Ultimate Guide to Setting SEO Goals
Setting smart SEO goals is a fundamental part of any successful digital marketing strategy.
It helps you define and measure your progress in terms of organic traffic, rankings, link building, keyword optimisation and more.
So if you’re serious about boosting your website’s organic search visibility, it’s important to first understand how to set SEO goals that are both achievable and measurable.
Throughout this post, we’ll explore ways you can apply business objectives to SEO, how to set measurable SEO objectives and more. But first, we need to understand why smart SEO goals are important.
Why SEO goals are important
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) goals are important for businesses of all sizes because they provide focus and clarity to your SEO campaign, setting one clear target. This helps you focus your efforts and ensure that you’re not wasting time on activities that don’t move the needle.
Setting SEO goals also allows you to track progress over time and make changes if necessary. If you don’t have any measurable SEO objectives, then it’s difficult to know whether the changes you’re making are effective or not.
However, before you apply your business objectives to an SEO strategy, it’s important to know how to set a marketing budget so that an effective strategy can be factored into your budget without breaking the bank.
What are SMART SEO goals?
SMART SEO goals are objectives that you set for your SEO strategy, helping you plan the steps required to improve the visibility of your website on search engine results pages (SERPs).
You can easily remember SMART SEO Goals using this acronym:
By following these goals, companies can drive more organic traffic to their site, increase conversions and build brand awareness. But what does each goal mean?
Your SEO goals should be specific and focus on one area of your SEO strategy at a time. Identify whether you’ll be targeting on-page or technical SEO, and exactly what you aim to accomplish from the strategy. That way, you can easily track progress and make adjustments as needed.
How will you measure the success of your SEO goals? This could involve tracking website visits, conversions, or other key performance indicators (KPIs). Tools like Google Search Console or Google Analytics are great ways of understanding your site’s performance.
Your SEO goals should be achievable. Do your research, review your set budget and the amount of time you have, and then create an action plan with realistic expectations. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be ambitious with your aims, but make sure they’re achievable so you don’t set yourself up for failure.
Make sure your SEO Goals are relevant to your business objectives and the current marketplace.
This could include targeting specific high-value keywords that may result in more organic traffic and leads on the site. Think about what success looks like and what incremental changes you can make over time to reach those milestones.
Your SEO goals should have a specific deadline so that you can track progress and ensure they’re achieved in a timely manner. Set achievable time frames with realistic milestones to keep the team motivated and on track.
Remember to be patient, SEO very rarely shows results overnight. Typically, SEO goals are set over a 6 to 12-month basis, however, this depends on the size of your business and website.
How to set SEO goals
Following up on the last point, how do you actually set SEO goals?
Too many marketers jump straight into SEO without setting any goals, simply hoping that the work they do will lead to better performance.
If only it was that easy! The truth is, this approach rarely works and you’re likely to waste time, energy, and resources on things that don’t get results.
And those that set goals like “get more traffic” rarely see progress because of how vague the mission is. They often completely ignore some integral questions, such as what are you going to make happen? And what are you going to do to get there?
SEO agencies and the companies that hire them must also keep in mind realistic timeframes in which the results will start to show. Unlike Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns that provide short-term but instant results, SEO is centred around investing in the future and generating organic means of growth.
In turn, this means it can take between 3 to 6 months for an SEO strategy to truly begin to pay off, but to see these results you must first set realistic goals to measure your success.
There are three key steps to setting successful a SEO goal:
- Identify what success is
- Establish a performance goal
- Set a process goal
Let’s jump into each point then, shall we?
1) Identify what success is
Before you can even think about setting SEO goals, you need to identify what success looks like. How will you measure whether the SEO strategy is working or not?
The best place to start is by thinking about your business objectives and what action is required from customers for it to be considered successful (e.g. Do they need to make a purchase? Sign up for an account?).
Analysing business objectives will help you determine the type of traffic and number of conversions you should be aiming for, all while maintaining brand consistency.
A great example of a successful SEO goal would be: “to increase organic traffic by 50% and rank in the top 3 for [high-value keyword] within 6 months“.
This example ticks all the SMART features of an SEO goal, from being specific and measurable to achievable, relevant and time-based.
2) Establish a performance goal
After success is defined, it’s time to set goals for yourself.
You could start by looking at short-term goals, or low-hanging fruit, that you can realistically achieve in the next 3-6 months. Focus on keywords that are within reach and relevant to your business, but also competitive enough to rank for.
If you’re just getting started, focus on a handful of keywords and aim for the top 10 in search engine rankings. If you’re already established and looking to grow further, focus on those high-value keywords that will bring more organic traffic and leads to the site.
Once you have a list of potential terms, it’s time to look at how you’re going to rank for each one. Ask yourself:
- How much traffic will these keywords bring?
- How many conversions do you anticipate?
- What content do you need to create to rank for each keyword?
- How many backlinks do you expect this content to receive?
By asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to develop a clear plan of action that you can use to track your progress over time.
An example of a SMART performance goal might be: “To increase generate 50 new high-quality backlinks to [certain page] within 6 months“.
SEO tools, such as the AhRefs Site Explorer, are useful in helping measure the number of backlinks your site receives during an SEO campaign.
3) Set a process goal
Finally, you need to set yourself some process goals. How are you going to achieve these performance goals?
Think about where your content needs improvement to improve its performance:
- Are there any technical issues that need to be addressed before you focus on content?
- How often do you plan on auditing your SEO performance?
- What will you have to do to get the 50 new high-quality backlinks mentioned in our SMART performance goal?
Let’s say you plan a campaign around using the ‘skyscraper‘ technique. You’ll need to identify, research and create content that is far better than the current sources ranking for your targeted keywords.
This strategy requires SEO writers to find link-worthy content, create an original piece of content that builds on existing posts, and then promote it on social media and other channels, pitch influencers and bloggers, and build relationships with other websites.
These goals are 100% under your control, so you can monitor them easily.
8 examples of SEO goals
Now you know how to set SEO goals, let’s take a quick look at eight examples of SEO goals.
1) Increase organic traffic by x% (and increase conversions)
Organic traffic is a key metric used to measure your SEO success. By setting a goal to increase organic traffic, you are effectively aiming for success in other areas such as rankings and conversions.
A successful SEO campaign should prioritise conversion optimisation and focus on improving user experience, so setting a goal to increase conversions is a great way to measure success.
By ranking for high-value, competitive keywords, more people will be able to discover and engage with your content, in turn increasing your brand awareness.
2) Boost your domain authority
Domain authority is a metric used to measure the strength of your website. The higher your domain authority, the more authoritative and trustworthy your site appears to be in the eyes of search engines.
Those sites with a higher domain authority are more likely to rank higher on SERPs for competitive keywords, so it’s important to not overlook this as a goal.
By setting a goal to boost your domain authority, you’ll be increasing your chances of ranking better in search engine results pages (SERPs). This will lead to more organic traffic and conversions.
3) Improve your company’s backlink profile
Backlinks are a vital aspect of good SEO, as they tell search engines that your website is popular and authoritative in its field or niche. Building quality backlinks can help attract more visitors to your site and help you climb up the SERP rankings.
One primary way of obtaining backlinks is by creating quality content that other websites will link to, as well as reaching out to relevant industry sites and influencers.
4) Rank for more SERP features
SERP features are the boxes, modules and other content that appear on a Google SERP when certain queries are searched. Some examples of SERP features include:
- Featured snippets
- People also ask boxes
- Rich snippets
Gaining these types of SERP features can increase the visibility of your site on search engine result pages. Landing these features isn’t always guaranteed, but it’s an excellent way to make your website stand out with its content.
5) Lower your bounce rate
Bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your website after viewing just one page, without taking any action on the site.
A high bounce rate can indicate that your content is not providing a great user experience, and should be addressed quickly. Aim to lower your bounce rate by making sure that content is relevant and engaging, and adding internal links to other pages on your website.
6) Increase visitor time on the page
Following on from the last goal, increasing visitor time on the page is another SEO goal you can set. This helps to show search engines that your website provides a great user experience, and should be rewarded in SERP rankings.
You can achieve this by providing quality content which covers all aspects of the query in detail, as well as using visuals like images and videos to keep visitors engaged.
7) Optimise page speed
Did you know that if a page takes longer than three seconds to load, the user is likely to leave? Page speed is something you should take seriously when it comes to SEO, as it can impact the user experience.
In order to optimise your page speed, you’ll need to look into improving server response times, compressing images and other elements of your website, and reducing redirects. All of these steps will help to ensure a faster-loading website and improved SEO performance
8) Rank for x number of keywords
Ranking well for competitive keywords can be difficult, so it’s important to set realistic goals when measuring SEO success. Consider setting yourself a goal of ranking for 5-10 key target terms within 6 months, and then progress from there.
As mentioned earlier, ranking for competitive keywords is an excellent way of increasing organic traffic, brand awareness and conversions.
Reach the next level with Inc Studio
Thank you for reading our post on how to set SEO goals. Now the next step is to take action.
Are you looking to take your business to the next level?
At Inc Studio, we offer a variety of SEO solutions that are designed to help you reach your goals faster and more efficiently. Our team can provide you with the strategy and tactics necessary to help you climb up the SERP rankings and increase organic traffic.
We understand how important it is for businesses to achieve their SEO goals, and have experience in helping companies from various industries reach new heights.
Tell us all about your company after visiting our contact page and we’ll be in touch with you soon!