9 reasons why your SEO reports are being ignored
1. They don’t focus on what really matters to your brand
Rather than reporting only on SEO metrics – such as visibility or rankings – you should also focus on what’s important to your business. For example, if you work for an e-commerce brand, you might want to report on revenue or sales too. If your company’s primary goal is lead generation, then you should include this metric through your reports. Your aim is to translate the organic performance of your brand into key business metrics, which will help you prove the value of your SEO strategy to the business.
Questions like ‘Were you able to contribute towards broader business goals?’, ‘By how much?’, ‘How was this achieved?’ should be answered in your reports. These good results can then be used to inform your SEO strategy, which can be adapted accordingly to double down on successes.
2. They aren’t customised to their audience
Businesses are run by different people, and not everyone will have the same level of understanding of SEO. You need to make sure your reports are tailored to the audience that will receive them if you want them to be impactful.
For example, a CEO will care about revenue or ROI, whilst a product manager might care about leads or sales.
You must decide who each report is targeted to and what the audience cares about. Then, take your time to make it relevant and clear to them.
You can also create custom reports that focus on the specific interests of the intended audience by using filtering and segmentation.
3. Performance isn’t tied to recent activities
All good SEO campaigns start with a business objective. Make sure every KPI you report on is connected to a deliberate action taken to achieve that objective. This could be technical adjustments, additional content, a change in strategy, on page optimisation, etc.
Stakeholders and other non-SEO colleagues will be more likely to ignore reports that aren’t tied to a business goal. For example, if you implemented some changes to your site’s checkout flow with the aim of lowering cart abandonment rates, the report should include a section showcasing details on recent implementations to achieve this, and the results driven by these.
Proving the value of your activities to the business by tying any good results to these will help you get more resources and budget moving forward.
For example, you can include a section for ‘Work completed this month’, where you outline all the activities carried over during that specific reporting period and achievements accomplished at the back of those. This is your opportunity to demonstrate the value your work provides to the business, so take your time to complete it thoroughly.
4. Important metrics aren’t considered
As SEO professionals, we have access to a plethora of metrics through many tools. Whilst some of them might be useful, these can also hide plenty of noise which might not be relevant to your brand. You should apply the ‘Less is more’ rule here. If you include too many metrics on your reports, you can hinder good performance results on key metrics that might be important to your brand.
Double-check your reports and ensure all metrics included there are relevant and important to your work and your business.
5. They don’t include benchmarking against competitors
Comparing your performance to competitors will give you clarity on how your business is actually doing. For example, visibility drops can be driven by seasonality or shifts in search demand and, by not comparing your performance against your competitors’, you might miss those insights.
Furthermore, nothing gets the attention of key stakeholders like the mention of competitors. Showing them how great your competitors are might be the game changer to finally getting approved that budget you’ve been requesting for so long without any luck.
6. Insights are missing from your reports
Not everyone reading your report will be an SEO specialist. If you send your non-SEO colleagues or stakeholders a data-heavy dashboard without providing valuable insights along with it, your audience might not be able to understand it. Data is only a meaningless number if relevant insights do not accompany it.
Tie any performance metrics in the report to useful insights to make your dashboards more compelling. This won’t only make your reports stronger, but will also lead your audience along with the numbers to help them interpret it better.
Add some extra slides on your reporting deck to include these insights and make sure you clearly showcase what the data means for your company, why it is significant, and what’s the impact on your business’ goals. This will make your SEO reports more impactful than presenting just numbers. For example, if you notice that a page has seen an increase in rankings, investigate why that might be and include the insights on your report. There might be some new backlinks from high DA sites pointing to that page or perhaps some on page optimisation contributed to this uplift.
7. Next steps and recommendations are left out
Use the insights gathered to inform your SEO strategy and remodel it when necessary, to address any shortcomings and maximise success. This will make your reports more effective. For this reason, include clear actions and next steps recommended at the back of those insights provided.
Storytelling is key if you want to make your reports more impactful too. Think of them like a story, structured with a clear beginning, middle and end. As such, they should describe the problem, explain how it was solved, and finalise demonstrating the outcome achieved.
You can include a section on ‘Next month’s SEO plan’ to describe what you’ve outlined for the coming reporting period. Remember to tight these activities to the wider business’ objectives.
8. External factors aren’t taken into account
There are so many external elements that could be affecting a brand’s organic performance. These can be industry-specific, such as algorithm updates or seasonality shifts, but also political or environmental factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukrainian war or the increased cost of living, all of which can have significant impact on consumer behaviour.
For example, a drop in traffic might not be led by an unsuccessful SEO activity but rather caused by a decrease in search demand at the back of one of these external factors outside of your control.
You should give a complete understanding of the reasons behind the data’s current trend. Explain what’s the external event, along with trend lines (they could be positive or negative) and provide a complete picture so that recipients can clearly understand what caused those results.
We are at the mercy of all of these factors and therefore, your SEO reports will be incomplete if these aren’t considered.
9. Branded and non-branded data is blended
Blending branded and non-branded metrics in your report can result in inaccurate reporting. When possible, try to segment key metrics into branded and non-branded. This will help you better understand how well your brand is really performing in the market and what actions are required to improve performance.
For example, DigitalPR can help you increase brand awareness when there is a negative trend on brand terms, such as ‘Nike trainers’. If, however, the decline has been seen across non-brand generics, you might need to focus on something else.
Essential SEO reporting tools we recommend
For your reports to be complete, we recommend you include the below tools as a minimum:
- A keyword ranking tracking (our favourite is SEO Monitor): with this tool, you can track the performance of your keywords with great accuracy. By analysing priority keyword rankings, you can create organic visibility charts to compare MoM and YoY performance against your competitors.
- A data visualisation tool (such as Google Data Studio): you can use this to create visual dashboards by connecting other reporting tools, such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console or your keyword tracking tool, all in one place. This will help you automate your reports, saving you significant amounts of time, as well as make them more visually appealing and impactful.
- Google Search Console: this is very useful to segment branded and non-branded data, such as clicks and impressions. It is also useful to gather landing page performance.
- A web analytics platform (such as Google Analytics): you can use this to analyse key metrics such as organic sessions, goal completions, conversion rate, revenue, and many more. If you are already switched to GA4, this GA4 reporting guide will show you how to surface important insights for your client.
Creating good SEO reports is vital if you really want to prove the value of your work to stakeholders and decision makers within your business, which will ultimately help you get your requested budgets and resources approved moving forward. It’s, therefore, in your best interest to make sure your reports are clear, impactful and persuasive.
Invest your time in understanding the business goals, make sure you are focusing on the right set of KPIs that are meaningful to your brand and your audience and accompany these with valuable insights and actionable recommendations.
Put all these elements together, and the sky will be your limit.