Your SEO Goals for 2015

We’re all setting goals to be healthier and happier in 2015, and some of us are also looking for ways to improve our careers. In the ever-changing world of SEO, January can be a great time of year to reevaluate your “SEO best practices”. Here are a few simple goals to accomplish during 2015 to ensure you’re growing in your SEO career and staying on top of the biggest shifts in the industry.

1. Build Relationships Instead of Links

Taking a more qualitative approach to pitching the media is nothing new, and most SEOs understand that a targeted outreach plan is key to any off-page efforts. Even though we all know we’ll see better results with a personalized pitch, we’re still missing out on making connections with people and fostering relationships that can be even more powerful than a link.

The Goal: Think of three websites that would be the ultimate sites for your client to receive a link from and go subscribe to their newsletters, RSS, Twitter, Facebook and any other feed they have. Spend the beginning of 2015 as a member of the audience, reading the comments and noting the top questions on Twitter. Then, take time to discover the people who write the content that you want to be featured in. Once spring hits and you’ve established the key influencers and know who makes the most sense to connect with, get to know them. Follow them on Twitter, read their content and understand their perspective.

If you take the time to get to know the person you’re pitching and their readers, you’re going to be in a much better position to craft content that resonates with them. Once you’ve got the perfect piece of content, reached out to the ideal reporter and have seen traction, be sure to continue that relationship. Having an industry influencer trust your content and your client as a long-term resource is going to be far more valuable than any directory link.

2. Adjust Your Toolkit

We’re all guilty of getting comfortable with our tools. You've probably been using the same analytics programs, technical tools and SEO plugins since before you can remember. If you think about switching to something new and spend some time researching it, you usually determine the work it would take to make a change couldn’t possibly be worth it. But what if you’re missing out on some great tools just because you’re not forcing yourself to try something new?

The Goal: Once a quarter, try a new SEO tool. You can start out small by adding a few SEO extensions to your browser to see how they help you. Once you get your feet wet, try utilizing a new program for keyword research that you haven’t tried before. When you’re really comfortable, test out new measurement platforms like MOZ Analytics or BrightEdge to see if you’re missing insights.

People are inventing new plugins, tools and measurement software every day. You don't want to miss out on having a more effective way to work just because you’re “comfortable” with something else. Researching and testing the latest tools will give you a great way to enhance your toolkit and bring new insights to clients.

3. Become an Engagement Guru

You’ve heard it time and time again: 2015 will be the year of engagement in SEO and if you’re not paying attention to it, you will be left behind. It's not enough to simply have a technically strong site. Search engines are monitoring how users respond to your site while they’re on it. If those metrics aren’t strong, it could impact your ability to rank.

The Goal: Spend 2015 understanding the journey users are taking after they’re on your client’s website. In SEO, it’s easy to look at traffic and conversions and stop there. But by incorporating an in-depth look at how the site itself is performing you can boost conversions and rankings – a win/win.

You’ve already identified the desired actions you want users to take on the site, so dive into analytics and see how users are getting there. Look to engagement metrics to identify weak spots that can be fixed and strengths that can be replicated. Throughout the year, make it a point to not only identify what drives organic traffic, but also what changes you can make to the site to improve the user’s experience once they’re on it.

4. Study Marketing

You’re no doubt already following the latest SEO blogs, publications and industry experts, but in 2015 I challenge you to learn more about marketing. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of an algorithm update or a new ranking factor, but SEO is evolving into something much bigger. SEO is moving from optimizing a site for search engines to optimizing a site for users using search engines. You won’t find the key to marketing to those users by looking to SEO blogs alone. You will need a solid marketing foundation to adapt to these changes.

The Goal: Read a book about marketing once a quarter in 2015. At Nebo, we have an SEO book club where none of the books we read are about SEO. It’s amazing the concepts you’ll learn that can easily be applied to SEO clients by reading content that’s not about SEO. The amount of focus required to read a book also forces you to become engaged in the content in a way you can’t get from simply reading a blog.

5. Know Your SEO Community

Of course we all know Rand Fishkin, Matt Cutts, Danny Sullivan, and the other SEO leaders out there. But how many SEOs do you know in your local community? Outside of those at your agency, there are probably some pretty smart SEOs right in your backyard.

The Goal: Meet local SEOs in 2015. Whether it’s through a meetup, joining a club, or just contacting them and asking them to go to coffee. Building relationships with locals who are also interested in SEO can be a fantastic way to expand your network and your knowledgebase. Every SEO agency and freelancer has a different approach, and talking to people outside of your normal network can give you a valuable new perspective.

Accomplishing these goals won’t be easy, but with precise planning and accountability you’re sure to achieve everything you set out to do in 2015. Whether it’s by setting a monthly calendar event to check in on your progress, sharing your goals with coworkers to create culpability, or just posting your goals above your desk as a constant reminder, make sure to create a system that works for you and keeps you on track. By setting specific goals, you can easily evaluate your progress and look back on how much you’ve accomplished once December comes around.

Written by Sarah Lively on January 28, 2015

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Nikki says:

Great post, Sarah! At the end of the day, it really is all about developing relationships. Taking the time to invest in people is important whether they are users of your site, people in your trade, or media that you want to link back to your site. As you said, you'll go much farther and be more successful in your SEO efforts if you do.

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Director, Social Media Marketing