Most SEO practitioners don’t use or call any of their website maintenance as doing it for the purpose of SEO. I on the other hand; perform maintenance on my websites at a minimum of once monthly and what I do, I have labeled SEO Maintenance.
Many of the others simply call it On-page SEO because they don’t go back often and check to make sure their website’s content is current and active, like I do. Most website owners don’t realize that they should be going over all their website’s material to assure it is current, active, and updated often ( at a minimum of once a month)
It is part of my SEO practices to do this twice monthly; in other words, I do it to improve my websites Search Engine Optimization so I according put this maintenance into a Category that I call SEO Maintenance.
If all this talk about SEO has got you scratching your head thinking well I had an SEO Consultant but things are really tough and I had to let them go. Or if you simply cannot justify the cost of paying someone to do your SEO I hear you and understand exactly where you are coming from.
I don’t use SEO so-called experts to place my blogs in SERP’s, this is something that I can do by myself with just a small fraction of my time (less than an hour a month to perform SEO Maintenance on each website I own, so why would I pay someone an outrageous price for something I can do myself?
It’s because these silver-tongued individuals have the ability to convince you that you need their help. Well, what would you say if I told you I could teach you their deep secrets to top SERP for free.
If you are a current private business owner looking to learn SEO or a new beginner thinking of starting your own blog or affiliate website I strongly suggest that you go and read my, complete SEO series I started with:
In simple terminology SEO ranking is a matter of falling into top positions of 200 different ranking factors, now the tricky part is no one knows for sure what the priority order of those ranking factors are (that’s the proprietary well-guarded secret that the search engines won’t and don’t share with us).
So it has been my experience over the years (16 and counting) to make sure that I apply to as many of the factors that I possibly can, not just those that I think might be important or I have discovered through testing have great ranking priority.
The reason I do this: the search engines have combined the AI programs into their Algorithm programs it is being said that the AI programs are constantly shifting the priorities daily of the different ranking factors for different keyword categories.
Here again, bringing you some information today that I hope will help and allow you to make money passively for a long time from today!
What I do in my SEO Maintenance accomplishes two different things; first, it gives me overall ranking abilities over time, longevity-wise producing lingering profits for years to come; and secondly, my websites’ rankings majority of the time are not greatly affected by major algorithm changes.
Like the current Google Mid-Summer Core Algorithm’s change that just took place. Sure they may bounce around for a day or two, but that is because not all the web gets hit with the change at the exact same time, it takes two or three days for the new changes to settle into the existing ranking program’s parameters.
This is mainly because I keep my content very relevant to the topic or keyword I am addressing within my material’s content. I also make sure that I apply SEO on-page and off-page practices and those practices are current and updated frequently.
I normally, visit once or twice a month to both Google Webmaster’s YouTube profile account; along with the help center in Google Search Console. These two places are great for current information gathering on all things Google. And 95% of the time whatever Google implements the other search engines are sure to follow shortly behind.
Okay so I just explained why I do SEO Maintenance, so now let’s get into what exactly I do when I am performing SEO Maintenance tasks on my websites.
UPDATING YOUR SITEMAP.XML FILE
Updating and resubmitting the “sitemap.xml” file for your website, at least twice a month, will assure the search engines have all your website’s web pages/posts listed, indexed, and ranked. Remember even if a page is only ranked 10th for a particular keyword, it still can help other pages on your website rank better.
To do this you need to open/start a profile page with Google Search Console (GSC). Once you verified your website and have GSC set up and running you need to (re)submit your website’s “sitemap.xml” file.
This is a relatively easy process that only takes a minute or two to do, but is vital to assure that Google has your complete updated sitemap this helps to make sure their copy of your website is the actual updated copy that your server has as well.
I have the All-In-One SEO plugin and it makes keeping your sitemap updated as easy as clicking a button and it’s updated whenever you what to update it.
I only have WordPress websites right now so I will show you how to do it here using the All-In-One SEO Plugin. First, go to your website’s dashboard as in the image below.
Once in the back office or dashboard (whichever you want to call it) of your website hover over the All-In-One SEO in the left side menu bar and a drop-down menu will appear. Click on “XML Sitemap” just like what’s shown in the image above.
Once you clicked on the XML sitemap it will open to a new screen and in this screen (like the one above) we will simply click on the “Update Sitemap”. It that simple now that your sitemap is current and has just been updated let’s go to Google Search Console if you don’t have a profile there yet you need to register prior to being able to complete any of the steps below.
For those of you not registered or verified with GSC. I suggest that you go and sign up for a Google Analytics profile first verify that profile, then go sign up and get verified with a GSC profile: you’ll need to do that to continue forward.
Okay for those of you that are already signed up go login to GSC and click on the sitemap section in the left sidebar menu, the image above shows you where to click. Then we are going to concentrate on the red box shown in the image below it is the sitemap.xml submit section.
Now comes the extremely hard part so pay very close attention. You need to first click on the box where the blue line is look in the red box in the image below to see where I am talking about. Then type in “sitemap.xml” just like I did in the example in the orange box
That’s it that was the hard part. And I bet I had you all worried, didn’t I? No, seriously that’s all you have to do then click on the submit button shown in the green and yellow box in the image above, and Google will do the rest for you.
Whatever you do always remember to update your sitemap first, just to make sure all the latest blogs you submitted to your website are included in your sitemap. This way you are making sure Google has a complete list of all your pages posted on your website.
Google will also keep track of the last time they crawled your sitemap shown in the image below just so you can make sure they are indeed crawling it often. That is of course if you are keeping consistent with your posting of new material to your website if you are not doing this then there is no need to assure Google has your latest sitemap.xml file then is there?
I also strongly suggest that you do this to all search engines that you are registered with. There is nothing like knowing the search engine has all the information you have prepared and submitted for your audience to view and it is actually listed, indexed, and ranked on all the search engines not just on Google.
The robots exclusion protocol or robots exclusion standard is more commonly called the robots.txt file and it tells the crawling robots (nicknamed spiders or Google-bots) that the search engines use to scour the web with and scan over all the information on your website.
When a robot comes to your site no matter how it got there; it will remove everything in the directory path, it used to make it to your website, after your main URL and replaces it with robots.txt. So, in essence, this file is the first file the robots look for and is one of two different robots meta directives that you can use.
It tells the robot where you want it to read and what parts if any you want the robot to ignore. Unfortunately, since the visiting robot is not forced to behave according to the instructions embedded in the robot.txt file it acts more as a directive that an order.
However, most of these disobedient robots are more of the harmful types like malware robots or email harvesting robots both used by unethical individuals like hackers and spammers alike.
Something to also think about this file is a public file so anyone visiting your website and knows how to pull it up can view it “https://websitetrafficguru.com/robots.txt”.
Knowing this, I strongly suggest you do not use the file to try and hide information from the public because the file will expose those sections of the server that you don’t want the crawler robots to use or read.
To protect private information stored on your server from leaking out to the public I recommend that you use a file that is password protected
DEALING WITH THE CRAWL ERRORS
I will not change the URL of an indexed blog page (that can cause headaches) and a whole new topic of discussion. While I know the simple solution is to create a 301 or 308 redirect. And even though redirects are not all that complicated I look at it as: “Why create more work for myself?
I‘ll go into redirects and HTTP error codes at another time for now here is a link that gives all the HTTP status codes and a brief description of what each one means. I am just going to say it really is not all that complicated once you know how the server communicates and responds to different inquiries to the browser or client requesting for the information it has stored in its databanks.
Up till about the fall of 2015 Google offered what was then called Google Webmaster Tools. This tool offered a great deal of information about your website.
Key aspects about how visitors arrived at your website, which pages were more commonly read by your visitors, you know the kind of information that is vital for campaign strategies, and planning for the future methodology of advancing our website to the next level.
Now we all know the only normal thing about Google is always expect changes from them, so naturally, they have just implemented a major change of the main infrastructure of Search Console. Personally, I like the change it did take a little getting used to. But I think, the simplistic new approach seems to be easier and quicker to get the data that I feel is really important to me and my website.
Above is the old Google Search Console’s navigation and results page for locating crawl errors for your individual website’s pages, and shown in the image below, is the new improved version (in my opinion at least I have heard that other people don’t like the change that Google has made to this platform) that was switched over sometime right around the beginning of 2019.
Regardless if you like it or not the new Coverage Reports are here to stay (for a while at least) and if you look the image above it shows the first step in how to get the individual pages’ report. By left clicking on the box that has the ”excluded” number in it, that number is the number of your website pages that were scanned but intentionally not indexed for some reason or other.
It’s our job to find out, “What happened?”, and to do this we need to review the individual pages’ report. This report will give us the information as to why they were not indexed.
Because currently these pages are not being shown in any of Google’ search results, and this is not good we want all our hard work displayed so we can help as many people as possible right?
I mean that is the main reason we write blogs, is to help people solve a problem or educate them about a topic and we want to this happen on the largest scale possible so we want our work to be in the ranks of the search result so it will help and teach more people!
Now, to get to that report and find out why it was deliberately not indexed by Google we have to first click on the green outline box is in the image above. Then when the graph and the details report appear below that box we have to scroll down to the Details report and click anywhere on the “Excluded” line of the list, and this is shown by the orange outline box in the image below.
Once clicked on, the “Examples” report will appear it will display each page listed separately and when the particular page’s exclusion started, if you notice in the image below all 7 of my started on June 11, 2019, that is when I was checking out a new SEO plugin to see how it effected of page’s rankings within the Search Engines indexing platform.
During the transformation from one plugin to the other then back again to the original plugin some of the settings on some (7 to be exact) pages didn’t transfer too well. I did not know this happened, so this is a prime example as to why you need to perform SEO Maintenance twice a month religiously.
Getting back to retrieving the individual pages’ reports, look down at the image below and it shows (where the red arrows are pointing) the search icon when you hover the mouse over that page listing, you left click on that and it will produce the holy grail (the individual page report).
With this report, the image above, we can find out why the page was scanned by the Google bots but Google did not place it into the indexing platform, by simply going to the spot that says inspect and is outlined in the red box in the image below.
Then hover the mouse over it, this reveals to us what happened. I guess when I was switching the SEO plugins around the Canonical URL toggle switch did not activate on some of the pages when they were transferred back to the All-In-One SEO Plugin.
So to get back in the favorable likings of Google all I have to do is go back to my website’s dashboard and make a few adjustments to the All-in-One SEO plugin and I will resubmit the sitemap.xml file to make sure these pages are being indexed and ranked within Google again.
The unique thing about this particular error those 7 pages was still viewable by visitors if they used a link to get to them it’s just that Google d removed them from their indexing platform because of this error.
This situation did not affect my visitor’s experience once they were on my website because they could still view and read those pages. But it did affect the amount of traffic my website was receiving, because 7 fewer pages where being shown by Google in the search inquiry results.
RUN INDIVIDUAL PAGE SPEED CHECKS
Each page that you submit to your website is slightly different and this aspect is not the same from the technical server aspect of page speed. This is to assure images are optimized to load quickly and correctly, HTTP is not overloaded, and above the fold, content loading is done rapidly.
Depending on your hosting platform you should have some sort of page speed checker, with a Site Rubix (the hosting service I use) hosted website it is easy to check each individual page’s speed. By simply making a couple of clicks of the buttons (see the sequence of screenshots below) to find out where and how to get each pages individual speed results up to par.
Even though the page’s speed is at level 100 for desktop and 98 for mobile (see image above outlined in the blue box). I ran it anyway because I always strive to reach a perfect 100 in both categories, it is not always possible but I do manage to accomplish it most times I am doing page speed adjustments.
If you look down at the bottom of the two images provided below you will see the main concern with this particular page’s speed is “1. Serve images in next-gen formats”. For me to improve speed right now on this page since it is just images I can resize and reloaded them easily, so they can be optimized for better loading times.
If I were to click on the down arrow over on the right side where the red “3 s” is it will give me a detailed listing of how much time I can save per image and what the current space they are taking up and what the new space would be if I perform their recommendations (95% of the time I will do what they suggest) this has greatly improved the sustainability of my website to remain at load speeds of 95 or better.
If you notice on the left-hand side of the image above it shows mobile and a desktop tab this individual tool offers both insights and speeds adjustments needed for normal search engine results (desktop outlined in the red box) and the new more importantly just rolled out responsiveness and speed for mobile searches (outlined in the yellow box) as well.
This process of making adjustments increases or decreases load times of what is called the critical rendering path. Now for those of you that do not know what the critical rendering path is and you want to learn more about what the critical rendering path is, how it works, and how to make corrections to it properly.
I have provided a direct link for you to the FREE Website Performance Optimization training course offered by Google. If you have never taken this course, I strongly suggest that all new and veteran webmasters take this FREE course offered by Google and courtesy of the Udacity.com platform.
This course is so intense if you are thinking of doing it I would expect it to take you roughly about a week to complete it. That will make sure you can take your time and learn all of the aspects of the critical rendering path, and not just those that apply to you right now.
Don’t worry though it is worded, designed, and set up so that even the most inexperienced webmaster can accomplish the training and learn many aspects that most of your competition only think they know. You can literally learn how to increase your pages load time by half.
That is of course if the pages are not configured properly right now, depending on the amount of HTTP code being used along with the total number and space used for images being uploaded ( all major factors of page speed).
UPDATE BLOGS THAT ARE OLD OR OUTDATED
When I first look at an older blog the first thing I do is go to Google analytics and look at the “Page” report this will tell me if anyone has been or is still reading that blog. If it is still very active I will just give it a quick once over to make sure it is still updated with the latest information.
If not well then I will spend a couple of minutes making sure the information offered is current, I’ll reword the first couple of paragraphs (top forth of the blog) adding some more additional information, Additionally most of the time, I like to switch the external links to other sites and make a note of it in the individual listing blogs spreadsheet (I’ll discuss those in more details later on) to see if it makes a difference in the ranking of the blog.
Most of the time when I do this believe it or not, it improves the ranking and sometimes it will boost it enough to rank back up in the top 5 if that happens I will leave it alone for a month or so to see if traffic will return to it or not if not I go back and non-index and non-follow the individual page.
Some of the veteran marketers like Brian Dean of Backlinko.com, or Rand Fishkin of Moz.com recommend you delete the extremely older blogs that get no traffic. I, on the other hand, disagree with the philosophy I think you leave it on the website it will help with authoritativeness with the search engines it is indexed material.
But it was proven that by deleting old blogs it will not hurt your current SEO ranking, but with the way, the search engines switch everything around almost on a daily basis. I’ll choose to keep the material on the website and just non-index and non-follow it that way if changes are made in a year or two and they become important again they are not lost and I can simply do a quick revision of the post and then allow the bots to scan them again.
If you are like me a decide to keep the post you might consider making an entry on the post stating something to the effect that the information is still current and correct, and I have written other article on the topic (list the blogs you have written that are relevant) if you would like to research this topic even more.
This accomplishes two separate things:
First, it lets your readers know that even though the post is old you are still paying attention to it
Secondly, the topic is still very important, you have written more material on the topic, and you offer the new article(s) for them to read.
DEAD OR BROKEN LINKS
A dead or broken link is just that it’s a URL hyperlink that no longer works or exists for some reason. If the other website’s owner decided to shut down their website completely, move the link, or delete the article the link went to is of no real concern of ours.
For a blogger, the reason it no longer works is of any value to us, but what is important to us is the fact it comes back as anything but a 200 server HTTP code and that means a server error of some sort. In other words, an unsuccessful transmission of the requested information from the server to the client node (our visitor clicking on the link we provided for them and not getting the additional information we were trying to provide to them to be able to read, see, or watch).
Since we don’t want to be sending our visitors to pages that no longer work, which makes it look like we are not maintaining our website. Furthermore, the search engines don’t want to rank material with dead links in the upper rankings because then it makes them look bad.
So a dead or broken link is not good for the search engines, the users (our visitors), or the website’s owner. This might be why the crawler robots treat dead or broken links like a dead end and will stop crawling that particular page and move to the next one on the list of your sitemap.xml file.
Even though the crawler bot does not stop crawling during this visit, it still sends the message, and will continue to scan the entire website’s contents, but unfortunately, this means the search engine looks at your website as being incomplete, and not very user-friendly.
When in fact it has nothing to do with us other than we are using it as a reference to add information to our blog and what we were discussing. Regardless as to why it is dead or broken this situation makes us as website owners look bad in the search engine’s opinion, and that my friends is not a good thing to have happen.
Luck fully, this is a no brainer here folks you go through and check all your external links to make sure they are still active, if they have changed, been deactivated, or come back as a server HTTP code anything but a 200.
In these situations simply find another resource for the information and replace the broken or dead link, this improves your ownership responsibility and your dedication to your website good search engine standings.
There are some free broken link finder tools out there and if you have a WordPress website there are also plugins that will do this for you – locate and remove them that is, but it will still be up to you as the website’s owner to find and replace the broken link with a good relevant resourceful working link.
Here is a list of broken link checker tools offered free for many users:
That is one of the main reasons why I don’t bother utilizing any of the free broken link finder tools and do it manually. If you have a system set up like I do it really does not take that long to find the broken or dead links and when you do you know which blog to go to when substituting the bad link with a good one.
MAKE SURE AFFILIATE PROGRAMS ARE STILL ACTIVE
This is done the exact same way as the dead or broken links above are done you go and physically check each link to assure they are all still working properly. Since all my affiliate links for this website is a select few I listed them on the top section of my SEO Maintenance log and can easily check each one in a matter of five minutes tops.
If I have a niche website one that is focused on a subtopic of the main marketing topic I will include a column for affiliate links sandwiched in between the (E) ALT TEXT column and the (F) EXT LINKS column and label it AFF LINKS (see image below). Equally important, I put how many affiliate links are in each blog listed just like I do for the external links, this tells me how many links I need to check in each blog I am checking
LET’S DO THIS
Okay I have discussed what I do for SEO maintenance is, now let’s get our hands dirty, hypothetically, shall we. Now I will share with you how I keep track of doing all these things to all my blogs and my websites without getting completely overwhelmed or lost in the process.
Because we both know there is no way you can sit down in one sitting and do all the maintenance tasks at once. During one point or other you are going to get up and move around, a little one or furry creature is going to sidetrack us for a small amount of valuable bonding time, or the phone will ring from that client that you just know will keep calling until you finally pick up.
The first thing I do: To start off each maintenance session with a check-off list this list consists of every item I do and when I did my SEO Maintenance. I made a template of it (the lower half of the image above shows how that is done in a Microsoft Office Word document) so when I start out the maintenance session I date it and save it then pull the saved copy and work on it: that way all I have to is “save it” don’t have to put it in a file or nothing because it is already in one (just like the top half of the image above).
The image above is an example of the actual checklist I use during my Maintenance sessions I date it on every line after I have completed that step. And if, let’s change that to when: I get interrupted and have to stop all I do is put the last blog I was working on doing that step and then click save.
This way when I return and I come back to it I know right where I left off at and it takes a second or two to double check to make sure I completed the step on the blog listed then simply continue on down the line of listed blogs.
Now what I do is I write all my material in a Microsoft Office Word Document. I keep track of where I want to put my Images as I am writing my blogs. This bothers some writers to do it that way it interrupts there train of thought.
If you are one of those kinds of writers then wait until after you have written your blog to look for images. There are no set rules for blogging. You can submit your images whenever you are good and ready do to do so!
Once I have the blog written and the images found then I go and enter all the information for the blog into my logs this takes me about 2-5 minutes depending on how long the article is in words. This is a short time compared to the time it would take to do SEO maintenance if I didn’t do or keep these logs.
The first time you have to implement a major change across your website and believe me it will happen more times than you will want to admit, you will be very thank full, that you spent a couple of minutes transferring this information to your logs.
Sorry I blacked out the meta Descriptions even though Google does not use it for ranking purposes any more A smart worded meta Description can still anyone ranked above you in the search results. I need to protect any competitive advantages that I can.
By keeping this blog log I help avoid form have non-indexed, orphaned, or dead-end pages on my website. Orphaned pages are those pages on your website that have no links to them from any of the other pages within your website.
If you do not keep a log of the internal linking that takes place on your webpages, chances are you may have one, this is not good from an SEO standpoint. Because when the search engines realize it is an orphaned page in their eyes that means you have poor website navigation.
This is one of those 200 different features that the search engines look at when ranking your material posted on your website. Most of the time your sitemap is the culprit that lets the search engines know the orphan page even exists; this could result in the page not getting indexed at all, or even worse.
Because the orphan page has no internal links, it has no shared ranking juice aka link equity so its authoritativeness within the ranking parameters of pages with a similar topic or keyword will be relatively low and could ultimately hurt the ranking possibilities of the other pages on your website.
Since the orphan page has no ranking juice to share from any other page on your website, or in the case of the dead end page which will also hurt your Search Engine Ranking position because it does not share its link equity with any of your other website pages.
By the way, a dead end webpage is just the opposite of an orphan page, as it has no internal links to other pages on your website, so dead-end pages don’t offer any ranking juice to any of the other pages on your website.
Furthermore, since these pages share no link equity and provide for poor website navigation it is imperative that we find both of these style pages on our website and fix them as they produce more harm to our website then they offer good.
Equally important as to why we should keep the blog log, it is also important as to how we should keep it updated and current to help avoid such pages as mentioned above and other SEO aspects all that can cause more damage to our rankings than it prevents.
If you use this format of a spreadsheet or come up with another system it does not matter just be proactive with your SEO and implement SEO maintenance today to help improve your SEO of the future!!
If you do use a different system please, by all means, share it with us down below or get in touch with me through my email: I might allow you to be a guest blogger and share it with my audience. Either way, I would love to see all the different systems out there that help others keep their SEO maintenance practices organized and done on time prior to any changes by the search engine’s algorithms.
If you need help with something or have a question please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me privately at my email address, and I will be more than happy to address the issue.
Or by chance, you would like to leave some relevant information as content that you feel may enhance this website/page, by all means, feel free to leave those comments below as well.
Additionally, I would like to thank you for visiting my website today and reading this blog to the end, it proves to me that I am on the right track and providing people with the best information that I have gathered over the years and in recent research is helpful to many