The fundamentals of the ideal SEO reporting dashboard
In the first part of our Ultimate Guide to SEO Reporting, we discussed in depth what search engine optimization is and how important it is for your business. As a part of your larger web marketing strategy, SEO is a crucial investment to make. However, like any investment, you don’t want to make it without understanding what your return is!
That’s where SEO reporting comes in! SEO reporting dashboards are the tools you need to analyze your SEO effectiveness and make informed and strategic decisions.
But what exactly is an ideal SEO reporting dashboard? What does it mean and how do you even start? Remember, we aren’t getting into choosing specific metrics and KPIs in this piece yet – there are way more important, broader considerations to have in mind before we even get into those details!
Let’s get into that, shall we?
What’s the difference between a report and a dashboard?
In the general sense, both reports and dashboards are used to communicate data and information. However, where dashboards are intended to be a quick overview, reports are usually more complex and comprehensive.
A dashboard, which can be displayed to your team in real-time, is useful in your day-to-day operations. Meanwhile, a report, which can be presented monthly, quarterly, or yearly, is more useful in planning your future operations and seeing an overview of the business.
Think about it this way, if a dashboard is like your car’s actual dashboard (showing your speed, the amount of gas you have, etc.), a report is like your annual car maintenance check-up (showing you how old your brake pads are, when your tires might need to be replaced, etc.).
Why does DashThis use the term reporting dashboard?
So after this, why do we at DashThis use the term reporting dashboard instead of either just report or dashboard? Well, because what we create is both. While dashboards are visual representations of data, and reports are explanations of the historical trends of data over time, what we create are visual representations of the historical trends of your data over time.
We also offer three main types of reporting dashboards: periodic, rolling, and campaign. The periodic and campaign types will both tend to be more of a report, since they reflect an analysis over a fixed time period. Meanwhile, a rolling dashboard will be just that, a dashboard, since they show a quick snapshot of your data.
In all of these cases though, the definition can be malleable, since it depends on the way you want to display and express your data and other information. Reporting dashboard therefore covers all the bases.
How do you start the creation of a SEO reporting dashboard?
Creating a good SEO reporting dashboard isn’t just about throwing some generic metrics and KPIs on a page and calling it a day. You need to choose the right metrics for your business.
But how do you start?
What should an SEO reporting dashboard be showing you?
First, your reporting dashboard should have realistic goals using concrete metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
A SEO reporting dashboard is how you’re going to know whether your strategies are working or not. It’s easy to say you want more visits, more conversions, and more sales… but that isn’t concrete enough. The ideal SEO reporting dashboard has metrics and KPIs that aren’t answerable by a “yes” or “no”, but rather ones that allow you to use real numbers to identify trends over time and see where you are improving or failing in your strategy.
In order to get the most out of your reporting dashboard, though, you need to ask yourself the right questions: what are the overall business objectives? What are the SEO strategy objectives? What channels do you need to use to reach these objectives? Which keywords does your site rank high for and which ones bring the most converting users? Are these two the same?
Start by writing these overall objectives down and which channels and elements need to be measured for each. After this, the KPIs will be pretty simple to find.
After that, you need to set yourself some realistic goals for each KPI in question based on your overall objectives.
Second, you need benchmarks for those goals
The goals you just set for yourself dictate your final results. But these goals also need a particular deadline. As such, you need benchmarks along the road before you actually reach those final goals in order for you to understand the trends in your data, and whether you’re following a decent rhythm to reaching your final goals.
To do this, decide how long it should take your strategy to bring you to your goals, and what pace your data should keep to get there within your deadline. This way, every week, or month, or quarter that you check your SEO data points, you’ll know whether you’re likely to reach the final end point or if you need some mid-strategy adjustments in order to do so.
Finally, your reporting dashboard needs to be adapted to its audience
It is important to remember to whom you will presenting your SEO data – not everyone is equipped to understand the details in the same way, and not everyone wants the same type of data and the same type of presentation. As such, it’s important to remember who your audience is and adapt your reporting dashboard to that specific audience.
If you’re presenting your information to SEO experts, you can go into greater detail, perhaps showing them metrics such as MozRank or MozTrust. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your audience consists of managers and C-level executives, you should use KPIs that affect the business as a whole, namely things like ROI and Cost. In the middle of these two extremes are marketing generalists; if this is your audience, you can afford to provide some relatively detailed yet overarching KPIs such as Traffic from Organic Sources, and Conversion Rate from Organic Traffic.
Understanding your audience will not only dictate the type of data you should put in your reporting dashboard, as well as the type of insight you want to include with it, but also the issues you want to highlight. Each type of audience can be a type of decision-maker; the purpose of your SEO reporting dashboard is to encourage discussion and lead to a decision.
Basically, once you know who your audience is, you’ll understand what they need to know, and how you want them to analyse your SEO information to make an informed decision.
Where do we go from here?
This entire piece has been about asking yourself the right questions: who am I reporting my SEO data to? What are my SEO goals? How long should it take me to reach them?
These are broad questions, but they’re imperative to ask, and answer, before getting into the nitty-gritty details of KPIs and reporting dashboard layout.