Live from #SMX East: Beyond Rankings: Actionable SEO Reports Your Boss Will Love

By Chad Rhodes | Sep 15, 2011
More Articles by Chad

The third session of the day has begun at SMX East 2011. Unfortunately the last two sessions of the day are only one hour long. Vanessa Fox, Max Thomas and Marty Weintraub will be speaking on how you can create usable SEO reports that actually show your results so you can prove your worth and keep your job.

Vanessa Fox – Nine By Blue

Actionable Metrics

SEO cannot be boiled down to a single number, but reporting is still important. Ranking reports can be finicky and only tell you where you rank, not why you rank there. If you aren’t monitoring why you rank where you do, what is the point?

Crawling and Indexing Investments

It is easy to report these errors to clients or bosses, but you also need to be able to show how it will help once you fix them. There is also a need to show how your changes have affected results after the changes have been implemented. Some good metrics to use include:

  • % indexed by page type
  • Traffic by page type
    • Include clicks per page
    • Top URL reports on Webmaster Tools
    • Errors over time
      • Crawl errors
      • Page not found errors

These metrics can help prove what needs to be changed in regards to your site, and how those changes have made a difference in site performance.

Log files can be useful for getting your developers to work with you. These files also include response codes so you can see where errors have occurring.

Keyword Ranking

It isn’t just about the keywords, it is about the people and what they are trying to accomplish. Report on their search queries and cluster the words people are trying to find into related categories. These keyword cluster reports can help show you how well you are performing on different terms. The webmaster tools query report can be great for providing real data on what words, and types of words, are driving actions on your site. Impression, click, CTR, and average position reports can be tied in with data from your Analytics account to identify trends and help you report not only on what trends are occurring, but why.

Marty Weintraub – aimClear

Despite a short session time and some technical issues, Mr. Weintraub packed a lot of fast paced punch into his presentation (which he managed to finish 25 seconds early).


  • Organic impressions
    • Combination of technical and semantic SEO
    • Site-wide CTR
      • Technical SEO and marketing based
      • Write an advertisement that is optimized for the title
      • This is a very important metric!
      • If you rank well and your CTR is poor, you title tag sucks!
    • CPC
    • Site-wide organic conversion
    • Number of visitors
    • Conversions
    • Cost
    • CPA

You can a conversion metric and show all these stats on it.

Relevant Non-Brand Keywords


  • Conversion
  • CPA
  • Traffic
  • Engagement / traffic attribution
  • Outbound to social


  • Site links
  • Universal SERP’s prominence
  • Engagement / attribution
  • Visibility

Brand Keywords

  • Geography
  • Day parting
  • Loyalty
  • Keyword diversity
  • Referral diversity

You can use all of this information to break down your keyword data to an extremely specific level. What are people searching for? How do these keywords and keyword types do based on all these metrics, and how can you change your SEO tactics based on it?

How To Build a Kickass SEO Dashboard

The further you can break down data the better. Even though it should be very granular, a dashboard has to be easy to look at and understand. Anybody should be able to go into your dashboard and easily search for, or filter for, specific data and be able to see exactly what they are looking for without a lot of effort.

Max Thomas – Thunder SEO

Max shattered Marty’s 25 second time by finishing up 3 minutes early, leaving us the full 15 minutes for Q&A.

Client Universe

Depending on the client, you may want to present a technical or non-technical report. Know your client and decide what is important to them. Remember that with larger clients the person you are reporting to may have to pass the information along to a superior who probably has even less time look at your data. Make the data easy to convey and avoid SEO “mumbo jumbo”. Do not highlight what they do not know.

Goals Vs. Metrics


  • Sales
  • Conversions
  • Phone calls

Define all of these things and put a monetary value on them. Make this a priority before starting any campaign or client relationship.

In some situations you cannot track your conversions. If this is the case:

  • Set at least one goal or metric
  • Use a “prospect metric”
    • Non-branded search traffic
    • Non-branded page traffic
    • Look for trends

One report does not fit all. However, an executive summary is always helpful. Remember KISS (keep it simple, stupid). Include the following in your summary:

  • Goals
    • How are you achieving them?
    • Did we reach our goals?
      • What were the successes
      • Key takeaways
      • Recommendations

Use charts and graphs, but make sure they are simple and easy to understand.

Don’t forget to always listen to the client and put yourself in their shoes. If you can’t convey your success to them, why will they keep paying you? You must convey your value in the simplest way possible to the decision maker in your client’s organization.

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