Unfortunately, many digital marketers and SEO experts miss the mark when it comes time to showcasing the effectiveness of their SEO campaigns. This disconnect is commonly caused because we, as SEO and digital marketing people, live and breathe SEO. Your clients, on the other hand, do not and, we sometimes fail to take that into account when reporting SEO.
You may find a choice client or two that are interested in (and understands) the data and jargon that we toss around in our daily SEO lives, but the vast majority won’t. Their eyes are going to glaze over if you hand them reports that are filled to the brim with charts and heavy spoonfuls of data.
As time goes on, they’ll only become more and more overwhelmed if you keep handing them a tome of numbers and not outline actual ROI.
The SEO reports you create need to convey real value that your client(s) can understand and immediately connect with. They shouldn’t be left assuming that your efforts are working based on confusing reports.
Rather, they should absolutely know for certain that your tactics are providing growth and value, particularly to their bottom line.
The following do’s and don’ts are things that every SEO expert should think about before handing over a report to their clients or stakeholders.
DO: Remember That Every Client is Different and So Should Every Report
Your clients all have varying degrees of understanding, when it comes to SEO and digital marketing. Again, you may have some clients that want every ounce of data you’re willing to throw at them.
But, the majority are going to be overwhelmed and prefer for you to get to the point. You also have to consider what each individual hopes to achieve through your SEO tactics.
For example, if a client is really interested in how much more traffic is being driven to their website from paid versus organic, that information needs to be at the top of your report. They shouldn’t have to hunt through the muck for the insights they actually care about.
You also don’t want to send the same templated approach report to every client. Too often, clients are handed reports with small adjustments, their logo and a little bit of data and that’s it.
Yes, this is easier and saves on time for SEO’s, but it greatly undervalues those on the receiving end of these reports because it treats them as the same when they are not. Plus, it doesn’t always convey the amount of effort and work you are doing for their SEO campaigns.
DON’T: Make a 50-Page List of All the Tasks (or Links) You Did That Month
Yes, your clients want to know how their money is being spent and what it is you’re doing for them. This doesn’t mean that you need to draw up a complete list of every tedious, uninteresting SEO-related task that you performed.
All these lists of tasks do is convey to the client that you’re doing something, even a lot of somethings. Yet, it fails to help them understand what all those somethings are actually doing and if they’re getting any ROI with your efforts.
SEO experts fall into this pitfall for two reasons. The first is that it’s easy to showcase that you’re doing a variety of tasks for a client. It looks impressive when you have a long list of tasks, keywords or new links.
The second reason is that these are the things that we get excited about. Sometimes, it can be hard to understand that the stuff we eat, breathe, sleep and live isn’t exciting in the same way for our clients. They prefer the numbers and data that has to do with their goals and less about how you completed your tasks for the week.
DO: Connect Your SEO Reports to the Client’s Bottom Line
The common thread between all of your clients is the entire reason that they’ve hired you in the first place: growth.
All of your digital marketing and SEO efforts are all for one underlying purpose and that is to improve your client’s bottom line. This should be the focus of all of your SEO reports.
When possible, look for the tactics that have the most immediately definable ROI and highlight those in your report. For example, lead generation through increased organic web traffic has an obvious impact on the client’s ROI, as more leads create additional sales.
DON’T: Make Your Reports Too Long and Too Fluffy
Length is another common issue that harms a lot of SEO reports. The longer the report, the harder it is going to be for the client to extract the relevant and most important information.
The old ‘KISS’ (keep it simple, stupid) acronym is a good one to remember here. When possible, you should aim to keep your SEO reports at a single page. A page provides ample room for you to highlight only the most relevant insights from your SEO for the report’s timeline.
If you find yourself crafting long and detailed SEO reports, setting a page limit will protect you from yourself and begin getting you to think about the most important information that needs to be highlighted.
That said, it’s alright to stretch your report to a second page, especially for a client that asks for extra information, wants a more customized report, or is interested in all the data and charts.
Any longer, however, and your SEO report starts to feel like a sequel to Moby Dick, with a lot less whales.
DO: Visualize Data and Other Elements For Your Clients
We’re naturally visual creatures; there’s no secret in that. This is especially true when looking at data. If you stare at a spreadsheet for long enough, your brain eventually puts the numbers together into logical sense.
Your clients want to see numbers in your SEO reports because they help prove ROI and the success of your strategies, but those numbers should be encapsulated into visualizations, like graphs and charts, whenever possible.
The good news is that most of the work in visualizing your SEO data is already done for you. Typically, you’ll be able to screenshot the displays offered by your SEO tools like AuthorityLab’s, and insert them directly into the report.
Balance is key, though, especially if you’re adding number-heavy graphs. A quick tip to know if you’re overloading your SEO reports with too many numbers is to highlight every number on the report.
Is the page a sea of neon yellow, or is their a good balance between raw numbers and insightful explanations and recommendations?
On the topic of color and visuals, it’s great to liven your reports with color whenever possible. You don’t want to distract from the information, but color can be a powerful motivator to draw the client in and lead them to the insights you wish to convey to them most.
DO: Make Recommendations and Plan For Next Month
This tactic is an easy conclusion to your report that will help get the conversation started about the next month’s plan. Now that you’ve demonstrated how your tactics are being successful, it’s time to recommend the next step to help achieve the goal.
This helps you translate all of the information and insights in the report into actionable advice for the client. It’s also okay if that advice is simply to stay the course, especially if you’re reporting fairly often, rather than quarterly.
Crafting the perfect SEO report is largely a practice of reading the room and knowing who your target audience is and their level of understanding and interest towards SEO. Every client is different and you have to create your SEO reports with this in mind.
By following these Do’s and Don’ts, you’ll ensure that you DO provide clients with actionable information that is understandable and connects to their bottom lines and DON’T overload them with unnecessary information or too much data.
The better your SEO reports, the greater the appreciation your clients will have for you and SEO.