I must admit that I was disappointed when Google made all searches secure. Though we’re mostly used to seeing keywords reported as “not provided” by now, there are limitations. For example, it’s hard to prove the return on investment for SEO when you don’t know which search terms are bringing people to your site. As a result, setting appropriate SEO goals can be difficult.

To help you set SEO goals that can be measured directly, I’ve created a list for you to follow. As you browse through the examples, consider which ones align with your company goals and marketing goals. These must come first.

1. Rankings

Number one rankings aren’t as important as they used to be, but they still hold importance. After all, SEO is a competition as you and thousands of other companies compete for the same space. Rather than trying to make it to the top spot, the goal is to reach the highest position for as many keyword and phrase targets as you can. Rankings can be measured globally, nationally or locally depending on how you set them up.

2. Organic Search Visits

To drive raw traffic to your site, you need to optimize your website for the search engines and generate keyword-rich content. This leads to improved content sharing, referring links and direct traffic that promote your content. To understand where organic search traffic is coming from, you can measure numbers by landing page, location, browser or device.

3. Branded vs Non-Branded

As you perform keyword research, you’ll likely come across branded and non-branded keywords for your site. Branded keywords contain your company name, whereas non-branded keywords relate to your products and services. Both branded and non-branded keywords are critical to your SEO campaigns, so it’s helpful to separate them. Because we don’t have keyword data for organic traffic, you will have to use an implied approach based on what’s most likely.

4. SERP Ownership

Part of a strong SEO strategy is taking ownership of the SERPs. This can be done by using the right keywords, optimizing content and technical SEO and using paid search ads. By bringing everything together, you can dominate the SERPs. To understand how your SEO campaigns are working, measure which strategies produce the most traffic, which campaigns perform best, and which campaigns need attention.

5. Search Volume

To improve your brand’s reputation and increase the quality of branded search, I recommend using Google Trends or a Google AdWords campaign to track search volume. This will tell you how many people are searching for a given keyword within a specific time period. All data is specific to location, date range and Search Network.

6. Links and Link Metrics

Watch for an increase or decrease in links over time. More links indicate that your content is being seen by the right people, is authoritative and is shared with others. Decreased links show the opposite. You can measure link metrics by the total number of links, the number of linking root domains or the number of authority and spam links.

Remember, you must define your business and marketing goals before you can define your SEO goals. As you’ll learn, there is so much more to SEO than rankings.