How to Determine and Set the SEO Goals Best Suited to Your Business
Read on for SEO tricks that can help your business thrive.
06:15 30 September 2021
"We want more traffic!" This is a straightforward objective, but successful SEO requires more nuanced thinking.
It's not good business to demand more traffic - or even to strive toward this particular goal. The type of traffic and level of engagement is far more important than clicks, and these are where your focus should lie.
Luckily, you can utilize various tactics for lead generation and, with the right approach, optimize favorable content that drives sales and profits online.
Let's have a look at some specific SEO goals and how to achieve them.
1. Understanding Optimization
SEO is a competitive practice. Valuable keywords have many sites vying for the coveted top spots on SERPs (search engine results pages). This is why you need to know what you’re doing when you try to optimize your site.
It might seem basic, but if it were as easy as you’d think to get it right, there wouldn’t be so many bad websites out there. You know the ones. Confusing navigation. Slow loading. Unresponsive to mobile users.
Having a UI/UX that's intuitive is imperative. Make sure it's optimized for all browsers and OSs. Most stock photography sites now offer images up to 3,000 pixels wide, but most websites are 1,920. Optimize your images to reduce load time.
Conversion rate optimization is also an issue. Users need to follow your socials, subscribe to your mailing list, download your app, and buy online. These processes should be as smooth and seamless as possible. Keep clicks, form fields, and buttons to the bare minimum. Don’t put obstacles in the way of onboarding.
We all know there isn't just one search engine. There's Bing too. But they all operate using similar algorithms. Let's use Google as a shorthand since it’s the global leader.
We'll get stuck into SEO and Google later, but in web design, a sitemap is useful. It helps you, your users, and Google to understand your site structure. A responsive site will mean your menu items display below your headline. This inhabits a healthy amount of real estate at the top of a SERP.
Google also likes breadcrumb navigation. This is the feature, usually displayed toward the top of a page, that maps out the journey that led to the page. Users can then jump back. For example, an Amazon product page might look like this:
Grocery & Gourmet Food > Pantry Staples > Cooking & Baking > Breadcrumbs
2. Understanding Your Audience
As we all know, customer data can boost sales. Having a more personal understanding of your audience is pivotal. You should tailor your SEO to your brand, your customers, and your business.
The blueprint for this can come from your key business objectives, your mission statement, and your key performance indicators (KPIs). These are the meaningful objectives that measure success. For example, a KPI for marketing might be lead generation. A KPI for sales might be converting those leads into sales.
Creating an ideal customer profile is a goldmine for SEO. Study this to understand your audience. You can also read the socials of your existing or potential customers. Get a thorough understanding of your prospects:
- What do they post about?
- What do they share?
- What is their tone of voice?
- What are their interests, ambitions, and dreams?
- What are their pain points?
- Which influencers do they follow?
Funnels and Keywords
Let's say your ideal customer is researching online. They begin with broad terms. As their knowledge increases, their searches become more specific. This is why it's important to understand your audience and map the digital journeys they make.
Of course, your audience will be very specific to your business and your industry. Let's identify a hypothetical business and consider its SEO goals.
Sam lives in Brooklyn, NY. She’s a healthcare worker. Recently, she had her first child. She trained to be a therapist and is now qualified. She reads about video tools and learns how to manage a remote team.
She decides to offer remote therapy from home, so she can provide childcare. Her therapy focuses on mindfulness techniques. She reviews competitor websites to figure out how to structure a site.
Sam will be working with a video conferencing solution for small business. As such, she wants to access a global market. She considers her location to be a selling point. She sets up a 'virtual practice' whereby her patients will get a dramatic view of the city's famous skyline.
Defining Timeframes For Your Goals
When identifying SEO objectives, it's worth setting a timeframe. Short-term goals boost confidence and facilitate longer-term objectives.
Sam defines her goals from shortest to longest:
- Launch a social media campaign
- Write content about subjects that relate to well-being
- Write informative and inspiring content about her methods of therapy
- Launch a website that focuses on mindfulness, contrasted with the vibrancy of New York city living
- Post video referrals from previous colleagues and patients
- Research complementary services, such as dietitians and hypnotherapists
- Post engaging content about various mental health factors, with relevant links
- Get organic backlinks and shares on social media
- Reach out to the dietitian and hypnotherapist, compliment their work and inform them of her content
- Attract and maintain global clients
This is a realistic and achievable journey toward monetizing Sam's business. She reads some SEO and content marketing strategies to further expand her knowledge.
Let's think about the funnel of keywords for Sam's prospects. Sam's ideal customer initially searches "therapy". They follow up with "remote therapy", or "mindfulness techniques".
Last, they search "remote therapy via video conferencing" and find Sam's site. These final detailed searches are 'long tail keywords'. They usually rank quite low as keywords but are considered valuable in SEO as they often lead to sales.
3. Understanding Google
Google performs thousands of annual updates. This affects the way it handles searches, meaning SERP results fluctuate. That's unsettling for anyone monitoring a website's performance. It's a major headache for SEO because Google doesn't issue detailed information about its updates.
Why doesn't Google issue detailed information about its updates, such as the medic update? Good question! If Google did this, those focused on SEO could use its updates as a 'cheat sheet'. Google doesn't want box-ticking - it wants quality content creation.
Fortunately, Google is upfront about its objectives. Comply, and you'll win in the long run. It loves:
- Dynamic, user-friendly sites with meaningful content. Its bots are smart enough to analyze those criteria.
- Relevant links in content. It measures clickthroughs. It knows how long users stay on linked sites. That's why links must be relevant.
- Backlinks to you from other trusted sites. This is why Sam did her research, linked to great content, and politely asked for backlinks.
- Brands. They get clicks. It's human nature. After all, we seek advice from friends rather than strangers. That's why Sam is providing quality content so her prospects gain knowledge of her methods and trust in her expertise.
You might not be a big brand and you may not have any plans to become one. However, if a prospect has read one of your articles, it will drive you up their SERP when they search related content. Furthermore:
- Google loves bullet points and numbered lists
- It breaks down complex information
- It will drive your pages up SERPs
- Bullet points often feature on Google Snippets
This means you can find the answer to queries without making all the text on your SERP turn purple.
So, what does Google dislike? Google dislikes it when you cram your pages with non-relevant links. It dislikes cramming keywords. Google understands semantics. There's no need to stuff synonyms into your content anymore.
Google doesn't like content automation, hidden links, plagiarism (sometimes called 'scraping'), or bought links. These practices are 'black hat SEO'.
The term ‘black hat’ derives from old cowboy movies, in which good guys wore white hats and bad guys black hats. In the days when the internet was like the Wild West, these practices were rife and got results. Those days are gone.
Google likes returning content that answers questions. This means users can learn about phone systems for small businesses without pogoing back and forth to gather information.
That's why Sam's mental health articles are successful. She wrote extensive pieces in plain language and a thoughtful tone. She got shares that led to clients and backlinks from trusted sites.
After a few months of great business, Sam gets a bad review. It's from a difficult client who didn't like her mindfulness techniques. Disappointed, Sam decides to send a Facebook Business message to offer a free session with a view to updating the review. No response.
Sam takes matters into her own hands. She writes a positive, thorough article about mindfulness. Using her SEO skills and social presence, her piece soon ranks higher than the negative review.
Peace of Mind
SEO is a continuous pursuit. Practice, refine, review, repeat, and you’ll find your SEO ROI rising, albeit slowly. Yes, it's disheartening if your site drops off page one, but other SEO professionals will have similar issues. Read industry news, forums, and blogs and use these insights to produce fun and fresh content to counteract this.
SEO is a cut-throat, competitive practice, but it's rewarding when you get results. And, if you're feeling the pressure, Sam (and her real-life counterparts) have some great mindfulness insights for you to check out. Simply head to Google to find them and see some successful SEO at work.
Koa Frederick - accelerate agency
Koa Frederick is the Senior Vice President of SaaS strategy at accelerate agency, a SaaS content agency who exclusively partners with enterprise tech companies to scale their SEO and content marketing. Koa has extensive experience in growing SaaS brands via organic leads and loves to write in her spare time. Here is her LinkedIn.