5 SEO Factors You Should Be Checking Each Month and WHY

If ever there has been a time to sit down and organise your annual SEO campaign it’s right now. Not tomorrow, not early February but RIGHT NOW. This is the time to undertake your keyword research for the next 6 months, put together a content strategy and if applicable, study the reasons for your successes and fails over the last year.

The freshness update in October/November 2011 benefits those SEO professionals with awesome organisational skills as you can pan out your blog titles and ideas for the next year to coincide with seasonal or industry events. That will also help you free up time to focus on putting together an excellent social strategy and means you’ll also be able to stay up to date with dynamic events and produce expert content. It’s the perfect plan.

However one area in which some budding SEO engineers spectacularly fail is in analyzing exactly what’s working and what’s not. You can have the best technical knowledge, or some unrivaled link building resources, but if you panic at the first sight of a position drop or can’t spot a critical site area quickly, you’re destined to fail in the long term.

So hook yourself up with an excel spreadsheet and get back to basics, here are five SEO factors you should be logging and paying attention to, at very LEAST, each month.

1: Long Tail Referring Key Terms

If you’re dedicating the time to putting together a robust SEO content strategy, then don’t just write the content, publish it and then forget all about your aim. You want to know exactly what type of blog post is working and just what type of long tail traffic you’re getting from it right? Get to know Google Analytics, head into your organic referring key terms and see which posts and terms are bringing in the traffic.

If your content strategy is working, you should be increasing your number of long tail key terms each month via your blog posts. Oh and do a little research about Google’s recent ‘not provided’ implementation if you haven’t already.

2: External Back links

Now that Yahoo! Open Site Explorer is dead, assessing your number of external back links, in terms of actual total figures and the metrics of those back links has become a little more difficult. In fact, only link building tested in isolation each month can really help you assess what works and what doesn’t. This is why some people throw links from a variety of different sources at their sites each month!

You should be checking your back links each month to see a slow and steady cumulative increase and also to check the authority of the links you have been building. If you don’t check your external back links, you risk link building for months on end and then when you finally get around to taking a look you might realise you’ve only built a tonne of spammy comment links which have caused sharp spikes in your link building. That’s a one way ticket to Google’s slammer.

3: 404 Pages

It’s easy to let broken links build up but, if you go months without assessing them, it steadily builds up into an unmanageable amount of 404s which are hard to analyze and time consuming to fix. The simple solution is to work out a timely schedule (each month) to clear the 404s and implement 301 redirects (if necessary). It’s a lot easier to get on top of this on a month to month basis than let it build for a year and then have to filter through the wade through a database of broken links.

4: MozRank/PageRank

The main reason to pay attention to MozRank and PageRank is actually nothing to do with the search engine optimization performance of your site (although it obviously does have close relevance). In fact, just keeping an eye on toolbar PageRank enables you to spot when something in Google’s algorithm is changing and will then allow you to quickly go away and do further research. It’s a similar situation with Mozrank, and if you see your Mozrank fall or rise, this may have some relevance to the assessment of other Moz crawled sites that are linking to you.

5: Index Saturation

This very basic check will allow you to see whether your content strategy is working but more importantly help identify whether there are any significant site wide problems with your site. If you see a dramatic increase in indexed pages, this could mean you’ve got a fancy duplicate content issue on your hands. If you’re seeing pages fly out of the index, you need to check your webmaster tools for crawling errors (or just stop spamming the hell out of stuff).

Scott is a writer who has learnt Microsoft Excel is an SEOs best friend.

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