Analytics and reporting are a critical part of any SEO campaign.
As well as ensuring that you prove your worth to your clients, analytics are also essential in helping you make iterative improvements to the campaign as you go along.
Yet SEO reporting can be a bit of a minefield. With a myriad of available data, countless online tracking tools and making sure that the client actually understands what on earth you are talking about, it’s difficult to know where to turn.
Naturally, Google Analytics is a great place to start, especially for traffic overviews and conversion tracking, but it most certainly shouldn’t be where you stop.
When looking for an analytics and reporting tool, it is also important to remember that the focus should never just be on rankings. Sure, we all like to see ranking improvements – clients especially – but these are ultimately just vanity metrics. Serious SEO professionals need tools that dig deep and show the results in a way that is tangible and in line with business objectives.
In this post, we’ll cover a handful of the best free and paid tools available for SEO reporting and analytics. Plus we also look outside of the traditional SEO realm of analytics and into wider marketing metrics. Keeping the focus only on SEO can be limiting – we are interested in the bigger picture.Free tools Search console
Okay, so it’s another Google tool but it would be remiss of us not to mention Search Console. Your first port of call for identifying site errors, crawl errors, structured data, HTML improvements and security issues.
Also particularly useful for exploring the search analytics for a given site. Gain an understanding of the most popular search terms being used to find a website and the corresponding click-through rates. Data is useful as a guide but not comprehensive enough to be relied upon as a standalone tool. In short, it’s free – so use it but don’t depend on it.Neil Patel’s SEO Analyzer
Neil Patel’s SEO Analyzer is a handy tool for acquiring a quick indication of a website’s overall SEO performance. It provides much the same metrics as you would get from other free SEO tools, including onsite issues, backlinks and keyword analysis.
The tool provides recommendations which are categorised by priority: high, medium or low. Tips are quite general and not particularly mind-blowing, but are nevertheless useful.
It is therefore handy for obtaining a top line overview, although if you are looking for analytics which are a touch more compelling then you may have to part with some cash (see next section). It’s the way the world works.Seoptimer
Similar to the previous tool, Seoptimer provides an overarching set of analytics presented via a clear and simple grading system. The grades are divided into five sections to help the user identify any key problem areas: SEO, usability, performance, social and security.
Seoptimer lists all the key points of analysis and provides commentary on how well the site is doing for each point with a simple tick/cross system. Again, much like the other free tools, Seoptimer is useful for quick insights and analytics. Quick and actionable takeaways presented in a user friendly manner.Paid tools Woorank
Although there is a free version of WooRank available, it is somewhat limited in the results provided. The paid tool offers a comprehensive website review that covers a wide spectrum of on-site requirements.
What sets this tool apart from other more basic ‘website checker’ tools is that WooRank also provides tailored tips for increasing traffic and boosting conversions. Given that increased conversions are the ultimate end goal of most SEO campaigns, any tool that offers a way of improving this metric is a winner in our books.
WooRank also enables the user to set goals, which is a handy way of setting performance benchmarks for reporting. It is almost always more effective having goals to work towards, especially when it comes to involving the client in the reporting process.
Clients can often feel alienated by the plethora of data and SEO terminology, but WooRank is about tangibility, both for the teams working on the campaign and for the client.SEMRush
SEMRush is a fantastic all-round SEO tool that provides a myriad of different services. In terms of reporting, users can take advantage of in-depth analysis, from position tracking to the onpage SEO checker. SEMRush provides detailed insights and corresponding recommendations so that you can take immediate action.
Plus, the reporting tool allows you to quickly create ‘drag and drop’ reports. These can be tailored to each client, resulting in detailed and bespoke reports that take only a small amount of time to create.
If you want to take your link-building reporting to a new level, then Majestic is the answer. Deep dive into link analytics, including their popular metrics of trust flow and citation flow, as well as backlink history, backlink breakdown and anchor text analysis.
Majestic has the largest commercially available backlink index so you can bet on the analytics being fairly accurate and comprehensive. As a stand-alone analytics and reporting tool, Majestic falls short of the competition. But if you want to hone in on link analytics then you need look no further.Raven Tools
Let’s be honest, manually creating SEO reports every month is a time-consuming pain, and is another hurdle in creating teams that can scale quickly. Sure, seeing the incredible results your team have pulled off is exciting but actually getting it all down on paper in a clear, digestible manner can be frustrating.
Enter Raven Tools.
Raven allows you to create automated marketing reports which both look fantastic and deliver all the goods. Reporting aside, it can also help you to identify any problems with your SEO and consequently fix them. The Raven tool can even access Moz and Majestic link data, which is a pretty inviting prospect.
Not so great for keyword rank tracking, but the reports themselves look enticing and have the capability of pulling data from a range of sources.Moz Analytics
As with all Moz tools, there is a user friendly interface that looks uncomplicated, appealing and comprehensible. Some SEO tools can look overwhelming or daunting but with fantastic data visualization, Moz always manages to make SEO accessible.
Of course we are all familiar with domain authority, spam score and the wider Open Site Explorer link metrics available through Moz. These are all useful as a performance benchmark for an ongoing SEO campaign and are important to refer back to at certain intervals to check progress.
However, Moz is notoriously slow at picking up new backlinks, which can be frustrating and it is therefore wise not to rely solely on Moz.Wider marketing tools
Let’s not forget that SEO is ultimately just one aspect of the marketing mix. Although SEO reporting and analytics tools can be extremely useful, it is important not to disregard the wider marketing output and results.
As long as your SEO goals are aligned to the overall business objectives, then a successful SEO campaign should have a knock-on effect on other marketing channels, such as social media, email marketing and website performance.
We therefore figured it would be handy to include a couple of additional reporting ideas below to really get the most out of your campaign.Hotjar
Hotjar allows you to gain a better understanding of how users are navigating your site by using heatmaps, recordings, form analysis and conversion funnels. Sure, SEO may help to get users to your site, but the customer journey does not end there. No way. The next step is giving them a gentle but firm shove through conversion funnel and into a loyal, happy and paying customer.
Use as an extension of your SEO reporting tools to work out where customers are converting and where they are leaving. You can then utilize this information in your SEO campaign, to allow you to focus on the high-converting pages.Social reporting tools
SEO and social media may not be directly linked, but they work alongside each other and results are often correlated. If an SEO campaign is being executed, it is always best practice to ensure that comprehensive social media management is also taking place simultaneously.
Ultimately, any marketing campaign is about increasing brand presence across the entire marketing spectrum, and so it is important to cover all these bases in your reporting.
Some of the paid tools, such as SEMRush, include social analytics integration so you can keep all of your analytics in one place. Failing that, it is always worth keeping a check on the built-in analytics tools native to each social platform.Summary
There are a myriad of other SEO tools available, such as Advanced Web Ranking and Authority Labs, but these tend to have more of a focus on keyword and rank tracking.
Although this is useful, it is not nearly as helpful as those tools which provide actionable recommendations and a more in-depth reflection of conversions. Start with our above recommendations and you’ll be producing stellar reports in no time.
Jessie Moore is Marketing Manager at Yellowball, a London-based digital marketing agency.
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