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How to determine seasonality in a new SEM account

Published: June 25, 2013

Author: Bailey Lau

Today’s post is by Account Associate Bailey Lau, whose awesome seasonality radar powers right through San Francisco’s foggy summers.
The performance of an account is something that will undeniably fluctuate throughout any given time period. As search marketers, we want to look at the data and pay close attention to the trends of our clients. When we see that an account is performing poorly, we have to consider several factors of account health.
One of those factors is seasonality. But what if you don’t know what the seasonality of an account is?
Here are some tips on determining whether or not a downward trend in your account is due to seasonality:
1. Do some research and think about it: If you want to figure out what types of seasonality your account should expect to see, you should do some research into your account’s business.
Some will have a more obvious answer than others. Flower shops, for example, would probably expect a lot of business around Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and graduation season. Not all businesses are that simple, so roll up your sleeves and do your research. Google Trends is a great place to start.
2. Research didn’t tell you much? Look at the data: The most critical thing any search marketer should do when determining seasonality is look at the data. Comparing data month over month or week over week can give you a good sense of the ups and downs of your account. Use the Dimensions tab to look at data and see any trends that might allude to seasonality.
dimensions tab
3. No historical data? Look at the competition: A good way to rule out seasonality is to look at the competition. One reason that you might not be performing as well is because your competitors are being more aggressive.
Use the Auction Insights report on your high-volume keywords to see how your competitors are stacking up and if you are losing impression share.
adwords auction insights
Then dive in a little deeper.
If you notice that your competitors have stepped up their game and are being more aggressive across the board, even with products/services that may not be seasonal, then you can suspect that your downward trends are not due to seasonality. If the increased bids seem isolated to a specific product set, dig in with the research; the competitors may be taking advantage of seasonality that you haven’t discovered yet.
4. No data or change in the auction? Look at brand campaigns:  If you don’t have enough solid historical data to determine trends and your account hasn’t been seeing a decrease of impression share, look at your branded campaigns. Brand data is very consistent and a good measure of how the account is doing overall. If you notice that volume has gone down in brand performance at the same time the rest of your account has, you can assume that seasonality is at play.
Obviously, there is no right or wrong method of determining whether or not seasonality is affecting your campaigns, but these tips will give you a better idea of what is going on in your account.
– Bailey Lau, Account Associate – Search

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