A good SEO is always on the ball and always on the look out for the latest industry news, what’s no longer working and the latest tricks to get those rankings. For the most part those forward looking SEO’s are going to be the ones getting the results.
However, it’s not always about looking forward and getting sites ready for the next big thing. Sometimes you need to take some time to look back. Whether you’re a solitary freelance SEO, you’re working in house or your part of a large team of SEO’s it’s important to add some perspective to your campaign from time to time. When you drive a new car out the show room it’s going to be up to date and modern but after some time you’re going to have to do some maintenance, you can’t just expect it to run perfectly just by adding some fuel once in a while and topping up the screen wash. Your website might be perfectly optimised when it’s launched but you can’t just leave it indefinitely, just adding a bit of new content for the blog once in a while and throwing a few links at it. This method may work but to truly get the best out of your SEO campaign, every once in a while you’re going to have to go back to basics. I often refresh myself when working on my insurance in Spain blog.
Order your ‘To Do’ list
Start by identifying any obvious problems. This could be anything from those little niggle bits you’ve been ignoring for months (so what if Google Webmaster Tools keeps banging on about duplicate meta descriptions, you’ve got more important things to be doing like link building right?). Make a list of everything you’ve been putting off or have ignored because ‘it won’t make that much difference to your rankings’. Individually they might not but once they’re added together they’ll soon start making those little differences.
Go looking for problems
Next you need to go looking for problems. Run a Xenu report of your site, get some site speed reports, spend a bit of cash for some user testing (OK, usability isn’t going to impact rankings but there’s no point getting those positions if no one actually converts once they get to your site), get a list of all pages in your Analytics that have a high bounce rate. Once this list is put with your original to do list you should have plenty to be getting on with.
You already know which key terms you want to rank for and you already know what key terms are bringing your traffic in but when was the last time you really looked at your keyword list, back at the beginning of the campaign, months or even years ago? Searchers habits change over time, just because people were searching for that term a year and a half ago are they still looking for it now? There might have been industry terms that are more common now and have a higher search volume compared to when you originally did the research. Run through your keyword research again and make sure you’re still targeting the right keywords for the right landing pages.
Algorithm updates are happening all the time, some of them are bigger than others but they all have the potential to impact your site. If a big update is going to massively impact your rankings you’re going to do something about it there and then but it’s worth spending a few hours in the forums listening to what others are saying is affecting their sites and make sure you’re isn’t getting hit and ensuring you haven’t left anything on your site that could start getting you into trouble.
The little things
Those little things that run in the back ground often don’t let you know if something has gone wrong, or they do and it went straight to your ‘ignore for now list’. Make sure your sitemap is up to date, Google will tell you if it finds crawl errors in it but it won’t tell you if you’ve got extra pages that haven’t been included. Make sure your Analytics is tracking everything properly.
Refresh that content
If you’re sure your site is in tip top condition and your ‘To Do’ list is completely empty you can always be working on new content. We all know how much Google in particular loves new content these days so there’s bound to be something you could be adding to your site, user guides, testimonials, and latest products releases. Make sure you’re got enough to keep new content flowing through the site for the next few months.
A good SEO shouldn’t have to spend too long taking care of these things but we all let a few things slip from time to time. It’s important to make sure we don’t let them slip indefinitely and we are looking at our campaigns with some perspective.