How to Set the Right SEO Goals (with Examples)

But without well-defined objectives, you’ll be wandering blindly in the vast ocean of the internet while you feel like all your competitors know something you don’t.

In this article, I’ll show you how to set the right SEO goals – plus, how to implement the steps that will help you achieve them with a bit of help from SiteGuru.

Let’s take a look!

Types of SEO Goals

A few common types of SEO goals include the following:

  • Increase Organic Traffic: Drive more visitors to your website through organic search results. For example, if this is your goal, you’d target popular keywords to get as many impressions as possible. The caveat there is that you might get unqualified traffic.
  • Improve Keyword Rankings: This goal means improving your website's position in search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific keywords. Higher rankings mean more visibility and, ultimately, more traffic. (This is the goal you usually always target.)
  • Improve Click-Through Rates: If you want to make sure as many searchers as possible are clicking on your SERP results, it’s time to consider your CTR and how it could be even better.
  • Boost Conversions: If your primary objective is to generate sales or leads, this goal is for you. This may mean doing some CRO tweaks to your website, but in terms of SEO, you might decide to target keywords that offer lower traffic but more qualified visitors.
  • Improve User Experience: Since UX is a ranking (and purchasing) factor, it’s crucial to improve various aspects of your website, such as site speed, mobile-friendliness, and intuitive navigation.

A typical SEO strategy usually targets multiple goals. For example, you might decide you’d like to improve UX and boost conversions, which will define what type of keywords you target and how you perform technical optimization.

Why You Should Set Realistic Goals

While it's tempting to dream big, unrealistic goals can frustrate you and make you more likely to give up on “this whole SEO thing.” On the other hand, if you slowly observe your progress and put in the work, you’ll get a massive kick out of it!

Here are the indicators I look at when setting SEO goals:

  • Current Website Performance: Analyze your website's current performance in terms of organic traffic, keyword rankings, and conversions. Is it realistic to rank #1 for that popular keyword, or should you aim to rank #1 for multiple long-tail keywords?
  • Competition: Who is competing for your SERP? Evaluate their strategies and try to find new websites that are performing really well to see how they’re doing it.
  • Resources: Consider the resources you have at your disposal, such as time, budget, and experts.

How to Set SEO Goals in SiteGuru

If you’d prefer to get straight to work on your goals while getting a to-do list to help you achieve your targets, try SiteGuru!

Head to the “Goals” tab and click on “Add a new goal.”

Insert the keyword you’d like to improve the ranking for. For example, we’ll insert “technical SEO:”

how to set seo goals in siteguru

Specify the page you’d like to rank for this keyword:

how to set up seo goals in siteguru

The next step is the best part. 

Since SiteGuru has scanned and audited your entire site, as well as your average keyword positions, it’ll give you a realistic goal to aspire toward:

how to evaluate what you can rank for with siteguru

Once you agree on the target, you’ll be redirected to a page with suggestions for improving your ranking and achieving your SEO goal. They are fresh and tailored to your website, so you always know what you need to do next to tip the scales in your favor.

increase your rankings with tailored seo suggestions

Analyze Your Current Results

Before setting SEO goals, it's crucial to analyze your website's current performance. (Note: Skip or skim over this section if you use SiteGuru because it analyzes your performance every week and gives you an SEO to-do list.)

Evaluate Your Organic Traffic

Measure the traffic your website receives from organic search results, giving you a benchmark to compare your goals.

You can use Google Analytics and Google Search Console, or if you’d prefer something less clunky - try SiteGuru. It integrates with both GA and GSC to show you an easily understandable overview of your SEO performance:

how to see your SEO performance in siteguru

Evaluate Your Keyword Rankings

Check the positions of your target keywords in the SERPs. 

Identify keywords that are already performing well and keywords that have room for improvement. Typically, aim to position them into the Top 3-10 and look for the most suitable candidates.

Using SiteGuru, you can focus on keywords in Insights -> Low-hanging fruit and Insights -> Content requiring attention. These two categories show you keywords you can quickly optimize and the keywords that are declining.

how to see keywords you can rank for fast in siteguru

how to identify content you should upgrade in siteguru

Otherwise, make sure you take a look at the complete Insights -> Keywords report to see:

  • Your keywords in the Top 3 spots
  • Your keywords in the Top 10 spots on the SERP
  • Improved keywords
  • Declining keywords
  • Lost keywords

And more!

keyword tracking and insights with siteguru's seo tool

From there, create a list of keywords you’d like to improve if that’s your SEO goal and assess what’s a realistic improvement within your preferred timeframe.

Learn more about improving your ranking on Google and performing keyword research.

Analyzing Your Click-Through Rate

Don’t look at the “Average CTR” in Google Search Console when evaluating your click-through rates. You’ll generate different percentages of clicks depending on your position. Instead, look at the CTR curve:

  • What % of clicks do you get when ranking in position #1?
  • What % of clicks do you get when ranking in position #10?

And so on.

In SiteGuru, this is easy to check in Insights -> Click-through rates.

see your ctr curve in siteguru

For example, this website gets a 30.6% CTR for the keywords where it ranks in position #1, all the way down to 0.5% when it ranks in position #10. 

In terms of SEO goals, it’s always good to optimize your first 10 positions as much as possible. Typically, this involves improving your on-page elements: 

…and other aspects visible in the SERP.

Learn more about on-page optimization.

Your Conversion Rate

If your main business goal is sales, you could get thousands of visitors every month, and still, that would mean very little unless the visits translate into conversions. That’s why you should always take a look at your conversion rate.

First, define your conversion events in Google Analytics (or other tracking software). Is it eCommerce purchases? Lead gen form fill-outs? Be clear on the events that will be tracked as conversions. 

Then, pay attention to the keywords you’re targeting. If you only target big, generic keywords, you might want to switch to keywords with the purchasing search intent.

For example, “hiking” is a generic keyword. (Some people might buy from your hiking store, but not many.) 

On the other hand, if you target “high-quality leather hiking boots on sale,” you’re addressing searchers who are clearly willing to purchase a product right away. 

When evaluating your conversion rate, pay attention to your bounce rate, too – the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page. If your bounce rate is high, visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for. 

Your On-Page Experience

Finally, user experience is crucial. And I don’t just mean page speed. Your website should be easy to navigate, direct visitors to pages of interest (e.g., they won’t land on a 404 page because a product is out of stock), and score high on usability tests.

You’ll want to run a Pagespeed Insights test or – if you use SiteGuru – see your results in Technical -> Page speed

how to improve website speed with siteguru

The good thing about SiteGuru is that you won’t have to submit your pages one by one, as you do with the standard Pagespeed Insights test. Instead, SiteGuru bulk-submits your pages to Pagespeed Insights and provides you with the results (and actionable takeaways). 

Learn more about Pagespeed and Core Web Vitals.

With your benchmarks set up, it’s time for the most exciting part of setting your SEO goals - taking action! 

How to Create an Action Plan to Achieve Your SEO Goals

You will need:

  • Your performance benchmarks.
  • Accomplishable goals (consider the SMART method). The more specific, the better. For example, instead of “increase organic traffic,” phrase it as: “increase organic traffic by 5% within 30 days.”
  • Metrics and KPIs.
  • A timeline for each goal.
  • A breakdown of tasks.

Turn Your Goals into Tasks

Break down your objectives into smaller, actionable tasks. 

For example, after analyzing your website’s SEO performance, you might want to rank a page in the top 10 spots. You’ll identify the critical issues and to-dos. Maybe your page speed is bad, or your competitors have more backlinks

If you’re dealing with many tasks, prioritize them according to the order of importance. For example, it’s much worse to have duplicate content on your page than to have few backlinks, so you'd tackle the duplicate problem first.

By the end, you should have an…

SEO To-Do List

Create a list of everything you need to do for your performance to improve, and get to work!

If you don’t want to struggle trying to understand which SEO issues take priority, just plug your website into SiteGuru. It will audit it for SEO issues and give you a neat to-do list with tasks ranked by impact:

seo to do list

And with the SEO Goals feature in SiteGuru, you’ll get suggestions tailored to the goals you’ve set. 

how to improve your keyword rank step by step

Example: Ranking a Keyword from Position #20 to Position #10 in a Month

Let’s say we’re talking about “healthy smoothie recipes,” and our website has Domain Authority compared to that of competitors, making it possible to improve the keyword position this quickly.

Here’s what our game plan would look like:

  • We’d start by analyzing the keyword "Healthy Smoothie Recipes" using keyword research tools.
  • Then, we’d identify competitors ranking in the top 10 positions for this keyword and study their content, backlinks, and on-page optimization.
  • We’d plan a content strategy to improve our ranking. Let’s say we’ve noticed that all the recipes are very repetitive, and there are too few of them. So, we’ve decided to create a comprehensive blog post titled "25 Delicious and Healthy Smoothie Recipes."
  • After creating the content with the E-E-A-T and Helpful Content best practices in mind, we’d start the on-page optimization: titles, headings, and meta descriptions.
  • Once the post is live, it’s time for backlink outreach! We might reach out to bloggers and websites in the health and nutrition niche and request them to link to our "Healthy Smoothie Recipes" post if they find it valuable. We might also offer to guest post on relevant blogs and include a link back to our article.

After a few weeks, we’d assess our progress (through GSC and GA or SiteGuru) to see if we’re on track or if we need to tweak a few things. If backlinks are lacking, we’d continue outreach efforts. If on-page optimization can be improved, we’d refine our content. If there are technical issues, we’d hop on them ASAP!

Remember to Keep Your Goals Flexible

Since SEO constantly changes, you may need to adjust your goals based on new opportunities and changing circumstances. 

For example, major algorithm updates may affect your visibility. Similarly, market and consumer preferences may shift, requiring you to expand in one area while contracting in another.

Regularly review your SEO goals to ensure they stay relevant!

So set your goals, execute your strategy, and watch your website soar!