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SEO monthly maintenance programs – getting it right

Over the years, one of the questions I have personally witnessed many of the SEO prospects ask, has been – “what about SEO monthly maintenance“? In almost all cases, after a few probing questions I realize that for a site owner, “SEO monthly maintenance” usually carries a totally different meaning than what most of the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) companies offer in their SEO Monthly maintenance programs.
For a site owner – SEO monthly maintenance usually means that the SEO company would “maintain my top top rankings” – which they will first help to achieve. However, the SEO monthly maintenance programs offered by a vast majority of SEM companies, are mostly tailored around optimizing some additional webpages on the site, running ranking reports to assess ranking variations and some other minor tweaks – which are carried out month on month. While these steps are very useful in a certain sense – but they don’t really do much in “maintaining” the organic rankings of sites which the term “SEO monthly maintenance” seems to suggest. That is where I see the confusion this term normally causes.

The term “SEO monthly maintenance” seems to have been derived from the “annual maintenance” or “monthly maintenance” services/contracts offered by web design and development companies – as an offshoot to the main development work. In this they keep the application/site up and running during the maintenance time period (normally ranging from 6 to 12 months). While maintenance might make good sense in such scenarios – it would be incorrect to borrow that term and assume it to carry the same sense and meaning in the SEM sphere.

– IMO the term should be called something else which is more indicative of the actual scope of work being carried out and which reduces the chances of it being min-interpreted by prospects/clients. It’ll save a lot of site owners from incorrect expectations from a SEO monthly program.

Perhaps calling it “SEO monthly monitoring and optimization” rather than “maintenance” would be better – because there truly is no “ranking maintenance” involved in a huge majority of these plans.

– In my opinion, the onus of clarifying the scope and “impact” of the monthly maintenance programs lies squarely with the SEM company. If they aren’t pushing only for sales numbers, they’ll take the time to explain this clearly to the client at the outset – even volunteer the information, aiming to preempt and remove any confusions in the mind of the prospect. The worst scenario for a SEM company is the ‘silent customer’ – or the quick customer – who makes the buying decision rather quickly – without going into a whole lot of detail to understand / seek clarification of the various aspects of the overall plan. My recommendation in such cases would be to – re-clarify everything covered in the scope of SEO program, particularly drawing the client’s attention to the “SEO monthly maintenance program” and it’s true meaning.

If you are a site owner hiring a SEM company/expert, it is important to safe guard your interests and get to know the real deal in SEO monthly maintenance programs. These issues are usually seen more in the SEO packages – where certain set steps and number of pages are optimized in the main SEO effort – and subsequent optimization is carried out in the monthly maintenance programs.

# Important points about SEO Monthly maintenance programs:

For a business owner who is considering taking the service of a SEM company, it would help if she asks the following questions to the SEM company before signing up for their maintenance program:

a. What would the “SEO monthly maintenance program” you are offering, actually do for me?
b. Would you maintain my top organic rankings or does it mean something else?
c. How do you go about achieving and then maintaining top organic rankings for a site like mine?

The sales person of an honest and genuinely “well meaning” SEM company should take care to clarify the following:

a. What will be concretely carried out in the SEO monthly maintenance program they are offering.
b. How would the monthly maintenance add value to the client and for how long should they expect to invest in it?
c. Offer to clarify the difference between SEO monthly maintenance as per their scope – and “ranking maintenance” – as a client might have understood the program to help achieve.
d. Think about changing the name from SEO monthly maintenance to something more in tune with the actual scope of what you are offering.