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How to Set Up S.M.A.R.T. Goals for SEO


In digital marketing, search engine optimization is your bread and butter.

It has to be. Poor SEO practices won’t do much to attract traffic to your website, but if you play it smart, SEO will help your business draw in plenty of new customers. And to do that, you need to set up S.M.A.R.T. goals that improve your SEO.

Today, we here at Cobalt Digital Marketing analyze how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals that measure the effectiveness of your SEO practices, and teach you how tying them into your company and marketing goals will be a major boon to your business.

Before We Begin

For those that may not be aware, the acronym S.M.A.R.T., in terms of digital marketing, stands for:

  • Specific – Short for “Specific Objectives” that you want your company to achieve, like more exposure, leads, visits, or sales.
  • Measurable – How you are going to measure your progress through:
    • SEO metrics such as the main converting keywords – both local and organic.
    • Link-building metrics that measure the quality and number of authority links in your content.
    • Real-world metrics that measure increases in organic traffic.
  • Achievable – Setting up goals that are achievable for your company but not unrealistic. You generally want to aim high but not too high (e.g. attracting 50 percent more customers over the next quarter).
  • Realistic – Taking into account all of the resources and abilities you have on hand to see if it is possible to reach your SEO goals. This differs from “Achievable” because “Realistic” is more in line with the short and long-term nature of SEO.
  • Timelined – Time is a huge factor when it comes to measuring SEO goals, even though SEO practices take time to implement or take effect. Since no objective could technically fail if it wasn’t given a deadline, we have to be realistic about what goals your company can achieve during a given period.

Also, a little pre-warning: it’s going to be challenging. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

If you are not entirely sure how to set SEO goals—or measure them— you aren’t alone. A lot of the confusion for many organizations started when Google took away the keyword-level data for SEO referrals. That, and SEO is hard to measure directly. With the sheer amount of contributing factors that SEO encompasses, measuring SEO success can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for.

In 2017, 61% of marketers said improving SEO and growing their organic presence was their inbound marketing priority #WorkOnSEO Click To Tweet

“So where do I start?”

Since we are working to create S.M.A.R.T. SEO goals, it only makes sense to start focusing on SEO first and then how it can affect company and marketing goals. Right? Nope.

You actually want to start the other way around.

You’ll want to begin by clearly stating what your company goals are first. Why? Because, ultimately, this is what your company is trying to accomplish during a specific time frame (i.e. month, quarter, or year).

For the sake of this post, let’s say that your company wants to work on increasing your customer base by 15 percent over the next month.

“What’s next?”

Now that your company has established a goal—like getting more customers—you need to gather up your marketing department and start hashing out clear marketing goals that will help your company get to where it needs to be.

Here, your marketers can brainstorm just how to make the acquisition of more customers more than just a pipedream. There are several ways to do it:

  1. Improving your conversion funnel – Look for weak spots in your funnel. Are customers abandoning their carts? Do they find value in your content? Is your copy neat and clean on the product or service description pages? Improving your conversion funnel helps you pinpoint weak areas that you need to fix so that your business stops hemorrhaging potential customers and revenue.
  2. Setting up an email marketing campaign – Have you grown an email list? If so, it should be full of potential customers, or returning customers, that are interested in your product or service. Reach out to them. This method works especially well when targeting returning customers.
  3. Building up your social media marketing skills – Social media marketing is a unique form of marketing that gives your customers direct access to your company. Positive experiences in this form often lead to brand loyalty and can possibly be used to earn new customers.

These are just three ways that your marketing department can help your company achieve your company goals. Just make sure that the marketing goals are just as clear—if not clearer—than your company’s goals so that your marketing team knows what they should be focusing on.

According to HubSpot’s 2018 State of Inbound survey, 63% of marketers say that generating traffic and leads is their company’s top challenge. #CobaltDigitalMarketing Click To Tweet

Now Set Up SEO Goals

The following SEO metrics can be used to measure SEO goals. You’ll want to measure things like:

  1. Rankings – You can measure this by local, national, or global rankings.
  2. Links and Link Metrics – You can measure the number of linking root domains or the total amount of links present within content.
  3. Referral Links – It goes without saying that if you link something in your content, more than likely someone will click on the link and go on to that site. That is called a referral link. If you have a referral link that comes to you, you will get referral traffic. You can watch these traffic numbers, who they came from, and if they came from your pages where you built links for SEO purposes.
  4. Organic Search Visits – Measure the raw traffic that is sent in through organic searches in Google (or your preferred search engine).
  5. Branded vs. Non-Branded Search – For example, measure traffic that reaches your homepage (branded) compared to traffic that is directed to a blog, resource, or other content marketing-style page (unbranded).
  6. Search Volume – If you are looking to increase the quantity of your branded search, you can measure that through tools like Google AdWords, Google Trends, or Moz’s Keyword Explorer.
  7. SERP – You can use the search engine results page to measure your ranking within a given search query, e.g. a keyword.

With these metrics, you can then build from the bottom up. Set the SEO goals that you want to measure so that they match up with your marketing goals and then your company’s goals.

If growing your customer base by 15 percent is your company goal by the end of the month, your marketing team is going to need to research effective keywords that can be placed within quality content—not spam—to attract organic searches from Google. This can then be measured by looking up the organic search visits results through Google Analytics.

Enlist the aid of a digital marketing firm that has SEO down to a science. Contact Cobalt Digital Marketing today.  

Get started with your custom Cobalt Formula here and let’s start a successful digital marketing journey today. Contact us at (866) 224-5705 for more information on the digital marketing services we provide.