Whether you’re contemplating an investment in search engine optimization for your business or you’re already working with a search professional – clear goal setting is essential to a good relationship. One way to make sure you’re setting smart goals is to use that very mnemonic.

Specific – Evaluating performance gets easier when there’s no ambiguity about what the results should be. An example of a specific goal could be increasing online revenue from organic search by 25% year over year. An example for a local business might be increasing phone calls from organic search or Google My Business.

Measurable – You can’t evaluate something that isn’t measured. There’s some exceptions but a lot of worthwhile goals can be measured with analytics and tracking. In the above example you could easily compare the online revenue generated from different date ranges for a particular source like organic.

Achievable – Do the goals make sense for your business? Do you have the resources to accomplish them? Can you compete with the big players?

Realistic – Realistic vs. achievable are similar components that both need to be weighed when you consider an SEO goal. A goal might be achievable but the timeline, resources, and expertise could ultimately make it unrealistic. This is something you want to know before you start.

Timeline – “How long will it take?” is a question I get all the time and for good reason. While it’s only going to be an educated guess your SEO team should be able to give you a ballpark timeline to reach your objectives. Several factors go into that evaluation like your competition, resources, and the specific goal being targeted.

The objectives for an SEO campaign will have some differences depending on your industry and business type. A local brick and mortar shop for instance will have substantially different goals compared to an online-only ecommerce store. To help you prepare for you a future seo engagement or evaluate the performance of an existing one, I’ll outline some worthwhile goals you should be monitoring for your local business.

Local SEO Goals

Rankings

You shouldn’t put all your focus on high rankings for any particular keyword. Chances are there’s dozen or hundreds of keywords that could bring valuable traffic to your site. With that said, your local SEO provider should still be tracking your positions for top target keywords. They should be able to show you upwards movement over time for popular keywords where the user-intent matches up with the products or services your business offers. Additionally, tracking your rankings will also alert your seo team to any position drops that might indicate a penalty, algorithm update, or movement by competitors that you need to be aware of.

Local Organic Traffic

Well that was pretty obvious, if you’re a local shop then getting traffic from across the country probably isn’t that valuable to you. You want to see an increase in organic traffic from shoppers who actually live in your city. Specially, you want to see more traffic from consumers that are showing purchase intent. If I’m a local used car dealership for example, the search term “used cars” is pretty ambiguous, they could be looking for used car images, general information about used cars, service or parts, who knows.. the intent is very unclear. However, a search for “Edmonton used car dealership” is much more likely to be a consumer looking for my services.

Phone Calls

A study by Go-Globe found that 78% of local searches result in a phone call. That’s a big number! Phone calls are a high quality sales opportunity for many local businesses so this is a goal that makes SEO a perfect fit. You should be measuring phone calls from your website, and even more importantly from your Google My Business listing to evaluate how your seo strategy is impacting sales opportunities. The GMB listing is the top lead generator for many local businesses so those results shouldn’t be excluded from your analysis.

Forms, Texts, and Chat Submissions

Email and text inquiries like information or appointment requests have a clear value to your business and are very easy to measure. Form submissions are still popular in some industries where as consumers in other industries might be more likely to call or simply visit the store. Either way you should make sure you have the attribution in place to track these conversions and how they’re being generated.

Intent Indicators

There’s a lot of behavior happening on your website that indicates a shopper might be interested in visiting your store so it’s worthwhile to track those indicators of purchase intent. According to the same study I linked above 50% of consumers who performed a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day so it’s not always as easy as counting up form submissions. This will be different for various industries but here’s a few common examples:

  • Visits to your hours/directions page on your website
  • Directions requests in Google My Business
  • Product or service page views
  • Newsletter sign-ups

Walk-in traffic to your store is pretty tough to measure at this point but a successful local seo campaign should get more shoppers through your doors.

Have you set smart goals with your SEO team to evaluate their performance?