Insights into business, society, and life in general

Search engine marketing, search engine optimization, keywords, ranking, linking, content – those are the magic bullets to make your website successful, right?

Well, sort of….

They are provided you’ve first constructed a sure and solid foundation: a foundation made of good business and marketing planning.

The business and marketing planning process takes time, and that’s why it is so often usurped by the enthusiasm of webmasters to get on with the jobs of SEM and SEO. What we all aim for is getting into the top 10 on the search engine results page. If you move fast, you might indeed make it into the top 10, but does that also mean you’ll achieve your business goals? And what if you’ve moved so fast that you’re using SPAM? Using SPAM may certainly be a method to get to the top in a hurry, but it is certainly NOT a method to stay there for any length of time.

What can you do? Be SMART, in more ways than one. Let’s take a look at what we call the SMART business objectives to help you align your website with your business goals.

First, what does SMART stand for? It is an acronym for objectives that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-lined

We recently had an SEO project for a resort, and when we asked the owner what his business objective was, and he said 100% occupancy all year round.

Well, our thinking for this SEO project was that to achieve 100% occupancy meant to improve his site’s loading time, identify and strategically place keywords, rewrite text to improve content, and embark upon a linking campaign. To accomplish these “specific” objectives, we removed some photographs from several pages to improve loading times and instead created a photo gallery. What we discovered through this exercise was that to the owner, achieving this 100% occupancy objective meant having an aesthetically superlative site, which meant having the photos exactly as they were, despite their impact on loading times.

As a result of our enlightenment, we created another business plan, this time with the following objectives laid out:

  1. Conversion objectives
    1. Convert X% of site visitors to resort reservations
    2. Acquire X% of site visitors email addresses to build database
    3. Inspire X% of site visitors to request additional information
  2. Achieve steady occupancy growth, 10% per month
  3. Review, develop and grow affiliate and advertising goals
  4. ROI goals (stated)

As opposed to the first objective, achieve 100% occupancy, the objectives above are definitely specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-lined. However, to ensure that they are achievable and realistic, we will constantly review the plan against our work progress – in fact, we will review it weekly while we are in heavy-duty SEO mode, perhaps reducing to weekly or monthly as the project proceeds into more of a maintenance phase. As it becomes necessary, we will modify the plan and ensure agreement from all parties.

A note here about search engine results: notice that high ranking is not among our stated objectives. The reason for that is we believe it is inherent in the other objectives – in order to achieve conversions that result in reservations, visitor email, and information requests, we will need to accomplish a good ranking, as well as increase site traffic through other means including quality inbound links.

The bottom line is that website success should be driven by good solid business planning, planning that goes beyond merely getting your site high on the search engine results pages. Instead, look at what it is you are really trying to achieve from a business perspective and make sure it is SMART.

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