Episode 213: How To Read an SEO Report

Each month I sit down to pick topics that are most relevant to the Digital Marketing landscape. Or, I am asked questions from clients that really can be a strong class topic. That is exactly what happened here. I had two different clients ask us to help them understand an SEO report. 

So out of that, this topic was born.


Google Analytics

The reality is I used at least 2 and sometimes as high as 4 types of reporting daily for websites. The elephant of the room is Google Analytics and I decided to talk through the parts of it that I use.

Really the information in GA is outstanding and helps you understand how to make better decisions on your website if you know how to interpret the data. When you look at analytics it helps you understand active pages, demographics, and the customer journey.

Now, long-ago Google Removed Keywords from those reports, because as I’ve come to understand now, you cannot provide a good customer experience if we are writing on just a keyword. Rather you should be topic-centered. This is a theme you will find in most of our classes and blogs. However, I still want to know what keywords my website is drawing so I can make sure that I am meeting the needs and that the website is being used as I intended.

If I look at Vertical Web in total, there are four distinct topics and audiences I wish to draw with it.  Truly it all comes down to small business owners that need digital marketing services. But I have the web hosting component, the web design component and the SEO, including local SEO or digital marketing component. And then I have our SEO classes that are live and on-demand. I have to account for each audience and client need on this website so the Keyword data helps me to understand what we’ve done well and what needs more attention to keep this all in balance. So keywords are important to help pick topics but not writing pages to the keyword.

SEM Rush

The second type of SEO report we use here is SEM Rush which allows us to pull through multiple different aspects of Google, including Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google Business profiles.  This is also the report we give clients to see their overall progress for the most part. 

In addition, we encourage clients to look back at the previous year for their data rather than the previous month. The reason behind that is that all businesses are cyclical in nature. Retail may do more during Christmas and Back to School than it does 4th of July or St. Patrick’s Day unless you’re an Irish Pub.

Looking at the aggregated data helps clients understand the progress that has been made on the website. Although some SEO companies talk about how many terms they have in the top 10, we often find that what is missing in that analysis is are they money terms. If I look at Vertical Web, we have several thousand words in the top 10 and do 1.5 Million impressions per month through organic traffic. But, we need to look at how many of them have the probability to create a conversion. For us the page that talks about how to set up DNS for a Square Space domain, something we put up for a registration customer, does not really net us anything. So although it garners a lot of terms for use and that page ranks on well over 300 variants, it does not put one dollar in our company. Conversely, a term like Houston SEO or Web Design Houston is far more advantageous for us. Therefore, we need to nurture those terms. So don’t buy the line that your SEO company is doing anything for you just because you have a list of terms. Review those terms and make sure those terms support the goals of your business.


The next tool we use, and we’ve seen reports is Ahrefs. I often see people ask which one is better SEMRush vs Ahrefs. And to me, it’s like asking which is better water or food. You need both to sustain yourself. And I think the answer here is the same. AHrefs, does a far better job at reporting the backlink profile. Although we track keywords and positions in it, I don’t think it gives as nice of a report for the clients. So, therefore, to check link profiles we use this vs. SEMRush which provides a much better overall comprehensive reporting package IMO.  Maybe it’s better to say it this way, Ahrefs provides the webmaster with better tools whereas SEM Rush accounts for both the webmaster and the client.  But we still need both.

Stat Counter

Last but not least we use this frequently on clients whereas it gives an interpretation of the raw data without interference or extrapolation. Google Analytics often extrapolates the data and throws out the things it thinks is irrelevant. I find this useful in analysis because we can take each client individually and track each page visit and the path they took through the website. The data says with the user this way and doesn’t get put in different places.

Overall it can give clients a day-to-day vision of their website, and what their potential clients thought was important that day. It allows the spotting of trends easier for sure. And it allows making a better overall view of the website without having to plod through the different google screens.

We still have the old log parsing software like Webalizer, but they often don’t tell a true story.

The bottom line is learning to understand the SEO report is a way to understand what your SEO service is doing for you. It also gives you the vision to make better decisions about your website and how to better market it.

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