In this article, we focus on an SEO reporting dashboard for your agency. It keeps all of your metrics in one place and is real-time, dynamic and gives the overall, top-level picture.
In today’s competitive business environment, if you’re not the first, you’re the last. While this may seem like an over-exaggeration to some, nowhere is this truer than with SEO. If you’re not ranking on the first page of Google, you’re going to struggle to make an impact.
When it comes to SEO, there are many metrics to manage, from keywords to backlinks, and everything in between. This is exactly where an SEO reporting dashboard comes in and why all agencies need one. As the SEO report experts say, “SEO reports are like the progress bar showing your clients that you are helping them to achieve their goals”.
In this post, we’ll look at everything there is to know about an SEO reporting dashboard, including how to use your dashboard effectively, different functionalities, and even how to build your own dashboard with Google Analytics.
What is an SEO reporting dashboard?
First off, it’s best to explain what an SEO reporting dashboard actually is. While there are different types of SEO reporting dashboards, we’ll be focused on one specific kind: a reporting dashboard for your agency that keeps all of your metrics in one place.
The biggest companies in the world keep their dashboards front-and-center, often displayed throughout their offices. For example, Monday.com which provides workflow optimization solutions, has multiple dashboards in their offices, with all of their data presented. Anyone that enters the office can see the number of clients, revenue, employee numbers and so on.
As such, if massive companies like Monday are using dashboards, small businesses should do the same.
Here are the typical metrics that an agency’s SEO reporting dashboard should include:
- Crawl Summary
- Google (or other search engines) ranking
- Changes in ranking
- Keywords or search terms that have just entered the 1st page of rankings
- Keywords or search terms that have just dropped off the 1st page of rankings
- Broken links
- Improvement recommendations
- Traffic overview, including:
- New users
- Bounce rate
- Time on page
- Pages viewed
- Page load times
And just to make sure, an SEO reporting dashboard is not a report. Typically, reports are in-depth, detailed, and static. A dashboard, on the other hand, is real-time, dynamic and gives the overall, top-level picture.
What do you get out of your dashboard?
The idea is that your SEO reporting dashboard shows you everything you should know on a macro level and at a glance. Ideally, you’ll be able to drill down on specific metrics to get the story behind the numbers and potentially make improvements.
Let’s look at a typical example: you run a successful business card printing business, located in Brooklyn, NY. Most of your new customers come to you through your website, and you’ve begun working with an agency to improve your web presence. The agency has built landing pages and has spoken to you about ranking for specific keywords. How do you track your performance, and see that your agency is doing a good job?
This is the perfect case for an SEO reporting dashboard. In this case, you’d want to start by understanding where your customers are coming from. Are they searching for “best quality business cards Brooklyn”? Or perhaps “Cheapest business cards near me”? As you can see, this kind of insight has real value for your business.
How difficult was it to find you? You’ll want to know where you appear on Google. Are you the first result, or the 16th? How can you improve this? Moreover, you’ll want to know how many people saw your listing, how many people clicked on it, and what they did once they reached your site. Did they look around, or leave immediately?
As we’ll see, all of these questions can be answered in a simple way, by your dashboard.
Ways To Use An SEO Reporting Dashboard
Before we jump into the various ways to use your SEO reporting dashboard, there are a few bigger questions to answer. With these answers in hand, using your dashboard correctly will be a whole lot easier.
Question 1: What are your business goals and objectives?
This question will, of course, differ from company to company, and even within different departments. It’s important to choose as few overarching goals as possible to ensure focus, as well as the highest chance of achieving your goals. Once you have settled on your business goals, it’s time to look at how SEO supports that strategy.
Question 2: What are the objectives of your SEO strategy?
The answer to this question will flow directly from your answer to Question 1. SEO should never be an “add on” to your business strategy, but rather a key component of that approach. Once again, set clear objectives here because if you’re not focused, you run the risk of having an SEO reporting dashboard that’s all over the place and therefore, ineffective in supporting your goals.
Question 3: How do you intend to achieve your objectives?
Here we get down to the nuts and bolts. Are you optimizing for leads, sales, exposure or clicks? What keywords do you want to be ranking for? Which platforms will you be focusing on, and what is the quality of the incoming traffic from each source? The answers to these questions will find themselves on your SEO reporting dashboard.
There are a number of ways to use your SEO reporting dashboard, such as for:
- Goal Setting
- Highlighting wins
- Finding inefficiencies
- Identifying room for improvement
- Discovering new opportunities
First and foremost, your dashboard should enable you to track and reach your business goals. Front and center should be your KPIs (where you want to be), and your current metrics (where you are). You can also use dashboards for goal setting. Seeing your metrics visually in front of you is a great way to keep track of where you want to be for each metric.
Explaining the hard work you’ve put in only goes so far. Similarly, presenting numbers also lacks the power that only a visual representation can give. A dashboard represents the best of both worlds. It combines graphics and numbers in an easy-to-understand way that shows off your successes, improvements, and optimizations.
A simple metric, like broken links, is the perfect example of how a constantly updated dashboard can identify inefficiencies that can have a significant effect on your campaigns. Broken backlinks will negatively impact your SEO efforts as you’ll be losing all of the benefits of your hard-worked link building efforts.
Another issue can be related to a high bounce rate. If people visit your website and leave while looking at only 1 page, there may be a problem with your marketing efforts or content.
Identifying room for improvement
Seeing key metrics visually can show not only where there are inefficiencies – i.e. weaknesses to improve upon – but also where there are potential strengths that need to be bolstered. A prime example of this is keywords or search terms that have just dropped off the first SERP. Usually, you can leverage some small tweaks to return massive rewards.
SEO is about constantly optimizing. No SEO expert will ever say, “That CTR? I’m happy with that, it’s enough”. Instead, every single part of any SEO campaign can (and should) be optimized; from negative keywords to ad copy and landing page experiences. Your dashboard should effortlessly highlight areas that can be optimized, and let you measure your progress.
Discovering new opportunities
One of the hidden wins of a great SEO reporting dashboard is the ability to discover new opportunities. If your dashboard is set up correctly, new opportunities will be apparent. An example could be a keyword that’s not being used by competitors or a piece of content that’s suddenly become popular (often due to some external event) that can be capitalized on.
Dashboard Functionality (Pros and Cons)
Like most things, if your dashboard tries to be everything to everyone, it will most likely end up being nothing to anyone. It’s crucial to choose your functionality carefully, taking the following into account:
When deciding on your dashboard’s functionalities, the first thing to consider is your audience. Who is your dashboard mainly intended for? Is it purely internal, or will it be used for external reporting too? Are these external recipients SEO experts, or C-level execs that just want to see top-line metrics like costs and ROI? As a mobile app marketing agency, the functionalities most important for our clients are usually:
- First and foremost: ROI
- Quality of traffic (which can be seen in other metrics such as retention rates)
- Target metrics such as cost per install
Obviously, the questions above will impact the functionality of your SEO reporting dashboard. Having said this, there is some basic functionality that your dashboard should have, including:
- Being real-time (or as close to real-time as possible)
- Consisting of different types of visualization depending on the data being presented
- Using color and text to effectively present data
Understanding what users care about is the first step in terms of the functionality of your dashboard. Practically speaking, people want to know:
- The amount of traffic their website is getting
- Where traffic is coming from
- How much the traffic costs
- The outcomes of the traffic, i.e. ROI
- The ranking of their website
In terms of actual functionality and various pros and cons. We’ve split functionality into main groups:
You can include everything in this section from the source of the traffic to quality, to page load times, multiple keyword metrics, and the list goes on.
On the plus side, the traffic coming into a site forms the backbone of SEO efforts and is the building block upon which business strategy is built. Unfortunately, too often people include every metric they can, which often makes people just brush over the section. Rather include a few important traffic metrics.
Top metrics: Traffic source (including organic vs paid), Click-through rates (CTR), Conversion rates, Bounce rates, Average position.
Why it’s important: First, you want to know where users are coming from, and where you’re ranking. Then, you want to know how and where you can optimize.
For example, if you run an online perfume store, you’ll want to know what percentage of your users came through a Google search and found you, how many users left your page immediately, and how many converted into paying customers.
If your bounce rate is high, you know you have some improvements to make on your landing page experience.
Here’s what type of graph or comparison works best: Pie graphs for Traffic sources, Percentages for CTR, Bounce and Conversion rates, prominently displayed number for Average position.
We all know that backlinks are probably the most important factor in SEO success.
The pros of going deep into backlinks are that users of the dashboard can see where a lot of their SEO power is coming from. On the other hand, backlinks can be distracting for novice or “top line” users, as it’s difficult to present this information graphically and it usually ends up being just a lot of text.
Top metrics: Top backlinks, referral visits trends
Why it’s important: Backlinks are a great indicator that a) your content is good, so others are linking to it, b) where you should continue building relationships for increased SEO power going forward, and c) where future opportunities lie.
What type of graph or comparison works best: List for top backlinks, bar or line graph for referral visit trends
There’s a debate as to whether insights should be included in dashboards, especially ones going to external users. Insights can be powerful, highlighting items that only you could have picked up. They can also trip you up: if your insights highlight a particular action: “this blog page traffic spiked last week”, or “increase bid for this keyword”, questions are raised. You’ll be asked why something happened, which could be obvious but not relevant or difficult to explain, and you could be asked why you haven’t carried out the actions that your insights suggest. Our suggestion? Use insights to highlight wins.
How To Build An SEO Reporting Dashboard With Google Analytics (Step-by-step)
The great news is that you can build your very own SEO reporting dashboard using Google Analytics. Hold on tight, as we take you through this process step by step.
First, we need to gather our tools. While our main tool is, of course, Google Analytics, other useful tools include the Google Search Console and Google Data Studio.
This is primarily due to the fact that Google Analytics doesn’t provide a lot of the keyword data required for a powerful dashboard, which brings in the need for the Search Console data. To connect your Search Console to your Analytics account, check out this guide from Google.
It’s important to note that you can, in fact, build a basic dashboard within Google Analytics. Indeed, much of its information is presented in a “dashboard” format. But once again, for a truly powerful dashboard that speaks to your business goals, you need to create something specific, something actionable, something that encourages improvement.
- Head to your Google Analytics page. At the top left-hand part of the page, you’ll see the Customization menu item, below the “Home” icon.
Getting started with your Google Analytics dashboard
- Clicking on Customization opens up 4 more items, comprising Dashboards, Custom Reports, Saved Reports, and Custom Alerts.
- Click “Dashboards”, and a page will open up with a red “Create” button. Click this button to get started.
- Your next step will depend on your confidence level when it comes to creating dashboards. On the left is the option to create a dashboard from scratch, while on the right is the choice of a “Starter Dashboard”. You can also import a dashboard from the gallery, but if you’re just starting out we recommend going with the Starter Dashboard.
Creating your dashboard
- Assuming you chose the Starter Dashboard, just give your dashboard a name and you’re off. A page will open up with some default dashboard metrics, and you have a number of options in terms of customizing this page.
- You can add a segment. Adding a segment, for example, will allow you to choose from a list that contains a number of commonly used segmented audiences. Your default is “All Users”, but adding a segment gives you further information on specific users, such as “Direct Traffic”. This is further mapped across all of your metrics such as the number of users, new users, sessions, and so on.
- You can also edit existing metrics. Clicking the “pen” icon on any metric opens up a Widget Settings box, that enables you to choose from common display types, such as metric, timeline, geomap or table.
Changing Widget settings
- On the top right of your dashboard, you’ll see “Customize dashboard”. This allows you to display your dashboard in different ways, splitting the screen into multiple panes.
Different layout options
- How do you change which actual metrics you see? Great question! At the top of the page, you’ll see a small “Add Widget”. Clicking this opens the widget display box, but if you look below the type of display, you’ll see “Show the following metric” and then “add metric”. For example, you could choose “Average Session Duration”, and that metric will be added to your dashboard, along with any segments you chose at the beginning. You can drag and drop dashboard elements around the page.
Adding your own Widgets and organizing your dashboard
- Finally, you have options at the top of the page to share, email or export your dashboard.
And that’s it! You can design awesome, informative, powerful SEO reporting dashboards right from Google Analytics.
Sure, this provides very top-level information, and for a truly powerful SEO reporting dashboard you should combine Google Search Console data with Google Analytics Data into Google Data Studio. But to get started, a pure Google Analytics dashboard can be a game-changer!
If you want to see a more detailed guide for building your SEO dashboard on Google Analytics – read this article.
Wrapping up – Why Your Agency Cannot Live Without An SEO Reporting Dashboard
Hopefully, it’s clear from the above that your agency needs a really great SEO reporting dashboard.
Not only will it offer you a clear overview of the metrics that are important to you but it will also help you reach your goals faster.
Its benefits far outweigh any associated costs, both in terms of time and financial resources. Your SEO reporting dashboard can really be the beating pulse of your business, and if set up correctly, it is sure to bring you much future success.
As the Content Director at Moburst, Maria supervises the creation and updates of the educational articles on the Moburst Blog. This includes creating content and supervising all tasks related to SEO.