A properly structured SEO report can successfully reassure clients that the time and money invested in the SEO process will pay off and that the agency remains transparent in its activities.
Just a few years ago it seemed that popular performance-based SEO was an ideal and totally righteous solution. The agency, together with the client, simply determined a list of keywords on which the website was supposed to be displayed as high as possible. Based on the position of these individual phrases, the agency calculated the due amount in a particular month. However, it’s been known for quite a long time that it’s better to stay away from performance-based SEO activities and instead focus on a long-tail strategy which is a much more effective subscription-based pricing model.
Unfortunately, things get complicated when it comes to reports in the subscription-based model. In the case of performance-based SEO, a pdf file generated with the use of a monitoring tool was the basis for settlement. On the other hand, long-tail SEO takes into account many additional factors. Therefore, including them, all in the report would, at best, lead to a situation when the client isn’t actually able to make heads or tails of it.
Characteristics of a quality SEO report
A good SEO report is concise, transparent, and comprehensible for the client. At the other end of the spectrum, it’s worth keeping in mind that being too concise can make the client perceive the SEO expenses as an unnecessary waste of money.
Elements that should be included in the report are usually determined by the type and stage of the cooperation. SEO takes time, therefore, it’s pointless to expect that the conversion rate of your online store will increase twice only after 3 months of collaboration (although, obviously everything is possible). When starting cooperation, it’s a good idea to establish the stage of development of the website (how many of the most crucial updates and optimizations have been implemented, is the content elaborate enough, are there any technical issues, how many quality backlinks are there?) and its position among market rivals. If the first stage of cooperation aims at improving the website condition of link parameters, then data concerning page traffic won’t be the most expanded element of the report analyzing this phase.
It’s also essential to determine what’s really valuable for the client. Website traffic itself isn’t enough, it needs to lead to conversion. When it comes to e-commerce, the situation is relatively clear as you can easily monitor the number and value of transactions. In the case of company portals, business card pages, or blogs, it’s advisable to monitor specific goals like the number of inquiries sent with the use of a contact form, the average length of web sessions, or the number of subscriptions to the newsletter.
SEO agencies are responsible primarily for the organic traffic and visibility of a given website in the search results. The lack of conversion combined with the increase in traffic doesn’t necessarily mean that the SEO activities revolve around wrong keywords. It may simply stem from a fact that the offer of your market rivals is more profitable (users can effortlessly compare prices or special offers on a few websites) or from an inappropriate website design that doesn’t correspond to the UX principles. Therefore, if data presented in the report doesn’t meet your expectations, it’s worth trying to determine the reasons for the lack of conversion before deciding to terminate the contract with the SEO agency.
SEO report – what should it include?
Visibility in the search results
Increasing website visibility is the first most important objective of the SEO process. Before attracting any converting users to your website, it’s necessary to ensure that the page is actually displayed in the search results. Building website visibility on Google is a never-ending story – SEO agencies constantly do their best to improve or maintain high positions and obtain new phrases.
Website visibility can be also calculated by specifying the number of keywords on which the page is displayed in the TOP 10 (on the first page) or in the TOP 50. This data can be obtained from tools such as Senuto or Semstorm. Monitoring the number of phrases in the TOP 10 and TOP 50 is beneficial mainly due to the fact that with the use of the abovementioned tools you can easily compare your and your market rivals’ results.
Website traffic channels
The primary goal of SEO is to increase organic traffic (which constitutes 53.3% of Internet traffic on average). However, conducting your SEO activities properly may lead to improving traffic from other channels. To learn more about this aspect, go to our previous entry: SEO: What type of traffic does it impact?
It’s perfect when the SEO report provides information not only about the traffic in general but also about its distribution on individual channels. Thanks to it, the client can easily juxtapose SEO, PPC, or social media expenditure with the effectiveness of each of these channels.
Conversion and target achievement rate
As it’s been previously mentioned, it’s not only about traffic but also about conversion. While measuring the conversion rate, it’s important to take into consideration the distinction between different channels. Sometimes it happens that clients want to terminate the contract because sales don’t improve despite significant SEO investments. However, in such situations, it often turns out that the organic traffic generates sales and the decreases refer to other channels (e.g. because clients decide that if they invest in SEO, they won’t spend more on paid campaigns). But to come to such conclusions, you need to measure and assess your conversion rate separately for each channel.
In the case of clients who don’t operate in the e-commerce sector, it’s worth determining the definition and price of valuable conversion at the early stage of cooperation – so, for example, it’s crucial to decide what’s the value of leads from contact forms on the websites.
Let’s be honest. If your store offers ski equipment, it’s guaranteed that there will be an 80% decrease in traffic in your March report, even if you spend a fortune on SEO. There are many not-obvious seasonal industries, therefore, apart from reporting data on a monthly basis, it’s advisable to take a broader perspective. The organic traffic should be analyzed and compared with the data from a specific month on a year-on-year basis.
In order to make sure that the decrease in a given month is related to seasonality, it’s a good idea to take advantage of Senuto which provides website analysis and seasonality charts. Thanks to it, you’ll be able to determine what organic traffic decreases to expect in a given month, assuming that particular phrases remain in the same positions.
Many clients know literally nothing about SEO principles, consequently, they may doubt whether the game is worth the candle. Some people believe that their website positions will improve naturally. Well, if you think so too, we need to disappoint you – High Google rankings without SEO – is it possible? Stating what activities have been performed in a given month will not only inspire trust in the agency but also reassure its clients that the money invested in SEO is spent wisely.
Last but not least: commentaries
Overwhelming your clients with unintelligible data titled “monthly report” isn’t the best idea. Without appropriate context, data and numbers mean nothing. An appropriate commentary will show the client that SEO specialists conducting activities on the website really know what to do and even in case of any possible decreases (caused by e.g. Google updates) they’ll be able to immediately fix the problem. Moreover, even in situations when everything goes smoothly, it’s a good idea to use the report to inform the client about the subsequent stages of the SEO process.
Obviously, SEO reports can comprise many different elements such as the analysis of traffic on particular subpages, link parameters, average time spent on the site, or the positions of the most prominent phrases. However, it remains to be evaluated individually whether such information is valuable and brings any benefits to the client. One can be stated for sure, the specialist responsible for conducting the SEO process should regularly monitor all these parameters to be able to quickly refine any weaker website elements in case of necessity.