SEO First Steps – Goals and Research

Life is funny sometimes. It’s been a long time since I last wrote about SEO but I have been practicing all along. I will have to update existing posts for relevancy in the coming days and weeks but in the meantime here is my newest SEO blog post.

So far we have covered:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) requires a lot of tedious technical work. It is time-consuming and can be heartbreaking especially when not done right. If you go about things the wrong way, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

What many often overlook, including professional SEO providers, is the very first steps of the SEO process. You cannot implement an effective SEO plan if you skip over setting goals and initial research.

Without identifying your website or blog’s goals it’s going to be very difficult to create an effective SEO plan that contributes to your website’s (and your business’s) growth.

What Goals Should I Set?

Your website goals are not necessarily the same as your business goals, but they do have to contribute to your business’s goals. In other words, if you want to improve overall sales you will need to improve the number of quality visitors to your website, and you will need to improve conversions.

With that in mind, it’s important to identify what you hope to accomplish with your website.

Do you want to sell products, collect potential client information, share information about your business, or build brand recognition?

Is your site primarily a static business website, a blog or podcast, or an e-commerce site?

Once you understand the purpose of your website you can identify what goals are important to you. Some examples include:

  • Increase traffic by 20% month to month
  • Drive potential prospects and leads into a marketing funnel
  • Increase readers or listeners

What is a Conversion?

I get this question a lot so I thought it would be a good idea to answer it here. In the broadest term, a conversion is the process of changing something from one status to another.

In SEO, Digital Marketing, and website marketing, a conversion is changing a visitor to your website’s status. For example, they may add their name to your mailing list, make a purchase, or download a whitepaper or eBook (also adding them to your mailing list).

In taking an action on your website the visitor has changed their status or converted to a new status. Now they are in your marketing funnel or have become a customer.

Now It’s Time to Work (Research)

Alright, you’ve determined you want to increase traffic by 20% month to month. How will you do this? What needs to happen to make this happen?

These are some of the questions that need to get answered before you can continue to the next step of SEO, which many consider the first step of SEO.

Setting your goals and doing research is step 1a and 1b. You cannot perform keyword research without understanding what you want to accomplish with your website, blog, or landing page.

What does that mean?

If you want to increase traffic (let’s assume you don’t want traffic from across the world who is only interested in testing your site for weaknesses) then you will want to figure out who is interested in the content of your website, where there are on the internet, and how the search for your content.

Some thoughts on SEO research:

  • What keyword(s) does your target audience use to find your competitors?
  • What social platforms does your audience interact with? (Social SEO is part of SEO)
  • What topics relevant to your website is your target audience interested in learning more about (Content development)?
  • How does your target audience consume content (blogs, videos, infographics, all the above)?
  • What are your target audiences’ demographics? This will help determine a lot about your website visitor’s avatar. For example, older generations are less likely to visit on a mobile device.

This should not be taken lightly. Website owners often think they know what their target audience search intentions are and are wrong. Read that sentence again because now I am going to rewrite it without changing the intent of the statement.

“Business owners often think they know what their customers want and are wrong”.

Business owners often think they know what their customers want and are wrong fb

Final Thoughts

If you forego setting goals and performing research for your SEO plan you may end up just spinning your tires in the mud. You cannot move on to Keyword Research until you know what keywords are relevant to your target audience (customers). You cannot understand your searcher’s intent if you don’t walk a mile in their shoes.