SEO Maintenance: Everything You Need to Know (And Do)
You know that search engine optimization (SEO) matters.
After all, more than 90% of online experiences begin with a search engine, with the top-ranking website receiving 33% of all search traffic. You need that number one spot to succeed, and routine SEO maintenance can help you earn it and keep it.
What is SEO maintenance, though, and how does it keep your strategy functioning at peak performance?
Keep reading, because this SEO maintenance guide covers everything you need to know (and do) to maintain and even improve your SEO rankings. If you have questions about professional SEO maintenance, contact us online or call 888-601-5359 to chat with an experienced strategist!
What is SEO maintenance?
SEO maintenance describes the ongoing and routine process of maintaining and increasing your rankings in search results by improving your website’s SEO. It can include weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks that range from updating content to fixing broken site links.
Why is ongoing SEO maintenance needed?
Ongoing SEO maintenance matters for a few reasons, including:
Rankings in search results aren’t permanent
When you earn a first-page or number-one ranking, you can expect high-fives and cheers.
A lot of companies forget, however, that rankings aren’t permanent. Just like your business can take a number-one ranking from a competitor, someone else can take yours. You will always need to work to maintain your rankings, which is where SEO maintenance becomes useful.
You can refresh content, for example, update keyword targeting, fix broken links, and more. All these actions can help your business keep pages competitive and valuable for users. If you don’t maintain your content, though, you can expect to lose your rankings and fall to page two and beyond.
For reference, the second page of search results only gets about 6% of clicks.
Learn about other SEO mistakes people make (and how you can fix them) with our top SEO mistakes video!
Search engine algorithms aren’t static
The algorithms that power search engines and rankings undergo continuous updates.
Google, for example, launches thousands of algorithm improvements each year.
These updates can range from small tweaks to massive updates that influence your SEO strategy. Google’s switch to a mobile-first index, for example, motivated many businesses to build responsive and mobile-friendly sites.
If your company doesn’t prioritize SEO maintenance, you leave old pages on your website vulnerable to updates. An older slow page, for example, may decrease in rankings because of its speed, which Google now uses as a ranking factor.
With ongoing SEO maintenance, however, you can continue to support existing website pages and their rankings. That can help your business build a competitive site that sees continuous growth when it comes to website traffic, online sales, web phone calls, and more.
Competitors aren’t ignoring SEO maintenance
In the past, businesses could skip SEO maintenance and see little change when it came to their rankings. That’s changed, however. Now, more companies use SEO and invest in SEO maintenance, which forces competitors to either adopt SEO maintenance or sacrifice traffic, sales, and revenue.
If your business wants to remain competitive, as well as prominent in search results, you need to maintain your site and strategy. Otherwise, you’re investing in a plan that will only produce short-term, versus long-term, gains.
Stay competitive and earn a top spot in search results by taking advantage of SEO maintenance.
SEO isn’t a once-and-done strategy
While some digital marketing strategies may serve a short-term role, like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, others, like SEO, operate as a long-term strategy and require continuous maintenance to deliver the best return on investment (ROI).
If your company looks at SEO as a once-and-done tactic, you won’t see the returns that you (or your business leaders) expect. Instead, you’ll see the minimum, if any returns, from your efforts. That doesn’t have to happen if you use SEO maintenance.
With repeated SEO maintenance, you can take several routine steps to maintain and improve your rankings. Depending on the size of your website, your ongoing SEO maintenance plan may only require a few hours of your time each month.
If you don’t have the time, you can follow the lead of companies that partner with SEO agencies.
These agencies save your team time and resources by managing and maintaining your SEO strategy for you. While optional, hiring an SEO agency can ensure your business follows through when it comes to keeping your website at the top of search results.
How do I maintain my SEO (and rankings)? Your SEO maintenance checklist
If you’re looking to maintain your SEO in-house, get started with these four SEO maintenance practices:
1. Monitor website performance
Frequency: Weekly, monthly, and quarterly
Tools: Google Analytics, Google Search Console
Tracking your website and pages’ performance is essential in SEO.
You want to monitor your rankings, click-through rate (CTR), page views, and more. These digital marketing metrics can help your team spot pages that need your help. For example, a gradual CTR decline could indicate that your title tag doesn’t attract users or tap into their needs.
Monitor your website’s performance with these two free tools:
In Google Search Console, you can look at critical data points for pages, like the following:
- And more
Meanwhile, in Google Analytics, you can get insight into user behavior with the following data points:
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
- And more
Use these tools to monitor your website’s performance and find pages that need SEO maintenance.
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2. Fix broken and redirected links
Tools: Screaming Frog
For search engines like Google, as well as users, broken links (also known as 404s) cause problems.
They lead users and search engine crawlers to a dead-end. If users click on your website from search results and arrive on a 404 page, they will turn around and find another site from the search results. That action, also known as pogo-sticking, impacts your ranking in search results.
Your SEO maintenance plan, however, can find and fix broken links.
With a tool like Screaming Frog (the free version can crawl up to 500 URLs), you can find broken links fast. Depending on your website, you may need HTML experience or the help of a developer to repair broken links on your site.
In addition to finding 404 errors, Screaming Frog can also uncover redirected links (also known as 301s). These links generally go unnoticed by users. Search engines like Google, however, do notice and don’t care for excessive redirects.
That’s why it’s worth fixing 301 errors by updating the URL to the new one.
For the best results with this SEO maintenance step, fix your 404 and 301 errors every month.
3. Maintain local listings
Tools: LocalFX, Google Sheets
For businesses operating locally, maintaining local listings is essential.
That’s because people generally find your business via local listings. If someone searches, “sandwich shop near me,” on Google, for example, they will encounter local listings (also known as a local SEO 3-pack) before organic search results.
If your local listing features inaccurate information, like your hours, you can ruin a person’s experience.
Imagine, for instance, that someone sees your listing and decides to visit it. When they arrive, however, your store is closed. In response, they leave a negative review on Google about your business, which everyone else can see.
Keep your company’s name, address, and phone number up to date as part of your SEO maintenance.
You can accomplish this task with paid local listing management tools, like LocalFX, or free tools, like with Google Sheets, to log and track changes. Depending on your number of listings, this ongoing SEO maintenance task can take some time if done manually.
If you decide to invest in a paid tool, like LocalFX, you can update all your local listings instantly.
Instant updates to all your listings, from Google Maps to Apple Maps, can save a tremendous amount of time. Not to mention, local listing management tools like LocalFX also come with other helpful features. For example, with LocalFX, you can monitor, manage, and respond to reviews across platforms.
While optional, local listing management tools are beyond helpful if you practice local SEO.
4. Re-optimize existing content
Tools: Google Search Console, Google Docs, Keywordtool.io
While your business may create evergreen content, that doesn’t mean it’s immune. Without updates from your team, evergreen content can decrease in rankings over time. You can prevent that though with SEO maintenance.
When it comes to ongoing SEO maintenance for content, you focus on three factors:
- Content accuracy: Is your content still correct and up to date?
- Search intent alignment: Does your page align with the search intent today?
- Keyword relevancy: Do searchers still use your targeted keyword?
In some cases, you may find that pages match the search intent and provide accurate content but target outdated keywords. Or, that your content, while accurate, doesn’t meet the search intent for your targeted keywords.
Either way, your team will need to evaluate pages across your site and make the appropriate changes.
You can find pages for re-optimization with Google Search Console. For example, you may look for pages with a steady decrease in impressions and clicks. Or, you may use a paid tool, like Ahrefs, to track keyword rankings for pages.
Once you determine which pages require updates, you can outline your changes.
Depending on your updates, you may need to do some additional research. For example, if you’re switching your core keyword, you will need to find a relevant alternative. You could use Google or a free tool like Keyword Tool.
For the best results, log your changes and store a backup of your original page.
With this initial SEO maintenance checklist, your business can start the process of maintaining your SEO strategy and improving your rankings. Remember, though, that your team will need to commit to ongoing SEO maintenance.
If you don’t, you won’t see the impressive long-term results that SEO offers.
Check SEO maintenance off your to-do list today
If you don’t have the time to dedicate to SEO maintenance, you’re not alone.
Lots of business professionals struggle to find the time to support their SEO strategy. With the help of an SEO company like WebFX, however, your organization can leverage all the benefits of SEO without time or resource commitments.