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How to set SMART goals for your SEO campaign

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As management thinker Peter Drucker said, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. If you don’t know how to measure your SEO efforts, you cannot know if you are heading in the right direction or if you need to readjust your strategy.This couldn’t be more true with SEO, which is the most volatile and changing online tactics where you constantly need to take action, wait and then measure your results to see if you received a positive response.

It is even harder to measure the exact impact of each action, when most SEO factors are correlation and not causation factors.Here is an easy roadmap to set SMART goals, that are:

Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time bound

Step #1 : Decide on the type of goals you want to trackThe biggest challenge in measuring SEO is that the Organic Traffic source displayed in Google Analytics contains both brand and non brand keywords which are currently hidden under not-provided. The branded traffic is actually a form of direct traffic and shouldn’t be tracked as SEO performance.

The second challenge is related to keyword rankings which can also be misleading. Not only do they fluctuate so much but some keywords are more important than others; they have a different intent or search volume and their value to your business cannot be equally measured.Last but not least, seasonality can severely impact your traffic.

Some businesses, like home & garden only thrive during summer time. If you can’t tell for sure if it’s the demand that is lower or if your website has been affected due to Google updates and penalties, you lose valuable insights.

This is why we track 2 major KPIs :SEO Traffic (or organic non brand) that results from corroborating Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools data to segment brand and non brand keywords  Visibility Score, a metric that shows you how visible your site really is based on your keyword list and their search volume. The visibility score will help you understand if your traffic is decreasing due to SEO issues or seasonality.

Step #2 : Understand your actual performance

Before deciding on your goals, you need to understand your website’s actual performance (T0):how many organic non brand visits you’ve generated last month ?what is your actual conversion rate ? SEO is a discovery channel, bringing in new prospects on you website. If they are already in the Buying Stage, they will convert directly but most of them are in a research or evaluation process and will convert at a later stage with the help of other nurturing channels

Step #3 : Analyze your market

Research for all the keyword phrases that can be relevant to your business. By looking at the total search volume of your keywords, you will understand how big your market really is. Your Visibility Score will tell you how much of that market you already cover.Now let’s look at the competition. If you compare your Visibility Score to that of your Competitors, you can already understand where you need to be in the future. You can use the a Competition Insights Feature to identify the most relevant competitors for your keyword list. This comparison will also help you refine your target keyword groups and find new opportunities where the competition is not focused on yet.