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Top SEO Goals for Publishers: Your To-Do List

by Patrick D

We often think about our profit-growth strategies, steps, and the end product. Well, none of this matters unless you’re working toward clear SEO goals.

Choosing the best SEO objectives for your website is an essential first step in any direction you plan to take. You’ll be able to evaluate your tactics and assess your progress by comparing them to your SEO goals. Sounds great, but how do you come up with those? We’ve compiled a list of top-10 SEO goals that can help any publisher elevate their website and, as a result, lift revenues from ad placements.


What should your SEO goals be based on?

You can check hundreds of metrics that Google’s algorithm uses. But let’s focus on the essential metrics for publishers.

SEO benchmarks

Organic traffic

Use Semrush’s Domain Overview and Traffic Analytics tools for a comprehensive view of your website’s traffic sources against your competitors’. Both can help you understand your organic traffic and your audience.

You can also use Google’s search console to see how your organic traffic has changed over the years.


Your SEO goal is to appear on the first page of Google because over 25% of searchers click through the first search result.

A keyword gap analysis will help you understand your keyword performance and uncover new relevant searches. Semrush can help you identify keywords where you rank well, weak keywords where you rank poorly, and untapped keywords where your competitors rank well but your domain has some potential.

SERP Position

The position tracking tool in Semrush can easily check your website’s visibility on search engine result’s page. You can also see how your position changes each month on the Google search console.


The CTR represents the percentage of users who clicked through from the SERP to your website. If your site appeared 100 times in a week on a results page and 10 people clicked on it, your CTR is 10%. This metric measures how well your title tags and meta descriptions attract users.

Don’t be discouraged if this metric is low; it simply means you need to optimize your meta descriptions, titles, and URLs to get featured snippets. The first position in Google has a 28.5% average click rate. So improving your keyword ranking can improve your CTR.

Open Google Search Console to check your CTR. “Search Traffic > Search Analytics” is on the left. Click “Clicks” and “CTR” to see the checkboxes. Click the “CTR” box to see your website’s average click-through rate and top-performing pages and keywords.

Bounce rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site without interacting. Google Analytics counts multiple page clicks as an interaction. In a nutshell, it rates a visit’s quality.

The benchmark bounce rate varies by website type and purpose. With SEMRUSH’s traffic analytics tool, you can easily check your domain’s bounce rate by device (mobile or desktop) and see if it’s improved in the last 6, 12, or 24 months.

Domain Authority

Your website’s authority predicts a domain’s ranking on a scale of 1 to 100, with higher numbers indicating more traffic and ranking. Compare your website’s domain authority to your competitors’.

Number of Backlinks

Semrush’s backlink analytics helps you track your backlinks and referring domains. This tool lets you track your site’s link-building progress, find new backlinks, and delete old ones. When reviewing your link-building efforts, knowing the number of new backlinks to your site is helpful. Your current strategy is working if new sites are linking to your content.

Page speed

Page speed affects most other metrics. One second of faster site speed doubles your dollar per page view, according to a Portent study. It affects your website’s ranking, conversion, and bounce rates. After all, a delay of 10 seconds increases the bounce rate by around 120%. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to test your website’s speed. A perfect score is quick. A 90 percent or higher score is considered good. If you got 50-90, work on it.

Page Views

This metric measures how well your content matches user intent. It means your site satisfied their intent when a user types a keyword into Google looking for information, a product, or a service. Your content satisfies visitors’ expectations based on the keywords that brought them to your site.

Google Analytics can track how long visitors spend on your site. Open “Behavior > Overview” on your dashboard’s left side. To see the full report, scroll down. You can see the time spent on each page and post on your site.

The “Avg Time On Page” column shows the average time visitors spent on that page.

From there, you can compare the time spent on a page to your own average reading time. But keep in mind the page’s goal. Sixty seconds on a page is ideal for a high-converting landing page but not for a long blog post. So, if your visitors’ average reading time is close to yours, your content meets user intent.

Conversion rate

Your conversion rate measures the overall impact of SEO on your company’s sales. This is perhaps the most critical metric for measuring your website’s success.

Set up custom goals in Google Analytics to track conversion rates. You can set goals for visitors to read articles, watch videos, sign up for emails, enroll in courses, and other actions that lead to subscribers or customers.

You can then track the percentage of visitors who take action and convert. The average website conversion rate is 4.31% (from multiple marketplaces) can be used as a benchmark.


Your website traffic will fluctuate throughout the year, so it’s important to understand when your niche’s major demand shifts as it impacts directly your CPM rates.

By understanding the general seasonal search patterns, you can avoid misdiagnosing a technical, algorithmic, or competitive issue as a seasonality trend.

Google Trends is the ideal tool for detecting general search patterns around the world.

Enter 2-3 short-tail keywords that are relevant to your business to identify industry patterns. This will help you figure out which of the four main SEO seasonality patterns your company fits into.

  1. Holiday Seasonality based on holidays or events

This seasonality is the most obvious, as it coincides with a major holiday, sporting event, or cultural event.

  1. Peak seasonality over several months

This type usually lasts 3-9 months, after which search volume declines. Seasonality over multiple months varies for various reasons, including meteorological, fiscal, and cultural factors.

  1. The Peak and the Taper

This type of seasonality is most common at the beginning of the calendar year. Increased aspirational and lifestyle searches accompany the start of a new year.

Top 10 SEO goals to boost your business

1. Boost organic traffic by X%

Organic traffic tells you a lot about your website’s success. When you increase organic traffic to your website, you expand your customer base and let search engines that your website is authoritative and trustworthy.

Check out your organic traffic growth in the previous year to figure out the plausible growth percentage for the next year:

This will help you to understand better how well your website has performed so far. You can extrapolate from that data to set a SMART goal viable enough to produce results.

Consider the following scenario:

Let’s say you saw a 10% increase in organic traffic month over month (MoM). Although some months are better than others, you never quite made it to 15%. In the new year, a reasonable goal for MoM traffic growth would be 20-30%. That’s bold enough to get results but not so far out of reach that it feels impossible to accomplish.

Additionally, previous growth rates aren’t the only thing you should consider. Evaluate your audience and your competition. Maintaining a steady 5-10 percent organic traffic growth would be a good goal if you’re already capturing a significant portion of your audience with current initiatives.

The same goes for your competition: don’t expect to make a significant impact on your organic traffic goals if there’s an incumbent with a sizable market share.

In any case, increasing organic traffic is probably the most important SEO goal you can set for the coming year. It can serve as a beacon for the rest of the objectives we’ll discuss today.

Obtaining high-quality backlinks to your website can help strengthen your domain and improve your website’s overall ranking. When setting this SEO goal, consider both the number of links you want to gain and which websites you want backlinks from.

Just keep in mind that building backlinks are all about quality — the number of links you have is a good indicator of how popular your content is. But fewer, more authoritative links will benefit you more in the long run.

An outline of how you’ll build a relationship with the website owner you want to gain links from is another great strategy to include in this goal. Just keep in mind that these relationships don’t happen overnight, and it’s crucial to keep reinforcing the value for both parties involved.

3. Increase page speed

This is our first technical SEO objective. When you improve your page speed, you can improve your ranking potential and the overall experience of your website. When considering this goal, keep in mind the back-end site requirements you’ll need to update.

Using tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights is the best way to figure out what you need to do to improve your page speed. This tool analyzes your website and provides recommendations. You can prioritize changes that will impact your page speed for the cheapest cost.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool provides an example of potential opportunities.

Keep in mind that improving page speed may lead to significant content restructuring.

4. Diversify your traffic-generating pages

Many publishers face the same problem: they create a fantastic piece of content or a highly successful landing page that, over time, begins to bring in a statistically significant portion of the site’s organic traffic.

To put it another way, the more pages on your website that generate traffic, the more qualified leads you can generate. Think about the distinctions between a landing page and a blog post. One focuses on converting specific leads into customers or driving email subscriptions, while the other focuses on attracting interested searchers for a specific keyword.

You should have a good mix of landing pages, blog articles, and top-level pages. Diversifying your traffic-generating pages will not only bring in more targeted traffic, but search engines perceive your domain as an expert in your niche.

5. Lower your bounce rate

According to most website analytics tools, a bounce occurs when a user visits your site and then leaves quickly. Because a high bounce rate indicates that your content isn’t relevant to a searcher’s intent, it will lower your SERP ranking over time.

Matching search intent with your content, headline, and meta description can reduce your bounce rate. When your results appear in the SERP, searchers will see those three elements of your page. Anyone who comes to your site looking for something specific will immediately leave if you’re even slightly off in terms of relevancy.

6. Increase average website duration by X%

Average session duration, like bounce rate, is a merit-based signal, which means it’s difficult to improve. You can’t make it better by buying ads, stuffing more keywords into your page, or writing more clickbait headlines.

If you want to boost your average session duration to keep visitors on your site for longer, here’s what to do:

  • Include videos in your articles.
  • Use engaging images to break up the text.
  • Make sure your website’s navigation is easy to use.
  • Link to other pages on your site.

7. Increase organic traffic conversion by X%

What happens when someone visits your website? Do they read your content, or do they leave to look for something else? When considering how to increase your overall organic traffic, it’s also important to consider how to convert that traffic.

This SEO goal is the most effective way to assess your content’s conversion potential. Getting visitors to your site isn’t enough; you also need to wow them once they’re there.

Begin with landing pages, then move on to articles and main site content as your knowledge grows. This allows you to prioritize the content that has the greatest impact on your conversion capabilities, allowing you to learn more effectively and move more quickly.

8. Raise customer awareness

Some publishers often ignore branding, but it is a vital component of any website.

If you’re just getting started in your target market, branding makes future conversions easier by making room for you in prospect’s minds. It’s often easier to trust a popular brand than a new one.

Make your brand known by appearing in keyword searches that contain competitive words and products. Make sure you’re in every discussion on any platform.

Consumers are more likely to participate in and interact with your brand when you use SEO.

  • Targeting your company’s and product name, 
  • Focus on keyword focus will be simple, allowing you to achieve more with less effort. 
  • Make sure your site is easy to find with a good link structure,
  • Create official pages on websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media.

9. Improve your online reputation

Every mistake is magnified in the Internet age, and it can harm your brand for months or years.

SEO can be a huge asset in protecting your brand from negative news or repairing an existing negative image.

First, claim ownership of your brand name in all of its forms. You want to be able to control ten out of ten branded search results in Google. This entails optimizing pages across multiple domains so that you can “own” entire pages of search results. Create branded SEO campaigns on Facebook, Linkedin, Github, Reddit, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Don’t let up just because you have the top ten. Maintain consistent pressure with additional unique content and relevant links to your brand.

Then concentrate on keywords that are extremely relevant to your company.

A personal response from a CEO to an online complaint has a lot of weight. If you don’t have the experience, consider hiring outside help.

10. Improve Cross-platform content sharing

The final SEO goals are improving cross-platform content distribution and increasing engagement. When a publisher promotes and curates content by sharing them on social media, forums, etc. 

Improve engagement by commenting on articles, publishing stories on Instagram with links to a blog, and org a giveaway with freebies)

Look through your customer service logs, online support requests, and other companies in your industry for FAQ content ideas. Respond to questions with a blog post, video, or instructional document, then link to it from relevant places on your website. 

Another way to improve engagement is to create content that answers questions about your competitors’ products. Assist them and gently lead them to your solution.


Before you invest in a long-term SEO strategy for your company, think about which of these can have a significant impact on your goals. Decide what you need to accomplish as a publisher and ask yourself questions like:

Is it important to focus on branding, traffic volume, traffic-generating pages, ad CTR, or a combination of those?

Once you’ve figured out the answers, you’ll be able to engage SEO with the right set of goals in mind.

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