One of the most often overlooked components to your online strategy is your on-going SEO maintenance. It is common to think of SEO as a one-time project and it can be tempting to skip the maintenance. But search engine optimization is a gradual and strategic process. It is a way of life if you want to be successful online. Today, we will look at what it is, why it is necessary, and putting your traffic data to use.

What is SEO Maintenance?

SEO maintenance is the on-going process of improving your rankings and building your site traffic. Maintenance starts with your website statistics and understanding what is working and what is not working. From there, you create or refine your action plan, which may include adding fresh, relevant content, seeking additional inbound links from quality sites, and / or making on-site adjustments such as refining your titles, headings, calls-to-action, etc.

I’ve “Optimized” My Site. Why is Maintenance Necessary?

There are several reasons why it is essential to conduct on-going maintenance:

Search Engines Don’t Like Stale Websites

Search engines like sites that are relevant and active. If a search engine sees that a website has gone “stale,” the search engines will often start seeing that website as less relevant. As the site becomes less relevant, it will start falling off in search rankings and traffic will start drying up. You can combat this through a strong content marketing strategy such as blogs, on-line newsletters, how-to articles, etc. Focus on your clients and prospects. Provide up-to-date quality content focused on their needs and you will continue to grow and stay relevant in the search engines.

Your Competitors Aren’t Sitting Still

Your competitors are targeting your same clients. As they become savvy about on-line marketing, they are going to be implementing their own strategies to attract your customers. As they compete with you and change their own websites, grow their own inbound links and implement their own social media strategies, their efforts will effect your ranking and traffic. Will they become more relevant than you? Or will you work to get or stay on top?

Search Engines Change

In the early days of the web, it used to be enough to throw some keywords in the meta tags and then watch the traffic roll in. But those days are long gone. Search engines are getting smarter all the time. They continually update their search algorithms (or “secret recipes”) to improve the search results they provide to their users. In recent times, the big updates from Google known as “Panda” and “Penguin” are perfect examples.

Search engines also update their features. In early 2007 Google introduced “Universal Search.” No longer did searchers have to search separate sections depending on whether they were looking for a video, or an image or an article. With Google’s Universal Search, they could see those results on one page. This had a profound impact on how website owners could draw traffic.

More recently, Google has launched two large initiatives knows as “Search Plus Your World” and “Knowledge Graphs.” Search Plus Your World began integrating a user’s Google Plus social media into their search results. This only applies to users who are logged into their Google account, but it changes what those users will see.

With “Knowledge Graphs,” Google has started stepping toward “semantic search.” Semantic search looks beyond the keywords themselves and starts to look at the relationships between broader ideas and topics. With their “Knowledge Graph” launch, they have started providing additional information (sometimes referred to as “knowledge panels” of facts, photos, and other info) along with their traditional search results. At the moment, it is limited to certain well-known people, geographic locations, etc. Try a search in Google on “George Washington” to see what a Knowledge Graph is.

You need to monitor your traffic and see where your plan is working

As they say... “You can’t manage what you don’t measure!” There are all sorts of offline data that you are ideally tracking such as phone calls, how your clients heard of you, store traffic, etc. In the online world, the primary means of measuring comes through your website analytics. Your “website analytics” is tracking software such as Google Analytics that gathers statistics on things like how many visitors you’ve had, where they came from, how many pages they looked at, what types of browsers they are using, what keywords they searched on to find your site, etc. It can provide a wealth of data.

Put Your Data To Use

It isn’t enough just to track the data. You actually have to review it and use it for it to have any real impact. This is a vital part of your SEO Maintenance. If you already have created your website goals and a plan of action, then you will focus your efforts on tracking against those goals and plans. If not, then do it now. Write them down and make them concrete. Without your goals, your reporting is really kind of meaningless.

Once you have your reporting in place, you will want to compare it to your goals and action plan. You will want to ask yourself questions such as:

  • Are we attracting the right kind of traffic?
  • What are the characteristics of the visitors who have the highest conversion rates?
    • Do they spend more time on the site?
    • Do they have view more pages per visit?
    • Do they come in through certain landing pages?
    • Do they view certain content or media such as your videos?
    • Are there other things that stand out about them?
  • Are there certain types of content or certain topics that attract more traffic?
  • Are our calls-to-action working?

Getting Creative: Use the tracking to develop or refine your plan of action

Once you have a good idea of how you are doing against your current goals and what seems to be working and not working, then it is time to get creative. Perhaps you need to do more of what you are doing. Or perhaps, you haven’t fully implemented your plan of action and need to double down and get it done.

As you begin to better understand the characteristics of visitors with higher conversions, you can start refining your plan of action. This is where you can turn your reporting into strategy. Perhaps you see that visitors buy more when they view your video. So you may decide to create a video that explains your product or service along with some customer testimonials. Or develop some additional blog posts or how-to articles around topics that produce higher conversion rates. Or work on testing and improving your calls-to-action. The ideas are only limited by your own creativity. But the key point is don’t just look at the data. Use it. Use the data to refine your strategy and continually optimize your plan of action.

Conclusion

As a quick recap, SEO maintenance is critical to your ongoing success. By monitoring your site, you can understand the changes in the competitive landscape and changes with the search algorithms that affect your site. It is critical to have your website analytics in place. But it is more important to turn that data into an actionable plan.

I hope that gives you a better idea of what SEO maintenance is and the benefits and power it provides. In the upcoming weeks, we’ll help you in this area further with a quick primer on understanding Google analytics.