SEO reporting and tracking are major sticking points for anyone in the industry.
Data that you find important may be less valuable to C-suite executives.
Or you may not have enough data to show growth, changes and significant events clearly and concisely.
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 begin reporting and tracking data, you need to gather it, which will require you to use the right tools.
Most SEOs use a combination of different tools to properly collect, track and report data.
A few of the main ones include:
You can also use third-party tools to track keyword growth, positions and more, such as:
You’ll find a lot of third-party paid tools available to help you with your reporting and tracking.
But you need to be aware of each tool’s limitations.
For example, Google Search Console only retains data for 16 months, so you need to think about this if you expect to provide lengthy reports that show data past this threshold.
I’m going to assume that you have these tools in place already. However, if you do not have any of these tools, look through them and add any coding that you need to the website to begin tracking.
Otherwise, without the data these tools provide, you’ll go into your SEO journey blindly.
Tracking events (even non-SEO ones)
With your tools and analytics in place, you’ll want to begin tracking major events.
SEO is about driving organic traffic to a site and generating revenue, but you also need a way to track your progress.
A few of the things I recommend tracking are:
Tracking site changes and updates can demonstrate the value of the work you’re performing and can be extremely insightful as the site continues to grow.
Get the daily newsletter search marketers rely on.
Separating brand vs. non-brand keywords
Now that you are tracking events, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of keyword separation.
Providing clients with a long list of thousands of keywords will not show them value. Plenty of these keywords may not be bringing in much value at all.
What you should do is try and segment your keywords into:
- Brand keywords
- Non-branded keywords
Brand keywords will include the company and product name, and this is something that a lot of companies want to track when focusing on their branding.
Nike is a good example of a strong brand where people might search “Nike running shoes” and “running shoes” to find their products.
However, when working with large keyword datasets, you may want to begin separating keywords further by:
- Informative keywords.
- Transactional keywords.
- Generic keywords.
You can then segment these keywords by page, URL or section if you want to further clarify the data and show it in your report.
Working through keyword lists is time-consuming, but it’s the bulk of the work you’ll do for your reports.
Clients want to see which keywords they’re ranking for and where the traffic is being funneled into on the site.
However, there is one point of data that is more important than any other when tracking – revenue.
Track revenue drivers
Revenue is what opens every stakeholder’s eyes and is the main attention-grabber in a report.
You will want to do a few things here to show revenue in a way that everyone understands and can appreciate.
Comparisons are a great way to show growth over a certain period of time.
For example, companies earn much of their Q4 revenue on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Everyone is searching for a deal, and it’s a time period that’s filled with valuable data for your reports.
I recommend looking at data for a period of two years so that you can show:
- Weekly growth (WoW or same week from previous years).
- Monthly growth (MoM or same month from previous years).
- Quarterly growth (QoQ or same quarter from previous years).
- Yearly growth.
- Seasonal growth.
Showing how higher search engine rankings were able to boost sales by 25% this Black Friday compared to the previous Black Friday is priceless when creating reports.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to decipher which keywords were responsible for driving sales.
Tools may not allow for this level of refinement when browsing through traffic, and this is where the IT team can help you.
IT teams can help:
- Go through logs.
- Identify sales.
- Tag keywords responsible for sales (which may require customizations).
Showing that X keyword, which has gone from ranking 19 to 2, led to 17% higher sales for a product will demonstrate how investing in SEO boosts revenue.
You can also segment data for events, such as the traffic that led to calls, email signups, consultations, and so on.
Supply the correct data to the right stakeholders
You’ve collected and segmented your data in a meaningful way.
But while some data points will be valuable to you and your marketing team, others might be shrugged off by the C-suite.
For instance, say that you created a report showing:
- Technical SEO changes.
- 10% rise in organic traffic.
- Faster site speeds.
- Higher time on page.
Marketing teams will appreciate this data, but a C-suite executive will be curious about how the 10% rise in traffic led to a revenue increase.
If you don’t tie this information into the company’s revenue meaningfully, the C-suite won’t be interested in your reporting.
You’ll want to make reports that touch on the key data that specific stakeholder groups want to see.
Save your SEO data for future use
Your reports today will be referred to in the next year or two, and they will help tell the story of the company’s SEO growth.
Save the data you collect because it contains valuable information you’ll use in the future.
I have created my own custom tools to back up Google Search Console data so I can refer to it past the 16 months limit.
I suggest you do the same as most of the reporting work you will be doing even if you change companies.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
New on Search Engine Land
Can You Work Faster & Smarter?
What Is A Pillar Page? (How They Can Help Your SEO)
5 Ways SEOs & Digital Marketers Use ChatGPT