Accurate and well-designed reporting is essential to any effective SEO program.
Well-designed reports provide management and other stakeholders with a clear picture of the value of your SEO efforts.
What’s more, accurate reports are essential to inform future actions.
Note that there are two items involved: Flour And Well designed.
Accurate reports not only contain the correct data, but they also display it accurately. They tell the real story without distortion.
Well-designed reports are immediately clear and understandable. Anyone looking at them should be able to quickly identify the takeaways.
How can you ensure accurate and well-designed reports are generated?
Start by avoiding the 7 common SEO reporting mistakes.
1. The belief that there is only one true measure of “X”
In its early days, Google provided the same simple search results (the legendary “ten blue links”) to all users entering the same query.
Of course, this has not been the case for a long time now.
For many queries, the results page is crowded with ads and many SERP features in and around organic web results.
Additionally, with the use of personalization via factors such as search history and geographic location, it is likely that no users will get the exact same results.
All of this means that a metric like a given keyword’s current ranking is a lot less certain than it used to be.
But search rankings aren’t the only metric that may not be as straightforward as we’d like to believe.
Another example related to SEO is search volume from Google Keyword Planner Tool.
While Google should have the most accurate volume numbers, a particular keyword metric may be inaccurate because Keyword Planner aggregates volume for similar keywords.
For example, Keyword Planner currently shows a search volume of 1.22 million for [shoes] This size displays for both [shoes] And [shoe’s].
However, clickstream data shows that the [shoe’s] Variant actually gets less than 100 searches per month.
There can also be differences in the way any metric is measured and reported by different tools or sources.
Any scale depends on the source’s (possibly limited) view of the universe of possible outcomes, as well as the particular formula the source uses to calculate the scale.
TreatmentBe aware of potential ambiguities or inaccuracies for many metrics and adjust accordingly.
Where possible, find a more accurate source of a metric, such as a tool that reports search volume based on clickstream data relying only on Google Keyword Planner numbers.
In many cases, it is better to look at trends in numbers over time than to focus on the exact resolution of a single event of scale.
And in most cases, the shape of the trend is fairly accurate, even if there is some variation in individual points.
2. Pay attention to the wrong scale
SEO experts tend to focus on ranking, believing that the ultimate measure of SEO success is more keywords in top positions.
This is based on data from several studies showing a simple inverse hockey stick curve for CTR as a function of ranking position.
In these studies, first placement takes in a large percentage of clicks, and the amount decays rapidly the further you move down the SERP page.
And aside from that some recent studies using larger and more diverse data sources show that the curve may not be as steep as we assumed (and low placements may actually get a small “bump”), the important counter to this thinking is that higher rankings and more clicks It doesn’t always mean actual business goals.
The most important metrics might be the traffic from organic search and the keywords that drive that traffic.
It’s not all that rare, when a customer experiences a sudden drop in their overall ranking – perhaps after an algorithm update – we find on digging deeper that their traffic hasn’t been affected much at all, or that it’s gone up at times.
What happened in those cases was that the keywords that were dropped weren’t really responsible for driving most of the traffic to the site.
A step beyond traffic as a more important metric that takes us to the numbers that actually impact the bottom line of our business, things like conversions and leads generated.
TreatmentAlign KPIs in your reports to emphasize the ones that really have the biggest impact on your business bottom line.
3. Ignore metrics that could be important
While it’s important to identify accurate metrics and report on the ones that really matter, it’s still possible that you’ve overlooked some data that can make a difference.
An example of an SEO is reporting your visibility with some SERP features, funky results that can still send you traffic.
Do you know how often and what keywords appear in the ‘featured snippet’ or ‘ask people too’ box?
Do you know how often your competitors did?
If you don’t, you may be missing out on an SEO tactic worth pursuing (or at least being able to tell if it’s not worth your time).
TreatmentFirst, see if there are any metrics that could be important to you but aren’t showing up in your current reports.
If you find any, find a tool or data source that might be able to show you these metrics.
4. Not assigning reports to recipients
If you wanted to teach a child a moral lesson, would you hand him a copy of The Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals?
of course not. Perhaps you have read them a fairy tale or fairy tale.
Likewise, you need to customize your SEO reports for each target audience.
Speaking of superstitions, the old story of several blindfolded people examining an elephant from different sides is instructive here.
In the original script, the point was their impression of what an elephant would deviate from which part was within their reach.
But for our purposes, the moral of the story is that each stakeholder only cares about his part of the elephant.
The CMO may want to know how much exposure organic search is providing your brand with, or where the competition is winning.
The CEO or CFO wants to know how much they contribute to the revenue goals.
Product managers want to know which of their products is getting the most search attention, and what people who are searching for their products are also looking for.
Treatment: First, identify who each report is and what they are interested in.
Then use filtering and segmentation to create personalized reports that narrow down the specific interests of the report’s target audience.
See “11 Amazing SEO Data Visualizations To Inspire Your Reporting” for more information.
5. Not linking results to goals
Any good storyteller knows you don’t jump to conclusion.
The end of a story is only meaningful and satisfying if it results from a logical sequence of events that can be traced back to the beginning.
For your reports assigned to eyes other than yours, you need to track a similar story.
The goal of these external reports is to show the value created by your SEO efforts.
If you only report results, even if the results are good, the recipient won’t have a reason to necessarily associate them with your efforts.
Treatment: Make sure that every KPI you report is related to something you’ve done intentionally to achieve that outcome, whether it’s technical fixes, new content, a change in strategy, or something else.
At my company, we teach our clients to use header dashboards not with an outcome metric (like “fourth quarter traffic”) but instead with the goal they associate with (so maybe it’s “visits from a sweater content center project”).
6. Fail to include mitigating circumstances
This is really just a facet of error #5.
By “extenuating circumstances” I mean lame excuses.
not seriously; This means excluding relevant annotations and interpretations of external conditions that might have affected the results shown.
This can include announced algorithm updates, seasonality, server crashes, and more.
These are not intended to be excuses (if the scale is off) or to minimize your efforts (if the scale is high), but rather to give a clear picture of why the data is trending the way it is.
TreatmentAnnotate relevant events along trend lines and/or include narrative explanations so that report recipients have a clear picture of everything that may have affected the outcome.
7. You forgot to include insights, not just data
Raw data means little.
Interpreted data continues.
Always keep in mind that in many cases the intended recipients of your reports are not SEO professionals.
They do not live in our world.
For us, raw SEO data creates a picture like a mouse seeing the lady in red while looking at streaming Matrix code.
But for others, it’s just numbers.
Treatment: Be sure to add interpretation to your data presentations. Explain why the data is important, what it really shows, and how it affects goals, or future actions it requires.
The main task here is to change your reports from just another duty that you are required to perform into a valuable announcer of the value your SEO efforts bring to your organization.
To do this, think like a good storyteller, craft your plot and characters (data) for the target audience in each report.
- The 3 Types of SEO Reports You Should Build Right Now
- 18 More SEO Issues That Cause Low Search Rankings And Traffic
- SEO status report
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