As most savvy online users know, search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing or improving the visibility of a website or web page so that searchers can more easily find that site. Needless to say, the more frequently a site is ranked on page 1 of search engines (e.g., Google), the better the chance that a searcher will visit that site. So, how do we measure how a site is ranking? A search engine ranking report is a simple way to give us a sense of where a website stands in major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing; these reports are a reference point for visibility and progress from month to month, especially given that traffic and queries can vary over time, from season to season.
For those receiving ongoing SEO services and ranking reports, broadly speaking, what are some basic aspects that are generally included?
Before we get into components of an SEO report, let’s first consider that the reporting should feature highly relevant keywords—meaning phrases pertinent to your industry, relevant to your area, and used frequently by searchers. Selecting appropriate keyword phrases is the foundation of getting a site found. Once these phrases are determined, elements of a ranking report basically include:
1) Monthly status updates
2) Keyword progress and change in status from previous month—again using keyword phrases that are relevant to your industry, your area, and what searchers actually use in search queries
3) Tasks performed
4) Recommendations for continual improvement
Numbers to look for: The lower your ranking number, the better your position. For example, if you are #1 in Google rankings, your site’s link is what searchers will see at the top of the search results page. Please note that rankings are definitely a moving target. Search engines are continually tweaking their algorithms and competitors are also working to improve their positioning and traffic. Your ongoing ranking will depend on such factors as the competition in your area, quality of incoming links to your domain name, and location for optimization, to name just a few.
Ranking reports should be kept in context and are certainly only one facet of the much larger picture of an online marketing campaign. Although good rankings do not guarantee traffic and new customers coming in the door, they are worthy of consideration and a piece of the overall performance pie.