Why Seasonal Recipe Marketing Requires Year-Round Commitment
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Spring in Ireland is wild garlic season. For a month or two, our Instagram timelines are flooded with pictures of lush blankets of wild garlic and recipes for wild garlic pesto. Then, as quickly as these fragrant leaves appear, they disappear from our lives for another year. The frenzy surrounding the short wild garlic season is a reminder of the power of seasonality in food. Seasonality popped up on our radar again this week when The Daily Meal shared a list of the most searched cooking tips in each US state during quarantine. The list was unsurprisingly dominated by basics such as 'how to cook bacon', 'how to cook rice' and 'what temperature to cook chicken at' as many got to grips with cooking at home for the first time. A number of states were thinking more seasonally, however, with Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine searching for 'how to cook fiddleheads' and 'how to cook hooligan fish' trending in Alaska.
Why is thinking seasonally so powerful in recipe marketing?
A Google search for 'how to cook rice' throws up 1,110,000,000 results. A Google search for 'how to cook fiddleheads' throws up 145,000. It's clearly much easier to rank for produce with a short season such as fiddleheads or wild garlic than it is for rice or chicken and as the statistics from The Daily Meal illustrate, the appetite for recipes that use these seasonal ingredients exists. Google search data (below) for 'blood orange recipes' shows that interest in recipes that make use of this seasonal fruit spikes between January and March.
Google Trends 'blood orange recipe' search trends in the USA (January 2004 - October 2020)
Similarly, although corn on the cob is readily available year-round in the frozen foods aisle, search interest in 'corn on the cob recipes' begins to climb from April each year and decreases from August.
Google Trends 'corn on the cob recipes' search trends in the USA (January 2004 - October 2020)
What about seasonal events?
Seasonal recipe content relies on temporary interest but this interest is also predictable. This is true not just of seasonal produce but of seasonal events too. Take a look at the Google search interest in 'turkey recipes' in the US over the past five years. As expected, a large November spike is followed by a smaller spike in the run-up to Christmas.
Google Trends 'turkey recipes' search trends in the USA (October 2015 - October 2020)
Change the country to Ireland, where Thanksgiving is not widely celebrated but turkey dominates Christmas dinner, and the November spike disappears.
Google Trends 'turkey recipes' search trends in Ireland (October 2015 - October 2020)
The holiday season is about as predictable as it gets in the food world, broadly untouched by trends. Similarly, Memorial Day sees grilling recipes trending in the US and pumpkin spice takes centre stage in the run-up to Halloween. None of this is a surprise. It simply reinforces the predictable nature of thinking seasonally.
Seasonal predictability has its pitfalls
Unlike recipe searches for seasonal produce such as wild garlic, recipe searches for seasonal events are clearly a lot more competitive. This is where the quality of your recipe content throughout the year matters. Chasing seasonal clicks relies on a consistent recipe strategy year-round, building a reputation for regularly updated, high-quality recipe content regardless of the season. By doing so, you're giving home cooks a reason to come back for more, giving Google a reason to improve your search engine ranking and giving those underperforming Easter recipes from last year a boost. For smaller brands hoping to leverage the power of seasonal recipes to reach new and existing customers, building a loyal following is the most important step. That on-trend Fourth of July grilling recipe is worthless if you aren't consistently doing the legwork required throughout the year. We've already written about our three pillars of recipe content that converts, and this applies even more so to your seasonal recipe marketing strategy. Simply put, if your recipe content is consistently reliable, exclusive and varied your seasonal recipes are more likely to perform.
Woven strategically into your overall recipe marketing strategy, seasonal recipe content gives food brands and recipe websites the chance to flex their culinary muscles and illustrate their expertise when the majority of consumers are searching for some sort of seasonal inspiration. These are the recipes that can make or break a family celebration or seasonal get-together with friends. A well-thought-out recipe strategy that positions your brand as a reliable source of recipe content year-round will allow you to leverage the predictable search interest in seasonal recipes.