Connect with us

SEO

What Is Content Writing? 13 Tips for Creating Amazing Content

Published

on

What Is Content Writing? 13 Tips for Creating Amazing Content


At Ahrefs, we write a lot of content. We have over 320 blog posts and more than 200 videos published on our YouTube channel—most of which are scripted.

Needless to say, we know a thing or two about creating awesome content that your audience wants to consume.

In this post, we’ll cover 13 best practices you can apply to your own content writing. But first, some basics:

Content writing is the process of researching, planning, writing, editing, and publishing content for the web. It may be a blog post, video script, sales page—anything that gets published online.

Why is content writing important?

Content writing is important because content has the power to help you attract and retain customers.

This is called content marketing, and it’s why you’re reading about content writing on the Ahrefs blog. By educating you on the importance of and best practices for content writing, we hope to increase your awareness, interest, and demand for our product.

Best practices for content writing

Everyone has their own opinion on how to write the best content. The best practices I share below are merely the ones we’ve found to be true over the years and have helped us to thrive in our content creation efforts.

1. Use a template

You don’t have to start content writing from scratch. Most fall into a few types—listicles, how-to guides, reviews, and so on. Because of that, templates for them exist. You can use them as your foundation and fill in your research.

In fact, we’re using a template for this very post.

Infographic showing 4 sections: title, intro, list items, conclusion

How do you know which template to use?

It depends on your goal. But if you want your written content to stand the best chance of ranking high in Google and attracting organic traffic, choose one that aligns with what searchers are looking for.

For example, if you Google “content writing” (which you probably did), you’ll see that there are quite a few list posts ranking.

SERP overview results for keyword "content writing"

That’s why we went with this angle—because the top-ranking results are a good proxy for what searchers want to see and, as a result, what Google is most likely to rank.

2. Create a proven outline

While a template is enough to get you off the ground, you may not precisely know what you’re going to write about.

For example, we’d hit writers’ block pretty quickly if we tried to write this post from start to finish without fleshing out an outline.

Here’s what it looked like for this article:

Bullet points of key things article should cover

How did we figure out what points to include? Some of the points are our unique ideas, but we also took inspiration from the top-ranking pages.

More specifically, we looked for common themes and points among them to better understand the kinds of questions people wanted answers to and the kinds of advice they were looking for.

For example, using the free on-page report in Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar, we can see a couple of common themes in the subheadings of top-ranking pages.

SEO Toolbar showing list of subheadings

You’ll notice as you read through this post that we included similar points.

3. Make it share-worthy

People share content for all kinds of reasons. Jonah Berger highlights a few in his bestselling book, “Contagious.” People share things because it:

  1. Makes them look good or helps back up their own point of view/narrative.
  2. Makes them feel some kind of emotion, e.g., anger, awe, happiness, etc.
  3. Is related to current events.
  4. Offers practical value or utility.
  5. Has already been shared by many others.

Let’s focus our attention on #5.

Getting some initial shares is the key to setting this flywheel into motion, and one way to do that is to build “share triggers” into your content.

You can find “share triggers” by looking for common link reasons in a similar page’s backlink profile—as links are a form of sharing.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Search for a topic you’re writing about
  3. Look at the SERP overview
  4. Find a similar article with lots of referring domains
  5. Click on the number in the Backlinks column
  6. Skim the Anchor and target URL column for commonalities
SERP overview for keyword "affiliate marketing"

For example, if we do this for Big Commerce’s post on affiliate marketing, we see quite a few people are linking because of mentioned stats (probably due to principal #1).

In "backlinks," Big Commerce's website appears a lot under "anchor and target URL" section

If you’re writing about the same topic, mentioning these or similar stats will likely boost shares.

4. Give your post a unique angle

More than 3.5 million blog posts are published every day. If you want to compete, you have to stand out. Differentiate yourself by tackling your chosen topic from a unique angle.

Here’s an example. Procrastination is not a new topic. Yet Tim Urban’s post on procrastination is one of the most popular on his site (or perhaps even the internet). Why? It’s because he tackled it from an angle that no one has seen before.

Rather than a self-help rant about the perils of procrastination, he decided to explain why it happens using cute illustrations: the Instant Gratification Monkey, Panic Monster, etc.

Drawing of inside of procrastinator's brain. Rational Decision-maker Man is "driving" the brain. Instant Gratification Monkey standing nearby

While there are no surefire ways to come up with “angles,” here are a few mental models you can consider:

  • Personal experience – Tried doing something before? Tell them about your experience and your lessons learned. We did that with our post on email outreach and SEO certifications.
  • Authority – Are you an expert in the field who can offer unique insights? Then don’t shy away from it. Alternatively, if you’re not an expert, can you interview one? We did that with our post on Google penalties.
  • Crowdsource – Get the opinions of a few experts, like what we did in our SEO job description post.
  • Data Give evidence and numbers behind popular claims in your niche. See our studies on reciprocal link building and blog post length.
  • Contrarian – What happens if you do the opposite of what others did?

5. Establish credibility

Don’t expect people to believe you right from the get-go. Tell them why they should believe you. Why you of all people?

  • Are you an expert in the industry? Do you have the credentials to prove it? Can people vouch for you?
  • Do you have data or evidence backing up your claims?
  • Have you done the thing you said before? Did you experience or try it?

As you can see, most of the questions relate to your angle. The angle you choose for your topic will help to establish the credibility you need. But don’t stop there. Tell them.

Scroll back up to the introduction of this post. I told you we have tons of experience creating and publishing content—hundreds of them, in fact.

See what I did there? 😉

6. Show, don’t tell

Giving advice is easy. But don’t leave your audience in the lurch. Show them exactly what you mean and how it can be done. Always include examples of what you’re talking about.

For example (notice what I did there?), when we talk about creating SEO goals, we don’t just give you the framework. We provide three examples of different goals and how they look in the wild.

Excerpt of blog post about SEO goals

7. Craft a captivating headline

People won’t click on your post if the headline is dull and uninspiring.

You’ll need to craft irresistible headlines that capture people’s attention and make them want to learn more.

How? Use our three-step formula:

  1. Pick a format –The content format you choose (listicle, guide, review, etc.) will determine how your headline will look.
  2. Add a winning angle – If you’ve chosen your angle (from point #3), make sure to tell the potential reader about it.
  3. Make it human – Use adjectives or figures of speech similar to how you’d casually describe the article to your best friend.

Recommended reading: How to Write an Irresistible Headline in 3 Easy Steps

8. Kickstart your intro with the PAS formula

Headlines convince people to click. Intros convince people to read.

Use the Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) formula to create a compelling intro. We use this fairly regularly on our blog.

Infographic showing 3 sections: problem, agitate, solve

How does it work? You begin by describing the problem:

1st section, "problem," highlighted, and explanation of it provided

Then, you agitate the problem by digging deeper into their pain:

2nd section, "agitate," highlighted, and explanation of it provided

Finally, you show them the way by giving them a solution:

3rd section, "solve," highlighted, and explanation of it provided

9. Make your post easy to read with the ASMR formula

There’s nothing more daunting than a wall of text.

Very long paragraph

If your article looks like this, you’ll drive people away. Break it up.

Good content writing creates effortless reading. Use the ASMR formula to design your content for easier reading:

  • Annotate Include sidenotes, blockquotes, call-out boxes, and other elements.
  • Short sentences and paragraphs Use the Hemingway editor to find lengthy, complex sentences and shorten them.
  • Multimedia Use videos, images, GIFs, and tweet embeds to illustrate your points.
  • Read your content out loud Discover areas where your writing doesn’t flow smoothly.

10. Write how you talk

Web content writing is friendly and personal. It’s like talking to a friend. There’s no need to pepper big words or write as if you were publishing in Nature.

Your goal is to communicate, not impress people with your extensive vocabulary. So keep it casual and write like how you talk.

11. Get feedback on your writing

As the creator, you’re too close to your work. You won’t be able to spot your mistakes. That’s why a second person’s opinion can be invaluable.

In fact, at Ahrefs, every blog post and script we write is subjected to that scrutiny. We take turns to read each other’s drafts and offer feedback. We point out things like logical loopholes, choppy flow, unclear points, poorly phrased sentences, and so on.

We even let our readers know that each article is not the work of one person. Rather, it is the effort of many people working together to make it great.

Bio of Michal, featuring Joshua as contributor in top right-hand corner

Even if you’re working alone, you can get input from another person. It could be your spouse, your family, or even your co-workers. If need be, join writing communities.

Their input will make your work much better.

12. Answer questions people are asking

If people are searching for answers to their questions, that’s how you know those questions are good topics to write about.

The easiest way to find these questions is to use a free keyword research tool. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ free keyword generator tool
  2. Enter a broad topic related to your niche or website (e.g., coffee, tea)
  3. Toggle the Questions tab
List of keyword ideas for "coffee"

You’ll see a list of questions related to the topic you’ve entered. These questions are listed in the order of search volume, i.e., on average, how many times per month people search for your target keyword.

The higher the search volume, the more people are searching for it.

Look through the list and make a note of all the relevant questions you could potentially answer with a blog post.

Recommended reading: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs

13. Keep a commonplace book

How do you constantly come up with unique angles and ideas for your content?

The simple answer is that as a content writer, you should always be researching. Be it books, YouTube videos, articles, or podcasts, you should be consuming content and leveling up your knowledge in your field.

Then, store your newfound knowledge in a commonplace book.

What is a commonplace book?

According to Ryan Holiday, a commonplace book is:

… a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do. 

With this resource by your side, you don’t have to look for ideas when it’s time to write. Just pull them out from your commonplace book.

Personally, I keep my commonplace book on Notion. Here’s a glimpse into how it looks:

List of resources about marketing

This is my first port of call before I draft any of my blog posts.

Final thoughts

To write amazing content, you have to write.

But if you wait for inspiration to strike before putting pen to paper, you’ll never publish anything. Instead, I recommend committing to a content calendar. This is basically a schedule of when you want to publish new content and what content you want to publish.

Setting deadlines will keep you honest, prevent procrastination, and obligate you to publish.

As the famous playwright Somerset Maugham once said:

I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp. 

Did I miss out on any important content writing tips? Let me know on Twitter.





Source link

SEO

The Challenges & Opportunities For Marketers

Published

on

The Challenges & Opportunities For Marketers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does This Mean For Marketing Professionals?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Featured Image: Sergio Photone/Shutterstock

Source: Alphabet



Source link

Continue Reading

SEO

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

Published

on

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s start with…

Step 1. Get a domain name and hosting

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

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

They look like this:

SiteGround DNS settings example

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

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

Step 2. Install WordPress

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

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

Step 3. Familiarize yourself with the UI

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

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

WordPress user interface

Let me explain the options here:

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

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

Step 4. Optimize your settings

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

Specifically, you should:

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

Let’s walk through each of these steps.

Change your title, tagline, time zone, and favicon

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

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

Examples of favicons

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

Change your permalink structure

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

WordPress permalink structure settings

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

Configure your reading settings

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

WordPress homepage display settings

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

Check out this guide to homepage SEO to learn more.

Delete any unused themes 

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

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

How to delete unused themes on WordPress

Change your domain from HTTP to HTTPS

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

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

HTTPS secure "lock" icon

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

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

Step 5. Select and customize your theme

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

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

WordPress theme page

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

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

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

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

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

WordPress theme customization options

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

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

Step 6. Build your basic pages

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahrefs about page example

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

CNN poor website design

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

Step 7. Install these essential plugins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 8. Start creating content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 9. Monitor your website for technical issues

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

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

WordPress updates dashboard

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

Ahrefs website audit overview, via AWT

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

All issues report, via AWT

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

Final thoughts

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

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

Source link

Continue Reading

SEO

Top 5 Essential SEO Reporting Tools For Agencies

Published

on

Top 5 Essential SEO Reporting Tools For Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways

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

What To Look For In SEO Reporting Tools

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

Here are the 10 essential requirements of SEO reporting tools.

1. Accurate And Current Regional Data

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

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

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

2. Integration With Third-Party Tools

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

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

Some tools even allow you to upload custom data sets.

3. Scalability

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

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

4. Strong Suite Of Features

A great SEO reporting tool should include:

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

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

5. Continually Improving And Updating Features

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

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

6. Ability To Customize Reports

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

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

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

7. Client Integration

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

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

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

8. Ability To White Label Reports

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

9. Access To Support Resources

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

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

10. Cost-To-Value Ratio

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

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

Top 5 SEO Reporting Tools

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

1. AgencyAnalytics

My Overall Rating: 4.7/5

Image credit: AgencyAnalytics, December 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. SE Ranking

My Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Semrush

My Overall Rating: 4.4/5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Looker Studio

My Overall Rating: 3.6/5

Looker StudioScreenshot from Looker Studio, December 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Authority Labs

My Overall Rating: 3.2/5

Authority Labs Ranking ReportImage credit: Authority Labs, December 2022

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

en_USEnglish