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21 Must-Have Features For Ecommerce Sites

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21 Must-Have Features For Ecommerce Sites

Are you creating a new ecommerce store for your business or looking for ways to improve the functionality of your current store?

Creating an ecommerce experience that is sure to delight your customers can be as simple as taking a little inspiration from the top ecommerce brands.

The following are 21 must-have features for ecommerce sites.

Example brands were selected from The Top 50 Ecommerce Companies in the U.S. list published by Similarweb.

1. User-Friendly Navigation

The key to helping customers find the products they need quickly is to offer a user-friendly navigation system.

Products should be logically categorized, with the most popular categories listed first.

Screenshot from Sephora.com, March 2022

Sephora knows how customers like to shop.

Some specifically seek out products by brand, while others shop by category. Their navigation bar reflects this organization, along with quick links to inexpensive and sale products.

2. Site Search

In addition to user-friendly navigation, site search is a feature found on most of the top ecommerce sites.

It allows customers to bypass the navigation and search for exactly what they want.

example of site searchScreenshot from Nordstrom.com, March 2022

Nordstrom offers a site search with suggestions for popular brands and products that match what you enter.

Most site searches can be tracked using Google Analytics.

3. Footer Navigation

Have you considered the best way to utilize your website’s footer to help customers find your top products?

Try a list of links to the top products, services, and information that customers want to find.

example of footer navigationScreenshot from T-mobile.com, March 2022

T-Mobile uses its footer to direct customers to their social media profiles, English and Spanish sites, featured phones and plans, support, and company information.

Their footer effectively includes links to everything they want both customers and search crawlers to discover from any page throughout their website.

4. Product Videos

Adding video to your product pages can increase conversions.

According to Think With Google, over 50% of shoppers said that online video helped them make a decision on which brand or product to purchase.

Most ecommerce platforms allow retailers to add videos and images to their product pages.

example of product videosScreenshot from Apple.com, March 2022

Apple uses video to highlight features of its latest iPhone on its sales page. Their use of high-quality product images and video help sell their products online and in-store.

5. Product Reviews

The most popular form of user-generated content found on ecommerce sites is product reviews and ratings.

This section of an ecommerce product page is crucial to providing social proof to shoppers that a product will fit their needs.

eBay allows customers to rate and review products, displaying reviews below the product descriptions and sponsored items.

example of product reviewsScreenshot from eBay.com, March 2022

Other eBay users also have the option to rate reviews as useful or not, moving the best reviews to the top of the list on the product page.

6. Generous Return Policy

Want to increase consumer confidence in the products you sell? Offer a generous return policy and include it on your product page.

example of generous return policyScreenshot from Walmart.com, March 2022

 

Place it near your add to cart button to increase the chances that it will have a positive effect on the number of purchases.

7. FAQ For Products

Another way to incorporate user-generated content into your ecommerce store is by adding a section of the most frequently asked questions by customers.

This section can help your store in a number of ways.

  • Increase the number of sales by answering your customer’s top pre-sales questions about your products.
  • Reduce the amount of time your customer service has to spend on answering questions about products, before and after the purchase.
example of FAQScreenshot from Amazon.com, March 2022

Amazon’s question and answer section on product pages gives customers the ability to ask questions, answer questions, and vote up the best questions to ensure the most frequently asked ones appear at the top.

8. FAQ For The Store

In addition to the FAQ for your product pages, consider adding a FAQ page for your main store.

This should cover any of the general questions people may ask about online privacy, security, payments, shipping, returns, and other shopping concerns.

example of faq for the storeScreenshot from Etsy.com, March 2022

Etsy offers answers to the most frequently asked questions in its help center.

This saves their customer support team from having to answer general questions and gives them more time to solve complex issues.

9. Order Tracking

Once your customer places an order, the top question on their mind is when will my order arrive.

Make it simple for customers to check their current order status on your website.

example of order trackingScreenshot from Autozone.com, March 2022

AutoZone has an order tracking page that doesn’t require customers to log in.

They simply need their email address and the order number they received in their order confirmation email.

10. Email Opt-In

According to Mailchimp benchmarks, emails sent by ecommerce businesses have an average open rate of 15.68% and a click rate of 2.01%.

This is important considering the revenue-generating potential ecommerce emails have.

If you can’t get visitors to make a purchase on your website, one of the next best conversions for your store would be to attain the visitor as a subscriber on your email list.

This would allow you to reach them with future sales and email promotions.

example of email opt inScreenshot from Samsung.com, March 2022

Samsung prompts visitors to subscribe to their email list to receive their latest offers using a pop-up.

Another way ecommerce retailers can capture email addresses is by adding an opt-in form in the header and footer of their website.

11. Push Notifications

If you want to bypass spam filters and social media algorithms, the next best way to capture your ecommerce store visitors as subscribers is through push notifications.

Push notification services allow visitors to subscribe to your latest updates in their browser.

When you have a promotion you want to notify subscribers of, you can send a message that will be delivered to their notification center via their browser.

sample of push notificationsScreenshot from Shein.com

Shein is one of many ecommerce brands that allows visitors to subscribe to push notifications.

Once subscribed, visitors will see the latest messages from Shein in their desktop notifications.

example of push notificationScreenshot of a push notification from Shein, March 2022

12. Chatbots

One of the benefits of running an ecommerce website is its ability to generate revenue, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, throughout the year. That also means providing support to your customers during those hours as well.

According to LivePerson’s survey of 5,000 consumers, positive sentiment about the use of chatbots nearly doubled between 2020 and 2021, from 31% to 61%.

Many ecommerce stores use chatbots to assist online shoppers with basic questions and navigate them to a specific product or support page.

example of chatbotsScreenshot from Lowes.com, March 2022

Lowes uses an always online expert, which is an automated assistant with specific prompts for visitors to choose when looking for a specific answer, finding a specific product, or solving a basic customer service inquiry.

13. Coupon Codes

We know that consumers often search for coupon codes on Google when presented with a coupon or discount box on a checkout page.

In the United States, 88% of consumers use coupons when shopping, using coupon sites like slickdeals.com, groupon.com, and retailmenot.com.

If you want to keep customers on your website throughout the checkout process, give them great deals via your own coupon codes.

example of site that uses coupon codesScreenshot from Victoriassecret.com, March 2022

Victoria’s Secret uses a bar at the top of its website to highlight its latest offer.

When visitors click on View Offers, they will get additional offers and coupon codes to apply at checkout.

14. Product Availability Filters

Do you have multiple options for customers when it comes to pickup or delivery methods?

Give customers the ability to quickly find the products that are available with their preferred pickup or delivery option.

example of product availability filtersScreenshot from Walgreens.com, March 2022

Walgreens offers customers an item availability filter that will sort products based on their pickup, same-day delivery, shipping, or in-stock availability. This gives you the best chance to convert customers based on fast availability.

15. Mobile App

In addition to having a mobile-friendly store for shoppers to make a purchase from any device, also consider having a mobile app for your store.

Mobile apps allow you to keep your brand on your customer’s minds, placing your app icon/brand logo on the smart devices customers use most.

You don’t have to wait for customers to open up a browser or another app for social media or email to get your latest sales messages.

You can push those promotional updates through your app to any customers that have notifications turned on.

example of mobile appScreenshot from the Home Depot app, March 2022

Home Depot offers an app that allows customers to shop for products online and have them shipped to their homes or reserved for in-store pickup.

16. Gift Registries

If you do a search for gift registries on Google, you will find dozens of well-known brand retailers.

Target, Amazon, Walmart, Crate & Barrel, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond are just a few that appear on the first page of SERPs.

Why are gift registries important to driving sales? Let’s just look at wedding registries for a moment.

According to The Knot 2020 Wedding Registry Study, 80% of respondents set up a wedding registry.

CNBC reported findings from Baird’s 2022 survey that Amazon leads as the top wedding registry provider with 45% listing penetration.

example of gift registriesScreenshot from Target.com, March 2022

Target offers gift registries for babies, weddings, and charities. You can also create a custom registry to celebrate any occasion you choose.

17. Multilingual Support

If your ecommerce store caters to customers in a specific region, you have two options to support the top languages spoken in their region:

  • Depend on Google Translate to help customers translate your website into their language.
  • Create multiple versions of your website for specific languages.
example of multilingual supportScreenshot from Xfinity.com, March 2022

Xfinity uses English on their www subdomain, and Spanish on their es subdomain.

Content can be switched from English to Spanish using the En and Es links in the main navigation bar.

18. Loyalty Program

Do you want to increase customer retention? One way to encourage people to shop from your ecommerce store again is to offer a loyalty program.

These are typically free or paid programs where customers get private or early access to the best deals.

Many allow customers to accrue points per purchase that lead to various rewards, such as a specific dollar amount off your next purchase or a free product.

example of loyalty programScreenshot from Ulta.com, March 2022

Ulta is one of many brands that offer a free rewards program for their loyal customers.

Customers can join for free and earn points redeemable for products and services online and in-store.

19. Carousels

While marketers may not agree on the value of image and video carousels on the homepage, you will find many ecommerce brands use them.

Major retailers such as Walmart, eBay, Home Depot, Samsung, Wayfair, Lowes, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Kohls have carousels with their latest promotions and sales.

example of carouselsScreenshot from Chewy.com, March 2022

Chewy is another ecommerce brand that features a carousel on the homepage. Theirs promote discounts for auto-ship orders, healthy pet food, flea & tick medications, pet bedding, and more.

20. Local Store Information

If your ecommerce brand also has physical store locations, you can boost offline sales by adding details for the nearest store to your website’s header.

This would allow customers to shop online, reserve for in-store pick up, or browse their local store inventory before going to make an in-store purchase.

sample of local store informationScreenshot from Coscto.com, March 2022

Costco offers a link to the closest store based on your zip code. They also display current store hours.

21. Personal Data Policy

Depending on where your ecommerce store is based and the customers that it serves, your site may need a policy that notifies visitors of the data that is collected about them on your website using cookies from the website and other analytics tools.

sample of personal data policyScreenshot from Michaels.com, March 2022

Michael’s ecommerce store displays a popup advising visitors about cookie usage to enhance user experience and analyze website traffic.

Visitors then have the option to accept the policy or adjust their cookie preferences.

Start Creating Fantastic Shopping Experiences

It’s important to remember that you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel in order to provide a fantastic shopping experience for your users.

It’s simply a matter of listening to your customer’s feedback and monitoring your competitors to see if new trends in ecommerce arise.

While you don’t need to try every new feature your ecommerce platform has to offer, you should look into the ones that your customers have come to expect from the top retailers in your vertical.

Combine your customer’s feedback with A/B testing to see what implementations drive more sales and higher customer satisfaction.

 


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



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The Challenges & Opportunities For Marketers

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The Challenges & Opportunities For Marketers

Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., reported its fourth straight quarter of declining profits.

It made $76 billion in sales over the past three months, but it wasn’t enough to meet Wall Street’s expectations.

Google’s revenue was down 9% compared to last year, and its biggest business, Google Search, saw a 1% drop in revenue. Even YouTube’s advertising sales fell by nearly 8%.

Alphabet has decided to cut its workforce by 12,000 and expects to spend between $1.9 billion and $2.3 billion on employee severance costs.

This latest earnings report shows tech giants like Google are facing challenges in the current digital advertising landscape.

But Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, believes that the company’s long-term investments in AI will be a key factor in its future success.

In a press release, Pichai says he expects major AI advancements to be soon revealed in Google search and other areas:

“Our long-term investments in deep computer science make us extremely well-positioned as AI reaches an inflection point, and I’m excited by the AI-driven leaps we’re about to unveil in Search and beyond. There’s also great momentum in Cloud, YouTube subscriptions, and our Pixel devices. We’re on an important journey to re-engineer our cost structure in a durable way and to build financially sustainable, vibrant, growing businesses across Alphabet.”

Alphabet’s CFO, Ruth Porat, reported that their Q4 consolidated revenues were $76 billion, a 1% increase from the previous year. The full year 2022 saw revenues of $283 billion, a 10% increase.

Going forward, Alphabet is changing how it reports on its AI activities.

DeepMind, which used to be reported under “Other Bets,” will now be reported as part of Alphabet’s corporate costs to reflect its increasing integration with Google Services and Google Cloud.

What Does This Mean For Marketing Professionals?

It’s important to stay updated on the latest developments in the tech industry and how they may affect advertising strategies.

Google’s declining profits and decreased revenue in their search and YouTube platforms are reminders that the digital advertising landscape is constantly evolving, and companies must adapt to keep up.

Marketers should consider diversifying their advertising efforts across multiple platforms to minimize the impact of market swings.

Additionally, Google’s focus on AI and its integration with Google Services and Cloud is something to keep an eye on.

As AI advances, it may offer new opportunities for marketers to target and engage with their audience effectively.

By staying informed on the latest tech advancements, marketers can stay ahead of the curve and make the most of these opportunities.

Despite Google’s recent financial setbacks, the tech giant is still a major player in the digital advertising landscape, and its investments in AI show its commitment to continued growth and innovation.


Featured Image: Sergio Photone/Shutterstock

Source: Alphabet



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How to Use WordPress in 9 Simple Steps (Beginner’s Guide)

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How to Use WordPress in 9 Simple Steps (Beginner’s Guide)

WordPress is the world’s largest content management system (CMS)—around 810 million websites are built on it.

It’s free to use and includes all the features any website owner could need. And if it doesn’t have a feature you want or need, you can have a developer create it for you because it’s built on open-source software.

But with all of these features come some complications. WordPress has a fairly steep learning curve compared to other CMSes like Wix or Squarespace.

I’ve built dozens of websites using WordPress.org (not WordPress.com, which is a totally different beast) and have narrowed down the process to nine simple steps that anyone can follow.

Let’s start with…

Step 1. Get a domain name and hosting

Every website built on WordPress.org needs a domain name (www.thisisyourdomainname.com) and a hosting service that stores and displays your website on the internet.

You can buy a domain name for a small fee from a domain name registrar like NameCheap or GoDaddy. However, if you buy your domain name and your hosting from separate companies, you will need to change your website’s Domain Nameservers (DNS) to point your domain name from your registrar to your hosting company.

They look like this:

SiteGround DNS settings example

It’s a little cheaper to do it this way but not worth the hassle in my opinion. Instead, most hosting providers (such as SiteGround or Bluehost) can also sell you a domain name and connect it with your website automatically, allowing you to skip messing with DNS settings.

You can check out this guide to choosing a domain name if you’re not sure what to pick.

Step 2. Install WordPress

Once you purchase hosting, most hosting providers have a one-click install to set up WordPress on your website. Here are some links to guides on how to do this with common hosting services:

You can also opt for a faster (but more expensive) dedicated hosting provider like Kinsta or WP Engine. These companies will set up WordPress for you when you buy their hosting.

Step 3. Familiarize yourself with the UI

Now that you have a website with WordPress installed, let’s get into how to use WordPress. You can log in to your WordPress dashboard by going to www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin.

Once you log in, your dashboard will look like this (with fewer plugins since you’re on a fresh install):

WordPress user interface

Let me explain the options here:

  • Posts: This is where you’ll create blog posts.
  • Media: You can go here to see all the media on your site, such as images and videos. I typically upload media directly to my posts and pages and don’t visit media often.
  • Pages: This is where you’ll create static pages on your site, such as your homepage, about page, and contact page.
  • Comments: Here is where you’ll moderate any blog comments.
  • Appearance: This is where you’ll customize the appearance of your website, such as your website’s theme, font type, colors, and more.
  • Plugins: A plugin is an add-on to your website that adds functionality, such as custom contact forms or pop-ups on your website. I’ll discuss these in more detail later.
  • Users: Here is where you can add users to your website, such as writers, editors, and administrators.
  • Settings: Pretty straightforward; here is where your general website settings are located.

Now that you know what each option does, let’s get your website settings dialed in.

Step 4. Optimize your settings

Your WordPress website comes with some generic settings that need to be changed, as well as some things I recommend changing to optimize your website for search engines.

Specifically, you should:

  • Change your title, tagline, time zone, and favicon.
  • Change your permalink structure.
  • Configure your reading settings.
  • Delete any unused themes.
  • Change your domain from HTTP to HTTPS.

Let’s walk through each of these steps.

Change your title, tagline, time zone, and favicon

Head to Settings > General to find these settings. Change the title of your website and the tagline, which can appear underneath the title if you choose to display it.

Next, check that the time zone is correct (according to your local time zone) and upload your favicon. A favicon is the little icon that shows up in browser tabs next to the title of the page, like this:

Examples of favicons

You can make a favicon for free with Canva. Just make a 50×50 design with whatever you want your favicon to look like. Check out this guide to learn more. 

Change your permalink structure

Head to Settings > Permalinks. A permalink is the URL structure your blog posts take when you publish them. By default, WordPress displays the date in your URLs, which isn’t great for SEO or readability.

WordPress permalink structure settings

I always change this to the “Post name” option (/sample-post/) to add the title of the post by default. You want to optimize all of your URLs individually when possible, but this setting will make the process easier.

Configure your reading settings

Head over to Settings > Reading to choose whether you want your homepage to be a static page or if you want it to be a feed of your latest blog posts. 

WordPress homepage display settings

Personally, I always create a unique static page to use as my homepage because it gives me more control over the homepage. I like to add internal links to specific pages to help them rank higher on Google, as well as add an email opt-in form on the homepage.

Check out this guide to homepage SEO to learn more.

Delete any unused themes 

By default, you have a few themes installed. Once you choose a theme in step #5 below, you should delete any unused themes to remove vulnerabilities from your site (hackers can attack WordPress websites with outdated themes).

To do that, go to Appearance > Themes, click on the unused theme, then click the red Delete button in the bottom right.

How to delete unused themes on WordPress

Change your domain from HTTP to HTTPS

The “S” in HTTPS stands for secure. Adding this is done with an SSL certificate, and it’s an important step. It means your website is encrypted and safer for viewers.

Having HTTPS instead of HTTP gives you the “lock” icon next to your URL—Google (and most internet users) wants to see a secure website.

HTTPS secure "lock" icon

Most hosting providers automatically activate the secure version of your website. But sometimes, it needs to be manually activated by you. Here are guides on how to do this with common hosting providers:

If your host isn’t shown here, just do a Google search for “[your host] SSL encryption.”

Step 5. Select and customize your theme

Once you’ve optimized your settings, it’s time to start actually building your website using a WordPress theme. A theme is a customizable template that determines what your website looks like. 

You can browse for themes by going to Appearance > Themes, then clicking the Add new button at the top of the page. 

WordPress theme page

The generic Twenty Twenty-Three theme is actually pretty good. Most WordPress themes these days are optimized to show up in search engines and for requirements of the modern user, such as being mobile-friendly. 

However, some themes have a lot of added bloat that can slow a website down, so choose a theme that only has the features you need without extras you won’t use.

Alternatively, if you don’t like any themes or want something that’s more drag-and-drop, you can use a website builder like Elementor or Thrive Architect. These tools make building a website extremely easy, but they do add bloat that can slow a website down.

I use Elementor to build my websites but only use it to build static pages that I want to convert well. Then I use the built-in Guttenberg editor for my blog posts.

If you decide to go with a regular theme rather than a theme builder, you can edit the theme by going to Appearance > Customize. You’ll be taken to the following editor:

WordPress theme customization options

Depending on the theme you installed, you may have more or fewer options than the screenshot above. Rather than trying to cover every option you may encounter, I’ll just recommend that you go through each option to see what it does. 

For the most part, the options are self-explanatory. If you hit a snag, you can always do a Google search for that option in your theme to see forum posts from other users or even the theme’s FAQ or manual.

Step 6. Build your basic pages

After you’ve selected a theme, you can start building your website’s pages. Every website typically needs at least the following pages:

  • A homepage
  • A contact page
  • An about page
  • A privacy policy page
  • A terms of service page

Rather than going through how you should create each of these pages, I’ll refer you to the following guides:

Keep in mind that your privacy policy and terms of service (ToS) pages will vary depending on the country you live in. If you’re in the U.S., you can follow this guide for privacy policies and this guide for ToS pages.

That said, there are some general tips you should follow when building any page on your website. In general, make sure that your font is easy to read and a good visible size (18–20px is typical), your colors match, and you avoid too much clutter.

Here’s a good example of a webpage that is clean, legible, and thought out:

Ahrefs about page example

Here’s an example of a webpage that has too much clutter and displays an ad over half the page, causing confusion:

CNN poor website design

In general, less is more and legibility is better than fancy fonts.

Step 7. Install these essential plugins

One of the best parts of using WordPress is access to its massive library of plugins

A plugin is a custom piece of code written by a developer that anyone can install on their WordPress website in order to add specific functionality to the site, such as a contact form, extra customization options, or SEO features.

You can install a new plugin one of two ways. Head over to Plugins > Add New. From here, you can either:

  1. Browse the plugins directly on this page, then install and activate them directly.
  2. Download a plugin .zip file from the plugin’s website, then click the Upload plugin button at the top of the screen and upload the .zip file.
How to upload a plugin to your WordPress website

While many plugins are free, some are paid or have a premium paid version. It depends on what you need. However, I always install the following free plugins on my websites:

Rank Math: This plugin makes basic on-page SEO easier. It tells you if you’re missing basic things like metadata, image alt text, and more. It also allows you to create a robots.txt file and a sitemap, which are important for search engines to crawl your website the way you want.

Wordfence: This is a security plugin to help prevent your website from being hacked. I always install some sort of security plugin on my sites.

Insert Headers and Footers: One of the things you’ll often find yourself needing to do is insert code into the header or footer of your pages. You need to do this for everything from setting up Google Analytics and Google Search Console to adding the Facebook Remarketing pixel and more. Having this plugin makes it much easier to add this code.

Keep in mind that installing a lot of plugins on your website can cause code bloat and slow down your loading speeds, so only install plugins that you really need. 

Step 8. Start creating content

Now you know all the basics of how to use WordPress. But another important thing I want to talk about, which is probably why you wanted to start a WordPress website in the first place—how to create content for your blog.

Writing blog posts is an essential part of showing up on search engines like Google, having something to share on social media, and attracting more visitors to your website.

What you write about depends on your goals. I always start with some basic keyword research to figure out what people are searching for on Google that relates to my website.

A quick and easy way to do this is by plugging a broad keyword into Ahrefs’ free keyword generator tool to get some keyword ideas. 

For example, if I’m starting a website about farming, I may type “farm” into the tool. I can see keyword ideas like “farming insurance” and “vertical farming,” which are two potential blog topics I can write about.

Keyword ideas for farming, via Ahrefs' free keyword generator tool

If I want to get a little more specific, I can try a keyword like “how to start a farm.” This gives me ideas like “how to start a farm with no money” and “how to start a farm in texas.”

Keyword ideas for "how to start a farm," via Ahrefs' free keyword generator tool

Try different seed keywords—both broad keywords and more specific ones—to come up with some blog topics. Once you have a few ideas, go ahead and outline the article and then write it and publish it.

Check out our guide to writing a blog post to learn more.

Step 9. Monitor your website for technical issues

A regular part of maintaining your WordPress website is keeping plugins and themes up to date, as well as monitoring your website’s technical health.

WordPress automatically notifies you of updates to your plugins or themes with a red circle next to Dashboard > Updates. Log in to your dashboard at least once a week to update everything.

WordPress updates dashboard

Beyond weekly updates, use the free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools to run a technical audit on your site and see any issues your site may have, such as broken links, missing metadata, or slow loading speeds. 

Ahrefs website audit overview, via AWT

If you click the All issues tab, you can see every issue your site has—with an overview of what the issue is and how to fix it if you click on the ? icon.

All issues report, via AWT

You’ll also get email alerts when anything on your site changes, such as a link breaking or a page returning a 404 code. It’s a helpful tool to automatically monitor your WordPress site.

Final thoughts

Congratulations, you now know the basics of using WordPress. It may have a large learning curve, but learning how to use this CMS is one of the most valuable skills you can have in today’s digital age.

You can use your WordPress website to make money blogging, promote your services as a freelancer, or even sell products online. Knowing how to build a website is almost mandatory these days for anyone who wants to start a business.

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Top 5 Essential SEO Reporting Tools For Agencies

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Top 5 Essential SEO Reporting Tools For Agencies

Your clients trust you to create real results and hit KPIs that drive their businesses forward.

Understanding the intricacies of how that works can be difficult, so it’s essential to demonstrate your progress and efforts.

SEO reporting software showcases important metrics in a digestible and visually represented way. They save guesswork and manual referencing, highlighting achievements over a specified time.

A great tool can also help you formulate action items, gauge the performance of campaigns, and see real results that can help you create new and innovative evaluations.

The latest and allegedly greatest tools hit the market all the time, promising to transform how you conduct reports.

Certainly, you have to weigh a few factors when deciding which software to implement. Price, features, and ease of use are the most important to consider.

A cost-effective tool with a steep learning curve might not be worth it for the features. Similarly, an expensive tool might be more appealing if it is user-friendly but could quickly run up costs.

Just like any transformational business decision, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons carefully to determine the right one for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Cost, accessibility, and features are the common thread of comparison for SEO reporting tools.
  • To truly get the best use out of an SEO reporting tool for your agency, you’ll need to weigh several details, including scalability, customization, integrations, and access to support.
  • What might be considered a subpar tool could be a game-changer for an agency. Due diligence and research are the keys to knowing what will work for your team.

What To Look For In SEO Reporting Tools

It can be tough to make heads or tails of the available tools and choose which will benefit your agency the most.

Here are the 10 essential requirements of SEO reporting tools.

1. Accurate And Current Regional Data

SEO reporting is all about data. The software must have access to accurate and current data localized to your client’s targeted region.

Search data from the U.S. is meaningless if your client tries to rank for [London plumbing services], so localization matters.

The tool must update data regularly and with reliable accuracy so you can make informed decisions about where your client stands against the competition.

2. Integration With Third-Party Tools

Especially for full-scale digital marketing campaigns, the ability to report on all KPIs in one place is essential.

The more available integrations with third-party tools (e.g., Google Analytics, Google Business Profile, Majestic), the better.

Some tools even allow you to upload custom data sets.

3. Scalability

You don’t want to have to retrain or reinvest in new software every time your agency reaches a new tier.

The right SEO reporting tool should work well for your current business size and leave room for expansion as you onboard more clients.

4. Strong Suite Of Features

A great SEO reporting tool should include:

  • Position tracking.
  • Backlink monitoring.
  • Competitor data.
  • Analytics.

It is a bonus if the tool has reporting features for social media, email marketing, call tracking, and/or paid ads to make it a full-suite digital marketing software.

5. Continually Improving And Updating Features

SEO is constantly evolving, and so should SEO reporting tools.

As we continue the transition from website optimization to web presence optimization, a tool’s ability to integrate new features is essential.

6. Ability To Customize Reports

Each client will have different KPIs, objectives, and priorities.

Presenting the information that clients want to see is paramount to successful campaigns and retention.

Your reporting software of choice should be able to emphasize the correct data at the right times.

7. Client Integration

A good SEO reporting tool must have the client in mind.

It should have a simple bird’s eye overview of the basics but also be easy for clients to dig into the data at a deeper level.

This can mean automated summary reports or 24/7 client access to the dashboard.

8. Ability To White Label Reports

While white labeling is not essential (no client will sniff at receiving a report with a Google logo in the top corner), it helps keep branding consistent and gives a professional sheen to everything you send a client’s way.

9. Access To Support Resources

Quality support resources can help you find a detour when you encounter a roadblock.

Whether it’s detailed support documentation, a chat feature/support desk, or responsive customer support on social media, finding the help you need to solve the issue is important.

10. Cost-To-Value Ratio

With a proper process, time investment, and leveraging support resources, it is possible to get better results from a free reporting tool than one that breaks the bank.

This can mean automated summary reports or 24/7 client access to the dashboard.

Top 5 SEO Reporting Tools

In evaluating five of the most popular SEO reporting tools, based on the above criteria, here is how they stack up:

1. AgencyAnalytics

My Overall Rating: 4.7/5

Image credit: AgencyAnalytics, December 2022

AgencyAnalytics is a quality introductory/intermediate reporting tool for agencies.

Among the tools on this list, it is one of the easiest to use for small to mid-sized agencies.

It starts at $12 per month, per client, with unlimited staff and client logins, a white-label dashboard, and automated branded reports. The minimum purchase requirements mean the first two tiers work out to $60 per month and $180 per month, respectively. But your ability to change the payment based on the number of clients could help keep costs lean.

AgencyAnalytics comes with 70+ supported third-party data integrations.

However, this reliance on third-party data means you may have incomplete reports when there is an interruption in the transmission.

Though new integrations are always being added, they can be glitchy at first, making them unreliable to share with clients until stabilized.

With the ability for clients to log in and view daily data updates, it provides real-time transparency.

Automated reports can be customized, and the drag-and-drop customized dashboard makes it easy to emphasize priority KPIs.

2. SE Ranking

My Overall Rating: 4.5/5

SE Ranking has plans starting at $39.20 per month, although the $87.20 per month plan is necessary if you need historical data or more than 10 projects.

Setup is a breeze, as the on-screen tutorial guides you through the process.

SE Ranking features a strong collection of SEO-related tools, including current and historical position tracking, competitor SEO research, keyword suggestion, a backlink explorer, and more.

SE Ranking is hooked up with Zapier, which allows users to integrate thousands of apps and provide a high level of automation between apps like Klipfolio, Salesforce, HubSpot, and Google Apps.

SE Ranking is an effective SEO reporting tool at a beginner to intermediate level.

However, you may want to look in a different direction if your agency requires more technical implementations or advanced customization.

3. Semrush

My Overall Rating: 4.4/5

Semrush is one of the most SEO-focused reporting tools on the list, which is reflected in its features.

Starting at $229.95 per month for the agency package, it’s one of the more expensive tools on the list. But Semrush provides a full suite of tools that can be learned at an intermediate level.

A major downside of Semrush, especially for cost-conscious agencies, is that an account comes with only one user login.

Having to purchase individual licenses for each SEO analyst or account manager adds up quickly, and the users you can add are limited by the plan features. This makes scalability an issue.

Semrush has both branded and white-label reports, depending on your subscription level. It uses a proprietary data stream, tracking more than 800 million keywords.

The ever-expanding “projects” feature covers everything from position tracking to backlink monitoring and social media analysis.

Though it doesn’t fall specifically under the scope of SEO reporting, Semrush’s innovation makes it a one-stop shop for many agencies.

Project features include Ad Builder, which helps craft compelling ad text for Google Ads, and Social Media Poster, which allows agencies to schedule client social posts.

Combining such diverse features under the Semrush umbrella offsets its relatively high cost, especially if you can cancel other redundant software.

4. Looker Studio

My Overall Rating: 3.6/5

Looker StudioScreenshot from Looker Studio, December 2022

Formerly known as Google Data Studio, Looker Studio is a Google service that has grown considerably since its initial launch.

Though it is much more technical and requires more time investment to set up than most other tools on this list, it should be intuitive for staff familiar with Google Analytics.

If you’re on the fence, Looker Studio is completely free.

A major upside to this software is superior integration with other Google properties like Analytics, Search Console, Ads, and YouTube.

Like other reporting tools, it also allows third-party data integration, but the ability to query data from databases, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Google’s Cloud SQL, sets it apart.

You can customize reports with important KPIs with proper setup, pulling from lead and customer information. For eCommerce clients, you can even integrate sales data.

Though the initial setup will be much more technical, the ability to import templates saves time and effort.

You can also create your own templates that better reflect your processes and can be shared across clients. Google also has introductory video walk-throughs to help you get started.

5. Authority Labs

My Overall Rating: 3.2/5

Authority Labs Ranking ReportImage credit: Authority Labs, December 2022

Authority Labs does the job if you’re looking for a straightforward position-tracking tool.

Authority Labs is $49 per month for unlimited users, though you will need to upgrade to the $99 per month plan for white-label reporting.

You can track regional ranking data, get insights into “(not provided)” keywords, track competitor keywords, and schedule automated reporting.

However, lacking other essential features like backlink monitoring or analytic data means you will have to supplement this tool to provide a full SEO reporting picture for clients.

Conclusion

There are many quality SEO reporting tools on the market. What makes them valuable depends on their ability to work for your clients’ needs.

SE Ranking has a fantastic cost-to-value ratio, while Looker Studio has advanced reporting capabilities if you can withstand a higher barrier to entry.

Agency Analytics prioritizes client access, which is a big deal if transparency is a core value for your agency.

Authority Labs keeps it lean and clean, while Semrush always adds innovative features.

These five are simply a snapshot of what is available. There are new and emerging tools that might have some features more appealing to your current clients or fill gaps that other software creates despite being a great solution.

Ultimately, you need to consider what matters most to your agency. Is it:

  • Feature depth?
  • Scalability?
  • Cost-to-value ratio?

Once you weigh the factors that matter most for your agency, you can find the right SEO reporting tool. In the meantime, don’t shy away from testing out a few for a trial period.

If you don’t want to sign up for a full month’s usage, you can also explore walkthrough videos and reviews from current users. The most informed decision requires an understanding of the intricate details.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



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