SEO reporting and tracking are major sticking points for anyone in the industry.
Data that you find important may be less valuable to C-suite executives.
Or you may not have enough data to show growth, changes and significant events clearly and concisely.
Reports must tell a story. Without the right data, you’ll end up with a confusing plot that won’t be well received.
Before you can begin reporting and tracking data, you need to gather it, which will require you to use the right tools.
Most SEOs use a combination of different tools to properly collect, track and report data.
A few of the main ones include:
You can also use third-party tools to track keyword growth, positions and more, such as:
You’ll find a lot of third-party paid tools available to help you with your reporting and tracking.
However, you need to be aware of each tool’s limitations.
For example, Google Search Console only retains data for 16 months, so you need to consider this if you expect to provide lengthy reports showing data past this threshold.
I’m going to assume that you have these tools in place already. However, if you do not have any of these tools, look through them and add any coding that you need to the website to begin tracking.
Otherwise, without the data these tools provide, you’ll go into your SEO journey blindly.
Dig deeper: SEO reporting to impress: How to successfully report your SEO process, efforts and result
AI impact and data analyses with AI
AI’s introduction has the industry adapting and changing to the ever-evolving SEO ecosystem.
You can – and should – be using artificial intelligence for data analysis and to pull out key data points that you normally perform manually or leave out because it’s too time-intensive.
You can use tools like ChatGPT to:
Create regex for the query filter
Create a custom regex in your GSC’s Query filter. For example, you can type the following command into ChatGPT:
- “Create a regular expression to list the keywords containing how to, do, what and when in Google Search Console.”
Add in any keywords that you want that will match informational intent.
You can now add the regex into your GSC and filter through your informative content to better understand how it’s performing. Add these graphs to your reports to paint a clearer picture for your audience.
Connect Google Analytics with ChatGPT
Google Analytics can connect to ChatGPT via plugins on the paid version. Once connected, you can pull out key data in seconds, such as:
- List my visitors from each country over the past month.
- Show me user growth from each country over the past six months.
- Create a table showing page growth over the last six months.
If you’re struggling with GA4 – like most of us – connecting with third-party services will allow you to crunch data in new, exciting ways.
You can even combine data from your Google Ads, Instagram Ads, Facebook Page and other sources into one.
Tracking events (even non-SEO ones)
With your tools and analytics in place, you’ll want to begin tracking major events.
SEO is about driving organic traffic to a site and generating revenue, but you also need a way to track your progress.
A few of the things I recommend tracking are:
Tracking site changes and updates can demonstrate the value of your work and can be extremely insightful as the site continues to grow.
Dig deeper: Event tracking in Google Analytics 4: What marketers need to know
Separating brand vs. non-brand keywords
Now that you are tracking events, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of keyword separation.
Providing clients with a long list of thousands of keywords will not show them value. Plenty of these keywords may not be bringing in much value at all.
What you should do is try and segment your keywords into:
- Brand keywords
- Non-branded keywords
Brand keywords will include the company and product name, which many companies want to track when focusing on their branding.
Nike is a good example of a strong brand where people might search “Nike running shoes” and “running shoes” to find their products.
However, when working with large keyword datasets, you may want to begin separating keywords further by:
- Informative keywords.
- Transactional keywords.
- Generic keywords.
You can then segment these keywords by page, URL or section if you want to further clarify the data and show it in your report.
Working through keyword lists is time-consuming, but it’s the bulk of the work you’ll do for your reports.
Clients want to see which keywords they’re ranking for and where the traffic is being funneled into on the site.
However, there is one point of data that is more important than any other when tracking – revenue.
Track revenue drivers
Revenue is what opens every stakeholder’s eyes and is the main attention-grabber in a report.
You will want to do a few things here to show revenue in a way that everyone understands and can appreciate.
Comparisons are a great way to show growth over a certain period of time.
For example, companies earn much of their Q4 revenue on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Everyone is searching for a deal, and it’s a time period that’s filled with valuable data for your reports.
I recommend looking at data for a period of two years so that you can show:
- Weekly growth (WoW or same week from previous years).
- Monthly growth (MoM or same month from previous years).
- Quarterly growth (QoQ or same quarter from previous years).
- Yearly growth.
- Seasonal growth.
Showing how higher search engine rankings were able to boost sales by 25% this Black Friday compared to the previous Black Friday is priceless when creating reports.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to decipher which keywords were responsible for driving sales.
Tools may not allow for this level of refinement when browsing through traffic, and this is where the IT team can help you.
IT teams can help:
- Go through logs.
- Identify sales.
- Tag keywords responsible for sales (which may require customizations).
Showing that X keyword, which has gone from ranking 19 to 2, led to 17% higher sales for a product will demonstrate how investing in SEO boosts revenue.
You can also segment data for events, such as the traffic that led to calls, email signups, consultations, and so on.
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Predictive analysis and machine learning
Machine learning and AI are bringing advanced predictive analysis to SEO, which was once only accessible to enterprise companies. Now, you can use this type of analysis to:
- Which keywords are most likely to be clicked.
- Pages that are likely to have the highest click-through rates.
- Site user trends and change your strategy based on this.
You can use machine learning and predictive analysis to better understand what pages will be the most popular in three months and which types of keywords will generate less traffic in three months.
AI, machine learning and predictive analysis can help you run future projections for the site based on ranking and traffic data. Stakeholders want to see what may happen if current traffic trends remain – for better or worse.
Predictive analysis empowers you to show what the site’s future may be based on the microdata trends hidden inside your analytics and keyword rankings.
You can also use machine learning to pull data and learn when something is off with your traffic. Systems can be established to identify major algorithm changes or ranking increases based on site- and page-specific data.
Primary KPIs show a direct link between your site’s SEO and how it’s driving revenue.
Stakeholders always want to see one thing: dollar signs. If you can show how your efforts are driving higher conversions and sales, clients or employers will be happy.
But sites are evolving, and there are a lot of moving parts.
For example, many micro conversions are taking place behind the scenes, leading to future conversions but not immediate ones. An example of this would be:
- A user clicks on one of your Facebook ads, and after exploring your site, they end up leaving.
- A week later, the person remembers your brand and forgets your website’s URL, so they Google the company name and browse your site. The person even watches your product demo and downloads your free ebook.
Micro conversions like these have a higher likelihood of a future sale, but they’re difficult to track. In 2024, SEOs should set up campaigns to track micro conversions so that you can show stakeholders that their rankings are leading people into your sales funnel.
Creating these unique campaigns will allow you to digest the data and target your audience better. Perhaps many people view your product demo but aren’t making a purchase.
Why? You can use the data to identify weak points in your funnel and make changes that do lead to more hard conversions.
Dig deeper: 3 overlooked SEO conversion metrics to consider
Supply the correct data to the right stakeholders
You’ve collected and segmented your data in a meaningful way.
But while some data points will be valuable to you and your marketing team, the C-suite might shrug others off.
For instance, say that you created a report showing:
- Technical SEO changes.
- 10% rise in organic traffic.
- Faster site speeds.
- Higher time on page.
Marketing teams will appreciate this data, but a C-suite executive will be curious about how the 10% rise in traffic led to a revenue increase.
The C-suite won’t be interested in your reporting if you don’t tie this information into the company’s revenue meaningfully.
You’ll want to make reports that touch on the key data that specific stakeholder groups want to see.
Dig deeper: What stakeholders should expect from SEO
Save your SEO data for future use
Your reports today will be referred to in the next year or two, and they will help tell the story of the company’s SEO growth.
Save the data you collect because it contains valuable information you’ll use in the future.
I have created my own custom tools to back up Google Search Console data so I can refer to it past the 16-month limit.
I suggest you do the same as most of the reporting work you will be doing, even if you change companies.
You can also begin working with tools like ChatGPT to help you dive deeper into your data and extract valuable information you might otherwise miss.
Dig deeper: 7 proven methods to explain the value of SEO
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