TAL. 025: How to Create a Live SEO Report

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The Arete Letter

To make good content decisions, you need good data. Here’s how you can access it more easily.

Today, I’ll explain how to create a live SEO report to track content performance.

(This is the 10th letter in a 12-part series that started with issue .016, which you can find here.)

1. The Problem

One of the biggest challenges facing modern marketers is measurement:

How do we track performance and tie specific activities to revenue?

Thanks to people like Chris Walker, hybrid attribution (self-reported attribution + software-based attribution) has become more popular as a lagging indicator.

And we have dozens of different leading indicators to measure channel performance – social media engagement, email open rates, time on page.

But, too often, SEO content draws the short stick.

The extent of many smaller brands’ SEO measurement = tracking keywords in Ahrefs or Semrush

And, while features like that can be useful, they’re not a reliable measure of content performance.

2. The Solution

Google Search Console (GSC) is one of the best SEO measurement tools available (even if it’s imperfect).

But many non-SEOs get deterred by the sheer volume of available data, which can impact decision-making.

My advice: to get a good handle on the leading indicators of SEO content, use Looker Studio to make GSC data more accessible.

Here’s how:

  1. Sign into your Google account and make sure you have access to your brand’s GSC account.
  2. Go to Looker Studio and click the ‘Create’ button on the left-hand side.
  3. Add GSC data to the report by clicking ‘Search Console’.
  4. Choose your brand’s site, then ‘Url Impression’, then ‘web’.
  5. Click the table that appears by default. In the ‘Chart’ column to the right-hand side of the screen, remove ‘Google Property’ under ‘Dimensions’ and select ‘Landing Page’.
  6. Under ‘Metric’, add ‘Impressions’ and ‘Url CTR’.
  7. Expand your table so it more or less covers half the page.
  8. Add a text box to the top of your page and style it as a heading with the text ‘Performance by Page’.
  9. Under your table, add two time series charts.
  10. One should have the dimension set to ‘Date’ and the metric set to ‘Url Clicks’, with a custom default date range of 90 days (Today minus 90 for the start date, and Today minus 1 for the end date).
  11. Repeat for the second chart, but set the metric to ‘Impressions’.

You now have an easy-to-understand report that shows you exactly how your website has performed over the last 90 days and which content assets have performed best.

But don’t stop there.

Think about adding the following pages too (all with 90-day reporting ranges):

  1. Performance by Search Term (table, dimension set to ‘Query’)
  2. Search Opportunities (table, decision-stage queries that have an average position of 11–20)
  3. By Service/Product (table, decision-stage landing pages only, dimension set to ‘Landing Page’)
  4. By Service/Product (Keywords) (table, decision-stage landing pages only, dimension set to ‘Query’)
  5. By Project (two time series charts, high-value projects only, metrics set to ‘Url Clicks’, ‘Impressions’, and ‘Average Position’; duplicate as needed if you have lots of projects you want to track)

3. Implementation

Tech Needed: Google Search Console and Looker Studio

Ease of Uptake: Very Easy

  1. Create a report using the instructions above.
  2. Adjust the pages and reporting ranges for your report as needed.
  3. Use the report as a snapshot of how your current SEO content is performing.
    1. If you want to just share the data with your team for spot checks and progress gauges, you can share a link to the live report.
    2. Alternatively, export the data into whatever formal reporting mechanism you use (right-click on a chart/table to access the export function).

It’s worth noting that data is useless without accompanying insights.

But I hope that, by simplifying access to the right data, you can more easily track your content’s performance and make appropriate decisions.

By Duncan Croker

Duncan is a copywriter with a background in editing and storytelling. He loves collaborating with brands big and small, and thrives on the challenges of hard marketing.