How to Set the Right SEO Goals with 3 Examples

As SEOs, we tend to generalize goals because there is so much outside our control. “We can’t promise results.”
The problem is that without a clear vision of what a win is, we’re unlikely to achieve results at all.

The same is true if we set vague and arbitrary goals.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to set the right SEO goals using the SEO goal pyramid.

  • What SEO goals are
  • Why SEO goals are important
  • How to set SEO goals
  • 3 SEO goal examples
  • What are SEO goals?

What are SEO goals?

SEO goals are specific and measurable objectives that you aim to achieve over a period of time. Each goal should contribute to the purpose of SEO: reach more prospective users through organic search and turn them into customers.

Why are SEO goals important?

SEO goals are important because they bring focus and clarity to your strategy by providing a clear target. If you don’t have SEO goals, you’re shooting in the dark. That’s never a good idea because you’re unlikely to achieve something unless you aim for it.

How to set SEO goals

Marketers often make the mistake of setting arbitrary SEO goals like “get more traffic.”

The main issue with this type of goal is that it completely disregards the what and the how. What are you going to do to make it happen? How are you going to get there?

Here’s how to use it:

  1. Create an outcome goal. This is the thing you want to achieve and the timeframe you want to achieve it in. Think of it as the tournament you’re trying to win.
  2. Break the outcome goal down into performance goals. These are smaller goals that each contribute towards the outcome. Think of these as the individual matches in the tournament.
  3. Break performance goals into process goals. These are even smaller goals that are 100% within your control. Continuing with the soccer analogy, this is who you’re going to play and where you’re going to play them.

The idea is to break things down into stepping stones to make your overall goal more achievable. As you complete process goals, you’re well-positioned to meet your performance goals. As you complete your performance goals, you’re likely to achieve your outcome goal.

Let’s take a closer look at what each step entails and create our first framework.

1. Create an outcome goal

Your outcome goal should directly align your SEO efforts with company goals, so ask yourself:
What SEO outcome contributes towards the company’s broader goals?

Looking at mission statements, frequently asked questions in meetings, etc., can help answer this. If you get stuck, ask your boss or client.

Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of saying “get more traffic.” While getting more traffic may help the company achieve its goals, it’s far too broad. Your outcome goal needs to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.

So, a better goal than “get more traffic” would be to “rank in the top 3 for [high-value keyword] in 6 months.”

This goal is specific and relevant because ranking for [high value keyword] will increase revenue. It’s measurable because you can track keyword rankings with any good rank tracking tool, such as Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker. It’s achievable because you already assessed keyword difficulty. And it’s time-based because you specified the timeframe.

2. Set performance goal(s)

Performance goals are the goalposts you set for yourself, so start by answering the question:
What short-term wins will most likely get us to our outcome goal?

You can have one or multiple performance goals. What they are will depend on your outcome goal and bandwidth. Just be careful not to fall into that same trap of setting arbitrary goals like “increase backlinks.” This may help you achieve your outcome, but it isn’t SMART. There’s no way of knowing when or if you’ve achieved the goal.

Continuing with our example outcome goal of “rank in the top 3 for [high-value keyword] in 6 months,” a SMART performance goal might be to “get 40 high-quality backlinks to the page within six months.”

It’s specific because we’re aiming for a certain number of backlinks.

It’s measurable using the referring domains graph in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

It’s achievable because it’s realistic. There are tasks within our control that will get us one step closer to achieving the goal.

It’s relevant because we know backlinks are a ranking factor, and there’s evidence that our target page is underperforming in terms of backlinks.

It’s time-based because it has a set ending point of six months.

Most importantly, achieving this performance goal will help position us well for achieving our outcome goal.

3. Set process goal(s)

Process goals are measurable actions that are 100% under your control. It’s where you answer the question:
What will I need to do to achieve our performance goal(s)?

Continuing our example, we have an outcome goal to rank in the top 3 for keyword “x” within six months. And we have a performance goal to get 40 high-quality backlinks to the page.

What will we need to do to get 40 high-quality backlinks to the page within six months?

Let’s say that we plan to run a ‘skyscraper’ campaign. If we get a 5% conversion rate on average from our outreach emails, we can work backwards to create a process goal that will put us in an excellent position to achieve our performance goal.

Let’s do the math:
40 backlinks / 5% average conversion rate = 800 emails
800 emails / 6 months = ~133 emails/month

So our process goal is to send 133 ‘skyscraper’ outreach emails per month for six months.

3 SEO goal examples

Because your SEO goals should align with company goals, I can’t say precisely what SEO goals to set. Your industry, how established your brand is, and the competitiveness of your niche all factor into the equation—among other things.

But what I can do is walk through a few more examples to get you comfortable using the SEO goal framework.

  1. Increase organic share of voice by 20% in 12 months
  2. Increase organic engagement rate by 10% in 6 months
  3. Achieve $10,000 in sales from organic traffic in month 6

Example SEO goal #1: Increase organic share of voice by 20% in 12 months

Search engine optimization is a highly competitive form of marketing. Essentially we are all vying for a spot (and attention) within a limited field of space.

You may hear your boss or clients saying, “just crush the competition.”

What does this mean? How will this be achieved? What determines whether or not we are successful?

“Crush the competition” is far too broad.

Using the SEO goal framework, you can turn “crush the competition” into a specific, measurable goal.

The first step is to align SEO efforts with company goals. What outcome contributes towards the company’s broader goal of “crushing the competition? In this case, something like “increase organic share of voice by 20% in 12 months” would be a SMART outcome goal.

It’s specific because we’re specifying a percentage in a timeframe—not an open-ended goal.

It’s measurable using the Competitors Overview report in Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker.

It’s achievable because 20% in 12 months is far from a ‘pie in the sky’ proposal.

It’s relevant to company goals because it’s essentially our site’s organic search visibility compared to competitors.

And it’s time-based because we specified a timeframe.

Now for the second step: setting performance goals.

Remember, this should also be a SMART goal. To keep things simple, we’ll set just one: “win 50 featured snippets for high-volume tracked keywords in 12 months.”

Featured snippets are pieces of information that generally display at the top of search results for a search query. Getting more featured snippets is a simple way to get more SERP visibility and clicks.

Here’s how to find the best featured snippet opportunities:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker
  2. Select your project
  3. Choose the Overview report
  4. Filter for keywords with featured snippets that you don’t rank for
  5. Filter keywords where you rank in positions 2–5
  6. Sort the keywords by traffic volume from highest to lowest

You’re in the home stretch now. The third and final step is to break out performance goal(s) into process goals by outlining the how.

Because it’s often possible to win featured snippets with a simple on-page change, a process goal would be to “make on-page changes to 50 pages to increase our chances of winning the snippet.” We can measure progress by tracking the number of owned featured snippets in Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker:

Example SEO goal #2: Increase organic engagement rate by 10% in 6 months

You may be thinking user engagement is a CRO metric. But remember, Google’s own SEO Starter guide says, “any optimization should be geared toward making the user experience better.”

Historically, SEOs measured engagement using bounce rate and time on page. These are poor metrics to use because they often don’t align with user behavior.

For example, let’s say that you sit down to read a ~2K word blog post. This website says that even a slow reader would get through that in 20 minutes. If you close the browser as soon as you’re done, that session would technically count as a bounce.

Luckily, Google Analytics 4 has a more robust metric we can use to measure UX: Engagement rate.

Engagement rate more accurately measures whether a user interacted with your website or left, so a good outcome goal would be to “increase organic engagement rate by 10% in 6 months.”

It’s specific because it specifies a percentage and timeframe.

It’s measurable using the User Acquisition report in GA4

It’s achievable because there are things within our control we can change to impact this metric.

It’s relevant because we want to improve UX, and engagement rate measures this more accurately than bounce rate or time on page.

It’s time-based because we specified a timeframe (6 months).

Now for the performance goal(s).

Let’s keep things simple again and just set one: “increase the number of unique user scrolls by 30% on low scroll pages that have high-value to our company.”

To find the pages where we need to improve UX, we can check the Engagement Pages and screens report in GA4, filter to organic users, and view the table by unique user scrolls.

Given our performance goal, our process goal may be rewriting introductory paragraphs on low scroll pages so that more people are sold on the article and stick around to read it. Again, this can be measured manually.

Example SEO goal #3: Achieve $10,000 in sales from organic traffic in month 6

Making more money is the ultimate goal of SEO. To stand the best chance of this happening, we need to convert the vague goal of “make more money” into a SMART outcome goal like “achieve $10,000 in sales from organic traffic in month 6.”

This goal is specific because we’ve specified the amount and timeframe.

It’s easily measurable with Google Analytics.

It’s achievable because our hypothetical site isn’t particularly seasonal and is already doing ~$9K/month in sales from organic—so this is only an increase of ~11%.

It’s relevant because, again, making more money is the ultimate goal of SEO.

It’s time-based because we specified a timeframe.

Now for the game plan: performance goal(s):

Keeping things simple and setting just one performance goal again, we’ll go for “increase organic traffic to high-value pages by 20% in 6 months.”

The simplest way to find “high-value pages” is to ask which products are the most profitable for the company. Consider the cost of production, cost of shipping, rate of returns, etc.

Measuring whether we meet our performance goal is easy enough in Google Analytics. Just head to Behaviour > All Pages, compare periods, segment by organic traffic, and look at the entrances metric:

Finally, the process goal(s)…

I can’t outline exactly what the process goals will be as these will vary depending on what type of product or service, search intent, business resources, etc.

Here are just a few examples of actionable process goals that may help increase organic traffic:

  • write product schema for target pages
  • optimize products in an organic product feed
  • optimize all images on the target pages

Because process goals are tasks that you or your team carries out, completing the goal is measured manually using your personal project management style.

For example, if the process goal is to optimize all images on every high-value page, we would manually check that each image has an optimized file name, descriptive alt text, and meets file size requirements.

Final thoughts

Setting SEO goals may seem like an impossible task, but a strong framework is all you need to get started.

If you stay on track and complete your process tasks, you have a good chance at meeting your performance goals. When you meet your performance goals, you are very well positioned to hit your outcome goal.

Success is in the details.

How Does Geofencing Technology Work?

If you’re pleasantly surprised with the local ads you’ve seen lately, geofencing technology could be to blame. Competitor geofencing is a marketing strategy that has taken businesses by storm.

Geofencing technology allows businesses to target their most qualified audience by simply providing virtual boundaries. When target customers step into that boundary, they activate ads or push notifications for a specific business — enticing potential customers within that boundary to visit a storefront.

It sounds like a story straight out of a science fiction magazine, but it’s actually real life — and more and more businesses use the technology every day. Geofencing technology can be used on Facebook, with PPC ads, and so much more.

But how does it work?

In this post, we’ll take a look into the world of geofencing technology and talk about how it can work for your business.

What is geofencing technology?

A location-based marketing strategy, geofencing technology uses GPS signals to determine when a target customer enters a boundary.

Businesses set boundaries around locations where they want to target customers near their physical locations, and they can be set up virtually anywhere.

Geofencing is an extremely granular marketing strategy that allows businesses to target customers based on where they are in relation to that business. Typically, businesses set up geofences around a particular business, specific event, or even a conference. It all depends on who the business wants to target.

To provide a geofencing example, if a business has a sale, and they want to let potential customers know, they could set up an automated text message for when that customer enters the geofence.

If there is a specific event that attracts potential customers in your target market, you can set up a geofence around that event and target attendees with your ads, push notifications, or text messages.

What is a geofence?

When a business decides to use geofencing technology, it means they’re looking to specifically target an audience within a certain boundary.

That boundary is completely invisible and is created using GPS technology. It’s easiest to image when thought of as a fence because on a GPS map, that’s what it looks like!

How does geofencing target my specific audience?

Geofencing targets your most qualified audience by serving them ads for your products and services when they step inside your geofence. Those advertisements could take the form of push notifications, text messages, or PPC ads served in a web browser.

Example of geofencing with push notifications

Let’s say that you’ve just opened a women’s boutique and created a shopping app to go with it. When users download your app and you also have a geofencing campaign, you can opt to serve them push notifications when they’re in your area.

A push notification is a message that appears on your smartphone screen via an app — but the app doesn’t have to be open to receive push notifications.

For example, if you’re having a sale on jeans, and someone with your app walks by, a push notification will appear that lets them know about your promotion.

Example of geofencing with text messages

If you obtain your customers’ contact information, including their phone number, you can target them with text messages, too.

If you’re using geofencing technology, you can send an automated text message to your customers when they’re in your geofence location.

It could be to let them know about a sale you’re having, what’s new in your store, or just reminding them that they’re close to one of your locations.

Example of geofencing with PPC ads

A typical PPC campaign is a great way to reach target customers. Platforms like Google Ads offer location targeting, which is similar to geofencing — just without the virtual boundaries.

Ads work very similarly for geofencing — except the ads become available when a potential customer physically crosses into one of the geofences.

For example, let’s say you own a seafood restaurant. A couple walks down your block, and they’re in search of the best crab legs in town.

You know you’re one of the few seafood restaurants in the area, and you want to target the keyword “crab legs” in your ads.

Your restaurant uses geofencing technology to place a box around a three-block radius in every direction from your location. This means that your ads are served to patrons who search for keywords that you target while they’re in your vicinity.

However, just because you target specific keywords in your campaign doesn’t mean that your customers will automatically see your ads. You first have to determine how much you’re willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad that targets a specific keyword, and if it’s less than your competitors, your ad won’t be visible to passersby.

So in short, geofencing serves ads to your target customers within your invisible boundary — if you outbid your competitors for a specific keyword.

How accurate is geofencing?

To ensure that geofences are as accurate as possible, the technology utilizes a combination of GPS, cellular data and Wi-Fi data.

In environments where cell phone towers and Wi-Fi routers are everywhere — urban environments provide a good example — the accuracy of geofencing can reach anywhere from 100 to 200 meters.

In rural areas where there aren’t as many towers or Wi-Fi hotspots, accuracy can reach a few hundred meters.

Keep in mind that geofencing will always work best when you enable a smartphone’s Wi-Fi enabled and activate GPS services.

How expensive is geofencing technology?

Many businesses are quick to adopt this new form of marketing, but one of the first questions they have is “how much does it cost?”

Being that geofencing is a newer strategy to the market, it’s difficult to put an exact price tag on the service. Not to mention, every agency is different and tends to charge different amounts for services.

However, there are a few things that can help you determine how much a geofencing campaign will cost your company.

How much do you want to pay per month for ads?

If you’re opting to use PPC ads for your geofencing campaign, you’ll need to decide how much you’re willing to spend on ads per month.

If you’re targeting keywords that are more specific and long-tail, you’ll likely pay much less than you would if you want to target more general keywords. That’s because there’s a much higher concentration of general keywords, which means more competition and a higher cost-per-click.

A good estimate for monthly ad spend for a geofencing campaign is anywhere from $1000 to upwards of $10,000, depending on your industry and competition.

How many business locations do you have?

The cost of your geofencing campaign can also fluctuate depending on how many locations your business has. If you have five main locations that you want to target with geofencing, you’ll pay for each of those locations.

That being said, the fewer locations you have, the cheaper the campaign.

How to prove SEO ROI and overall business impact

Creating a winning SEO proposal for a new lead is hard work. You need to assess their SEO potential, identify the right strategy for them, and showcase the business value you can create. And then you need to explain it in a way that is meaningful for the client.

A lot of proposals tend to jump directly to how the agency can do that for the lead, yet an important step is missing.

To make your business case compelling, the first thing you need to do is understand what success looks like for your potential client. Then you can speak their language, whether that’s revenue, transactions, conversions, or traffic.

Kevin Gibbons, CEO and founder of Re:signal and SEOmonitor Masterclass educator, points out that what you should do is tie your activity back towards key business outcomes. If you can’t understand and explain exactly what success means and why they need SEO, then there will be no real alignment.

That’s where, Gibbons adds, a reliable forecasting methodology makes the difference. Or as he puts it, a forecast done well will help you define:

  • The WHY = What success can look like for the business and its growth potential.
  • The HOW = The key areas of the market that the client can grow into.
  • The WHAT = The necessary actions your agency can take to achieve those business outcomes.

If the what is pretty straightforward, the why and the how become just as straightforward with the right forecast in place:

Set a realistic business development direction

If you don’t have the bigger picture behind your SEO proposal set, you won’t know where you end up. “The forecast is a great sense check on WHY you are doing this in the first place,” says Gibbons.

This is the step in which creating a forecasting scenario gives you the right overview of the size of the opportunity. You not only get to evaluate if it’s the right lead for your agency but also if SEO is the right choice for the lead’s current business potential.

“You need to give them confidence that the results are realistic. If you’re a new retail brand with very little organic visibility and poor brand awareness/reputation, it’s very unlikely you’re going to be able to start ranking competitively for “sportswear” or ”skirts” overnight,” Gibbons explains.

“Your forecast model should take into account your current opportunity versus the size of the market and break it down into achievable bite sizes so that eventually you can eat that elephant – but you start one achievable bite at a time,” he adds.

SEOmonitor’s forecasting methodology allows you to model the data taking into account all the right inputs that influence your targeted keywords, to create a realistic scenario:

  • The CTR value — the average CTR curve for the top 10 positions on each individual combination of SERP features and devices.
  • The inertial trend of the non-brand organic traffic, based on search seasonality only (as if the website’s rankings would stand still).
  • The Year-over-Year search trend of the keywords included in the Forecast.
  • The ranking improvements of long-tail keywords (that are not part of the forecast) and their impact on traffic.

Clarify the client’s growth opportunities

The “why” that fuels your forecast and the SEO proposal is also based on how you curate your initial market and search landscape analysis.

Narrowing down your keyword list and understanding where the SEO opportunities lie will be the solid foundation for your scenarios. If your forecasting input lacks the quality it needs, your estimates will be misleading.

You need to know where you’re heading, the strategic way:

From keyword research to keyword strategy

You can think of the whole framework like this:

  • The keyword research is the input that you need to curate, organize and prioritize.
  • The keyword strategy is the output — the narrowed-down, categorized keyword groups that inform your action plan and your forecasting foundation.

This framework will help you maximize the impact of your SEO efforts and keep you from wasting resources for both your agency and your client.

But, to do so, you need a correct diagnosis of the client’s status quo and the problem you’re trying to address with SEO.

Map the client’s business

The client’s website categories and buyer personas are crucial for your understanding of the business. You can address their product or service categories as a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis and pinpoint the ones that are the most prolific in comparison to their competitors in the search landscape.

There might be the case that the client wants you to focus on certain categories, but you can be proactive in showing them where their strengths lie.

This view combined with the buyer journey will offer you the basis for evaluating demand and search intent — important for setting the right diagnosis. To better grasp the demand, you can think about what search queries the target audience used and reverse engineer the SERPs and the features Google highlights.

Let’s take an example.

Say your client is a small fashion designer with a fairly new website. It won’t make sense to battle big retailers (e.g. GAP and friends) on broad keywords like “dresses” or “jeans” from the get-go. Yet, the designer’s strength lies in customization, so you spot an opportunity for such things as “custom cocktail dresses” or “custom black dress”. Answering the search intent at every step of the journey with content marketing will prove an important part of your diagnosis and action plan: awareness (“little black dress for body shape”), interest (“best black dress”), and consideration (“custom black dress price”).

Map the client’s SEO opportunities

Apart from matching website categories with demand, there are numerous ways of spotting the SEO opportunity.

You can start with the high-opportunity keywords uncovered in your research phase — the keywords with the lowest difficulty to reach the top positions and the highest potential traffic once there.

You can evaluate the desired keywords that have missing landing pages or cannibalization issues and start fixing those immediately.

Then, there’s the problem of timing: spotting seasonal keywords and using them when their peak approaches is another low-hanging fruit, provided you get their timing right. Some, like holiday and actual season-related products and services, are straightforward. It’s the industry-specific ones that will give you the advantage.

Again, for the sake of clarity, let’s take an example.

Your client is an online bookshop preparing for the summer season. Of course, such queries like “best summer holiday reads” or “books to take on the beach” will be addressed. Yet, there might be high-opportunity keywords related to an exclusive event or book with the writer’s autograph, or new editorial launches for the summer months that will be seasonal and industry-specific.

A robust rank tracker can help you work efficiently in prioritizing and segmenting your keywords accordingly, with advanced filtering capabilities to highlight keywords with issues, keywords with low difficulty, high opportunity, and so on. It will save you hours of manually sifting through your initial keyword list.

Set a shared definition of success

Once you’ve uncovered the most relevant keywords out of your research and you found your answers to the diagnostic question, it’s time to test the viability of your SEO proposal.

That’s again where forecasting comes in handy in qualifying both the lead and the size of the opportunity. You can create multiple scenarios with your team and calibrate your keyword strategy until you have a realistic, solid proposal — sharing the final version with your client will further the trust and pave the way for setting expectations.

As we’ve said in the beginning, you should always have a shared definition of what success means for the SEO campaign: additional traffic, additional conversion, revenue, etc. That way, you make sure you track what matters for your client and you both evaluate the SEO performance with the right lens.

The keyword strategy and forecasting exercise are great opportunities to uncover new business potential, as well. This, in turn, positions your agency as a business partner, not just the people executing the SEO tasks.

In conclusion

To prove the ROI of your SEO proposal you need a good understanding of the client’s business and market, the right keyword strategy in place which becomes the basis of a realistic forecasting scenario.

All of these processes ensure that both you and the client speak the same language and know where you want to go in order to achieve business goals and growth targets.

After hundreds of hours of research with our agency clients and many years refining the know-how inside the product, SEOmonitor’s team decided it’s time to distill all that knowledge into a series of masterclasses.

We’ve launched SEOmonitor Masterclass for agency people to further their knowledge with business frameworks applied to their environment and processes. The first two on SEO Forecasting and Keyword Strategy can be freely accessed at

Both masterclasses include assignments, key takeaways, case studies, and demos for agencies to study and use in their own processes. After completing them, you’ll be able to leverage strategic frameworks for your agency, maximize the impact of your SEO efforts, and make better decisions for your future SEO campaigns.

Join our learning community today and help us bring more transparency to the SEO industry!

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