Setting SEO Goals Okay, so you understand how important it is to put time into SEO. Now, how exactly do you go about it? One thing you don’t do is begin trying to implement SEO strategies without some sort of goal for what you want to accomplish. One of the greatest failings of many SEO plans, like all technology plans, is the lack of a clearly defined goal. The goal for your SEO plan should be built around your business needs, and it’s not something every business requires. For example, if you run a simple blog, SEO might be more expense than it’s worth. But if your plans for that blog are to turn it into a brand, then the simplest of SEO strategies might be just what you need to build the traffic that begins to establish your brand. If you have a larger business, say a web site that sells custom-made silk-flower arrangements, one way to increase your business (some estimate by more than 50 percent) is to invest time, money, and considerable effort into optimizing your site for search. Just don’t do it without a goal in mind. In the case of the silk-flower web site, one goal might be to increase the amount of traffic your web site receives. Another might be to increase your exposure to potential customers outside your geographic region. Those are both good reasons to implement an SEO plan. One other reason you might consider investing in SEO is to increase your revenues, which you can do by funneling site visitors through a sales transaction while they are visiting your web site. SEO can help with that, too. So before you even begin to put together an SEO plan, the first thing you need to do is determine what goal you want to achieve with that plan. Be sure it is a well-articulated and specifically defined goal, too. The more specific, the closer you will come to hitting it. For example, a goal to “increase web site traffic” is far too broad. Of course you want to increase your web site traffic. That’s the overarching goal of any SEO plan. However, if you change that goal to “increase the number of visitors who complete a transaction of at least $25,” you are much more likely to implement the SEO that will indeed help you reach that goal. Make sure the goal is specific and attainable. Otherwise, it’s very easy to become unfocused with your SEO efforts. In some cases, you can spend all your time chasing SEO and never accomplish anything. Search engines regularly change the criteria for ranking sites. They started doing this when internal, incoming, and external links became a factor in SEO. Suddenly, every webmaster was rushing to add as many additional links as possible, and often those links were completely unrelated to the site. There was a sudden and often meaningless rise in page links. It wasn’t long before the linking criteria had to be qualified with additional requirements. Today, link strategies are quite complex and must abide by a set of rules or your web site could be banned from some search engines for what’s called SEO spam, or the practice of targeting a specific element or criteria of search engine ranking, with the intention of becoming one of the highest ranked sites on the Web. If an SEO goal has been established, however, you’re more likely to have a balanced traffic flow, which will improve your search engine ranking naturally. In addition to well-focused goals, you should also consider how your SEO goals align with your business goals. Business goals should be the overall theme for everything you do with your web site, and if your SEO goals are not created with the intent of furthering those business goals, you’ll find the SEO goals ultimately fail. Be sure that any goal you set for optimizing your site for search is a goal that works well within the parameters that are set by your overall business goals. Finally, remain flexible at all times. Get a goal, or even a set of goals. And hold tightly to them. Just don’t hold so tightly that the goals get in the way of performing great SEO activities. SEO goals and plans, like any others, must be flexible and must grow with your organization. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to review your SEO goals and plans periodically — at least every six months, and quarterly is much better.
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