As an SEO, you should know what the organic traffic for your or your client’s site looks like. This doesn’t mean you know how many organic visits they get. Rather, you should know the ins and outs of their traffic. Is it primarily branded or non-branded? Is the traffic going to deep pages or top level landing pages? How are the landing pages performing? Which keywords are driving most of your traffic? You get the idea; you should know how you’re getting the traffic and where it’s going.
What you report depends on who your boss is, or your primary point of contact if you’re a consultant. If you’re doing the hands on SEO, in most cases your boss or POC will be something like the Online Marketing Manager. If this is the case, you should be reporting to them most of what you know. Granted, this is variable and you should work this out so that you’re giving your boss/POC actionable info that makes them look good.
This gets a lot trickier when you create reports or dashboards for the higher up folks like VP’s and the C Suite. In most cases, you shouldn’t be reporting the nitty gritty details to them. They typically want high level information because they are making high level decisions. Instead you want to give them a picture of the overall organic health of the site and how your SEO efforts are performing.
There are three metrics I use to do this: Total Organic Traffic, Total Organic Traffic to SEO Pages, and YoY Organic Traffic (monthly).
Total Organic Traffic
This is pretty simple. How much organic traffic are you getting? This metric is valuable because it shows the overall health of the website – how many organic visits are you getting from month to month . We’ll be able to see total traffic from month to month, allowing us to see overall trends in organic traffic.
Total Organic Traffic to SEO Pages
What we want to communicate with this metric is the performance of our SEO efforts. If we’re concentrating our efforts on a handful of key pages, our work could be completely un-noticed if we only look at organic traffic to the site. Even if we significantly improve traffic to these pages, it could appear inconsequential if we only look at the high level traffic
To communicate the performance of our work, we should be reporting the organic traffic to the pages we’re actively working on.
YoY Organic Traffic
The final metric that is really important is Year over Year Organic Traffic. We use this metric to control for seasonality. If we are just looking at monthly organic traffic and see that March’s organic traffic is 15% less than February’s organic traffic, this would probably be interpreted as something is wrong. But, if we look at historic data and see that last year March had 23% less organic traffic than February, we’re actually improving. Even though raw organic traffic is down 15% month over month, it is actually up 8% over last year.
These metrics are significant, and worth reporting, because they accurately indicate organic health and performance by communicating actual value. This is why you shouldn’t use rankings to communicate value – rankings only communicate value if people click on your rankings.
Below is a screenshot of what this dashboard could look like.