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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: 

Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock

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GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After ‘Unexpected’ Delays




GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After 'Unexpected' Delays

OpenAI shares its plans for the GPT Store, enhancements to GPT Builder tools, privacy improvements, and updates coming to ChatGPT.

  • OpenAI has scheduled the launch of the GPT Store for early next year, aligning with its ongoing commitment to developing advanced AI technologies.
  • The GPT Builder tools have received substantial updates, including a more intuitive configuration interface and improved file handling capabilities.
  • Anticipation builds for upcoming updates to ChatGPT, highlighting OpenAI’s responsiveness to community feedback and dedication to AI innovation.

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96.55% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. Here’s How to Be in the Other 3.45% [New Research for 2023]



96.55% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. Here's How to Be in the Other 3.45% [New Research for 2023]

It’s no secret that the web is growing by millions, if not billions of pages per day.

Our Content Explorer tool discovers 10 million new pages every 24 hours while being very picky about the pages that qualify for inclusion. The “main” Ahrefs web crawler crawls that number of pages every two minutes. 

But how much of this content gets organic traffic from Google?

To find out, we took the entire database from our Content Explorer tool (around 14 billion pages) and studied how many pages get traffic from organic search and why.

How many web pages get organic search traffic?

96.55% of all pages in our index get zero traffic from Google, and 1.94% get between one and ten monthly visits.

Distribution of pages by traffic from Content Explorer

Before we move on to discussing why the vast majority of pages never get any search traffic from Google (and how to avoid being one of them), it’s important to address two discrepancies with the studied data:

  1. ~14 billion pages may seem like a huge number, but it’s not the most accurate representation of the entire web. Even compared to the size of Site Explorer’s index of 340.8 billion pages, our sample size for this study is quite small and somewhat biased towards the “quality side of the web.”
  2. Our search traffic numbers are estimates. Even though our database of ~651 million keywords in Site Explorer (where our estimates come from) is arguably the largest database of its kind, it doesn’t contain every possible thing people search for in Google. There’s a chance that some of these pages get search traffic from super long-tail keywords that are not popular enough to make it into our database.

That said, these two “inaccuracies” don’t change much in the grand scheme of things: the vast majority of published pages never rank in Google and never get any search traffic. 

But why is this, and how can you be a part of the minority that gets organic search traffic from Google?

Well, there are hundreds of SEO issues that may prevent your pages from ranking well in Google. But if we focus only on the most common scenarios, assuming the page is indexed, there are only three of them.

Reason 1: The topic has no search demand

If nobody is searching for your topic, you won’t get any search traffic—even if you rank #1.

For example, I recently Googled “pull sitemap into google sheets” and clicked the top-ranking page (which solved my problem in seconds, by the way). But if you plug that URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, you’ll see that it gets zero estimated organic search traffic:

The top-ranking page for this topic gets no traffic because there's no search demandThe top-ranking page for this topic gets no traffic because there's no search demand

This is because hardly anyone else is searching for this, as data from Keywords Explorer confirms:

Keyword data from Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer confirms that this topic has no search demandKeyword data from Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer confirms that this topic has no search demand

This is why it’s so important to do keyword research. You can’t just assume that people are searching for whatever you want to talk about. You need to check the data.

Our Traffic Potential (TP) metric in Keywords Explorer can help with this. It estimates how much organic search traffic the current top-ranking page for a keyword gets from all the queries it ranks for. This is a good indicator of the total search demand for a topic.

You’ll see this metric for every keyword in Keywords Explorer, and you can even filter for keywords that meet your minimum criteria (e.g., 500+ monthly traffic potential): 

Filtering for keywords with Traffic Potential (TP) in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFiltering for keywords with Traffic Potential (TP) in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Reason 2: The page has no backlinks

Backlinks are one of Google’s top three ranking factors, so it probably comes as no surprise that there’s a clear correlation between the number of websites linking to a page and its traffic.

Pages with more referring domains get more trafficPages with more referring domains get more traffic
Pages with more referring domains get more traffic

Same goes for the correlation between a page’s traffic and keyword rankings:

Pages with more referring domains rank for more keywordsPages with more referring domains rank for more keywords
Pages with more referring domains rank for more keywords

Does any of this data prove that backlinks help you rank higher in Google?

No, because correlation does not imply causation. However, most SEO professionals will tell you that it’s almost impossible to rank on the first page for competitive keywords without backlinks—an observation that aligns with the data above.

The key word there is “competitive.” Plenty of pages get organic traffic while having no backlinks…

Pages with more referring domains get more trafficPages with more referring domains get more traffic
How much traffic pages with no backlinks get

… but from what I can tell, almost all of them are about low-competition topics.

For example, this lyrics page for a Neil Young song gets an estimated 162 monthly visits with no backlinks: 

Example of a page with traffic but no backlinks, via Ahrefs' Content ExplorerExample of a page with traffic but no backlinks, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

But if we check the keywords it ranks for, they almost all have Keyword Difficulty (KD) scores in the single figures:

Some of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks forSome of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks for

It’s the same story for this page selling upholstered headboards:

Some of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks forSome of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks for

You might have noticed two other things about these pages:

  • Neither of them get that much traffic. This is pretty typical. Our index contains ~20 million pages with no referring domains, yet only 2,997 of them get more than 1K search visits per month. That’s roughly 1 in every 6,671 pages with no backlinks.
  • Both of the sites they’re on have high Domain Rating (DR) scores. This metric shows the relative strength of a website’s backlink profile. Stronger sites like these have more PageRank that they can pass to pages with internal links to help them rank. 

Bottom line? If you want your pages to get search traffic, you really only have two options:

  1. Target uncompetitive topics that you can rank for with few or no backlinks.
  2. Target competitive topics and build backlinks to rank.

If you want to find uncompetitive topics, try this:

  1. Enter a topic into Keywords Explorer
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. Set the Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter to max. 20
  4. Set the Lowest DR filter to your site’s DR (this will show you keywords with at least one of the same or lower DR ranking in the top 5)
Filtering for low-competition keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFiltering for low-competition keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

(Remember to keep an eye on the TP column to make sure they have traffic potential.)

To rank for more competitive topics, you’ll need to earn or build high-quality backlinks to your page. If you’re not sure how to do that, start with the guides below. Keep in mind that it’ll be practically impossible to get links unless your content adds something to the conversation. 

Reason 3. The page doesn’t match search intent

Google wants to give users the most relevant results for a query. That’s why the top organic results for “best yoga mat” are blog posts with recommendations, not product pages. 

It's obviously what searchers want when they search for "best yoga mats"It's obviously what searchers want when they search for "best yoga mats"

Basically, Google knows that searchers are in research mode, not buying mode.

It’s also why this page selling yoga mats doesn’t show up, despite it having backlinks from more than six times more websites than any of the top-ranking pages:

Page selling yoga mats that has lots of backlinksPage selling yoga mats that has lots of backlinks
Number of linking websites to the top-ranking pages for "best yoga mats"Number of linking websites to the top-ranking pages for "best yoga mats"

Luckily, the page ranks for thousands of other more relevant keywords and gets tens of thousands of monthly organic visits. So it’s not such a big deal that it doesn’t rank for “best yoga mats.”

Number of keyword rankings for the page selling yoga matsNumber of keyword rankings for the page selling yoga mats

However, if you have pages with lots of backlinks but no organic traffic—and they already target a keyword with traffic potential—another quick SEO win is to re-optimize them for search intent.

We did this in 2018 with our free backlink checker.

It was originally nothing but a boring landing page explaining the benefits of our product and offering a 7-day trial: 

Original landing page for our free backlink checkerOriginal landing page for our free backlink checker

After analyzing search intent, we soon realized the issue:

People weren’t looking for a landing page, but rather a free tool they could use right away. 

So, in September 2018, we created a free tool and published it under the same URL. It ranked #1 pretty much overnight, and has remained there ever since. 

Our rankings over time for the keyword "backlink checker." You can see when we changed the pageOur rankings over time for the keyword "backlink checker." You can see when we changed the page

Organic traffic went through the roof, too. From ~14K monthly organic visits pre-optimization to almost ~200K today. 

Estimated search traffic over time to our free backlink checkerEstimated search traffic over time to our free backlink checker


96.55% of pages get no organic traffic. 

Keep your pages in the other 3.45% by building backlinks, choosing topics with organic traffic potential, and matching search intent.

Ping me on Twitter if you have any questions. 🙂

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Firefox URL Tracking Removal – Is This A Trend To Watch?




Firefox URL Tracking Removal - Is This A Trend To Watch?

Firefox recently announced that they are offering users a choice on whether or not to include tracking information from copied URLs, which comes on the on the heels of iOS 17 blocking user tracking via URLs. The momentum of removing tracking information from URLs appears to be gaining speed. Where is this all going and should marketers be concerned?

Is it possible that blocking URL tracking parameters in the name of privacy will become a trend industrywide?

Firefox Announcement

Firefox recently announced that beginning in the Firefox Browser version 120.0, users will be able to select whether or not they want URLs that they copied to contain tracking parameters.

When users select a link to copy and click to raise the contextual menu for it, Firefox is now giving users a choice as to whether to copy the URL with or without the URL tracking parameters that might be attached to the URL.

Screenshot Of Firefox 120 Contextual Menu

Screenshot of Firefox functionality

According to the Firefox 120 announcement:

“Firefox supports a new “Copy Link Without Site Tracking” feature in the context menu which ensures that copied links no longer contain tracking information.”

Browser Trends For Privacy

All browsers, including Google’s Chrome and Chrome variants, are adding new features that make it harder for websites to track users online through referrer information embedded in a URL when a user clicks from one site and leaves through that click to visit another site.

This trend for privacy has been ongoing for many years but it became more noticeable in 2020 when Chrome made changes to how referrer information was sent when users click links to visit other sites. Firefox and Safari followed with similar referrer behavior.

Whether the current Firefox implementation would be disruptive or if the impact is overblown is kind of besides the point.

What is the point is whether or not what Firefox and Apple did to protect privacy is a trend and if that trend will extend to more blocking of URL parameters that are stronger than what Firefox recently implemented.

I asked Kenny Hyder, CEO of online marketing agency Pixel Main, what his thoughts are about the potential disruptive aspect of what Firefox is doing and whether it’s a trend.

Kenny answered:

“It’s not disruptive from Firefox alone, which only has a 3% market share. If other popular browsers follow suit it could begin to be disruptive to a limited degree, but easily solved from a marketers prospective.

If it became more intrusive and they blocked UTM tags, it would take awhile for them all to catch on if you were to circumvent UTM tags by simply tagging things in a series of sub-directories.. ie.<tag1>/<tag2> etc.

Also, most savvy marketers are already integrating future proof workarounds for these exact scenarios.

A lot can be done with pixel based integrations rather than cookie based or UTM tracking. When set up properly they can actually provide better and more accurate tracking and attribution. Hence the name of my agency, Pixel Main.”

I think most marketers are aware that privacy is the trend. The good ones have already taken steps to keep it from becoming a problem while still respecting user privacy.”

Some URL Parameters Are Already Affected

For those who are on the periphery of what’s going on with browsers and privacy, it may come as a surprise that some tracking parameters are already affected by actions meant to protect user privacy.

Jonathan Cairo, Lead Solutions Engineer at Elevar shared that there is already a limited amount of tracking related information stripped from URLs.

But he also explained that there are limits to how much information can be stripped from URLs because the resulting negative effects would cause important web browsing functionality to fail.

Jonathan explained:

“So far, we’re seeing a selective trend where some URL parameters, like ‘fbclid’ in Safari’s private browsing, are disappearing, while others, such as TikTok’s ‘ttclid’, remain.

UTM parameters are expected to stay since they focus on user segmentation rather than individual tracking, provided they are used as intended.

The idea of completely removing all URL parameters seems improbable, as it would disrupt key functionalities on numerous websites, including banking services and search capabilities.

Such a drastic move could lead users to switch to alternative browsers.

On the other hand, if only some parameters are eliminated, there’s the possibility of marketers exploiting the remaining ones for tracking purposes.

This raises the question of whether companies like Apple will take it upon themselves to prevent such use.

Regardless, even in a scenario where all parameters are lost, there are still alternative ways to convey click IDs and UTM information to websites.”

Brad Redding of Elevar agreed about the disruptive effect from going too far with removing URL tracking information:

“There is still too much basic internet functionality that relies on query parameters, such as logging in, password resets, etc, which are effectively the same as URL parameters in a full URL path.

So we believe the privacy crackdown is going to continue on known trackers by blocking their tracking scripts, cookies generated from them, and their ability to monitor user’s activity through the browser.

As this grows, the reliance on brands to own their first party data collection and bring consent preferences down to a user-level (vs session based) will be critical so they can backfill gaps in conversion data to their advertising partners outside of the browser or device.”

The Future Of Tracking, Privacy And What Marketers Should Expect

Elevar raises good points about how far browsers can go in terms of how much blocking they can do. Their response that it’s down to brands to own their first party data collection and other strategies to accomplish analytics without compromising user privacy.

Given all the laws governing privacy and Internet tracking that have been enacted around the world it looks like privacy will continue to be a trend.

However, at this point it time, the advice is to keep monitoring how far browsers are going but there is no expectation that things will get out of hand.

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