Few digital marketers I’ve met enjoy reporting. It can be tedious, time-consuming, and frustrating when we realize our clients (or bosses) aren’t even reading them.
In reality, reporting can actually make or break the client relationship. You just have to know how to leverage your data for maximum impact.
1. Choose appropriate KPIs
There is no one-size-fits-all list of KPIs for SEO. To determine appropriate KPIs for your campaign, you must understand your client and their business or product to determine truly valuable KPIs — try asking them this list of questions to kick things off. Next, start with a business goal. Do you want to increase purchases of a particular product? Grow brand awareness? Whatever it is the business has set out to do, choose an SEO strategy that will move them closer to that goal. Then, choose KPIs that correspond to that strategy.
Example: A tutoring business sets a goal to double their leads for SAT tutoring sessions. To contribute to that goal, the SEO team decides to discover which search queries are performed before booking a SAT tutoring session. Appropriate KPIs for this strategy would include increased rank position for targeted SAT keywords, increased organic traffic to SAT pages, and organic conversions on SAT goals.
2. Avoid jargon
As with any industry, SEO has its own language. Words and metrics that are common to you are often indecipherable to your clients. When putting together your reports, take the time to define, clarify, and even use analogies to help your clients understand the data.
Example: Inbound links are a perfect example. Not only do they have another name (“backlinks”), but they are also often a source of confusion for non-SEOs. You could explain that inbound links are links from other sites to you, acting like votes of popularity. The more you have from relevant, high-quality sites, the more Google will trust you!
3. Choose helpful data visualizations
Even the best data can be spoiled by a bad visualization, so choose charts and graphs that communicate metrics clearly, accurately, and in a way that leaves an impression. Some of the most popular options you have to choose from are bar charts (good for comparing categories of data), pie charts (good for showing parts of a whole), and line charts (good for showing changes over time).
Example: Say you chose to use a pie chart to show the percentage of traffic from different referral sources, but you have 20 referral sources that are each sending a near equal amount of traffic. Not only would this pie chart be cluttered (20 is a lot of slices for a pie!), it would be difficult to pull out any meaningful takeaways.
4. Cut the clutter
Does your report include peripheral metrics that aren’t integral to your client’s success? Cut them out! When you try to squish too many charts and metrics into a single report, it can cause information overload. Instead of getting lots of information, like you intended, they are so overwhelmed that they get none.
Example: A software company has a goal of increasing demo requests. As the SEO, you’ve decided to help them reach that goal by improving the ranking and click-through rate of pages that are proven conversion drivers. Your reports should highlight KPIs related to ranking, traffic, and conversions, and omit non-critical metrics like average time on page.
5. Give insights
Numbers are vanity metrics until they’re paired with insights. In other words, don’t stop at giving your clients the raw numbers. Glean insights from the data and communicate those in meaningful ways to your clients. Put yourself in the client’s shoes, and try to answer, “How should I act on this information?”
Example: Instead of dropping in a metric like bounce rate and letting your client draw their own conclusions, try saying something like, “Your home page’s bounce rate is higher than average for mobile visitors. This could be because your load time on mobile is slower than industry standard. We recommend improving mobile page speed to help improve mobile bounce rate.”
Numbers are vanity metrics until they’re paired with insights. #SEO
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6. Segment meaningfully
Grouping your data gives your clients a clearer picture of what’s going on with their website. You can segment performance data by content type (ex: blog pages vs. landing pages), by audience (ex: U.S. vs. Canada), or by goal (ex: informational pages vs. sales pages). This prevents the comparison of apples to oranges.
Example: You have top-of-funnel goals for your blog posts and bottom-funnel goals for your landing pages. Instead of lumping them all together, report on metrics like rankings and traffic for your blog posts and conversion metrics for your landing pages.
7. Connect SEO success to business success
SEO is a means to an end. Your clients need to see how your success is contributing to the things they care about (revenue) or you run the risk of a high churn rate. Before you send a report, ask yourself whether your client will be able to understand the connection between SEO metrics and their business’s success.
Example: Instead of saying “we got you ranking on page 1 for this keyword,” try “this new keyword ranking is bringing in 200 new visitors per month, which has led to a 25% increase in purchases.”
Follow these steps and you’re well on your way to having a client for life.