As SEOs, we know what metrics to measure and what is most likely to impact performance. Whilst this is all clear in our own heads, creating SEO dashboards that fit our clients and wider audience needs is an additional challenge on top of delivering the work that moves the needle.
How to generate meaningful SEO reports that:
Track performance effectively
Identify areas for discussion and optimisation across different business areas
Strengthen your relationship with the end recipients
Tip 1 – Communication is key with reporting
It’s crucial that from the outset you’re meeting with your stakeholders and getting an understanding of their business objectives and KPIs before creating the SEO dashboard. This often means speaking to individual teams who have a stake in SEO activity, and finding out their projects, resources and priorities so that you can build these into your dashboard.
Importantly, for each of these requirements and KPIs, you need to ensure that you can accurately report on these, and that work you do can influence their outcome. Otherwise, these could be vanity metrics that absorb time you could spend better elsewhere, and lead to frustrating conversations. Bear in mind that over time, KPIs, points of contact and business priorities can change – so book in time with your stakeholders to review your dashboard regularly – perhaps quarterly so it ties into other business cycles and reviews.
Tip 2 – Structuring SEO reports
Once you’ve defined your stakeholder groups and their individual needs, it’s time to start creating the seo dashboard itself. At Blue Array we always use Google Data Studio – it’s free, it’s customisable and compatible with so many data sources and APIs. Helpfully, it also uses paginated navigation and internal links, so you can effectively create a page for each team or stakeholder that explicitly covers what they need to know, and nothing extraneous.
Always start with top level insights – a few key takeaways that immediately outline the most important elements of the data and next steps. Some call this the ‘elevator pitch’ – if you’re caught by a colleague and they ask ‘how’s your SEO going?’, your stakeholder can cover it off quickly and confidently.
Above all else, you need to provide data with insight – there is nothing to be gained for anybody by just sharing statistics and numbers. What will you recommend to the reader off the back of this information? How does it align with their other projects and any current SEO priorities? Blend as much as you can – data blending is another great feature of Google Data Studio, meaning that you can combine information from multiple sources easily and chart them together – fantastic for observing correlations, such as seasonality (if you’re interested in finding out how to integrate Google Trends data into your dashboard, check out my guide). The fewer charts to wade through, and the more insights, the better.
Tip 3 – Metrics in reporting
Based on experience, here are some of the key metrics that different areas of the business tend to focus on – it may be worth including these in your dashboard if you haven’t already, or raising them with the stakeholders.
C-level and Marketing: Conversions (including assisted conversions and possibly also funnel abandonment), keyword position and page rank changes (winners and losers), year-on-year (YoY) and month-on-month (MoM) traffic, as well as what % of traffic organic search contributes versus other channels.
Dev: Speed reports, such as the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX), and page speed insights, index coverage issues identified in Google Search Console that may need attention/validation, unresolved monitoring alerts, such as pages with non-indexable canonical tags, plus any other outstanding tasks on your technical SEO backlog.
Digital PR: Branded traffic MoM, article level performance such as social shares, engagement, new links acquired and their anchor text, and lost link information.
Customer support: This team isn’t necessarily your first thought but they can benefit from a wealth of SEO data – for example, internal site searches help identify areas that customers may be struggling with, or struggling to locate (especially if you have a large inventory of eCommerce products or SaaS offering). On top of this, modified brand searches can help provide this information as well, in terms of questions being asked.
Tip 4 – Sharing the dashboard
Lastly, when sharing the dashboard with your stakeholders, sign off with a brief overview of the next steps and plans for the month ahead. This can include:
Longer term deliverables resulting from the insights (eg amending your plan/roadmap to accommodate emerging areas of focus)
Any wider points of discussion, such as an increase in PPC activity over the previous month and its impact on organic performance
Thanks again Steph for this great insight. We hope you guys enjoyed this summary. If you would like to learn more about SEO, we have more recaps from our speakers from that week including Marco Bonomo’s view on Google for Jobs and tips from Mark Williams-Cook on how to Improve organic search with internal link optimisation.
Check out the latest version of our comprehensive SEO report. Version 1.1. contains two new reports that will help you report on SEO performance overall and at tag group level and discover opportunities to rank for valuable Universal SERP features.