If you’re handling search engine optimization (SEO) for a variety of clients, then you should know that they’ll be expecting to see SEO reports that justify their investment in your services. You’ll not only need to provide them with key performance indicators (KPI), but you’ll also need to make it easy for them to get at useful information. I’ve taught analytics for years now and spent hundreds of hours in SEO reports. The truth is, there are so many ways to slice and dice data, it can get overwhelming. In this post, we look at the SEO reports that matter.
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Here’s what your clients expect to see in SEO reporting.
Clean Dashboards for Quick Info
Your clients are like you in this respect: They’re busy. They want quick, easy access to important data that will show them the success of your efforts.
Dashboards are, effectively, the “executive summary” of your reporting. They give an overall, succinct view of how your SEO efforts are generating a positive return on investment (ROI) for your clients.
Ideally, you’re going to want to offer dashboards that are not only easily accessible, but also configurable. You may have clients that are more interested in monthly growth than annual growth. You may have clients that are more interested in which articles are getting the most hits rather than where those hits are coming from. Follow the old maxim that “the customer is always right” and give your clients a dashboard that’s tailor-fit to their specific needs.
Your clients should be seeing an increase in traffic over time as a result of your work. That’s why it’s important to show them a report demonstrating year-over-year (YOY) growth.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to you that many businesses set budgets on an annual basis. That’s why the YOY metric is so important. Your clients can look at it and, if they see that your SEO efforts are bearing fruit, they’ll increase the budget for the following year. That’s a win for everybody.
Generally, if there are no major technical issues, penalties or algorithm updates SEO companies should be able to achieve this.
Even though YOY growth is important, month-over-month (MOM) growth is also important. That’s because people are impatient by nature. Your clients will want to see that your efforts are giving them some immediate return. A good MOM report will, hopefully, show them that there is constant growth throughout the year. Just keep in mind to account for seasonality.
Increase Ranking for Top Terms
Your SEO services are, in large part, meant to get your clients to the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) so that their links are more likely to be clicked. You should provide them a report that shows how you’ve fared over time.
If you were tasked with ranking “XYZ Widgets” in February, for example, and found that you got that keyword up to Page 7 on the SERP rankings in March, then you’re going to want to show that client how you’ve improved since March. A report that shows your clients that the keyword moved to Page 5 in April and Page 4 in May is something that demonstrates to your client that you’re making progress.
Overall Keyword Growth
If you were tasked with ranking a specific keyword, then you’re sharp enough to know that there are related keywords that you should rank for as well. In fact, in some cases, the related keywords might be easier to rank (in terms of competitiveness) and/or better for your client (in terms of the number of monthly searches) than the keyword you were tasked with ranking.
That’s why you should offer up a report that shows how many related keywords you’ve ranked for your client during your SEO stint. You’ll show them that you’re making an online impact.
Any good SEO company will set up goals and/or eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics. The type of goal of course depends on the type of website. Your client or boss is going to want to see how many goal SEO traffic is driving.
Earned High Quality Links
Everybody wants a link on Wikipedia. Unfortunately, not everybody is going to get one.
However, you might have earned links to your clients’ sites on high-profile online properties. You should highlight that in your reports so that they can see that you’re getting the job done, even if the SERP rankings or the inbound traffic doesn’t quite reach expectations.
Growth of Social Media Communities
If you are doing SEO right, you also focus your online efforts on social media to give your clients wider exposure online. Your reports should showcase how much their collective following has increased on various social media channels since you’ve been working for them.
Growth of Social Media Engagements
With great followings comes a great number of engagements. You should also provide a report to your clients showing that their social media venues are yielding more and more engagements over time. Highlight the number of retweets, comments, favorites, and likes that they’re receiving as a result of securing your assistance in their digital marketing efforts.
Number of Indexed Pages in Webmasters Tools
That tool offers a “Google Index” section that will show you the number of pages indexed for a specific site. That number should grow over time and you should present a report to your clients demonstrating that growth. Keep in mind, Webmaster Tools can be a little buggy, so don’t freak out if you see any shot term changes.
Mobile Traffic Growth
If you’re not paying attention to mobile traffic, then you’ve already lost. The fact of the matter is that mobile technology is going nowhere but up, and your SEO efforts should reflect that.
You should present to your clients a report that shows how your services are reaching people who are using smartphones, tablets, and tablets. That way, they can see their competitive advantage over their peers who aren’t paying attention to the mobile space.
Conversion Rates on Mobile vs. Desktop
You might have thought that conversion rates would be a no-brainer for inclusion in a report, and you’d be right. However, you should also supply your clients with conversion rates specific to different platforms.
If your clients are converting at a much lower rate on mobile devices versus desktops and laptops, then it’s likely that there’s a very good reason for it. Is the user interface too difficult to follow on a smartphone? Is there an image that doesn’t appear where it’s supposed to on a tablet, leaving potential customers confused about navigation?
That kind of report is invaluable for uncovering platform-specific issues.
Conversion Rates on a Template-by-Template Basis
A template-by-template conversion report is another great way to find out what’s working. If you see a significant spike in conversions for one particular template, find out why it’s working so well. Modern day SEO and CRO is all about using the right templates…
Number of Optimized Pages
It may be that you were hired to work on a website that already had hundreds or thousands of pages. Your client knew you had your work cut out for you going into the effort, but will still want to see a report highlighting the fact that you’re making progress.
The report should show many pages you’ve optimized versus the number of pages that are still untouched. Obviously, the former number should grow over time while the latter number shrinks. That will let your client know that you’re making a continuing effort to improve the website.
Total Work Completed for the Time Period
What, exactly, did you do during the last month? The last quarter? Did you add three articles with new keywords? Did you optimize seven additional pages? Did you produce articles for other sites and offer up backlinks?
Create a detailed report that shows exactly what you’ve done. Use clickable links wherever possible if you’ve secured mentions.
Click-Through Rate for Top Pages in SERPs
Your client will want to see what kind of click-through rate (CTR) you’re getting on those pages that you’ve managed to rank towards the top. After all, a high ranking means nothing if nobody is clicking on the link, right?
This is another area where Google Webmaster can help. That tool will not only show you the average rank of specific keywords, but also the CTR for each of those keywords as well.
Traffic by Location
Your client has a lot of new traffic thanks to your SEO efforts. That’s great, but where is it coming from?
Give your client a report that shows the top locations of inbound traffic. That kind of information can be valuable for market segmentation down the road.
International Keyword Search
Show your client that you’re getting results from all over the world with a report that details the various countries where keywords show up in the SERP rankings and their respective CTRs.
Traffic and Keyword Growth for Translated Pages
When you are ready, one of the best things you can do in SEO is translate your website into new languages and get those pages ranked. It can litterally double your business or more. If you do this for a client, they will want to see the keyword growth and traffic for those new sections as part of your SEO reporting.
Were there any SEO reports I missed? Comment below.
SEO Reporting FAQ
1. What Are Some of the Best SEO Reporting Tools?
If you want to produce high-quality reports, you’ll need to enlist the aid of one or more tools. Here are a few of the best:
- SEMRush – Allows you to create custom reports with drag-and-drop features. Beyond that, you can produce out-of-the-box reports about keyword rankings and on-page SEO.
- Majestic SEO – If you want to show your clients who’s linking back to their websites, Majestic has you covered. The service uses one of the largest link indexes in the world.
- Raven Tools – “The Best SEO Tools & White Label Marketing Reports.” That’s the promise of Raven Tools, a suite of applications that makes it easy to show clients what your SEO strategy is doing for them.
2. Can I Produce Branded SEO Reports?
Yes. Most of the services that offer SEO tools also allow you to create branded reports.
If you’re browsing through an SEO service website and notice that it advertises “white label reports,” that means you can brand those reports. The “white label” is essentially an empty spot where you can include your company name and logo.
Keep in mind: with some tools, you’ll need to go beyond the cheapest level of service to gain access to white label reporting. Otherwise, you’ll get a report that uses the logo associated with the tool.
Stay away from services that don’t offer white label reporting if you want to produce branded reports.
3. How Do I Handle Local SEO Reporting?
Here are some tips for producing local SEO reports:
- Include location-specific keywords – Make sure that your keyword reports include relevant location names. For example: “Dentist in Columbus” or “Raleigh plumber.”
- Focus on devices – Lots of people who perform a local search are doing so with a mobile device. Make sure your reporting includes a breakdown of reach by device.
- Local pack appearance – You’ll want your clients to know how often their listing appears in the local pack. Make sure your reporting includes that info.