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Building Quality SEO Reports
Written by Brian Harnish
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 12:30

Building monthly reports is part of the job description of being an SEO. This is our chance to let our abilities shine. Sometimes this can be our chance to fix things that were not working in the first place.

Providing this kind of information to clients and our bosses helps build trust, loyalty, and hopefully results that keep a client continuing to use us year after year. Obviously, there are a number of elements that go into building a report that includes actionable items that your boss will want to take into consideration when making decisions about where to go next in the development of a website marketing plan.

While actionable items are numerous to mention and discuss, let’s talk about some items that provide interesting insight into your SEO activities.

seo reports missing something?

1. Rankings

Rankings are great, if you can get and keep the website pages at #1 for their targeted keywords, month after month, and year after year. If you’re not able to do that, you might want to read up on the basics of SEO.

Rankings are one of the most basic reports that a client can see and is one of the reports that they will recognize right off the bat. If you can show them rankings increases since they have purchased your package, and show them how to build upon them with solid keyword research and other SEO techniques, then you have shown them things that many others who may call themselves SEOs have not.

Rankings can also tell you what is and isn’t working. Have you been focusing 100% on building links and a page is still staying steady with no increase in rankings or traffic? Then this can point to the types and quality of links you are going after. Or Google just hasn’t caught up yet. Using rankings as your benchmark during the next several months can show you how your link building is progressing and how Google is valuing those links.

When the report shows a rankings increase, you can say that your links are providing the value that’s necessary to gain an edge over the competition. When the report is stagnant, then you have a problem. You’re either not building enough links to gain that edge with the keywords you’re targeting or the links you’re going after are not of high enough quality.

So now the rankings report can give you insight into how your link building is going. If you change strategies and your link building is not providing more momentum, then it’s possible your page may need more content, or your entire website structure needs to be overhauled. You will need to adjust your SEO strategy from item to item and from off site to on site as your SEO campaign progresses so that you can see the rankings increases your boss expects.

While I know some SEOs hate ranking reports, I love them. They provide a window into how well your site is doing. My boss loves them as well – he loves seeing our website at #1 - #5 for the well over 100 keywords we are targeting.

2. Analytics

You do have Google analytics (or some other website analytics software) on your website right? Website analytics are so important. They can tell you way more about your SEO efforts than rankings can, and can often provide insight into specific numbers that point to different SEO strategies.

Using these insights, you can then focus on the changes that will be necessary in order to increase conversions on existing traffic. Do you have a high bounce rate? Perhaps you don’t have enough quality content. Or, you don’t have enough of an engaging design for your audience. Maybe you don’t have any calls to action on your site at all? (SHAME on you!)

Or, you may not have the appropriate website structure that reduces the time someone takes to find something on your site. Or, your products pages are far too numerous. There are many, many reasons why you may have a high bounce rate. In order to zero in on what may be causing the bounce rate you’re experiencing, you need to see which changes you make to the website that can cause a decrease in your bounce rate.

But, correlation is not ALWAYS causation. There are situations where you may be publishing the same amount of content, your calls to action are just right, and all of the elements of your website are correct for your market. But, you’re just not getting the conversions you desire. Usually these can be attributed to the various moods and buying habits of your customers and your target market, which can be different from one day to the next, and one month to the next.

Or you just didn’t add in the correct content at the right time. It happens – you can’t always be everything to everybody. But you can be a lot to the traffic you want to convert that matters.

3. Conversion Reports

These are the heart of SEO reports that build upon quality SEO strategies. The end goal of any SEO is real conversion for the client. Not higher rankings, not higher traffic. If you’re delivering on rankings and traffic, but you’re not converting – how is that going to make your client or boss happy?

You need to deliver rankings and traffic that also delivers on results – improving your boss’s bottom line – which is why we are pursuing higher rankings and higher traffic in the first place. Just generating traffic isn’t enough. Conversion reports are fun – they can help provide insight into what content and link building strategies are working for the website and for the market.

Are you focusing more on specific cities or product specific keywords? These conversions can tell you how well each particular keyword is converting. Maybe you need to overhaul your SEO strategy and get rid of a geographic area that isn’t delivering much value, even after a year of SEO efforts.

If so, then conversion reports can also tell you this. We use conversion reports that include information on the number of calls we’re getting, which site(s) they are coming from, and the number of form inquiries we are getting, along with which sites(s) the form inquiries are coming from. If we’re getting quality calls and form submissions that will turn into cases, then we know we’re doing something right. If we’re getting calls and form submissions that are not really converting, then that tells us that a content strategy may not be working.

You will need to determine the appropriate conversion rates for the market of the websites you’re working on, so that you can establish a baseline of where to go from there. After several months of SEO efforts, you can then take a look at these conversions and see where you need improvement, and what adjustments you need to make to your overall SEO strategy.

4. Design Considerations

Other elements of analytics can point to design considerations that will increase conversions. Do you need to:

  • change the colors of your website to something more pleasing?
  • change the colors of the calls to action on your website so that visitors will click on them and accomplish the goals you want them to?
  • re-brand your website into something that is more in line with what people within your market are expecting?

What about social and user engagement? If social and user engagement isn’t high, then you may not be doing something that everyone else is. Do you have plenty of opportunity for people to share your content? Do you have plenty of social buttons linking to appropriate social networks for this to happen? If not, then you will absolutely want to use these items in order to provide yet another way for people to spread your content around.

Leverage your knowledge of social media and design in order to help turn say a high bounce rate into a lower bounce rate and increase the engagement of your customers. This is what will help customers develop a desire to want to buy from you – not just a random page online with meaningless content strung together by an automated content spinner.

5. Traffic sources

Traffic sources and referral traffic can be signs of where your traffic is coming from and how high quality your traffic IS. Examining these sources in greater detail will enable you to build an action plan to help revise your link building strategy. Are there very few clients coming from several traffic sources? You may need to find links from more credible, higher authority sites with greater readership.

Have you been building links but finding traffic to be coming from a single source (perhaps 13,000 visits in a month from a single source)? They may be valuable and then, they may not be valuable. It depends on the market you’re after.

The traffic generated may be coming from a site that was talking about a specific program you’re offering to a certain section of their customers, and that’s why they are coming to your website in droves. If you want to solve this, then you can build better quality links that come from better quality traffic sources so you can see 5,000 quality visitors coming from 10-15 websites, rather than 13,000 visits from one site.

It’s easier said than done, however. We have a strategy to engage these users in a scholarship program. While that’s not our ideal target for clients, it is a way we help brand recognition and provide contributions back to the community. Community outreach is also important in helping to develop better brand recognition.

There are many different traffic sources that can impact your link building decisions. So choose wisely – you don’t want to be in a situation where you have a ton of traffic, but there is nothing the users coming to your site can do. Or there is no user engagement. So make sure that your pages are prepared enough to handle converting such a large amount of traffic.

Whether you’re building a website marketing campaign that targets a particular group of customers, or you want to go after the entire market, it is important to take into consideration a number of these preceding elements so that you can continue making changes as your analytics dictate. If your rankings are dropping for a particular niche, and you have been focusing on content, perhaps it’s time to beef up your content to better, higher quality content.

Or, your links may need to be updated and improved. If you have been focusing on link building and still see rankings dropping, perhaps you’re not going after the higher quality, and higher quantity links.

That is why building actionable reports is so essential – you want to provide evidence that your strategies are working and impress your boss. You also want to ensure that you’re not going after SEO strategies that don’t work at all for a niche you’re focusing on. Either way, SEO reports are a cornerstone of SEO efforts and can be a part of the success (or failure) of your SEO campaigns.

There are so many considerations that go into building reports that your boss will enjoy, and hopefully he or she will agree with you on the changes that you need to make in order to be successful.

The trick is to ensure that your reports are tailored to your boss’s (and clients’) language, and that you can provide items that will help them see what your efforts are doing for their website. If you can show that your efforts are producing significant return on investment, along with building quality traffic that converts, you’re already way ahead of the game.

This is what your boss will be looking for and what they want to see when reading the monthly reports that your efforts are generating.

Do you want to see Brian speak at SMX Toronto on 'Building Actionable SEO Reports Your Boss Will Love'? What are you waiting for? Head on over there and check it out when you have a moment. We would love to see you there!

Brian Harnish -

Building websites his Brian Harnish's passion. He's been building websites since he taught himself HTML and took a college Photoshop class to create the graphics in the summer of 1998 when he built his first real website. He thoroughly enjoys reading almost anything and everything he can get his hands on regarding SEO, search marketing, as well as web design & development.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 13:03
 

Comments  

 
0 #1 Darren 2012-04-15 14:32
thanks for the post brian- very comprehensive. My company was looking for some easy to understand seo reports recently and we came across a company called rankranger. been using them since then and are more than satisfied. Thought you might want to check them out
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