Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has now become a fundamental part of Digital Marketing since most businesses today rely on showing up on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) as one of their most important customer acquisition channels.
People make millions of search queries every day looking for a product they need or service they require directly on search engines like Google or Bing. A lot of search queries are made with an intent to avail an offering by an existing business. If a business providing a service shows up at the top of SERP, it has a very high chance of acquiring a new customer as compared to the competition that is listed below it. Hence, businesses today are investing large amounts of resources to ensure that they get ranked as high as they possibly can on SERPs.
Businesses usually keep a track of their SEO efforts using SEO Reports. This article will provide you with an in-depth understanding of what SEO Reports are along with the various metrics you should keep a track of to measure the performance of your website on SERPs.
Table of Contents
- Introduction to SEO
- 3 Types of SEO
- Introduction to SEO Reports
- Key Metrics to Track/Include in your SEO Report
- Top SEO Reporting Tools
- Choosing SEO Reporting Metrics and KPIs
- Why Should You Produce a Regular SEO Report?
Introduction to SEO
Before understanding what SEO is and how it works, you first need to understand what Organic Search Engine results are. When you search for anything on a search engine, you get two types of results: Paid and Organic. Paid results are usually advertisements of a website that are displayed when the owner has paid the search engine to display when a particular keyword or one of a given set of keywords is searched for. Organic Search results are usually a list of web pages that are displayed by the search engine because they match the user’s search intent.
It’s usually easy to differentiate between a Paid and an Organic Search result. Most modern search engines like Google usually display one or two Paid results as the top results of the search query or display them on the side of the screen. These Paid Search results always have a small message clarifying that it’s an advertisement.
The image above shows the results when “iPhone 6” is searched for on Google. It can be observed that some Paid Search results are shown by Google and all of them have a small yellow box saying “Ad” below the title. Following the first two Paid Search results are Organic Search results. The user can then make a decision to open any of the results accordingly based on this information.
Search engines have bots that scan billions of web pages on the Internet to understand the context of their content. This information is then analyzed using complex algorithms to understand whether the content on a web page matches the user’s search intent or not. Once all the pages that match the user’s search intent have been identified, they are ranked based on various criteria following which the results are then displayed to the user in increasing order of the rank assigned.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be defined as the process of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic coming to the website through Organic Search results only. This can be achieved by optimizing your website and the content on it taking into consideration the various factors that search engines examine to rank web pages.
3 Types of SEO
The three types of SEO analysis, they are as follows:
1) On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO refers to the process of optimizing the content on all the web pages on your website to ensure that it can match a user’s search intent and is hence ranked higher on SERP. This includes various activities such as keyword research, adding high-quality content specific to a targeted keyword, having proper titles, and well-written meta descriptions.
2) Technical SEO
Technical SEO relates to the part of the website that a user cannot directly view. This includes various strategies to improve the website’s backend and foundation. Technical SEO ensures that your website has high speed, is mobile-friendly, has structured data, and easy crawlability, etc. All this can ensure a great user experience which would result in high traffic and engagement.
3) Off-Page SEO
Off-Page SEO techniques are used to strengthen your influence and form relationships with other websites. This might help you in getting more Backlinks that can improve your ranking severely. If your website has Backlinks from a lot of other domains, it’ll be seen as reliable and hence, will be preferred by most users leading to high traffic and engagements.
Introduction to SEO Reports
SEO Reports are used by most businesses to keep a track of their SEO efforts by measuring the performance of the website on search engines. It is supposed to give an in-depth understanding of ranking, various domain metrics, the volume of organic traffic, etc.
A good SEO report should have details of the progress it has made towards achieving the website’s SEO goals since the last report was published, various insights to provide a quantitative representation of the domain metrics, a plan on what needs to be implemented further, and how it will be implemented.
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Key Metrics to Track/Include in your SEO Report
The Key Metrics to include when preparing an SEO Report are as follows:
- Organic Traffic
- Traffic Source
- Page-Level Traffic
- Audience Engagement
- Lead Conversion Rate
- Page Speed
- Keyword Rankings
- Referring Domains and Backlinks
- Organic Click-Through Rate (CTR)
- Bounce Rate
- Crawl Errors
- Monthly, quarterly, or yearly comparisons
1) Organic Traffic
One of the most significant goals of any organization’s SEO efforts is to increase the volume of Organic traffic coming to the website. Hence, this is the first metric that should be included in the SEO Report. This metric helps you get a broad idea of how many people visited the website and a very basic idea of how much your SEO efforts are helping your business grow.
A sample visualization showing the number of visitors for a domain is as follows:
The image shows exactly how the metric can be presented in your SEO Report.
2) Traffic Source
Once you have an idea of how much traffic your website is getting, it can be a good practice to elaborate on that further and explain where that traffic comes from to make sure that your SEO Report is in-depth and has all the required information.
This can then be used to get an understanding of which channels are performing well and which aren’t. It can help the marketing and business teams plan their future strategies accordingly to ensure that the channels that are performing well continue to grow and also figure out what they can do to improve the performance of channels that are not performing well.
This metric can be included in your SEO Report similar to a format as shown in the image below.
3) Page-Level Traffic
Now that you have a clear idea of which Marketing Channels are performing well and which aren’t, it makes sense to get a similar understanding for all the pages on your website. This metric will help you understand which pages of your website aren’t performing well on SERP.
This information can then be used to optimize the content on that page in a way that certain keywords having a high search volume are added that might match a user’s search intent on the search engine.
This metric can be used to visualize the trend in the volume of visitors for a particular page and can be included in your SEO Report in a form similar to the one as follows:
4) Audience Engagement
This metric can help you understand things such as the pages users visited and how long they stayed on it. This is one of the important metrics since this information on how the audience engages with your website has a significant impact on its SERP ranking. The following image shows how you can include Audience Engagement in your SEO Report:
5) Lead Conversion Rate
Another important metric that should be a part of your SEO Report is your Lead Conversion Rate. A high volume of traffic is not of much use to the business if they are not converting to leads. Visitors become leads when they initiate a conversation with your business. This conversation could be in the form of an inquiry, signing up for product or service updates, etc.
Leads can turn into customers and they are the ones who eventually help generate revenue for your business. The goal for any business is to increase the Lead Conversion Rate which can be defined as the fraction of visitors turning into leads.
The image above shows the variation of Lead Conversion Rate for a business. This metric is visualized along with website traffic.
6) Page Speed
Page Speed can be defined as the time it takes to fully load the web page. If your website takes a considerable amount of time to load, users will mostly choose to go back to search results and view another page. It was stated previously that search engines consider Audience Engagement to be an important metric. Since your website is unable to provide a good user experience, the audience will choose to not engage much with it, and hence, it will result in a lower page ranking.
7) Keyword Rankings
This metric can be used to understand which keywords your pages rank for. So if your pages rank for keywords that don’t have a high search volume, the Organic traffic to your website will obviously be low. You can also modify the content on your website to include keywords that have high search volumes that will help in increasing the traffic.
This metric can be presented in your SEO Report by listing the keywords that it ranks for along with the search volume for each keyword and how much it has changed over time.
8) Referring Domains and Backlinks
If a hyperlink from another domain links to your website, it is considered to be a Backlink to your website.
Backlinks to your website can help search engines understand the popularity and the relevance of the content on your page. It is a fair assumption that a page will only link to your page if your content is in some way similar or relevant to the content on the external page. Search engines use this assumption to understand how relevant your article is for a specific keyword based on the relevancy of a page that it has already crawled before.
If there are a high number of relevant pages linking to your website, then the ranking of your website will improve significantly. A website that has one or more Backlinks to your website is referred to as a Referring Domain. You should ensure that your website has a high number of Referring Domains and Backlinks.
Referring Domains should be added to your SEO Report along with the volume of traffic they bring to your website.
9) Organic Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Organic Click-Through Rate (CTR) can be defined as the fraction of users that open your website from SERP out of the total number of users who viewed your website as one of the search results. A high CTR for a particular set of keywords means that your content is matching the search intent of most users and hence, as your CTR increases, your ranking on SERP will also increase.
A sample visualization tracking the CTR in an SEO Report is as follows:
10) Bounce Rate
Bounce Rate can be defined as the fraction of visitors that leave your website without engaging with it in any form. This means that the visitor just viewed your content but in no way interacted with it which means that they did not click on a link, fill out a form, make a purchase, etc.
Although search engines today don’t consider Bounce Rate to be an important factor for ranking, a high Bounce Rate on your website could indicate issues with user experience, content, page layout, etc. The goal for any business should be to have a Bounce Rate that is as low as possible since any visitor bouncing from your website means that you have lost a potential customer. Hence, even though Bounce Rate might not be considered an important factor for ranking, it should be included in your SEO Report.
11) Crawl Errors
It was stated previously that search engines have bots that crawl web pages on the Internet to understand the context of the content on it which will help them easily rank web pages when a user searches for something. However, there is a possibility that the crawler might encounter some errors while going through the pages on your website.
Most modern search engines classify Crawl Errors as Site Errors or URL Errors. A Site Error occurs when the crawler is not able to access the entire site and a URL Error occurs when the crawler is not able to access a particular page on your website. Any sort of Crawl Errors would result in your website or some pages of your website not being indexed in SERP at all since search engines cannot access the page to understand the context of the content on it.
Further, if the crawler experiences a high number of URL Errors on your website, it’ll result in the ranking of the domain getting reduced which means that even the pages that it was able to access will be ranked lower and hence, it is an important metric that should be included in your SEO Report.
To avoid any sort of Crawl Errors, you should ensure that every URL for your domain returns an actual page. This could be done by ensuring that the page exists or by redirecting users to another page.
12) Monthly, quarterly, or yearly comparisons
Metrics and data don’t mean much if there isn’t any context around them. It is one of the best practices to maintain these metrics and data for Month-over-Month (MoM), Quarter-over-Quarter (QoQ), and Year-over-Year(YoY). It is also important to include Year-to-date (YTD) and Week-over-Week(WoW) performances.
This allows the client to see the growth (hopefully) of your work over time and provides you with an opportunity to not only build trust and expertise but also to educate the client on how to read the data accurately.
Top SEO Reporting Tools
SEO Reports need to be generated on a very regular basis to understand how well your website is performing on search engines. Generating the SEO Report manually requires a considerable amount of time since a lot of metrics have to be tracked. Hence, this process of SEO Report generation can be simplified using Reporting Tools.
Some of the best SEO Reporting Tools available are as follows:
1) Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a Web Analytics Tool offered by Google as a part of the Google Marketing Platform. It allows you to track various key metrics such as Organic Traffic, Traffic Source, Bounce Rate, etc. Along with that, it allows easy integration with other Google products which can help you easily manage, visualize, and store your Analytics data for your SEO Report.
Google Analytics Pricing
Google Analytics offers a free tier that has limited functionality and integrations. This tier is considered to be suitable only for individuals and small to medium-sized businesses. For larger Enterprises requiring core analytics functionality along with integrations to various Google products, Google offers the Analytics 360 tier. This tier does not follow a transparent pricing model and the final price depends on the requirements. An in-depth comparison of the Analytics tier and Analytics 360 tier can be found here.
SEMRush is a popular SEO Tool with various features that allow you to perform keyword research, optimize your Google Ad campaign, and analyze the performance of your business as compared to competitors. All these features can help you make a comprehensive SEO Report.
SEMRush offers 3 tiers i.e. Pro at $119.95 per month, Guru at $229.95 per month, and Business at $449.95 per month. It offers a 7-day free trial on the Pro and Guru tier following which the user is charged automatically. An in-depth comparison of all the tiers is as follows:
Users can also save up to 16% if paid on a yearly basis.
Ahrefs is considered to be one of the best SEO Tools and is the recommended choice for most businesses. It has a very large Data Index that consists of over 12 trillion links, 200 million root domains, and 3 trillion URLs. Its bot crawls up to 6 billion websites every hour to update the Data Index. Along with support for various analytics tools for SEO Reporting, Ahrefs offers an SEO Audit Tool that helps the user understand which parts of their website need to be refined in order to improve the ranking.
Ahrefs offers a 7-day trial for $7 following which the user has to start paying a subscription fee on a monthly or yearly basis. It offers 4 tiers i.e. Lite at $99 per month, Standard at $179 per month, Advanced at $399 per month, and Agency at $999 per month. The user can also get 2 free months if the subscription is paid for on a yearly basis.
Choosing SEO Reporting Metrics and KPIs
Ensure to report on the metrics that you consider to be important to your business. This important metric will vary from one business to another. The metrics you choose to include should make it clear that reports are used as a way to communicate progress, success, and actions. Ensure to select an optimum number of metrics. Since reports on very few metrics will not reveal the actual picture, while if you have more features, the user will lose interest. For successful SEO reporting, pick up the required number of metrics that contribute to your business and project.
Why Should You Produce a Regular SEO Report?
SEO plays a vital role in most businesses. This channel requires increasingly more investment and attention. This is relied on to be a primary marketing platform by many business owners and stakeholders. The regular SEO report will act as a progress update for them. SEO reports are equally important as SEOs. Your entire job becomes simpler when the SEO reporting is set right. By maintaining regular SEO reports, you can identify trends and area that seeks attention just at a glance. You can pull out all the insights that you need for your business. And when you choose the right metrics to report on, your reports become all the more valuable.
This article provided you with an in-depth understanding of what SEO Reports are, why they’re needed, and what are the key metrics that you should be including in your SEO Report.
Businesses today sell their products across various platforms. Although existing SEO Tools can be used to track the performance of individual platforms, they cannot be used to generate a common report for all platforms being used. If a common analysis has to be performed to make an integrated SEO Report, data from all these platforms first has to be integrated and stored in a centralized location. Integrating data from various sources for analysis can be a difficult task if done manually. Businesses can choose to make their data integration solution in-house or use existing tools like Hevo.
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