When I was a young first-year MBA student, I was amazed at the program’s persistence in setting individual goals for the course. Having studied political science during my undergraduate years, I was not very exposed to strategic thinking and measuring cause and effect. Like any role in the digital space, search engine marketers have a responsibility to drive results and exemplify what they’ve done to get things done. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered that setting goals at the start of an engagement will help set the stage for success and effectively manage client expectations.
The Need for Objectives in Search Engine Marketing
A goal, whether for personal or professional applications, inspires you to achieve more and stay motivated to succeed and exceed expectations. Whether your goal is to become an industry thought leader or to increase your client’s organic visibility on Google and Bing, there’s a big benefit to setting it as a goal: that you put it on paper. . Accountability for actions and their intended (or unintended) results builds trust through transparency and shows your customers that you have a vision for their brand.
It’s time to get SMART
I was introduced to SMART goals by one of my professors, and I’ve since applied it to the majority of SEO accounts I manage. SMART goals have since kept me on track and helped me exemplify value for clients big and small. SMART goals are, by definition:
Do you have a specific outcome you are looking for and is your goal well defined? Lame, boring goals like “I want to increase organic traffic” aren’t specific enough to be SMART. How are you going to do it? What strategies and tactics will you employ? Be specific and spell it out.
Everything we do in search is measurable, whether through analytics platforms, paid advertising management systems or inbound call centers. If you have a goal that includes online and storefront metrics, make sure you have an effective way to track success.
Is your goal within reach, or is it so far away that you’ll end up looking like a fool trying to accomplish it? I’m not suggesting that you lay down and set an easy-to-achieve goal. Do your research first, then aim for the moon if it is feasible.
Is the objective relevant to the overall objective you have in the relationship with your client? Think within reach versus out of reach. You wouldn’t want to have a goal that included an increase in email open rate if you were hired just to do research.
Limited in time
Timing is everything when crafting a responsible SMART goal. Whether it’s short-term (ie, four weeks to three months) or long-term (ie, six months or more), add a timeline reference. Goals like “I want to increase the number of organic landing pages receiving traffic by 20% in August using an updated keyword targeting strategy” hit the mark.
Assembly: an example of a goal using the SMART model
The best part of a how-to article is the practical example. I’m going to cut to the chase and illustrate the thought process I used in a recent goal setting exercise.
The goal: 10% increase in organic revenue by the end of Q4 by optimizing the CLIENT-NAME website using SEO best practices.
The process: Ask yourself, is it…
|Specific: I would like to increase revenue from organic search.Measurable: Using tools like Google Analytics, Omniture and Webtrends, it will be easy to measure this goal.
Feasible: Through a large-scale audit, I will be able to identify some deep-rooted technical issues as well as some low-hanging fruit to be resolved immediately.
Pertinent: Because the client was recently hit by Penguin, I think this goal is realistic as there is nowhere else to go but up!
Traceable: By the fourth quarter, I would like to have increased the client’s revenue by 10%. Who knows what 2013 will bring.
I have tried a few other goal setting models in the past, but have found the most success using the SMART model. If you’ve tried using SMART before or had success with any other framework, please share in the comments!