What the Heck is “SEO Maintenance,” Anyway?


To make sure there is a fresh take on this popular post written a few years ago, I recently followed up with a companion post to this one, titled, “How to Improve SEO: A “Beyond the Basics” Monthly SEO Checklist.” If you like this post on “SEO Maintenance” then go check that one out next. 

what is seo maintenance?

Two weeks ago I had a prospective client call me in a panic. “We just let our SEO consultant go and no one is maintaining our SEO!”

I inquired as to what exactly her former consultant was doing to “maintain” the SEO so I could get an idea of what services she was looking for and if I was the right fit or not.

She confessed that she wasn’t even sure what maintenance even entailed.

I prodded a little more. Was he doing social media? Blogging? Creating content? She didn’t think so but still wasn’t entirely sure.

Ladies and Gentleman, as a side note, this is a common scenario I hear of from small business owners. They’re shelling out $300-500+ a month and they’re not exactly sure what they’re getting, aside from a PDF Google Analytics report with data and numbers that they have no idea what to even do with.

Now, I’m not sitting here entirely blaming these SEO companies. There are some great professionals out there that, despite their best intentions to explain the analytics report and describe the activities they’re doing and why, it’s lost on the business owner who is too busy to sit for a moment and not just listen – but hear.

This is why that model is broken. Most SEO professionals don’t connect deeply with their customers and resentment grows on both sides.

But I digress…improving SEO client relationships is a talk for another time. What I do want to get back to is what exactly IS “SEO Maintenance” and what does it involve. Because I confess – this could mean a million things in this day and age.

What is SEO Maintenance?

SEO maintenance is the process of regularly revisiting and improving upon the visibility and discovery of content. Long gone are the days when “SEO maintenance services” means running down a checklist of technical website tweaks. Here are SEO maintenance suggested activities:

  • optimizing quality, valuable content on the site that is designed to attract links, support internal core pages, and provide fodder for social media promotion and community engagement
  • regularly keeping an eye out for improving the technical side of things
  • tweaking title tags and meta descriptions to increase conversions once rankings do gain momentum
  • taking advantage of “next level” opportunities like structured markup to videos and other supported content
  • apply new SEO best practices learned from ongoing education, trends, and changes in technology and consumer habits
  • strategically optimize evergreen content and any new content brought to the table
  • proactively watching for and brainstorming how to attract and pursue natural, relevant links
  • provide guidance from an SEO perspective on integration with other digital marketing initiatives
  • regularly reviewing analytics and having brainstorming discussions regarding insights gleaned
  • looking for and applying new keywords and queries that are relevant to your topic, expertise, product or service

SEO should be woven into the culture of organizations; it should be a layer of best practices that is applied to many different marketing channels and activities: on-site and off-site content creation, PR, social media marketing, UX, conversion optimization, technical website best practices, and more.

What SEO Experts Say Maintenance Is

I took to The Google to find out what others think “SEO maintenance” services should include, and here’s what I came up with:

This article from Moz states that ongoing SEO services should include:

  • Regular review and analysis of analytics
  • Changes made in accordance with analytical findings
  • Content building and tweaking to help increase chances of being found
  • Regular reporting and review to ensure goals are being obtained or at least going in the right direction
  • Jump on opportunities opening up in the market
  • Spot early signs of decreasing traffic

This article had two good tips that reinforce some of my earlier thoughts:

  • Don’t just track the data – review it and use it for any real impact
  • Knowing what to do when Google rolls out with an algorithm change

And this article had a great analogy of SEO maintenance with landscaping maintenance:

  • “I’m worried you’re going to be like the homeowner who moves into a house with beautiful landscaping and then says to the landscaping company that everything looks great – you don’t need them any more. The reason you have a well-performing website is because of the continual work we are doing on it.”

Here is a company who discusses what their ongoing services include:

  • Monthly ranking, traffic and conversion reporting
  • Ongoing link building activities
  • Revision and optimisation of new content

What Most Assuredly Should NOT Count as “SEO Maintenance” includes:

  • Throwing keywords in the meta tags
  • Buying cheap links or building links from low-quality directories, low-quality guest blog sites, article directories or syndication sites
  • Sending an analytics PDF report without providing insight around it and calling it a day
  • Doing the same “maintenance” tasks you were doing 3 years ago

Questions that Determine Ongoing SEO Services Needed:

If you’re looking at what ongoing SEO means for your business, you need to determine:

  • How competitive is your industry?
  • How competitive are your keywords?
  • How savvy is your competition?
  • What resources do you have, in-house or external?
  • What ongoing marketing activities do you plan on doing?
  • What ongoing content do you plan on creating?
  • Who reviews your analytics now?
  • Who maintains your website now?

Remember – strategy first, implementation second. Just don’t’ stay in strategy mode too long.

Your turn:

What haven’t I thought about here? If you’re an SEO professional, what do you do that involves monthly SEO maintenance? If you’re a business who gets regular SEO maintenance, what exactly does that mean?

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Jenny Munn

Jenny is an independent Digital Marketer and SEO Consultant with more than 10 years of experience helping companies and content creators generate brand awareness, traffic, and conversions with SEO. She is a frequent speaker and is on the faculty for the AMA (American Marketing Association) and has taught SEO to thousands of marketers over the past 10 years.


  • What a timely post! I have neglected my blog for a long time and I have been planning to do some maintenance work on it. This is a big help!

    Love the analogy about landscaping and SEO maintenance. And the Chandler photo, too!

  • Jenny Munn says:

    Thanks, Nica! How are you? Yeah, I really enjoyed putting this post together as I’ve been hearing more business owners complain about spending hundreds of dollars on “SEO” every month and not sure what they’re even getting out of it. Consistent, optimized content all the way. Woohoo!

  • This is an incredibly helpful article, I am the marketing manager for a start up company that’s on the fast track to growth, we just built a website but we need to maintain ongoing SEO. This was really simple and easy to grasp. Please write more, THANK YOU so much!

    • Jenny Munn says:

      Adriana – thanks so much for your comment. So glad it was helpful. Good luck and stay in touch to keep me posted how your efforts are going and if any questions come up.

  • Aaron Henry says:

    It is a great article from every angle. But if I summarize it then once you build up your rankings for a keyword, the competitors and search algorithms both are against you to take the ranks away from you, and you need to do efforts to stay up. That’s where everything applies in the context of SEO maintenance.

  • Chris says:

    The big one that I didn’t see here is competitor analysis. What are THEY doing, and how have they changed their strategy once your client begins pulling ahead of them? How do you react to those changes?

    • Jenny Munn says:

      Chris – thanks so much for commenting and you are definitely right. While I’m an advocate for competitive analysis during audits, I’m definitely a big fan of “SERPS checking” for routine maintenance. We might be referring to the same thing – I wrote this blog post to share more about evolving your strategy to keep ahead of direct and indirect competition: https://jennymunn.com/serps-checking-seo-trends-in-your-industry/. I should update this post for sure. Thanks again!

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