These days, the term SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is known not just to web savvy digital marketers. You may be a business owner who are not familiar with digital stuff but you may have heard of SEO and know that SEO is what you need to have your website found on page one of Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) when potential customers googled for your products and services.
In today’s digital world where everyone will go online to search for product information before making their purchases, if you are thinking of increasing your sales, you would likely have spoken to some marketing agencies on SEO and considering if you should embark on a SEO campaign. SEO agencies will have informed you that it will take at least 6 months before you see results.
So in the initial 6 months, it will really feel as if you are waiting for the “invisible emperor’s clothes”. Nevertheless, do know that there are short term and long term SEO objectives that can be met, milestones that can be laid out in the roadmap and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that you can set to measure the value of your investment at various stages.
Setting Objectives for SEO Campaign
To ensure that you use your investment wisely on SEO, you should set short term and long term objectives so that your SEO campaign can be meaningfully measured at each time period and you do not get discouraged or deceived by your SEO agency.
Of course, the final and only objective any business owner would want when embarking on a SEO campaign is to increase your sales revenue. However, it will take some time before you see SEO bringing in the first dollar. Hence, it is advisable to set short term, mid-term and long term objectives so that you know that you are making progress and each day getting closer to your ultimate goal of growing your business.
How should you set your objectives? Since SEO is about being found when people search, then your objective should begin with understanding the scenarios in which people conduct their searches and mirroring your objectives against the scenarios so that you achieve the objective of being found in whatever scenario that people conduct their searches. Essentially, there are 3 scenarios of searches:
- Scenario 1 – A user search specifically for your company name or product brand name on Google.
- Scenario 2 -A user search specifically for the type of products that you are offering, e.g. flowers.
- Scenario 3 – A user searching for a solution to a problem and an article in your website contains the required information appear on page one of the SERP.
With these 3 scenarios, we can now set the following 3 objectives:
Objective 1a – Be Found and Ranked No. 1 When Users Search Your Name
When a user search specifically for your company name or product brand name on Google, it is a case when people have known your company or product brand name. If you are a new startup or if your website is not well optimised for Search Engine, your website may not even appear when people search specifically for your company or product brand-name. In fact, this is the most fundamental objective that you should address. Moreover, if you are a startup, you should not depend on SEO to bring you the sales in the beginning. You should begin with traditional marketing to promote your brand name. However, you have to ensure that this fundamental objective is met so that when people search for your brand name, your website can be found.
To illustrate this, I have a client’s new website with the URL www.icanreadbible.com. The name of this website is “I Can Read Bible”. If you googled “I Can Read Bible”, this is what you will see:
Notice that the website does not even appear on Google SERP. The reason is because, the website is very new and does not have much contents. Hence, even when you search its site title, it does not appear.
If you search for its’ URL “icanreadbible” or “icanreadbible.com”, you will get the website listed. Notice that there is only one search result because there are not much contents in this website.
Objective 1b – Dominate the SERP When Users Search Your Name
Not only do you want to be found and ranked no. 1 when users search for your name, you should also dominate your SERP. As an illustration, now, google another website name: ‘ pnc bible reading ‘. The pages on this website are displayed on Google SERP:
This website PnC Bible has been in existing for more than 6 months and the site has been populated with a number of pages and blog articles. When a site has existed for more than 6 months, has been populated with contents, with keywords in its Site Title, Google Search Engine will display its pages and posts on SERP.
Notice also, that Google is displaying the website’s pages and this enable the website to dominate almost the entire first page of Google SERP. Hence, this should be the second objective that you would want to achieve, to dominate as much of the SERP as possible. To achieve this, you would have to build pages for your website, especially the About page, Contact page, and Categories of your blog posts. As it will take time for the contents to be built, this objective will take months to achieve, depending on your available resource.
If you define your pages with proper meta description so that Google can understand your website structure well, you will even be rewarded with sitelinks. The following is an example of a website that has been rewarded by Google with sitelinks and even a search box to enable site visitors to search within the website even on Google SERP:
If you create social media accounts with the same title as your website title, you will find your social media being displayed on the SERP and that will also help you to dominate the first page. However, note that if your website is not properly optimised for SEO, your social media accounts will appear above your website instead as shown in the following example:
Objective 2 – Be Ranked Higher Than Your Competitors for Generic Product Searches
This second objective is the objective that will increase your sales. For example, if you are a florist providing bouquet delivery service. However, there are many florists in Singapore that provides flower bouquet delivery service. If, when people googled for ‘flower bouquet delivery in Singapore’ and your website is ranked number one on the Google SERP, then people are likely to click through to your website and place order with you. If you can achieve this objective of increasing your website visitors and ensuring that your website is well designed to engage customers, you should see your sales growing.
Back to our example on the website PnC Bible Reading, because it has not been well optimised for SEO, it does not rank high enough to appear on page one when you search for a generic term ‘Bible Reading’, as shown here:
In order for the website PnC Bible Reading to be found on page one when people search for ‘Bible Reading’, the website has to be optimised, i.e. to establish links from other sites to build its domain authority and to optimise each of its blog articles for specific keywords.
Achieving this objective will require keyword strategy, content development and link building. It will take substantial amount of time, much more than 6 months, depending on how much resource you have to create the contents and how fast you can get people to link to your website. You should therefore set Key Performance Indicators (KPI) such as number of posts per week, number of links, number of site visitors, bounce rate, etc.
Objective 3 – Be Seen for Related Searches – Branding
Finally, the third objective is to establish your long term branding.
As seen from the above, in the third search scenario, there is a segment of customers who may not be searching for your company or product brand nor searching for the products you are offering. They are, however, searching for a solution to a problem. Take for example, you are a florist and you have an article on your website that explains what each type of flowers symbolise and the meaning of their colours. When people search for the meaning of flowers, your article may appear on SERP. The more contents you provide to the questions that people are searching with regards to flowers, the higher the chances of your web page appearing on SERP.
If you get found on SERP often, people remember your company and are always reminded of your product’s branding. You are effectively building brand awareness, gaining mind share of people. When the need arises for people to buy flowers, for instance, your company is top of their mind. They may just remember your brand or share it with their friends. In other words, you are reaching out to a wider audience and establishing your branding. In the long run, your sales will spike further.
This objective, however, requires content building, knowing what people are searching for and writing blog posts that answers to their queries. It is a long term branding objective and will take years to establish.