IN THIS ARTICLE:

    There are hundreds of ranking factors that feed into Google’s search algorithm. Maintaining a functioning SEO strategy requires juggling these factors with the primary goals of your site, which can leave some digital marketers feeling lost trying to figure out the best ways to focus their time and energy.

    That’s where this SEO maintenance checklist comes in to help. Efficiently planning tasks and audits throughout the weeks, months, and years can make daily life as a digital marketer more manageable — and create a more streamlined path toward reaching your goals. 

    Before diving into our SEO maintenance tasks, I want to shine a light on SEO myths that keep people from investing enough into their SEO strategy. 

    Here’s What People Get Wrong About SEO

    Our team has encountered a lot of misconceptions people tend to have about SEO. Before taking on any ongoing SEO tasks, it’s important to dispel these myths and understand why we make the recommendations we do.

    SEO is not automatic — it takes investment. Search optimization is a slow and steady endeavor. It takes weeks or even months to see significant results, and those results are the sum of daily maintenance efforts and upkeep. There’s no way to guarantee results without putting in the work.

    It’s not “one-and-done” — it’s iterative. SEO is a living process. A truly effective strategy requires constant adjustments and fine-tuning as new data comes in and digital standards change. Optimization is more like tending a garden than building a birdhouse.

    One size doesn’t fit all. Your digital strategy should be as unique as your business. No cookie-cutter template is a substitute for a custom plan, which is why we recommend tailoring these maintenance tasks to fit your site.

    SEO shouldn’t live on the back burner. Every day you neglect SEO is another day for your competitors to capture more of the online market. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. To see results tomorrow, you have to start working today.

    Someone else can’t “just do it for you.” There’s no simple way around it: An effective SEO campaign requires a partnership between your team and the agencies, developers, and content creators you trust with your site. For optimal results, your ongoing SEO maintenance plan should involve someone with deep knowledge of your brand, a focus on your goals, and an eye on ever-evolving best practices.

    With those myths out of the way, let’s talk about how to maintain SEO.

    Add These SEO Maintenance Tasks to Your To-Do List

    SEO is an iterative process, meaning it requires constant measuring, fine-tuning, adjusting, and adapting as your site grows and the online world changes. While we recommend specific frequencies for certain SEO maintenance tasks, you may want to customize your own task timeline depending on the size of your site and your available resources. Larger sites may want to conduct some of these audits and analyses more often.

    Weekly SEO Tasks

    1. Traffic Analytics & Rank Tracking

    Goal: Watch traffic and rank performance trends to catch potential drops early on and adjust strategies in real-time.

    The best way for a digital marketer to keep their finger on the ‘pulse’ of a website is through regular performance monitoring. Daily (or near daily) monitoring of traffic and keyword rankings allows you to:

    1. Spot and address problems before they spiral out of control.
    2. Understand the typical trends and behaviors of your visitors (and determine if visitors are doing what you ultimately want them to do).
    3. View how real-world events and industry changes impact your site performance.

    Keep in mind that daily performance tracking doesn’t necessarily need to result in daily strategy overhauls. It’s normal for traffic to fluctuate up and down — and the result of regular tracking will help you assess which drops are normal and temporary versus which require intervention.

    Metrics checklist:

    • Traffic and engagement (views, session duration, event completions, conversion rates, etc.)
    • Keyword performance (top-ranking keywords, click-through rates, significant ranking changes, etc.)
    • Page performance (highest ranking pages, most visited pages, highest conversions, etc.)
    • Acquisition channels (traffic sources, new referring domains, etc.)

    You can use free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to monitor these metrics.

    2. Content Creation & Publishing

    Goal: Maintain a regular content schedule to cover a robust variety of topics with no gaps in the publishing pipeline.

    You already know the importance of regular content publication when it comes to SEO. As a digital marketer, a decent part of your week will involve either crafting content yourself or reviewing content made by others. To keep your publication schedule on track, you should always know what’s ready to go, what’s still in the creation pipeline, and what’s coming next.

    Maintenance item checklist:

    • A calendar containing page publication dates, target keywords and associated search intent, and topic categories
    • Statuses of all open content pieces (finished, in progress, needs review, etc.)
    • Process to optimize content, including adding meta descriptions, title tags, alt text, and other important on-page factors
    • An off-site promotion schedule (such as advertising content in an e-newsletter or on social media)
    • Next-in-pipeline topics

    3. Backlink Building

    Goal: Connect with backlink sources, and establish link velocity to reach competitive parity for target keywords.

    Backlink building is the core of most off-site SEO strategies. Earning links to your site from third-party sources builds link equity and contributes to your domain authority. 

    An effective link-building strategy isn’t a passive endeavor. Instead, you’ll need to make a concerted effort to establish link velocity, especially for newer sites trying to get their footing in rankings. Part of your week should involve uncovering and requesting links from high-authority domains.

    How to maintain a link strategy: Read our guide to backlinking to learn more, including where to find potential backlink sources and answers to FAQs.

    4. Local Listing Management

    Goal: Guarantee potential customers have easy access to accurate, up-to-date information about your company through your Google knowledge panel and directory sites.

    Customers turn to online local listings (such as Google Business Profiles and directory websites) to find basic information about your company, including your address and contact details.

    By regularly managing local listings, you ensure that customers always find the information they need when they need it. And, as we mentioned in our article about Google Business Profile suspensions, a profile can be instantly penalized for minor issues, but removing a suspension may take days or even weeks. That’s why it’s critical to catch and fix errors immediately to avoid disruptions in your online presence.

    Management task checklist:

    • Respond to customer reviews and answer any questions
    • Verify that contact information and business hours are always current
    • Add or update products, services, or menu items as needed to your Google Business Profile
    • Add new photos or videos of your business
    • Check for spam reviews and unauthorized edits

    Monthly SEO Tasks

    5. Technical SEO Health Review

    Goal: Catch technical errors immediately to avoid site downtime, disruptions in user experience, and ranking penalties.

    A technical SEO health review looks for issues that can impact the way search engines crawl your site and cause friction in user experience. Technical problems tend to crop up as sites expand, so any site that regularly adds new pages or relies on third-party plugins should conduct monthly technical SEO reviews as a matter of course.

    Even if you’re not a marketer with experience in technical topics, Google Search Console offers a wide range of reports and tools to assess site health and detect errors that can impact rankings. Be sure to coordinate with your web dev team to properly implement fixes.

    If you’re a little more technical SEO-savvy, you could also use a crawler like Screaming Frog to collect this information yourself and potentially catch issues before they wind up in a Search Console report.

    Maintenance item checklist:

    • Find and fix broken links or missing internal links
    • Find and address 404 errors
    • Find and fix redirects, especially redirect chains and loops
    • Check site speed and load times (on both desktop and mobile)
    • Identify plugins/extensions in need of updates
    • Address security/HTTPS issues

    6. Content Ideation & Keyword Research

    Goal: Ensure your content pipeline is always stocked with fresh, relevant topics and keywords. 

    While content creation and publication may be a daily focus, don’t neglect to replenish your content pipeline with fresh ideas for writers down the line. Each month, focus on finding more new topics and creating keyword themes to hand off for writers to tackle. If writing and publishing are piloting the plane, then content ideation is refueling the engine.

    How to maintain a content strategy: Read our full guide to keyword research, which covers everything from topic brainstorming to assessing keyword quality.

    Quarterly SEO Tasks

    7. Bad Link Disavowal

    Goal: Avoid ranking drops because of toxic “link juice” from third-party sites by keeping up with disavowal requests.

    Just as backlinks from high-quality sites build link equity, links from low-quality or spam sites may damage a page’s authority—and its rankings.

    You should regularly send out removal requests to sites directly when you spot toxic links. However, if webmasters don’t respond (or if they demand money to remove links), a disavowal request instructs Googlebot to ignore toxic links when calculating rank.

    I recommend a quarterly look at disavowal candidates because most sites don’t accumulate toxic links very quickly, but you may want to review them more frequently if you have a particular struggle with spam.

    How to disavow links: Check out our guide to finding and disavowing bad links for more guidance. Be sure to track bad links and your attempts at getting them removed—both for the sake of staying organized and to help support your official disavowal requests.

    8. Sitemap & Indexation Check

    Goal: Verify that your XML sitemap is accurate and accessible so search engine crawlers can easily index your website.

    An XML sitemap makes it more efficient for Googlebot to crawl and index your site, particularly if you manage one with more than 500 pages.

    I highly recommend using an automated tool to generate dynamic sitemaps because creating them manually can be time-consuming. (Yoast is a great option for WordPress sites.) Still, it’s important to periodically check your sitemap and indexation coverage to fix any issues that may arise as you add more URLs to your site. You want to make sure that new pages are being added from the sitemap, and that URLs that have been redirected or deleted are removed from the sitemap. Sitemap maintenance is a small task once per quarter, but it can make a major difference in getting pages indexed and managing your crawl budget.

    Maintenance task checklist:

    • Make sure an up-to-date XML sitemap is included in your robots.txt file
    • Check that your dynamically-generated sitemap is updating correctly and is accessible by crawlers
    • Run a Google Search Console index coverage report

    Semiannual SEO Tasks

    9. Competitive Audit

    Goal: Audit competitor online trends and digital practices, and use the results to inform your content strategy accordingly.

    Most keyword tools allow you to view keyword data for any site—including sites with whom you’re competing directly. Auditing the competition’s content and keyword rankings can be a powerful way to generate ideas, reach untapped audience segments, and even find opportunities to outperform other sites.

    While keeping an eye on the competition can help inform which keywords and demographics you pursue, don’t get too caught up in what the “other guy” is doing. By limiting yourself to twice-a-year competitive analyses, your main focus stays on your company and value offer.

    Audit item checklist:

    • Maintain a list of your main digital competitors to keep tabs on their sites
    • Identify competitors’ top-ranking keywords (and how your site ranks for the same keywords)
    • Run a content/keyword gap analysis
    • Uncover the kinds of content they publish, publication frequency, and what audience segments they appear to be targeting

    10. Core Page Content Optimization & Keyword Research

    Goal: Optimize core content pages, and conduct keyword research to update existing pages or create new ones.

    Daily, your focus is on creating and publishing content on schedule. Monthly, you conduct keyword research to add more topics and keyword themes to the pipeline. Twice a year, I recommend taking a step back to evaluate how your existing site content is doing and optimize core pages when necessary.

    For most companies, core pages are product and service pages. Core pages typically target highly competitive, short-tail keywords and are supported by internal links from blog posts. Fine-tune these core pages to keep them ranking highly and up-to-standard with SEO best practices.

    Maintenance task checklist:

    • Identify under-performing core pages and create plans for updates
    • Conduct keyword research for potential new core pages
    • Re-evaluate the target keywords of old core pages
    • Evaluate the design and information hierarchy of core pages to maximize UX
    • Ensure core pages align with current SEO best practices and contain no technical errors

    Yearly SEO Tasks

    11. Internal Link Analysis

    Goal: Craft a tightly-knit web of links throughout the pages of your site to appeal to both bot crawlers and human readers.

    Internal links encourage humans and bots to explore your website by guiding them to related pages. By following a robust internal linking system, bots have an easier time indexing your site and understanding how pages are interconnected. For human visitors, compelling internal links draw readers down the “rabbit hole” of your archives and keep them on your site for longer.

    A yearly internal link analysis (using Google Search Console’s internal link report tool, or maybe a paid tool) can reveal which pages receive few-to-no internal links. Adding links to these pages in existing content can help to ensure that Google is crawling these pages and they are receiving link equity that can help them rank.

    Analysis task checklist:

    • Follow our guide to building an internal link strategy
    • Optimize site navigation menus
    • Find and fix broken internal links
    • Identify orphan pages (indexable pages that have no internal links pointing to them)
    • Ensure links are “do follow” and not marked as “nofollow”

    12. Keyword Cannibalization Analysis

    Goal: Avoid keyword cannibalization by consolidating or deoptimizing pages that rank for the same keywords.

    Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages on a site target the same (or very similar) keywords. When one site has two very similar pages, those pages are forced to compete against each other as search engine bots determine which should rank higher. These competing pages also split page authority and link equity, diluting both and possibly resulting in two low-to-medium ranks instead of one high-ranking page.

    Cannibalization issues may crop up over time if content topics are reused or an existing page naturally shifts focus to overlap with another page. Once per year, comb through a list of live URLs and page rankings to find pages that may be too similar.

    How to monitor keyword cannibalization: See our walkthrough on finding and fixing keyword cannibalization for full details.

    13. In-Depth SEO Audit

    Goal: Get a big-picture view of your site’s annual SEO performance to create a strategic roadmap for the coming year.

    Finally, every site should have an annual performance assessment that involves pulling data and analyzing SEO results from the previous 12 months. Audits should look at every part of your site and strategy to evaluate how each piece works in tandem to meet your overarching aims. 

    These annual reports set a new data baseline, which can then be used to set your goals and inform your digital strategy for the coming year. I recommend scheduling these audits near the beginning of your fiscal year to align with your company’s annual business goals.

    Audit item checklist:

    • Analyze basic performance metrics (traffic volume, keyword/page rankings, link acquisition stats, conversion metrics, etc.) with year-over-year changes
    • Run a technical SEO health audit
    • Analyze published content, including top-performing and lowest-performing pages
    • Review strategic road bumps or sources of friction, as well as ways to mitigate issues going forward
    • Pinpoint opportunities for new tactics, avenues, and/or platforms to explore in the future

    Reach Your SEO Goals With a True Partner

    Managing all of these SEO tasks can quickly become overwhelming, especially for smaller teams. But, in my experience, giving each of these components the attention they deserve does add up to measurably better results.

    With the right partner, your team doesn’t have to handle it all alone. When you hire an SEO agency that specializes in custom strategies and has a track record of success, you gain a partner who will help you climb SERPs while making ongoing SEO tasks more manageable.

    Victorious can be that partner for you. Schedule a free SEO consultation today and learn exactly how we can help.

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