Let’s get straight to the point. The quality of your reports can make or break your career as an SEO professional.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a freelancer, you’re an agency type, or you work in an in-house marketing department. It doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much you contribute to your client or boss’s revenue. What matters is that whoever you’re working for understands what it is you’re bringing to the table.
All that hard work won’t mean anything if your client doesn’t make the link between your efforts and the extra money that makes it to their bank account. In many cases, the quality and relevance of your reporting ultimately make the difference between developing a stable, long-term professional relationship and needing to hustle yet again once your contract ends.
Why Reports Are Important
Whether you’re a big-shot Fortune 500 CEO rolling out a new product or a humble SEO professional who offers link-building services, reports all serve the same purpose: communicating the value of your work.
In the case of a person like Tim Cook or Elon Musk, their reports and presentations to the press and shareholders are intended to increase interest, and therefore sales, investment, and company valuation. Most SEOs don’t have such a heavy burden, but they still need reports to remind their bosses or clients why they are an indispensable part of the payroll.
Qualities of a Good Report
Your idea of what a good report is may not necessarily be what most clients want. Creating a good report requires a decent grasp of what your client is actually looking for.
For instance, if you’re a freelancer or an agency professional, chances are, you were hired partly because your client or their usual people don’t have the time to learn how to do the job themselves. This means that most of the time, you have to know your intended audience’s needs and keep it at that.
However, you don’t want the need for conciseness to get in the way of your credibility. The information in your report has to be well-supported by the right sources and documentation, although, as we said in the video, this doesn’t have to be in the report itself.
Additionally, your report should be engaging. It’s not for nothing that those CEOs we mentioned sometimes resort to stunts to drum up interest in their own presentations. While you might not be doing anything so eyebrow-raising, PowerPoint thankfully makes it relatively easy to create reports that are professional yet visually engaging.
To sum up, a good report has these qualities:
- Understands the audience’s perspective
- Well-supported by documentation
What’s in a SearchWorks SEO Report?
Here at SearchWorks, we use a standard report template for most—not all—of our clients. It’s important to be flexible enough to readjust to different clients’ needs. However, for the vast majority of our purposes, our standard report template usually suffices, especially with the scope our agency is usually given. The SearchWorks SEO report template contains the following sections:
Part 1: Summary
Ideally, the summary should encapsulate all the notable events that happened in the reporting period without being too bogged down in small details. We usually include the following:
- Completed Tasks. In this section, we usually include items such as articles completed and links earned as part of link-building projects, with corresponding URLs where applicable. We also include completed tasks for one-off projects, site development projects, social media marketing efforts, and so on.
- Milestones and Highlights. If some notable milestones or events happened during the reporting period, the summary section is where they are usually included.
- References and Links. Data sources and links are always included in anything presented in the report. This makes the report more credible and may also help the client better contextualize the project.
Part 2: Pending Tasks
This is where we tell the client about the tasks and notable events that are expected in the next reporting period. We usually include the following:
- Ongoing Projects. Information on ongoing projects, short-term goals, and tasks is included here.
- Roadblocks. Sometimes, tasks and targets are not always completed on time. These can be included in this section along with a brief explanation of why the goals were not met, along with potential solutions for resolving the issue.
Part 3: Traffic Reports
As an SEO agency, it’s our goal to increase meaningful site traffic and conversions. We normally include the following reports:
- Organic Traffic. When applicable, this part of the report includes both month-over-month as well as year-over-year data. This will allow the client to have an overall view of site visits since the start of the campaign.
- Keyword Rankings. While no longer that important to other SEOs, keyword rankings are still included in our reports to provide a more nuanced view of site performance.
- Organic Conversions. This report is especially important, as it is where the performance, relevance, and financial value of an SEO project could be gauged. Again, it’s important to include month-over-month and year-over-year data to better separate the effects of seasonality and regular market patterns from those resulting from the agency’s input.
- Top Performing Organic Landing Pages (Non-Paid). Including this report will allow you to better separate gains from SEO from those resulting from paid search. Again, this will help with contextualizing the value and ROI of SEO projects.
- Tools and Methods Used for Report Generation. To maintain the report’s credibility, we include the tools and methods we used to extract the data. This will allow the client to verify the report, when necessary.
Part 4: Next Steps
Lastly, the standard SearchWorks template includes recommendations for the next steps that the client should take. This isn’t always included, but when it is, it’s usually towards the end of a contract or when there is a need to shift gears.
- Proposed Activities. We might recommend trying another strategy or continuing with the current one, perhaps with some changes. When appropriate, we may suggest that the client try another agency that may specialize in a different area of digital or offline marketing.
Remember, the SearchWorks template is designed to meet the needs of the clients we deal with the most often. It might not necessarily work for your use case, but we hope that it will give you a good starting point for creating your own standard reports.