How to create link building OKRs for SEO (with examples) – Search Engine Land

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Objectives and key results (OKRs) are great tools for shaping SEO initiatives to align with the company’s goals.
This article explores how OKRs can influence your SEO efforts, highlighting the connection between overarching business objectives and SEO-centric targets. 
One of my favorite books is “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr. It presents the idea of OKRs, which stands for “objectives and key results.”
Doerr provides examples of how companies like Google adopt and implement the OKR planning and accountability framework to accomplish outrageous growth goals.
The OKR approach is fairly straightforward and works by defining clear, measurable, and achievable objectives alongside key results that gauge the achievement of each objective.
These are the clearly defined goals you want to achieve. They should be significant, actionable, and inspiring. In the context of SEO and link building, an objective could be something like:
These are the measurable indicators that show you’ve achieved your objective. They should be quantifiable, time-bound, and directly impacted by the team’s efforts. 
For an SEO-focused objective, key results might include: 
Are you working on the right SEO initiative to push your company’s goals forward? How does SEO align with your marketing objectives?
These questions are important but not always easy to answer.
OKRs ensure that you can answer these questions. Its benefits include:
OKRs in SEO connect the SEO’s actions and the company’s marketing or business quarterly, annual, or long-term goals.
The director, VP, or leader will set the overall goals and the SEO, digital marketer, or product manager will build the OKRs and assign deadlines to the KRs. Thus the person accountable to the OKRs are the one that identifies the scope, results, and timelines.
The relationship between SEO OKRs and marketing goals isn’t always clear or direct. However, keep the planning focused on SEO, link, and content to ensure alignment.
However, setting SEO objectives can be much more creative and strategic than ranking improvements.
SEO is a more powerful strategic tool than many of us SEOs understand. 
A marketing leader can leverage SEO to manage reputation, support scale, or build brand awareness.
A strategic OKR is informed by analyzing the product/service offering position, competition, market landscape, and audience. This is in contrast to a tactical OKR that is based on individual actions.
The OKR below accounts for the audience’s changing use of terminology to segment and define an important concept that describes a company’s product.
Objective: Establish {company} as a thought leader that defines the new industry term {term}, by increasing the organic visibility of internal leaders of these concepts.
Key results:
Growth-driving OKRs focus on sales, demo requests, leads, or other metrics that have a direct impact on the business goals.
Objective: Build an SEO initiative that generates monthly demo request.
Key result:
SEO can be innovative. These OKRs may focus on innovating the SEO process or support the company’s innovation goals.
The objective below, although is not currently possible, is an example of how an SEO can work toward finding innovative solutions to showing company information when a customer is searching for it.
Objective: Optimize recipes for voice search on the home smart displays in the kitchen.
Key results:
An operational OKR focuses on the efficiency of daily operations and scalability.
Objective: Increase the scalability of the SEO program to drive traffic growth.
Key results:
Beyond these categories, you can also create OKRs for:
However, not all objectives are right for every business. The following steps will guide selecting the right objective and setting the correct KRs.
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Creating OKRs is a critical process that can significantly shape your organization’s strategic SEO direction and operational efficiency. The following steps will help you create your own set of OKRs.
The setup phase lays the groundwork for your link building OKRs. The setup should include, but is not limited to:
The output of this analysis is a list of proven SEO initiatives. Identify a range of proven SEO strategies and techniques, with a particular focus on link building, that you have the resources to implement.
Potential OKRs will become clear during research and testing, requiring iterations. Thus, establish some potential OKRs before step 2.
Once the setup is complete, it’s time to establish your link building OKRs:
With your OKRs defined, it’s time to put them into action:
The first time implementing an OKR, the viability and impact of the efforts may not live up to expectations. However, analyzing the initiatives during and after execution will certainly improve the OKR owner’s future planning.
Questions to ask during the post-mortem:
SEO OKRs form an effective framework to align SEO initiatives with overarching business objectives, offering clear, measurable goals and enhancing accountability. 
By embracing the OKR methodology, SEO work can become more strategic and consequential to business growth.
With a focus that could be strategic, growth-oriented, innovative, or operational, SEO OKRs can be tailored to suit your specific objectives. This guide provided a step-by-step approach to creating such OKRs, beginning with understanding business goals, and ecosystem analysis, to set the objectives, strategies, and key results.
Whether you meet your goals or not, remember that OKRs are a continual learning and progress tool. The insights gleaned can enhance your subsequent round of OKRs, facilitating constant improvement and impacting your business’s success.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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