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Getting SMART with your SEO goals

Getting SMART with your SEO goals

As the summer comes to an end and we enter this autumnal season, epitomised by fresh starts with the new academic year beginning, it’s a good time for businesses to take stock; to look back and analyse how things have gone and how things are going, while at the same time, and perhaps more importantly, to look forward by setting intentions and goals.

In terms of deciding on an SEO strategy and setting SEO goals that achieve results, it’s definitely worth going back to school and getting SMART with your objectives. Handily, this blog is all about this very subject! But first, a bit about SWOT analysis and how it can also help with setting SEO tactics and goals.

A bit about SWOT analysis

Determining the right SEO strategy for a website isn’t always easy. Various internal and external factors come into play; while ultimately the desired outcome is to achieve an overall increase in core keyword rankings and organic traffic.

SWOT is a method which involves identifying the strengths and weaknesses, while also identifying the opportunities and threats, of specific projects or business ventures as a tool of evaluation.

Internal factors and external factors affecting your SEO strategy and goals can all be identified and addressed by using the SWOT matrix. Internal strengths (such as creating and publishing quality content often; having relevant, trending topics on your blog/news section; having strong, working and relevant links) can all be built upon and used as a model for other areas. Internal weaknesses, such as poor content, bad links; and a non-mobile friendly site can all be identified, problem areas can be fixed and new strategies decided upon.  External factors that pose a threat, such as Google Algorithm updates; Google Penalties; and competitors can be taken into consideration where possible when planning your strategy and devices put into place to avoid these external factors becoming a real issue.

SWOT analysis is all about looking at your business and your goals in terms of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, in order to identify gaps of improvement in your internal and external factors.

It’s important to note that the SWOT Analysis can be an extremely important strategic SEO planning tool but can only work well if the derived action points have defined objectives with clear time frames. That’s why it’s a good idea to use another useful tool in conjunction with a SWOT Analysis, which goes by the name of SMART objectives.

How SMART are you?

“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organised their energies around a goal.” Elbert Hubbard.

When you set out to create a mind-blowingly brilliant, visually pleasing, fully functioning, user friendly website, you need people to visit it! To create a website that subsequently fares well in the Search engine rankings game, thus giving your site visibility and getting people in through the door; you need to get SMART with your SEO strategy. At the heart of achieving this all singing, all dancing, frequently visited website is a slick and successful SEO strategy. Achieving such slickness can be possible by formulating succinct and clear goals and objectives; SMART objectives.

SMART objectives simplified

With any successful SEO strategy setting SEO goals and objectives using the SMART framework is a smart place to start. Essentially you need to formulate an actionable plan which gets results. So just what are SMART objectives and how can this way of approaching your website benefit your SEO goals?

SMART stands for:

Specific
Measurable
Actionable
Relevant
Time-bound

In a nutshell getting SMART is all about ensuring you set plain and pertinent action points with defined, measurable objectives and operate within clear and definite time frames. Adopting the SMART strategy requires you to come up with realistic, detailed and actionable objectives that plainly define your SEO goals and what you’d like to achieve.

SEO is an ongoing process, rather like doing up a house; there is always some nurturing, tweaking, refreshing, upgrading and repairing to be done in order to ensure your website stands out from the crowd of competitors. Search engines, such as the giants, Google, favour websites packed with quality content and links which are regularly updated. Using the SMART objectives standard will ensure you stay on top of your game in terms of knowing what needs to be done and how you can reach the targets you set. A strategic, SMART approach brings structure and trackability and can really help you to measure outcomes, see results and achieve SEO success.

So let’s break this down:

Specific

What? Why? Where? When? Who? Which? How? Be specific. What exactly do I want to achieve? What are the desired outcomes? What are the constraints? What is the time frame? Why do I want to achieve this goal? Where will my skills and experience best be placed to achieve optimum results? Where can we operate from? When do I want to achieve this goal? Set a date! Who will help me? Who will carry out each specific task or take on board each role? Which is the best way of dividing responsibility? Which team members have time to help? How will I achieve my goal? How will it work practically? How much time do I have?

Set your intention; establish a specific outcome and come up with defined goals. Unspecific ‘goals’ such as, “I aim to increase organic traffic” or “I plan to improve online sales” isn’t concrete enough. Be clear and transparent. Plainly set out how you intend to increase organic traffic to your site, also decide by how much you aim to increase traffic? Quantify the increase and set a deadline that can be measured; create detailed and specific methodology and procedures; allocate specific tasks and establish roles; define the means by which you intend to improve online sales; confirm tactics and decide exactly how you are going to achieve this result.

Measurable

Your SEO goals need to be measurable. Everything you do needs to be measurable. How much? How often? How many? You need to be able to measure and track success; to identify how you achieved the goals you set out to achieve. Define firm criteria for measuring progress and success.

In the world of Search engines, everything is measurable. Solid metrics are crucial to understanding why your website does or doesn’t “work”. If your goal is to do with improving site visits via social media, metrics detailing site hits via social media are invaluable when measuring this goal and, of course, a good way to tell if your social media marketing is doing it’s job properly. Staying on top of your channel specific metrics can give you an accurate picture of which channels are producing the most traffic and assist when setting marketing strategies and future SEO goals.

Actionable

Using the SMART framework is essentially coming up with a really detailed and specific action plan. So all goals and objectives you set must be well defined, focused and actionable. Do you have the resources to achieve the objective? Is your website fully functioning and Google friendly? Basically, is your website ready to go, in order to attain the specific SEO goal you’ve set? Is your goal, in the current state of play, actionable? Can the tasks you’ve set to achieve this goal be acted upon? I think you get the gist.

Relevant

Your SEO goals need to be relevant. What are the objectives behind the goal, and will this goal really achieve these? Is the goal relevant in the grand scheme of things, to the ultimate and overall purpose of your business/website/SEO strategy? Also it’s important to make sure your goals are relevant to the realities of the market you’re operating in; this brings us back to the usefulness of the SWOT analysis and assessing outside factors when setting SEO strategies and objectives.

Time-bound

Being smart and setting time-bound goals will help you to achieve attainment of each goal you set. Decide upon deadlines with a realistic, attainable and clear time frame. Come up with a timely and achievable schedule (taking account of any peak sale periods, for example) and ideally stick to this schedule. Monitor and measure progress at specific points to ensure all is on track; make adjustments in areas that are behind schedule and bring these areas back up to speed. Being clear about when you will achieve the goals you set and having clear time-bound procedures in place will be a massive help operationally.

It’s time to get wise

Getting SMART with your SEO goals isn’t rocket science; it’s relatively simple. It just requires being organised and thorough and not cutting corners. The SMART approach ultimately makes life easier for everyone involved in the project, enabling a smooth process from the  initial planning through to implementation.  Adopting the SMART framework in your SEO strategy allows you to clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and ultimately achieve your business/SEO goals.