Does Your Organization Have Seasonal Affective Data Disorder?

Laura Clevenger
Mar 21, 2019 · 5 min read
Photo by Wade Lambert on Unsplash

Happy spring! The end of winter — and summer — are in sight, but before you start shopping for a swimsuit, remember: Someone’s got to keep an eye on those analytics.

Speaking of which, if you’ve ever come back from a late-July vacation to a Google Analytics Dashboard that shows your traffic and conversions have dropped, don’t fret. The Internet takes vacations, too. We’re about to enter the period of Seasonal Affective Data Disorder (SADD), which has a high number of incidences at certain times of year.

There are 2 major outbreaks of seasonal affective data disorder every year

You may remember the end of the year and holiday rush — from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. That period of slow traffic and fewer conversions is one period in which we anticipate our data to drop. The other is coming up in the summer, traditionally between June and Labor Day.

A dip in traffic can be attributed to SADD (Seasonal Affective Data Disorder)

Why do outbreaks occur during these months?

Think about when you take your annual vacations and apply that to the Internet. The summer (Memorial Day — Labor Day) and the holiday season (Thanksgiving–New Year’s Eve) are the time periods that see the greatest number of people taking vacations. While some people may enjoy trolling the Internet on their vacations, most people are offline, outside, and with friends or family.

According to psychologists quoted in The New Yorker, productivity drops in the warm weather months. The sun is shining, the skies are blue, and instead of focusing on what we should be doing, we’re focusing on what we’d rather be doing. Not only do we find it harder to concentrate on mundane tasks during nice weather, but also our tendency to be sleepy jumps with the heat and humidity.

Students account for a large portion of Internet activity, and when they’re out of school, not searching the Internet for the answers to their homework, website traffic falls. Dramatically. Just look at the graph from Google Trends on the keyword “how to write a poem.” Now that’s a dip in traffic.

Google Trends Data: Interest in time over “how to write a poem” over the course of 1 year

How can I improve site traffic during these outbreaks?

If you’re as crazy as I am about increasing traffic and improving engagement, you’ll want to do as much as you can to nurse your web analytics back to health while they are down for the count. Consider some of the following tactics to keep them on the up-and-up:

Create content that is specific to what people are searching for in that season. In the summer, think about what summery information people who are on the Internet are searching for and how you could incorporate that into the content on your website. Do the same thing for the holiday season.

Create targeted campaigns on your Facebook or Google Ads platforms (or, if you’re a nonprofit, use some of that free Google Ad Grant advertising) that capitalize on the terms people are uniquely using during these SADD times.

Over the holidays, people are shopping for presents for their friends and family. Be sure to capitalize on “gift ideas” that link to what your site offers, whether it’s products that benefit your cause or donations for impact. Maybe ads that describe how your site can help users with their “new years resolution” will perform well. Use Google Trends to find keyword inspiration.

If you plan ahead and build the SEO value of your site throughout the year, you’ll be more resilient in the face of the dreaded slump. Create evergreen content that slowly builds your domain authority in key topics and, even if fewer people are searching, you’ll bring in more visits than you would have otherwise because you’ll rank higher.

The only way to truly fail is to not try at all. Revel in the opportunity to try new things. Maybe this is a great opportunity to focus more on your social media or blog presence and let the website content just do its thing.

Instead of comparing your site’s Atrocious August to its Fantastic February, take a look at how your site is doing year-over-year. If you compare this August to last August and you’re seeing improvement, then you’re doing something right.

More people will be out and about and accessing your site on mobile devices. Prepare for this by making the mobile experience a focus before the SADD season hits.

Finally… Relax and accept

Unless you are an e-commerce, travel, or auto site that thrives during high-travel and vacation seasons, you will most likely see your traffic decrease during these months. We can’t force people back onto the Internet. And I don’t blame them! I’d rather be hanging out at the beach, too. By the end of the SADD season, your analytics should be back to normal.

Although these dips in traffic are nerve wracking, they’re normal. Things will improve. Instead of sitting at your computer and watching Real-Time on Google Analytics for hours on end, waiting for traffic to improve, think back to that amazing vacation you just took and remember the Internet’s relaxing on the beach too.

If you need some help managing your data, download Whole Whale’s Nonprofit Dashboard Startup Pack for free.

Whole Whale

Whole Whale is a digital agency that leverages data and…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store