Enterprise SEO can seem slow, expensive, and overworked. This is especially true in reporting, where workflows and deliverables can be broadly detailed and detailed.
Whether you do physical reporting or have online reports, dashboards, or presentations, there’s a lot to talk about.
As SEO specialists, we’re never short of metrics, segments, and ways to fill paper – or web pages – from data.
We have a tendency to throw the kitchen sink in there to justify our efforts, explain the complexity of SEO, and get a boost.
And despite our best efforts, many of us make reporting mistakes that can really hamper our organization’s SEO strategy and how it’s perceived by others.
In this article, you’ll learn more about nine common SEO reporting mistakes that devalue your data and eliminate important opportunities that you should use reporting as a positive way to enhance your overall strategy and efforts.
And most importantly, you will learn how to solve and avoid them as well.
1. Misalignment with KPIs and broader goals
Many of my articles start with goals, because without them, your SEO can get off track right from the start.
Even worse, your SEO may be doing extra work that isn’t necessary or should be eliminated anyway.
Investing in any area without clear goals or an understanding of how to drive your SEO efforts toward ultimate marketing or business goals sets you and your team up for failure.
Enterprise SEO can include reporting to a lot of different types of stakeholders. Technical and on-page updates can be slow – especially if you need to post new content.
Many clients, managers, and executives don’t know or care about the ins and outs of SEO.
They care what drives. What you need to strive for goals they understand and want to connect these dots from the start.
solutionSpend time with the SEO and with other channels or stakeholders to identify specific KPIs that relate to broader business goals.
2. It lacks baselines and standards
Most reports compare one time frame to another.
Even with comparisons in place, stakeholders often ask, “Is this OK?” The context in which we started and the impact that specific improvements had had is essential.
This means that you need to find meaningful benchmarks for comparison in your reports.
Whether that means year-to-date compared to the same time frame from the previous year, or month-by-month, you have a reason for it.
Know for sure what the data shows in terms of trends and performance for your organization – and how it compares to the overall market.
SEO reports and data are meaningless if they are in a vacuum and lack context.
Is 1000% traffic growth good? Could. But was it bad in the beginning and are we still below the industry average? Not impressive.
solutionWork with key stakeholders to gain agreement and endorsement on important milestones, baselines, and criteria for using the going forward (and backward) in SEO reporting for objectivity.
3. Loss of the customer journey
When we talk about enterprise SEO, chances are we are running a large website that drives leads, sales transactions, or maybe even large scale page views (eg publishers).
Yes, there are visitors who will come here and convert on the first visit and in one or two clicks. However, focusing on those visitors alone limits your potential.
In an enterprise organization or for an enterprise level SEO strategy, there can be an untapped wealth of customer journey and funnel data available from others in the enterprise.
Find the right brand, product, sales or marketing manager to get it.
This will greatly help you organize your reports showing how your SEO has contributed at each stage (or could be in the future).
If you’re simply reporting in aggregate on average position, traffic, and conversions, you’re missing out on an opportunity to tell a bigger story, dig deeper into what’s going on, and justify your SEO strategy needs from others.
solutionOrganize your SEO reports in a way that matches your known customer journey.
Build your funnel around keywords, topics, and funnels so that your SEO can be objectively measured against other channels and sources.
4. Not separating keywords by type
One of the biggest enterprise SEO reporting mistakes is mixing all keywords and intent signals into one metric.
Of course, I’m a big fan of the executive summary style and streamlined KPI reporting.
Just don’t stop there.
Brand terms should rank well on their own if there are no SEO issues.
As SEOs, we often don’t have much control over the demand and search volume for branded terms.
Why would we want to report with them mixed with the generic terms found in our improvement strategy and plan?
The upward and downward fluctuations in brand traffic can be linked to PR, seasonality, and other demand drivers that we have no control over.
Mixing it with general and focused SEO strategy terms can tell the bloated or frustrating false story in your reports.
solutionDivide performance data between brand-specific keywords and general keywords, as a minimum.
Dig as deep as you can on specific focus topics and in line with the customer journey associated with your strategy if applicable.
5. Focusing too much on indicator metrics
I learned early on in my career that I never wanted to hear a client or manager say, “It’s all good, is there an ROI?”
We definitely need to track keyword performance, rankings, traffic, and conversions.
This alone is not good enough for enterprise SEO strategies. What is conversion? What is the return on investment on that? Can we justify this level of investment in SEO?
These questions must be answered or no one will want to know your average ad position, impressions or visits.
Starting at the end – the most important business metric or engine that SEO can influence.
drive nonetheless. Then, where appropriate on other pages or tabs or in deeper conversations, get into your SEO trend metrics.
This is how you can keep your audience engaged on an executive level.
solution: Provide an executive summary or lead with the conclusion that came from your great solution.
Dig into ‘how’ you got this score in an appendix or a separate part of the report.
6. Nerding out too much
I’d love to hear how getting a basic, database-driven strategy implemented across 100,000 product pages solved a year-long problem.
I could talk for hours about those kinds of successes. But this is what I do.
If your reports are filled with our SEO jargon and your key audience doesn’t understand or care about it, they’ll miss the point entirely.
Lead with results, read your audience, and build your reporting and communications around what will resonate most with them.
Be sure to take credit for the win; Just make sure you understand these gains and how SEO drove them.
solutionTechnical: Ask others to give you feedback and advice on how deep they want you to go in reporting. You can always edit what you’re already doing based on the helpful feedback.
Get help translating terms and metrics if they don’t resonate with your audience.
7. It lacks a connection to a broader strategy
Large organizations have great marketing teams, content and PR efforts, and more.
This is usually good news for enterprise SEO campaigns.
This means we don’t harm content and relationships to drive internal links and resources to help us with funnels, modeling, and customer engagement data.
It’s easy to stick to only basic SEO metrics – when reporting what we control.
However, your reports are a great opportunity to show how your content, links, and technical aspects of a website help or hinder your overall SEO performance.
If you want more resources, subscription, or support from content creators, IT, developers, PR, and others, you need to show the relationship between those efforts and your own.
For example, if the PR campaign is over and we now have fewer links, mention it!
If we’ve been asking for a new or improved web version for months and content writers focus on other priorities, show the cost of that missed opportunity.
Reporting can be a great way to draw attention to opportunities and thus prove the importance of resources.
At the end of the day, SEO is not an island. Viewing real data and effects of not getting involved can help.
solutionFind the areas where you get or need significant support and highlight those in your report.
Tie cause and effect together in your narrative (written or spoken) and stress that SEO cannot work in a silo.
8. Just Submit “Reports”
Does your enterprise SEO reporting system have too many default KPIs and metrics?
The templates and automation are great.
Whether you are an agency scaling reporting across clients or building your own organization, having a starting point and aggregated data from multiple sources is key.
The challenge is that without customizing and tailoring your report to the company, specific baselines/benchmarks, and KPIs that matter uniquely, you’re providing something that looks and feels generic.
If your strategy is tailored to branding, make sure your online or physical reports reflect that.
Don’t let it sound like you just swapped a logo and connected some data sources and that was it.
solutionInvest the time to design the output so that it is a tool for leveraging communication against a burden or task that needs to be completed.
This might mean customizing the look and feel of the report, changing metrics, or considering other ways to share information.
9. All data and no insights
This is a bug that becomes even more critical when stakeholders have access to a real-time reporting dashboard, or when we email reports to them without a meeting to go through them.
Go beyond avoiding the mistake of having a simple or generic report – make sure you tell a story!
Data is simply data. It is open to interpretation or frustration without context.
Frame the context. Link strategy to results. For good or bad, you need to be able to articulate what the data means and inspire others to actually care.
Come armed with several ideas and key ideas to get ahead and make your reporting time productive.
When things are working well, it’s easy to pop a few percentage increases and continue on your way.
However, in good or bad times, elicit details about what drove performance, what works well, and what doesn’t, and how we can continue or stop doing something to affect future performance.
Reporting should not be separated from conversations about strategy and collaboration.
solutionCreate a space in your documents, presentations, or conversations to share ideas and think smart. Think of ideas first in your presentation.
You probably don’t even have to show the data behind it or the reporting details. That’s a big win, because you’re talking about more important things than the raw numbers that got you there.
Enterprise SEO requires a lot of effort, collaboration, time and investment. They can all be overcome with error reporting which can have serious consequences.
By not showing proper SEO value to an organization, it can get cut off or it can be difficult to get the resources you need.
When you lack context, insights, and the opportunity to report back to your audience, you may lose their attention and make your work more difficult or scrutinize in ways you don’t want.
Focus on tailored reporting to make it a powerful tool linked to your strategy and the bigger picture of SEO impacts on brand.
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