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Avoid These 9 Enterprise SEO Reporting Mistakes That Devalue Your Data

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Avoid These 9 Enterprise SEO Reporting Mistakes That Devalue Your Data


Enterprise SEO can seem slow, expensive, and burdened with process. This is particularly true in reporting, where workflows and deliverables can be extensively detailed and nuanced.

Whether you deliver physical reports or have online reporting, dashboards, or presentations, there’s a lot to talk about.

As SEO professionals, we’re never short on metrics, segments, and ways to fill up paper – or webpages of data.

We have a tendency to throw the kitchen sink out there to justify our efforts, explain the complexity of SEO, and get buy-in.

And despite our best efforts, many of us make reporting mistakes that can actually hinder our enterprise SEO strategy and how it’s perceived by others.

In this article, you’ll learn more about nine common enterprise SEO reporting mistakes that devalue your data and take away from the important opportunities you have to use reporting as a positive way to enhance your strategy and efforts overall.

More importantly, you’ll learn how to solve and avoid them, as well.

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1. Not Aligning With Broader KPIs And Goals

So many of my articles start out with goals and that’s because without them, SEO can get off track from the start.

Worse, SEO might end up doing extra work that isn’t necessary or has to be thrown out anyway.

Investing in any area without clear goals or an understanding of how SEO efforts drive toward ultimate marketing or business goals is setting yourself and your team up to fail.

Enterprise SEO can include reporting to a lot of different types of stakeholders. Implementing technical and on-page updates can move slowly – especially if you need to get new content deployed.

Many clients, managers, and executives don’t know or care about the details of SEO.

They care about what it drives. What it needs to drive toward are goals they understand and you want to connect those dots from the start.

Solution: Spend time within SEO and with other channels or stakeholders to define specific KPIs that tie into broader business goals.

2. Lacking Baselines And Benchmarks

Most reporting compares one timeframe to another.

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Even with comparisons in place, stakeholders will often ask, “Is that good?” The context of where we started and what impact specific optimizations had is essential.

That means you need to find meaningful milestones for comparison in your reporting.

Whether that means a year-to-date compared to the same timeframe the previous year, or month-over-month, have a reason and justification for it.

Know for sure what the data is showing in terms of trends and performance for your own organization – and how it compares to the marketplace as a whole.

SEO reporting and data is meaningless if it is in a vacuum and lacks context.

Is 1000% traffic growth good? Maybe. But was it bad to start with and we’re still below industry average? Not as impressive.

Solution: Work with key stakeholders to get agreement and buy-in on meaningful milestones, baselines, and benchmarks to use going forward (and backward) in SEO reporting for objectivity.

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3. Missing The Customer Journey

When we talk about enterprise SEO, we’re likely managing a large site that is driving toward lead capture, a sales transaction, or maybe even large-scale page views (e.g. publishers).

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Yes, there are visitors who will come here and convert on the first visit and within a click or two. Focusing on those visitors alone limits your potential, though.

In an enterprise organization or for an enterprise-level SEO strategy, there could be an untapped wealth of customer journey and conversion funnel data available from others in the organization.

Find the right brand, product, sales, or marketing manager to get it.

This will help you greatly in organizing your reporting showing how SEO is contributing at each stage (or could be in the future).

If you’re simply reporting in aggregate on average position, traffic, and conversions, you’re missing out on an opportunity to tell a bigger story, get deeper into what is happening, and justify SEO strategy needs from others.

Solution: Organize your SEO reporting in a way that matches the known customer journey.

Build the funnel around keywords, topics, and conversion paths so SEO can be measured objectively compared to other channels and sources.

4. Not Separating Keywords By Type

One of the biggest mistakes in enterprise SEO reporting is blending all keywords and intent signals into one metric.

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Of course, I’m a big fan of executive summary-style, streamlined KPI reporting.

Just don’t stop there.

Brand terms should rank well on their own if there aren’t SEO issues.

As SEOs, we often don’t have a lot of control over demand and search volume for branded terms.

Why would we want to provide reporting with them blended in with generic terms that are in our specific optimization strategy and plan?

Upward and downward swings in brand traffic can be tied to PR, seasonality, and other demand drivers that we don’t control.

Blending them in with generic and focused SEO strategy terms can tell the wrong inflated or underwhelming story in your reporting.

Solution: Segment performance data between brand and generic keywords, at a minimum.

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Go deeper where you can into specific focus topics and in alignment with the customer journey tied to your strategy if possible.

5. Focusing Too Much On Indicator Metrics

I learned early in my career that I didn’t ever want to hear a client or manager say, “That’s all good, so is there ROI?”

We definitely need to track keyword performance, rankings, traffic, and conversions.

That alone is not good enough for enterprise SEO strategies, though. What is converting? What is the ROI on that? Can we justify this level of investment in SEO?

These questions must be answered or no one will want to hear about average position, impressions, or visits.

Starting at the end – the most important metric or business driver that SEO can impact.

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Lead with that. Then, where relevant on other pages, tabs, or in deeper conversations, get into the SEO-specific indicator metrics.

That’s how you can keep your executive-level audience engaged.

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Solution: Provide an executive summary or lead with the result that came from your amazing solution.

Go deeper into the “how” you got that result in an appendix or separate part of the report.

6. Nerding Out Too Much

I love hearing about how getting a database-driven canonical strategy implemented across 100k product pages solved a year-long issue.

I could talk for hours about those types of successes. But this is what I do.

If your reporting is full of our SEO language and your key audience doesn’t understand or care about it, they’ll completely miss the point.

Lead with outcomes, read your audience, and structure your reporting and communication around what will resonate most with them.

Be sure to take credit for the wins; just make sure those wins and how SEO drove them are actually understood.

Solution: Have others give you feedback and advice on how deep they want you to go technically in reporting. You can always adjust what you’re already doing based on helpful feedback.

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Get help on translating terms and metrics if they aren’t resonating with your audience.

7. Lacking A Connection To Broader Strategy

Large organizations have big marketing teams, content efforts, PR, and a lot more.

That’s typically good news for enterprise SEO campaigns.

That means we’re not hurting for content, relationships to drive inbound links, and resources to help us with funnels, modeling, and customer engagement data.

It is easy to want to stick with just core SEO metrics – on reporting what we control.

However, your reporting is a great opportunity to show how content, links, and website technical aspects are helping or hindering overall SEO performance.

If you want more resources, buy-in, or support from content creators, IT, developers, PR, and others, then show the connection between those efforts and your own.

For example, if a PR campaign ended and we have fewer links now, bring that up!

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If we have been asking for new or optimized web copy for months and the content writers have focused on other priorities, show the cost of that missed opportunity.

Reporting can be a great way to call attention to opportunities and therefore make the case for resources.

At the end of the day, SEO isn’t an island. Showing data and the real impacts of not getting collaboration can help.

Solution: Find areas where you have great support or need it and highlight those in your reporting.

Tie cause and effect together in your narrative (written or spoken) and emphasize that SEO can’t operate in a silo.

8. Simply Providing “Reports”

Does your enterprise-level SEO reporting platform include a lot of default KPIs and metrics?

Templates and automation are great.

Whether you’re an agency scaling reporting across clients or in-house building your own, having a starting point and data that is aggregated from multiple sources is key.

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The challenge is that without customization and tailoring your report to the company, specific baselines/benchmarks, and KPIs that uniquely matter, then you’re providing something that looks and feels generic.

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If your strategy is custom-tailored to the brand, then make sure your online or physical reporting reflects that.

Don’t let it look like you just swapped out a logo and plugged in some data sources and that was it.

Solution: Invest time to tailor the deliverable so it is a tool to leverage for communication versus a burden or task to complete.

This could mean customizing the report’s look and feel, changing up the metrics, or considering other methods for sharing the information.

9. All Data And No Insights

This is a mistake that becomes most critical when stakeholders have access to a real-time reporting dashboard, or when we send reports to them via email without a meeting to walk through them.

Go a step further than avoiding the mistake of having a simple or generic report – make sure you’re telling a story!

Data is simply data. It is open to interpretation or frustration without context.

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Frame the context. Tie the strategy to the results. Good or bad, you need to be able to articulate what the data means and inspire others to actually care.

Come armed with several key insights and ideas to get a step ahead and make reporting time productive.

When things are performing well, it is easy to show a few percentage increases and to go on your way.

However, in good or bad times, pull out details on what drove the performance, what is working well, what isn’t, and how we can keep or stop doing something to impact performance in the future.

Reporting shouldn’t be disconnected from conversations around strategy and collaboration.

Solution: Create space in documents, presentations, or conversations for sharing insights and smart thinking. Think insights first in your presentation.

Maybe you don’t even have to show the data behind them or the reporting details. That’s a huge win, as you’re talking about things that matter more than the raw numbers that got you there.

Conclusion

Enterprise SEO requires a lot of effort, collaboration, time, and investment. It can all be tanked by reporting mistakes that can have serious consequences.

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By not showing the proper value of SEO to an organization, it can get cut or the resources you need can be hard to get.

When lacking context, insights, and leveraging the opportunity to report to your audience, you can lose their attention and make your own work more difficult or scrutinized in ways you don’t want.

Work toward a tailored reporting focus to make it a powerful tool tied back to your strategy and into bigger picture impacts that SEO has on the brand.

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Featured Image: PROKOPEVA IRINA/Shutterstock

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SEO

How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer’s Landscape

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer's Landscape

There is a new data revolution happening, and it’s sweeping across the industry so quickly that many SEO and digital marketers are struggling to make sense of the insights and intelligence at their disposal.

To utilize this opportunity, marketers need to evolve their mindsets and use technology to analyze multiple data formats and understand the new opportunities it can bring.

SEO marketers of today and digital marketers of tomorrow will need to extract, structure quickly, and manipulate data to drive the most critical business outcomes.

Data has always been mission-critical to digital decision-making.

The Economist, back in 2017, declared it the world’s most valuable resource.

Fast forward to today and the future, and we can see that the exponential growth of data fuelling this revolution is staggering.

According to the IDC, the amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data made since the advent of digital storage.

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Think about that for a second!

Flash drives, for example, were introduced in 2000.

This means that in the next five years, marketers will have to analyze and make sense of 2x the data created in the last 22 years!

The Data Revolution Means More Sources & Complexity For SEO

The data revolution has gone on for some time now, and it’s changed our concept of what counts as “data,” rightfully so.

In the past, we thought only numbers mattered.

But, in this new digital world where everything is converted into ones and zeros, data is broader and contains text, audio, and visual information – all bits waiting to be processed!

  • Machine-based and human-generated data are growing at a rate of 10x faster than conventional business data.
  • Machine-created data is increasing exponentially at a 50x the growth rate. This data revolution is primarily marketing-driven and consumer-oriented who are “always on.”
  • In just the last 18 months, the volume of site processing data we have been generating at BrightEdge has increased by 11x!
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As a result of these increasingly demanding trends, SEO and digital marketers need to adapt and become more like data analysts and scientists in approaching the extraction of structured data insights and business intelligence – without adding more manual work.

Fortunately, SEO is well-positioned to take advantage of this new data revolution.

  • Increasing your keyword universe – More keywords mean more data points to look at with reporting and fuelling insights. While focusing on conversion rate metrics is very important, it wouldn’t be possible without opening the scope of your audience and getting more people in the door. SEO has drifted away from writing for a primary dedicated keyword and is now way more advanced with advancements in search engines like Google’s understanding of intent of searches through RankBrain and BERT.
  • Increasing your search footprint – will also help you discover unexplored of informing your future content strategy or ideate new keyword ideas. However, sometimes you might miss the boat, like the transition of Content Management Systems slowly turning into “Experience Platforms” as they offer more functionality to meet the needs of today’s webmaster or marketer.

Read More On SEJ

Data Is The Currency Of An Accelerated SEO & Digital Age

By 2025, Worldwide data will reach 175 zettabytes.

But unfortunately, the human brain can’t process, structure, and analyze all that data.

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So technology engines have to help, and digital marketers should be the driver.

There is a massive opportunity for companies that can utilize data to create more engaging experiences.

A recent study showed that 95% of business leaders recognize this as their biggest growth lever over the next three years, which means there’s plenty at stake here!

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Robust data analysis ensures decisions are evidence-based and have more accountability.

Drawing on existing and new data sources to fully integrate business acumen and analytical skills into decision making, sourcing, managing, and analyzing large amounts of unstructured data will ensure continued use and success.

SEO began with data and has evolved.

From the introduction of real-time SEO in 2019 and Page Experience Updates in 2021, SEO’s future lies again with data and the creation of intelligent systems. Here marketers can leverage combined data sources that structures data for them.

As a result, they can achieve business objectives and stay ahead during all data and digital transformation stages.

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Read More On SEJ

Technology & AI Are Helping SEO Evolve

Advancements in technology and, in particular, AI and Natural Language Processing has meant that SEO and digital marketers can become data analysts without having to become an actual data scientist.

This is key to unlocking structured insights from your company’s big data to make more precise predictions about what is coming next based on existing information.

Digital marketers can evolve, understand key trends, and learn in new areas such as:

  • Predictive modeling of future trends and forecasting based on multiple types of data.
  • Real-time identification of opportunities and intelligence.
  • Digital research at scale with both historical and real-time data.
  • Leveraging automated visualizations for various stakeholders.
  • Improved data security and compliance.
  • Market and business intelligence at a macro level.
  • Consumer behavior at the most granular level.

SEO and digital marketers can learn critical skills such as statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and strategy.

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AI, NLP, and machine learning are helping them do this without needing expertise in computer programming and software applications.

What digital marketers must do is combine their communication skills and analytics skills with stakeholders who cannot think outside of the advertising box.

Read More On SEJ

Data Analysis & Intelligence As Competitive Advantage

The application of technology will be the driving force behind the next generation of data analysis technology.

Therefore, SEO and digital marketers of today should learn how to better utilize insights from data analysis.

It’s becoming more apparent that the marketing platforms of tomorrow will require the capabilities of data analysis and science infrastructure at their core.

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The future of marketing will blend technological know-how, business sense, and an understanding of data analysis.

The next generation of SEO will touch all components of marketing, from video, email, and voice, to digital performance of content.

SEO and data science will converge into one evolved discipline that drives omnichannel acquisition and democratizes data.

Marketers who embrace this new era of SEO will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

Data is reconfirming its role as the new competitive advantage, and as SEO and digital marketers, you must evolve if you want to be part of the future.

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Featured Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock

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