You don’t have to be psychic to accurately predict the future when it comes to search behavior, but for people who know how to use SEO to get site traffic, the ability to predict the future has some tangible benefits. Anticipating news events and search trends is a great way to make a site ready for traffic peaks that come when people seek more information by going to a search engine. Naturally, a certain amount of luck is necessary when it comes to predicting outcomes, but with a little hard work and preparation you can profit by being right on a few key occasions.
How can you predict future trends? It helps if you understand the past. If you offer repair services in areas where it frequently rains, you can bet that people are going to be looking for keywords related to flooding and roof leaks. Many contractors with PPC campaigns will raise their daily campaign limits when they know a storm is on the way. On the SEO side, you just need to make sure your site is positioned in the search results prior to the next big weather event. Of you sell products, contractor leads, or services nationally, then some forward looking SEO will put you in the right spot when Mother Nature has her next seemingly random event.
Predicting the future also works for other events. If you run a political site, you have a certain amount of advance notice as to who the candidates are and what the issues will be in advance of an election. Since search engines tend to reward sites that establish content and links ahead of time, you may be able to corner the market on a point of view while it is still taking shape. Likewise, if you profile a wide field of candidates ahead of time, one of them is going to be the frontrunner and your site can feature support or criticism that is more likely to get found. Even though you may have put in the same work for the 12 candidates who got nowhere, you can still hold a nice spot for the one who reached the top. Usually the best way to segment out this kind of traffic is to buy candidate related domain names and put some basic content on each one, then flip the top one for a profit. In many cases, if the candidate’s supporters won’t buy the domain name, then the opponents will get it for their own purposes!
For years, people in brick and mortar businesses have counted on seasonality to make sales, whether it was for snow removal or Christmas gifts. In the world of search engine optimization, the way to capture seasonal trends usually involves keeping sections of your site active that may be out of season for a good part of the year. For instance, a site that sells chocolates may more success maintaining pages for “Christmas Chocolates” and “Valentine’s Day Candy” instead of having a “constantly changing “seasonal” page that is too vague to classify. The advantage of having a permanent page for every event is that you can find permanent inbound links to these pages, which can solidify search engine results year after year.
Are you a film junkie? If so, you can often build sites related to the topic matter of upcoming blockbusters, and cash in on the related search volume. Occasionally people are able to buy exact match domains related to a movie’s title (which can have trademark and copyright ramifications) but in most cases the subject matter of the film can be a good topic. For instance, the recent Vampire craze has led to an explosion of movies about overly emotional creatures with an insatiable appetite for human blood. A site that had anticipated this trend could have easily made money selling books, paraphernalia, or even impressions on pages that explored a particular film or the topic of vampires in general. Likewise, the person who builds on the next young-adult trend can also become the resource for a fad that is not as close to peaking.
Positioning your site for the unexpected is one of the best ways to capture a torrent of sudden traffic, but there can be a couple of pitfalls to consider. First, you want to be sure that you have a flexible enough bandwidth plan that your site doesn’t get shut down by your hosting provider when real traffic comes in. Second, you should consider that some topics, like ones involving celebrities, may bring up real-time news results during a celebrity scandal or death. Although this may seem a bit morbid, it may not pay to bank on a celebrity’s demise for search engine traffic if your site is going to be pushed back in favor of the latest gossip site. However, as the news gets stale, real-time results tend to drop off and your site may regain its previous position. No matter whether you’re preparing for a “possible” future or one that is guaranteed by virtue of seasonal search trends, you can achieve the best results by getting started today. Even if you’re in the midst of this year’s buying season, you can definitely position your site for next year. In any case, you don’t need a crystal ball to predict the future, but a few forecasting successes will make people think you’re a closet Nostradamus.