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How to set and track SMART goals for SEO

Last updated: 23 February 2024

How to Set And Track Smart Business Goals

Once you know who and what your site is for, you can start thinking about how its SEO, structure, and content can be used to benefit your audience and achieve your business goals.


All websites aim to drive conversions. Whether you want people to sign up as a client, buy a product, or visit a physical location is up to you. Your website should be built to suit the needs of your particular business.


What are SMART SEO goals?


SMART Goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound
SMART Goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound

The SMART framework is a goal setting method designed to create more actionable aims and objectives by ensuring that each goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.


Examples of SMART Goals for SEO

When working on projects, laying out your targets, KPIs and SEO reporting, SEO lends itself really well to the SMART framework because each plan of activity should be carried out in response to a business need that is demonstrable with data.


You can use SMART objectives on your website growth strategy by ensuring that each SEO recommendation shows:

  • Specific area of the site, conversion metric, or behavior that you wish to impact

  • Means of measuring the effect of your marketing

  • Confirmation that you have the tools and resources to achieve your desired outcome

  • Clear relevance of the SEO goals with the business goals

  • Estimated time to complete and see an improvement from the work


Taking this approach can help you turn a general SEO goal into a SMART SEO Goal.


Here are some examples of how you can convert a general goal into a SMART goal in SEO:

General Goal

SMART Goal

Improve mobile performance




During Q3, we will increase traffic and revenue from mobile users by improving the number of product pages which are optimized for rich results.

Increase traffic from local audiences

Next month, we will increase user visits to location landing page, from GBP by optimizing the GBP profile.

Improve indexing

Over the next 3 months we will optimize the product feed to increase the percentage of live product pages which are indexed by Google.


Setting up your site to drive your goals


Your website is a key component in your digital marketing activity and understanding how it can be used to drive your overall business goals is important. You need to consider site structure, content, and also how people use search engines to find your web pages. The way your site is configured will help you understand which goals are achievable and relevant to your business.


Structure your site with the sales funnel in mind

The sales funnel is a basic marketing concept. It is all about a buyer’s journey from their first interaction with your brand right through to the point where they take action.

image representing sales funnel
The sales funnel, which describes various stages of the buyer’s journey.

The top of the sales funnel is all about introducing a broad audience to your brand. Further down the funnel, you’ll lose some users but others will move through to conversion—that’s why the funnel slims toward the bottom. How many people eventually convert will depend on how effective your website’s content and structure are, among other factors.


When choosing your site structure, you need to create intuitive navigation so users can find what they’re looking for. In addition to an easy-to-use menu bar, every page on your website should feature a call-to-action(CTA), which moves people along your sales funnel toward conversion.


Keep in mind that your website visitors won’t necessarily land on your homepage and go from there. Google will lead them to whatever page is most relevant to their search terms. So, think of every page as a landing page, or potential entry point into your sales funnel.


Plan & measure content for different stages of the sales funnel

When choosing content for your website, keep in mind that certain types of web pages relate to different parts of the buyer’s journey.

diagram representing relevant content in funnel
Content types that are typically associated with specific stages of the buyer’s journey.

If someone lands on a “How to” blog post, you shouldn’t go straight for a hard sales pitch. That visitor is probably still in the awareness phase and not ready to buy. So, this is the time to be helpful, supportive, and make a lasting impression. To nurture your new lead, you could include a CTA that encourages further reading or a newsletter signup. This way, you’ll be the first brand they think of when they are looking for products or services in your industry.


On the other hand, someone reading a product page is probably further down the sales funnel. Whether they’ve browsed your site to get here or arrived directly from search results, they may be ready to make a purchase. So, this is where some impressive, sales-focused information will be useful for both your users and your business.


People visit certain pages for certain reasons.


When considering your SMART objectives for SEO, paying attention to what is measurable at each stage of the funnel will help you to benchmark and attribute your goals to something tangible. Equally, data on the length of the sales cycle will help you to gauge what is achievable across a few weeks or a few months. If you’re in tune with your users and cater to their needs, it will be easier to create content that leads to conversion and fulfills your goals.


Account for search intent

As it turns out, a buyer’s journey through the sales funnel largely corresponds with a user’s search intent. So, if you cater your content to suit the needs of your users at various stages of the journey, you’ll optimize both your sales funnel and your search rankings.


Different pages on your website should correspond to different search and keyword intents, and this intent will depend on where the customer is in the buyer journey.

diagram representing seo goals funnel
The sales funnel (left) and search intents (right) typically associated with particular parts of the sales funnel.

For example, if someone types “How to make pancakes” into Google, the intent behind their search is likely to be informational. So, they probably don’t want a product page or a sales pitch disguised as a recipe—these types of content are more appropriate for searches with a commercial research or transactional intent.


Considering the needs and requirements of your audience can help you set targets that are specific and highly targeted for the user.



How do you know if a website is successful?


Tracking certain metrics will empower you to gauge the performance of your website over time and help you identify what’s working and what needs improvement.


These metrics are known as key performance indicators (KPIs) and, in addition to linking your website and your business goals, they convey how successful your marketing activities are.


What are examples of KPIs based on SMART SEO Goals?

The website and SEO goals and KPIs you choose will depend on your specific goals, but they should always be:

  • Specific to your website’s configuration

  • Measurable with your SEO and marketing tools

  • Achievable with resources you currently have or can attain

  • Relevant to the success of your company

  • Deliverable in a timely manner

Associating KPIs with each stage of the sales funnel will help you identify which parts of your website are contributing toward your company’s success, as well as which areas need work.


Example SEO KPIs for the top of the sales funnel (ToFu)

SEO is a great way to reach people who are unaware of your business and start them on the buyer’s journey. If your ToFu goals includes using SEO content to drive traffic to the website with awareness raising content like targeted blogs, videos and guides, then the following KPIs can indicate growing awareness of your business:

  • Search rankings: Tracking how search engines rank your content over time can help you identify whether your brand is trending towards more or less visibility. Generally speaking, the higher the ranking, the more impressions you’ll receive, which usually translates to greater brand awareness.

  • Organic traffic: This is the number of visitors that come to your website from Google’s search results.

  • Number of new visitors: If this number is high and growing, it’s a sign that your strategy for building awareness is working.

Example SEO KPIs to track the middle of the sales funnel (MoFu)

Once people are aware of your business, you want to engage their interest. During this stage you may be investing time in your SEO content strategy to improve you E-E-A-T with trust building content on your home page, about page, and profile pages for experts in your team. Since your goals will be to build engagement, your KPIs show signals that visitors are moving toward conversion:

  • Number of returning visitors: This will tell you how effective your website is at building and retaining an audience online.

  • Pages per session: The average number of pages someone looks at during their visit provides an important gauge of how engaging your website’s content is. If this is low, you may need to look at improving your website’s structure, navigation, and CTAs.

  • Email signups: Trackable in Google Analytics, this KPI can be an indicator of how engaging and helpful your blog content is. If this is a CTA anywhere on your website, this is an important KPI to track.

  • Branded search volume: The number of times your company name is searched each month indicates how many people know about and are interested in your business. If this is increasing, you’re doing a good job. This metric is available in most keyword tools. Alternatively, you can use Google Trends to keep track.

Example SEO KPIs to track the bottom of the sales funnel (BoFu)

At the bottom of the sales funnel, your leads are ready to convert. This is usually the part that directly advances your business goals. Depending on your website, users may make a purchase, contact your sales team, get a quote or book an appointment. So, these are the KPIs to track:

  • Leads and Form submissions: The number of incoming submissions tells you about how successful your website is in building trust and guiding users toward conversion.

  • Average Order Value: As a site-wide metric this can indicate if your customers are engaged with your campaigns, see you as a trustworthy brand, and help you to determine the expected return on additional marketing channels like PPC.

  • Conversion rates: Track the percentage of users who purchase, subscribe, or enroll via organic search channels. A higher conversion rate indicates that your marketing funnel is working well.

  • Purchases: High sales volumes can signal great content and navigation.

  • Shopping cart abandonment: This shows how many people leave your website in the middle of filling out a form or making a purchase. If this is too high, it may indicate that the process is too complicated. When measuring the value of your ecommerce website, monitoring abandoned carts can help you to create actionable campaigns to achieve your overall business goals.


You don’t have to track all of these KPIs, but it's a good idea to regularly monitor some from each stage of the sales funnel. This will provide a succinct and simple overview of your website’s progress, without weighing you down with hefty reports. 


Adopting a SMART approach to SEO goal setting

When setting out to achieve your SEO goals building a solid SMART approach can help you to get great results for clients and to empower your team. Whether you are working with an SEO agency, or carrying out SEO work in-house having clear, data backed objectives from the start will help you throughout the lifetime of the project.



 

Author Matthew L. Kaminsky

Matthew is responsible for SEO education initiatives at Wix, helping people increase their sites’ visibility on search engines with SEO. Twitter | LinkedIn

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