This is understandable, as most SEO jobs involve taking a site with low rankings and taking it to Google’s first page. Ultimately, this means there will be less of a demand for content that teaches basic SEO maintenance. Unfortunately, perhaps because it isn’t as easy to find this type of content, some local SEO professionals grow complacent after helping their clients reach the first page on Google Search.
Inevitably, this complacency leads to high rankings becoming lost over time, giving savvy competitors a golden opportunity to take over. If these competitors understand the value of SEO maintenance, it may become impossible or impractically expensive to regain the top spot.
Here at SearchWorks, we believe maintaining your lead in the SERPs is just as important as attaining it. Here are nine important tips that will help you maintain your lead spot in Google’s SERPs for years to come:
1) Never Think SEO is a One-Time Process
Doing SEO for highly-contested keywords can be quite expensive. Understandably, some bean counters will try to reduce or even eliminate SEO from the budget as soon as the top spots are reached. This is a potentially fatal error because competitors will have a much easier time overtaking your site if you stop all SEO-related activities.
The good news is, maintaining the top spot on Google’s SERPs is usually much easier and cheaper than gaining it in the first place. Being on top should bring your site plenty of organic links and traffic, which may be able to compensate for slightly downscaled link building and content-creation projects.
Even if your budget is a problem, at the very least consider maintaining SEO activities for your key landing pages. Doing this will present the least effort for the greatest potential effect on your rankings, ultimately reducing the odds of competitors stealing your thunder.
2) Keep Your Site’s Core Web Vitals Score High
Core Web Vitals is a report that you can find on the Google Search Console, which you should already have installed if you’re serious about SEO. The report gives you a range of different useful site performance metrics for desktop, mobile, and tablet devices.
While there is a lot of useful information that could be learned from the Core Web Vitals report, you should be paying extra close attention to the site loading metrics for your key landing pages.
Any site loading metrics that go into the red should be addressed immediately. Keep things in the green or, at the least, yellow. The gold standard for a great user experience is a load time of two seconds or faster on all platforms.
The Core Web Vitals report should also give you recommendations on how to address different site issues, which can be handy if you are not an experienced web developer. However, we recommend that you either learn web development or work with a full-time developer to help you optimize your site’s load times and overall user experience.
It’s worth noting that site loading time is not the only factor to consider. Having optimal on-page factors, good content, and enough quality backlinks is also important for maintaining your lead on Google’s SERPs.
However, site speed optimization is one of those areas you should stay on top of as it’s usually an easy fix and can have a major impact on a site’s visitor experience. As we’ve discussed previously, anything that affects visitor experience is bound to affect your site’s search engine rankings.
3) Keep Your Landing Page Content Fresh
Here at SearchWorks, we try our best to create landing page content that is substantial, useful, and comprehensive. However, all this is not enough, even if you do make it to the top of Google Search.
Some industries experience significant changes each year, which means you may have to periodically update your landing page content yearly to account for new developments in the industry. Failing to update your keystone content regularly will allow competitors a relatively easy way to undo your dominance on Google’s SERPs.
For this reason, it’s a good idea for businesses that could afford it to have a content writer or marketing specialist who can periodically update keystone content with new information, as needed. This will prevent competitors from stealing the top spot with timelier content.
4) Publish Authoritative Content on Different Related Topics
Google tends to prioritize websites that have a reasonable amount of activity. Thus, regularly publishing quality content will usually help your site maintain its lead. This is even more true when that content is authoritative and well-written.
What you don’t want to do is constantly write about the exact same topic over and over again. When overdone, focusing on just a single topic can lead to unexpected keyword cannibalization which can hurt your rankings.
Instead, publish content on a variety of topics that are still strongly related to the site’s target keyword. This will usually provide a better experience for visitors, encourage repeat traffic, help draw useful traffic from a wider range of sources, and help avoid keyword cannibalization, all of which will help your site maintain its lead.
5) Link Internally to the Keyword’s Landing Page
Internal links are a basic optimization that many SEO professionals neglect because they may be too focused on other optimizations and link building.
However, internal linking offers two key benefits. First, it helps spread link equity, particularly for your key landing pages, which makes it easier for them to maintain their SERP rankings. Second, having a reasonable number of internal links helps visitors with navigation, which helps increase time on site, ultimately signaling to Google that you have a high-quality website.
It is possible to overdo internal links. Having excessive internal links will not offer significant benefits in terms of passing link equity and could even confuse Google’s bots. Generally speaking, however, adding internal links to key landing pages that could be useful to visitors is usually a good idea and should help maintain your site’s Google Search rankings.
6) Continue Building Links
Once you get to the top, you should resist the temptation to end your link building campaign. This is because your competitors, being behind you in the SERPs, are likely to continue with their own link building projects.
The good thing about being on top is that you are likely to get more natural backlinks, which means you can scale things down a bit to save some cash. However, if you do scale down your link building, you have to make sure that you are still getting enough links overall to keep outdoing your competition.
7) Don’t Overload Your Landing Page With Ads
This mostly applies to monetized blogs but it could also apply to small businesses that maintain ads as part of their revenue stream.
In any case, most people dislike ads that interfere with their site experience. If ads are preventing visitors from enjoying your content, they are likely to leave your site early. Even if they do find what they’re looking for, they might never return.
The great thing about reaching the top spot on Google is that you can scale back the number of ads on your site and even charge more for them. This not only helps improve the user experience but also allows you to maintain your dominance on Google Search over the long term.
8) Share Your Key Landing Pages on Social Media Periodically
Not all of your social media followers will have seen your cornerstone content, so resharing it may be a good idea. The additional clickthroughs and user engagement may also send positive signals to Google that could help maintain your site’s rankings.
However, you should take care to not overdo it, as oversharing can be a turn-off, particularly if it’s the same content. The ideal sharing frequency and the acceptability of reshares also varies depending on your brand, your target market, and the social media platform.
To ensure that you maintain an ideal posting schedule, you can use automation tools like Hootsuite. These tools will allow you to schedule your social media posts in advance, avoiding issues with over and undersharing.
Social media automation can also help ensure that your site maintains a steady stream of traffic from social media platforms. In turn, this may signal your site’s relevance to Google, helping it maintain its spot at the top of the SERPs.
9) Don’t Panic When Google Rolls Out Algorithm Updates
Implementing changes to your site just as algorithm changes roll out is a surefire recipe for confusion and lost opportunities. If you already have a lead, jumping the gun is almost certainly bound to do your site more harm than good.
By waiting a few days or weeks, you can get a much better idea of the specifics of the algorithm change. Once you have a good idea of what happened, you can act more methodically to implement the changes you need to maintain or regain your lead.
If someone else has taken your spot on the SERPs then you can do a more detailed comparison of your site compared to theirs. Do they have more backlinks? Do their pages load faster? Do they have better content? Whichever factors they excel at may give you clues about which direction you should take your site.
Additionally, you should consider reading blogs that specialize in analyzing Google algorithm updates. Search Engine Land, Search Engine Roundtable, and GSQi are just a few of the many high-quality algorithm review resources that you can turn to to make sense of any recent Google Search updates.
Without proper SEO maintenance, any initial gains that you make in improving a website will eventually be lost, possibly forever. Fortunately, keeping your lead on Google’s SERPs isn’t hard and won’t cost a lot of resources.
So long as you maintain a grip on the fundamentals of SEO and have a fair understanding of Google’s priorities when ranking websites, you should be in a good position to not only maintain your rankings but also recapture them should the need arise.