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How to set and track SMART goals for SEO

Author: Matthew L. Kaminsky

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.

Setting up your site to drive your goals

Your website is a marketing tool and understanding how it can 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.

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 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. If you’re in tune with your users and cater to their needs, it will be easier to create content that leads to conversion.

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 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.

Serving your users irrelevant content not only decreases your search visibility, it also increases the likelihood that you'll lose potential customers for good.

Search intent and the sales funnel in action

Sometimes a user will arrive directly on your homepage, browse your website and convert. Easy-peasy! But, most of the time, it takes users a while to move through the sales funnel towards conversion.

Some leads need to be nurtured over months and, often, they’ll use Google to find your site again and again. So, it’s important to have content that engages users at each stage of the buyer journey. It’s also important to optimize each page and piece of content for search engines.

For example, Mary’s Flowers specializes in wedding flowers and understands that wedding planning may take place months in advance. In addition to having product pages for its range of wedding flowers and packages, the company uses its blog to build awareness among anyone who is in the early stages of wedding planning. It features articles like “Wedding bouquet ideas” and “How to choose wedding flowers.”

To increase the odds that some blog readers convert later on, Mary’s Flowers offers newsletter signups and downloadable PDF versions of its guides. This way, Mary’s Flowers can stay top-of-mind for prospects that are ready to make a purchase. These efforts may also help repeat visitors recognize the business in future SERPs, which could bring them back into your sales funnel if they've dropped off.

image representing conversion funnel

Even if your website isn’t designed to sell products, you can still use the sales funnel concept to drive other conversions, like form submissions or bookings. Take a business like Windows by Jim as an example. Because the price of windows depends on many different variables, its website can’t finalize sales. Instead, it drives users to contact the sales team for an individual quote.

Windows by Jim also understands that choosing new windows is a big purchasing decision, so it may need to attract users to its website a number of times throughout the buyer journey. To that end, Windows by Jim creates helpful, comprehensive articles and guides for users in the early stages of the funnel. This content includes CTAs like “Read more,” “Visit the showroom,” and “View the catalog” to move potential customers towards conversion.

For potential customers that are further down the sales funnel, the company offers a product catalog that calls on users to fill out a form to get a free, no-obligation quote.

case study image representing conversion funnel

Depending on what they search, a prospect might land on a different page every time they visit your site. For this reason, every page needs to have a CTA designed to move users closer to conversions.

So, website owners need to consider two things when creating content for each web page:

  1. What is the user looking for?

  2. Where should I bring them next?

This will make your content relevant to users, benefit your search visibility, and optimize your sales funnel.

chart representing how to optimize sales funnel with keywords

The awareness phase and informational intent

At the very top of the sales funnel is the awareness phase. This is all about introducing your business to new people and generating leads. This phase of the funnel corresponds with searches that have informational intent.

At this point, it’s too soon to push for a sale. Searchers just want information, so you should focus on creating some great, informative content.

If you run a food truck, you might share recipes. Or, if you specialize in Reiki treatment, you might create content for searches like “What is Reiki?” and ”What are the benefits of Reiki?”

If you want to drive people to take action at this early stage, you can encourage them to sign up for your newsletter or follow you on social media. This will make it easier to warm up these leads and turn them into customers.

The interest phase and navigational intent

At the interest stage of the buyer’s journey, people are aware of your business but still aren’t ready to make a purchase. Instead, they want to know more about your business and products.

This often overlaps with searches which have informational intent and navigational intent—when people know exactly what site they want to visit. At this stage, you want to use your website to build trust with your new lead. So, present a consistent brand message throughout core content, like the home, about and contact pages.

The decision phase and commercial intent

Once leads have reached the decision phase of the sales funnel, they likely plan to make a purchase but are still researching their options. So, it’s no wonder that this stage of the sales funnel coincides with commercial search intent, which is when people use Google to do pre-purchase research.

Users in this phase may search for terms like “best protein powder,” “double glazing vs triple glazing,” or “mary’s flowers reviews,” for example. They might then browse content like product pages, case studies, reviews, and testimonials.

People are about to make a purchase decision, so this is the time to include sales-focused CTAs in your content.

The conversion phase and transactional intent

At this point in the funnel, users have decided what to buy. They may already be on your website or they may Google a phrase like “,”buy red roses,” “discount sash windows,” or “buy bouquet mary’s flowers.” The results will likely show product pages from which users can buy an item, get a quote, or receive a callback.

Analyzing whether your site is achieving its goals

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.

Choosing KPIs to monitor

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

  • Be measurable

  • Track things essential to the success of your company

  • Tie back to your business goals

  • Be applied consistently

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.

If sales on your website are down, the problem could be the checkout process. Or, it could be that not enough people are entering the top of the sales funnel and becoming aware of your brand. Below are some KPIs that can help you pinpoint issues.

KPIs for the top of the sales funnel

SEO is a great way to reach people who are unaware of your business and start them on the buyer’s journey. If your SEO strategy isn’t working, you’ll have fewer people entering the top of the sales funnel and, therefore, fewer people converting later on.

These KPIs 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.

KPIs to track the middle of the sales funnel

Once people are aware of your business, you want to build up their interest. If your search rankings and organic traffic are great, you need to make sure these KPIs are performing to ensure 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.


Matthew Kaminsky - Wix SEO expert and online instructor

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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