Business, marketing, SEO. What do they have in common? Goals.
As in, the goals of each need to line up with the goals of the others, or you’ll have entire departments working at cross-odds. If you find yourself trying to set SEO goals for the coming quarter and running into a wall, we suggest you see what the business goals are for the same time frame. Then check in with the wider marketing department and see how they’re going to assist in reaching those overall business goals. And finally, you can set your SEO goals to align with all of the above. Sound simple? No? OK, let’s dig in.
Start with SMART goals
The bottom line for goal setting is this: SMART goals are always more likely to be met. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Every goal, whether for the entire organization, a single department, or even a single team within that department, should always follow this rubric.
The examples used in this section are going to be marketing/SEO in focus. There will be a broader example farther down that also shows how to tie your goals to the bigger picture.
Put a number on it. If the boss comes to you saying “we need more leads,” that doesn’t count as specific. Dig deeper. More than what? Last quarter? Last year? Last week? What was the total number of leads you sent to sales for each of these time frames? Now see what growth has been like, and respond to that boss with some ideas. Maybe they’ll be on board with 10% more leads month to month, or 8% more leads than last quarter. Nail it down.
Example: “Grow the business” becomes “Increase active leads from our email list by 10%.”
How will you know when you reach your goal? Is there an established KPI? If not, create one (or more) before getting into the weeds so you have a solid metric against which to measure progress. This aspect of a SMART goal is easiest to see in action once you set up the SEO aspect of your goal, as you will be able to use tools like Moxpro or Google Adwords to get concrete numbers to measure against your KPI.
Example: “We saw a 6% gain in active conversions from the email list last quarter.” Now you have something to measure this quarter’s goal against.
Realistically, can you do it? All things considered, can you and your team get to this goal in the timeframe laid out? Sit your team down and give them the outline of your goal as it stands now and ask them simply, “can we do this?”
You’ll know within moments, often from the looks on their faces, what the answer is.
Example: Considering 6% growth last quarter, a goal of 10% is reachable, given a strong focus. If you had said 25%, you may have caused some team members to pass out.
What’s the point? Does this goal accomplish something for the company as a whole? If so, lay that out as part of your goal. If your 10% increase in conversions will help bring the company closer to its goal of increasing yearly sales by 15%, state that right in the goal.
Example: “This increase is expected to bring in 1,500 new customers this quarter, and given our average sales figures per customer, that means increasing overall sales revenue by 7%.”
What’s the hard stop? When does this goal absolutely need to be accomplished by? Setting a hard stop gives everyone the impetus to get to work and realize the goal in the time allotted.
Example: The part about “this quarter” in every example thus far, that’s the time-bound aspect of this goal.
How to set your own SEO SMART goals
The key is to NOT start with SEO goals at all. Start by learning all you can about the current business goals for the company. Then work your way into the Marketing departments goals, learning how these goals align with the broader business goals you already found out about. Only then do you want to start thinking about your SEO goals. You need these goals to support the marketing goals that support the business goals.
So learn about goals from broadest to narrowest. Then set about creating narrow goals that support their way back out to the broader level. This way, you have the entire picture in hand before you lay out a single SEO goal for your team. And once you do, you will know from the start what the relevance is, you’ll have an idea of a timeframe, and you’ll have an idea of the KPIs you need to meet. That leaves just the Specific and the Achievable aspects to nail down, and you’ll be up and running, secure in the realistic goal you’ve just set.
Examples of SMART vs Non-SMART goals from a broader perspective
Let’s look at each level of this process, business, marketing, and SEO, and work out what a SMART goal would look like for each.
“Increase sales” = Not SMART
“Increase sales revenue by 12% over last quarter” = SMART
“Bring in more leads” = Not SMART
“Grow leads by 5% via email newsletter conversions in the next month” = SMART
“Increase click through rate” = Not SMART
“Redesign newsletter CTAs to generate more click throughs. A/B test next quarter to determine which design is most effective.” = SMART
You can see how the SEO goal now supports the marketing goal, which in turn supports the business goal. And you can see how much easier that SEO goal was to develop once you knew about the broader, company wide goal.
This was a general look at SMART goals, what they are, how to set them, and how they can help your team/department/company reach their goals faster and more efficiently. If this got you thinking about your current goals and how maybe you should think about adjusting them a bit to bring them more in line with the SMART rubric, good. If this got you wanting more information*, even better. And if you’re already working on better aligning your team’s goals with the rest of the company, then our job here is done.
*If you do want more information, reach out to us! We're happy to help. Click below to get in touch with us.