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:
- Page titles
- Meta tags
- Keyword density
- HTML formatting tags
- HTML validation errors
- Broken links
- 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
- Anchor text
- 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.
SEO campaigns vary, and therefore it’s vital to have flexible, customizable, responsive reports that will provide you with a competitive edge.
Google Shares 5 Common SEO Mistakes :
Recently, Google’s Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead, shared via video five common SEO mistakes the Google teams sees on a regular basis. If these catch Google’s attention, they must be worthwhile to know and understand so you won’t make the same mistake. At SEM Media, we know how to avoid these five common SEO mistakes and how to get your site ranked high in search engines.
Mistake #1: Your site has no value proposition before you start building it.
“Ask yourself, why would a user choose my site in the search results?” says Ohye. Whether your website is promoting an offline business (like a brick-and-mortar store) or an online business, you must know and be able to relate that which makes you different than your competitors. Do you have the lowest prices, free shipping, are you a non-profit, have a good central store location? Relating these answers is what will give your business (and thus your website) value.
Mistake #2: Don’t have a segmented approach to SEO.
Segmentation is “great for your sushi, but it’s not as great when there’s no communication between your marketing, business development and SEO team,” explains Ohye. You must consider SEO in the entire user experience, from your marketing campaign to conversion.
Mistake #3: Wasting time on time-consuming workarounds instead of researching best practices and new features. On sites with lots of pages, a “canonical” approach can dilute pages in the search index. Rather, Google now allows for “next” and “prev” markups for paginated content, giving equal weight to each page on your site, not just your home page. However, avoiding Mistake #3 and lead to Mistake #4, so be careful.
Mistake #4: Getting caught up in SEO trends. In the “old days,” both websites and search engines were trying to reach the same audience: users. Today, however, it seems more sites are trying to reach search engines instead of users. To avoid this trend, you need to produce good content that will interest a user.
Mistake #5: Slow iteration. “At Google, we’ve been known to say that the main constant in SEO is that it’s constantly evolving,” says Ohye. The faster your team can iterate the better. You must be able to define metrics, implement improvements, measure the impact, create new improvements and repeat.
So those are the mistakes Google sees, but what about the good things we do with SEO? Google suggests the following for “best practices” in SEO:
• Do something cool
• Include relevant keywords in your copy
• Be smart about your tags and site architecture
• Sign up for email forwarding in Webmaster Tools
• Attract buzz and natural links, votes, +1s, follows
• Stay fresh and relevant (social media sites, accessible on new devices)
SEM Media thrives on following the above “best practices.” If you have questions about how your site ranks, or you want to be better at SEO, contact a SEM Media professional today.
Good Thing SEM Media isn’t Heavy Handed :
With great foresight, SEM Media is not surprised by Google’s head of search, Matt Cutts, as he spoke at the end of SXSW saying that Google will be tweaking its search engine to stop favoring sites that go overboard with SEO.
Cutts explained that Google’s move was aimed at getting websites on a “level playing ground” and those who have been overly-ambitious about search engine optimization will have their sites demoted compared to those who are making great content and a fantastic site. That’s why SEM Media doesn’t fear this change by Google; we’ve been stressing the importance of good content and great site craftsmanship since day one. We’re not into “black hat” SEO techniques; we build up organic traffic through both innovative and time-honored techniques.
Again, Google is going after those sites that abuse SEO and overstuff keywords or exchange too many links; basically, they are targeting sites that are too aggressive in their SEO tactics. So, as a business owner, beware any SEO firm that tries too hard to sell you on their far-reaching SEO talents; they may just be taking you too far for Google’s liking.
Cutts explained at SXSW that the change has been in the works for months and will finally come out in the next several weeks.
Google has already made one change toward this goal last year, when the company rolled out its infamous Panda update, which slashed traffic to previously popular sites, such as About.com and eHow.com, by 30%. Previously, these sites ranked high for keywords because of the sheer volume of content on them; Google was asking that content on websites also be useful, not just plentiful.
That’s why SEM Media builds state-of-the-art websites with useful content as a standard practice. If you have questions about how your site may be affected by Google’s change, talk to an expert at SEM Media today.
Differentiate Your Website, but Use What Works :
A common conundrum in SEO is whether to copy what works or create new inroads into search optimization. This is where the delicate balancing act comes in. Just by copying your competition’s tactics doesn’t mean that you will have greater success that they are (They’ve obviously been doing it longer than you have if you’re copying them, right?).
Granted, there are plenty of time-tested tactics for good SEO, and those should be utilized as best as your budget and ambition allow. But in the end, your website needs to be different than everyone else’s, and that’s what will ultimately put you at the top.
And to be different you have to be willing to try things that have never been done before. If we could just follow the wisdom of other SEO experts, every website would look the same. That’s why there is one thing that can never be copied by anyone else. That is: your voice. Your website should have your voice and your philosophy present in it somewhere. Your voice is your style, your commitment to your customers, your commitment to yourself made public.
If you run a company blog, not only does the content represent you, but the frequency with which you publish content, the length of each post, and the depth of the information all represent your voice.
What happens is that your voice becomes your brand’s value, and the more you put your voice out there the more value you put in your brand. This also means you’re putting more content out there, and that’s where it begins affecting your SEO (positively).
So how do you beat your competitor when you’re both playing the same game – be better at the game than they are. If they’re not being innovative or taking risks with SEO, then you should. If they’re limiting their voice on their site, then make yours heard loud and clear. It’s the most reliable way to win. Just balance what you know works with what you make work.
Title Tags and Their Infinite Importance to SEO :
From meta tags, meta data to keywords, descriptions and title tags, the SEO “lingo” seems never-ending. Luckily, SEM Media understands it all and this week is going back to the basics by showing what is arguably the single most important element of SEO on any web page: the title tag.
A title tag is part of the meta tag that lives at the top of your HTML, inside the <head> area. If it helps, think of title tags as the chapter title in a book – it clues visitors and search engines into what your page is about. It is the title tag that shows up in search results, so it should contain important keywords to help search engines find your site.
The trick to a good title tag is to write them for humans but format them for search engines, and that’s where the value of an experienced SEO team, like SEM Media, pays in dividends.
If you would like to assess your own title tag, SEM Media has prepared a quick checklist for you:
- The length of your title tag should be no more than 70 characters (including spaces).
- Your site’s most important keywords should come first.
- Use pipes (|) to separate keyword phrases; don’t use commas.
- Keep your wording short and simple.
- Put your company name at the end of your title tag, as it’s not usually a targeted keyword.
- Don’t duplicate: title tags should be different for every page.
- Be relevant; they must describe the actual content on the page.
If you have questions about the strength of your website’s title tags, contact the pros at SEM Media today.
Google+, Page Rank and How It All Works :
Google Plus (+) has been out long enough for most people savvy to search to have either seen it or used it. Now the “+1” button is about as common as the Facebook “Share” button and the Twitter “Tweet” button. In other words, it’s a common way for people to share the content they discover with their friends. But what does Google+ do for a website’s SEO?
The +1 has an indirect effect on a website’s search ranking. Unfortunately, having lots of +1’s will not translate into a directly highly ranking in traditional search results, but it can help you. Here’s why. When a Google user +1’s a piece of content (web page, blog article, etc.) he/she finds useful it now shows up in Google’s new “Search plus Your World” functionality, where the first results given are personal if a person is signed into their Google account when searching.
Users are now seeing which search results have been “endorsed” by their friends, so those sites/articles/etc. that have been +1’d tend to have higher a CTR (Click Through Rate), and that is what then leads to that user sharing the content via their social media accounts and providing quality traffic. It is these two things that drive up a website’s ranking.
So while getting a ton of +1’s doesn’t factor directly into higher rankings, it will/should have an indirect effect on traffic volume and other social sharing, and that will help your SEO. So continue to encourage your customers and fans to +1 your content; just don’t expect it to bump you to the top of the search results immediately.