How to prepare effective SEO reports for clients

SEO reports, when created effectively, are a great way to show the worth of your SEO work to your clients. If you haven’t been diligent in your reports up to this point, all is not lost! Here are a few tips to ensure that you’re making the most of your SEO reports for your clients.

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1. Be Consistent

How often you send out SEO reports will be largely dependent on your billing system. For example, some SEOs have clients who pay monthly with no contract, while others have clients who are locked into 3 or 6-month contracts. Whether you are sending monthly reports, or a report every 2, 3, or even 6 months, make sure you are consistent with your schedule so your clients know when to expect them.

2. Provide a Rank Report

This step is usually a no-brainer for anyone creating an SEO report. However, it’s important to realize that clients usually see rank as the overriding factor that shows how well you’re doing at managing their SEO. In addition to providing the current rankings for their keywords, it’s even better if you can show a rank history that shows the progress since you took over their campaign. After all, anyone in the SEO industry knows that SEO progress tracked more accurately over long periods of time rather than month-to-month. So while clients will like to see rankings in every report that you send, it’s smart to re-iterate the principle of long-term ranking improvement. There’s really no right or wrong answer to which software to use to track rank progress, as long as you can provide a historical report for your clients.

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3. Provide a Detailed Report of SEO Work

This step involves both reporting your link building work as well as any on-site work that you might have done since you sent the last report. If you spent time doing on-site improvements, provide a short explanation of what you improved. If you were able to acquire some great high-quality links through outreach, show the URLs to your client. Even if you worked on acquiring bookmark and directory links, give your client a ballpark number of how many you were able to add to their link base.

4. Include Charts, Graphs, and Maps

Charts and graphs are an excellent way to help clients visualize the progress you’ve made with their campaign. Google Analytics is a great free resource for graphs and charts to include in your report, but there are also several other paid tools you can use to provide visualizations for your report. Make sure you include enough information to show credibility, but not too much as to overwhelm your clients when they’re reading through your report.

5. Interpret

Instead of just providing data in your charts and graphs, make sure you interpret the data to tell your client how it’s relevant. Sometimes SEOs take for granted that everyone knows what terms like “bounce rate,” “unique visitors,” and “goal conversions” mean. For example, if you show a line graph of the site’s bounce rate over a period of time, write a few sentences that defines it, explains why it matters, and tells what you’ve done to improve it. It’s also worthwhile to write a few sentences about how data in your report compares to that in past reports (whether it’s improved, declined, and how that’s effecting their business).

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6. Report ROI

This step can be critical in showing, not just telling your clients that you are well worth what they are paying for you. There are several ways to go about doing this, and your method will also be determined by what kind of site you are working on. For example, if you’re working on an e-commerce site, you can track how many sales were converted from organic traffic (through analytics), and how their investment in SEO can be attributed to that. On the other hand, if you’re working on a serviced-based site (physicians, dentists, etc), you can still track their ROI in the form of cost-per-lead. Reporting ROI data is one of the most convincing ways to show your clients that your work is well worth their investment.

About the Author
Erika Potter is the online marketing manager for Epic Marketing, a full-service ad agency in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has worked in the SEO industry for several years, and also has a background in public relations and business management.

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