If you’re responsible for reporting on SEO performance to stakeholders, it can be really tricky to find the right balance of what to include.
One of the great things about SEO is that so much of it is trackable and can be reported on; but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!
There are several traps that are easy to fall into when it comes to SEO reports which can end up wasting time, resource and being bad for team morale if no one wants to read your report – so deciding on the right elements to include is really important and can help not only show the value of your SEO strategy to the business, but also help get better ‘buy-in’ from stakeholders for future SEO ideas and plans.
There will always be some variation in what is best to include in SEO reports, depending on the nature of your business, the SEO strategy that you’re implementing and what matters to the wider business, which can make this a tricky area to pin down.
In this article, we look at some of the common issues with reporting on SEO, how to tailor an SEO report for your specific needs and how to ensure that your SEO reports communicate the most important information to stakeholders.
What should an SEO report achieve?
The purpose of an SEO report is ultimately to summarise the important metrics that show the impact of your activity on the business.
It shouldn’t just regurgitate data that can easily be found on analytics platforms, it needs to provide meaningful context and insight that ties performance to specific activities and the effect it’s having on business results.
Common problems with using a complicated SEO report template
Many people tasked with reporting on SEO start off with a report template that they’ve either used before or have grabbed online from someone else.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using an existing report template as a starting point but it’s important to be aware of some of the common pitfalls of sticking to someone else’s roadmap for your SEO reporting. These can include:
- The more time you spend reporting on SEO, the less time you have to actually implement your SEO strategy, but you need the reports to provide info channel performance/value and genuine learnings that help shape your future activity, so you do need a certain level of depth
- Complex or overly-detailed reports can be confusing or simply superfluous to requirements – who is going to read it and why? What should they be taking away from it?
- The focus can be split over too many areas, rather than what directly affects the business objectives driving SEO in the first place
- Metrics that matter to one business will be meaningless or even distracting to another
- Too much data, with not enough explanation and insight given – why do these things matter and what difference do they make to the business?
We would recommend asking yourself the below questions when putting a report template together to ensure that the metrics and KPIs you include are right for your specific business and the audience of the report.
Questions to ask when pulling an SEO report together
- What SEO activities have you undertaken in the reporting period covered by the report? Do these activities need any further explanation to your stakeholders?
- What is the impact of these activities so far on organic results? Is the most useful way to show progress by presenting the results MoM, YoY, YTD or all?
- What is the best way to illustrate these results for your report’s specific audience? Graphs? Charts? % stats? What will they find easiest to scan and understand?
- What commentary/insight needs to be presented alongside the results for the proper context to be understood?
- Where do things at the end of this reporting period stand in relation to your overall goals/forecast?
- What longer-term results do you expect to see from the completed activity?
- Is there past activity that is now starting to show results too?
- What SEO learnings have there been in this reporting period?
- What SEO activity is next and why?
Should you include a keyword ranking report in your SEO reporting?
Keyword ranking reports can be contentious when it comes to whether they should be included in SEO reports or not.
Having a bunch of target terms in the top positions in SERPs could be considered ‘success’ in some ways, but can you measure and report on the specific impact that this has had on the business targets and objectives?
Ranking well is great, but it’s attracting relevant organic traffic (that converts) to your website that really matters to the business, so it makes sense that this is what you should focus most attention on in your reporting.
Only you can decide if ranking reports are important to your stakeholders and whether ranking info should therefore be included in your wider SEO report, but our advice is to keep it as simple and top-line as possible, when needed at all.
Which key metrics should be included in SEO analytics reports?
There are generally several data sources used in SEO reports because there sadly isn’t a single tool or platform that can give you everything you need.
There are usually site performance metrics pulled from Google Analytics (or an alternative analytics platform), along with Google Search Console data and often a third-party tool that can easily report on areas of the SEO strategy such as growth in backlinks and website authority/rating.
The key metrics to use when it comes to analytics data will vary, depending on the specifics of your business, the SEO strategy you’re implementing and what the overall goals are, but will often include areas such as:
- Organic traffic information, such as users, new users, sessions, page views, bounce rate, average time on page, conversions and conversion rate (and how these last four compare with traffic from other channels). This summarises channel growth and how the audience coming from SERPs are engaging with the site and your business.
- You may also want to report on conversions that were assisted by the organic channel.
- If you’re an ecommerce brand then you will usually want to include enhanced ecommerce data in relation to organic performance too, such as the top products/categories sold via organic and the average basket size in comparison with other channels.
- Top landing pages and top converting pages, as well as looking at the most common exit pages to investigate why people might be leaving the site at that point.
Other important metrics to include in SEO reports
Using Google Search Console, you can report on data such as the impressions and clicks that certain keywords and pages are achieving, highlighting increases in SERP visibility over time.
Using a third party backlink tool, such as those from SEMrush or Ahrefs, can help you report on elements of your SEO strategy such as digital PR or other link building activity, but it’s important whenever possible to tie this back to tangible SEO results, such as organic visibility improvements on keywords used for anchor text in links gained, as well as correlating with things such as increases in domain authority.
The most important rule of thumb when it comes to SEO reports is to ask yourself what the stakeholders are interested in and what is going to be the most meaningful for them, as this will help ensure that you only include the most useful information and don’t spend time working on areas that aren’t going to be of value.
Bringing everything back to the business’ objectives and the difference that the SEO strategy is making to these should always be the major focus of reports, to help highlight the value and ROI that this channel is bringing.
If you’d like to speak to our SEO team about how we can help your business, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch using the form below.