Posted by chrisgiarratana
Add value to SEO reports with storytelling
Monthly SEO reports are a vital part of any SEO strategy because they provide an outlet to educate customers, show ROI, and guide the conversion for upsells.
While SEO reports are crucial in many ways, they are usually reduced to boilerplate PDF templates sent to clients each month with a generic message. If this describes your SEO reporting approach, you’re missing out on vital opportunities to retain clients and upsell with carefully crafted storytelling strategies.
SEO reporting has always been an important part of my deliverables. Whether I'm working with clients through my agency, StrategyBeam, or when I worked in a corporate team, I found that good reporting made a big difference with trust building and overall strategy. Regardless of who you're working with — national brands or local businesses — I’ve found that solid SEO reporting helps ground the client relationship. Over the past eight years, I've been able to grow StrategyBeam to a mid-six-figure agency. Customer service and results have always been our bread and butter, and SEO reports help us show how we stand out from the competition, and create long-term relationships with our clients.
Be sure to incorporate SEO reports into your regular cadence if you are struggling to keep a client, or you just want a way to engage with your clients in a deeper way. Now, more than ever we need to show clients the value we bring to the table.
So, let's take a look at the things all useful SEO reports should include, and how you can use storytelling tactics to build a relationship with your customers, prove your strategies' value, and uncover upsell opportunities today!
1. Organic impressions, clicks, and CTR
While SEO has a broad reach, you need to get the right message to the right people if you want them to click through to your content and convert.
This is why a good SEO report should include high-level metrics like organic impressions and clicks. While this information doesn’t provide much insight into on-page performance, it does offer a jumping-off point for you to talk to your customer about changes in market trends and user behavior.
I like to cover high-level data at the start of each reporting call to set the table for more detailed discussions with customers. I've used this data to recommend additional work for clients and use these metrics to show YoY improvement, and justify work during specific periods.
I present data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics to help my clients understand how we can influence their site's overall performance. Here are a few points that I touch on based on current click and impressions:
- What it means: Impressions = how often content appears, clicks = how many times people click on SERPs.
- Where to find it: Google Search Console
- When to use it: Identify content and build approach. Build sprints to address problem areas. Pages that are performing between 3-12 should be optimized, and low CTR should improve meta, interlinking, and technical considerations.
- How to optimize: High impressions + low clicks = update title and meta description. Low impressions = add FAQ schema.
Even though clicks and impressions don't convey too much information about a website's performance, you can use this part of your SEO report to ease into upsell opportunities and show your SEO chops when it comes to the broader scope of SEO marketing and how everything is interconnected.
2. Keyword ranking
Since SEO is all about getting specific pages to rank for target keywords, you need to include keyword performance and rankings in your SEO report. I love using keyword information to jumpstart a conversation with my clients around user intent and bringing SEO strategy back to their business goals.
I love using this time to show that I understand SEO is more than keywords and Google. At the end of the day, if my SEO strategy is not driving qualified traffic and boosting conversions, then my clients will find another agency.
Keywords are the basis of search engines, and I like to use keyword ranking data to tie in the “bigger picture”, along with specific SEO tactics and push to secure more sales.
Here are a few talking points to consider with keyword performance in my monthly SEO reports and client check-ins:
- Show snapshots of keyword tools like Moz Keyword Tool and Ahrefs to show patterns. Tie MoM changes into an SEO report template to show progress and boost each client call's energy.
- Recommend content optimizations, outreach, and other SEO tactics to drive target keywords. Tie keyword ranking to your services, results, and your client's business goals.
- Run a quick technical SEO audit and content audit to provide new opportunities for additional work. This is a great way to improve your client's site's performance while also increasing trust and monthly income.
Keyword rankings give a strong signal around user intent, market trends, and competitor strategies. You can use keyword rankings in your SEO reports to focus attention on success and move the conversation towards upselling opportunities to shift gears and align your SEO strategy with your clients' business goals.
3. Describe how people engage with your content
SEO strategies are typically described in abstract terms, so it's our job as SEO professionals to connect the dots for clients whenever possible between SEO metrics and their business goals.
You probably spend a lot of time talking about different SEO marketing angles, like the customer journey, website performance, and user intent. All of these factors influence how search engines rank content, and even more importantly, all of these factors influence conversion rates.
However, SEO is abstract and challenging for our clients to understand. That's why we need to include concrete terms, visuals, and explanations in our reports for ongoing education and trust-building measures.
For example, I manage SEO and content for a large player in the shipping industry. This industry is extremely niche, but each sale can lead to 8-figure deals for my client. I was able to illustrate to the client about how they could increase leads by expanding their existing content Hub/Spoke model and use their SEO reports to talk them through different aspects of their business like:
- Categorize content on your site and assign specific metrics and goals for your clients.
- Track content based on topics and what content moved people through the customer journey.
- Use Content Drill Down in Google Analytics to show how readers move through the website. This information is valuable to highlight opportunities to optimize content.
- Jumpstart a conversation around other SEO tactics like interlinking, blogging, and on-page optimizations.
Showing how people engage with my client’s website was a key part to increase education, and help visualize how your monthly SEO work impacts your client's website. If you can point out a bottleneck in the customer journey and offer CRO, interlinking, or on-page optimizations, then you are on your way to build client trust and slide into an upsell opportunity.
4. Google Analytics events
Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager can be used to show how your SEO and CRO strategies impact user behavior when they reach your website. You can educate your customers about on-page SEO by tracking clicks on specific CTAs throughout individual pages.
In recent months I've started working with several clients on CRO and content optimization projects. Not only are these great ways to help clients reach their goals, but they are also high-margin projects that can show immediate results.
One of the metrics I focus on when I review clients' results is how people engage with their CTAs. This means that I have to connect Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics to show that our optimizations push more website visitors to valuable pages like contact forms and sales pages.
For example, I recently ran a small test for a client to show them that with some on-page SEO tweaks we could improve CTR for various posts and pages. I identified a few pages that would show the best results, closed the project, and after a month of testing I was able to include CTA clicks on different pages that I optimized.
After a few months of on-page optimizations I can see a big improvement for CTR and lead generation on their site. Here is a quick screenshot of CTA clicks on the client’s site from the pages/posts I optimized:
This small test was a success and lead to ongoing monthly optimizations across their deep content library. As a result, I am able to show the impact our on-page optimizations make to their lead quality and bottomline.
This is a perfect example of how we can use reports to build rapport, show our knowledge, and test ideas with clients. Plus, it can all lead to beneficial upsells- but none of this is possible without a good looking and informative report to backup our claims.
While this is not a big part of my SEO reporting process, I try to include metrics around user behavior to explain how people engage with on-page content. This information can also help tie high-level SEO metrics to business goals, which are significant parts of the overall story I convey to my clients each month.
5. Add local SEO info
Local SEO is an essential part of an SEO strategy to drive qualified leads and sales for local business owners. You can save a lot of time by using a tool like Moz Local to keep NAP and listings consistent for your clients, and you can use excellent local SEO reporting tools to show the results of your local SEO tactics.
I have several clients that offer local SEO services. Not only do these services offer immediate value to these clients, but the local SEO services also provide me with a great way to pitch additional services like outreach, page optimizations, and blogging.
While local SEO is not a great fit for all of your clients, you can unwrap great opportunities if you offer honest solutions to address their needs and present precise data to show your efforts' value.
Be sure to include local SEO metrics in your SEO reports when it makes sense, and point out the metrics that matter to business owners like phone calls, foot traffic, and driving directions!
Use SEO analytics to tell a story and build customer trust!
Reports are not the main reason many SEOs started in this profession, but monthly SEO reports help us paint a picture of our clients' SEO efforts. You'll be able to show the value of your SEO services and keep clients longer if you know how to tell a story around each metric, and tie results back to your agency!
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