When host Erin Sparks spoke with special guest Bill Sebald, Founder of Greenlane Marketing, for episode 331 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast, they talked about what makes for better SEO reporting to clients of all types. Here’s what we learned: 


Integrity in SEO Reports

Your SEO reports must have integrity. And that means putting yourself on the hook no matter what the results are. You have to show what’s going well and what isn’t going well. In some cases when things aren’t going well it might be due to Google making some kind of change in its algorithm. But either way, be as fearless in showing your failures as you are in showing your wins. Be honest in presenting the full picture. And for the elements that aren’t going well, you have to get into the WHY and what you’re going to do to address it. Quality SEO reporting builds trust with the client because they see the reality of what’s happening and why.


Consistency in SEO Reports

Consistency is also very important. You have to mutually agree with the client about what you’ll be reporting on, and how you’ll be reporting it. Spinning out too many reports from too many tools will only confuse and frustrate the client. Choose your set of tools for reporting and stick with them, and make sure the client understands why you’re using those particular tools. Your choices should be well thought-out and make sense when explained. 


ROI and SEO Reporting

Return on investment (ROI) is a very tricky aspect of SEO reporting. The client obviously wants to know what kind of return they’re getting on their investment into your SEO work. The big problem here is that your SEO work has all kinds of influences on users that simply can’t be tracked or added in the ROI formulas. For example, with Google showing more and more answers to questions right in the SERPs without sending users to your website, or hearing about you in Google Home, and it’s just not all that trackable in terms of linking those influences in meaningful ways to the client’s bottom line. And when everyone is so obsessed with the numbers and data, it takes away from the creativity side of what you’re doing in digital marketing. There’s a kind of halo effect that comes from your SEO work, and it’s simply not easily quantifiable.


Dealing with Resistance and Sabotage

Then there’s always the case of when there are people within the client organization who don’t like what you’re doing, poke holes in it, or generally resist taking actions that are recommended by the SEO reporting you’ve put together. When the middle-people between you and higher-ups in the company, or between you and the developers who have to actually change things based on your recommendation, are constantly thwarting you, figure out how to placate them (a well-placed case of beer on a regular basis can do the trick) as well as directly draw in some of those other people who should be part of the conversation, such as the developers. You have to actively build rapport and trust with all the key people in the client company. Yes, it can get political, but just ignoring it won’t make it any better. You do have to play the game, but nine out of ten times if you identify where the issues are and just talk to those people, you can resolve it.


The Final Word on SEO Reporting

The key takeaway in all this is to really listen to your client. Listen to what they’re looking for. Really take the time to understand what their KPIs are. Once you totally understand what it is, then you can start layering on the things they didn’t know they needed to know and why they needed to know. This is when your SEO report becomes the most valuable asset you’re going to be producing every single month, versus just spinning as many reports out of as many different tools as possible. Spend less time creating reports (use Data Studio for that) and spend more time analyzing the data and creating valuable insights that will go in to your SEO reports.

Connect with Bill Sebald and Greenlane Marketing

Twitter: @billsebald (https://twitter.com/billsebald)

Greenlane Marketing: https://www.greenlanemarketing.com 

Greenlane Twitter: @greenlane_team (https://twitter.com/Greenlane_Team)

Greenlane Facebook: @greenlaneteam (https://www.facebook.com/greenlaneteam)

Greenlane instagram: @greenlane_team (https://www.instagram.com/greenlane_team)

Greenlane LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/greenlane-marketing

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