I’ve talked a lot about the initial SEO that you might do once you first take over a site, and the strategic SEO you may do in order to grow a site (or troubleshoot lack of growth).
What I’ve not talked about yet, is what the typical SEO tasks are that you might do over the course of a week or month of operating a site.
Let’s say you buy a site, you audit it and make improvements, and then you go set up a few backlink campaigns…what else is there to do?
Every SEO expert is different, and some of them might not agree with my list, but here’s what I like to do (and also some of the things I don’t like to do).
- Keywords on page 1 that dropped in position
- Keywords on page 1 that increased in position
- Keywords that are new to page 1
- Any snippets we lost
- Any keywords position 5 to 20 that we haven’t optimized for
For 1 and 2, it’s really just a case of seeing if these keywords need new backlinks or onpage optimization. You can use something like surferseo.com or other audit tools to see if you can improve the article. You can also see if your competitors overtook you because they got new links, and respond accordingly.
Unless you see a major drop, you might not need to do anything, as the SERPs fluctuate anyway. If you go from position 2 to 3 for example, it’s worth just checking back in a few days and you might be back up to 2 anyway.
For number 3, I’m looking for snippet opportunities. If a keyword has come on to page 1 for the first time, it has a chance of capturing the featured snippet, so I’ll see what the current snippet has going on and see if I can optimize to beat it.
You can’t always capture a snippet (or regain a lost one, re: point 4), but they are worth focusing on, especially a new opportunity.
For point 5, I’m referring to what I consider “quick win keywords”. These are ones where you haven’t actually optimized your article for them, but you still rank on page 1 or 2 for them anyway. Maybe you don’t even have that word anywhere on the page, but Google understands your page is about it.
By adding the keyword somewhere to the page, you can usually see a jump in rankings. This doesn’t work as well as it used to, because Google doesn’t rely on the presence of a keyword in order to rank you for it anymore, but it does still work sometimes and can be done in an hour or two per month. Since you are always ranking for new keywords, it’s worth doing this task once a month.
Reverse Engineer Those Competitors
The next thing I’ll do involves competitor research.
Again this relies on a tool like ahrefs or SEMrush. Both tools allow you to first identify competitors (based on sites that have a large number of keywords in common with you), and then find a list of keywords that they rank for that you don’t. In other words, you can find new keyword ideas by reverse engineering your competitors.
While most people do this when they first take over a site (and you absolutely should do it too), it’s an organic process that you should repeat every couple of months. Lists of competitors change, and keywords they rank for change too. As your rankings increase, new sites become competitors, which give you new opportunities for keywords, or even entire sub niches.
You also need to have a decent understanding of your niche, and which keywords you might be able to successfully rank for. This is one more reason to do this as an ongoing practice rather than only when you first take over a site.
As I referenced earlier, you can also get into the habit of continually optimizing your articles using something like surferseo. Some SEOs swear by it, others aren’t sure how effective it is.
Regardless of the tool, it’s always good practice to review your top articles and see how they could be improved…and not just from an SEO point of view, but also UX.
One thing I like to do is review Google Analytics top traffic pages once or twice a month to see if any new pages have started getting a lot of traffic. This is useful from a monetization point of view as well, because there could be new opportunities to add revenue there.
Really though I’m looking to see why a site suddenly has more traffic, and if there are untapped keywords that can be added, much like the ahrefs process above. Sometimes keyword tools don’t pick up every opportunity.
Search Console is another place to do this. You can look for articles that get a lot of impressions but few clicks, and see if you can optimize the title or meta description (which doesn’t always get used) to encourage more clicks. There are a few good articles about this process. I like this one and this one.
Not only does this bring in more traffic, but the increased CTR should lead to higher rankings for other keywords down the road, as Google gets more positive signals about your site. SEO is always a holistic approach and the rising tide lifts all boats.
To put it another way, if some of your keywords improve, more users visit your site and have a good time, other keywords will improve too.
There’s always more work to do with backlinks. Building content that is link worthy, building relationships, trying to get guest posts, appearing on podcasts, whatever your jam is, the more you market your website and build links, the better the performance will be.
This falls under the “things I don’t like” category and like many SEOs, I view backlinks as a necessary evil.
There’s good backlinks and bad ones, and the right way to build them and the wrong way. I don’t agree that you shouldn’t try to build any links. That’s like creating a product and then refusing to market it. Doesn’t make sense.
One thing you can do that most people don’t; pay attention to your competitors (yep, them again) .
By seeing what links they are building, you will be able to pursue similar opportunities, or have inspiration for your own networking efforts. If all your competitors are friends with each other and regularly link out to one another, you should probably work on your networking skills.
If they’re all building dozens of backlinks from guest posts, you might want to work on an outreach campaign. Long story short, you don’t want to exist in a vacuum, or you’ll get left behind.
Finally, you may also want to set a regular schedule to run a technical audit on your site. Once a month should be enough.
Look for things like a drop in page speed, broken links, and any other technical issues. You can also try a service like DomainComet.com to monitor your site’s uptime and SSL certificate.
Life of an SEO involves a lot of waiting around for results to kick in, but there’s also plenty to keep yourself busy with, especially if like most website operators, you’re also doing everything else that is necessary to run a site!