Reporting is a necessary component of search engine optimization (SEO), but that doesn’t mean you have to like doing it. For many professionals, reporting comprises all the worst parts of the job—boring meetings, number crunching, and paperwork. At the same time, it doesn’t have to be painful or wasteful.
Nor should it. Reporting should be a natural, seamless step in the SEO process. Here are a few general do’s and don’ts to help you in that regard.
Do: Establish Baselines and Benchmarks
Your reports cannot exist in a vacuum. Whether you’re measuring progress or analyzing performance, you need something to compare it to. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how good the numbers look, they’ll lack the context that gives them meaning.
Ensure you have access to historical SEO data when reporting, and define progress milestones as well.
Don’t: Neglect the Customer Journey
A baseline isn’t the only thing that gives your data context. You must also consider how your SEO efforts slot into and enhance your sales funnel. Don’t solely focus on conversions, but consider how each set of keywords might represent a customer at a different stage of their journey.
Do: Tailor Your Reports
When it’s time to generate a report, there’s one question you need to answer upfront—what does your audience care about? What are their main objectives, and how can you best fulfill them? In addition to tweaking your reports based on how they’re being delivered, provide extensive data visualization.
Don’t: Hyperfocus on Metrics
It’s easy to get caught up with numbers and minutiae where SEO is concerned. But you need to be careful that your reports don’t end up just being a list of analytics data. You can’t just spout off metrics. You need to contextualize those metrics.
Why does each metric matter in a greater-scope perspective?
Do: Set Clear, Achievable Goals
In addition to figuring out baselines and milestones, it’s important to sit down and hash out your objectives prior to putting your SEO strategy into practice. Collaborate with key stakeholders to figure out what you want your SEO efforts to actually accomplish. More importantly, make sure those goals are achievable within the timeframe you’ve defined.
Don’t: Overuse Jargon
Jargon can be incredibly useful when communicating with other SEO professionals. However, you’re not delivering your report to colleagues in the SEO sector. You’re delivering it to people that may not necessarily have a working knowledge of your craft.
Keep that in mind, and remove jargon from your report whenever possible. In cases where you can’t cut a technical term, make sure you take the time to explain it as clearly as possible. Analogies are your friend here.
Love them or hate them, reports are a cornerstone of the SEO profession. It’s imperative that you understand their value. More importantly, you need to have a solid idea of the most common mistakes SEO professionals make in their reporting—and the best practices that can make your reports truly shine.