ or ‘show in navigation’. There may be a separate area where you can edit your menu and navigation and omit the page from there (and remember to add it back into the menu when you want the page to show again next year). Otherwise you may need your developer to code this option into your CMS.

Do you have any more questions about seasonal content or the implications of any other changes to your website? Let us know and we can help – just fill out a contact form and we’ll be in touch!

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