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SEO, Reports and Keeping Up With the Jones’s

A lot of the SEOs I talk to hate reports. They hate receiving them, creating them, reading them, sending them ““ in fact, I’m beginning to think reporting is one of the least loved parts of optimization. Several of late have told me they even charge extra for anything more than a five second ranking print off.

Well, to each their own, I guess.

I’m not ashamed to say it ““ we (Level343, that is) actually like reports. Over the past years, we’ve found ways to create more comprehensive, yet more simplistic, reports to provide our clients and campaign co-producers.


Well, one, we do good work. We’re proud of it, and it gives us a chance to brag without being blatant about it. Another reason is that a good report gives clients a bird’s eye view of how their sites are doing, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. As well, building the reports gives us a chance to find things we might otherwise have missed. Generally, they’re small, nit-picky things, but every once in a while, we find gold mines for optimization and market targeting.

There’s only one problem”¦

Whatever software you use to create the reports has to work with your clients’ computers.

Staying Updated with Current Technology

We recently finished a large amount of work. Three sites, three different reports, and three different sets of data. Our SEO analyst and resident data freak, created these great reports with Excel ““ you see, she’d found the wonders of Excel dashboards, and decided to incorporate them into our reporting. Of course, it was a new thing to her, so it took a couple of days to create the templates and get it working like she wanted it to, but the finished product was nice. Except”¦


The big Mac/PC battle came up. I run Mac, she runs PC, and my Mac didn’t like her Excel coding. Turns out my version of Mac doesn’t like VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). After asking the client what they were running, we found out that the dashboards she’d spent so much time on wouldn’t work with their systems. Doh!

Not only that, but our campaign co-producers didn’t have anything PC, ran totally on Macs, and only had Adobe PDF available as a document processor. The only person who could see the entire dashboard and all its goodies was”¦ well, the one who created it. Double Doh!

She runs a PC with an XP OS; I run a Mac, and our clients run Macs. Unbeknownst to us, Mac 2007 Excel doesn’t accept VBA at all. In fact, it’s the one version that doesn’t.

The lesson here was a big one”¦

We often forget, as we race to be at the front line of online technology, to update the very systems we use to get the work done. We have a choice between a shiny new SEO toy or a computer upgrade and, invariably, we’ll jump for the tool. Who needs better hardware when you have all this great software out there? Besides”¦ most of it’s done online anymore, anyway”¦ right?

Well ““ if the sole worry is reporting, and most don’t even use reports, it’s no big loss. After all, the clients can tell by their growing pocket books whether your optimization work is doing its job or not. However, as technology gets faster and more advanced, you’ll soon start coming across ““ GASP ““ SEO tools you can’t use because they aren’t compatible with your jacked, glued, and duct taped system!

Warning Signs That You Need To Upgrade

How do you know if you need to quit buying tools, start buying basic equipment and adding software upgrades? Here are a few hints:

  • You’re seeing notices on sites that say, “Your browser is not supported. Please upgrade.”
  • Your hard drive sounds like a bad transmission every time your computer comes on
  • Your monitor is “best viewed” at 640×480
  • You’ve put duct tape on exposed electrical wires and called it good
  • You have to guess where the letters are on your keyboard because you’ve worn them all off
  • You get a warning about your creaky 1.0 USB every time you use a new flash drive
  • The manufacturer has stopped supporting your system files
  • You have to scan “cracked” sites to find an activation key
  • You have to find a converter to open a file from anyone else

Look”¦ I understand you love your machine. I understand that SEO tools can, quite often, be cheaper than a new system. I get it. ““BUT, the number one thing you have to keep in mind, especially if you’re scrambling to stay at the forefront of technology, is compatibility.

Your clients need to be able to open your files. You need to be able to open their files. If you’re on the cloud, you’ll need programs that work with the cloud to be able to share files with whatever client, customer, co-producer or anyone else that needs to see your files. In other words, you can only stay in the 90’s for so long before the 21st century catches up and smacks you in the face with “can’t do crap because my stuff’s too old” syndrome.

So, do yourself a favor”¦ next time you get a little money, check out the new systems. See what’s out there; find out what’s available for your budget. You’ll never regret it”¦ and your SEO reports (if you should choose to accept the mission of creating them) will never be left in the dust because of incompatibility issues. This post will now self destruct in 30 seconds”¦.



  1. Donna November 7, 2011

    You mention the cloud but only in a “sharing files” capacity. Maybe a better solution would be to create reports that clients view in the cloud itself. As long as they have a browser and internet connection, the reports will be available to them from anywhere and on any machine. Even MS Office has their apps available in the cloud now, though I don’t know if they have all the bells and whistles your report needs to run. In any case, seems like this is the way to move if you want run-anywhere compatibility.

  2. Doc November 8, 2011

    Uh… if I’m guilty of more than half of your upgrade hints, is that a bad sign, Gabs?

    Donna’s suggestion is a good one, IMO. Another viable option, since the reports were built in Office 2007, is to SAVE AS .pdf. 😉

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