In December of 2012 I wrote a post called “Monthly SEO Reports that Make Sense“. In that relatively short time SEO has changed dramatically – your monthly reports have to keep up and reflect the changes in this new landscape. Moreover, given the current state of the industry, our job is evolving, has evolved. In addition to the steps required to provide solid SEO, what value can we offer our clients?
Our job, besides getting traffic to the site, is increasingly to provide deep insight into what’s happening on the site, how visitors are interacting with different site elements.
First thing – the original post still applies. Sure, there are fewer insights to be gained from nonbranded keyword analysis, mainly because there are fewer nonbranded keywords to analyze. But those insights are still there. You just have to dig a little deeper, be content with less data. Not an easy pill to swallow, always, but regardless, onward ho!
The first post covered the basics; now we want to dig into more specific KPIs. This is where you really leverage your relationship with your client – you need to spend some time with them to get to know what they’re really hoping to get out of a site visitor, something they’ve maybe not even considered. So often we find that “getting on the web” was the goal in and of itself. OK, you’ve got a website, and we’re getting traffic to it, and that’s great, but so? Now what? What’s the bottom line? More sales, sure (especially in an ecommerce environment), but let’s break it down further than that: what are the degrees of customer involvement during the sales process? How long is the sales cycle? How does a client start down that road?
Who is the client?
The list of potential KPIs can be huge. Before you converse with your client, spend some time on the site. Put yourself in the shoes of a brand new site visitor, and come in via organic search. This can be daunting, as likely you’ve been intimately involved with the site on a technical level. Step back, clear your mind: you’re a potential client in need of your client’s products or services. Use the old method acting trope: what’s your motivation? Got it? Good. Now, the site: Analyze the landing page: what’s a visitor being asked to do, if anything? What’s the first step your client wants a visitor to take? What are the calls to action? “Visit us on Facebook”? “Download our latest white paper”? “Watch our embedded video”?
Are you tracking those?
If not, you should be, huh? Need some help getting that set up? Sarah wrote a great primer on setting up KPIs in Google Tag Manager that can walk you through it.
OK, now sit down with your client. Find out what they want out of the site. Take note: they may not know this themselves. Act as their guide. Ask plenty of questions. Use the time to not only truly understand your client’s customers’ journey, but to understand what’s important to your client. This is basic customer service, and will pay off in terms of gathering data and developing a report that truly speaks to your client.
Gathering the data that’s important to your client is the first step; once you have that in place, reporting on it is the easy part. A tip: be sure to use comparative data to put the month in context. Compare the current month’s results with both the previous month and the same month the previous year. That will help both you and your client gauge results while taking potential seasonal trends into account.
Finally, cake, meet frosting: it may seems superfluous, but it’s really not: take the time to make your reports attractive and easy to read. You’re likely playing to a wide audience, here: your immediate contact, sure, but also her direct reports, her bosses. Your report may be getting a five-minute once-over by the CEO; ensure you’ve taken that into consideration. Dedicate the first few pages of the report to easy-to-decipher high-level results, then dig in and get granular on subsequent pages. Imagine yourself explaining the results to a wide variety of stakeholders. Make your report tell the story convincingly.
Monthly reports may represent one of the few opportunities to really let your clients see that the work you’re doing has paid off. Taking the time to ensure that they’re showing the data that makes sense to the client will garner huge dividends in client satisfaction.
By Christopher Carlson.