How to be SMART about creating SEO Goals for your Clients


One of the best ways to set yourself apart from other consultants, agencies working in the SEO industry is to sit down with your client and set measurable goals. Provide them with a map to those goals, in a way the can understand and then be transparent on how those goals can be achieved. This was included in the excellent post from Rishi Lakhani titled “Nine Ways to be a Competitive SEO“. A lot of the time it can be a key differentiation between the good and the bad. I say a lot because there are times when your client doesn’t want all that data, goals, they just want to see their rankings go up. Nothing wrong with that either. You will find each project can be a little bit different.

A great way to set goals with your client is to follow the SMART goal setting methodology:

1. SPECIFIC: The more specific you can be around a goal the better. If the goal is to improve rankings for a bunch of keywords, is your client truly happy when they achieve this, but conversions don’t increase because they weren’t the right keywords. Setting clear expectation from the outset can help save on awkward conversations later on. A specific goal is “We want to increase non branded organic traffic by 15% in the next 6 months and non branded conversions from organic by 5%”. You can then work out the keywords, site changes and CRO improvements to do this. Just having a goal to be top 3 for a keyword isn’t a great goal for you or the client.

2. MEASURABLE: This self explanatory. Online marketing is so popular due to ease of measurement. With Google custom reports, you should be able to have one or two reports that provide the client with all they need to know in terms of progress. Setting dates is another key. Although SEO is open to a lot of flux (we all know the great Google Panda god is still getting up to mischief), having clear milestones laid out against a timeline helps manage expectations.

3. ATTAINABLE: This is a personal pet hate of mine. If your client cannot afford to rank for their target keywords. TELL THEM. Even if this means you don’t get the project. I would prefer to not work for a client with unattainable goals, then pocket 6 months worth of cash and then make excuses about it being too competitive, or them not having the right kind of budget. Most clients will thank you for being honest and those who go elsewhere, will be someone else’s problem.

4. RELEVANT: Once you have a specific goal in mind, ensure your time is spent wisely. The latest blog posts from the uber SEO gurus can always lead to distractions, “Oh I should try this out”, but keep your goal in mind. Use to track your time and ensure when on the clients time, you are not trying out new things.

5. TIME-BOUND: Already mentioned under MEASURABLE, but setting dates is a great way to set expectations. Again, being honest with your clients is key. If you feel the date will be missed, let your client know up front. Not every SEO project will go smoothly and not every date will be missed, sending out advanced warning signals about this can at least show you are being proactive.

About Kieran Flanagan

Online Marketer who implements both inbound and paid strategies to help companies grow internationally. Lover of content marketing, SEO, analytics, CRO and strategy. A highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack.