You’re a success story. You’ve achieved that coveted #1 spot in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for your targeted keyword. Now, you can just sit back, bask in your glory, and watch the money pour in, right?
The fact of the matter is that you have to work hard to maintain your prestigious ranking. In this article, I’ll show you how.
What You’ll Learn:
- How to maintain your SEO rankings:
- Optimize your title tag and meta descriptions
- Establish authority and expertise
- Optimize for featured snippets
- Switch to HTTPS
- Include internal links
- Continue to collect backlinks
- Keep an eye on your rank tracking tools
- Use Google Analytics Intelligence reports
- Pay attention to your site speed
- Increase social shares
- Make sure your site is mobile-responsive
- Encourage user-generated content
- Prepare your site for voice search
1. Optimize Your Title and Meta Description
You might be at the point now where you’ve ranked at #1 because you’ve offered something unique. Your competitors could change that.
When competitors start trying to rank for the same keyword, they’re going to pull out all the stops to surpass you. So your links need to be more clickable – and they need to stay up to date.
Start by analyzing your click-through-rate (CTR).
Fortunately, Google Search Console offers a tool that shows the CTR for specific keywords and links on your site. If you notice the CTR for a keyword dropping over time, then you can be sure that Google is noticing it as well. Your rank might drop.
Next, try and figure out where the problem comes from. Have you written a catchy, click-grabbing title? Does it need updating – for example, a title which still reads “Best Tools for 2017”?
Title tags are one of the most important – yet often overlooked – aspects of SEO, and frequently checking and updating them is one of the best ways to maintain SEO results.
For best results, don’t focus solely on keywords. While you’ll want to include your target in the title, make sure it seems natural and doesn’t cross into keyword stuffing territory.
Instead, focus on including:
Read all about title tags in 2019 here.
You may have to do some testing in AdWords to see which titles work best for your site. However, the following words generally work well for clicks:
- How to
As well as the title, you can use the meta description to invite more clicks.
Fill this short paragraph with action verbs, keywords and phrases. Just don’t write too much, or your carefully-chosen words won’t even be visible in your Search results. Use a tool like Yoast to check the length and efficacy of your meta descriptions.
2. Establish Expertise and Authority to Maintain SEO Rankings
Another great way to maintain a high rank is to make sure that your site is an authoritative resource for the keyword that you’ve already ranked.
If you go to Google right now and type “buy books” in the search bar, your first non-ad result will be Amazon.
Why? Years ago, that company established itself as the “go to” place to buy books online. They mentioned it in every ad, they promoted it in blogs and press releases, and ultimately they built a business around it.
So, if you’re already ranked #1 spot for “blue widgets,” keep that spot by producing other content related to blue widgets.
Write about the history of blue widgets. Write about the inventor of blue widgets. Write about the future of blue widgets. Use a site like Answer The Public to figure out what information people need… then provide it.
When you produce a boatload of helpful content related to blue widgets, you’re establishing your site as an authority on the subject. Google will recognize that and reward you accordingly.
Take a look at our site, for example; we have written over 300 articles on search engine optimization.
But how do you know if your site is authoritative? First of all, look through your page analytics to find out the dwell time on your different pages.
This metric goes further than CTR; it’s about how long people actually spend reading your site. A healthy dwell time shows that your site delivers on the content promised in search results, and is a useful resource for visitors.
You can also check your Domain Authority score. This number predicts how seriously Google takes your site as an authority, based on factors such as external links. We’ll take a look at how to build external links later on.
The subject of E.A.T. (expertise, authority, trustworthiness) has been at the center of the latest Google algorithm updates, making it clear that the search engine is continuing to increase the importance of establishing authority in your niche.
If you want to maintain your SEO rankings, you’ll need to ensure you’ve taken the necessary steps to prove your site is trustworthy and authoritative.
3. Become the Default Link with Featured Snippets
Take a look at any page of search results these days, and you’ll see much more than just a list of links.
Google offers sponsored links, sidebars with recommended websites, image results… and Featured Snippets.
Featured Snippets are short chunks of information, pulled from websites which Google thinks are relevant to the search query.
They’re displayed above all the other search results, with a live link to the source website. So for example, if you create a page about the history of bookshops, Google might quote a paragraph from the page in its search results.
So how can you get a Featured Snippet on the front page?
There are three types of snippets: paragraphs, lists, and tables. So it’s a good idea to include a mix of formatting on your pages, with informative paragraphs, quick lists, and tables of statistics or further info.
Don’t forget to mark up headers and subheaders so that the search index can understand the layout of your page.
Try and create content which is designed for Featured Snippets. Think about what your audience wants to know. You could even write content in a Q&A format, so that when someone types a question into the search bar, they get your answer right away.
4. Switch your Website to HTTPS
Back in the day, web developers used to have a choice. They could create web URLs which started “http”, or with “https”. The “s” stands for security, and it used to be optional.
But, as of July 2018, Google labels all http web addresses as “Not Secure”. This makes people less confident about using your site – and in some browsers, it even means that your site is blocked.
If you haven’t already, you should switch all your web pages to https. Be aware that it’s not necessarily a top-down change. You could have an https homepage, with some other outdated pages still using http.
5. Keep up the Internal Linking to Maintain SEO Rankings
Once you have a post ranking high for a specific keyword, one of the easiest ways to make sure it stays there is with some judicious internal linking.
In other words: Link to your great content yourself.
Internal linking is one of the best ways to build link juice for a particular keyword. However, be sure that you don’t go overboard in the effort. If Google sees an overabundance of links on one page, that could look unnatural.
The best way to seem natural is to be natural. Every time you’re producing new content and stumble across on opportunity to link back to the post that’s relevant to the content at hand, do so. Use connections that make sense, where the links will be genuinely useful to your readers.
And one more thing – mix up the anchor text so that you’re not always using the same word or phrase to link back to the post.
6. ..And Keep up the Backlinking Efforts, Too
You probably arrived at the top of the SERPs because you made an effort to build backlinks. You shouldn’t stop just because you met your goal.
Just pretend that you never reached the top and keep looking for people who will happily offer backlinks to your site. Remember, avoid looking spammy. Try reaching out to other sites in your industry (not competitors!) and offering to exchange guest posts. Or, feature case studies with your best clients, and encourage them to link back from their websites.
You’ve rightfully earned your spot at the top of the Google SERPs. Now, use some due diligence and continued SEO efforts to keep that spot. Make sure you run regular checks on all internal and external links – there’s nothing users hate more than a broken link.
7. To Maintain SEO Rankings, Watch your Rank Tracking Tools
When it comes to maintaining rankings for SEO, you’re going to want to watch your keyword themes and top terms. Use a tool like SEMRush to keep track of this data.
If your visibility index for your keyword themes starts to slip, or you lose ground on top terms, use traditional SEO methods to drive them back up!
Fresh content is always the easiest first step. However, you can also refresh old content: review, rewrite, and update with the latest information.
8. Use Custom Google Analytics Intelligence Events to Track Traffic
You almost certainly know about Google Analytics; otherwise, it’s not likely that you would have achieved a high rank in the SERPs.
However, even the most experienced marketers have yet to penetrate the depths of the riches offered by that tool.
Google Analytics provides a feature known as Intelligence Events that allow you to monitor significant changes in your analytics. The tool will actually alert you, for example, if there’s been a spike in your traffic.
The feature also allows you to specify your own custom alerts, such as configuring it to notify you if your revenue changes significantly in one day.
For example, if you find that you’ve unexpectedly ranked very high for a series of related keywords, you can create more content for those keywords to give your site more prestige.
On the other hand, if the tool alerts you that traffic for a keyword has dropped noticeably, you can find out what happened and take the appropriate action.
Remember, it’s likely that you’ll encounter unscrupulous competitors who don’t like the fact that you’ve ranked #1 for a specific keyword.
Some of them could even try black hat SEO. Intelligence Events will help you spot these efforts early so that you can do something about them before it’s too late.
9. Pay Attention to Your Site Speed
Yes, your rankings are, in part, determined by your site speed.
But it’s not just your rankings that will suffer; in fact, 40% of your site visitors will give up if the page takes more than 3 seconds to load – and 80% of those visitors will never come back.
You simply can’t afford to be slow.
It’s possible that part of the reason you’re ranked well right now is because your site is lighting fast. However, if you add more plugins, widgets and more content, you could slow it down. If that happens, you might lose that top spot.
Fortunately, Google Analytics, Webmaster tools and theGoogle page speed tool gives you information about your site speed – including specific, actionable ways to fix it.
For starters, make sure that you’re using caching technology. That’s a great way to prevent reloads of common resources throughout your website. It will help speed up site load times.
Also, be sure that your images are optimized for websites. You might come across some beautiful images in your portfolio of stock photos, but they aren’t always optimized. Use PhotoShop to optimize images, or a free compression tool so that your images will load faster.
10. Increase Social Shares to Maintain SEO Rankings
Although it seems as though social shares won’t increase your rankings, there’s no doubt that they generate buzz and can give your site a reputation as an authority on a particular subject. That’s why it’s still a great idea to encourage social sharing.
Make sure that it’s extremely easy to share your content.
Display social share icons alongside your content so that nobody can possibly miss them. Offer them at the top and bottom of the article, or design a floating bar with social icons that stays on the side of the page as the visitor scrolls down the article.
Above all else, ensure that your social share icons work properly. There’s nothing more discouraging than icons that don’t put the title and link in the pop-up window, or generate an error.
Also, don’t be shy about asking people to share your content. You can post a link to your content on Facebook with the caption “Please share and enjoy.” There are people who will share that link simply because you asked them to do so.
Finally, it is worth a minimal investment to pay for social ads. After all, people are known to share paid content just like they share non-paid content.
Just choose your ad network with care. For example, B2B websites will do well on LinkedIn, while B2C businesses should focus on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
11. Design a Responsive, Mobile-Friendly Site
Google has been making big changes to how it indexes websites. We’ve already talked about Featured Snippets, page speed, and so on.
But one of the biggest changes of all? Mobile-first indexing.
That means that instead of looking at your desktop site, Google now starts with your mobile site. If your pages aren’t responsive and ready to deal with a range of mobile devices, then they will fall down the rankings.
Why have they done this? Well, because over 60% of all internet users access the web from their mobiles. If you’re pushing out your content via social media, that percentage will be even higher for your site. And let’s not forget the number of people who use tablets and other portable devices.
Check that your design is clear and easy to access for mobile users, with no broken links or unusable desktop features. Try and use a scrollable, vertical layout, with clear calls-to-action and tappable buttons.
12. Encourage User-Generated Content
One of the best ways to make your site “sticky” is to encourage user-generated content (UGC). This is, as the name implies, content created by visitors on your site. If often appears in the form of reviews or comments.
You use UGC as a means of building loyalty to your site. It’s often the case that people in a discussion about your content will come back just to continue the discussion by responding to a point that somebody else raised.
Also, people are always looking for reviews of products or services before they buy them. If you’re allowing people to offer reviews, you’re making it easy for your visitors to make an informed decision.
With UGC, you’ll give people more reasons to visit your site. As a result, you’ll have more visitors and establish your site as an authority in its niche. You will also have fresh content that will improve your rankings.
13. Prepare Your Website for Voice Search
Last on the list: get ready for voice search.
Voice search – via mobiles, smart speakers, and other devices – is growing fast. And because it’s a new kind of search, it requires a new kind of SEO.
Get ready for the change by optimizing your website for long-tail keywords and phrases. Instead of focusing on a couple of keywords, as you might be used to doing, think about how people ask questions when they speak.
Optimize for long, conversational phrases like “Where to find a realtor near me”, or “What’s the best way to cook a roast” (or whatever’s relevant to your business).
Featured Snippets and local content are also set to become more important. Think about it: people want instant information, and if they’re searching at home, they’re probably thinking locally.
Wrapping Up How to Maintain Your SEO Results
Getting your page to the top of the SERPs is no easy feat.
So make it sure it stays there by using the tips outlined avoe.