SEO activity reporting: the 2023 guide
Key components of an effective SEO strategy include reporting on SEO performance . Reports give you insight into how your website is performing on important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The information provides you with immediate opportunities to optimize your SEO strategies. By using appropriate tools and measuring the right KPIs, you can continuously monitor your website’s performance and evaluate the effectiveness of your SEO strategies. Identify areas that need improvement immediately. In this Q&A, as an SEO expert, I will elaborate on the importance of SEO reporting. I also tell you what the key KPIs are that you need to measure and what tools to use to measure and report your performance.
What are KPIs on which to report SEO activities?
Below I have listed for you some key KPIs on which to report SEO activities:
- Keyword rankings: tracking the ranking of important keywords in search engines like Google helps you measure the impact of SEO activities. An improved keyword ranking indicates that your website is better found by users on this keyword. This has a positive relationship with traffic to your website and the number of conversions.
- Traffic: a second key KPI is organic traffic from search engines to your website. An increase in organic traffic means that your SEO activities are paying off.
- Conversions: your ultimate goal is to convert website visitors to customers. That makes it important to record and monitor the number of conversions. A conversion can involve a purchase, but it can also involve filling out a form, requesting a quote or something else. Successful SEO activities increase conversions.
- Bounce rate: tracking the bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing just one page) is also important. A high bounce rate can mean several things. Your website may not end up being relevant to the search performed by visitors. Poor user experience, or UX, can also be to blame.
- Time on website: the time visitors spend on your website is also an important KPI. The more relevant and qualitative the content is, the more time a user spends there. This KPI has a positive relationship with user experience and conversion rates.
- Indexing and crawlability: if search engines have trouble crawling a website, they may not index pages or index them well enough. As a result, your website becomes less visible in organic search results. Tracking indexing and crawlability helps you identify and fix problems(1).
What tools can you use to track KPIs for SEO?
Several tools are available to track keyword positions, track organic traffic, measure conversions, monitor bounce rates, record the time visitors spend on a website and check indexing. Below I briefly discuss some popular tools:
- Ahrefs: Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO tool. It tracks keyword positions, but also gives you insight into organic search traffic and the time visitors spend on your website. Ahrefs can also generate reports on the bounce rate by page and traffic source and gives you relevant information about the indexing of your website. In addition, use Ahrefs to gain insight into competitors’ search traffic and offers suggestions for keyword research and content optimization. Finally, use Ahrefs to get a detailed report of keyword positions and insight into search traffic and your competition(2).
- SEMrush: like Ahrefs, SEMrush can also be called an all-in-one SEO tool. SEMrush offers a wide range of features, including keyword position tracking. The tool also has a feature to track organic traffic and offers insight into your website’s bounce rate and indexing. Moreover, it gives you detailed reports on the time visitors spend on the website, average session duration and other relevant statistics. As a user of SEMrush, you can track the position history of keywords and compare it to competitors(3).
- Google Search Console: Google Search Console is a free tool from Google. Website owners can use this tool to track their website’s performance in Google Search. Google Search Console also provides information on keyword positions and click-through rates. In addition, it provides insight into conversions generated by organic traffic. Here you can think about the number of clicks on a phone number or email address on a page. Finally, Google Search Console provides information about the indexing of your website and any problems that may be occurring(4).
- Google Analytics: like Google Search Console, Google Analytics is also a free tool from Google. He helps website owners measure and analyze their website traffic. Google Analytics provides insight into organic search traffic. In addition, you obtain important information about conversions such as form submissions, purchases and other desired actions. Finally, Google Analytics also generates detailed reports on bounce rates by page, by traffic source and by keyword, as well as average time on site, average session duration and other relevant statistics(5).
- Google Tag Manager: Google Tag Manager is another free tool from Google. You use it to manage tags and tracking codes on your website. Google Tag Manager you use, among other things, to implement conversion tracking codes like the conversion tracking code from Google Ads(6).
- Moz Pro: Moz Pro is another tool that provides you with a keyword position tracker. You also take advantage of other useful features such as crawl reports, page reports and competitive analysis.
- Rank Tracker from SEO PowerSuite: Rank Tracker is a tool from SEO PowerSuite that tracks keyword positions on various search engines, including Google, Bing and Yahoo.
- SimilarWeb: SimilarWeb is a tool that tracks organic traffic as well as provides insight into other traffic sources. Examples of such sources include social media, referrals and paid search. In addition, SimilarWeb also provides useful information on competitive comparisons and industry trends.
- Alexa: Alexa is a web analytics tool that gives you information about organic traffic, keywords, competitors and other statistics of interest. In addition, Alexa also generates rankings of websites. That way, you can compare your own website with others in the same category.
- Hotjar: Hotjar is a tool that allows you to map visitor behavior on your website. You gain insight not only into the pages they visit, but also what interactions they have with forms, buttons and other elements on the website. Using this data, you can analyze where visitors might get stuck. The actions you take on these help optimize your conversions. Among other things, you manage to achieve a noticeably lower bounce rate(7).
- KISSmetrics: the KISSmetrics tool focuses on tracking conversions and optimizing the funnel for conversions. KISSmetrics provides insight into user experience. Using this information, you can improve the UX of your website to achieve better conversion rates.
- Crazy Egg: Crazy Egg is a tool that tracks visitor behavior on a Web site and generates heatmaps. As a website owner, this will give you important information about where visitors get stuck. By improving them, you lower the bounce rate.
- Clicky: Clicky is a web analytics tool that provides insight into the time on site of organic traffic. You can take advantage of detailed reports on website time, average session duration and other relevant statistics.
- Sitebulb: Sitebulb is specifically designed to crawl and analyze websites. You use the tool to check the indexing of your website. Sitebulb also gives you insight into technical SEO issues that can negatively affect your indexing.
- Screaming Frog: also with Screaming Frog you crawl and analyze your website. This tool allows you to check the indexing of your website. You also gain insight into technical SEO issues that may affect indexing(8).
In addition to the above, there are other tools available on the market to track KPIs. However, the ones I have listed in this list are the most powerful and popular. It is important to choose the tools that fit your specific goals and needs.
To whom is the progress of an SEO project usually reported?
To whom you report the progress of an SEO project depends on the nature of the project and the organizational structure. Below I list some stakeholders to whom you can report the progress of an SEO project:
- Internal team members: the SEO team can report progress to other internal teams. Here you can think of the marketing, content and development departments. Regular reports keep everyone informed of the project’s goals and progress. They also promote mutual cooperation.
- Managers and executives: an SEO team can also report progress to managers and executives within the organization, such as the CMO or CEO. With these reports, you emphasize the importance of search engine optimization and increase your chances of receiving all the support and resources you need to make the project a success.
- External partners: as an SEO team, you may also report progress to external partners involved in the project. These could include agencies or consultants. You also promote communication with these parties that way. This helps ensure that all noses are pointed in the same direction.
- Clients: if you do the SEO project for a client, you report the progress as SEO team to him or her. A client likes to be kept informed of progress and results. You build transparent trust with customer reports.
Typically, it is important to report the progress of an SEO project to all stakeholders. This keeps everyone involved in the project informed of its progress. Reports are an important prerequisite for success and pleasant cooperation.
How can you tailor your reporting to your target audience?
The way you present your reports depends on your target audience. To fine-tune these, consider the needs and expectations your target audience has. As an SEO expert with years of experience, I’ll give you some tips below:
- Keep it concise: managers and executives often have limited time. They are particularly interested in the main results and findings. Therefore, make sure your report is concise and stick to key findings and recommendations.
- Be specific: internal teams and external partners often need more detailed information to do their jobs. For that reason, your reporting should include concrete information such as specific figures, graphs and tables.
- Explain the context: make sure your report explains the context of the SEO project. Talk about the objectives, what the strategy is and what actions you have taken to achieve these objectives. In this way, you can emphasize the importance of SEO and make stakeholders understand why certain actions were taken.
- Use visual elements: graphs, tables and other visual elements make it easier to understand complex information. Apply these elements to show important trends and changes in results.
- Adapt your language: tailor your language to your target audience. Managers and executives often have different backgrounds and expertise than internal teams and external partners. At all times, it is important that your reporting be clear to the target audience.
This is how you report by stakeholder
|What to Report
|In general, CEOs and other business leaders want a high-level overview of performance. This can include things like changes in organic traffic, lead generation or sales coming from organic traffic, and how SEO contributes to overall business goals.
|Marketing Managers may be interested in more detailed information, such as the performance of specific keywords, what types of content perform best, how SEO interacts with other marketing channels, etc.
|The content team may be interested in data that can help them create better content. This can include things such as keyword research, performance of existing content, topics that are performing well, etc.
|The technical team will be interested in data that can help them improve the technical aspects of SEO. This can include issues such as crawl errors, page load times, mobile usability issues, etc.
|The sales team may be interested in how SEO contributes to lead generation and sales. This can include things like the number of leads or sales coming from organic traffic, what types of content or keywords lead to the most leads, etc.
Are there differences in reporting for a large or small company?
Reporting the results of an SEO project is done differently within a large company than within a small company. Some specific differences you will read below:
- Size of the project: for a large company, the SEO project may be much larger than for a small company. There are more pages to optimize, more keywords to target and more parties involved such as different teams and departments. Are you going to report SEO results for a large company? Then consider the scale of the project and the details you need to provide to all parties.
- Stakeholder involvement: a large company often involves more stakeholders in the SEO project. Examples include managers, executives, various teams and external partners. When reporting the results, you need to create several reports, each customized to the specific needs of stakeholders.
- Complexity of the organizational structure: in a large company, the organizational structure tends to be more complex than in a small company. There are often more layers of decision-making and a larger number of departments and teams involved in the SEO project. Therefore, reporting the results may take more time and effort. After all, you are expected to provide the right level of insight to all involved.
- Resources and budget: a large company often has more resources and budget available for the SEO project. You can then also spend more money and time tracking results and generating reports. In smaller companies, reports are often less comprehensive because of limited budgets.
In general, you can say that reporting SEO results to a large company should be more focused on scale, stakeholder involvement, complexity of organizational structure, and resources and budget. If you report for a small company, the emphasis is on providing insight and conveying findings clearly and concisely.
Does reporting for the CMO differ from reporting for the CEO?
Reporting for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) differs from reporting for the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in a few ways. Some key points where these reports differ are read below:
- Focus of reporting: the focus of reporting for the CMO is often on the marketing aspects of the SEO project. If you report for the CEO, the focus is often broader. In that case, focus on the overall impact of the SEO project on the company.
- Language: the CMO is often better versed in marketing terms and jargon. The CEO, in turn, has a broader business background. Therefore, adapt the language you use in your reporting to the specific person.
- Level of detail: the CMO typically needs more detailed information to make marketing decisions. On the contrary, a CEO is more interested in what the results of the SEO project mean for the higher levels of the company. Therefore, when creating your reports, consider the level of detail a target audience needs.
- Reporting presentation: reporting for the CMO is often more visual and includes graphs, tables and other elements to make the results of the SEO project clear. For a CEO, he or she primarily needs summary numbers that provide higher-level insight.
- KPIs: the KPIs you report on may be different for the CMO than for the CEO. Reporting for the CMO typically deals primarily with marketing KPIs such as conversion rates, while reporting for the CEO focuses primarily on business KPIs such as revenue and growth.
It is important to tailor your reporting to the specific needs and interests of the target audience. By taking into account the aspects important to the CMO and CEO, your reporting becomes more effective. This way you know you are communicating the right information to each target audience.
Take advantage of dashboarding
Dashboarding involves visualizing and summarizing data in a single dashboard. This way you create a clear overview of a company’s or a specific project’s performance. A dashboard can consist of various visualizations such as graphs, tables, charts and other elements. Piece by piece, they provide quick insight into the key KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) important to a company or project.
A dashboard can contain different types of data. Examples include financial data, operational data, sales data and marketing data. In addition, it can include data from various sources such as CRM systems, Web analytics tools, social media platforms and other software tools used by the company.
The purpose of dashboarding is to simplify and speed up data analysis. That way, you can more easily identify key insights and trends and make better decisions. Dashboards are therefore an important tool for companies to monitor and manage their performance and respond quickly to changes occurring in the market.
The possible integrations of dashboarding for SEO
There are several integrations you can create for SEO dashboarding. Below I mention some examples:
- Google Analytics: this essential integration allows you to measure and analyze organic website traffic. With Google Analytics, you track key website statistics such as sessions, bounce rate, time on site and more.
- Google Search Console: This free tool from Google tells you how Google sees your website and how it performs in search results. Google Search Console lets you track your website’s ranking, search CTR and error messages.
- Keyword tracking tool: this tool keeps track of the ranking of keywords that are important to your website. It also helps you identify new keywords. Tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush or Moz are all useful for tracking keywords.
- Social media analytics tools: does your company use social media as part of its marketing strategy? Then then you can also use social media analytics tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer. These tools give you insight into the performance of your social media channels. You can also integrate this data into your SEO dashboard.
- CRM integration: if your company uses a CRM system, you can integrate it with the SEO dashboard. That way, you gain insight into the leads and customers that came in through SEO. Also, a CRM system tells you how they are performing in terms of conversions and revenue.
With the above integrations, you get a more holistic view of your website’s performance. It thus becomes clearer which of your applied SEO strategies are working and which are not. It can also help streamline reporting and increase efficiency.
Getting started with creating a dashboard in Looker Studio
Looker Studio is a platform that lets you integrate various tools and data sources into one view. Below I explain the steps you take to integrate all SEO tools into Looker Studio in one view:
- Identify key KPIs: identify the key KPIs you want to include in the SEO dashboard. These can include organic traffic, keyword ranking, conversion rates and bounce rates.
- Connect to data sources: connect to the various data sources you want to use in the SEO dashboard. These can be Google Analytics, Google Search Console, a keyword tracking tool, social media analytics tools or a CRM system.
- Design the dashboard: design the dashboard in Looker Studio. You create visualizations, graphs and tables to present data in an easy-to-understand way.
- Integrate data sources: integrate the various data sources into the dashboard. Also make sure that that data is current and automatically updated.
- Make the dashboard interactive: making the dashboard interactive allows the user to filter and segment data. This can be based on various dimensions, such as time, geographic location and device type.
- Test and optimize: test the dashboard. Use user feedback and organizational needs to optimize.
By following these steps, you can create an SEO dashboard in Looker Studio that contains key data and insights from the various SEO tools you use. This gives you an integrated view of your website’s performance. Based on this data, you can make better decisions.
Below is an overview of the tools and the KPIs you can report on with them:
|KPIs that can be reported
|Sessions, page views, bounce rate, time on site, conversion rates
|Google Search Console
|Ranking of keywords, clicks, CTR of searches, error messages
|Keyword ranking, backlinks, competitive analysis, content analysis
|Keyword ranking, backlinks, competitive analysis, ad analysis
|Keyword ranking, backlinks, keyword research, site crawling
|Social media statistics, such as reach, engagement, conversions
|Social media statistics, such as reach, engagement, conversions
|Sales, conversion rates, leads, customers
I want to explicitly mention that this is not an exhaustive list of all the KPIs that these tools can report. It does, however, give you a good idea of the types of data each of these tools can give you. Depending on the specific tool and settings you use, more or fewer KPIs may be available. First, it is important to identify the KPIs that are most relevant to your specific goals and audiences. You should include these in your reporting.
In short, reporting SEO performance is essential. Not only to monitor the visibility and findability of your website, but also to improve the user experience. By identifying key KPIs and measuring them with the right tools, companies can optimize their SEO strategies. Based on the data obtained, they manage to make better decisions. When reporting SEO performance, it is important to consider the organization’s target audience and needs. The use of dashboarding and the integration of various tools provides businesses with a complete picture of their website’s performance. It will quickly become clear to them which SEO strategies are paying off and which are not working. Regular reporting of SEO performance is an important step in achieving online success.