DIY SEO #1: Planning Your Objectives

DIY SEO - Planning your SEOSo, you’ve gotten hip to the SEO thing and your chomping at the bit to get started.  Visions of thousands of visitors dance through your head.  It’s tempting to just dive in head first and start optimizing all the pages of your website, but like so many things in life, if you don’t properly prepare you can end up creating a disaster and find yourself worse off then when you started.  So, where do you start?

If you decide to build a house, you can’t just pick up a hammer and start nailing things.  You actually don’t even start by drawing up blueprints.  You start by planning what you want out of your house.  Knowing how many people do you want to house will help you decide how many bedrooms you need.  Whether you have noisy kids or no kids can lead you to decide whether you want an open concept or not.

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.

Look, Shiny Objects!
Shiny objectsOne of the more difficult parts of setting objectives is weeding through all the good things we want to find the ultimate objectives.  These are attractive goals, but when you boil it down, they are just a means to an end not the objectives themselves.

A good example is new members for a church.  A church’s objective is not to get new members (or it shouldn’t be).  A church’s objectives are to get people to receive Jesus as their savior and to help believers to have a closer walk with God.  Simply getting more new members doesn’t mean that is happening.

In the end, the purpose of SEO is not what most people focus on.  We don’t do SEO because we want to have an optimized website (gosh I hope not).  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, be on the look out for these attractive goals that are really just a means to an end.  Some examples of them are:

  • Rankings
  • Traffic
  • Links
  • Just getting more sales 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
  • You take it from here.

Once you have created your list of objectives, prioritize the list.  Eventually you will have to make some tough choices about what keywords to target on what pages.  By prioritizing your objectives you will make those decisions much easier.

Today’s task(s):

  • Decide and write down the ultimate objectives you hope to achieve with SEO.
  • Prioritize your objectives

In order to help you with figuring out the objectives for the SEO of your website, I’ve put together some questions you should consider for your organization:

Photo by karola riegler photography and KellyCDB

What are the objectives you came up with for your website?

DIY SEO: The Do It Yourself Search Engine Optimization Series <-  -> DIY SEO #2: Defining Your Target Audience >

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