How to Identify Your SEO Goal

When it comes to putting together a first-class SEO program, you need to be crystal clear about this one component of your SEO marketing plan:

What is the direction you’re working towards? What is your SEO goal?

I call this your “eye on the ball.”

You have to know what you’re working towards and ensure it is aligned to a higher purpose. Every month, you look over your SEO reports, calendar, and action items and ensure your eye is on the ball. You confidently forge ahead. You know how and what to report to your team, boss, and stakeholders.

Simple right?

But most marketers, when they’re putting together their SEO marketing plan, skip this step and go right into tactics or tools.

If you have skipped this over too, I’m here to convince you that this SEO plan element might make all the difference.

Examples of “Eye on the Ball” Goals for your SEO Plan

You may be able to tell me right away your goal for SEO. Often, I want to know:

  1. who you’re trying to bring more of to your site
  2. the priority keyword families you’re working towards

But your “eye on the ball” is bigger than just keywords. If you try and hand me a list of hundreds of keywords, I can tell you that is NOT your eye on the ball.

Your “eye on the ball” may look like this:

  • A single statement about how SEO is helping contribute to the overall business goals. Followed by a high-level outline about how you’ll achieve that.  Example:
    • “Our SEO initiatives are designed to drive more brand awareness from “ABC customers” who are looking for information on “XYZ topic.” We will do that by ranking for keywords in our space and will drive 20% more traffic in the next year from this audience who is actively researching and exploring solutions in this area. We plan to improve our rankings by producing both top of funnel educational content as well as content designed to build trust and convert. We will promote and amplify our content primarily through paid campaigns, digital PR, and a social media strategy.”
  • An SEO SMART goals statement. Example:
    • “We want to be seen as THE expert in marketing automation for manufacturing companies. We will rank for 5 of our 10 most important keywords by June 1st.
  • A topic that is important to your organization, along with a list of relevant, attainable keywords with proven search volume. Example: 
    • “We specialize in helping our clients hit their accessibility goals by designing best-in-class ADA compliant websites. We will focus our SEO around the topic of “ADA compliant websites. The following 20 keywords support this initiative….”
  • A URL/keyword map that contains meaningful keywords mapped to existing and new pages. A keyword map shows implicitly what should be happening, and what you’re working towards. Example of an SEO Keyword Map template:

How to Identify Your SEO Goal and Overall Direction

If you’re struggling to identify your SEO goal (aka your “eye on the ball,”) these questions will help guide you:

  • Are you targeting any particular keywords?
  • What do you want to get out of an SEO project?
  • How aggressive do you plan on being initially? Do you need to create an SEO campaign with a time-sensitive beginning and end? Or are you looking to ease in slowly?
  • How do you envision SEO will further your business goals?
  • Define exactly what your expectations are from an SEO perspective.
  • What are the most important buzzwords/trends for your business, industry, and/or solutions at the moment?
  • What are your overall marketing goals?
  • What topics(s) do you want to be seen as THE expert in?
  • Why SEO? Why now?

Once you have your eye on the ball, document, document, document. Put this in a place you will revisit regularly, and then fearlessly breeze ahead with the rest of your SEO marketing plan.

Need another resource? Here is Rand Fishkin with a solid WBF (Whiteboard Friday) walkthrough:

How Do You Set Smart SEO Goals for Your Team-Agency-Project- – Whiteboard Friday

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Jenny Munn

Jenny is an independent Digital Marketer and SEO Consultant with more than 10 years of experience helping companies and content creators generate brand awareness, traffic, and conversions with SEO. She is a frequent speaker and is on the faculty for the AMA (American Marketing Association) and has taught SEO to thousands of marketers over the past 10 years.
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