Know Your Goals – 12 Post SEO Guide #2

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Before you start on the SEO for your site, it is important that you know your goals.  We need to define the goals of the site and put them in the context of the goals for your organisation.  This step is important.  Not just for the reasons you would find in any business book or self help article about goal setting.  Knowing the goals you have for your site and your SEO campaign will define many aspects that will alter future steps in the process.  What metrics you monitor, what kind of content you write, what keywords you target.  All of these and more will vary depending on the goals you have for your website and your campaign.

In the case of a small service business, the website might have two main goals.  One could be to act as a support to marketing activities, to build trust and credibility as part of the overall sales process for your business.  The traditional “brochure” site if you like.  A second goal is likely to be to generate leads for your service offering. 

Knowing what you want your site to achieve helps you make decisions about your online strategy.  Want to build credibility and trust in your small service business?  Perhaps a blog will play a role there.  Need to assess whether Adwords will work?  Well, if the goal of your site is to generate sales leads then you have a fairly easy assessment to make.  You calculate the cost of the leads that Adwords generates and you calculate their value and you have your conclusion.

The goals you have for your site determine the metrics that are most valuable. 

The obvious metrics for an SEO campaign are not always as obvious as they might seem. 

Traffic is an obvious metric to track.  Tracking your rank in search engines is another.  You are going to measure these metrics in any SEO campaign but it is knowing your goals that allows you to pick your key metrics.

When you track your rankings or some consultant makes promises on getting you to the top 10 in Google, which rankings you track makes a big difference.  The ones with the most traffic?  Maybe.  But you will make better decisions for your campaign if you go back to your goals.  I want to generate sales leads that convert so I will measure which traffic brings me the most leads and which types of leads convert to business.  I’ll try to get traffic for buying terms to the relevant parts of my site.  The parts that sell. 

The approach would be very similar if you were running an e-commerce site, your focus would be sales.  You would be looking to measure dollar amounts and your strategy would focus on maximising those sales.  This all sounds fairly simple and I suppose it is.  The thing to bear in mind is if my goal is sales then I need to set up accurate monitoring of sales.

While SEO for lead generation and online sales are common goals, there are others.  Some sites make their money from advertising.  To maximise ad revenue they need pageviews and so their strategy could look entirely different.  Often a broad content spread is evidenced, with SEO focussing on long-tail search traffic and building a strong domain.  Traffic is often gained from many, many different search terms and these might be on a broad variety of topics (depending on the nature of the site).  Clearly defined funnels to a conversion are the focus of a sales or lead generating site.  Repeat visits, multiple pageviews and community involvement might be the goals for a site generating ad revenue.

You might even be running your site and your SEO campaign as a branding tool.  Using Adwords and paid Internet advertising as part of awareness and branding campaigns is talked about plenty.  SEO for branding is discussed perhaps less.  Those top 3 results are valuable real estate.  They are viewed by everyone who does the search.  Marketing departments are quite willing to pay for the exposure that sponsored positions provide and SEO can achieve the same but with more reach. 

The point here is that you should define your goals now.  Define goals for your site and your SEO campaign and be aware of how they fit into the goals of your business. 

Here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t run a campaign or pay someone else to on a vague notion like “We should be on the top of Google”
  • You should measure traffic and search positions but they may not be your key metric (they usually aren’t)
  • You cannot assess the true value of traffic except by measuring your key metrics (those that are directly tied to your goals)
  • If you know your goals and measure them, you can judge the value of traffic as well as its cost
  • Don’t forget that you might have more than one goal for your site.  Different content, different search terms and different traffic channels may serve different goals while all being valuable.

Talk of goals and metrics will irritate some people and confuse others.  At this stage, you need to do one thing.  Ask yourself “What is the website supposed to achieve?”.  Every aspect of your SEO and wider Internet marketing strategy should work to further that aim.

This post is part of our 12 Post SEO Guide, an ongoing series.  If you would like to keep up to date you can follow the blog through RSS or follow us on Twitter.

Related posts:

  1. Keyword Research – 12 Post SEO Guide #3
  2. Announcing Our 12 Post SEO Guide
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2 Responses to “Know Your Goals – 12 Post SEO Guide #2”

  1. [...] our SEO Guide we talk about knowing the goals for your site so you can align those with your strategy.  You may run a campaign where generating sales or [...]

  2. [...] is vital to a viable Internet marketing strategy and any SEO campaign.  Now that you Know Your Goals, have done some Keyword Research and created an SEO Friendly Website, it is time to put some [...]