SEO Reporting To Shift Your Bottom Line
PPC & CRO are heavily report-driven and have excellent data visibility, and as a result are generally better understood to be a tool rather than an end in itself. SEO, however, has often fallen into the reporting-for-reporting's-sake trap and there have been some surprising stand-out reports that I think are generally underestimated by most SEOs.
We’ve been rebuilding our reporting from the ground up at QueryClick; thus, I’ve spent a much bigger chunk of my day-to-day activities analysing the actionability and effectiveness of a whole suite of different reports covering SEO, PPC and conversion optimisation (CRO).
PPC & CRO are heavily report-driven and have excellent data visibility, and as a result, are generally better understood to be a tool rather than an end in itself. SEO, on the other hand, has often fallen into the reporting-for-reporting’s-sake trap; however, there have been some surprising stand-out reports that I think are generally underestimated by most SEOs.
While I’ll post about a few more complicated reports in later columns, this time, I’ll focus on my number-one, action-driving report for SEO.
Report Hero #1: SERP Impression CTR Vs. Expected CTR
Pulled from Google Analytics via Google Webmaster Tools, your Search Engine Result Page (SERP) Impressions Vs. Clicks data is massively useful when determining if your most valuable organic terms are tweaked to the max to deliver every last drop of traffic possible.
Delivering improvements on your SERP CTR drives immediate traffic on highly relevant terms (you’re already ranking for them, after all).
In addition, we know that Google has dialed up the importance of your click-through rate to general SEO performance, so if your individual ranking (and collectively all rankings held against a domain for a category of terms) is better than average, you can expect to see a rise in ranking as Google adjusts to promote the more popular/relevant listing you’re providing for searchers.
Best of all, this report highlights immediate content refresh targets which, as we all know, is also a factor for improved SEO performance. A double win!
In fact, we can do better than just algorithmic SEO benefits. After all, you’re going to be better matching a search query intent to your linked landing page — so it’s very likely you’ll also see improved page bounce rates and cart conversion rates as a result of this work.
Ok, fantastic. You’re thinking, I have lots of really great incentives for running this report, and actionable content refreshes to page and page meta and title information from it. How do I build the report?
Building Your Expected CTR Metric
Google doesn’t provide an “expected SERP CTR,” but you can pretty easily implement a 1-100 average CTR table to compare your average ranking position derived from Google’s Impressions Vs. Click report in GA.
We can either export a lot of historical WMT Impressions Vs. Click data, archiving it over time (say, a year), and then generate a table of averages for each ranking or the sector generally; or we can simply use the old leaked AOL data if you’re happy with just a general indication of what each ranking’s historic average CTR was (it’s certainly sufficient to give you a comparative metric that’s good enough to identify issues and actions).
So, you might end up with a report like the one below.
You’ll notice I’ve filtered the search terms to exclude brand and only look at what I refer to as “opportunity” terms (i.e., terms ranking outside the top three, but within the top ten). These typically hold the greatest traffic uplift if improved to rank within the top three.
I also like to generate the same report for non-brand terms in the top three and brand terms in the top ten.
You should very quickly build up a list of high-priority terms to target the associated landing page (grab this by pulling from GA, the organic traffic landing pages for your target terms), and/or a list of new landing pages where an inappropriate page is being ranked due to lack of an existing targeted page for the term.
Rinse & Repeat
I’d suggest scheduling an emailed data dump from GA for your Impression Vs. Click data (it’s not in the API yet), which you paste into a pre-prepared spreadsheet with your pivot tables ready to go.
Weekly reviews for e-commerce, and fortnightly for all other industries will let you feed your targeted content updates into a larger content strategy and keep your traffic optimisation at the top of the agenda.