Today, I’d like to speak a little SEO reporting. But, before I begin, what are SEO reports actually for? They are used by SEO’s to demonstrate the results of their work in a visual and easy-to-grasp mode. Is this all SEO reports do? For most SEO services providers – yes.
The majority of SEO-optimizers think that all their clients want to know is that their rankings are going up, the number of backlinks is getting bigger and the competitors are at bay. Although there is nothing wrong with this approach to SEO reports, we’d like to explore SEO reporting hidden capabilities and see in what other ways the same good old SEO report can be put to use.
What’s an actionable SEO report?
Picture this. A young woman would like to lose some weight. At the end of the week, she checks her expenses and sees that she spent $100 on chocolate bars. If she simply acknowledges the fact and comes to NO CONCLUSION, she will continue spending $100 on chocolate each week, while she’d better use this money for other purposes that are more in line with her objectives. For example, she could use it to pay for the gym or similar.
So, if you simply look at a metric and draw no conclusion out of it, you waste an opportunity to optimize your activities in such a way that they correspond to your ultimate goals. In other words, a metric without a conclusion is ONLY a metric, it is non-actionable.
Now, what does it have to do with our topic, SEO reporting? Say, you just run an SEO report and hand it over to the client. The client is happy and has no complaints. However, one day, some guy who can blab and explain things really well shows up at your client’s door and steels your client. Why? Because SEO reports per se only state the fact. And when they merely state the fact, your client doesn’t understand how you draw your conclusions, how you form your SEO strategies, WHERE THE MONEY IS GOING TO, after all. Thus, it’s important to explain to the client how you use the data in the report to optimize their website.
Interpreting SEO reports for clients
Your clients don’t need that, you say. Allow me to disagree. Whether your clients are asking you for your recommendations in the SEO reports or not, you should provide them anyway, so that they can see what you do with that data and where their money is going, which will encourage them to continue using your services for years to come.
Another important gain from analyzing your SEO reports and accompanying them with your interpretations is that you end up with ready-made recipes for maximizing the ROI from your SEO campaign.
Ready-made interpretation patterns (typical cases)
We at Link-Assistant.Com have developed a number of grab-and-go interpretation algorithms that allow one to analyze SEO reporting data and come to conclusions faster and easier. They cover some typical cases that most SEO’s encounter. To develop the analysis patterns, we’ve used different types of SEO reports (rankings, backlinks, site structure, etc.) produced by our SEO software toolkit, SEO PowerSuite.
So, let us see how, by using quite no-brainer analysis patterns, you can squeeze the most out of the SEO reports you run, keeping your clients satisfied and increasing the efficiency of your SEO efforts.
1. Run a rankings report and see for what keywords your site is ranking on page 2 or 3 of the search results.
2. Using a keyword research tool (say, Google AdWords Keyword Tool), find out the number of searches the keyword gets. If, by the standards of your SEO campaign, it is big enough – proceed to the next step.
3. Find out who is ranking #1 for this keyword (well, if it’s Wikipedia, see who ranks #2, etc.).
4. Analyze their on-page SEO strategies. See how the keyword is used in their site’s URL, meta data (especially the title), anchor texts and copy.
5. Analyze their off-page SEO strategies. Estimate their backlinks’ collective value, the individual value of each backlink and locate the most profitable backlink sources. Pay attention to how the keyword is used in competitors’ anchor texts.
Improve your on-page or off-page SEO (depending on what your site is missing).
Webpages that sank
1. Run a keyword rankings report and see for what keywords your site’s positions deteriorated SUBSTANTIALLY. By substantially I mean by dozens of positions, not just 1-2.
2. Pick out the keywords for which you used to be ranking at least in top 20.
3. Check the amount of traffic you’ve been getting through these keywords lately in order to see if they are worth fighting for. One normally knows how much traffic is “good” traffic for their niche.
Sometimes, traffic per a particular keyword may not be that big, but, thanks to high conversion rates (say, 50% of visitors who come through this keyword convert), the keyword becomes valuable.
4. Locate the exact webpage that sank in rankings. Now, 2 reasons for the rankings drop are possible:
Reason 1. It was you
Have you recently applied any new SEO techniques to the page in question? Is it possible that some of them were not sparkling white-hat?
Reason 2. It was the search engine
Did you hear about an upcoming algorithm change? A quick look at Google’s Webmaster Central Help Forum or similar resources can clear the matter up.
Once you know the reason, deal with the problem on your site. If you simply got demoted, just wait for the next crawl. If your website got kicked out of the SERPs, file a re-consideration request.
Webpage with high bounce rate
1. Run a traffic report of your site (SEO PowerSuite is integrated with Google Analytics, which allows one to run traffic reports, too) and check your promoted pages’ bounce rates. Bounce rate is the percentage of users who stop by your site and immediately leave (bounce off it) without doing anything on it.
High bounce rates kill your conversions (visitors don’t perform the actions you’d like them to perform), not to mention that high bounce rates have a negative impact on your SERPs rankings, since Google now looks at a webpage’s bounce rate (among other things) to determine the quality of content on the page.
2. Analyze each page’s bounce rate. There is hardly a set standard here, since your perfect bounce rate would depend on the purpose of a particular webpage.
3. If the bounce rate is higher than you think it should be, look into the page’s content and navigation. Is it dull and non-engaging? Is the navigation confusing? Is a call to action missing? When you define the problem, talk to your client about commissioning someone with a respective job.
4. Sometimes the problem lies in the search term you are targeting. The keyword can be ambiguous or too general and, thus, be bringing you the visitors not interested in your product. For example, if you are selling car seats, it doesn’t make sense to optimize for “cars” and “seats” separately. Well, this is kind of self-evident, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.
Once you know the reason, deal with it and improve your landing pages’ bounce rates.
Too many backlinks from the same domain
1. Run a backlinks report of your site.
2. See how many backlinks you have total and how many domains those backlinks come from.
3. Check if the number of domains is SIGNIFICANTLY smaller than the number of your backlinks.
If it is indeed significantly smaller, it’s time you diversify your backlink landscape. Try getting more links from completely new domains, be they high- or low-PR. As long as they are related to your site thematically, you’re good.
Competitor’s link spam and new backlink sources
1. Run a backlink check on a competitor’s site. It is best if you choose the type of report that simply lists their backlinks’ URLs (for example, Website Backlinks Report ) and maybe provides some additional data.
2. Use quick search to look for “blog” and “forum” in their backlinks’ URLs.
3. Pick out the backlink URLs that (A) contain either the word “blog” or the word “forum” and (B) bring your competitor the most SEO value. Visit the actual webpages and find the actual comment(s) with the link(s).
4. Do they look like comment spam? If they do, you might even report your competitor to admin. This way you stop short the pipe through which they are getting blog/forum link juice, simultaneously helping fight international comment spam.
5. Using the same backlinks report, locate some great backlink sources (blogs, forums, social media sites) to get links from.
Mimic your top competitor’s approach to link building by getting links from the same online sources they are getting their links from.
There are definitely more types of individual SEO metrics you can interpret and analyze. “Why not automate the process?” – one may ask. Thing is it is hard to project each and every individual situation with each and every website – there are just too many variants possible.
But I hope now you know what I mean when I’m talking about your SEO reports’ hidden opportunities and actionable commentary for your clients.