Are you trying to improve your search engine marketing results? Whether you want to rank higher in organic or paid search, setting SMART goals can help you track and achieve those results.
In this article, we’ll look at SMART goals and how to apply them to your search engine marketing.
What are SMART goals?
SMART goal setting first appeared in the business world in 1981. It is an acronym that stands for the following.
S – Specific
Specific goals are clearly defined with an exact amount. Common, but not specific, goals for SEO could be:
- Improve search rankings.
- Increase organic search traffic.
- Build a diverse link portfolio.
- Develop new content.
Overall, the main goal of any SEO campaign is to increase search engine visibility. To make your goal specific, you need to specifically state How? ‘Or’ What you will increase visibility in search engines.
A local business, for example, may set a specific goal of claiming new local listings/citations in the next quarter.
M – Measurable
Measurable objectives can be quantified. The above example of a specific goal requires an exact number of local ads to claim.
To make this a measurable goal, the local business can update it to claim 25 new local listings in the next quarter.
Now it’s specific and measurable.
Is the goal you have set for your SEO strategy achievable?
To answer this question, you need to know if the end result you want is achievable. With the local listings goal above, they should know that they still have 25 local directories to claim.
Note that while a goal should be achievable, it should also be difficult to achieve. If a goal is achieved too easily or quickly, it shows that the measurable part of the goal was not ambitious enough.
Historically, A stood for Assignable. This is also a good component of a SMART goal.
Who will be involved in carrying out the tasks necessary to achieve the objective? Make sure someone is accountable for every step of the goal achievement process.
Does your goal match the needs of your business? In the case of a local business looking to claim local business listings, the answer is yes, the objective is absolutely relevant to the business and the success of its marketing efforts.
By claiming local listings, a local business will increase its visibility in search results. The listings themselves have the potential to cover most of the first page of search results, as well as help boost local rankings in the map pack.
In the past, R also stood for Realistic when A stood for Assignable.
Is your goal realistically achievable with the current resources you need to invest in it? Or will you have to invest in resources before you can start the objective.
A small business with a single owner may not be able to realistically achieve the goal of claiming so many business listings while simultaneously managing other business operations.
A local channel with a marketing team, on the other hand, may be able to claim even more signups in the same amount of time.
T – time limited
Time-bound goals are simply goals that have a time limit.
With the example of the local business, the goal may be to claim 25 listings by the end of the quarter.
Assuming this is realistic, it will ensure that you are working towards your goal in a timely manner.
What happens when we don’t add a timeframe to a goal?
In most cases, the goal without a deadline is put on the backburner while the goal with a deadline is put in the foreground until the goal is met.
Why are SMART goals important?
Unfortunately, the oft-cited Harvard or Yale study that shows MBA student success based on goal setting turns out to be a myth. However, we have research that shows the effectiveness of goal setting for marketing.
According to a study by CoSchedule, marketers who set goals are 376% more likely to report the success of their marketing efforts compared to those who don’t set goals. Additionally, 68% of marketers surveyed always or most of the time set deadlines.
The success of SMART goals is usually related to the specificity of the goal. Unlike a very vaguely defined objective, a specific objective must be thought out. You need to analyze where you are, where you want to be, and exactly what it will take to get there.
Even the American Psychological Association includes the fundamental components of SMART in its dictionary as a definition of goal setting:
“…a process that establishes specific, time-based behavioral goals that are measurable, achievable, and realistic.”
Locke’s theory of goal setting explains why these components improve performance:
“At least four mechanisms explain why goal setting improves performance: (a) it focuses and directs activities, (b) it regulates energy expenditure, (c) it improves persistence because effort is continued until the goal or sub-goal is achieved, and (d) it can foster the development of new strategies to improve performance.
Examples of SMART Goals for Search Engine Marketing
Using some of the main general goals of SEO campaigns, here are examples of setting SMART SEO goals.
One of the primary goals of most SEO campaigns is to increase search rankings.
Of course, saying that’s your goal is far from precise. And it’s hard to be precise with a metric that fluctuates regularly.
With that in mind, here’s an example of a SMART search ranking goal.
Increase search rankings for [specific keyword] from the second to the first page of search results by the end of the year.
To determine if this is feasible, you will need to assess your competition in organic search. Compare the quality of your content with theirs and inbound backlinks.
Driving traffic from organic search is the ultimate goal of efforts to improve search rankings.
To create a SMART traffic generation goal, consider changing the following:
Increase organic search traffic by 25% by the end of the next quarter.
To determine if this is feasible, you will need to assess your competition in organic search for your top keywords.
Links are essential in helping Google discover your content and determine its quality and relevance to search queries. To build a diverse link profile, you will need to set a SMART link building goal.
Acquire 50 relevant links to our website in the next quarter.
To determine if this is feasible, create a list of the pages most likely to gain links.
If you have 10 link-worthy content pages, it’s realistic to assume that you could get five links for each page.
Do you want your search engine optimization to result in qualified leads or sales on your website? Create a SMART goal focused on revenue-generating conversions.
Increase [sales revenue/leads generated] of organic search by 10% by the end of the year.
If you know how much your organic search traffic is currently converting, you should be able to extrapolate a realistic increase.
Key points to remember
If you want to achieve your SEO goals, consider using SMART goal setting.
Create smart, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals that are well thought out.
Use these additional tips to ensure SMART goal success:
- Know why you are setting a specific goal. Your reason (like ROI potential) should motivate you and your team to achieve the goal.
- Write down your SMART goals – don’t just formulate them in your mind and forget about them.
- Create accountability for each step of the process with regular meetings and progress reports.
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