2SetIt is highly recommended to use the SMART-method when formulating your SEO goals, as it defines much more clearly what your goals are and shows what actually is being achieved.

If you ask web site operators what their actual targets of SEO are, most will respond in general terms like "to generate much more traffic through search engines" or "to reach number 1 on Google”. But such objectives are too vague and the required measures to achieve this can rarely be defined in detail.

A clear definition of the objectives, for example by using the SMART method, can help the site operators to better understand, and ultimately reach, their SEO targets.

Basics of the SMART method 

Perhaps you have already heard about the SMART method during your studies or your training throughout your career. You often find it mentioned in management or project management books.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific: objectives must be formulated clearly and understandably. In addition, objectives should be recorded and set with a time frame.
  • Measurable: objectives must be measurable at the end of the day. This means that a goal needs clear measurable criteria, according to which the success of the project can be determined.
  • Achievable: goals must be realistic and feasible. An objective should be achievable with the existing capacities and not be too ambitious.
  • Relevant: goals should be instrumental and relevant to the mission. Why is the goal important? How does it get us closer to our ultimate goal?
  • Time-bound: objectives should identify a definite target date for completion and/or frequencies for specific actions that are important for achieving the goal.

A target is only SMART if it satisfies all of these five criteria, hence, each of your SEO goals should be defined according to this method. But before we define goals, let us discuss first what adequate SEO goals could be.

Potential SMART SEO goals 

As the range of SEO increases all the time and overlaps more and more often with other marketing disciplines, there are a lot of potential interim-targets involved. Such interim SEO goals differ substantially, depending on whether you work them as an in-house SEO, SEO agency, or freelancer SEO. The following could, for example, be possible SEO goals: improving the rankings, the KPIs, the sales figures, the implementation of technical features, or the introduction of specific measures.

Based on an example, I would like to show the definition of a smart objective:

Specific: In my opinion, the focus for SEO is often on tasks or measures to be taken. For example, an on-page optimization must be carried out, a corporate blog should be introduced, or other things of that kind. At this stage, it helps to question in particular, what exactly should be achieved by the measure with each individual SEO. Not the introduction of a measure in itself should be the goal, but the consequent result.

Measurable: Measurable means, the target can be measured using rankings, turnover figures, or other set SEO KPIs. Example: "the order volume created through organic search engine traffic is to be increased by 10% (from $5,000 to $6,000)."

Achievable: A target is realistic or achievable only, if it can be attained by using existing capacities and capabilities. To realistically formulate a goal, you should specify the method you want to use to achieve the goal. Example: "...through optimization of internal linking".

Relevant: The target to be achieved should be one which brings us closer to the overall goal, for example, of increased sales. If we set targets like “more page views”, which does not translate into actual conversion of sales, then the point has been missed.

Time-bound: An exact date should be defined, by which one can determine if the objective has been achieved. Example: "...within 3 months, by 20 January 2015..."

Based on the formulation of the above objectives, we can derive the following individual points according to the SMART method:

"The turnover, which is generated through the use of organic search engine traffic, is to be increased by a specific amount within 3 months by 20 January 2015 by 10% (from $ 5,000 to $6,000), through the optimization of internal linking".

This way, the overall goal for all parties is now very clearly defined. The particular category will be optimized overall with technically enhanced optimization of internal linking. The order value should increase by 10% over the period of 3 months by 20 January 2015. Only the organic search engine traffic is used as the measurement.

Based on this target, it is obvious, that certain intermediary targets can be defined, which are necessary to achieve the final goal. For example, it must be determined which sub-pages of the specific category will be linked to which upper page level.

As the examples show, this principle of the SMART method can be applied in all areas of the SEOs, and I hope you find the article useful to define the goals of your SEO by making use of the SMART method. Clearly defined objectives are part of each project - not only in terms of SEO - so start now, define your SEO goals using the SMART method, implement them successfully, and see how much better the results will be.

By Roger Stadler