SEO reporting and tracking are major pain points for anyone in the industry.
Data you consider important may be less valuable to C-suite executives.
Or maybe you don’t have enough data to clearly and concisely show growth, changes and significant events.
Reports must tell a story. Without the right data, you’ll end up with a confusing plot that won’t be well received.
Before you can start reporting and tracking data, you need to collect it, which will require using the right tools.
Most SEOs use a combination of different tools to properly collect, track, and report data.
Some of the main ones include:
You can also use third-party tools to track keyword growth, positions, and more, such as:
You will find many paid third-party tools available to help you with your reporting and tracking.
But you must be aware of the limitations of each tool.
For example, Google Search Console only retains data for 16 months, so you need to think about this if you expect to provide long reports that show data above this threshold.
I assume you already have these tools. However, if you don’t have any of these tools, review them and add any coding you need to your website to start tracking.
Otherwise, without the data these tools provide, you’ll be going blind on your SEO journey.
Tracking events (even non-SEO ones)
With your tools and analytics in place, you’ll want to start tracking major events.
SEO is about driving organic traffic to your site and generating revenue, but you also need a way to track your progress.
A few things I recommend watching are:
Keeping track of website changes and updates can demonstrate the value of the work you’re doing and can be extremely insightful as the site continues to grow.
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Separating brand vs. non-brand keywords
Now that you’re tracking events, it’s time to get into the details of keyword separation.
Providing clients with a long list of thousands of keywords will not show them value. Many of these keywords may not bring much value at all.
What you should do is try to segment your keywords into:
Brand keywords will include the name of the company and product, and this is something many companies want to track when focusing on their brand.
Nike is a good example of a strong brand where people can search for “Nike running shoes” and “running shoes” to find their products.
However, when you’re working with large keyword datasets, you may want to start breaking down your keywords further as follows:
You can then segment these keywords by page, URL, or section if you want to further refine the data and display it in your report.
Working on keyword lists is time-consuming, but it’s the biggest part of the work you’ll do for your reports.
Clients want to see which keywords they are ranking for and where traffic is directed on the site.
However, there is one data point that is more important than any other when tracking – revenue.
Track revenue drivers
Revenue is the eye-opener for any stakeholder and the attention-getter in the report.
Here, you’ll want to do a few things to present the income in a way that everyone understands and can appreciate.
Comparisons are a great way to show growth over a period of time.
For example, companies earn most of their Q4 revenue on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Everyone is looking for a deal, which is a period of time that is filled with valuable data for your reports.
I recommend looking at two years of data to show:
Showing how higher search engine rankings were able to increase sales by 25% this Black Friday compared to previous Black Fridays is invaluable when creating reports.
Sometimes it is difficult to decipher which keywords were responsible for the increase in sales.
Tools may not allow this level of refinement when viewing traffic, and this is where your IT team can help.
Showing that the X keyword, which went from 19th to 2nd, led to 17% more product sales, will show how investing in SEO increases revenue.
You can also segment data for events, such as traffic that led to calls, email sign-ups, consultations, and so on.
Supply the correct data to the right stakeholders
You have collected and segmented your data in a meaningful way.
But while some data will be valuable to you and your marketing team, the C-suite might discard others.
For example, let’s say you created a report that shows:
Marketing teams will appreciate this data, but a C-suite executive will be curious how a 10% increase in traffic led to an increase in revenue.
If you don’t meaningfully link this information to company revenue, the C-suite won’t care about your reporting.
You’ll want to create reports that touch on key data that specific stakeholder groups want to see.
Save your SEO data for future use
Your reports today will be used for the next year or two to help tell the story of your company’s SEO growth.
Save the data you collect as it contains valuable information that you will use in the future.
I’ve created my own custom tools to back up Google Search Console data so I can use it after the 16 month limit.
I suggest you do the same for most of the reporting work you will be doing even if you change companies.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of Search Engine Land. The employed authors are listed here.
Ludwig Makhyan is a contributor to Search Engine Land, covering organic and technical SEO. His experience is in web development and digital marketing. Ludwig has over 20 years of experience in website design, coding and promotion. He is the co-founder of MAZELESS, an SEO agency.