Stephen Logan

What Christmas Can Teach Us About SEO

23rd Dec 2010 SEO Blog 3 minutes to read

Who would have thought that Nat King Cole was an SEO pioneer?  Or that Google would have an issue with Tim Allen movies? Christmas is a quirky time of year at the best of times, but when it comes to search, things become very confused indeed.

Let’s start with ‘The Christmas Song’. Made famous by Nat King Cole, this is an SEO master class. Whilst other Christmas songs – traditional or popular – choose ambiguous or confusing names (‘Gaudete’ anyone?), the writers of this The Christmas Song went directly for the prime keyword and made it a definite article.

It’s got the age to provide added authority (written in 1944) and contains the keyword in the title. So now when you search for “the Christmas Song” or even “Christmas Song” it appears at the summit or very near.  Whilst the title isn’t used in the content of the song itself, various references to ‘Christmas’ are made throughout, with context provided by words like “turkey”, “sleigh” and “yuletide” – inspired.

Weather Worries for ‘White Christmas

Unfortunately Bing Crosby doesn’t quite have it all his own way. “White Christmas” has become a victim of the weather. Whilst it ranks well organically for both the song and movie, news and real-time results have encroached quite markedly. I’m not sure Irving Berlin foresaw this issue in 1940, but he’d certainly be happy to see that the Met Office has been relegated to sixth position with their shameless use of his lyrics in their Meta title.

Let’s say I’m looking for information on the Christmas holidays but have an ever-so-slightly Americanised vocabulary. This might cause me to search for Christmas Vacation. What do I discover? Apparently it’s a film starring Chevvy Chase.  Even though they used a long tail title (“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”), age has enabled the short tail term hidden within to rank top.

Worse still, if I type in the rather generic ‘Christmas vacation information’, the top answer still comes up with the 1989 Christmas comedy caper. This shows the value of developing your brand and marketing offline before allowing others to hype it for you on the Internet. The two clearly complement each other rather well.

Dickens Gets Scrooged

Duplicate content issues plague Charles Dickens’ SEO efforts unfortunately. There are no marks for originality here sadly, as Charlie is relegated to second in the organic listings with his classic Christmas tale being swallowed by a recent Jim Carrey film, viewing times at the local cinema and even a Barbie movie. By giving his product a generic title, albeit one that has been replicated many times, Dickens has struggled to dominate the SERPs for his original content.

‘Winter Wonderland’ has suffered a similar SEO fate as the Victorian scribe. Despite being one of the festive season’s favourite songs and having a decent age to it (1934), it has been outflanked by a whole host of Christmas spectaculars. Up top is the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, then there’s the O2 Winter Wonderland and in the middle of those is a local…Winter Wonderland. The song is a victim of its own success and shows why so many companies get wound up about trademark infringement online and possibly justifies Google’s recent brand push.

Mind the ‘Typo’

Disney may have thought they were being clever when they entitled their yuletide romp ‘The Santa Clause’, but clearly Google disagrees. Unfortunately the ‘misspelling’ in the title means that the film is accompanied by generic results for good old Saint Nick, with a rather unfortunate “Did you mean” at the top of the page. Therefore using a derivative of a popular word or phrase as your business or product name online could see your brand searched plummet.

For a little Boxing Day treat, why not go to a music festival? Hang on, are Steve McQueen, Dickie Attenborough and Kuriyakin going to be tunnelling out of there? Ah, wrong Great Escape. Search engines don’t always know what you mean  and other upstarts can often muscle in on your term (no matter how inextricably linked it may be to your brand/film/book) to outrank you.

As you can see, the films, songs and books that entertain us throughout the festive period also have plenty to teach us about the world of SEO. So have yourself a Merry little Christmas and keep on optimising into the New Year.

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