How to Create SEO Reports – 37 Experts Share Their Best Tips

Essentially, SEO reports are used to inform clients, colleagues or stakeholders on how a website is performing in search engine results.

But SEO reports are also your main opportunity to show the value of your work, strengthen your work relationships and keep clients paying for your services.

Thus the success of your business appears to be directly connected to your ability to clearly and effectively communicate the positive impact you’ve driven on your clients’ revenue and profits.

With stakes this high, creating seo reports becomes a tricky and resourceful task.

Learn from SEO experts

To shed some light on the matter (and, of course, to do some qualitative research for our seo app – we pledge guilty 😉), we talked to some of the most prolific marketers and SEOs from around the world about how they tackle their SEO reporting.

We crafted four questions and asked them to share their most valued tips on how to deal with, and delight any type of client.

You’ll find out how these experts:

  • deal with unusual reporting requests,
  • what mistakes to avoid with reporting,
  • how they treat internal versus external SEO reporting,
  • and some personal best tips on the subject.

Scroll down and browse for lots of inspiring thoughts and tips. Fruitful reading!

#1 How do you deal with unreasonable reporting requests? Or do you usually report any way the client asks?

ROB STOUBOS, Managing Director of Odyssey New Media Ltd.


Rob is Managing Director at Odyssey New Media. You can connect with him on Twitter 

“When we receive unreasonable reporting requests from clients, in the first instance we have to weigh up whether any additional or more complicated reporting will benefit the client. We also have to understand how much longer the reporting will take.

One example of the most extreme reporting we have agreed to do is for a large travel client. We have worked on the SEO across 100s of their destinations and resorts. We were requested to track traffic and conversions across ALL of these destinations. This resulted in many additional items being extracted and reporting of traffic and conversions both sitewide as well as individual destination and resort analysis.

In most cases we will discuss reporting changes with clients in order to help them understand the cost in terms of additional time required for the reporting. By being honest with them, it is then up to the client to decide whether they want to pay more or if they want us to allocate some of their existing time from elsewhere.”

PAUL SIMMS, Reflect Digital


You can connect with Paul on Twitter, or check out Reflect Digital

“For us reporting is an extremely important part of the SEO service we provide, so it is never the case that a client’s request for detailed reporting is unreasonable.

We always ensure that our clients fully understand what we do on a monthly basis and the impact it has on performance. The obvious thing that needs to be taken into account is the client’s monthly budget; if our standard reporting does not cover the client’s needs, then we need to allocate additional budget to cover the time reporting.

SEO software such as AWR’s provide valuable reporting systems, but for us when it comes to detailed reporting, combining lots of different data sources, Google Data Studio is a great tool. It has allowed us to reduce time spent collating data and spend more time providing deeper performance analysis.”

ADAM ROWLES, Inbound Marketing Agency


You can connect with Adam on Twitter, or check out Inbound Marketing Agency

“Firstly, when we get reporting requests we assess if the data will help us make better SEO decisions.

Secondly, we will research if the data is easily accessible & reported using tools such as Advanced Web Ranking.

Thirdly, we want to educate the client of key metrics to report & why. We find that SEO tools have all the necessary reports.”

RIA FISCINA, Active Web Group


You can connect with Ria on Twitter, or check out Active Web Group

“Often, the client is trying to solve some sort of transparency issue on their end, or data they think is integral to a campaign, but are unable to express why.

We’ll work with the client to understand what it is they’re trying to achieve and then offer solutions that are acceptable client-side & agency-side. The biggest help in this is educating clients on KPIs, then reporting on those and factors that relate directly to them.”

VINNY LA BARBERA, imFORZA


You can connect with Vinny on Twitter, or check out imFORZA

“We’ve been fortunate to work with clients that have reasonable expectations and needs when it comes to reporting. I believe a big reason for this is because we set those expectations upfront during the sales process and then reiterate them again as we on-board the client. One thing that has helped with this is that we define the campaign goals and success metrics before the project is started. These can and do change, but setting these upfront helps to keep expectations in line with reality.

That said, in any service-based business there are always outliers that want or need more. In these edge cases, the “unreasonable” requests we’ve received, if we even want to call them that, either had to do with tracking rankings or with tying online marketing efforts to offline sales.

For rankings report requests, we make it very clear to clients that rankings are not the best success metric as they can and do vary. Sometimes it’s the easiest thing for someone to track though, as they can simply go to Google to see where their website is positioned. In cases where clients are adamant about tracking rankings, we will provide a monthly or weekly report, but we will also tie in a report that shows their organic search traffic movement for branded and non-branded phrases. That metric, organic search traffic growth is the one we want them to focus on more than rankings.

For offline conversion tracking, although much more challenging as external data is required, we make it clear to the client that these reports will only be as good as the information they contribute to it as well. This can be especially difficult when a client is not using a CRM or at least some type of tracking system. In these cases we’ll either help to introduce one into their workflow or we’ll, at the very least, get them setup with a simple Google Sheet so they can track sales or other offline activities like phone calls and walk-ins.

At the end of the day we understand that clear reporting is essential to keeping a client. On top of that, spending some time with the client every so often to go through the established reports can go a long way for the client and for us. This is where we learn what to report and how to report things more effectively for clients.

So, back to the original question… before we acquiesce to just any report demand we first try to understand what they’re asking for and why. If there’s a better, more efficient way to report what they need then we’ll push for that. And if they’re dead set on getting what they want, then we will usually do what we can to accommodate those requests. As mentioned, they’re so rare for us so they’re manageable right now. I suppose if and when they become more common we might have to rethink our stance on these requests.”

ANDRÉ SCHOLTEN, Google Analytics + Tag Manager, SEO and Site Speed specialist


You can connect with André on Twitter, or check out his website here

“Often clients ask for dashboards they “think” they want. And my first questions are “do you really need those numbers” and “are you able to influence those numbers”.

People often don’t know how much time some reports cost and therefore before starting to make the reports, I want to know how valuable those numbers are to them. If they can’t influence the numbers at all, then what’s the reason looking at them? It’s a waste of time.

The most valuable dashboards and reports have KPIs on them that show what the results of the conversion optimization work, campaigns, content changes, etc. are. That makes it possible to act on them and continue improving. So to get back to the question: I do not report the way the client asks, I don’t like doing unnecessary stuff.”

MARCUS MILLER, Bowler Hat


Marcus is an SEO & PPC Consultant at Bowler Hat. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn

“At Bowler Hat, the SEO agency I run in the UK, this all depends on the project. Where we are running a low-cost SEO campaign, then reporting will typically be fixed to include the most popular metrics being keywords, organic traffic etc. The main idea is that when we are working with tight budgets, the time we have to spend is focused on the work that will improve results for the client. The reporting is just a KPI to help us do that. We spent a lot of time analyzing and talking to small business owners regarding what they want from an affordable SEO package (thoughts on that here) and results were far more important than reports!

With larger and more complicated projects we will spend some time determining the objectives and the metrics that will help us determine progress and success. This would typically have business objectives and marketing objectives shown as KPIs, so we can show that positive movement on the marketing KPIs correlates with business-specific objectives.

It really does come down to the client and the objectives, but the reporting is so critical for us to know we are doing our job well and to demonstrate the results to the client. Even a single channel like organic can get quite complex in terms of reporting (I talk about how to measure SEO success here).

So, with the way we set things up, we don’t get too many unreasonable reporting requests. However, we do get requests that are outside the scope of our standard reporting. We would typically look at this as additional work and provide a price. We operate with full transparency, we track time for each account so if someone asks for a breakdown of work over six months there may be a small admin fee, but we can export this from our project management platform.

If the request is for some ad-hoc reporting we would feedback on the time required to do this and provide a quote. Often we see that people don’t want the information enough to pay for it! Sometimes these discussions lead to changes in the monthly reporting going forwards. Often, with more analytics work to be able to provide the detail required.

As with all elements of digital marketing, we find that communication is key. If the client understands how much work can go into custom reports, then they can decide if they want to allocate budget there or towards other areas that help deliver results.”

RUTH BURR REEDY, upbuild


You can connect with Ruth on Twitter, or check out UpBuild

“Our client discovery, sales, and on-boarding process is pretty involved, so usually by the time a client starts with us they have a pretty clear idea of where we stand on reporting.

Our whole philosophy is to set up dashboards for clients to be able to check their metrics themselves, so that we don’t spend our time (that they’re paying for each month) doing reports, and can instead focus on things that will move the needle for them – then, on a quarterly basis, we’ll do a super in-depth report that looks at the data and helps drive strategy for the next quarter. In the meantime, we check in with them weekly on where we’re at with current projects.

Typically, if a client suddenly asks for more frequent or in-depth reporting, we try to understand:

1. Where is the request coming from? What is the underlying need, and how can we help the client meet it?

2. Is this truly a one-off request (in which case we’ll usually just pull the data), or if it’s a recurring request, how can we automate it?

Approaching the problem with empathy usually leads to a solution that solves the client’s problem without locking us into unnecessary reports. If not, we remind the client of our existing priorities and scheduled projects, and explain how adding in the reporting will affect that timeline. If they’re down for that, we’ll do it for them, happily.”

WAYNE BARKER, BOOM


You can connect with Wayne on Twitter, or check out Boom

“Over the years at Boom we have had our fair share of “interesting” reporting requests and we deal with them on a client by client basis.

One of the biggest considerations is budget – and how long the reporting would take in comparison to the budget of the client. If the reporting is going to take up half of the client’s time for the month, then you aren’t going to have much work to report on.

Whilst we understand that clients need to to see and understand what is going on with both the activities on the account and the results, we have to make sure that time is well spent.

As a service industry, we lean heavily towards hourly rates – and if the client is very focused on this then it can be quite easy to demonstrate the work/reporting ratio. It is important to be tracking time to solve it this way.

A lot of clients don’t track their time and when they see how a detailed monthly report and a weekly catch up bites right into their budget, they start to consider what they actually need. If you can also demonstrate what work could be done in that time and what results that may achieve, then you can often get that reporting time down.

If you can layer on top of this automation – either via a tool like Advanced Web Ranking or Raven Tools, integration services like Zapier or IFTTT – even Google are on board with Data Studio – you can cut the time down.

And it’s about cutting that time down. Reduced time or reporting leaves more time for work. More time for work generally means more action. Action = results. Results = happy clients.”

CRAIG MCDERMOTT, Reddico


You can connect with Craig on Twitter, or check out Reddico

“We only want to provide reporting that directly correlates with the true performance of our clients’ businesses. We also only want to provide reporting that can be acted upon. We communicate this with clients at an early stage and if you’re working with the right clients, they tend to agree with this approach.

We are happy to provide training for clients to more easily find data themselves and happy to set up automated reporting dashboards for other metrics that they need to see on a daily basis. However, we will always check reporting requests against the question “what useful action is that information going to help you to take?”

JOSHUA PANTER, SEO Strategist at atom42


You can connect with Joshua on Twitter, or check out Atom42

“If a client asks us to report on something we think might not be reasonable, we’ll usually find out more about why they want us to report in that way and look to see if we can either provide that data in a way that suits both parties, or showcase how existing data can provide more valuable insight, if that is indeed the case. Ultimately, they’ve likely made the request for a reason, so understanding that reason and requirement can help us to deliver what is needed to the client.

We’re very transparent with our reporting at atom42, and give clients full access to a reporting dashboard link that updates every day. We usually try to agree what will be included in the reports early on, and then check in with the client regularly to see if they want any additional insights, or if anything doesn’t need to be reported on.

For us, total transparency is the best way forward, it means that the client is on the same page as us, and we can have more productive and open conversations about performance and results.”

Google Data Studio is great for creating custom SEO reports.

Check out this article with sample SEO reports created by AWR users with GDS and learn how to create your own SEO report with Google Data Studio and AWR.

#2 What are the most important mistakes to avoid when reporting SEO progress to clients?

DANIEL TANNENBAUM, Tudor Lodge Consultants


Daniel is Head of SEO for MediCompare. You can connect with him on Twitter

“Failing to show ROI: Most companies (especially senior staff) focus on ROI and trying to relate that to your SEO reports and rankings can be very effective. Rather than saying that we jumped up 20 positions for every keyword, it is powerful if you can say that previously you were spending £3 per click, but since doing SEO, you are now spending £1 per click and getting better traffic. That is how you blow peoples’ minds.

Managing expectations: SEO is a long-term proposition, it is important that you can show the client some initial growth whilst maintaining the idea in their head that SEO can take several weeks or months to show its real potential.

Just focusing on keywords: Seeing your keywords going up week after week is great and it’s the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. But part of effective SEO reporting means being able to also show an increase in visitors, conversions, time on site and lower bounce rates. Not only must rankings go up, but so must conversions too – otherwise what is the point?”

THOMAS ASTRUP JENSEN, iProspect Denmark


You can connect with Thomas on LinkedIn or check out iProspect Denmark

“I have compiled a list of common errors to avoid when making meaningful SEO reports for clients:

Do not report on organic visits from month to month. (You should report year on year).

Never make a report where you only highlight positive or negative changes. Go deeper and let the client know what action they should take based on the changes.

Avoid information overload. Think of your report as an actionable tool for your client. Each graph, rank or other development should give your client a clear call to action.
Never forget to include a glossary for technical terms. Maybe your client today knows all the abbreviations, but their manager or the new guy/girl who joins the team next week possibly won’t.

Leave your contact details. Clients, their managers, their employees or people working on their behalf might have questions to your recommendations. Make sure you are within reach.

Always make sure you include your sources in your reporting. If the data is from Advanced Web Ranking, be sure to mention that to the client in your report. Likewise if the data is from Google Search Console or Google Analytics.

Always make sure to include the reporting interval (from date to date). This leads to less confusion and will give the client a good opportunity to compare different data sources, reports etc. from other business intelligence units.”

ASHLEY MASON, Miromedia


You can connect with Ashley on Twitter, or check out Miromedia

“For us at Miromedia, measuring the right things is hugely important. Taking the time to thoroughly understand the goals and challenges of your client early on into your campaign will help you deliver in the areas that are most important to your client – or boss if you’re in-house.

I’ve seen many people get this wrong. Not only does it affect what you measure and report on, but it can make you focus on things that aren’t necessarily conducive to the end goal or the KPIs your client is measuring or being measured on.

Identifying core and secondary KPIs and reporting on these regularly will help you focus your team, directly affect KPIs and keep your client happy.”

SAM HURLEY, founder of optim-eyez


You can connect with Sam on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, or check out his company Optim-Eyez

“The year is 2018. SEO has changed and reporting needs to adapt, too! Here are my top 5 SEO reporting mistakes to avoid:

Mistake #1: Sending Fully-Automated Reports To Clients
Besides the increasingly intricate nature of SEO today (demanding more time + human input), personality is essential for agencies to flourish. Complex reports need explanation. Progress in the form of spreadsheets might not take everyone’s fancy… Pick up the phone and guide them through it, detailing your awesome performance.

Mistake #2: Jumping The Gun
It’s easy to get excited about a sudden bump in visibility. BUT: Is this going to last? Or is it just a blip? Ensure progress is steady and constant before sending an excitable email to your client…

Mistake #3: NOT Reporting Bottom Line Metrics
Your client is now ranking highly across a variety of searches… For their cheapest product that is searched on Google only a few times per year! This isn’t going to impress… Prioritize what you report with respect to the client’s revenue and profit margins. (And these should be known right from the beginning, too.)

Always include conversion values (micro + macro)! They should “easily” be able to see the ROI from your services.

Mistake #4: NOT Reporting Organic Attribution
What effect is SEO having on other channels? Is it attracting visitors who then convert through Social Media at a later date?
What about email? Are they signing up to the client’s newsletter as a result of first-touch organic discovery? There are always gems like this to be found within the client’s analytics…

[ I recently wrote an in-depth guide on tracking customers across all devices and channels ]

Mistake #5: Forgetting To Set Future Expectations
Results are looking great. The next few years should be the same, right..?! “Nothing” is guaranteed in search. Always be sure to include a personal note (from a human!) that illustrates your strategic plans for the next quarter + latest developments in Google which may impact results (positively AND negatively).

This not only shows the client you care, but that you’re in it for the long run… not just sugar-coating reality to gain a quick buck now.”

JOHN CAIOZZO, SEO Inc.


You can connect with John on LinkedIn, or check out SEO Inc

“I think SEOs often run into the problem of including a lot of jargon, buzzwords, and metrics that are not important to the client (perhaps they don’t care, or just simply don’t understand how it’s important and relates to their business goals) in reports.

Often, information from other traffic sources is included in reports, which can cause some confusion and create the illusion that you are also working on increasing those traffic sources as well; as an agency, we only report on traffic sources that we are directly working on such as Organic, Paid, or Social.”

AARON AGIUS, Louder.Online


You can connect with Aaron on Twitter, or check out Louder.Online

“I think there are a couple of obvious mistakes consultants make. Don’t report incorrect information, either intentionally or accidentally (because you’ve double-counted revenue, for example).

Don’t try to gloss over negatives, like unexpectedly bad performance, and don’t over-emphasize improvement on vanity metrics. Getting called out on any of these can sink your career (or, at least, get your contract cut short).

But another mistake I don’t see discussed as often is the problem of not translating your reporting to your clients’ perspective. Moving up three spots in the SERPs for a target keyword doesn’t mean anything for your clients. Seeing increased revenue from organic traffic does. Proving your value in numbers your clients care about is the key to being kept on as a consultant.”

SHANE BARKER, Shane Barker Consulting


You can connect with Shane on Twitter, or check out his consulting firm

“The first mistake to avoid is showing them their progress in terms of traffic alone. While traffic is crucial for measuring the impact of SEO, what matters more is the amount of conversions. So your main focus in the report should be ROI. Traffic should only play a small part in the reporting.

Another mistake is lack of proper and regular communication, which can result in a lot of misunderstandings. You should provide your clients with regular and clear updates about your progress instead of leaving them in the dark and then suddenly hitting them with a full report at the end of the month.

One major mistake that some SEO experts make is that they fail to set realistic expectations, which can result in a disappointed client. You should make it clear to your clients how long it usually takes to start seeing results, and what kind of results they should expect. That way, they’ll have a more realistic understanding of the progress you’re reporting.”

STEPHEN KENWRIGHT, Branded3


You can connect with Stephen on Twitter, or check out Branded3

“Most SEO reporting mistakes occur before the first report is even created and it usually comes down to misaligned objectives.

Organic rankings can tell you a lot about why visitor numbers are up or down – or why behavior on the site is changing – but it’s the visitor numbers and behavior that need to be tracked. Knowing where you rank is helpful in predicting what might happen (you obviously won’t tell the business you expect to see a huge increase in organic traffic without a shift in rankings for high volume keywords happening first) but it’s not overly helpful in analyzing progress. You don’t know how what you did affected the movement; you don’t know if you can do it again and you don’t want to set a precedent.

If you track too few rankings it will give you a tiny fraction of the story – track too many and it’s easy to see good news or bad news everywhere you look, without ever really making a difference to the bottom line.

My best advice would be to make sure success measures are agreed in the contract so you can steer the conversation back to metrics that will actually help the business.

I’d also suggest keeping a record of results and deliverables in the same report – traffic could be down, or forecasts missed, because something that should have been implemented hasn’t been… The most useful function of a report is to tell you what needs to be done.”

BRIE MOREAU, WL Digital Marketing


You can connect with Brie on Twitter, or check out WL Digital Marketing

“The most important mistakes to avoid when reporting SEO progress to clients are honestly many…

Firstly, you need to make sure that you take a baseline of the rankings before you start working in the account so you can show the improvements made before and after. The second thing is to make sure that your SEO reporting is super targeted – do not track rankings of 500 keywords that you are not optimizing for.

Yes, keep track of those rankings but separate them from the 20/30 keywords that you are optimizing for as the data you have for 500 keywords will dilute the great work you’re doing for the 20/30 keywords you are working on.

We normally work in phases, targeting 20/30 keywords, get the positive rankings, then on phase 2 do the same, phase 3 etc… If you just add all keywords to the same account, all keywords will not rise at the same time and everything won’t be green/positive and realistically it’s about those pretty green arrows, so make sure everything is segmented to get a full account of them.”

CESAR FERNANDEZ IZA, Optimizaclick


You can connect with Cesar on Twitter or check out OptimizaClick

“The most important mistake to avoid when communicating SEO evolution is not to report whether the planned strategy is working, whether it is reporting qualified traffic, whether leads have been obtained, orders, or calls received. It is not enough to send the positions of certain keywords.”

KASPAR SZYMANSKI, SEO Expert SearchBrothers


You can connect with Kaspar on Twitter, or check out SearchBrothers

“In my experience as an SEO consultant, clients are frequently eager to gain insights and try to exert pressure to get findings or a preview prematurely. Giving into such requests is a mistake and becomes a poor service towards the client.

Data driven, actionable SEO results are only to be shared once a complete picture was painted, based on all available data. It is important to keep in mind that with SEO, individual factors on- as well as off-page influence each other and may be seen in a different light once an SEO audit has been completed.

Mid-term status updates tend to aggravate and confuse, which is why managing client expectations and complete transparency about all anticipated SEO audit steps is of the greatest importance in order to cultivate an inclusive, positive environment most likely to foster swift SEO roadmap implementation.”

ANNABEL CLARK, Upperdog


You can connect with Annabel on Twitter, or check out Upperdog

“Don’t focus on just one KPI such as rankings or organic traffic.

SEO progress can mean many things. Establish the client’s objectives and align your reporting to this. We report on a number of factors to gain an overall picture of progress. These can include organic rankings (national, local, by type e.g. mobile, maps), organic traffic, and organic sales/conversions – including anything from a micro-conversion like a store locator page view, through to a purchase.

Most importantly, if you’re sharing stats with the client, ensure they understand what they mean and explain it further if needed!”

MICHAEL FIELD


You can connect with Michael on Twitter, or check out his consulting firm

“1) Reliance on too much manual work – use tools like Google Analytics Dashboards or Google Data Studio to align your SEO efforts with the overall goals you have agreed with a client.

2) Too much emphasis on reporting on exact match keyword rankings. Whilst it is important to look into ranking data to understand how visible your site is within SERPs, it is important to understand the full context behind these rankings.

Using tools such as AWR or SEMrush which will allow you to review the SERP features of landing pages and groups of keywords results in a more tailored strategy to improve visibility for keywords and topics.”

Google Data Studio is great for creating custom SEO reports.

Check out this article with sample SEO reports created by AWR users with GDS and learn how to create your own SEO report with Google Data Studio and AWR.

#3 What are some key differences between reports you use internally versus the ones you send to clients?

DANIEL FOLEY, Assertive Media


You can connect with Daniel on Twitter, or check out Assertive Media

“The key differences between the reports we use internally vs. what we send to the clients:

1. We filter out irrelevant keyword data to hone in on valuable keywords that will offer positive growth to the client.

2. Our internal reports combine time, profitability, scope to rank as well as liaison notes, our external reports omit this data.

3. Reports internally offer our search engineers a chance to understand the direction that an SEO project is going in whilst most clients just prefer to know the basics via short/brief updates.

4. Our reports internally combine metrics from multiple third party tools include Majestic, SEMrush and Ahrefs whilst ones we send to clients omit this data unless they specifically require it.

The main thing to take into consideration is “not confusing” or “bamboozling” the client. Our internal reporting helps us to make better decisions for SEO projects from keyword selection to project focus. Reports we send to clients are far more simple, straightforward and to the point. Clients hate complex, long-drawn out reports.

Ranking reports are kept even more basic, we just show position and position changes and that is all the client wants to see separate to analytics performance.

We’ve traditionally used Advanced Web Ranking with custom CSS for reporting, but are now looking to transition this to the cloud for the benefits of our internal team and our clients.”

SUSAN DOLAN, SEO WEB MARKETING


You can connect with Susan on Twitter, or check out SEO Web Marketing

“In-house we are far more technical. I think the key difference in external reporting is how much detail we don’t go into as sometimes you can blind people with science.

For example, we tend to use a “traffic-light” system in external reporting so it is clear how important each issue is, i.e. red obviously being the most important. Whilst internally we have listed everything in DE-tail. Both reports are available to the client but tend to go for the more simple traffic light approach.”

TOM SHURVILLE, Distinctly


You can connect with Tom on Twitter, or check out Distinctly

“The main differences between internal reports and external reports are design and the detail we go to. Internal reports are far more crude looking but are considerably more detailed.

External reports are more focused on KPIs and key deliverables as these are typically more important to the clients (although this does of course vary).”

DIPTA MALIK, UWP Group


You can connect with Dipta on Twitter, or check out UWP Group

“I’d say the main thing is “external reports look a lot more polished/pretty whereas internal reports are always usually raw data”. Apart from the presentation, I’d say that the internal reports contain a lot more raw, un-formatted data, whereas the client reports just have the headline numbers.

We’re pretty sure that reports hardly ever get read with any enthusiasm and, when they are, people just want to know the highlights (traffic and rankings, usually!).”

CATHERINE DIX, Web Profits


Catherine is Head of Content Marketing & SEO at Web Profits. You can connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn

“Reporting on SEO is something that we’re always refining and innovating on as a team. The greatest challenge is providing information that makes sense and actually means something to a client.

We pride ourselves on transparency but in some instances we can provide information that is overwhelming to someone who is not knowledgeable on SEO.

Internally, we use the following software to assess the results of a client’s campaigns: AWR Cloud, Analytics, Search Console, SEMrush and Ahrefs. When presenting results to clients we present data pulled from Analytics + Search Console, along with a snapshot from AWR, however lots of our clients do have full view access to AWR.

With this in mind, the biggest difference is we LOVE data and collecting it from a variety of sources, whilst for clients we aim to provide succinct ‘this is what you need to know’ data that shows the journey, progression of results.”

AJ KOHN, Blind Five Year Old


AJ is the founder and owner of Blind Five Year Old. You can read his blog here, or connect with him on Twitter

“The key difference between reports used internally versus those that go to clients is the level of detail. Client reports are essentially dashboard reports that give people the ability to understand progress at a glance.

Internal reports have this feature but also the details that allow for further analysis and drill-down. I don’t want a client to obsess about any specific term or terms so a rank indices work well, while allowing me to identify any specific issues that might be on the horizon.”

FERNANDO Maciá, human level communications


Fernando is the CEO of Human Level Communications. You can connect with him on Twitter

“These are the main differences about how we manage reports internally and how we deliver the information to our clients:

The reports we use internally focus on how to diagnose whether the changes we recommend or implement in our clients’ web sites are producing the benefits we expected or not.

For instance: we try to find correlations and cause-effect relations between when a certain improvement was implemented and when we could identify an increase in organic traffic or SERP rankings. Thus, we are able to identify what is working – to improve and repeat– and what is not, and why.

The reports we hand our clients, however, are made with two goals in mind. First of all, we have to include all the relevant information so our client can make documented decisions on how the resources should be better allocated among the multiple online marketing strategies. But, at the same time, we also use the information to make our work stand out so we have data to prove the added value that we are returning and how the clients’ money is being invested in the best and most efficient way.

So I would say that internal reports focus more on a “tactical” focus to find improvement opportunities and making corrections on our initial strategy, whereas reports for our clients focus more on a “global strategy” focus where the detail is not as important as the big picture and global evolution of the project.”

FARHAD DIvecha, AccuraCast


Farhad is Managing Director at AccuraCast. You can connect with him on Twitter

“My answer is none – there are no differences in terms of what we’re reporting on. The only differences between our internal reports and what we send to clients arise on the following factors:

1. Frequency – most clients want just a monthly update on SEO, whereas internally we track organic traffic much more regularly.

2. Explanations – we provide information to the clients within the reports explaining any issues we faced, how these were resolved, and strategies for the coming months. These aren’t included in our more frequent internal reports.”

Google Data Studio is great for creating custom SEO reports.

Check out this article with sample SEO reports created by AWR users with GDS and learn how to create your own SEO report with Google Data Studio and AWR.

#4 What’s your personal best tip for SEO reporting?

DEVON SPRAGUE, MBA at range marketing


You can connect with Devon on LinkedIn, or check out Range Marketing

“When it comes to SEO reporting, it is very easy to overwhelm your client and lose the true meaning of the data. SEO reporting should be goal-focused and convey the true value of your work.

Even something as simple as setting the dates in your report can make all the difference. Is it a seasonal business (year over year analytics) or is it evergreen (month over month)? AWR’s tools help my company generate actionable insights for our clients on a weekly basis, automatically.”

MATTEO MONARI, Agency Director of BizUp


You can connect with Matteo on Twitter, or check out BizUp

“I think the most important element in SEO – as in any reporting – is storytelling: adding a basic logic narrative to it keeping in mind what is more important to the client.

In the SEO case, a typical narrative would be like:

This month we implemented X on-site and focused off-site activities on area Y. As a result, rankings for KWs belonging to cluster X and Y increased, and so did organic traffic (+K%), which resulted in more leads/sales for you (+Z%)… and this logic flow works of course even better when supported by AWR reports such as keyword ranking, visibility report and AWR’s integrated Search Console data.”

JONATHAN JENKINS, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency


You can connect with Jonathan on Twitter, or check out Thrive Agency

“I have two tips for you, feel free to pick both/whichever works best:

1. Make it personal
We provide a quick 5-7 minute video walk-through with each set of month reporting. Via a screen-cast, our client hears their specialist review the progress with them as they click through our various reports. We’re able to present the data in a positive light, provide explanations for anything that seems like a negative, and just build a more trusting relationship.

2. Provide “Highlights”
It doesn’t matter how good your results are if your client doesn’t know about them. Many clients don’t prioritize reviewing the reporting, and so anything you can do to make the reports “skimmable” but still pithy is a huge win. We’ve done this in a couple ways:

a) We provide a 3 Key Metrics report where we highlight the things our clients care most about in a simple layout. If a client only has time for one report, this will provide a fair summary of how things are going.
b) We include “Highlights” right within the reporting email that draw attention to 2 or 3 wins we’ve experienced over the last month.

These won’t guarantee that your reports are reviewed, but they’ll certainly help!”

AJ GHERGHICH


You can connect with AJ on Twitter, or check out his consulting firm

“If your report is not a short and sweet executive summary, nobody will read it. You can link out to deeper research, but your client should understand what is happening at a glance.

Summarize
1. Monthly SEO Activities – Highlight your research and optimization.
2. Conversions – Show them the money.
3. Landing Page Traffic – Which landing pages are driving traffic? Be sure to highlight any landing pages with below average conversion issues.
4. Link Growth – What is their link earning velocity compared to competitors?

Keep it simple and show your value in a way that is easy for your client/boss to process.”

MARCUS TANDLER, Managing Director at RYTE


You can connect with Marcus on Twitter, or check out RYTE

“SEO reporting is really about using the right tools for the job to get reliable data so you can make an informed decision.

You should always use and trust Google Search Console data when reporting your site’s performance in Google. Tracking ranks with a 3rd party software might be interesting when monitoring competitors, but when it comes to your own domain it doesn’t make much sense to rely on 3rd party data.

Besides a static ranking snapshot, Google shows you the real average position as well as search impressions and the number of times people click through to your site. This helps a lot when trying to move up the ranks and optimizing snippets for a higher CTR in the SERPs.

When reporting backlinks, it makes sense to query different tools or use a software solution, which aggregates backlink data from multiple tools. This way you really take a step back and see the whole picture, instead of analyzing just one piece of the puzzle.

The same holds true for periodical website audits. Don’t just look at the basics, instead really try to get it 100% right. If you’re not ready to go the extra mile, one of your competitors might do so and eventually shoot ahead in the SERPs.

Don’t obsess about Google, obsess about your users, so make sure everything’s in place for your users to have a fast-loading, omni-device friendly and generally flawless website experience.”

Google Data Studio is great for creating custom SEO reports.

Check out this article with sample SEO reports created by AWR users with GDS and learn how to create your own SEO report with Google Data Studio and AWR.

If you’re reading this, I hope it means you’ve read through all the answers these excellent folk were kind enough to share with us.

I think there’s quite a lot to learn and process from these nugget thoughts, so be sure to take notes of the ideas that struck you as most useful, or bookmark the page for future use.

SEO reporting is just a part of your work – but knowing how to streamline this process and make it easier, more insightful for your clients can have a tremendous positive impact on your business.

How do you tackle SEO reporting for clients, or internally? Are there any strategies or ideas you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear about it!

Author: Aura Dozescu

Aura Dozescu is Customer Care Specialist for AWR Cloud. Passionate about Internet Marketing and SEO technologies, she is working closely with seo software developers to implement the feedback received from customers. Connect with her on Twitter

18 thoughts on “How to Create SEO Reports – 37 Experts Share Their Best Tips”

  1. I made a report like this, and I saw the figures in the Montly Visits column refer only to the URL in the Websites column. I think it would be great to see also the visitors that keyword brings for the entire website, not just for a URL

    1. Thanks for your comment Tim. Your observation is correct: the Monthly Visits column shows you how many visitors your keyword drove in one month, only for the URL displayed in the report. If you want to see the number of visitors that the keyword generated for the entire website, you need to use the Site Monthly Visits column. You can add it in the report from Select columns, the same as the other columns.

    2. Tim, the comparison Monthly Visits (as for the webpage) vs Site Monthly Visits (for the entire website) can give you a good insight over whether the page you are monitoring is indeed optimized for that keyword.

      I happened to see this on one of my websites where only about 10% of the traffic a keyword drove to the entire site was to my actual landing page. So the keyword was relevant and good but the page I was monitoring wasn’t. I had to change that.

      Good job with the links&analytics integration.

  2. I also agree with Tim but perhaps another take on it. I am looking for a keyword report that shows how much traffic each keywords brings to the site each month. That way customers can see that number increase. Then to view a graph as that keyword increases in rank you can see an evolution in monthly traffic.

    Thanks!

    1. Thanks for writing Adam.

      We are already working on implementing the analytics component in the rankings reports. This should be available in our next application version. For the time being, you can see the analytics and visibility metrics in a chart, using the Overview – Evolution in Time – Keywords interactive report. Values here are shown per each keyword that you select, for all search engines in your project.

  3. Awesome! I feel like I have a magic pencil 🙂 I actually created different templates for my clients, each one with different columns and sorting. Now my reports make everybody happy

  4. This all sounds awesome – I have a couple of issue however:

    – I am not getting ANY data for monthly visits.  My analytics account is hooked up fine.  Any ideas?- When creating a printable report, the ability to filter what sites/keywords are shown is greyed out.  I want to make a simple version without any competitors.  Thanks.

    1. Hi Barry, 

      It looks like you are using a global report template. The global template in AWR is available in all projects, not only in the project you have currently loaded. So, by design, it includes the data for all websites, keywords and search engines in the report file generated from each project. 

      If you want to generate a report file only for a specific website in the project, you can use one of the report templates that are available only in that project (you can see all these templates in the Report menu), or you can create a new template, without marking it as “global”. In this case, the websites, keywords and search engines grids will not be grayed out, so you can select the ones you need to show in the report file. 

      Regarding the analytics data, we would need more details to see what happens in this specific case. Please contact our support team at help at advancedwebranking dot com

      1. Thanks Aura.  That worked.  It’s a bit odd – setting up a Global report – I would have just thought that it means the report (with all your custom data/settings) could be run from within any project.  Take the one in the article for instance, would be useful to have this as a ‘Report Template’ in any project without having to go through the setup again.  Otherwise, Global Reports in their current configuration do not seem to be that useful – I cannot see that many use cases when you would want a report to contain all websites and keywords from all projects?  I will email the support team about my other issue – just getting to grips with AWR!

        1. The reports generated from a global report template contains all the websites, keywords and search engines from each project (not from all projects together 🙂 )

          The two types of report templates were designed to cover two workflows: 

          1. website owner, with a small number of projects (<20-30). 

          In most cases like this, there would not be a need for global templates. The user can easily go through each project whenever he wants and generate the report files with the selection that he needs, from any of the report templates available in that project.

          With these report templates per project, users can generate the report files either for a specific selection of websites and keywords, or for all websites and keywords that he has added to that project.

          2. seo agencies, with 1000+ projects 

          With a large number of customers, seo agencies need to automatize the update and report generation processes. Thus, the solution implies the use of multiple scheduled update tasks, that generate the report files automatically for each project after the ranking updates have been completed.

          In order for the scheduler to "know" which report to generate for which project, the user needs to actually select the related report templates in the Scheduler Wizard, when creating the task. 

          However, selecting +1000 report templates would be a time consuming task. This is why we implemented the possibility to create global report templates.     

          For example, if the user creates a Keyword Rankings global report template, he will have this template available in all +1000 projects. Thus, if this template is set to be deployed automatically after each project update (Report – Save to local file – Deploy) then after the update of each project, a Keyword Rankings report file would be generated from this global template, with the settings the template in question has. 

          To make sure these Keyword Rankings report files are generated from the template following the multiple update scheduled task, the user can easily select the "Reports generated after each update" option from the Scheduler wizard steps, instead of working with the "Selected reports" option there, where he would need to select the keyword ranking report template for each of the 1000+ projects

          Now, with the global report template, since the user can see this template from any project, the changes performed on the template (like the report title, or file name, etc.) from one project is further reflected in the global template the next time the user accesses it, from any other project. 

          This mechanism makes it necessary to have, by default, all websites and keywords from each project added automatically to the report files generated from the global template from each project at a time. 

          In cases where users would need to see a report from a project only for one of the websites added there, they can simply generate a report file from another report template that is available in that project, and is not global

          You can find more about working with different types of templates and editing them in our user guide, here:http://www.advancedwebranking.com/user-guide/html/en/ch09s02.html

          1. Thanks Aura for posting this great and very helpful post. It helped me in managing my website SEO reports and getting insights out of it.

    1. Hi Sydney, 

      You can see the number of links you have for each anchor text in the Links – Anchor Text Distribution report. Once you retrieve the SEOmoz anchor text details in AWR for your domain or for the pages you are interested in, you can see in this report the links and linking root domains related to each anchor text, as well as the referrer URLs. 

      Hope this helps 🙂

  5. Awesome round up <3 I think now I can make great SEO reports for my clients. Thanks a lot for this great piece of information

  6. One of the best roundups I’ve recently come across. Fantastic stuff Aura.

    I too create a ton of SEO reports for my clients and other major news websites and I mostly rely upon SEO tools like SEMrush. I know creating reports is NOT a big deal but finding major flaws such as bad backlinks, technical issues, broken pages etc can be a daunting task.

    With comprehensive SEO reports done by experts, one can easily figure out what are missing in their content or SEO strategy. The key here is to analyse each and every SEO factor ranging from on page analysis to technical analysis to backlink profile, competitor research and so on.

    Thanks for sharing the post with us, keep posting more.

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