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July 9, 2010


Search Marketing Reporting for Pros

by Anthony Verre

Search Marketing Reporting for Pros

On the blog I talk a lot about techniques, theories, and applications in SEM that can help you maximize your client’s ROI and increase th

eir profitability. With the launch of our new book eProfitability, we spent the majority of it simply helping C-Level and upper management folks get their arms around the search marketing landscape and how to apply the years of experience we have to engineer a solid campaign.

But we didn’t spend much time on reporting, admittedly. And, when I think about it, there’s definitely a gap within the SEM industry as to what a “report” should be and should contain. There is no standardized reporting method for SEMs and SEOs. The aim here is not to suggest there be one, but to show how I create full-scale reports, and through this create some continuity for SEOs and SEMs to prove just how much we are worth to a company.

The “What Has Search Done For Me Lately” Argument

We’ve all heard the following statement: “the results are really good, and we’ve definitely moved up in rank, but for the amount of money we spend, we’re just not seeing the return.”  And, if your reporting isn’t set up to show that ROI, the profitability, then you have no way to prove it.  When you meet with your clients, 9 time out of 10, you’re meeting with your primary contact and the budget shot-callers. Your primary knows what you’ve done and what profitability you’ve brought them through your efforts, the shot-callers don’t.

Reports for Pros

You’ve got to have a blend of 30,000 ft data for the budget-makers and ground-level data for the grunts. As SEOs and SEMs we tend to think the nitty-gritty details carry the most weight, are the most insightful, and help to generate strategies going forward. Budget-makers could give a rat’s ass about those details. Everyone’s got some to report, and upper-level management and CEOs, the only thing they’re going to care about is profitability. “How many leads and how much money are you making us?”

KPI (Key Performace Indicators)

KPIs do exactly that (albeit from a search perspective).  This is a custom report I create to give the CEO/upper-level folks their profitability data. If you have a site w/ e-comm, then you’ll most certainly want to include a couple of those metrics in KPI report as well.  I use Source/Medium as the dimension. Essentially, this is a very high-level overview to give any executive concerned with the bottom-line: are we generating more leads/sales, and is the search strategy working?

Key Performance Indicator Report

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Keyword Report (with Filtering and Pivot)

If your an SEO, you’re probably already using this report (at least you should be). This keyword report (below) has a little twist to it; I filter out brand and website mentions and use the pivot option to compare across engines by visits and goal conversion rate. Quick lesson how to filter:

  1. Filter Keyword = Excluding
  2. use “^” in front of brand keywords and website (i.e. ^[company name]|^www|^http|^[brand misspellings])

This report, in my estimation, is the heart of every SEO strategy report. It shows the increase/decrease of non-brand related keywords in conjunction with conversion rates across major sources of traffic. Right here is where great SEO Strategy is borne from.

Organic Keyword Report with Filter and Pivot

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Top Landing Pages (with Pivot)

Landing pages are, for most young SEOs and SEMs, are constantly overlooked and hardly thought about. Why is this report important? Two reasons:

  1. As an SEO/SEM you have to know your top entrance points in the site. That is, what pages users find directly, are referred to from external sources, and through the search engines
  2. And, most importantly, how are the users reacting to those pages when they get there? Has the bounce rate increased or decreased?

Knowing these two things, we can then assess what the search engines are finding relevant to show users for queries and, if you’re bounce rate is up drastically because of the new targeting, what measures you could implement to make sure users find the most useful, pertinent information to stick around and convert. It most likely involves tweaking the onsite targeting and keyword choices.

Top Landing Pages Report with Pivot

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Map to Keyword Report (with Pivot)

This is another custom report for international clients. Many times CEOs/upper-level management want to know where, globally, traffic is coming from. More than that, they want to know about the keywords these visitors used to find the site. The Map Overlay to Keyword report does just that. It’s not as pretty as the Map Overlay report, but the data there is invaluable.  Once again, using the Pivot function, we change pivot from “source” to “medium” and we can tell how international versions of search engines (most likely Google everywhere but China) are treating your site organically.

Map Locations to Organic Keyword Usage Report with Pivot

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Answering the Question: What Have You Done For Me Lately?

So there you have it. Four search marketing PRO reports that will help answer that question and continue to prove to clients the value you’re bringing to the table.
  1. John
    Jul 10 2010

    In most cases I prefer to export the raw data from Google Analytics to provide more flexibility in analysis, show more detailed trends over time, etc. But these are great examples of reports that can be set up to show quick snapshots highlighting progress – or problem areas to address.

    Thanks for sharing this great info!

    • Jul 10 2010

      Absolutely. I would most certainly recommend exporting the raw data; it definitely provides a lot more flexibility for display options (i.e. the snazzy images and graphs). In those examples I was comparing, six months over six months. I would suggest that be a minimum amount of time comparison. I like to go year over year as standard, that way one can see seasonality trends and economic trends. Thanks for the great comment!

  2. Jul 10 2010

    Interesting points. Looking forward to your next post.

    • Jul 10 2010

      Had to edit this comment sir; but outside of what you see published, it had nothing to do with this post. Hopefully, the next post impresses you enough that you’ll want to spam the comments again.

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