A Comprehensive Guide to SEO Reporting for Beginners

Ellie Diamond
Kassidy Vavra
Published: May 02, 2024
Last Updated:
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As digital and content marketers, we know the ins and outs of search engine optimization (SEO). We know it's the best way to move a client's website up the search engine results page (SERP), which is how you get more clicks.

Did you know:

  • 99.37% of searchers click on a first-page link.
  • The first organic result has a click-through rate (CTR) of 27.6%.
  • Moving up one spot in the SERP increases your CTR by 2.8%.

That increase grows as your average position increases. The better your SEO strategy, the more potential business comes your way.

SEO reporting shows how effective your strategy is. It demonstrates your value and highlights ways to improve your plan going forward.

What Is SEO Reporting?

SEO reporting, also called search engine rank reporting, is a method for tracking SEO performance. It presents SEO metrics and data visualizations to show how a strategy has affected traffic, clicks, and conversions.

For example, say your business creates an SEO strategy to increase clicks to a client's product pages. They want to increase traffic by 10% over the next six months. If you're successful, they will extend their contract.

You know you want to see results quickly, so you create an SEO monthly report as you go. You make charts of essential metrics, focusing on the goal of product page clicks. After one month, you begin to see results and decide to tweak your strategy based on what you've learned works and what doesn't. The client starts to see results and extends their contract before the six months are up.

Once the six-month mark arrives, you can evaluate what helped you reach your client's goal and decide how to maintain or boost traffic going forward.

Why Is SEO Reporting Important?

SEO client reporting isn't just about bragging rights, although a track record of measurable results will help you land work. It's also about gaining valuable insights into your SEO strategy's performance. Those insights let you adjust the user experience as you go, improving your chances of success and getting your content in front of your target audience.

A detailed SEO report shows how your strategy affects essential metrics. Take the client who wants to boost clicks to product pages. They care most about CTR in content that leads to those pages, so you keep close track of those metrics in your reports. If one set of pages doesn't provide the clicks you need, you can run a content optimization on those pages.

Looking at the data first saves time and money on pages that don't need optimizing. Other pages perform beautifully, and you can learn from their success. SEO reporting also highlights your successes so you can do more of what works.

How to Do SEO Analysis?

An SEO report analysis guides you through optimization results. It should focus on the priority metrics and be easily understandable to all stakeholders. 

Creating an SEO report for clients is a five-step process:

  1. Choose your key performance indicators (KPIs): Select metrics that impact the primary business goal. For example, if a client wants more clicks to product pages, you'll also want to measure time-on-page and bounce rates.
  2. Gather your data: You can use spreadsheets to integrate SEO performance data or purchase an SEO reporting tool that automates most of the process. A tool will reduce your manual processing time but requires an up-front investment.
  3. Choose your format: Will you present your report face-to-face using a slideshow, or would the client prefer a written report? Templates are available for both options, or you can create a presentation from scratch.
  4. Present insights: Share data using words and graphics your stakeholders will understand. When in doubt, explain all marketing lingo and data relevance.
  5. Share recommendations and next steps. Explain what the report shows and what the client should do to meet their goals. If the document is an interim report, indicate whether the strategy will move forward as planned or whether the data suggests changes. Be ready for any changes that require approval.

Visualizations are always your friends. Bar graphics, pie charts, and color-coded tables show what metrics have improved, even if some of your readers aren't marketing professionals. If a chart highlights CTR in green and time-on-page in red, even the least marketing-savvy reader will know which metric needs work.

What Should You Include in an SEO Report?

SEO reports for clients should focus on key metrics but touch on all aspects of SEO. Each element affects the others, a fact many clients are unaware of. Lay out your reports to showcase what's happening, what affects the results, and how each aspect impacts the client's goals.

A Report on Technical SEO Issues To Address

Clients typically associate SEO with keywords and page design, but technical issues can have just as significant an effect. All reports should include a section on technical SEO and how it affects the data. 

Your technical SEO performance reports should cover the following:

  • Content structure: Scannability, headings and subheadings, value-added images, helpful content
  • User experience: Page load speed, mobile friendliness, navigability
  • Internal linking: Links to and from other pages on the site
  • Schema and semantics: Tags that help Google navigate the site and understand its structure

Highlight any technical SEO elements that effectively drive traffic or need work, including what you recommend to correct any issues.

Keyword Reports and Rankings

Keyword selection and performance can make or break your SEO strategy. You need relevant keywords to reach the best-fit audience. The more closely your keywords match how your audience searches, the more strongly they'll feel drawn to your site.

Tell your client how your keyword strategy is doing with a detailed report, including:

  • Search intent: Why audiences search for a target keyword
  • Keyword volume: The keywords that drive the most traffic, which translates to potential business 
  • Keyword competition: How difficult it is to rank for a selected term based on the volume of sites targeting it
  • Keyword rankings: Each target keyword's average position on SERPs and whether it has changed since the last report
  • CTR: How many clicks each keyword gets, whether that has changed, and whether it's below or above average for its position

An article that moves up in the SERP should get more clicks. If it doesn't, the content likely needs work. If it's getting more clicks than expected, that means the headline or metadata resonates well with your target audience.

A Report on Your Local SEO Efforts for Local Businesses

As of 2023, 98% of consumers look online for information about local businesses, most searching multiple times a week or daily. You and your local business clients need to see results for searches with local intent, such as "hair salons near me" or "best accountants in Springfield." Run a separate keyword report for these local intent keywords, focusing on local competition. 

Include a report on the client's Google Business Profile (GBP) and the number of client interactions it generates. According to Google, a complete GBP is one of local businesses' biggest drivers of organic search traffic. It also drives direct phone calls and requests for directions, assuming that information exists in the profile.

Finally, offer recommendations on content marketing for local SEO. Report on how local landing pages perform or whether the client needs to create them. Local landing pages are particularly essential for multi-location businesses. Emphasize the importance of timely local content.

Content Marketing Reports With Key KPIs

It’s crucial to remember that all SEO marketing reports need a section on content, particularly when focusing on clicks and conversions. Since Google's helpful content update, it's a good reminder that quality people-first content directly affects key metrics.

Create a visualization centered on relevant content marketing metrics, such as:

  • Unique pageviews: How many people have viewed a particular content piece
  • Organic CTR: How many individuals clicked on your call-to-action (CTA) compared to the total number of viewers
  • Session-to-contact rate: What percentage of the content audience contacted the business
  • Conversion rate: How many visitors took your desired action, such as signing up for a mailing list or joining a loyalty club

Focus on how content conversions impact the client's ultimate goal. For instance, if a content piece increased mailing list signups, find out how many purchases came from email during that and the following period.

A Comprehensive Backlinks Report

On-page decisions aren't the only factors that impact SEO success. Google relies on backlinks to determine whether a site is authoritative and offers valuable expertise. 

Links from reputable sources boost a site's authority in its topic area. Backlinks from less credible sites do the opposite, so it's essential to control which ones Google can see.

SEO reports should include a backlink profile that details the source and reputability of each link back to your site. List dofollow and nofollow backlinks, explaining to the reader why the "follow" status matters.

Google should only be able to follow links from well-respected sites. If you need help determining whether a site has a good reputation, make it a nofollow backlink. This step tells Google that you don't endorse its source.

It also helps to include a domain authority rating in your backlink profile. Domain authority is a non-Google measurement of a site's reputation. It's available from several reputable sites, including Moz, and it's an easy way to indicate whether a site needs more backlinks.

What SEO Tools Should You Use for Reporting?

Data provides the core power of your SEO reports — the stronger and more convincing your data, the greater the impact on stakeholders.

SEO reporting tools help you measure and analyze that data. 

  • Google Search Console: This is a free and user-friendly way to measure impressions, clicks, ranking, and more. It's one of the best SEO reporting tool for beginners.
  • Google Analytics 4: This is the latest generation of Analytics, updated to focus on the customer experience and collect more relevant data, including crucial SEO metrics such as engagement rate, bounce rate, and conversions.
  • KWFinder: This keyword research tool identifies search terms and compares various SEO factors, including search volume and competition.
  • Unbounce: This landing page analyzer and optimizer helps you report and make improvements on the page level.

Because content is a primary driver of SEO, you'll also need some solid content optimization tools. You'll use these mainly for your report's recommendations and next steps section.

How To Create and Present a Report of Your SEO Efforts

The first step in writing SEO reports is to remind yourself of the goals and what's most vital to know. What KPIs must you report on, and how will that data connect to your recommendations or what to change moving forward?

Next, decide on a structure. A slide deck is best to share with a team and go in-depth into different metrics. PDFs are ideal to attach to a quick email and give a brief overview. Sometimes, it can be helpful to have both formats.

Whichever format you choose, your report should have five primary sections:

  • Overview: Your most significant findings and a summary of results
  • KPIs: The most impactful metrics and why they matter
  • Ranking and traffic updates:  Progress in these critical elements and their significance
  • Backlinks: New referring domains and anything you've done to clean your backlink profile 
  • Technical SEO: Key findings and recommendations for on-page technical aspects
  • Next steps: How these findings will inform your strategy and move the project forward 

Use visualizations whenever possible and keep jargon to a minimum, even if some audience members are SEO professionals.

Examples of SEO Reports to Learn From

It's always okay to create an SEO analysis report from scratch. Sometimes, that's the best way to customize it for your client. 

The other option is to use a template or sample from a reputable site. Backlinko has an accessible SEO report example and template that guides you through re-creating the included charts. 

Other options are also available, some of which require subscriptions to the service that created them. These reduce the amount of legwork on your end.

How Compose.ly Can Help You With SEO Metrics

SEO reporting reinforces your value as a content marketer. It lets clients see the measurable impact of what you do and allows you to focus your strategy for the future.

From keyword research, competitive analysis, content creation, and reporting, Compose.ly can help you build the foundation of your SEO strategy and provide custom reports to visualize your most important metrics.

Request a keyword research report for yourself and improve your organic metrics.


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