SEO can give a huge boost to your website. But if you don’t use it correctly, it could end up making things worse. In the best case scenario, poorly used SEO data can hold your website back in ways that you don’t even know about. So before you start analyzing that data and developing strategy, make sure that you answer these questions first.

What are your SEO goals?

SEO can accomplish a lot of different things but it can’t do everything at once. You need to know what your goals are. With a clear goal in mind, you can make a strategy that can actually achieve that goal. Then, you can choose the right metrics that will actually help you measure that progress. We’ll talk more about the second point below.

If you’re drawing a blank, there are 6 primary goals that SEO can help you achieve:

  1. Increase raw traffic. Get more visitors to your website.
  2. Increase sales. Targeted specifically to getting more relevant visitors to your website.
  3. Build your brand. Increasing awareness and telling people about your brand. Brand awareness and identity are especially important when you’re just starting out.
  4. Get more leads. Reach out to your target customer.
  5. Manage reputation. Create and promote positive content.
  6. Increase influence. Sway opinions and change perceptions.

The goals you have will strongly influence how you apply SEO data and what kind of campaign you ultimately run. For example, if you’re looking to increase raw traffic, sales, or leads, PPC should be a part of your strategy. You can learn more about it in this ppc for travel industry guide here.

What metrics can tell me if I’m making progress in those goals?

In addition to influencing your strategy, your goals will influence what kind of metrics matter for you. If you’re trying to get more leads, for example, it’s less important how much you’ve increased traffic and more important how much engagement has increased. Are more people filling out the contact form? Downloading the free guide? Using your on-site tools?

Once you know your goals, it will generally be pretty intuitive what kind of metrics you want to look at. But the important thing is to focus. You can remain aware of the other metrics but don’t change your strategy based on changes in them.

What’s causing the progress?

Metrics tell you what’s happening but they don’t really tell you why. Increased traffic to your website is great. But make sure to look at where it’s coming from. Is it coming from paid or organic sources? Is it coming from social shares or inbound links?

If you don’t take the time to look at what’s causing your progress, you won’t know exactly what is working and what aspects of your campaign you need to strengthen to continue seeing growth.

What’s holding it back?

By the same logic, you need to look into the less than stellar metrics. What areas did you expect to grow but didn’t? What metrics (that are important to you) are starting to decline? Now, investigate what’s causing the problem. If your engagement is decreasing, look to the aspects of your campaign that were meant to increase it. Is your social media presence performing as it should? Are your on-site tools functioning? Is your website intuitive and easy to use?