Aligning SEO with Goals
Goals are everything in SEO. It’s not enough just to write content, design a cool-looking website, and hope it works. Everything you do to a site should be intentional, building towards a specific goal, with measurable progress reports along the way.
Typically, increased revenue is the ultimate goal, but that comes with several smaller goals along the way, such as: increasing brand awareness, increasing brand trust, increasing the number of customers you have, increasing the quality of your customers (ie, they complain less), and increasing the volume of their orders.
Why Should I Set Goals for SEO?
Not setting goals for SEO will not only leave you wondering if it was even worth it, but it’ll hold your marketing strategy from its full potential. Setting goals allows you to see just how effective your strategies are so that you can adapt and improve. They also confirm if you’re on the right track, so you don’t feel disheartened if the leads don’t immediately start pouring in.
Increase Traffic Volume
The first and primary goal of SEO is to increase the number of people visiting a website. Search engine optimization is all about improving organic traffic. However, traffic for the sake of traffic is pointless. It needs to be quality traffic that is there with a specific purpose – to consume content, to spend money, or to accomplish another goal.
When trying to attract traffic, you want to target three types of people. People who are ready to purchase your services (bottom of the funnel, BOFU), people who are shopping around for the best provider of a service (middle of the funnel, MOFU), and people who need your services, but don’t know if they’re ready to buy or not (top of the funnel, TOFU).
Content should be three-fold, focusing on identifying people’s needs, informing them of your services, and convincing them that they don’t need to look any further. This way you can target all three types of searchers’ intents.
Increasing traffic volume is an important goal, but you should keep your aspirations reasonable, especially since SEO is a long game that takes time to see ROI.
Increase Lead Volume
Getting customers on the site is only half the battle. Getting them to stay and warming them up for the sales team is the other half. Adding a call to action is an important step in converting visitors into leads. Should they call? Should they sign up for an email newsletter? Make it obvious what the reader should do next to drop down the funnel. Entice them with a loss leader if they sign up! Discounts, memberships, and feeling like part of the community are valuable ways to get more customers on the hook. Online chat bots can also help.
The number of leads a site generates is going to fluctuate based on market trends, seasonality, offers, SEO swings, competitive forces, functionality, and so much more . You can optimize a website and its content to generate leads, but don’t expect the phones to be ringing off the hook right away from SEO alone, remember marketing is multivariate. Keep lead goals reasonable and achievable and remember SEO is only one part of your lead pipeline.
Improve Lead Quality
Leads have varied temperatures and differing values. Although the coveted lead turns right into a customer (hot), in many cases there is other value that can be pulled from a lead: from referrals to eventual sales. In some cases, leads can be a bad thing if they aren’t good leads – the last thing you want to do is have your sales team waste time calling and making a sales pitch to low quality leads who were never interested in making a purchase. Certainly we want to have these types of leads in our automations – as one day they may turn into potential clients. And if they only ever want to consume our content – then an automation could keep our blog/content in front of them in order to bring our frequency and recency rates up.
Targeting specific demographics/personas/psychographics is an important step in the right direction, especially with ads. For example, income targeting can filter out the leads that can’t afford you. Remarketing keeps people in the funnel by showing ads to people who have already visited the site, interacted with TOFU ads, searched for your services, or completed some other retargetable action.
Call tracking is a great way to gain insights into lead quality and the type of people calling your sales team. Find out how they found you, what they were searching for, and what made them think your business could help them. Use this qualitative data to refine your targeting strategy.
Qualifier tip: Mention on the lead-generating pages whether your services are for residential or commercial clientele to eliminate pointless phone calls, form fill outs, calendar appointments, etc.
Mentioning prices can be off-putting for some people, who prefer to build relationships and besides, it’s just tacky to talk about pricing before you develop a relationship.
However, if your company is in a position where it is the high volume/low cost option where potential buyers can be price sensitive (walmart) or lower volume/high cost option (Apple) where discounts aren’t a deal breaker – squeeze pages can help reduce the amount of low quality leads that an intake/sales team might have to sift through in any given day.
Increase Customer Volume, Quality, and Order Size
You’ve improved your web traffic, you’re qualifying leads at the squeeze page/landing page, now you need to turn them into customers (conversion). First things first, you need a quality sales team & process. SEO CANNOT do everything for you, and in most business models traditional sales talent/processes are still very necessary.
Increasing customer volume (lead to sale) can come down to a matter of improving your conversion rate on the phone lines (scripting & processing). Chatbots and email funnels (automation) can help warm up leads (from frigid to cold, from warm to hot) to get them ready for a phone call, which in turn helps your sales team improve their close rates.
Measuring Targets (Sales, Leads)
What are the team’s goals? The whole team, from the social media manager to the web developer, advertisers, copywriters, technical SEO guy, and the photographer, should be able to give a connected answer as to what short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals the team is working towards.
KPIs should be tracked, such as important site traffic, hot/cold leads, conversion rates, sales, average size of the sale, return rates, lifetime value (LTV), and cost to acquire a client (CAC). How many are leaving reviews? How many are referring new clients? What is the lifetime value of a client? If none of this is tracked by the marketing team – then we have no baselines to improve from.
What are benchmarks? A benchmark is a point of reference against which to compare something. Identify the best of the best in your industry or business, as well as your competitors, and measure your digital traction against them.
When it comes to SEO, the essential benchmark to measure is how well you stack up for target keywords. Barring corporate espionage, you’re going to be limited on just what kind of analytics you can access with regards to your competition. So, third party tools like AHREFS, SEMRush, and Open SEO Stats can be very beneficial. The SERP rankings, with the right tools, are easily discoverable as you try to outperform for the most valuable searches.
Web traffic alone is pointless. Remember it all starts with an impression. Impressions lead to clicks, which lead to leads, and then to sales. Make it easy on your marketing team – track everything that feels like a convertible action: track the number of calls from the GMB or website, form submissions, downloads, and any other action that is a clear motion down the business’s funnels. When SEO efforts are effective, the number of calls or form completions will rise over time.
Time and time again, marketing managers hear from their bosses who are upset the SEO efforts do not appear to be generating more revenue. This is why you must track movement (Google Sheets to Google Analytics Annotations). These needle movements, although they aren’t always getting the phone to ring or the forms to be submitted, should certainly be pointing in that direction. Data is the only way to show and know that SEO efforts will eventually have a return on investment. In some cases this could be months or even years. Remember to monitor as many KPIs as are needed in order to make your SEO strategy pay off.
There are lots of different conversion rates to track. Product landing page clicks/leads, service landing page leads/sales, location landing page impressions/clicks, etc. Most pages of your website (not all are SEO hungry) should have a purpose. As page-by-page goals change, remember these few obvious goals: more phone calls, more downloads, more signups, and more leads. Track conversion rates and retool them to optimize conversion potential.