None of us have likely become an SEO for the love of reporting, in fact, it’s among the least preferred tasks for many SEOs based on a survey I ran a while back.
However, decision-makers care a lot about reporting since it’s how we communicate and they analyse the SEO process investment and overall performance. In reality, the success of SEO reports might wind up being the difference between being fired rather than additional SEO help or a raise by decision-makers.
Despite this, many SEO reports are faulty since they’re only a mix of dashboards produced using programmes incorporating SEO analytics. I inquired via Twitter and 41 percent of SEOs who replied stated to just utilise a dashboard with data for SEO reporting.
Data from our SEO dashboards can be used in reports but they can’t replace them as a whole: an SEO dashboard is a visualisation resource that provides the most essential, newest status of all metrics we want to follow up from our SEO process, to conveniently monitor its development at any moment.
On the other hand, an SEO report is a document including a collection of key performance indicators from a given time period together with an analysis and conclusions, to be used for periodic examination and evaluation of the SEO process towards the attainment of its objectives.
Using just automatic SEO dashboards as reports might end up damaging more than helping. They are loaded with material that the audience – frequently non-technical stakeholders or decision-makers – won’t comprehend or care about, with no prioritisation, insights, analysis, or consequence actions. This merely produces more questions than offering solutions.
Even customised SEO dashboards can’t meet all SEO reporting aims – particularly taking into account that a high percentage SEOs don’t always publish their reports which are the following:
- Communicate SEO results: The SEO process progress towards the specified objectives (what has been accomplished vs. what was expected?)
- Explain the reason of SEO results: Why the various regions are or aren’t progressing as predicted.
- Drive steps to obtain SEO results: Establish SEO-related actions and seek help for the following steps to attain targets.
- The largest barrier to producing tailored SEO reports is driven by scheduling limits as we tend to feel the urge to generate reports rapidly to get back to “SEO execution,” yet SEO reporting is also in most instances simply a monthly effort also.
Ready to assist efficiently handle your SEO reporting objectives while speeding the process? Here are three guidelines to follow.
Limit yourself to using just useful KPIs that effectively convey your outcomes.
Reduce the amount of background noise and uncertainty with the data that you offer in SEO reports.
You should avoid utilising proprietary metrics that are tough to understand since they are unreliable and challenging to correlate with your real SEO objectives.
You shouldn’t include everything you track in your reports either; instead, focus on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that demonstrate how far you’ve come toward achieving the SEO objectives that your audience cares about.
Because of this, the key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be included in each scenario should be customised according to the audience profile and interests: the SEO-related goals that the CEO and CMO care about will be different (for example, SEO activities ROI, revenue, and organic search market share) than those that the head of SEO is interested in following up with (eg. SEO activities ROI, revenue and organic search market share along with other more technical related ones like non-branded commercial search traffic growth, top-ranked targeted queries, key pages crawlability and indexability, etc.).
Because of this, the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are used in the reports that are aimed at the former will be different from those that are aimed at the latter, as will the metrics that are used to generate them.
To assist you in selecting relevant KPIs to include in your SEO reports, the following processes and criteria have been provided:
To begin, choose the audience for your SEO reports by answering the question: “Who will you report to?” Questions about the development of the SEO strategy will vary according to the audience being addressed.
Ask each stakeholder what information they want to be notified of on the success of SEO objectives. Check to see that these are in fact the objectives that have been defined for the SEO process, and that there are really activities that need to be carried out that are tied to the accomplishment of these goals.
These should be “SMARTER” SEO goals, which integrate SEO activities with business objectives and are explicit, quantifiable, achievable, relevant, time-bound, assessed, and reviewed. Depending on the function of the stakeholder, they may either be business-oriented or connected to operations:
Conclude which questions on the progress of the objectives should be addressed by the SEO reports. When you have the answers to these questions, it will be much simpler for you to determine the KPIs that need to be reported, as well as the metrics that need to be obtained and measured in order to compute the KPIs.
If you are unable to generate relevant measures, compute key performance indicators (KPIs), or answer queries on goal progress, then the objective may not be a SMARTER one.
Ensure that the sources of the metrics’ data are trustworthy and that stakeholders have faith in them. Additionally, build a couple of techniques to obtain the same data so that you can check for consistency. If it is impossible to verify the accuracy of some key performance indicators (KPIs), ensure the precision instead (its consistency over time).
Confirm the extent, frequency, and manner in which the SEO report will be presented, and make sure that you select a medium that makes its consumption easier (Google Slides, Google Docs, etc.). In order to prevent reporting that is needlessly too frequent, it is important to set expectations about time. For example, there is no use in completing weekly reports if there won’t be major changes during this period owing to the nature of SEO and the frequency of releases.
You now have the information you need to begin gathering data and putting together SEO reports using just the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to each audience and their comprehension metrics. The following is a Google sheet version of the SEO report Planner, which may help streamline this process even further by making use of useful KPIs:
Ensure that key performance indicators are presented in a transparent manner to promote comprehension of progress
Your SEO reports KPI presentation efforts shouldn’t be focused on “building a lovely paper with attractive graphics,” but rather on fulfilling SEO reporting communication objectives and making the highlighted data simple to grasp.
When compared to a complex time series, a straightforward scorecard may often make it much easier to comprehend whether or not certain objectives have been fulfilled.
When deciding how to highlight your key performance indicators (KPIs), it is critical to adhere to particular data presentation and visualisation best practises. Here are some examples:
Determine which style of data visualisation is most suitable for each key performance indicator by asking a series of questions, such as those outlined here and here; the most essential of these questions are as follows:
- What kind of a narrative are you hoping to tell with these numbers?
- Who will you disclose your findings to when they are complete?
- How many data categories do you have, as well as how many points?
- Should you show the values in comparison to other groups or across time?
Try answering each question about the KPI goal’s progress with the use of actual data and see if you can.
In order to avoid confounding the audience, just communicate the most important KPI in each graphic.
Take out any superfluous embellishments and chart information that won’t assist you in providing a response to the relevant KPI objective question.
In order to create confidence and get rid of any possible questions, you should include the necessary data source to each graphic.
Always use clear and obvious labelling for the chart parts in order to assist quick comprehension.
To make it easier to convey a narrative, include the question that needs to be answered next to each key performance indicator in the chart’s title.
Make strategic use of colour to make it easier to comprehend how KPIs are progressing.
You may make your decision-making process more efficient by using the following checklist for clear data presentation in KPIs, which was created in Google Sheets:
Utilize narratives based on facts to not only explain but also motivate your audience to take action with your SEO reports.
Storytelling based on data develops captivating tales that help audiences comprehend your data analysis and motivate them to take action based on that study.
According to the information provided by PPCexpo, stories capture people’s attention and allow them to keep it for longer periods of time; figures, on the other hand, may get tedious very soon; and tales provide insights with more clarity. As a direct result of this, the use of storytelling should be able to assist in effectively communicating the significance of the data that is being shown.
Nevertheless, while using storytelling, it is of the utmost importance to avoid distorting the material and arriving at incorrect conclusions based on it.
For this reason, it is strongly advised to steer clear of cherry-picking data and to avoid altering scale. Always provide the whole picture by providing the complete visual context and ensuring that both the visuals and the language are consistent throughout the report.
Storytelling in SEO reports should explain the facts and motivate readers to take action, but they should not mislead. Even if the outcomes are not satisfactory, you cannot risk losing people’s faith in any other way.
To do this, you should create an engaging story for each KPI using the three-act format and ask yourself the following questions:
- What transpired is the question here. Taking into consideration the audience, provide a description of “what occurred” with each KPI outcome in comparison to the planned objective progress.
- Why did the conflict arise in the first place? Explain the reasoning behind the conclusion, whether it was a favourable or bad one, and provide a description of the factors that led to it.
How should we go forward with this resolution? Given the existing findings, what steps should be taken next to make progress toward the objective that has been set? Review the most highly suggested courses of action.
The following steps should be taken to correctly organise your SEO report:
- Include a page or slide for each KPI, structuring the pages such that they start with the KPIs that the audience considers to be the most significant.
- Include in the final document a data appendix with further information that may be referred to from the KPIs sections.
- Include an executive summary at the beginning of the report, outlining the most important KPI outcomes and actions: It need to be succinct while also include sufficient material to function as a summary of the report on its own.
- It is essential to keep in mind that there is no substitute for delivering the SEO report oneself in order to increase one’s comprehension of it and get input on how to do it better.
Reporting on SEO activity is essential to achieve success with SEO, and you should give it the importance it deserves. I have high hopes that these fundamentals, standards, and models will be of use to you in your endeavour, just as they have been to me.