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Setting SEO Goals Is the Foundation of a Successful Search Marketing Campaign

When preparing to launch a search engine optimization campaign, there is one task that many people fail to complete: the setting of proper SEO goals. Having clearly defined goals from the start provides a map to search engine optimization success. These goals should be decided on by everyone involved in the SEO process. The decision makers (owners, C-level execs, etc.), marketing personnel, and even the necessary IT professionals involved should come together to decide what those SEO goals should be.

Start with business objectives. Is your SEO campaign’s purpose to create brand awareness? Are you looking for increased traffic only, or are conversions and sales the real factor of success? Once your team is on the same page with business objectives, then you can move forward with determining goals for each of the available SEO metrics.

Having clearly defined goals from the start provides a map to search engine optimization success.

Choosing the Right Success Metric(s)

There are countless data points you can track for SEO. You can look at rankings in the SERPs (search engine results page), site traffic, conversions, or usability data, and frankly, you can drive yourself mad tracking all of these things. So what does this mean for you? Before you step in and get on with the process of optimizing your website, you must understand what metrics matter to you and set goals accordingly.

Go back to those tough questions on business objectives. Was your website designed for brand awareness and to be an information resource? Then your SEO goal is likely to have the site’s content be bookmarked and read. In which case, the right metrics would be time on site, page views, and the number of new versus returning visitors. Do you operate an e-commerce site? This one’s a no-brainer—track sales and revenue from search query through close. Is your site a lead-gen machine? Another no-brainer—track conversions and revenue.

It’s that pesky term everyone likes to use: Return on Investment. Decide on ROI goals and stick to them.

Once you understand which metrics arerightfor your SEO campaign, it’s time to set appropriate goals. Does the number of returning visitors imply that your site has become an information resource? How many sales must organic traffic generate to be profitable? How many leads must your SEO campaign drive to turn a positive ROI? It’s that pesky term everyone likes to use: Return on Investment. Decide on ROI goals and stick to them.

SEO Goals and the Optimization Process

SEO, like so many other tasks that require active management, has a well-defined path and process. But your SEO process can and should be influenced by the goals you set.

As you begin to perform keyword research, your SEO goals will guide you in choosing keywords with the best performance indicators. A website that is designed to generate traffic and awareness may lean toward the more general keywords. Conversely, a sales-driven site may lean toward specific, long-tail keywords. When you begin to develop new content, your goals will dictate the copywriting approach. Informational resources and sales-driven copy read very differently. Your Web design, usability, and any content that you plan to develop for your website should be compared to your goals. If a particular feature, keyword, or piece of content doesn’t help you reach your SEO goals, you should think twice.

Choosing the right success metrics and setting goals is one of the most important pieces of any search marketing campaign. As such, those metrics and goals should be considered in the proper order. Decide the right metrics and set your goals before diving headfirst into the grand SEO process. Let your goals inform the process and you’ll find SEO success.

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