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How The Seasons Affect Your Website

24th June 2013
By the time you read this article, it may be the hottest day of the year, the middle of heavy snowfall, or the dying embers of one of the longest droughts the country has ever seen.

On a different level, it may be the aftermath of a key election, days before the start of a major sporting event, or a key selling day in the run up to Christmas.

Whatever is happening in your locality as you scroll through these lines, hopefully the information on how to keep your website up to date with changes in seasons or climates will remain relevant and this page can stay largely unchanged. However, the first impressions you offer to visitors via your front page cannot afford to stay as static, and recognising the importance of how the general atmosphere should affect your online approach is an important component of staying ahead in the ongoing online battle.

You must have noticed how Google sneaks in subtle changes to its logo to coincide with key occasions. It may not fundamentally alter the look of that predominantly white page with a selection of primary-coloured letters and a search box in the middle of the page, but those little touches like a snowman in January, tennis ball in June or school uniform in September create a connection between the site and your surroundings that has a subconsciously uplifting effect.

It feels fresh. It feels relevant. And because everything seems bang up to date, it feels trustworthy. Imagine, then, how the reverse would negatively alter your perception. Easter eggs still showing up two weeks after Easter weekend? Snapshots of ice cream as the gales blow in during October? You’d get the impression that they’d given up the ghost and had let their standards slip. Maybe you’d decide to try out Yahoo or Bing instead, in case their search results were more up-to-the-minute?

Take a moment to type in the URL of your own website and have a think about how it relates to whatever else is going on around you. As this article goes to press in late June, everybody in the UK is gearing up for Wimbledon, the end of the school term, and the excitement of a summer holiday. If you’re selling – and let’s face it, every website sells something, whether from a retail or metaphorical viewpoint – are you offering a product or service that ties in neatly with what the general public are looking out for? If you’ve placed tennis rackets on the front page of your sporting goods site and sunglasses are big news in your fashion outlet, you’re onto a winner. If you’re still pushing skis and scarves instead, you may as well put your site into hibernation for a few months and wait for them to come back into fashion.
SummerWe all love summer, but how should you adjust your website?
It doesn’t take much to keep your site in tune with the world around it. Just look at how subtle those characters or clip art icons sneak into being on Google. You can tailor your site in just the same way by changing your featured products, talking about a forthcoming event in your introductory copy, or changing the site’s header to reflect on the outdoor climate or the type of product that everybody seems to want at this moment in time. The best site editors will do all three – and look for more ways of heightening the impact.

Pagoda Furniture are one of our longest standing clients, and one of the best at reacting to (or anticipating) changes in the world around them. They specialise in quality outdoor furniture, so as you might imagine, they operate a brand that sadly remains all too seasonal in the UK. But there is never a time to stop selling outdoor furniture. Indeed, they maximise their appeal at the height of the season with stunning sunny imagery that screams “get out into your garden and relax on a recliner”, but never follow our earlier advise about hibernating when it’s not ideally ‘their season’. The winter months are a key time for Pagoda to drum up excitement for better times, and drive traffic to their site through aspirational ideas.

Their biggest success has been their annual competition, which has now become a late winter to early spring institution via the website. By giving away a sparkling new product from their forthcoming annual range, Pagoda make people believe that good times are round the corner, and use competition portals to drive huge traffic volumes to their website – 5,000 entries in 2013 shows how successful the idea is. At a time of year when most people haven’t started to think about sprucing up their garden for the summer, they get ahead of the game by planting the idea in the minds of their potential customers.

Warbreck Garden Centre, another of our loyal clients who can be found at www.warbreck.co.uk, have a website that changes with the climate too. They know all about the importance of seasonal product ranges, and the pictures of plants, tools and garden implements that you see on screen – as well as the text in the introduction – have a very different feel depending on the time of year that you log on. Evergreens do well in winter, tulips take over in spring, and pot plants take pride of place throughout the summer, with new articles proclaiming the best of the products complimenting those features. Crucially, you won’t see a single Christmas tree idly scrolling across the front page once January arrives.

So, your site is now suitably adapted to changes in the world around it. Now how to get people to look at it? Of course, there will be certain key search terms that never go out of fashion for your organisation, so your site should be continually optimised for those, but how about your pay-per-click campaign (PPC)?

There will be little point in advertising your October half term getaways once November sets in, but spending more money on relevant search terms from late August through to mid October would be perfect timing to capture the attention of all those who want to book a last minute holiday. Retailers who know that they stock an item that will be in heavy demand over Christmas and into the January sales can benefit from a couple of months of extra investment when they know that searches for said item will be higher than normal, but it would be a waste to keep it going – particularly at a higher price per click – once you’ve hit the middle of January and people have stopped spending.

Of course, getting it right can be a fine art, and there may be periods when boosting your PPC spending may sound logical, when in fact the reverse is true. That’s why it’s always worth discussing the options with us, as we are happy to incorporate specialist advice or seasonal updates into our monthly maintenance packages.

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