When was the last time that you reported on something significant that changed in your Google rankings and traffic? How often do you do your reporting? Is it once a month? Once a quarter? Or once a week?
Either way, there are some critical SEO reporting mistakes that you must avoid in order to make sure that your SEO efforts continue to remain best in class.
Some issues can arise if you don’t use the right metrics as well for the type of SEO that you are actually doing. For example, for e-commerce SEO, you might want to consider changing your KPIs (key performance indicators) if you’re not seeing the results that you expect. For standard SEO, other metrics might be better than ones you are currently using.
Ongoing analysis and adaptability is crucial if you want to stay ahead of the game on your SEO reporting. Also, you have to think about things like the overall changing landscape, including competitors, the SERPs (search engine results pages), and other issues that can impact your results overall.
Results are never clearly set in stone. Instead, they are fluid, and you have to keep nimble and stay adaptable if you want to continue to see results that are reflected in your reporting. If you make mistakes in your reporting, you could potentially report on the wrong things that don’t matter in the long run.
Your Reporting Does Not Align With Broader Goals and KPIs
We have noticed over the years that many businesses are starting out with SEO goals that aren’t aligned with broader marketing and business objectives. This includes things like getting rankings on certain keywords. Or maybe it’s just getting traffic, leads, or sales. There’s nothing wrong with those goals, but often they’re not set up appropriately to help support overall marketing strategies.
For example, let’s say your goal is to rank #1 for “best SEO agency.” You could spend months optimizing everything on your site and making sure every link is pointing to your homepage. But what happens when someone else ranks #1 for that term? Does that mean you failed? Of course not. However, if you had a larger goal in mind, such as increasing brand awareness, improving customer experience, or growing your email list, you’d want to make sure that the SEO effort supports those bigger goals.
Your Reporting Does Not Include Relevant Baselines and Benchmarks
Most reporting compares one time frame to some other time frame. For example, comparing today’s rankings to yesterday’s rankings or comparing today’s traffic to three months ago. But even with comparisons in place, stakeholders will often ask, ‘is that good?’ The context of where we began and what impact specific optimizations have is essential.
If you are comparing one period to another, make sure you know why. Is it because you want to see whether there has been improvement over time? Or do you just want to show that something happened?
If you are looking to compare one period to another, you must understand what those periods mean. Do you mean a full year, part of a year, a quarter, or a month? How about comparing one month to the next? What about comparing one week to the next? Or even day-by-day? You must consider the context of each period and the change you are trying to measure.
In addition, it’s important to know what the data actually is telling us. Are we talking about rankings, traffic, conversions, or revenue? Knowing exactly what we are measuring helps us determine what metrics are most relevant to our goals.
For example, let’s say we are trying to figure out why my site saw a significant increase in traffic during the holiday season. To answer that question, we might look at the number of visits per day or the total number of visitors over the course of the season. However, if we wanted to know if our site experienced a decline in traffic, we could look at the percentage of unique visitors versus the average daily volume over the entire period.
Also, remember that everything changes constantly. Search engines update algorithms almost daily, with changes happening to various types of snippets showing on the search results, as well as the organic results. So, don’t think that you are always comparing apples to apples when you look at your data.
Your Reporting Does Not Consider the Customer Journey
If you work in SEO, chances are you spend most of your time working on one very specific goal: getting leads. You might think that you’ve nailed down every aspect of your strategy for generating leads, but what happens to those leads once they land on your site?
The answer is simple: They disappear into oblivion.
Sure, some leads will convert on the first visit, but many won’t. Some will find you, like a good friend, but many won’t – and that’s where you lose out.
In fact, according to Hubspot, just 5 percent of people who visit a website actually complete a purchase. And while it may seem obvious, less than half of those conversions happen during the initial visit.
So why do so few leads become customers? Because too often, we focus our efforts on optimizing our sites for lead generation rather than converting those leads into customers. We optimize our sites for search engines, social media, email campaigns, and paid advertising. But we forget about the entire customer journey.
This is why making sure that you identify issues that could be happening due to the customer journey is critical to avoid this mistake.
Your Reporting Doesn’t Consider Different Types of Keywords and Their Impacts
One of the biggest mistakes in SEO reporting is blending all keywords and Intent signals into one metric. This is especially true for brand terms. You’re probably familiar with the term “keyword cannibalization.” In short, it refers to how two different types of keywords compete against each other for rankings.
For example, let’s say you optimize your site for both “cheap flights” and “low cost airline tickets.” If you see that “cheap flights” ranks for a bunch of queries related to travel deals, you might think that those searches are being driven by people looking for low cost airfare. But what if they’re actually searching for cheap hotel rooms?
Or cheap car rentals? These are all examples of different types of keywords that may not be considered in certain types of reporting.
The same thing happens when you blend all your keywords into one category. Let’s say you optimize for both “cheap flight” and “low cost airlines.” If you see that “cheap flight” ranks for a bunch of searches related to travel deals, it could mean that someone searched for “cheap airline ticket,” “cheapest airline tickets,” or even “best airline tickets.”
This is why it’s important to separate out your keywords by type. It helps you understand whether your efforts are paying off and where to focus your attention next. It also helps you identify where your keywords might not match up exactly with user intent, and where you might be able to improve it.
Your Reporting Focuses Too Much on Indicator Metrics
SEO reporting can quickly become overwhelming. There are dozens of different KPIs you could report on, and it’s easy to blend everything together into one giant list of metrics. But how much do those metrics really mean? Here are four ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of each one.
1. Make Sure All Your Metrics Are Measuring What You Expect Them To Measure
The best way to ensure you’re measuring what you think you’re measuring is to separate out all your keyword types. For example, let’s say you’ve got three broad categories: brand, product, and service. Now, you might consider reporting on all three kinds of keywords separately. If you’re looking at traffic sources, you’ll probably want to look at each type of term separately.
2. Don’t Mix Up Search Volume With Demand
Search volume doesn’t always equal demand, especially when you’re talking about branded terms. In fact, it’s pretty rare for brands to receive high search volumes without having strong demand. So, rather than combining both into one number, why not just focus on search volume? After all, if you’re trying to optimize for demand, it makes sense to focus on keywords that people actually use.
3. Focus On Executives’ Desires, Too
If you’re doing some sort of keyword research, you already know what executives care about. They care about the things that bring revenue to their organization. And while you may find yourself optimizing for certain terms, you shouldn’t forget about the ones that matter to your boss.
You Are Reporting on the Wrong Keyword or an Unoptimized Keyword
Yet another one of the most common SEO mistakes is choosing or using the wrong keywords. This mistake happens because people tend to select keywords that match what they want to say. However, it doesn’t always work out well for the site owner. When people are searching for something, they don’t just type in one word; they usually enter several words into the search bar.
For example, let’s assume that someone types in the term “best WordPress themes.” They might enter the following:
- WordPress best themes
- Best WordPress theme
- Themes best WordPress
- Best WordPress Theme
If we take a look at each of those phrases individually, they all mean the same thing. But the problem arises when someone enters multiple keywords. For example, if they entered the phrase “best WordPress themes,” they could end up getting different results depending on how many keywords they include. If they only included the phrase “best WP themes,” they might not see anything related to WordPress.
The most common mistake we see in the reporting of search engine optimization is that people are not looking at their data with a critical eye. They’re just taking what they find and using it to make decisions about how to improve their site. This can be dangerous because if you don’t make sure that you’re using the right keywords properly, you could be reporting on the wrong keywords without even realizing it, which can negatively impact your results.
You Are Not Focusing on Long-Tail Keywords
Most content writers focus on short and precise keywords when writing any piece of content. They feel long-tail keywords will bring in less traffic. However, in reality, using long-tail keywords can be a great way to improve your site’s SEO value.
Long-tail keywords often have less difficulty levels and thus can be easier to rank in the search results. Even though these types of words have a lower search volume, they can be very specific to your business niche. This makes these types of keywords something that might have a much better chance for converting when compared to more general terms.
Many people find that long-tail keywords have fewer competitors and so it becomes easier for them to rank as a result.
You Are Focusing on High Volume Keywords Only
The very first thing that an experienced SEO writer does is research for relevant keywords. This involves finding out what people are searching for online and how often.
And the mistake they make while doing so is that they only focus on getting a lot of traffic to their site, by targeting highly searched terms. They think that it will bring more visitors to their site and thus improve their rankings in the search engines. In addition, they believe that this will increase their sales as well. But, focusing just on keywords with high search volume is a mistake.
This is wrong because there are many factors involved in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And one of the important ones is the quality of the content on your website. If you are just trying to optimize your content for the search engines, then you are missing out on something really essential.
You see, it is possible to rank even if you don’t target high traffic keywords. You could still rank well if you have a strong domain authority website and your content is good enough.
You Believe That There Is One True Metric for Something (Like Rankings)
It is a mistake to think that rankings and traffic are all the same and should all be measured from a single perspective. Here’s why.
In the early days of Google, one could count on getting the ten blue links — the list of webpages ranked according to relevancy — for most searches. Even though there are hundreds of millions of pages indexed on Google today, those ten blue links remain the foundation of how people find information online. They’re still what you see when you type “what is the best book about X?” into Google. So, why do some experts say that the list of 10 blue links is dead?
The answer lies in the fact that the way we think about search engines has changed dramatically since Google debuted in 1998. Back then, Google was just another player in the field; it didn’t dominate the market the way it does today. And because of that, it wasn’t necessary to consider every single feature within the search algorithm. If something worked well enough, it stayed.
Today, however, Google is the dominant force in the world of search. Its dominance makes it important to understand how Google works, and how it differs from other search engines. This includes understanding how the system of ranking web pages changes over time.
Some people argue that the list of 10 links is actually not dead at all. Instead, they say that it’s evolving.
While the list of 10 blue links might have remained static for decades, it’s changing constantly. As Google continues to refine its algorithms, the number of links on the first page of search results grows smaller and smaller. At the same time, the quality of the links themselves increases. These changes mean that the average position of each individual link on the first page of results is becoming increasingly unpredictable.
This unpredictability isn’t limited to the first page, either. Because of the sheer volume of data involved, it’s impossible for anyone to know exactly where any particular webpage ranks among billions of others.
So, while the list of 10 blue is indeed alive and well, it’s far from the only factor that influences whether someone finds a particular piece of content.
Next time someone speaks about rankings and traffic, make sure that they are also taking into consideration how things like the different SERP features change over time.
This is something that should also be considered if you want to present a complete and accurate picture of what’s happening with your rankings.
You Might Be Paying Attention to the Wrong Metrics
In our experience, most people think about SEO in terms of how many keywords they rank for, what position those keywords are in, and whether they’re getting enough traffic. We call this metric “ranking.” But there’s another way to measure SEO success: the number of visitors coming from organic searches versus paid ads.
This is because it’s easy to rank for lots of keywords without having much impact on your bottom line. If you want to see real ROI from your SEO efforts, look at how well your site converts visitors into customers.
For example, if you sell widgets online, you probably want to know how many people came to your site looking for widgets rather than just buying something else. You could also track conversions like sales leads generated by your site versus marketing spend.
The same goes for offline businesses. If you run a restaurant, you’d likely care less about where you rank for “restaurant” than you do about how many people come to your door. And if you’ve got a retail store, you’ll care even less about keyword rankings than you will about foot traffic.
So, while ranking is useful, it’s not the end goal. Instead, focus on improving your conversion rates and increasing the value you provide to your audience.
Reporting on the Wrong Metrics Can Cost You Just as Much as Reporting on the Right Metrics
Clearly, when the wrong metrics are considered, reporting and marketing decisions based on this reporting can suffer.
This is why it’s important to take into account more subtle variations in things like ranking drops, because it doesn’t always mean something bad.
For example, one ranking drop could be due to the SERPs changing, and nothing you could do on your part could help change that.
And this is where some SEO professionals can get it wrong: by going after a red herring that doesn’t really exist.
When do you plan on diving just a little bit deeper into your SEO reporting once again?