Effective Internet Marketing
SEO Keyword Tracking and Other Internet Marketing Goals
In Part I of this article, we explored primary website performance metrics and ways to ensure your data isn’t influenced by scumbag spammers. Now that you’re looking at unbiased numbers, let’s explore ways to make sure your efforts align with the goals you have for your business.
To get there, it is worthwhile to reexamine your business goals and make an assessment about what matters most. It’s easy to set broad goals like “get more sales,” or arbitrary goals that have no basis in history or reality. An example of that might be a 100,000 monthly visitors to a new website, growing organically from zero.
For a goal to be valuable, it needs to specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. You may recognize that as the formula for a SMART goal. There’s lots of discussion about SMART goals in business school and around the web. Measured this way, you can see that my first example, “get more sales” isn’t specific. The second, 100,000 monthly organic visits, probably isn’t realistic.
Setting goals for new websites
A brand new website, on a new domain with all new content is going to have very different goals than a website that is already competitive. At this stage, your goal should be to get everything right, and lay a foundation to become truly competitive as your website gains traction.
At this point, traffic and visitor goals are far less valuable than those related search engines. Setting aside PPC (AdWords, etc.), if your website is genuinely new, your goals should center around what you can control.
1) Website content. Most owners of new websites get completely wrapped up in the design. In reality, the website design is secondary to the writing. Most of the time, the best way to improve a website’s design is to take half of it out, but that’s a topic for another day.
Online, it’s your writing that brings new business. In the beginning, your website content is the one thing you have 100% control over. It’s also the most important factor related to search engine rankings. So, if you are not a good writer, you have two options—either hire a good writer, or become one.
Website content goal: Write and publish a greater volume of better, more complete, compelling and interesting website content than your strongest competitor.
To make your website content goal a SMART goal, make it tangible and set dates.
S = Specific: List your top competitor’s webpages. Paste each page into a word processor to get a word count. Jot down a list of keywords used on the page and note the number of times each one was used. Make an additional note of any text links and where they go, as well as all levels of headings used throughout the website. Do this for EVERY PAGE, even if it takes a week or more.
M = Measurable: Having quantified the the website details of your toughest competitor, next you’ll need to decide what to measure. In this case, you don’t need anything more than a word processor. When you have more pages, with better focused, better written copy, using the same keyword density, plus at least as many links, you’re good… for now. Measuring these items is as simple as counting.
A = Achievable: This goal is achievable as long as you, or someone you hire has the skill to write meaningful website content. It must follow the “rules” you outlined by assessing your competitor’s website. As long as you know what to write, and have the ability to do it, this goal is achievable.
R = Realistic: If you are writing your own website content, the only thing you need to assess is whether or not you will actually do it. We, as business owners, are an industrious lot. We do things ourselves and tend to take on a lot. You are probably very busy running your company. Is writing and editing what could be tens of thousands of words really realistic? If not, you may want to hire a writer.
T = Time-bound: So far, so good, but it’s not a goal until you set a date to finish. Some people can write 600 words an hour. Others take 600 hours to write a page. Set your deadline based on your business objective, balanced with a reasonable assessment of what you are capable of. There is an “opportunity cost” for not having your website published and ready to compete. Don’t let excuses or your own busy schedule set you back. If it looks like plan A is going to put you beyond your deadline, have a plan B ready to go. [coach voice] This is business, people, so let’s make it happen.
2) Unique Titles and Descriptions. This is SEO 101 kind of stuff—something I like to describe as the Onsite SEO Top 5. Our content goal covered the first three items; keyword density, headings and anchor text (the actually words used for links). That leaves page titles and descriptions.
HTML TITLE Tags: The page title is created by using a special tag in the head of the html document used to create the page. The browser loads this page and displays your title in the browser tab. More importantly, search engines display your title as the link in the SERP (search engine results page).
Google, Bing, Yahoo! and all the others use this title as a primary means for determining what the page is about. Therefore, it makes sense that these should include your target keywords. Making sure they do should be standard practice. Your titles should match the content of the page, and also be unique. Don’t use the same title for every page on your website.
Meta Descriptions: The head of your html document should also contain a meta description. There is considerable debate over the direct value of the description relative to SEO. Nevertheless, you should ALWAYS include a unique description on every page of your website.
Like the page title, the meta description you write will be displayed in search results. This is the descriptive text just below the line containing the webpage URL.
You should always use keywords in your meta description, even if you don’t believe they will have an impact on rankings in Google. This is because a) searchers will often read the description when deciding whether or not to click the link, and b) Google is not the only search engine. (Though it does seem like it is.)
Make unique titles and descriptions part of your content goal. It’s not as technical as it sounds. Many content management systems have built-in tools for including these. If you are one of the millions of WordPress users, a plugin like Yoast SEO will make your job easy. The challenge will be making them unique and readable for humans, as well as search engine spiders.
I framed this as a content goal for new websites, but if you haven’t already done so, you should make a similar assessment even if your site has been online for time and is performing well. Website content forms the foundation of your online marketing strategy. It is vitally important that you keep your online content competitive and up to date.
The working word in that statement is competitive. With every passing day, the likelihood your competitor will hire a top SEO firm to crush you, increases. To combat that, you need to pay attention to what’s happening around the Internet relative to your market or industry.
It is important to realize that without sufficient website content, nothing you can do will achieve a consistent, stable result. In nearly every case, websites that are thin on online content will suffer, not only in rankings, but with visitors seeking information.
Next up: Advanced tool and techniques for measuring website performance
Part III of this series will focus on taking your effective Internet marketing strategies to new heights. To do that, we’ll put out nerd hats on and dig deeper into the data. In the mean time, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below with your questions or comments.