Do you work in an SEO agency? And if so, when was the last time you improved your monthly reports? Today we're talking about how you can positively improve your monthly SEO reports.
The steps are:
Revenue from organic traffic
Reason for the increase or decrease in organic traffic
Incorporate pending tasks
Add a top-level summary
Ranking report summaries split into categories and rankings
Mufaddal Sadriwala believes that there are no blueprints for SEO. He started off as a freelancer creating and ranking sites six years ago. Nowadays, he's an SEO strategist at iProspect Mumbai and is soon to be joining Assembly MENA. A warm welcome to the In Search SEO podcast, Mufaddal Sadriwala.
Five Tips to Improve Your SEO Reports
M: Thank you so much, David, for having me on your podcast. It's a real pleasure for me to chat with you about this. I'm really excited about the topic that we will discuss today.
D: It’s great to have you on. You can find Mufaddal over at mufaddal.digital. So, what's the biggest issue you see in typical client reports?
M: From my understanding, what I see is there's a huge gap between what the client understands, or how clients understand SEO, and what we as an SEO, obviously, have an understanding of SEO and organic traffic. And this gap needs to be bridged using the monthly SEO reports that we send to the clients. The reports that we as an SEO create are mutually from an SEO perspective. We talk about a lot of technicalities, a lot of things that the clients do not understand, basically. What we need to talk about in our monthly reports is basically the business impact of this year. The business impact organic traffic is bringing to the table, the business impact SEO is bringing to the table for them. And overall, what are the ranking improvements for them, along with organic traffic, and what all other things are improving for them on the website. Also, if there is anything that is in the pipeline that is not getting approved, and things that can be pushed for further improvements in your SEO strategy.
These are the things that need to be taught in our SEO reports. Rather than it being just about the technical stuff on-page or off-page and the usual stuff that we talk about. For example, in one of the client's reports that I'd seen, we were plotting bounce rate as a metric for them in a Google Sheet. And when I asked the executive why are we plotting bounce rate, he did not have the answer as to why are we doing it. These vanity metrics, which do not make any sense for the client as well as for us, are getting plotted in the monthly reports and that's where the gap is. So the client looks at the bounce rate and they cannot interpret if the bounce rate is going up or down. Why is it going up or down? What is the reason behind that? It's just a vanity metric that is getting plotted in the monthly reports which does not make sense.
So instead of that, obviously, they are the metrics that are good to have. But apart from that the major part of the SEO report should talk about the business impact, improvements waiting for approval, displaying the ROI, and things like that.
D: Understood. So remove vanity metrics, talk about business impact, and talk about future strategy.
So today, we're going to be sharing the five minor tweaks that can positively improve an SEO monthly report, starting off with number one, revenue from organic traffic.
1. Revenue from organic traffic
M: I think this is one of the very important metrics that need to go in the industry. As I said, this is where we need to show the business side of SEO. Obviously, how much revenue and organic traffic you're generating for the brand, that's something that excites the client. It tells them how much revenue is being generated from organic traffic. And this is how the business impact is coming onto the table of contents. This is where I think organic traffic needs to be shown to the clients in the SEO reports.
From what I understand, showing revenue for an eCommerce brand is quite easy because you have web analytics tools, you have Google Analytics in which you can set up eCommerce tracking and that's where you can start getting data directly in your reports. But the major challenge is with lead generation-based websites, where you cannot quantify what a lead is worth and how much that lead is valued for the client. What I suggest is that you as an SEO analyze how many leads are you getting. Do a basic tracking of the lead generation forms and then track how many forms are getting submitted for organic traffic, and then multiply with the average order value or the value of a lead that the client has for each of them. By multiplying this you can get a number. And that can be an amount of revenue that the client could be generating from these. Now it's not the revenue number, but it's more like an approximate value that the client is getting out of the organic leads that are coming onto the table of contents.
And the second part which I advise is that even though we are talking about organic traffic, like the overall organic traffic, or the organic revenue that is coming in, for an eCommerce brand, or a lead gen brand, what we can also do is bifurcate that in terms of brand and nonbrand traffic. Because brand traffic has a lot more intent, and the conversion rates and everything are great, the recall value is different. The way brand traffic engages with your website is different from nonbrand traffic. So if we can bifurcate that using Google Search Console data, and show the impact, that nonbrand traffic is bringing revenue to your website, I think that can be a great way to educate the client about the ROI your SEO efforts are giving to them. This is how we can bifurcate or show the business impact of organic traffic to their site.
D: Okay, great. Get a financial value, and put it down there, even though it's just an estimate, it's still an important metric for clients. That takes us up to tip number two, which is to show the reason for the increase or decrease in organic traffic.
2. Reason for the increase or decrease in organic traffic
M: Correct. This is majorly coming from the fact that people do not add insights on other reasons behind if there is an increase or decrease in organic traffic or rankings, or if there are any major changes that have happened during that month. What I've seen people usually do is they plot data in an Excel or in slides where it is seen just like where it is seen that their job is just to plot the data in the slides, dump it in that, and then send it to the client, without even analyzing the reason behind the increase or the decrease or the change in the organic traffic or rankings, etc.
To give an example of this. Suppose there's an increase in your organic traffic by 20 or 30 percent in a given month. Suppose it just happened in the previous month of March. If you don’t analyze why that 30% increase has come on the website, you will obviously not be able to understand the reason behind it. The way I look at it, the first thing, if there's an increase or an automated fluctuation in the organic traffic, to always look at the brand and nonbrand data, if that change or fluctuation is coming from brand traffic because brand traffic is very volatile and it changes depending on other offline campaigns that the brands usually run. So if it is coming from the brand, then that's completely okay. You can probably find a reason on why that has gone up or down and then you can report it but if it is coming from nonbrand traffic, you need to deep dive into why that increase has happened.
In SEO, as we all know, whatever change we do, it takes time for Google to recrawl them and index them. Obviously, it takes time for us to see the impact in terms of rankings. So probably if something that you changed in the previous month, that could have started showing you results in this month or in the upcoming months. That's the way we need to be ready in terms of analyzing the change in terms of traffic and rankings and then attribute it to the correct change that has been made in the previous months. Now, you cannot attribute it to a single change that was made but we can get a better idea on what is working better and what is not. You can double down your efforts on the things that are working for you.
That's where we need to analyze the changes, whether in the traffic or revenue, where is that coming from, and why. And also, the great thing that can happen over here is that suppose there is a drop in your nonbrand traffic and that is coming from because of the drop in rankings. So you can double down on why there is a drop in rankings, and then probably your next month's strategy, your next plan, can also start coming in from the drop that has come in. So your first priority would be to bring back the old rankings, which have dropped in the current month. And these are the 5-10 things that need to be done in order to do that. So actually analyzing the data which is present on your analytics tool can help you understand what is happening on the website and educate the client accordingly. And it can also help you create a roadmap for the next two-three months if that's a very significant change that has been witnessed.
D: And the number three way to improve those reports is to incorporate pending tasks.
3. Incorporate pending tasks
M: The third thing which I see people completely missing is the pending tasks. So this is the time where you can talk about the things that are pending from the client-side. And as an SEO, I know a lot of things get into the pipeline or the approval zone for the developers, and they're in their backlog and as an SEO I know what the struggle is for us to get our changes implemented on the website. So if you have a long list of pending tasks or if you have a list of pending tasks that are actually impacting the organic traffic performance or the SEO performance, then you should definitely add those in your SEO reports. The reason is that the reports are also seen by the top executives, the top management, and when they look at these 10 things that are pending from the end, and they will know about the issues or things hindering or impacting that traffic growth. You can actually tell them that this is what we suggested, but because this was not implemented, this is the reason we cannot see stable growth in organic traffic. And these are the top tasks that need to be executed in order to see improvement in our overall traffic. This is the reason I think pending tasks should be included in the monthly report. So that the client and top management are in the know what all things are trending from their end and how they can make this process much smoother.
D: Which takes us up to number four, add a top-level summary.
4. Add a top-level summary
M: What I also realized is that even though we create a great monthly report with all the insights and everything, what we forget to add is a top-level summary for people in the top management. The idea behind this is that they do not have time to go through your report slide by slide. What they need is a summary in which they can get an idea of what is happening in a nutshell on the project or brand. A top-level summary helps them understand overall what things are working and not working. And if they want to have a look at a specific slide, if they want to deep dive into that, they definitely can. But like I said, a top-level summary is something that can be added on the first slide. It can also be sent along with the email in the email body of the material.
That usually helps people understand what you're going to be talking about in the reports. My way to go with adding top-level summaries is that I do not go back and create a separate summary. What I do is I just copy and paste the insights from individual sites and add them as a top-level summary. It usually works for me in that way. It's a very easy task to do, but it can have a huge impact overall on your reporting.
D: And finally, number five. Ranking report summary split into categories and rankings.
5. Ranking report summaries split into categories and rankings
M: What happens as an SEO is we track a list of extensive keywords to track and analyze our rankings. But what I've seen people do is they send the complete dump of all the rankings to the client, and the client does not have an idea of how the rankings are performing. The idea is to have a summary of what’s in the top first positions. These are the number of keywords that are ranking. For example, out of the 1000 keywords that we're tracking, 200 keywords are ranking in the first position. In the top 2-5 positions, these are the number of keywords, then in the bottom half, these are the number of keywords. Then in the next pages, from 11 to 13, these are the number of keywords that are ranking. We can plot this on a month-on-month basis so that the client can understand if the number that’s on the first page rankings is increasing or decreasing.
For example, if you are ranking in the top position for 200 keywords this month, has that number gone up to 220, or has it gone down to 180? That number can give them an idea of what is happening on the rankings. Similarly, we can also categorize the keywords in terms of the website category, the brand categories, or the products that you're selling on the website. For example, if you have a brand that is selling shoes, you can categorize the keywords in terms of formal shoes, casual shoes, black, blue, and different weight categories which are present, so that we can analyze or report to the client that the platform shoes are the best category in terms of ranking, it has given us the best output. But apart from that, the other categories are not performing that well. And whatever the reasons are, it is too competitive, or we suggested something that was not incorporated. And that is the reason this is lacking. So instead of sending a dump of 1000 to 2000 keywords, bifurcate them into categories or ranking positions, so that the client understands, this is what the performance is. Obviously, if they want to deep dive into the keywords they definitely can look at the extensive list of keywords. But a summary helps them understand it in a simpler way.
D: So let's finish off with the Pareto Pickle. Pareto says you can get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. What's one SEO activity that you would recommend that provides incredible results for modest levels of effort?
Pareto Pickle - Optimize Your Internal Linking
M: For me, there's no blueprint to SEO and you can’t do something which has worked for any other brand. But in my opinion, what I see is internal linking, which I would say is the most underrated SEO technique which is underutilized. The reason is that we have complete control over the internal links that we can build. And the value that these internal links can provide to the search engines is immense. In fact, in a lot of podcasts and in a lot of questions and forums, Google spokespersons have talked about the importance of internal links and the context they can give to Google or other search engines, the importance of certain pages the importance of your articles, which are internally linked to each other.
I think internal links are a great way of looking at your website's overall structure and your website's crawlability. If you're having a hard time getting your content recrawled or getting your new content indexed, I think internet links are a great way in order to improve that. That said, that takes the least effort and can give a huge amount of returns compared to the investment. That's the way I think internal links are underrated.
D: Wonderful stuff. I've been your host David Bain. You can find Mufaddal over at https://mufaddal.digital/. Mufaddal, thank you so much for being on The In Search SEO podcast.
M: Thank you so much for having me, David. It was so nice talking to you about SEO.