3 Ways to Make SEO Reporting Easier

Every SEO I know hates the first day of the month.

Which is funny, because they also get paid on the first of the month.

What makes SEOs so miserable on their pay day? Reporting.

Almost all agencies and many in-house groups spend the first part of the month creating extensive reports of their activities and results.  And almost all of them take tons of time to fill out, are far from actionable, and are rarely billable.

 With that in mind, here are 3 ways to make your SEO reporting simpler, faster, and more effective:

Only Report Actionable Metrics

Many standard report templates end up reporting metrics that aren’t relevant – sitewide time on site, sitewide bounce rate, and others.

These metrics aren’t actionable, and they shouldn’t be reported.  At best they serve to add irrelevant information and lower the signal to noise ratio of the report, and at worst they confuse the recipients of your reports.

How can you tell if you’re reporting an irrelevant metric?

Start by asking yourself, “If this metric goes up or down, does it mean something? Can I take concrete action?”

For example, some organizations report site-wide bounce rate and time on site.  

Now, if you’re ranking for relevant terms and attracting visitors that take a conversion action, your new traffic won’t bounce, and the sitewide bounce rate should get lower.

But if you’re doing viral content and you have a piece get ‘hot’, it will attract a lot of one time visitors from social sites. This is good, because it means you’ll get links, which will improve your long-term SEO rankings.

Now, if a metric going down indicates success, and the same metric going up indicates success, why do you report it?

I recommend you remove every metric like that – one key to making reporting easier is simply reporting less.

For more on this topic, I recommend Avinash Kaushik‘s excellent book, Web Analytics 2.0.

Don’t Manually Copy Numbers from Analytics Packages – Automate

Many groups do their reporting by manually copying numbers from analytics packages. This is one of those online marketing tasks that computers excel at, so all of this work should be delegated to our electronic friends.

If you’re using Google Analytics, you can use Excellent Analytics to automatically import data into Excel. Excellent Analytics can import data directly from the API, so it can do complex data gathering quickly. And because it’s in Excel, it can populate pivot tables and other advanced spreadsheets.

Structuring a Query in Excellent Analytics

If you use Omniture or another analytics platform, you can often create a sheet that will take native .CSV exports and automatically populates your reports with relevant metrics. (You can then hide the raw data sheet, and you’ll have a beautiful report in no time.)

Use APIs

Instead of gathering data from tools like Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer, or Bing Webmaster Tools, take advantage of the APIs these tools offer.

You can get a friendly developer to help you, or attempt to use them yourself in Google Docs. (There’s a helpful tutorial from Distilled on using web APIs in Google Docs.) Alternatively, many link data sources are integrated into Niels Bosma’s SEO Tools Excel plugin.

The key to efficient SEO reporting is two fold: a) only report what needs to be reported, and b) do as much as possible automatically.
How do you make SEO reporting easier?


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