Many businesses and organisations that I have worked with over the years place far too much importance on where their website ranks for a particular keyword. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way discounting the importance of a strong ranking, it is the benchmark on which my career is measured.
Ranking should not be the only metric that an SEO campaign is measured on though. I would argue that it isn’t even the most important measurement of a campaign and here is why. When you considered implementing SEO into your marketing, you did it for a specific number of reasons, none of which were to rank highly.
Perhaps you set out to increase your inbound leads, or increase the number of downloads of your company brochure. You might perhaps be looking to grow your email database; or simply increase your brand awareness. My point is that whilst your search engine ranking is an important factor in achieving your objectives; it is not why you are carrying out SEO.
The truth is that even a 1st place ranking is not a guaranteed route to success. A keyword that when researched gave the impression of being profitable, might in fact turn out to be a false prophet if and when the fabled top spot is attained.
My point is this; don’t measure the success of your SEO on rankings, because it is no guarantee of success. Instead identify what it is you really hope to achieve from your SEO and communicate it to your SEO agency or in-house department. The way in which you do this is up to you. I prefer to use the SMART method of setting objectives and I would like to share this with you now.
Setting SMART objectives
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. By applying this framework to the objectives of your SEO campaign, you will be providing a structure against which success can be honestly measured. Let me demonstrate how that works by using an earlier example.
Let’s say that what you really want from your SEO campaign is not rankings, but more leads. You could just say “I want more leads”, but how would anyone (including yourself) know where the marker for success is. Applying the SMART framework provides clarity and purpose to the objective in the following way:
“The objective of the SEO campaign is to create 15 more inbound leads per month”
Can you see how in a simple manner you have set a specific goal that can be realistically achieved and measured within a particular time-frame? There can be no confusion as to the purpose of the campaign; and because the focus is taken away from where the website ranks , you can properly monitor the campaign success and evolve your goals as you go.
Perhaps the website does achieve the number 1 spot, but your SMART objective isn’t achieved? You have the necessary framework to be able to identify that that particular keyword won’t achieve what it is that you want it to; and you can make an informed decision about your keyword selection.
On the flip-side, perhaps you never reach the top spots, but still blow your goals out of the water and so set the bar higher. You will be in a position to stop chasing the success of a keyword and start measuring the success of your business.
- I want to grow my newsletter signups by 100 emails by April 2012
- I want to achieve 30 PDF downloads per month
- I want to reach 100 website visitors every week
Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed objectives that will be the real measure of success; rather than solely where your website ranks.