What To Include In Your SEO Reports?

24 Feb
This is a topic that nobody seems to want to commit to answering. The truth is there are many great SEOs, working hard and getting great results, but at the end of it, some clients aren’t as happy as they should be. There could be plenty of reasons why this is the case, but one of the most common factors is the reporting.

From my experience reports are an often overlooked element of the service, which can lead to a fairly high dropout rate of clients. The reports should be a way of showing the impact that your work is having on their business – if it doesn’t do this, why should your client get on board with what your doing?

So what should you include in your reports? This isn’t a definitive guide – far from it, but this should give you a starting point (especially if you are new to performing seo for clients).

Project Overview
A nice way to start a report is to highlight the objectives of the project, which ensures that the client is reminded why they are investing in SEO. Typical project objectives can be to “increase sales” or “gain more newsletter sign ups” from keyphrases not related to the clients brand.

Tip: Show some progress – if the target is to be in the top 5 of Google’s rankings for “Keyword 1” and the website is in position 10, say so!

Work Completed

If somebody is paying for your services, then it’s pretty likely that your client will want some form of evidence that you have done something!
If you’ve made any changes, such as page titles or descriptions, make a list of the pages and what you have done. If you have created and submitted a sitemap, include it. If you have resolved canonical issues or implemented redirects – include that on your list as well.

If you have acquired links to the website, then reference these. I like to be open with clients about the type of links I go after – if you have acquired a selection of links in a variety of quality, then perhaps just include the “better” links.

Tip: Not every client will want the ins and outs and full explinations of what you have done. In many cases presentation of this over substance is what the client will appreciate – especially if they are not technically minded. If this is the case, offer “more information” on request. You’ll have to make a judgement call based on what your client’s apparent understanding is.

Keyword Progress
Simple really! If the project is new, then its likely that the first report will be centred around the progress (if any) the website is making in the targeted search engines. What Search Engines to include? I tend to only include Google and Bing, as the other search engines won’t make an impact on the amount of traffic overall. In time if this isn’t the case, start to include Yahoo, Ask and any others you feel the need to.

Tip: Show progress! Try and show the improvement over the months that you have been working on the project – always take an initial benchmark of the ranking so you can compare it to where you started from.

Impact On Traffic
It’s good to show how much of the traffic to the website is as a result of the increase in ranking in the search engines, or as a result of a piece of link bait, or if you are actively (or sourcing) blogs to help raise the clients profile in their niche.

Tip: This information will be available in Google Analytics (and other stats software), so it doesn’t take long to get the information you need. The client will more than likely appreciate having the information in one place though.

Goal Completion / Sales
I like to include this earlier in the report than it appears on this list – but the truth is you may not have anything to report on initially, so if you haven’t, don’t include it!

I’d suggest you agree and define clear goals at the start of the project and if they aren’t sales, if possible try and attain a monetary value to them, which can be used into the ROI. For example, a company may have a perceived value of £3 for every brochure request, based on other forms of advertising.

ROI Figures
How often to include this is pretty debatable. For example if you were targeting competitive sectors with a low ranking or new website, then it’s pretty likely that the client wouldn’t see a return on their investment for the first few, maybe 12 months! Showing red figures on a monthly basis isn’t great.

Tip: The ROI stat tends to work better when there is a larger data set to sift through, potentially you could include this in quarterly, half year or annual reviews.

What Happens Next:
Say what the client can expect from the next stage of the project, for example if you are going to write a link bait article, say so! If you are going to spend your time sourcing links, say so!

So there you have it, the above will give you a fairly straight forward, yet fairly substantial amount of information to present to your clients. I’m sure the SEOmoz community will have additions to make to this list, so I’d love to see them – perhaps we could get this piece updated once we’ve had a few good suggestions as a reference source?


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