SEO Reporting: The Key to Measurement and Success

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Jul 21, 2010
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Recently, I’ve had some conversations with friends and prospects who’ve hired other SEO agencies, and I’ve heard some startling stories about how many other agencies do not include reporting as part of their process. Excuse me?

Reporting is no more than measurement, really, and to realize success or failure, all things must be measured. Would you go on a diet to lose weight and yet never step on the scale? Would a parent send a child to school, but not care about seeing a report card on the child’s progress? How do you know if you’re successful if you don’t measure your progress?

Measurement is a key to understanding where you started, where you stand, and how far you have left to go. It’s really that simple. So my first rule for companies is:

Never hire an SEO agency that doesn’t provide at least monthly reporting.

Some companies may require more frequent reporting, but I find monthly reporting is at least a good interval for most companies.

What should be measured in the report?

To determine what you’ll measure in any report, you first have to start with the questions you want answered, then figure out what measurements answer that question. We often call these measurements KPIs (key performance indicators). In SEO, one of the most common questions is “Where are my search rankings today, and are they improving?”. An obvious answer to that question lies in simply measuring the rankings for each keyword on each search engine and taking historical views to see how you progress month-over-month.

There are many articles and suggestions about what makes a good SEO report. I probably read about an article per month on that one topic. I’m reading one now by my friend Anthony Verre (aka Milwaukee SEO) called Search Marketing Reports for Pros.

At Search Mojo, our client reports are constantly evolving. But for now, our measurements include:

  • Search rankings for the client
  • Search rankings for a list of competitors
  • Link popularity for client and competitors
  • Top anchor text
  • Organic traffic
  • Lead data for organic traffic (if available)
  • Social media KPIs

In addition to the aforementioned measurements, I also like to add an SEO scorecard. Just what IS an SEO scorecard?

The SEO Scorecard

About six years ago, when working as an in-house SEO for an online survey company, I developed an SEO scorecard when I realized that simple rankings reports were not providing me a holistic view of my search engine visibility and potential. While a rankings report shows site rankings, they treat each keyword equally. But in reality, different keywords are searched more or less each month than others. For instance, does it mean the more to rank #1 for a less-searched term as it does to rank #5 on a more frequently searched term? The scorecard aims to answer that question.

My scorecard involves using the search volume for each keyword (approximate) and weighting that keyword accordingly. I then tally up a score for all of the keywords and do the same with competitors. This gives me a more holistic view of the true visibility and search traffic potential.

Getting Started

In getting started with your report, ask yourself what you want to measure. What are your KPIs? Once you’ve figured those out, think about how you can effectively measure them. Also decide how often you need to measure and report. This could be different for every organization, but monthly is likely a good answer for most companies.

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