What is the purpose of my website? A great question each small business owner needs to carefully consider when answering. Knowing the purpose of your website is difficult, but knowing what your website is doing is an entirely different matter. Luckily the internet is here to help us solve the very problem it created. From free tool favorites to paid tool favorites and tools that combine them all together, let’s visit some of the best SEO reporting tools that exist, today.
The holy grail of SEO reporting, Google Analytics. Who doesn’t at least like Google Analytics? It’s free to use, customization features galore, and it used to be easy to find your data. The new GA4 update can be a blog for another day.
Google Analytics is always a great tool to start with because you can look at some of the basics like website traffic, acquisition overview and the behavior of your website. If you’re an Analytics padawan, check out A layperson’s guide to understanding Google Analytics.
Once you understand the metrics of Google Analytics, you can start to determine the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts from the last week, month, quarter, or any other time period you’d like to examine. First Call Web’s recommendation is to examine these three time periods and compare it to the previous equivalent period.
Just remember, you can’t control user search behavior. Meaning, if it’s warm outside, people are going to be searching for fans near me. If a crazy world event happens, people might be searching where can I find toilet paper.
Since there is so much data to analyze, one recommendation is to create a Google Analytics Dashboard to be more efficient with your reporting time. Oh hey! I know just the blog for that, Google Analytics Dashboards. Another option you have for efficient reporting is to pay a third-party reporting agency to compile the dashboards for you. Not a bad option, but it’s a reoccurring fee and you only get the report. A little digital bird told me First Call Web creates customized SEO reports, improves your website based off the data and maintains your SEO prescence. The bird might be a little biased, but I trust him.
Google Search Console
Number 2 on this list, but number 1 in my cold calculating heart. Google Search Console is another free to use tool that dives into further detail of how organic searches are reaching your website. GSC gives amazing insight on how search keywords or queries are performing for your website.
There are essentially four key metrics in GSC Queries: Clicks, Impressions, Click Through Rate and Position. They’re all interconnected to one another, but let’s focus on Position. Position is where you rank in Google’s organic searches.
According to Search Engine Journal, over 55% of clicks go to the top 3 positions in Google organic search. This is why it’s so important to continually improving your ranking for the most popular keywords to your business.
One easy way to boost your ranking for keywords is to run a Google Ads campaign for keywords that you receive high impressions but have a lower position rank. This should help you get both impressions and clicks. If the user likes what they find on your page, you will then start ranking higher for the organic results. Learn more about Google ads.
Google My Business Insights
The sneakiest tip on the list is using Google My Business Insights to receive an in-depth look at your Google My Business listing and how people are reaching your website. Need help setting up your Google My Business listing? Enough typed.
GMB insights also tells you a lot about your Google local pack and the keywords you’re ranking well for, specifically on Google Maps compared to just Google Search. For many businesses that rely on in-store businesses like restaurants, salons, retail, this could be the most important reporting tool you use.
Some features of the Google My Business Insights report includes what days & times visitors search for your business the most, what types of interactions are they having with your GMB listing and obviously the Google Reviews you’re receiving.
Check out the most recent Insights reporting update that includes search performance being broken down into phone calls, website visits, request directions and even the most popular devices being used to reach your listing. This gives you great insight on how to best target your customers.
Raven Tools: Paid Third-Party Report
At this point, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed and thinking why can’t I just pay money for a compilation of all these dang numbers! The good news is there are many third-party reporting agencies or platforms that you can pay to receive customized reports. The bad news is it’s hard to find one that can literally do everything. Having said that, here are a few recommendations.
Raven Tools is an all in one reporting tool that can integrate data from platforms like Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook, Youtube, Bing, Google Search and many others. The benefit of having all your data all in one place can save you time, which could outweigh the cost of Raven Tools. There are many plans I’ll let you check out for yourself.
An entire blog could be written about Raven Tools, which is both a positive and a negative. Learning Raven Tools can be very time consuming, and your business may not have the correct resource to leverage the platform.
First Call Web uses it because our expertise is in the field and it supports multiple domains, which fits our needs. When you hire a digital marketing agency (Like First Call Web), you should be receiving a discount on the report and you don’t have to worry about customizing the report and finding all the data, but I digress. Let’s examine a few ways you can use the tool.
Check out this sneak peak picture of all the different ways to leverage Raven Tools including SEO Research, Social Media Analytics, Google Ads, Rank Tracking and even Link Building. You could use your time to go to a bunch of free resources to look at this data or you can receive reports from Raven Tools. It’s starting to sound cheaper and cheaper right?
The downside of Raven Tools, really any third-party reporting, is it will never stack up to the actual data sources in terms of customizable reports. For example, Raven Tools is good at reporting on Facebook analytics, but Facebook Insights simply tell you more information that you can dig into easier.
Word to the wise, try out the free trial before you buy a long-term plan. Do this on many other reporting platforms and figure out which reporting agency fits your needs best. If it’s all too overwhelming, give us a call FIRST!
Free Competitor Research Tools
If you’re a bit of a George Costanza like me, you’re wondering aren’t there some free resources I can put in my big fat wallet of tools? You can stop saying Serenity Now because I have just the tools for you!
SEMRush: One of the biggest SEO agencies in the game and one of Raven Tool’s competitors. I’m focusing on SEMRush here because their free tools give you plenty of insight when doing research or reporting. My favorite is their organic research tool. You can get a lot of great insight on your own website. Check out Walmart’s traffic to make your traffic feel tiny.
Another great source of insight is looking at your organic competitors. Even Walmart could improve their SEO compared to their competitors. As you can see from this picture, Amazon is out of control. Walmart might need a few more blogs….
Spyfu: Here is another free guitar lesson for the SEO Costanzas. Spyfu is another SEO tool and has some great free features. Particularly for Google Ad word suggestions and competitor research. Using Walmart as an example, you can see why SEO research is so important at this scale. Spyfu is great for checking out your local competitors as well.
When creating a Google Ads campaign, Spyfu will give some great insight on if your competitors are using Google Ads already and what words they might be targeting. All you need to do is put in their domain and reap the benefits. Just like SEMRush, many of the results will be hidden behind a paygate. Sorry, George.
Your SEO Reporting Options
For your website to be successful, you need to know its success rate. Whether that’s visits to your website, calls to your business from GMB, page ranking for keywords, etc. Aimlessly trying out new marketing tactics will fail if you don’t track their performance. Reporting is an essential part of the Marketing mix.
Do It Yourself: You officially have an unofficial license to do the SEO reporting for your business. Now you just have to learn how to use it. Obviously, there is a lot to still learn about all these reporting tools and the best way to leverage them to help your website grow into an efficient online marketing machine. Time is going to be your biggest cost if you do it yourself. You can pass it off to another employee, but if they don’t have the skill set, they might be paddling up an SEO river for a long time coming.
Third-Party Reporting Agencies: There are some amazing paid tools like Raven Tools to take away some of the reporting burden. No more scouring 10 different websites with separate logins just to see your traffic metrics 10 times. However, there is usually a high cost to pay, you still need to invest time to learn the tool and then you need to follow through and make changes to your website or online presence to implement your new findings.
Digital Marketing Agency: Biases aside, this is a great option for the busy small business owner. A good Digital Marketing Agency specializes in the entire online marketing mix. Meaning they can report on your SEO key performance indicators, recommend next steps and then implement it. This specialization keeps cost down because of the expertise and owned tool stacks like Raven Tools.
When deciding on a Digital Marketing agency, I’d revisit this blog. Really quiz the agency representative about what type of data you’re getting, the expected results and what strategies will be implemented. If they can’t provide website help, GMB expertise, Google Ads management, you’re better off with the do-it-yourself route. Want to quiz us on what we know? Just give us a call.