Top 10 SEO Priorities for Your First Week as a New CMO

As a new marketing manager, the first week can feel like a hiccup in trying to understand the people, processes, technologies, and campaigns in development.

When you pair that with the “Owning an SEO” section of the section, one might ask oneself, where do I start?

Since SEO is not a single initiative, you are looking for the most impactful actions you can take to lay the foundation for long-term SEO success.

The recommendations here are from the perspective of a marketer in a medium-sized, multi-location company.

The most important goals in the first week are to understand your organizational, managerial, and team goals.

These North Stars ensure alignment with your teammates and organizational mission before you can begin to implement.

Besides getting to know your team and the resources available, here are the systems needed to prioritize and ensure accurate data is provided.

1. Website installation and conversion analytics

It will take over a week to audit your analytics systems and ensure that your session and conversion data are 100% accurate. However, having any level of analytics tracking is better than none.

Basically, make sure that Google Analytics tracking is activated on your website, landing pages, and blog.

If your website is hosted on one CMS and your blog is on another, you will need to check both places to make sure your tracking is configured correctly.

GTM/GA Debugger is my favorite free browser-based tool for quickly debugging faulty or duplicate GA and GTM tracking code on site.

Run the debugger on your site to make sure you don’t see multiple pageviews fired on each page. Here are two examples showing that a GA or GA4 tag is active only once on a page.

Screenshot from GTM/GA Debugger, April 2022
ga4 debuggingScreenshot from GTM/GA Debugger, April 2022

If you see multiple pageviews running on each page, you’ll know you have analytics issues that need to be addressed later.

2. Set up Google Analytics alerts

After configuring your basic analytics, it’s time to set up custom alerts in GA. Alerts are a simple way to get notified if your site notices a sudden drop in traffic or conversions.

Feel free to use this alert configuration for your own site, which you can access in the admin settings.

Custom GA AlertsScreenshot from Google Analytics, April 2022

3. Implement order tracking

You’ll likely spend the first few weeks on the job learning about the buyer, products, competitors, marketing channels, and more.

One of the easiest metrics to understand to help your team track your SEO performance is overall first page growth, and unbranded Google rankings.

In theory, as you create content, improve your site, and grow your backlink portfolio, you should see an increase in first page rank for non-branded keywords.

During the first week, you can measure this value and begin to understand the topics/keywords that are on the cusp of ranking on the first page of Google.

Consider these keywords “easy fruit”. If you are looking for a quick buck, focus on optimizing content on pages that are about to rank on the first page.

Here is an example of a Semrush report that tracks these metrics to quickly provide that baseline for your team:

first page google rankingSnapshot from Smrash, April 2022

It will probably take longer than a week to determine the topics you need to build your content and SEO strategy around, but that will at least give you a starting point.

4. Set up Google Search Console

At the most basic level, the GSC tracks your ability to crawl and index in Google and highlights potential issues affecting Google’s crawlers from accessing your site.

In the first week, you’ll want to check the following:

Sitemaps are submitted and the size of the pages included in the sitemaps matches the size of the pages being indexed In Google (as stated in the coverage report).

They will probably never match exactly, but if you see a discrepancy of 50% (pages in the sitemap vs. valid pages in the coverage report), there may be content quality issues or technical issues that are causing Google not to index your site.

You don’t have any manual procedures or security issues.

If you are not sure what your predecessors did from a marketing or CMS security perspective, check these areas to make sure you are not affected.

Any sudden spikes in impressions or clicks data as listed in the Search Results report.

Pull data for the last 16 months and note any specific time frames when your site saw these effects in the search.

Google search consoleScreenshot from Google Search Console, April 2022

5. Prepare listening brand signals

The easiest way to create backlinks to your site is to make sure that any other site that mentions your brand also links to your site.

If you don’t have an SEO tool yet, Feedly tracks industry posts and brand mentions.

However, my favorite SEO tool is Semrush’s Brand Monitor which allows you to track mentions of unrelated brands.

Semrush Brand MonitoringSnapshot from Smrash, April 2022

6. Check out the Google Business Profile List

The complexity of the marketing department increases when you are also responsible for the local digital presence of individual branches, franchises or sales offices.

For the first week, make sure each site has a Google Business profile page with accurate name, address, and phone number information.

As part of this process, start the claims process to check your listings. This can take up to two weeks, so you’ll want to get started.

7. Prepare annotations

If you’re lucky, your predecessor left records of the most important dates in your company’s marketing history, including website launches, CMS migrations, campaign start/end dates, etc.

Some of these logs may be stored in Google Analytics annotations allowing you to leave detailed notes about any events that may affect your traffic, conversion or revenue data.

In the first week, if nothing else, review the annotations from years past and add the date you started in the company to show your progress once you reach the 90, 180 and 365 day mark in the organization.

8. Install Google Tag Manager

The best configuration for most organizations to manage tracking scripts is through Google Tag Manager.

A proper implementation of GTM allows you to see all the scripts running on your site and the pages those scripts are running on.

If you’re going into a new role without having clear technical stack documentation, Google Tag Manager can help you identify the systems used on the site for tracking, advertising, and more.

9. Crawl to create criteria

Ideally, by the time you start your new role, you already have a general idea of ​​the web presence for your new organization.

In the first week, run a crawl with ScreamingFrog or another crawling tool to determine the amount of SEO issues that need to be addressed and to gain a better understanding of your information architecture.

Whatever crawler you use, make sure it can crawl all the subdomains connected to your site, so you can gather a complete picture of all the web properties you might be working on.

Below is an example of the type of visuals that help you understand your information structure.

frog scream reportScreenshot from Screaming Frog, Apr 2022

10. Inventory your MarTech package

As spending on SaaS applications continues to increase, your new organization may be using 20 to 150 different applications across the organization.

You do not need to know the ins and outs of all of them.

If you can document all of your marketing and sales tools and their specific uses, you’ll better understand what you can start using right away (as opposed to making the purchase of other tools).

Your first week will fly. If you can tackle this list, you will have the foundation for tracking, optimizing, and launching your upcoming campaigns.

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Featured Image: Wear It / Shutterstock

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