What should an SEO firm report on to their clients? There are a whole host of things that people usually talk about:
- Technical SEO changes made
- New links obtained
- Rankings reports
- Total backlinks
- Pages indexed
- Competitive info
- Web site traffic
While most of these are useful at some level, I think that if any of them become the central focus of an SEO’s reporting, that they are missing the boat entirely.
What matters most to clients is increasing their conversions (e.g. sign-ups, leads, contact me requests, or e-commerce transactions). It should also be what matters most to you. If you can increase the profitability of their business, by generating more conversions out of search, then you are in good shape for a long term relationship with the account.
The reason why this is critical is that it will focus your SEO efforts on things that drive new conversions for the client. With a focus on conversions, you’ll probably end up picking different keywords to focus on. You will end up picking different link partners to pursue. A laser sharp focus on this will make sure you are putting yourself in the best position to justify the cost of your service.
From the very beginning of an engagement, setup the web analytics to track conversions resulting from organic search results. Monitor the impact of what you are doing on that metric. Examine what keywords and traffic sources are generating conversions today. Just make sure you do this over a long enough period of time so that the data is statistically significant (don’t base your strategy on what happened with a single conversion!).
In my initial list, traffic (or more precisely traffic from search engines) should be an important thing that you monitor as well. However, as John Marshall will tell you traffic is not the goal. Not all users are created equal.
For example, in the world of search, if someone types in “buy blue widgets” and someone else types in “blue widget reviews”, there is clearly a different likelihood that one will buy versus the other. Now you probably want to be able to win on both those search terms. But expand the concept a bit. Perhaps someone searches on “orange widgets”, but the conversion rate is much lower than it is for “blue widgets”. This means your SEO campaign will bring a better business result to the client if it focuses on blue widgets.
Increasing conversions should be the focus of your reporting as well. Communicate to the customer early on that this is the priority, and that you are going to measure it for them, and report on it regularly. Keep in mind that the objective is to show the client the value you are bringing. What better way to do that then show them that you are making them more money than you are costing them?