Establishing the business value of your SEO performance as an agency is part of client relationship building. It’s also what keeps the churn rate low and the referral rate high.
Yet, when it comes to reporting, why is it that some things get lost in translation?
Picture this—an SEO agency just managed a massive win for their automotive client, a 5% visibility improvement on both desktop and mobile for their highly competitive keyword list in the last month. From the content-driven campaign, over 25 links were built, as well for one of the client’s main money pages.
But all of these insights are compiled in a fully automated SEO report that gets sent to the client, together with all the technical tasks and other actions, without the visibility improvement being highlighted in particular.
How can the agency make sure the client understands the ROI delivered for their business? Maybe the team is relying on the monthly meeting, but the client postpones that too.
Reporting is a critical activity for an SEO agency—one that supports SEO client management, effective communication, and retention. And it can either be tedious or strenuous work.
At times, clients don’t react as expected—but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Let’s dive deeper into reasons why reports may fail to accomplish their objective and how to report SEO success to make the best of your reporting process.
One reason why clients won’t read SEO reports can be the implicit expectation to see certain metrics included there or to receive them at a certain date. Or it can be that they don’t understand the specifics of your SEO activities, so they let it slide.
Keeping your clients close from day 0 is mandatory for communication to work. That means setting the right expectations regarding the agency workflows and what’s expected of the client’s team from the onboarding phase.
Creating SEO reports for clients is a huge chunk of that, so be sure to take the following questions into account and clarify them in the first month:
After negotiating all those aspects above in the agency-client alignment meeting, you can create an agency internal dashboard that includes your clients’ portfolio, the account managers responsible for each client report, monthly statuses, and due dates.
With SEO reporting tools on hand, you’ll have an overview of your reporting process at all times.
“Being able to articulate how your monthly activities and SEO interventions are improving business results will not only be beneficial for your client’s trust, but also for their continued collaboration.“
Whether it’s a fully automated 70 pages report containing every single SEO action the agency’s done or a document with inconsistent branding and copy-pasted data from various tools—it’s not an actionable document that a client can easily read and understand.
You need to have the end goal in mind: the client reading and getting how your work is helping the business. If the client doesn’t engage with your SEO report, it’s a missed opportunity for both showcasing results and gathering feedback.
To avoid these situations, once more think about the main KPIs and SEO objectives you’ve agreed upon:
Having clarified the expectations and business objectives, that’s what you’ll report on monthly while explaining how your SEO intervention directly impacted their KPIs and business results.
To settle inconsistencies, you can create an agency SEO report template with a focus on these key insights and your agency’s brand and unique voice:
Then, you’ll have a good foundation that you can go on personalizing for each client.
After all, as each SEO campaign has its particularities, you need to make sure you report on the client’s specific requests.
Apart from long or unbalanced documents, another reason for clients skipping on reading the monthly reports can be data-heavy documents, with lists upon lists of keywords and complex graphics that aren’t self-explanatory for a non-SEO specialist.
Sometimes you might work with in-house SEO professionals, but most of the time it will be a stakeholder that is interested in reaching their business goals, so they need to talk business. And even if you’re the extension of the in-house SEO and digital marketing team, they still need to justify the ROI of collaborating with your agency.
In the end, highlighting how you influenced marketing leads and sales is much more important than going into the nitty-gritty of rankings and traffic.
Want more time to focus on what matters? Then think about ways to automate data gathering.
Instead of spending multiple hours in your SEO tools, copying charts, making screenshots, and searching for the most relevant insights, optimize for time and integrate these actions into your daily routines.
For instance, with a reporting module like SEOmonitor’s, you get an assistant in the form of a Google Slides add-on that surfaces the critical insights from your campaign—that you can insert with a click. Those insights are transformed into visually appealing slides, within your predesignated agency template.
You get to focus on what matters—explaining the metrics behind your actions, how the strategy evolved, and what’s next for the client’s business.
Was the SEO report supposed to be monthly? Or did you agree on a custom period?
Not getting the timing right and in alignment with your client can be another reason why reports pile up in the unread file.
Having a set frequency, which is usually month by month, helps both from a process point of view and as a ground for calibration with the client’s team.
To make sure you send your reports on time, you can use a project management tool or, again, your internal agency dashboard. Having a support system with nudges and alerts, via email, Slack or something else, keeps you on schedule.
Don’t forget to set your notifications beforehand for preparation—compounding the insights and creating the document itself. Also, you may think about the roles involved in the reporting process from the start, so you coordinate with all the team members in due time.
There may be unmet expectations on both sides: your team made some important SEO recommendations that the client hasn’t implemented, the client expected to see a different outcome.
Returning full circle to the crucial part of alignment and expectations setting, there’s also one final aspect to take into account: communicating why it’s important to receive the report beforehand and read it.
It can work as agenda-setting for the last step in the reporting process—presenting it.
It’s also in the monthly meeting or call that you get to clarify, explain, and make recommendations while presenting the journey so far.
It can even be an opportunity to recalibrate the relationship with a silent client. It’s not the unread report per se that needs solving, but the way you both communicate.
Maybe it’s time to rehash what you both agreed during onboarding or maybe it’s time for a new approach that benefits both sides.
All in all, having the same foundation for this discussion raises its efficiency. You and the client can now focus on campaign fine-tuning and strategic talk because you know where you’re standing, the questions that need urgent answers, and can infer the next steps.
Creating an efficient reporting process for your agency is important because, to a certain degree, reporting is client retention.
Being able to articulate how your monthly activities and SEO interventions are improving business results will not only be beneficial for your client’s trust, but also for their continued collaboration.
So, here’s how to report SEO success in a way that will encourage your clients to read:
Instead of including every keyword, SEO action, and technical update that your team has worked on, highlight only the most important KPI results in an executive summary. Include victories such as non-brand organic traffic, visibility trends, and any major updates that contributed to the results—all focused on how they achieve SEO objectives.
Your goal is not to data-dump, but to show what works, what doesn’t, and what to do next.
Consider segmenting your report based on the following:
Provide helpful context and pinpoint the actions that brought business outcomes, and measure them against your forecast and goal. Even when the campaign is not performing well, presenting small victories and trends in a relevant way can project a positive outlook—especially when combined with your team’s hypotheses and ideas for next steps.
Save data as an ongoing process to optimize the time spent on preparing reports.
Create email alerts or using tool integrations for curating relevant insights continuously, and have pre-defined SEO report templates to automate data extraction for easy-to-understand reports.
SEOmonitor’s reporting system for SEO agencies has tools such as Google Slides assistant integration to automatically collect campaign insights for your monthly report in one click:
Create visually appealing monthly reports that showcase relevant SEO insights; automate data gathering so you have time to focus on strategy and explain what happened to translate SEO interventions to business results. Doing these will optimize the time it takes to create effective SEO reports for clients.
Your clients are not performing in a vacuum—there are other players in the ring with them. Therefore, it’s important to have a benchmark when presenting SEO rankings reports against clients’ competitors.
Providing such data will help them understand your SEO work and improve their standing—even if it doesn’t directly correlate to their business objectives.
Moreover, showing that their competitors are heavily investing in SEO activities can help with SEO client management, opening their eyes to increase budget allocation and accept new strategies for their SEO campaign.
Lastly, ensure that your SEO report serves as a call to action for your client.
Take a proactive approach to present emerging keywords or new content opportunities for the current SEO strategy to improve. If there are certain SEO activities that aren’t working as planned, don’t be afraid to tackle them head-on, provide a clear solution, and add new tasks to the pipeline. Similarly, don’t shy away from reminding your client on tasks that they need to improve on their end.
Not only do these show your commitment and understanding to the clients’ business landscape, but it also helps in SEO client management and having good communication with them.
Present relevant data with confidence, transparency, and a solution-oriented approach. It’ll help you when it’s time to bring the SEO campaign to the next level, and when the results and forecasts aren’t in complete alignment with the original KPIs.
Also prioritize transparency and gather clients’ feedback. Your SEO reports and meetings are great opportunities to feel the pulse of your clients, and reveal new opportunities for optimization.
Our team at SEOmonitor researched this process through and through, and after gathering insights from SEO agencies, designed a reporting module that takes into account all the aspects above, so you don’t have to struggle.
Reporting doesn’t have to be a painful or time-consuming experience for your team. And it can be significant for supporting client communications.
Join us, and hundreds of SEO agencies’ clients, in the journey of bringing more transparency and measurability to the SEO industry.