Google AdWords is an area of expertise of its own, like WordPress, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Social Media Management. However, you don’t have to be an AdWords expert to use a few of its insightful tools. Even non-experts know that AdWords has a Keyword Planner that lets you see statistics on specific search phrases. A business owner may decide to start advertising they’ll start advertising online and then they try ads on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Bing, YouTube, and a dozen other places. The Seasonality of Specific Searches Wherever you decide is the best spend of your online or offline marketing dollars, you will at least want to have a Google AdWords account so you can do keyword research. There’s no minimum spend so you can use the tools for free. In this article, we’ll walk through examples for an Oklahoma lawn care company. I chose a lawn care company because it’s a perfect example of seasonality, has a variety of disconnected services (e.g. cutting grass in summer, installing Christmas lights in November, and snow removal in Q1). Plus, since it’s the start of the year, it’s easier to look back at annual trends for the past two years. We’ll look at statistics instead of guessing when people are searching for what we want to sell them. Look at each image and its caption for some insightful commentary. Then, go through the same process for your industry and desired keywords. All screenshots below are from Google AdWords as of January 18, 2015, and, unless otherwise specified, are specific to Tulsa County, Google + search partners, broad matching keywords, and are for January to December of the stated year. Already Lost? If you’re unfamiliar with Google AdWords, the Keyword Planner, and other terms mentioned in this article, you could watch this video to sort of get caught up (it’s long so don’t watch it if you’re familiar). Ok, let’s get started… Once you’re logged in to your Google AdWords account, go to Tools -> Keyword Planner. Google AdWords – Tools – Keyword Planner menu item Once in the Keyword Planner, select the “Get search volume…” option. Keyword Planner – Get Search Volume option After reading the rest of this article, you’ll be able to use this screen to enter your search term(s), adjust your settings, and find answers to your own curiosities about the seasonality of your potential customers’ searching. Defining Our Goal Whenever planning to do marketing, it’s important to optimize your spend. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) (e.g. pay-per-click) is so popular because you’re able to target customers in the moment of their searching, unlike blanketing a locale with postcards, filling magazine racks, and other alternatives. However, even if you use those or other offline strategies, understanding the seasonality of each of your services can help you optimize the timing of your marketing messages. In addition to cutting lawns, lawn care companies weed, edge, prune, refresh flower beds, and cleanup a yard. Since our goal is simply to understand the start, peak, and end (i.e. seasonality) of potential long-term repeat customers, we’ll focus on the popular search phrases to gauge overall seasonality. Keywords: Lawn Care, Lawn Cutting, Lawn Mowing 2013-14 Lawn Care, Lawn Cutting, Lawn Mowing From the search trends, it appears that people really start searching in March, peaks in April/May, and of course ends in November and December. Keywords: Weed Control, Lawn Fertilization 2013-14 Weed Control, Lawn Fertilization Closely linked to lawn care, weed control searching starts in February, peaks in March/April, and goes flat in September or October. Keywords: Landscape Design, Outdoor Living, Hardscaping 2013-14 Landscape Design, Outdoor Living, Hardscaping Landscape design searches starts in March, peaks from April through June, and is lowest in October. Keyword: Irrigation, Water Features, Sprinkler System, Sprinkler Repair, Drainage, French Drains, Sump Pumps 2013-14 Irrigation, Water Features, Sprinkler System, Sprinkler Repair, Drainage, French Drains, Sump Pumps We’d expect water projects to correspond with hardscaping projects. We see a similar trend line. The uptick starts in April, peaks in May/June, and is lowest in November/December. Keywords: Leaf Removal, Refresh Mulch, Sodding, Over-Seeding, Fall Lawn Care, Winter Lawn Care 2013-14 Leaf Removal, Refresh Mulch, Sodding, Over-Seeding, Fall Lawn Care, Winter Lawn Care As expected, searches for fall and early winter projects like leaf removal start increasing in October, peaks in November/December, and is lowest April through July. Keyword: Christmas Lights, Christmas Lighting, Holiday Lights, Holiday Lighting, Outdoor Lights, Outdoor Lighting 2013-14 Christmas Lights, Christmas Lighting, Holiday Lights, Holiday Lighting, Outdoor Lights, Outdoor Lighting Searches for Christmas light installation jobs slightly start in October, peak in November/December, and are flat the rest of the year (January through September). Keyword: Snow Removal, Ice Removal 2013-14 Snow Removal, Ice Removal Snow removal is probably the least predictable service area in Tulsa County because of our erratic weather, snow predictions often turn to rain, and some years it doesn’t snow heavy at all. According to the National Weather Service’s Tulsa snowfall records, 2013 and 2014 weren’t record-setting minimums or maximums. We’d assume a major snow storm would create more demand (higher number of searches) but likely wouldn’t skew the trend line unless it was an unseasonal snow (e.g. heavy snow in a month like May). All that being said, the 2013-2014 search volume trend should be a pretty good quick reference for future years. It builds up starting in September, peaks in December through February, and drops off from April through July. Final Thoughts Whether or not your business experiences a 12-month cycle like an outdoor services company, Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner could help you learn the seasonality of your potential customers’ search trends. Don’t forget the many other insightful tweaks to the Keyword Planner: Excluding keywords like “residential” Google AdWords Keyword Planner – Negative keyword example Including/Excluding additional locations Google AdWords Keyword Planner – Locations example Change the view to a location breakdown Google AdWords Keyword Planner – 2013-14 Snow/Ice Removal – Breakdown by City And More… Hopefully you received some value from following along with this article. If you’d like to talk with us about your business goals, please contact us (the more details you provide, the better we can help).