Connect with us

SEO

7 Common Enterprise SEO Reporting Mistakes To Avoid

Published

on

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?

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.

See also  Google Responds to Criticism Regarding Desktop Search Changes

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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?

See also  A New Way To Search With Text & Images

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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

See also  Microsoft Lists SEO as the Most Important Hard Skill for Marketers

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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: 


Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock

fbq('init', '1321385257908563');

fbq('track', 'PageView');

fbq('trackSingle', '1321385257908563', 'ViewContent', { content_name: 'enterprise-reporting-mistakes-seo', content_category: 'enterprise marketing-analytics ' });





Source link

SEO

A Complete Google Search Console Guide For SEO Pros

Published

on

A Complete Google Search Console Guide For SEO Pros

Google search console provides data necessary to monitor website performance in search and improve search rankings, information that is exclusively available through Search Console.

This makes it indispensable for online business and publishers that are keen to maximize success.

Taking control of your search presence is easier to do when using the free tools and reports.

What Is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free web service hosted by Google that provides a way for publishers and search marketing professionals to monitor their overall site health and performance relative to Google search.

It offers an overview of metrics related to search performance and user experience to help publishers improve their sites and generate more traffic.

Search Console also provides a way for Google to communicate when it discovers security issues (like hacking vulnerabilities) and if the search quality team has imposed a manual action penalty.

Important features:

  • Monitor indexing and crawling.
  • Identify and fix errors.
  • Overview of search performance.
  • Request indexing of updated pages.
  • Review internal and external links.

It’s not necessary to use Search Console to rank better nor is it a ranking factor.

However, the usefulness of the Search Console makes it indispensable for helping improve search performance and bringing more traffic to a website.

Advertisement

How To Get Started

The first step to using Search Console is to verify site ownership.

Google provides several different ways to accomplish site verification, depending on if you’re verifying a website, a domain, a Google site, or a Blogger-hosted site.

Domains registered with Google domains are automatically verified by adding them to Search Console.

The majority of users will verify their sites using one of four methods:

  1. HTML file upload.
  2. Meta tag
  3. Google Analytics tracking code.
  4. Google Tag Manager.

Some site hosting platforms limit what can be uploaded and require a specific way to verify site owners.

But, that’s becoming less of an issue as many hosted site services have an easy-to-follow verification process, which will be covered below.

How To Verify Site Ownership

There are two standard ways to verify site ownership with a regular website, like a standard WordPress site.

  1. HTML file upload.
  2. Meta tag.

When verifying a site using either of these two methods, you’ll be choosing the URL-prefix properties process.

Let’s stop here and acknowledge that the phrase “URL-prefix properties” means absolutely nothing to anyone but the Googler who came up with that phrase.

Don’t let that make you feel like you’re about to enter a labyrinth blindfolded. Verifying a site with Google is easy.

Advertisement

HTML File Upload Method

Step 1: Go to the Search Console and open the Property Selector dropdown that’s visible in the top left-hand corner on any Search Console page.

Screenshot by author, May 2022

Step 2: In the pop-up labeled Select Property Type, enter the URL of the site then click the Continue button.

Step 2Screenshot by author, May 2022

Step 3: Select the HTML file upload method and download the HTML file.

Step 4: Upload the HTML file to the root of your website.

Root means https://example.com/. So, if the downloaded file is called verification.html, then the uploaded file should be located at https://example.com/verification.html.

Step 5: Finish the verification process by clicking Verify back in the Search Console.

Verification of a standard website with its own domain in website platforms like Wix and Weebly is similar to the above steps, except that you’ll be adding a meta description tag to your Wix site.

Duda has a simple approach that uses a Search Console App that easily verifies the site and gets its users started.

Troubleshooting With GSC

Ranking in search results depends on Google’s ability to crawl and index webpages.

The Search Console URL Inspection Tool warns of any issues with crawling and indexing before it becomes a major problem and pages start dropping from the search results.

Advertisement

URL Inspection Tool

The URL inspection tool shows whether a URL is indexed and is eligible to be shown in a search result.

For each submitted URL a user can:

  • Request indexing for a recently updated webpage.
  • View how Google discovered the webpage (sitemaps and referring internal pages).
  • View the last crawl date for a URL.
  • Check if Google is using a declared canonical URL or is using another one.
  • Check mobile usability status.
  • Check enhancements like breadcrumbs.
See also  Google Responds to Criticism Regarding Desktop Search Changes

Coverage

The coverage section shows Discovery (how Google discovered the URL), Crawl (shows whether Google successfully crawled the URL and if not, provides a reason why), and Enhancements (provides the status of structured data).

The coverage section can be reached from the left-hand menu:

CoverageScreenshot by author, May 2022

Coverage Error Reports

While these reports are labeled as errors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. Sometimes it just means that indexing can be improved.

For example, in the following screenshot, Google is showing a 403 Forbidden server response to nearly 6,000 URLs.

The 403 error response means that the server is telling Googlebot that it is forbidden from crawling these URLs.

Coverage report showing 403 server error responsesScreenshot by author, May 2022

The above errors are happening because Googlebot is blocked from crawling the member pages of a web forum.

Every member of the forum has a member page that has a list of their latest posts and other statistics.

The report provides a list of URLs that are generating the error.

Advertisement

Clicking on one of the listed URLs reveals a menu on the right that provides the option to inspect the affected URL.

There’s also a contextual menu to the right of the URL itself in the form of a magnifying glass icon that also provides the option to Inspect URL.

Inspect URLScreenshot by author, May 2022

Clicking on the Inspect URL reveals how the page was discovered.

It also shows the following data points:

  • Last crawl.
  • Crawled as.
  • Crawl allowed?
  • Page fetch (if failed, provides the server error code).
  • Indexing allowed?

There is also information about the canonical used by Google:

  • User-declared canonical.
  • Google-selected canonical.

For the forum website in the above example, the important diagnostic information is located in the Discovery section.

This section tells us which pages are the ones that are showing links to member profiles to Googlebot.

With this information, the publisher can now code a PHP statement that will make the links to the member pages disappear when a search engine bot comes crawling.

Another way to fix the problem is to write a new entry to the robots.txt to stop Google from attempting to crawl these pages.

By making this 403 error go away, we free up crawling resources for Googlebot to index the rest of the website.

Google Search Console’s coverage report makes it possible to diagnose Googlebot crawling issues and fix them.

Advertisement

Fixing 404 Errors

The coverage report can also alert a publisher to 404 and 500 series error responses, as well as communicate that everything is just fine.

A 404 server response is called an error only because the browser or crawler’s request for a webpage was made in error because the page does not exist.

It doesn’t mean that your site is in error.

If another site (or an internal link) links to a page that doesn’t exist, the coverage report will show a 404 response.

Clicking on one of the affected URLs and selecting the Inspect URL tool will reveal what pages (or sitemaps) are referring to the non-existent page.

From there you can decide if the link is broken and needs to be fixed (in the case of an internal link) or redirected to the correct page (in the case of an external link from another website).

Or, it could be that the webpage never existed and whoever is linking to that page made a mistake.

If the page doesn’t exist anymore or it never existed at all, then it’s fine to show a 404 response.

Advertisement

Taking Advantage Of GSC Features

The Performance Report

The top part of the Search Console Performance Report provides multiple insights on how a site performs in search, including in search features like featured snippets.

There are four search types that can be explored in the Performance Report:

  1. Web.
  2. Image.
  3. Video.
  4. News.

Search Console shows the web search type by default.

Change which search type is displayed by clicking the Search Type button:

Default search typeScreenshot by author, May 2022

A menu pop-up will display allowing you to change which kind of search type to view:

Search Types MenuScreenshot by author, May 2022

A useful feature is the ability to compare the performance of two search types within the graph.

Four metrics are prominently displayed at the top of the Performance Report:

  1. Total Clicks.
  2. Total Impressions.
  3. Average CTR (click-through rate).
  4. Average position.
Screenshot of Top Section of the Performance PageScreenshot by author, May 2022

By default, the Total Clicks and Total Impressions metrics are selected.

See also  SEO and The Pandemic: Adapt Your Marketing During COVID-19

By clicking within the tabs dedicated to each metric, one can choose to see those metrics displayed on the bar chart.

Impressions

Impressions are the number of times a website appeared in the search results. As long as a user doesn’t have to click a link to see the URL, it counts as an impression.

Additionally, if a URL is ranked at the bottom of the page and the user doesn’t scroll to that section of the search results, it still counts as an impression.

Advertisement

High impressions are great because it means that Google is showing the site in the search results.

But, the meaning of the impressions metric is made meaningful by the Clicks and the Average Position metrics.

Clicks

The clicks metric shows how often users clicked from the search results to the website. A high number of clicks in addition to a high number of impressions is good.

A low number of clicks and a high number of impressions is less good but not bad. It means that the site may need improvements to gain more traffic.

The clicks metric is more meaningful when considered with the Average CTR and Average Position metrics.

Average CTR

The average CTR is a percentage representing how often users clicked from the search results to the website.

Advertisement

A low CTR means that something needs improvement in order to increase visits from the search results.

A higher CTR means the site is performing well.

This metric gains more meaning when considered together with the Average Position metric.

Average Position

Average Position shows the average position in search results the website tends to appear in.

An average in positions one to 10 is great.

An average position in the twenties (20 – 29) means that the site is appearing on page two or three of the search results. This isn’t too bad. It simply means that the site needs additional work to give it that extra boost into the top 10.

Average positions lower than 30 could (in general) mean that the site may benefit from significant improvements.

Advertisement

Or, it could be that the site ranks for a large number of keyword phrases that rank low and a few very good keywords that rank exceptionally high.

In either case, it may mean taking a closer look at the content. It may be an indication of a content gap on the website, where the content that ranks for certain keywords isn’t strong enough and may need a dedicated page devoted to that keyword phrase to rank better.

All four metrics (Impressions, Clicks, Average CTR, and Average Position), when viewed together, present a meaningful overview of how the website is performing.

The big takeaway about the Performance Report is that it is a starting point for quickly understanding website performance in search.

It’s like a mirror that reflects back how well or poorly the site is doing.

Performance Report Dimensions

Scrolling down to the second part of the Performance page reveals several of what’s called Dimensions of a website’s performance data.

There are six dimensions:

1. Queries: Shows the top search queries and the number of clicks and impressions associated with each keyword phrase.

Advertisement

2. Pages: Shows the top-performing web pages (plus clicks and impressions).

3. Countries: Top countries (plus clicks and impressions).

4. Devices: Shows the top devices, segmented into mobile, desktop, and tablet.

5. Search Appearance: This shows the different kinds of rich results that the site was displayed in. It also tells if Google displayed the site using Web Light results and video results, plus the associated clicks and impressions data. Web Light results are results that are optimized for very slow devices.

6. Dates: The dates tab organizes the clicks and impressions by date. The clicks and impressions can be sorted in descending or ascending order.

Keywords

The keywords are displayed in the Queries as one of the dimensions of the Performance Report (as noted above). The queries report shows the top 1,000 search queries that resulted in traffic.

Of particular interest are the low-performing queries.

Advertisement

Some of those queries display low quantities of traffic because they are rare, what is known as long-tail traffic.

But, others are search queries that result from webpages that could need improvement, perhaps it could be in need of more internal links, or it could be a sign that the keyword phrase deserves its own webpage.

See also  50+ Business-Building Local SEO Tactics For SMBs

It’s always a good idea to review the low-performing keywords because some of them may be quick wins that, when the issue is addressed, can result in significantly increased traffic.

Links

Search Console offers a list of all links pointing to the website.

However, it’s important to point out that the links report does not represent links that are helping the site rank.

It simply reports all links pointing to the website.

This means that the list includes links that are not helping the site rank. That explains why the report may show links that have a nofollow link attribute on them.

Advertisement

The Links report is accessible  from the bottom of the left-hand menu:

Links reportScreenshot by author, May 2022

The Links report has two columns: External Links and Internal Links.

External Links are the links from outside the website that points to the website.

Internal Links are links that originate within the website and link to somewhere else within the website.

The External links column has three reports:

  1. Top linked pages.
  2. Top linking sites.
  3. Top linking text.

The Internal Links report lists the Top Linked Pages.

Each report (top linked pages, top linking sites, etc.) has a link to more results that can be clicked to view and expand the report for each type.

For example, the expanded report for Top Linked Pages shows Top Target pages, which are the pages from the site that are linked to the most.

Clicking a URL will change the report to display all the external domains that link to that one page.

The report shows the domain of the external site but not the exact page that links to the site.

Advertisement

Sitemaps

A sitemap is generally an XML file that is a list of URLs that helps search engines discover the webpages and other forms of content on a website.

Sitemaps are especially helpful for large sites, sites that are difficult to crawl if the site has new content added on a frequent basis.

Crawling and indexing are not guaranteed. Things like page quality, overall site quality, and links can have an impact on whether a site is crawled and pages indexed.

Sitemaps simply make it easy for search engines to discover those pages and that’s all.

Creating a sitemap is easy because more are automatically generated by the CMS, plugins, or the website platform where the site is hosted.

Some hosted website platforms generate a sitemap for every site hosted on its service and automatically update the sitemap when the website changes.

Search Console offers a sitemap report and provides a way for publishers to upload a sitemap.

Advertisement

To access this function click on the link located on the left-side menu.

sitemaps

The sitemap section will report on any errors with the sitemap.

Search Console can be used to remove a sitemap from the reports. It’s important to actually remove the sitemap however from the website itself otherwise Google may remember it and visit it again.

Once submitted and processed, the Coverage report will populate a sitemap section that will help troubleshoot any problems associated with URLs submitted through the sitemaps.

Search Console Page Experience Report

The page experience report offers data related to the user experience on the website relative to site speed.

Search Console displays information on Core Web Vitals and Mobile Usability.

This is a good starting place for getting an overall summary of site speed performance.

Rich Result Status Reports

Search Console offers feedback on rich results through the Performance Report. It’s one of the six dimensions listed below the graph that’s displayed at the top of the page, listed as Search Appearance.

Advertisement

Selecting the Search Appearance tabs reveals clicks and impressions data for the different kinds of rich results shown in the search results.

This report communicates how important rich results traffic is to the website and can help pinpoint the reason for specific website traffic trends.

The Search Appearance report can help diagnose issues related to structured data.

For example, a downturn in rich results traffic could be a signal that Google changed structured data requirements and that the structured data needs to be updated.

It’s a starting point for diagnosing a change in rich results traffic patterns.

Search Console Is Good For SEO

In addition to the above benefits of Search Console, publishers and SEOs can also upload link disavow reports, resolve penalties (manual actions), and security events like site hackings, all of which contribute to a better search presence.

It is a valuable service that every web publisher concerned about search visibility should take advantage of.

More Resources:

Advertisement

Featured Image: bunny pixar/Shutterstock



Source link

Continue Reading

DON'T MISS ANY IMPORTANT NEWS!
Subscribe To our Newsletter
We promise not to spam you. Unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

Trending

en_USEnglish