Enterprise SEO can seem slow, expensive, and burdened with process. This is particularly true in reporting, where workflows and deliverables can be extensively detailed and nuanced.
Whether you deliver physical reports or have online reporting, dashboards, or presentations, there’s a lot to talk about.
As SEO professionals, we’re never short on metrics, segments, and ways to fill up paper – or webpages of data.
We have a tendency to throw the kitchen sink out there to justify our efforts, explain the complexity of SEO, and get buy-in.
And despite our best efforts, many of us make reporting mistakes that can actually hinder our enterprise SEO strategy and how it’s perceived by others.
In this article, you’ll learn more about nine common enterprise SEO reporting mistakes that devalue your data and take away from the important opportunities you have to use reporting as a positive way to enhance your strategy and efforts overall.
More importantly, you’ll learn how to solve and avoid them, as well.
1. Not Aligning With Broader KPIs And Goals
So many of my articles start out with goals and that’s because without them, SEO can get off track from the start.
Worse, SEO might end up doing extra work that isn’t necessary or has to be thrown out anyway.
Investing in any area without clear goals or an understanding of how SEO efforts drive toward ultimate marketing or business goals is setting yourself and your team up to fail.
Enterprise SEO can include reporting to a lot of different types of stakeholders. Implementing technical and on-page updates can move slowly – especially if you need to get new content deployed.
Many clients, managers, and executives don’t know or care about the details of SEO.
They care about what it drives. What it needs to drive toward are goals they understand and you want to connect those dots from the start.
Solution: Spend time within SEO and with other channels or stakeholders to define specific KPIs that tie into broader business goals.
2. Lacking Baselines And Benchmarks
Most reporting compares one timeframe to another.
Even with comparisons in place, stakeholders will often ask, “Is that good?” The context of where we started and what impact specific optimizations had is essential.
That means you need to find meaningful milestones for comparison in your reporting.
Whether that means a year-to-date compared to the same timeframe the previous year, or month-over-month, have a reason and justification for it.
Know for sure what the data is showing in terms of trends and performance for your own organization – and how it compares to the marketplace as a whole.
SEO reporting and data is meaningless if it is in a vacuum and lacks context.
Is 1000% traffic growth good? Maybe. But was it bad to start with and we’re still below industry average? Not as impressive.
Solution: Work with key stakeholders to get agreement and buy-in on meaningful milestones, baselines, and benchmarks to use going forward (and backward) in SEO reporting for objectivity.
3. Missing The Customer Journey
When we talk about enterprise SEO, we’re likely managing a large site that is driving toward lead capture, a sales transaction, or maybe even large-scale page views (e.g. publishers).
Yes, there are visitors who will come here and convert on the first visit and within a click or two. Focusing on those visitors alone limits your potential, though.
In an enterprise organization or for an enterprise-level SEO strategy, there could be an untapped wealth of customer journey and conversion funnel data available from others in the organization.
Find the right brand, product, sales, or marketing manager to get it.
This will help you greatly in organizing your reporting showing how SEO is contributing at each stage (or could be in the future).
If you’re simply reporting in aggregate on average position, traffic, and conversions, you’re missing out on an opportunity to tell a bigger story, get deeper into what is happening, and justify SEO strategy needs from others.
Solution: Organize your SEO reporting in a way that matches the known customer journey.
Build the funnel around keywords, topics, and conversion paths so SEO can be measured objectively compared to other channels and sources.
4. Not Separating Keywords By Type
One of the biggest mistakes in enterprise SEO reporting is blending all keywords and intent signals into one metric.
Of course, I’m a big fan of executive summary-style, streamlined KPI reporting.
Just don’t stop there.
Brand terms should rank well on their own if there aren’t SEO issues.
As SEOs, we often don’t have a lot of control over demand and search volume for branded terms.
Why would we want to provide reporting with them blended in with generic terms that are in our specific optimization strategy and plan?
Upward and downward swings in brand traffic can be tied to PR, seasonality, and other demand drivers that we don’t control.
Blending them in with generic and focused SEO strategy terms can tell the wrong inflated or underwhelming story in your reporting.
Solution: Segment performance data between brand and generic keywords, at a minimum.
Go deeper where you can into specific focus topics and in alignment with the customer journey tied to your strategy if possible.
5. Focusing Too Much On Indicator Metrics
I learned early in my career that I didn’t ever want to hear a client or manager say, “That’s all good, so is there ROI?”
We definitely need to track keyword performance, rankings, traffic, and conversions.
That alone is not good enough for enterprise SEO strategies, though. What is converting? What is the ROI on that? Can we justify this level of investment in SEO?
These questions must be answered or no one will want to hear about average position, impressions, or visits.
Starting at the end – the most important metric or business driver that SEO can impact.
Lead with that. Then, where relevant on other pages, tabs, or in deeper conversations, get into the SEO-specific indicator metrics.
That’s how you can keep your executive-level audience engaged.
Solution: Provide an executive summary or lead with the result that came from your amazing solution.
Go deeper into the “how” you got that result in an appendix or separate part of the report.
6. Nerding Out Too Much
I love hearing about how getting a database-driven canonical strategy implemented across 100k product pages solved a year-long issue.
I could talk for hours about those types of successes. But this is what I do.
If your reporting is full of our SEO language and your key audience doesn’t understand or care about it, they’ll completely miss the point.
Lead with outcomes, read your audience, and structure your reporting and communication around what will resonate most with them.
Be sure to take credit for the wins; just make sure those wins and how SEO drove them are actually understood.
Solution: Have others give you feedback and advice on how deep they want you to go technically in reporting. You can always adjust what you’re already doing based on helpful feedback.
Get help on translating terms and metrics if they aren’t resonating with your audience.
7. Lacking A Connection To Broader Strategy
Large organizations have big marketing teams, content efforts, PR, and a lot more.
That’s typically good news for enterprise SEO campaigns.
That means we’re not hurting for content, relationships to drive inbound links, and resources to help us with funnels, modeling, and customer engagement data.
It is easy to want to stick with just core SEO metrics – on reporting what we control.
However, your reporting is a great opportunity to show how content, links, and website technical aspects are helping or hindering overall SEO performance.
If you want more resources, buy-in, or support from content creators, IT, developers, PR, and others, then show the connection between those efforts and your own.
For example, if a PR campaign ended and we have fewer links now, bring that up!
If we have been asking for new or optimized web copy for months and the content writers have focused on other priorities, show the cost of that missed opportunity.
Reporting can be a great way to call attention to opportunities and therefore make the case for resources.
At the end of the day, SEO isn’t an island. Showing data and the real impacts of not getting collaboration can help.
Solution: Find areas where you have great support or need it and highlight those in your reporting.
Tie cause and effect together in your narrative (written or spoken) and emphasize that SEO can’t operate in a silo.
8. Simply Providing “Reports”
Does your enterprise-level SEO reporting platform include a lot of default KPIs and metrics?
Templates and automation are great.
Whether you’re an agency scaling reporting across clients or in-house building your own, having a starting point and data that is aggregated from multiple sources is key.
The challenge is that without customization and tailoring your report to the company, specific baselines/benchmarks, and KPIs that uniquely matter, then you’re providing something that looks and feels generic.
If your strategy is custom-tailored to the brand, then make sure your online or physical reporting reflects that.
Don’t let it look like you just swapped out a logo and plugged in some data sources and that was it.
Solution: Invest time to tailor the deliverable so it is a tool to leverage for communication versus a burden or task to complete.
This could mean customizing the report’s look and feel, changing up the metrics, or considering other methods for sharing the information.
9. All Data And No Insights
This is a mistake that becomes most critical when stakeholders have access to a real-time reporting dashboard, or when we send reports to them via email without a meeting to walk through them.
Go a step further than avoiding the mistake of having a simple or generic report – make sure you’re telling a story!
Data is simply data. It is open to interpretation or frustration without context.
Frame the context. Tie the strategy to the results. Good or bad, you need to be able to articulate what the data means and inspire others to actually care.
Come armed with several key insights and ideas to get a step ahead and make reporting time productive.
When things are performing well, it is easy to show a few percentage increases and to go on your way.
However, in good or bad times, pull out details on what drove the performance, what is working well, what isn’t, and how we can keep or stop doing something to impact performance in the future.
Reporting shouldn’t be disconnected from conversations around strategy and collaboration.
Solution: Create space in documents, presentations, or conversations for sharing insights and smart thinking. Think insights first in your presentation.
Maybe you don’t even have to show the data behind them or the reporting details. That’s a huge win, as you’re talking about things that matter more than the raw numbers that got you there.
Enterprise SEO requires a lot of effort, collaboration, time, and investment. It can all be tanked by reporting mistakes that can have serious consequences.
By not showing the proper value of SEO to an organization, it can get cut or the resources you need can be hard to get.
When lacking context, insights, and leveraging the opportunity to report to your audience, you can lose their attention and make your own work more difficult or scrutinized in ways you don’t want.
Work toward a tailored reporting focus to make it a powerful tool tied back to your strategy and into bigger picture impacts that SEO has on the brand.
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