Engaging in a business activity, whether online or offline, without a way to measure your progress or impact is as silly as trying to fetch water from a mirage. The foregoing statement is as true for marketing activities as it is for any other aspect of business.
If you have an online business (or brick n’ mortar with online presence) you need to be able to gauge the effect of all your online efforts on your business.
This will enable you tweak and make changes or improvements where necessary. If you are working for a client, then they need to be able to see the value of what they are paying for.
Enter SEO reporting. This is simply the compilation and presentation of the SEO performance results using visual representations that are easy to read and interpret. That definition may not cover SEO reporting in its entirety but it gives you a basic idea of what it is.
Seeing how important it is, you should make sure that it is done properly. You could either create a reporting template by yourself having all the necessary parameters (KPIs, if you must) that show value. Orjust get SEO reports for clients from ReportGarden while you focus on other important stuffs.
The necessary measurement parameters or key Performance Indicators (KPIs as they are popularly called) can be divided into two broad groups: Engagement-based KPIs and Commercial-based KPIs.
You or your client could be interested in the first group, the second group or both. The engagement-based KPIs are used to measure visitor engagements on the website or social media. The commercial-based KPIs are used to measure online sales.
The KPIs needed for measurement may differ from one client/business to another. However, there are some that are at the kernel of any SEO report. They help measure the most important factors surrounding your SEO activities.
You could also include some other metrics that will make your SEO report more robust, and maybe impress your client. As long as they are in line with the SEO objectives and are easy to interpret, you are good to go. Go here to learn more about KPIs.
So without further ado, here are 3 essential elements for SEO reporting:
It is safe to say that this is the first and one of the most important elements you (or your clients) would be looking out for the minute you hit the backend or your analytics dashboard. In the basest of sense, traffic the flow of visitors through your website.
Without traffic every other metric or KPI is useless, because they are all hinged on this one element. Traffic analytics show you the total number of visitors you get in a day and what percentage of that are new visitors.
One key thing every savvy SEO expert looks at when analyzing traffic is Sessions. They help you understand traffic patterns in your website. Sessions display values (in %) that represent visitor interactions on your website.
In popular analytic tools such as Google Analytics and Core metrics traffic reporting is done with the help of date comparisons. These dates are week-on-week, month-on-month, and year-on-year time-frames. Traffic metrics also tell you where your visitors are coming from.
If traffic is a dammed river then engagement is the turbine. A dammed river is just that, dammed. It needs a turbine to engage with in order to produce something meaningful – electricity.
The same goes for your website. Having traffic is one thing, having content for the traffic tointeract with is another.Engagement is basically the behaviour of traffic (or visitors) on your website.
Engagement can include reading content, watching videos, downloads, moving from page to page, dropping comments, liking, clapping, etc. Visual representation of site engagement on SEO tools will show you three important metrics:
- Average Session Duration: this metric shows you how long each visitor spends on your website on the average.
- Average Page per Session: this metric shows you how many pages your visitors viewed or interacted with during their stay on your site.
- Bounce Rate: this is the number of visitors (in percentages) that come to your site and leave without engaging with your content or visiting other pages.
High engagement figures show that your visitors are finding what they are looking for on your site. However, too high a figure may indicate that they having a hard time finding what they need, you should watch out for that, too. ReportGarden can help you generate reports on your (or your clients’) social media engagement. Click this to know more about creating social media reports.
Conversion, in the power production analogy, is the amount of electricity being produced by the interaction between the water and the turbines. In SEO reports, conversion shows you how much commercial value your website is generating per time.
The reason the website was created in the first place was to offer a form of value, and to get some in return. If you (or your client) have good traffic numbers and high engagement values but low conversion values then something is wrong.
Conversion varies from business to business. For some, conversion could mean newsletter signups, enquires, leads, etc. The important metrics to watch out for in this case are:
- Conversion rates.
- Conversion volumes.
For many others, conversion would mean an actual online purchase of products or services being offered on the site. The relevant metrics here are:
- Total revenue.
- Average order value.
Many businesses use all four metrics. Meaning that they expect their content to generate leads and newsletter signups which would eventually lead to sales on their website. If you run an ecommerce site then you must keep a keen eye on Total revenue and Average order value metrics in order to be informed on how your SEO efforts are impacting your sales.
Quick question: do you know what you should be focusing your resources on at the moment? Traffic or conversion? Visit https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2018/02/20/should-you-start-building-traffic-or-optimize-for-conversions-first/#38aea706461d to find out which of them should get your undivided attention based on your unique situation.
There are several other key elements and metrics that are used to measure SEO performance. Some of these include link metrics, landing page, search visibility, rankings and keywords, ranking spread, technical issues, duplicate content, etc. All these are important in creating an engaging and comprehensive SEO report.
But traffic, engagement, and conversion make up the backbone of all SEO reports. As a final note, make sure that whatever metrics you want to add to your report is in line with your clients’ SEO objectives. The main purpose of the report is to present evidence of activity, and hopefully, positive results of all SEO efforts.