Search engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are buzzwords in the Internet industry. As a result, website owners have been led to believe that a web marketing firm can “optimize” their site and they will then appear on the first page of Google. As a result, they will suddenly become uber-successful.  It doesn’t work that way. First, you need to remember that you get to be listed number one on Google because you are already successful – not the other way around. A good website design, not just one that is visually attractive, but one that is clean and functions well can be a key component of improving your website marketing. If your website is more than three years old, it may be time to upgrade your site before you can address other online marketing concerns.

So how can you be successful with your online marketing? For most businesses, this is a long process – not something that happens overnight. I recommend establishing goals in three month increments. You should only select one major goal and perhaps one or two supporting goals during a three month period. Focus all your efforts on reaching that goal during those 3 months. The reason for a 3 month time period is that is how long it typically takes to show improvement and be able to see the results. You MUST measure your performance to see how you are doing with the goal you have selected. Use tools like Google Analytics and Social Mention to track how you are doing from the beginning to the end of the project. Once you have reached your first goal, then you can start a new 3 month cycle and start working on another goal.

All goals listed below must be quantifiable or SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-specific) goals. Here are some samples of marketing goals you might select (remember only select 1 primary and 1 or two supporting goals that can realistically be achieved in a 3 month period of time).

___ First page of Google search results for the keyword: __________________________

___ More page views for this page on my website: _______________________________

___ Improved ranking for local search for my company name and the keyword: _______

___ Lower bounce rate

___ Increase the number of visitors to my site

___ More targeted traffic to my site

___ Increase length of time visitors spend on site

___ Increase pages per visit

___ Better conversion rate (# of visitors compared to # of sales)

___ Increase average dollar amount per sale

___ Get more Facebook Fans

___ Get more YouTube subscribers

___ Get more newsletter subscribers

___ Increase number of RSS subscribers to blog

___ Increase online inquiries

___ Promote offline sales

___ Deliver more content to customers

___ Get more people to share your posts (stumble upon, squidoo, etc.)

___ Get More people to re-tweet your twitter posts

___ Increase the number of sites linking to yours

___ Increase the number of times you are mentioned on social networking sites

___ Other: ______________________________________________________________

You’ll notice that I have listed the typical SEO promise of getting ranked number one on Google at the top of the list. However, I qualified this with a single specific keyword or keyword phrase. I personally don’t think this should be a primary objective, but a result of your other marketing activities. And the good news is that many of these goals will actually cause you to rise in the search engine results! For example, if more and more people start to mention you on their sites, you lower your bounce rates, and people spend more time on your site, Google will start to notice and place you higher on the results page as your reward.