Hitting the target with your SEO assumes several things: 1) That you actually know what the target looks like, and where you should be hitting it and 2) That you’re able to measure how successful you are at hitting the mark. If you have worked with digital agencies in the past, you might have heard things like “Your SEO is great this week — up 2 percent!” or “Wow! Search is really taking off, we’re seeing a huge boost of traffic to the site!” Unfortunately, if these statements are not supported by actionable metrics, how can you trust that they’re correct (or that this is in fact a “good” result)? Metrics have a tendency to be complex and confusing for anyone except the analyst who created them, so how can you ensure that your SEO reporting will present results that truly move the needle for your business?
Some marketers are known for leading with their gut feelings, while others are sure to capture details and analyze them to the highest degree. Regardless of which type of marketer you are, the reality is that business leaders are often looking for ways to tie specific actions and advertising spends to business results. This can be difficult unless you’re actively capturing key metrics for your business, and one of those is your overall SEO performance. SEO professionals are comfortable with deep, deep, deeeeeep dives into data that would likely put mainstream marketers down for a long winter nap, so finding the happy medium that allows you to derive business value for decision making from the reporting without becoming overwhelmed is critical.
Pick Your Poison
Start by defining a few key metrics that can be tied back to the bottom line of the business, which will help business leaders understand why they’re spending a great deal of money on something they don’t completely understand. The job of an SEO expert is simple: it’s not to improve SEO rankings, but to improve your bottom line. Of course, marketers know that the more people are visiting your site, the more likely it is that your business will make money and continue to grow, but these are not the only factors involved. This requires listening closely to key stakeholders to ensure you understand what their success metrics are. For some, it could be driving a certain number of new leads during the month, while others will determine that their key metric truly is the traffic to the website. Once you determine the most important metrics and set reasonable rates for success, then you’re finally ready to take aim at your goals.
Numbers are exceptionally compelling to some people, while others react more positively to bright and colorful graphics that tell a story. Still others stakeholders will want to have an in-depth conversation around any findings in the hope of learning something new (although some are admittedly looking for holes in your logic). Finding the right cadence and style for your key audience is essential when delivering metrics that may be reporting the movement of thousands of dollars a month — or day!
SEO feels like an ethereal deliverable: driving your business to the top of a search results list. Thorough education about the possibilities that are gained or lost from SEO helps stakeholders feel invested in success. If you’ve always delivered reports in a fantastic dashboard on Monday mornings via email and you generally don’t receive a response until you need your boss to sign an invoice . . . there might be a problem in your delivery mechanism. Be flexible in your delivery and add value by making recommendations around a particular high or low in the weekly or monthly reporting.
Long lists of numbers with dozens of percentage increases and decreases are enough to put anyone to sleep — and don’t actively tie back to business goals. When you determine the right metrics, you can find a way to incorporate them with reporting that support business requirements and keeps your boss awake at the same time!