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7 Common Enterprise SEO Reporting Mistakes To Avoid



7 Common Enterprise SEO Reporting Mistakes To Avoid

Accurate, well-designed reporting is key to any effective SEO program.

Well-designed reports provide management and other stakeholders with a clear picture of the value of your SEO efforts.

And what’s more, accurate reports are essential for informing future actions.

Notice there are two elements involved: accurate and well-designed.

Accurate reports not only contain correct data but also present it accurately. They tell the true story without distortion.

Well-designed reports are clear and immediately understandable. Anyone looking at them should be able to quickly identify what the takeaways are.

How can you ensure you are creating well-designed, accurate reports?

Start by avoiding these seven common SEO reporting mistakes.

1. Believing There Is One True Metric For “X”

In its early days, Google presented the same simple search results (the legendary “ten blue links”) to all users entering the same query.

Of course, that hasn’t been the case for a long time now.

For many queries, the results page is crowded with ads and various SERP features in and around the organic web results.

Plus, with the use of personalization via factors like search history and geo-location, it’s more and more likely no two users will get the exact same results.

All of this means that a metric such as the current rank for a given keyword is a much less certain thing than it used to be.

But search rankings aren’t the only metric that may not be as straightforward as we want to believe.

Another SEO-relevant example is search volume from Google’s Keyword Planner tool.

While Google should have the most accurate volume numbers, the metric for a given keyword may be inaccurate because Keyword Planner aggregates the volume for similar keywords.

For example, Keyword Planner currently shows a search volume of 1.22 million for [shoes] and displays that volume for both [shoes] and [shoe’s].

However, clickstream data shows that the [shoe’s] variant actually gets fewer than 100 searches a month.

There can also be discrepancies in the way any metric is measured and reported by different tools or sources.

Any metric is dependent on the source’s (perhaps limited) view of the universe of possible results, as well as the particular formula that the source uses to calculate the metric.

Remedy: Be aware of the potential ambiguities or inaccuracies of many metrics and adjust accordingly.

Where possible, find a more accurate source for a metric, such as a tool that reports search volume based on clickstream data over just relying on Google’s Keyword Planner numbers.

In many cases, it’s best to look at the trends of numbers over time rather than fixating on the precise accuracy of one occurrence of a metric.

And in most cases, the shape of the trend is fairly accurate, even if the individual points have some variance.

2. Paying Attention To The Wrong Metric

SEO experts tend to be fixated on ranking, believing that the ultimate success measurement for SEO is more keywords in higher positions.

This is based on the data from numerous studies showing a simple reverse-hockey stick curve for CTR as a function of rank position.

In these studies, position one takes a significant percentage of the clicks, and the amount decays rapidly as you move down the SERP page.

Leaving aside that some more recent studies using larger and more diverse data sources show the curve may not be as steep as we assumed (and lower positions might actually get a small “bump”), the important counter to that thinking is that higher rankings and more clicks don’t always equate to actual business goals.

More important metrics may be traffic from organic search and which keywords are driving that traffic.

Not all that infrequently, when a client experiences a sudden drop in overall rankings – perhaps after an algorithm update – we find when digging deeper that either traffic wasn’t affected much at all, or sometimes even went up.

What happened in those cases is that the keywords that dropped really weren’t responsible for driving most of the traffic to the site.

A step beyond traffic as a more important metric takes us to numbers that actually affect the bottom line of our business, things like conversions and leads generated.

Remedy: Align the KPIs in your reporting to emphasize those that actually have the most effect on the bottom line of your business.

3. Ignoring Metrics That Could Be Significant

As important as it is to determine accurate metrics and report on the ones that really matter, it is still possible you have overlooked some data that could make a difference.

An example for SEO is reporting on your visibility with certain SERP features, the non-traditional results that still could be sending you traffic.

Do you know how often and for which keywords you appear in a Featured Snippet or People Also Ask box?

Do you know how often your competitors did?

If you don’t, you might be missing out on an SEO tactic worth pursuing (or at least be able to tell if it’s not worth your time).

Remedy: First, investigate if there are any metrics out there that could be significant for you but don’t show up in your current reports.

If you find any, research what tool or data source might be able to show you those metrics.

4. Failing To Customize Reports For The Recipients

If you wanted to teach a child a moral lesson, would you hand them a copy of ‘Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals?’

Of course not. You’d probably read them a fable or a fairy tale.

Similarly, you need to tailor your SEO reporting for each intended audience.

Speaking of fables, a useful one here is the old story of several blindfolded persons examining an elephant from different sides.

In the original, the point was their impression of what an elephant is will be skewed by which part is within their reach.

But for our purposes, the moral of the story is that each stakeholder only cares about their part of the elephant.

The CMO might want to know how much exposure organic search is giving your brand, or where the competition is winning.

The CEO or CFO wants to know how much it’s contributing to revenue goals.

Product managers want to know which of their products get the most interest in search, and what else are people searching for who search for their products.

Remedy: First, determine who each report is for and what they care about.

Then use filtering and segmentation to create custom reports that narrow in on the specific interests of the report’s intended audience.

See ‘11 Stunning SEO Data Visualizations To Inspire Your Reporting‘ for more.

5. Didn’t Tie Results To Objectives

Any good storyteller knows you never jump right to the conclusion.

The ending to a story is only meaningful and satisfying if it is the outcome of a logical sequence of events that can be traced back to the beginning.

For your reports that are intended for eyes other than your own, you need to trace a similar story.

The objective of these external reports is to demonstrate the value that your SEO efforts have created.

If you only report results, even if the results are good, the recipient has no reason to associate those necessarily with your efforts.

Remedy: Make sure each KPI you report on is associated with something you did intentionally to produce that result, whether it was technical fixes, new content, a change in strategy, or whatever.

At my company, we teach our clients to title dashboards not with the result metric (such as “4th Quarter Traffic”) but instead with the objective they are tied to (so perhaps “Traffic from Women’s Jacket Content Hub Project”).

6. Failed To Include Extenuating Circumstances

This is really just the obverse of mistake #5.

By “extenuating circumstances,” I mean lame excuses.

No, seriously; this means leaving out relevant annotations and explanations for external circumstances that may have affected the results displayed.

That could include announced algorithm updates, seasonality, server downtime, and more.

These aren’t intended to be excuses (if the metric is down) or to diminish your efforts (if the metric is up), but rather to give a clear picture of why the data may be trending the way they appear.

Remedy: Place annotations of relevant events along trend lines and/or include narrative explanations so report recipients have a clear picture of everything that might have affected the outcome.

7. Forgot To Include Insights, Not Just Data

Raw data means little.

Interpreted data communicates.

Always keep in mind that the target recipients of your reports in many cases are not SEO professionals.

They don’t live in our world.

For us, raw SEO data creates an image like Mouse seeing the Lady in Red while looking at the streaming Matrix code.

But for others, it’s just numbers.

Remedy: Make sure you add interpretation to your data presentations. Explain why the data is significant, what it really shows, how it impacts goals, or what future actions it calls for.

The main takeaway here is to change your reporting from just another duty you are required to perform to a valuable broadcaster of the value your SEO efforts bring to your organization.

To do that, think like a good storyteller, crafting your plot and characters (your data) for the target audience of each report.

More resources: 

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Google’s AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility




Google's AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility

An analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries by Bartosz Góralewicz, founder of Onely, reveals the impact of Google’s AI overviews on search visibility for online retailers.

The study found that 16% of eCommerce queries now return an AI overview in search results, accounting for 13% of total search volume in this sector.

Notably, 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.

“Ranking #1-3 gives you only an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews,” Góralewicz stated.

Shift Toward “Accelerated” Product Experiences

International SEO consultant Aleyda Solis analyzed the disconnect between traditional organic ranking and inclusion in AI overviews.

According to Solis, for product-related queries, Google is prioritizing an “accelerated” approach over summarizing currently ranking pages.

She commented Góralewicz’ findings, stating:

“… rather than providing high level summaries of what’s already ranked organically below, what Google does with e-commerce is “accelerate” the experience by already showcasing what the user would get next.”

Solis explains that for queries where Google previously ranked category pages, reviews, and buying guides, it’s now bypassing this level of results with AI overviews.

Assessing AI Overview Traffic Impact

To help retailers evaluate their exposure, Solis has shared a spreadsheet that analyzes the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.

As Góralewicz notes, this could be an initial rollout, speculating that “Google will expand AI overviews for high-cost queries when enabling ads” based on data showing they are currently excluded for high cost-per-click keywords.

An in-depth report across ecommerce and publishing is expected soon from Góralewicz and Onely, with additional insights into this search trend.

Why SEJ Cares

AI overviews represent a shift in how search visibility is achieved for ecommerce websites.

With most overviews currently pulling product data from non-ranking sources, the traditional connection between organic rankings and search traffic is being disrupted.

Retailers may need to adapt their SEO strategies for this new search environment.

How This Can Benefit You

While unsettling for established brands, AI overviews create new opportunities for retailers to gain visibility without competing for the most commercially valuable keywords.

Ecommerce sites can potentially circumvent traditional ranking barriers by optimizing product data and detail pages for Google’s “accelerated” product displays.

The detailed assessment framework provided by Solis enables merchants to audit their exposure and prioritize optimization needs accordingly.


What are the key findings from the analysis of AI overviews & ecommerce queries?

Góralewicz’s analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries found:

  • 16% of ecommerce queries now return an AI overview in the search results.
  • 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.
  • Ranking positions #1-3 only provides an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews.

These insights reveal significant shifts in how ecommerce sites need to approach search visibility.

Why are AI overviews pulling product data from non-ranking sources, and what does this mean for retailers?

Google’s AI overviews prioritize “accelerated” experiences over summarizing currently ranked pages for product-related queries.

This shift focuses on showcasing directly what users seek instead of traditional organic results.

For retailers, this means:

  • A need to optimize product pages beyond traditional SEO practices, catering to the data requirements of AI overviews.
  • Opportunities to gain visibility without necessarily holding top organic rankings.
  • Potential to bypass traditional ranking barriers by focusing on enhanced product data integration.

Retailers must adapt quickly to remain competitive in this evolving search environment.

What practical steps can retailers take to evaluate and improve their search visibility in light of AI overview disruptions?

Retailers can take several practical steps to evaluate and improve their search visibility:

  • Utilize the spreadsheet provided by Aleyda Solis to assess the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.
  • Optimize product and detail pages to align with the data and presentation style preferred by AI overviews.
  • Continuously monitor changes and updates to AI overviews, adapting strategies based on new data and trends.

These steps can help retailers navigate the impact of AI overviews and maintain or improve their search visibility.

Featured Image: Marco Lazzarini/Shutterstock

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Google’s AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny




Google's AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny

Google’s rollout of AI-generated overviews in US search results is taking a disastrous turn, with mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, BBC, and CNBC reporting on numerous inaccuracies and bizarre responses.

On social media, users are sharing endless examples of the feature’s nonsensical and sometimes dangerous output.

From recommending non-toxic glue on pizza to suggesting that eating rocks provides nutritional benefits, the blunders would be amusing if they weren’t so alarming.

Mainstream Media Coverage

As reported by The New York Times, Google’s AI overviews struggle with basic facts, claiming that Barack Obama was the first Muslim president of the United States and stating that Andrew Jackson graduated from college in 2005.

These errors undermine trust in Google’s search engine, which more than two billion people rely on for authoritative information worldwide.

Manual Removal & System Refinements

As reported by The Verge, Google is now scrambling to remove the bizarre AI-generated responses and improve its systems manually.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the company is taking “swift action” to remove problematic responses and using the examples to refine its AI overview feature.

Google’s Rush To AI Integration

The flawed rollout of AI overviews isn’t an isolated incident for Google.

As CNBC notes in its report, Google made several missteps in a rush to integrate AI into its products.

In February, Google was forced to pause its Gemini chatbot after it generated inaccurate images of historical figures and refused to depict white people in most instances.

Before that, the company’s Bard chatbot faced ridicule for sharing incorrect information about outer space, leading to a $100 billion drop in Google’s market value.

Despite these setbacks, industry experts cited by The New York Times suggest that Google has little choice but to continue advancing AI integration to remain competitive.

However, the challenges of taming large language models, which ingest false information and satirical posts, are now more apparent.

The Debate Over AI In Search

The controversy surrounding AI overviews adds fuel to the debate over the risks and limitations of AI.

While the technology holds potential, these missteps remind everyone that more testing is needed before unleashing it on the public.

The BBC notes that Google’s rivals face similar backlash over their attempts to cram more AI tools into their consumer-facing products.

The UK’s data watchdog is investigating Microsoft after it announced a feature that would take continuous screenshots of users’ online activity.

At the same time, actress Scarlett Johansson criticized OpenAI for using a voice likened to her own without permission.

What This Means For Websites & SEO Professionals

Mainstream media coverage of Google’s erroneous AI overviews brings the issue of declining search quality to public attention.

As the company works to address inaccuracies, the incident serves as a cautionary tale for the entire industry.

Important takeaway: Prioritize responsible use of AI technology to ensure the benefits outweigh its risks.

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New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App




New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

A keynote at Google’s Marketing Live event showed a new AI-powered visual search results that feature advertisements that engage users within the context of an AI-Assisted search, blurring the line between AI-generated search results and advertisements.

Google Lens is a truly helpful app but it becomes unconventional where it blurs the line between an assistant helping users and being led to a shopping cart. This new way of engaging potential customers with AI is so far out there that the presenter doesn’t even call it advertising, he doesn’t even use the word.

Visual Search Traffic Opportunity?

Google’s Group Product Manager Sylvanus Bent, begins the presentation with an overview of the next version of Google Lens visual search that will be useful for surfacing information and for help finding where to buy them.

Sylvanus explained how it will be an opportunity for websites to receive traffic from this new way to search.

“…whether you’re snapping a photo with lens or circling to search something on your social feed, visual search unlocks new ways to explore whatever catches your eye, and we recently announced a newly redesigned results page for Visual search.

Soon, instead of just visual matches, you’ll see a wide range of results, from images to video, web links, and facts about the knowledge graph. It gets people the helpful information they need and creates new opportunities for sites to be discovered.”

It’s hard to say whether or not this will bring search traffic to websites and what the quality of that traffic will be. Will they stick around to read an article? Will they engage with a product review?

Visual Search Results

Sylvanus shares a hypothetical example of someone at an airport baggage claim who falls in like with someone else’s bag. He explains that all the person needs to do is snap a photo of the luggage bag and Google Lens will take them directly to shopping options.

He explains:

“No words, no problem. Just open Lens, take a quick picture and immediately you’ll see options to purchase.

And for the first time, shopping ads will appear at the very top of the results on linked searches, where a business can offer what a consumer is looking for.

This will help them easily purchase something that catches their eye.”

These are image-heavy shopping ads at the top of the search results and as annoying as that may be it’s nowhere near the “next level” advertising that is coming to Google’s search ads where Google presents a paid promotion within the context of an AI Assistant.

Interactive Search Shopping

Sylvanus next describes an AI-powered form advertising that happens directly within search. But he doesn’t call it advertising. He doesn’t even use the word advertising. He suggests this new form of AI search experience is more than offer, saying that, “it’s an experience.”

He’s right to not use the word advertisement because what he describes goes far beyond advertising and blurs the boundaries between search and advertising within the context of AI-powered suggestions, paid suggestions.

Sylvanus explains how this new form of shopping experience works:

“And next, imagine a world where every search ad is more than an offer. It’s an experience. It’s a new way for you to engage more directly with your customers. And we’re exploring search ads with AI powered recommendations across different verticals. So I want to show you an example that’s going live soon and you’ll see even more when we get to shopping.”

He uses the example of someone who needs to store their furniture for a few months and who turns to Google to find short term storage. What he describes is a query for local short term storage that turns into a “dynamic ad experience” that leads the searcher into throwing packing supplies into their shopping cart.

He narrated how it works:

“You search for short term storage and you see an ad for extra space storage. Now you can click into a new dynamic ad experience.

You can select and upload photos of the different rooms in your house, showing how much furniture you have, and then extra space storage with help from Google, AI generates a description of all your belongings for you to verify. You get a recommendation for the right size and type of storage unit and even how much packing supplies you need to get the job done. Then you just go to the website to complete the transaction.

And this is taking the definition of a helpful ad to the next level. It does everything but physically pick up your stuff and move it, and that is cool.”

Step 1: Search For Short Term Storage

1716722762 15 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows an advertisement that when clicked takes the user to what looks like an AI-assisted search but is really an interactive advertisement.

Step 2: Upload Photos For “AI Assistance”

1716722762 242 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above image is a screenshot of an advertisement that is presented in the context of AI-assisted search.  Masking an advertisement within a different context is the same principal behind an advertorial where an advertisement is hidden in the form of an article. The phrases “Let AI do the heavy lifting” and “AI-powered recommendations” create the context of AI-search that masks the true context of an advertisement.

Step 3: Images Chosen For Uploading

1716722762 187 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows how a user uploads an image to the AI-powered advertisement within the context of an AI-powered search app.

The Word “App” Masks That This Is An Ad

Screenshot of interactive advertisement for that identifies itself as an app with the words

Above is a screenshot of how a user uploads a photo to the AI-powered interactive advertisement within the context of a visual search engine, using the word “app” to further the illusion that the user is interacting with an app and not an advertisement.

Upload Process Masks The Advertising Context

Screenshot of interactive advertisement that uses the context of an AI Assistant to mask that this is an advertisement

The phrase “Generative AI is experimental” contributes to the illusion that this is an AI-assisted search.

Step 4: Upload Confirmation

1716722762 395 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

In step 4 the “app” advertisement is for confirming that the AI correctly identified the furniture that needs to be put into storage.

Step 5: AI “Recommendations”

1716722762 588 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows “AI recommendations” that look like search results.

The Recommendations Are Ad Units

1716722762 751 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Those recommendations are actually ad units that when clicked takes the user to the “Extra Space Storage” shopping website.

Step 6: Searcher Visits Advertiser Website

1716722762 929 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Blurring The Boundaries

What the Google keynote speaker describes is the integration of paid product suggestions into an AI assisted search. This kind of advertising is so far out there that the Googler doesn’t even call it advertising and rightfully so because what this does is blur the line between AI assisted search and advertising. At what point does a helpful AI search become just a platform for using AI to offer paid suggestions?

Watch The Keynote At The 32 Minute Mark

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Ljupco Smokovski

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