What is tentpole marketing? It’s the phenomenon that happens on search engines due to holiday or topical interest where, for a short period of time, certain search terms receive a deluge of search engine traffic. It’s named for the look of a search engine analytics graph which is relatively flat, then peaks around the event, and then eventually declines in traffic. The resulting graph looks like a circus tent.
Tentpole marketing can drive hundreds of thousands of times your normal search volume. These viewers then go on to view other content on your site, increasing traffic to all pages on your site. These search terms that drive this burst of traffic are called “tentpoles” because they support traffic to your other content. In this article, we’ll show you how tentpole marketing can be used this Halloween to bring new life to all of the undead content floating around your site.
Research popular search terms
The first step to identifying a tentpole opportunity is to research relevant search terms. While many marketers use tools like WordTracker, AdWords, or Wordstream to research keyword competitiveness, those techniques aren’t really the best solution for tentpole marketing.
We recommend using Google Trends to identify content topics that are ready to explode. On the Google Trends site, click on Explore and then select Past 7 Days. Under Topics and Queries, choose Rising. This will show you the rapid increase in search volume for particular terms over the last week. Want to see what search topics might be tentpoling in the next two weeks? On the Date Range selector, switch from Past 7 Days to last year’s dates, for instance, “October 2013 to October 2013” for a one-month outlook. Using the Categories tab, narrow the search terms further by selecting your industry or niche. For instance, a cosmetics retailer might select “Beauty & Fitness.” After identifying a rising query or two, you can drill in further on whether or not the pattern is cyclical by searching for that query in the search box and using the “Forecast” checkbox.
Build several pieces of content with the identified search terms
From here, standard keyword optimization and content marketing principles apply. For our cosmetics retailer who has identified a cyclical interest in sugar skulls surrounding Halloween, a few interesting pieces of content might be a video illustrating how the brand’s cosmetics can be used to apply a sugar skull mask for Halloween, an article detailing the history of the sugar skull and linking to the video, and several sugar skull images. This allows searchers to find the brand’s content through Google easily.
Develop links between tentpole content and undead content
Do you have relevant articles from years past floating around on your site? Use your new content to link out to other, existing content to help drive traffic throughout your site and increase the number of pages that potential customers view.
Repeat as needed and get creative
Tentpole marketing isn’t limited to the holiday season, but since holidays occur annually, they tend to be more cyclical. But many other things occur annually too: ComicCon, flu season, and the Super Bowl. There are also lots of hidden tentpole opportunities that can be uncovered with thorough research. For example, search terms like “Socrates,” one of the Ancient Greek philosophers, tentpole twice a year, around September and March, as university philosophy classes reach that part of the curriculum in each semester. Everyone publishes articles about the Super Bowl when February rolls around, but far fewer publish articles about Socrates.
When the rest of the world is zigging, zag.