search marketing

What is SEO? 1: Setting Goals

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what-is-seo-search-engine-optimizationPeople use search engines to find almost everything these days. So, doing search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your website’s search rankings is extremely important. The challenge is no two companies provide the same SEO services, making comparing services virtually impossible.

So we’re doing this What is SEO? series to explain all the possible steps, so when you hire a company to do your SEO or you decide to do yourself, you are getting all of the aspects of SEO that are important to you.

For more on this, so the intro post What is SEO?

Setting Goals

Before you take the first step in any journey, you have to determine your destination. It’s only after you know the destination that you can begin planning the journey, gathering everything you’ll need for the journey, and then eventually starting out on that journey.

SEO is similar. Before you even start with the research, you first must figure out what your ultimate objectives are. These will guide you through the whole optimization process.

Ask yourself,

“What do I want out of my website?”

List Your Objectives

You may have already figured this out when you were first building your website and can refer back to that. If you’ve never really taken the time to specifically figure out your objectives for your website, it’s time to do that. This shouldn’t be a 2 minute process either. Set aside 15-30 minutes to really consider what your end goals are and write them down.

Tip: You may even find that this exercise leads you to make some changes to your website design as well, though that’s a discussion for another day.

True Goals vs Means to an End

Frequently, people misidentify what their true goals are. Remember…

We don’t do SEO because we want to have an optimized website. We don’t do SEO because we want high rankings. We don’t even do SEO because we want lots of visitors. We do SEO because we want more (insert your ultimate objectives here) and we believe that doing SEO will lead to high rankings which will cause us to get more visitors which will ultimately result our objectives being met.

As you work on defining your objectives, distinguish between your true goals vs those things which are a means to an end like:

  • Rankings
  • Traffic
  • Links
  • Leads. If the leads aren’t qualified leads, then not only are they not helpful, but they may actually just be costing you more time and resources.
  • Awareness. It’s nice when more people are aware of your organization, but you really want them aware so they actively participate in some way.
  • Fans and Followers

It’s good to set to set goals for these things, but make sure your organization’s goals stay front and center. Some possible goals may include

  • New church members who found your church online
  • New students who found your school online
  • New clients who found your business online

Next… More Specific Goal-Setting

If you’ve done goal-setting before, you know the items above are not really goals. They’re still too vague. But this post is long enough as it is. And you’ve got enough to do for now, thinking about what your primary objectives and the goals which are more of a means to an end.


  • Have you taken the time to set goals for your SEO?
  • If so, what are they and how do they tie in with your organization’s overall goals?

What is SEO? -> 2: Setting SMART, ROI-Based SEO Goals

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About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.

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