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The 7 Must-Have SEO Reports to Meet Today’s Search Optimization Challenges :
Measuring paid ad channels is fairly simple: For every dollar you spend you get X number of visits and a pretty stable amount of conversions. But understanding the value of your search engine optimization efforts keeps getting more complex. With search algorithms favoring long-tail content, it’s trickier than ever.
SEO includes many activities, each with its own set of key performance indicators (KPIs). Tracking each KPI separately and then marrying them to see the big picture can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be – if you have the right reports.
Whether you are managing your search engine optimization in-house or working with an external SEO team, we recommend the following battle-tested reporting framework that has been developed by the SEO specialists at SEO PowerSuite. This framework of reports enables business owners and marketing executives to supervise the full range of SEO tasks.
Before we dive in, note that different types of reports map to different stages of your SEO campaign. Reporting should begin before the launch of an SEO campaign in order to determine the baseline, set the strategy, and determine goals. Reporting should continue with weekly reports, and you should get reports post-campaign when anything changes.
Generated before an SEO campaign begins, these reports will allow you to measure results later. They can be generated repeatedly.
Keyword Research Reports should contain information that helps to evaluate the SEO budget and the potential cost, including a list of keywords, how many additional visitors the site can get if it ranks in the top 10 for the keywords reported, how difficult it will be to rank in the top 10, and whether it’s cost-effective to promote highly competitive keywords.
Competition Analysis Reports will uncover the SEO strategy behind your competitors’ websites. They should tell you which keywords your competitors are promoting, whether it’s necessary to target keywords used by competitors but not by you, and from what sites your competitors are getting their links.
Website Audit Reports will cover myriad factors related to on-page optimization. It’s important to check these factors against industry standards in order to identify potential trouble points and elements that need to be improved. They should also include website and page statistics, such as PageRank, link popularity, and the number of indexed pages. A good Website Audit Report should provide information on different content-related issues:
HTML formatting tags
HTML validation errors
A list of keywords and/or a keyword matrix
Competitors’ backlink profiles
A list of suggested improvements to the site
Ongoing Weekly Reports
These reports are used to track the SEO progress. You need them to make sure that the SEO team is heading in the right direction.
Keyword Rankings Reports: It’s vital to track keyword rankings regularly to diagnose problems at an early stage. A decline in rankings during several weeks may indicate a problem such as backlinks whose anchors were removed or have been devalued.
It’s also good to compare your current keyword rankings not only against the previous check, but also against the best results ever achieved. You may also align rankings and traffic for the keywords to see if you are getting what you expected.
Competitors’ Rankings Reports: Keep an eye on your competition. If an abnormal growth in their rankings is detected, it’s time to look into their backlink profiles and their on-page SEO again to see what they are up to. Then, steal…we mean, borrow…their strategy.
Link-Building Reports: Link-building is the most tedious of all SEO tasks, consuming time and money. To keep your expenditures to the minimum, closely follow your link providers’ activities, whether it’s an in-house link-building team or an outsourced company.
A link-building report should include:
Link source URL
Link destination URL
Linking page’s PageRank
Number of external links on each linking page
Number of backlinks on each linking page
You should also be able to compare these to older reports to see if backlinks are still in place and the backlink pages have not deteriorated.
Current keyword rankings compared to the previous rank check
Current competitors’ rankings compared to the previous rank check
A list of links obtained during the reporting period
Don’t set it and forget it. You should implement continuous, automatic monitoring of your SEO to make sure that your website is performing well, and you are continuously getting traffic from important sources.
Automatic alerts: Many site owners use Google Analytics, but many are not aware that this tool can send you automatic alerts based on the parameters you predefine. For example, you can get an alert if the website stops getting traffic from Google or Bing. You can then take immediate action to diagnose the problem.
Automatic warning messages or alerts
A Final Note
Every SEO report should tell a story, both to the search engine optimization expert and to business clients, whether internal or external. When building your killer SEO reporting arsenal, consider customizing it to make sure that it gives everyone who’ll read it a clear picture of SEO results. Analyze each element of each report to see whether it makes sense to include it. Don’t clutter reports with irrelevant factors, but make sure to include factors that reflect exactly the data you want.
You may also want to rearrange modules to tell a more coherent story. Finally, adding some explanatory text at the beginning and end can help readers who aren’t so comfortable with charts.
Google’s PLA (product listing ads), which was launched in 2012, is continuing to drive more and more traffic to e-retailers, and SEM Media Group is taking note. In 2014-Q4, PLAs drove 56 percent of non-brand click and 30 percent of overall Google search advertising clicks, according to RKG.
“Google has shown a greater preference and placement for PLAs in 2014,” says SEM Media Group President, Phil Thow, “even to the point of placing PLAs above organic listings instead of putting them off to the right-hand side of Google’s search result, the “typical” home for paid search ads. PLAs, therefore, are here to stay and are dictating the pay-to-play strategy of digital marketing.”
Click-through rates are also on the rise. In Q4, the rates on Google’s PLAs were 130 percent higher, and conversation rates were 30 percent higher too, than non-brand text ads.
PLAs are only relevant for websites that have physical products to sell. In SEM Media Group’s case, the agency specializes in representing automotive parts dealers. Of course, different industries have different expectations and outcomes for securing search traffic with PLAs. For instance, apparel-related websites generate the lowest percentage of their non-brand Google click from PLAs, but electronics, healthy and beauty, and home and garden retailers get the majority of their non-brand Google clicks via PLAs.
The other search engine now hosting a similar PLA format is Bing Ad’s nascent product ads. It, too, realized a strong growth in 2014-Q4. Product ads drove seven percent of non-brand clicks in that quarter, doubling from the previous quarter. Now, product ads on the Yahoo Bing Network account for 14 percent of clicks.
“In this visual online world we are becoming accustomed to,” explains Phil Thow, “especially with social networks and photo-centric sites like Pinterest and Tumblr, it makes sense that more people shop with their eyes, and to a lesser degree, with any specific store loyalty. To be relevant in today’s e-commerce landscape, as we tell our clients at SEM Media Group, one has to go where the business is, and right now the business seems to be in PLAs and enhanced digital marketing campaigns.”
Businesses that have physical products to market should strongly consider the value of PLAs, and SEM Media Group can field questions from retailers interested in learning how to utilize this growing trend.
Where Do Keywords Go for SEO? :
Keyword-based SEO practices have long been the top choice for digital marketers, but in recent years the practice has been dying a slow internet death, of sorts. The reason is the rising popularity of long-tail keywords.
“Keywords are often times headaches for clients who come to us at SEM Media Group for help,” says SEM Media Group President, Phil Thow. “It use to be a simple 1-to-1 relationship, whereby a company could see its ranking for each keyword in a search campaign and determine the success of that campaign, but that’s not really the case anymore.”
According to SEM Media Group, placement of keywords is now trumping the actual keyword. This means, for instance, that posting keywords in the title of the site and in the header is doing more SEO good for a website than keyword-stuffing a phrase or word five or more times in the body of the copy.
“Google dismantles a website into key areas,” says Phil Thow. “It considers meta information and headers as a first priority, and then it looks at body copy next, followed by side bars and footers. At SEM Media Group, we generally adhere to this hierarchy and have witnessed excellent results for our clients.”
The other important thing Google is doing now for SEO is actually considering the meaning of keywords by interpreting the data on a website, and actually forms a conclusion about a website in comparison with what an internet user is searching for. For an example, while someone might search “auto repair shop,” and a company’s website might contain that exact phrase many times, Google will also look for synonyms of that keyword phrase, like “car repair facility” or “vehicle repair specialists,” so having similar keywords throughout a site is as important as actual keywords.
“When Google released its Hummingbird update back in 2013,” says Phil Thow, “it included an algorithm for semantic searches, so Google now will take a search question and dissect its true meaning. If someone is looking for cheap food in Seattle, and searches that phrase, Google won’t look for the word “cheap” but instead look for restaurants that are budget friendly. It’s is a powerful tool for the user, but one that needs to be considered by the retailer too.”
When considering SEO practices, it doesn’t always come down to keywords. It really does matter what a website does, its security, and how fast it is. Google still prefers websites that load fast over ones that lag. And site authority is directly tied to site security. In an effort to protect its own consumer (i.e. the Google user), Google will choose more secure websites over one’s with shoddy credentials, so having SSL encryption will boost one’s search ranking.
“In the end, it’s really about the customer experience as much as keyword relevance,” says Phil Thow. “If your site is good for users, it’s good for Google.”
Use Twitter for Glittering Up Your Content :
Using Twitter for your business can be very beneficial for brand building. It connects businesses and their owners to their audience in unique and timely ways. It helps generate leads, and it provides another avenue for online advertising through Twitter Ads. But Twitter can also provide a little “glam” to your business content, attracting positive attention and aligning you among experts in your niche. Here are some of the ways that happens.
# is where it’s at. This unassuming yet powerful symbol instantly connects people on Twitter on the same topic. One of its most enlightening uses is for Twitter chats. You don’t need to go out and host your own chat immediately. Just participate in a few popular ones in your industry and connect with others you may have never heard from before. It’s an opportunity to learn and to speak up with your ideas.
Twitter is the ultimate crowd-sourcing tool. From directly asking your followers what they think about X, Y, or Z, or more creatively using polling services, you can use responses to generate useful blog posts and Facebook status updates that resonate with your target audience.
Twitter makes nearly everyone accessible. Celebrities connect to their legions of fans, and industry leaders connect to their devotees. Following the right people can get you inside quotes to use for research material and speaking points. Twitter is information; people say what they think in 140 characters or less and share it publicly.
Your customers are there for you, literally and figuratively, via Twitter. You can use them for content by interviewing your top customers, or giving them public praise for their support. This gives you social proof that makes you a credible business. And people who get praised on Twitter like to share that content with lots of other people.
You can be “that guy” on Twitter. This unique social platform really caters to those who have a personality worth sharing. Don’t get bogged down in the laziness of re-tweeting every good idea someone else has. Instead, add your own commentary to what others are saying and generate your own fresh content. Your followers will appreciate it and start turning to you first just to find out what you’re saying and thinking.
Know what’s trending? You should (and can). Twitter makes it easy to identify what’s popular that day and that hour, especially with the # symbol we talked about already. Other tools are out there that help us search for content on social networks so we can join in on already-hot topics that pertain to our industry or interest. This is also one of the best ways to identify popular keywords for SEO purposes.
One of the easiest ways to organize Twitter into bite-size pieces is to create lists of people you follow. You can aggregate content into topics that pertain to you and your business. Want to know more about SEO? Create a list of SEO experts that you can read through when you need ideas. Have a business that deals with online sales? Make a list of Twitter accounts that just cover E-commerce.
If there is one constant in life it’s change. In life, and in business, change comes whether we plan for it or not, whether we want it to or not, or whether we profit from it or not. Ad agencies, if they are to stay relevant in these times of change, must be ready, willing, and able to adapt. But adapting does not mean sacrificing, nor does it mean changing the culture you have created. Change, if done correctly, can mean “to make better.”
In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, change at an ad agency could be done in a number of ways. As TV became a budding conduit for advertising, an agency could simply replace staff, change tactics, and offer new services to their existing clients in the form of commercials. They could merge with one another to create a larger agency, one capable of attracting larger clients. In short, they could just change something and be done with it.
Today, it’s different. The major difference in the playing field of advertising is clearly the ever-evolving Internet and social media. Television is still here and important, and, yes, so are radio, print, and outdoor advertising. But simply deciding to merge with another agency, bring on new talent, or start solely focusing on one medium (i.e. TV, online, etc.) isn’t as easy to do in today’s economy.
Today, communication is key. Clients, co-workers, potential clients – everyone wants to be knowledgeable, not only about the end results, but about the process too. Communication may seem like a more difficult task these days, with the “break neck” pace of change itself (again, credit the Internet / social media), but communication is still the most important product that your agency can ever produce. In fact, it should also be free and easy for clients to get. If it isn’t, something is wrong.
One aspect of change, it seems, that nearly every agency desires but is also one of the hardest to adjust to is growth. No matter your staff size, if your client list grows by 25 percent, or you land the largest client to-date, you don’t want your staff to suddenly feel overwhelmed and jump ship. The best way to handle growth is to prepare your agency so growth isn’t even felt (in terms of added stress).
But how is that done? It’s done by networking. If the “burden” of this fast-paced Internet era has a plus side, it’s the ability to connect with current and future team members nearly at a moment’s notice. So even though your agency might be strumming along on a nice path, but hoping new business comes in, it should also be out there pounding the cyber pavement meeting and networking with people you might want to call on when new client calls start coming in.
Another important way to handle change is to understand that if your agency experiences change, so do all your clients. You can’t hide that from them. Of course (and again), this is where communication comes in. But more importantly, change is an opportunity to connect more deeply with clients, figuratively hold their hands, and ride the change together.
Change allows you to use tools that you have already been using in your agency – tracking. You never complete a project and then wipe your hands of it. You’re there tracking its progression, making small changes as needed to boost performance. It’s the same with internal changes; keep track of what’s working and what’s not, talk about what you find with your staff, your fellow leaders, and continue working with what works. Don’t waste your time fixing something you actually broke on purpose.
Tell us, what changes has your agency experienced and what helped you get through them?
Facebook Timeline Bumps Brand Page Engagement by 46% :
On March 30, Facebook rolled out the mandatory Timeline for all Brand Pages, and those companies that took early advantage of switching over to the updated look have gotten a sizeable bump in their brand engagement.
According to research company, Simply Measured, a small sampling of brand pages showed that their engagement increased by 46% over previous engagement. On the higher end of the scale, both the Livestrong and Toyota brand pages saw an engagement bump of 161% and 156%, respectively.
While direct responses to status updates fell after brand’s adopted the Timeline, responses to both videos and images rose a composite 65%, likely due to larger image displays, says Simply Measured. This may prompt more Facebook marketers to post more videos and images on Facebook.
Already over 8 million brands on Facebook have switched over to Timeline before the March 30 deadline, roughly one-fourth of all brands on Facebook.
To recap some of the features of Timeline, pages now have the ability to post a banner image (851 x 315 pixels) at the top of the page, users can send direct messages to your page instead of making public wall posts, you will have the ability to pin posts you want displayed at the top of your page (for up to seven days at a time), and customers will have easier access to your About page on Facebook.
SEM Media has been managing and marketing Facebook brand pages for many of its clients. If you have questions about the change over to Facebook Timeline, talk to the professionals at SEM Media.
You Won’t Get Full on Facebook :
As professional Internet marketers, the team at SEM Media knows all too well the perils of people who jump on board of the “latest and greatest” thing on the Internet only to find an empty treasure chest. While some new techniques and resources should be explored, and perhaps implemented, it is a mistake to leap blindly into a strategy just because it seems “BIG”.
Take, for instance, social media. Facebook has been the “next big thing” for a long time now, and rightly so. Probably nearly everyone you know is on Facebook, right? Even people who mainly use their computers to view pictures of their grandchildren are doing so now on Facebook. This is why an overwhelming majority of new business ventures that has been selling goods or services in the last couple years has been marketing themselves through Facebook, at least to some degree. So can Facebook sustain you? Will it fill you up?
No. Facebook is needed and important, no doubt. But if you focus your marketing efforts solely on social media and Facebook, you’ll be blessed with that unfortunate gift of “hindsight.” What we mean is that you will be limiting yourself by not employing time-honored methods of Internet marketing, ones we’ve been performing successfully for years.
One of the big reasons that Facebook won’t feed all your business goals is that it tends to “glue” people into staying on Facebook. People who are on Facebook want to stay on Facebook. They don’t want to visit every link they see that takes them to another website. So it’s not getting people’s attention on Facebook that’s the hard part; it’s getting them to act.
The other major issue with Facebook is that you don’t control Facebook. That means you don’t control policies, layout changes, procedures or content. What if all your efforts to build a brand page, one day, suddenly disappeared? There’s no way to back up your data on Facebook. It would be gone without a trace.
This is why it’s very important that social media is only one prong in a multi-pronged approach to Internet marketing. You still need good link building strategies, SEO and quality content. There’s no way around it. Use social media only in a sensible correlation to other marketing techniques. And if you want to know how to do that, talk to us at SEM Media. We can show you how to feast instead of famish.