4 Tips for Making Your Next SEO Report More Effective
On average, companies spend $2,819.87 per month on SEO services (Ahrefs). And they’ll also spend money on other marketing initiatives, so the cost can quickly add up. This means agencies and marketers need to be creating detailed reports that show the value of what their SEO teams are doing.
Lots of SEO professionals have different ideas of what an SEO report should look like. You only have to Google “SEO report template” to see that there are millions of different approaches.
Even if SEO templates have made it easier to create SEO reports, it doesn’t mean that SEO reporting has become more effective.
And, if you feel like your clients aren’t seeing the value of what you’re doing, you don’t need another template. Templates tell you what to include in your report, but they don’t tell you how to make your report effective, which is equally as important because that’s how clients see the value of what you’re doing.
So, in this post, we’re going to share four tips that will make your next SEO report more effective and ensure it’s easier for clients to see the value of what you’re delivering.
Let’s get started.
1. Be Thorough
When your SEO campaigns are working as you expect, it’s easy to assume that all is well and creating reports is going to be a walk in the park. But we both know that hitting home runs in your SEO campaigns doesn’t happen as often as you might like.
So, when creating your report, you want to make sure that you’ve included all the metrics that paint a balanced picture of what is happening on your client’s website. This way, your recommendations are going to be relevant and effective.
For example, when you’re reporting on traffic, you’ll get different numbers depending on the age of your blog posts, your brand, and the number of links your content has attracted, among other factors. Older blog posts are likely to be getting more traffic and, if your numbers look great, then you might assume things are going well.
But traffic isn’t all you’re interested in, right? You want web visitors to complete specific actions on your client’s website, so the first port of call will be understanding their behavior.
If you start digging deeper, you’ll see how web visitors are behaving once they click on each blog post. Chances are that you might find a blog post or two that gets lots of traffic but has a high bounce and exit rate.
These types of blog posts have lots of potential, since they’re still relevant and your target audience is still interested in the topic. In addition to making relevant and meaningful recommendations, being thorough also allows you to show your client that your efforts are paying off. A blog post that is ranking well but has a high bounce and exit rate shows that it is well optimized for search engines but not optimized for readers.
So, in your report, you won’t request that the client allocates a budget for new content; rather, focus on updating their existing content to keep it fresh and relevant for web visitors to reduce bounce and exit rates.
If the client has a huge library of content and most blog posts have a high bounce and exit rate, take this a step further and recommend a shift in the SEO strategy — spend half of your efforts on updating old content and the other half on new content.
2. Understand your client’s history
If you’re an SEO freelancer who just signed up a new client, everything they have been doing before they started working with you will directly or indirectly affect the work you do for them.
It also means that the quality of the reports you create will depend on how much you know and understand about what the client has been doing in the past.
Let’s say, for instance, when creating your first report, you realize that you’ve lost a significant amount of the organic traffic they’ve been getting. A logical conclusion would be a loss in search visibility, but you won’t stop there because you need to make relevant recommendations to address this problem.
Now, without a bird’s eye view of what they’ve done in the past to earn that traffic, you won’t know for sure what led to the loss in organic traffic. So, you might end up coming to the wrong conclusion about the problem, and make recommendations that won’t help the situation. A loss in search visibility might happen due to several reasons such as:
- Losing the backlinks they’ve earned
- Updates from Google that affect their rankings
- Competitors improving their SEO efforts
- Their site being unfriendly to mobile visitors
To avoid a situation where you make irrelevant recommendations in your report, hop on a call with the client before you start working together and talk about what they’ve been doing in the past.
While some may argue that an SEO audit provides all the information you need (and that’s a fair point), talking to the client will help you understand why they took a particular approach to optimize their site instead of another.
For example, how do you identify the connection between the tools a client is using — for example, a landing page builder — and its connection to a loss in organic traffic?
That’s why you need to include client onboarding processes to make sure that you have a deep understanding of what the client is doing or has been doing to put you in a better position to know what’s going on.
3. Show how your KPIs are linked to business metrics
Above everything else, your client is interested in seeing how your SEO efforts are affecting conversions and that’s what they will focus on in the report.
In addition to showing the numbers behind the conversions and the number of goals achieved, you also want to establish a link between your SEO activities and conversions. Doing this helps the client understand the true impact of SEO.
For example, common conversion goals in e-commerce include adding items to the cart, account registration, and heading over to the checkout. If you’re working with a client in the e-commerce space, your report should show how SEO played a role in increasing the number of these actions.
Did you improve the site structure to make it easier for visitors to move from the product page to the checkout? If that’s the case, can you show that your changes have been effective by comparing the previous numbers to now?
If something you did is working, don’t hesitate to talk about it in your report. Since not all your SEO efforts will have a direct impact on sales, showing how your efforts are moving prospects further down the funnel should be enough to show your clients you’re providing value for money.
Conversely, if your data shows fewer conversions and a less than ideal goal completion rate, explain this to your client in your report. Sometimes, conversions are affected by seasonality, especially in the e-commerce industry where you’ll see a spike in sales during holidays.
Also, in cases where seasonality affects conversions, highlight year-over-year changes in conversions to establish the link between your efforts and the results they are getting.
Other factors that might affect conversions indirectly include site migrations and redirects that have an impact on the amount of traffic your clients get. So, in your reports, explain these fluctuations and their business impact to help the client understand what you’re doing.
4. Do more than just email the report
Templates tell you what to include in your SEO report, but you still need to find ways to make your reports engaging and interesting to read.
Remember that your clients will have different levels of expertise. If you’re a freelancer working with a team of in-house professionals, your report will be more technical compared to when you’re working with clients who don’t have extensive SEO knowledge.
That said, creating a report and sending it over to your clients then waiting for their feedback won’t do much for the results you’re looking for.
Your clients trust that you’re going to help them grow their business through the work you’ll do for them. However, this trust is accompanied by their doubt, most of which will have nothing to do with you. So, once you send the report, you will have little to no control over the conclusions they will make.
If they see a result that they don’t like in your report, their doubt could take over. If you’re not there to put things into perspective and help them understand what’s happening, you’re going to have trouble convincing them to adopt your recommendations.
So, once your report is ready, schedule a meeting with your clients and take them through different sections of the report, answering their questions and addressing any concerns they have. If you can’t schedule a meeting, use screencasting software to walk the clients through the report, helping them understand it better.
Running a successful SEO campaign takes time. Depending on your reporting frequency, each report you present to your clients will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the value you deliver. Templates are great, but you need to take things a step further and make clients see what you do for them. With the number of SEO report templates available, it’s easy to assume that once you use one that works and send it to your clients, that’s it. However, it’s up to you to find ways to make your reports effective.
It’s worth the effort, as you’ll be making it easier for clients to make a connection between what you do for them and the results you get.