The Anatomy of a Great SEO Report

The end of the month is approaching fast and you are once again, faced with the task of presenting your client with quantifiable results of your hard work. You know that monthly SEO reports are the perfect opportunity to showcase your talent, skills, and all the progress made!

But with the frequent changes in search algorithms, SERP features or keyword availability, what is a great SEO report composed of nowadays? Which features guarantee to impress your client and earn you more business?

Preparing the report framework

Educating the client goes a long way in developing an effective working relationship, especially when SEO strategies usually take some time before they start paying off.

Therefore, from the very first meetings, you should be discussing your client’s expectations of you and set realistic optimization goals, as well as a time frame for the execution and reporting of the project. Keep in mind that everything you will be reporting throughout the project, as well as your client’s level of satisfaction, are in direct reference with the goals you set at the start.

The main items to include in a SEO report

The information included in your reports as well as the template used, should always match the client’s understanding of SEO.

In case you provide reports to clients who know just about enough of SEO, you’d better focus on summaries that highlight your achievements and avoid overwhelming, drawn out, excessively detailed reports. You don’t want to waste your client’s time with needless information.

When dealing with customers who are unaware of how SEO works on the other hand, you need to provide extensive, yet uncomplicated reports. Whichever the case, your SEO report should not miss these essential aspects:

  • Traffic data

All the on-page and off-page improvements you made, aiming to make your client’s website more visible to search engines, need to translate into higher organic traffic in order to prove effective.

Although Google Analytics (GA) no longer displays the search queries that generated organic traffic, it continues to be a solid source for the metric you need – organic traffic – as it still allows the segmentation of website visits by channel (organic, paid, referral, direct, social, email or campaigns).

Also, as many clients do not spend much time checking the actual numbers in the reports and prefer visuals, evolution charts need to be an important item of your reports.

An ascending trend of the organic traffic you reported makes your client feel reassured about the effectiveness of what you are doing and justifies the money he spends.

  • Rankings

Rankings are still a must-have for SEO reports. But rather than providing your clients with a never ending list of ranking keywords, you can filter the information and put forward only what’s relevant, in a concise manner.

A ranking summary can include the number of high-ranking keywords (1st position, in Top 5 or Top 10), an overview of the keywords’ ranking evolution (number of keywords moved up or down in SERPs) and the percentage of targeted keywords that are ranking in search results. seo1

With rankings, you might want to also add to the report information about the competition’s performance in SERPs for the targeted keywords. A detailed overview on how competing websites are ranking alongside your own for specific keywords will help you assess your own progress and possibly identify a particular industry niche left untouched to focus your efforts on.

  • Brand awareness

The latest Industry Survey published by Moz shows branding to be in the Top 5 concerns for clients, enough reason to make it a reporting priority.

Enhance your reports with a detailed look on how your clients’ brand keywords are performing and highlight your contribution to raising the brand’s awareness online.

You can do that by pairing the actual search engine rankings of all branded keywords with their traffic retrieved from Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).

  • Conversions and revenue

By providing clients with financial indicators, such as conversions, revenue or transactions, you link your hard work to the profits they make. Clients most definitely want to see your work, and their investment in you, paying off.

However, since by default GA uses a ‘last interaction’ conversion attribution, the numbers it shows under organic conversions are just a fraction of all the conversions your efforts assisted and your clients need to be aware of that.

A more complex solution for this is to use multi-channel funnels. These reports enable you to choose a different conversion attribution model and ensure that proper credit is given to your SEO efforts for the driven conversions (increased search engine visibility, keyword relevance, etc.). seo2

  • Website analysis

A summarized, more technical website analysis needs to be also included in your monthly report, with on-page optimization status (page titles, URLs, page headers, meta description), crawling and indexing issues, as well as content assessment.

Since you were practically hired for this, all these issues need to be monitored and reported periodically.

  • Social popularity

Social Media management is another activity demanded more and more by clients. You may want to include Social Media metrics into your report, such as reach and exposure, referral traffic or community engagement. You can add this as a standalone traffic source, or by associating social impact with search engine visibility.

Conclusion

The main thing to understand is that a generic, one-report-fits-all version doesn’t work here. Different clients require maximally individual reports focused on their specific expectations from you, as well as on their particular grasp of SEO practices. And what’s most important, the end result should be a consistent and comprehensive SEO report, that showcases your hard work and the improvements made for the client.

To sum it all up, traffic values, keyword ranking, competition analysis, conversions, website audit – I think these are the major sections that give a broad overview of your SEO efforts without using any confusing language. Remember, keep it simple. How about you? What is on your SEO reporting must-have list? I look forward to hearing your take on this in the comment section below!

Ade Vitan is an online marketing strategist at Caphyonand part of the editorial team of the Advanced Web Ranking blog. Working for a company with more than 10 years experience in providing reliable solutions for SEO experts worldwide, she would love it if you’d get in touch with her over Twitter or Google+ for a chat about the industry’s latest trends.