It can be challenging to measure and demonstrate the results of SEO. Many tools exist on the market today but most of the time, they are aimed at SEO experts and not at digital marketing managers or acquisition managers. This article focuses on how we have built an effective and usable dashboard, with an emphasis on impact monitoring. Because it all starts with the right SEO strategy and Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
1) What is a SEO dashboard?
A SEO dashboard is a tool that gives you an overview of your KPI so that you can evaluate the results of your actions and make the right decisions. This last part is essential. During my journey as a data analyst, I have seen so many clients use dashboards with thousands of KPI, with data everywhere. These dashboards were so over-detailed that no one could make a decision based on them. They ended up getting lost in the mass of the company’s tools that nobody uses. That’s why I’m going to put a lot of emphasis on this main objective of a dashboard: allowing to make the right decisions.
I call it an actionable SEO dashboard. It’s more than a dashboard, it becomes a central part of the way the company evaluates and makes its decisions. The dashboard becomes part of the company’s operations and therefore, it must be built taking into account its specificities and existing process. In other words, you must use a process to build a dashboard integrated in a process.
Here is a model of SEO dashboard, used by our Semactic SEO software to help customers to measure the impact of their natural referencing.
A dashboard should have the following characteristics :
- The user must be able to understand the company’s results at a glance. KPIs presentation and graphs must be relevant, clear, interactive and easy to understand.
- The user must be able to make decisions very quickly on the basis of the results. This means that you have selected the right KPIs, that you have compared them with the most relevant period (eg: previous period, or last year, depending on what you want to measure), taken into account the competition and that the changes are well highlighted.
- The dashboard should also be easy to access or a summary should be sent regularly to the user’s mailbox.
2) How to build an actionable SEO dashboard?
To build an actionable SEO Dashboard, you need a process, as mentioned in the 1st point: “you should use a process to build a dashboard integrated into a process”.
If you want your SEO dashboard to be used, you have to build it based on the existing SEO strategy, that’s the starting point :
What is your company’s strategy? What are the main marketing goals ? How does SEO contribute to these goals ?
This question should help you get an overview and define the key performance indicators (KPI) that can contribute to the business. Is the company focused on generating online sales or does it have an awareness objectives? At what stage of the customer journey are you focusing your efforts, or on which SEO persona?
Next, you need to define which KPI will help achieve the company’s goals
Should you focus on increasing organic sessions? Or organic conversions? Or helping existing customers find answers to their questions?
Defining the right KPI is a crucial step and to be successful in this process, you need to consider who will use your dashboard. Is it operational staff or a marketing manager? The selection of KPI and the information to be displayed will vary greatly depending on this. Make sure they will be of interest to the primary user.
Third, key performance indicators must be put into perspective
How does the company measure its objectives? For example, if the company’s goal is to increase sessions by 40% over last year. You can decline this objective for SEO, and you can see if SEO is contributing enough to the company’s objective by comparing organic traffic with last year.
Making the right decision also means taking into account the right parameters. Evaluating the competition is crucial to assess your own performance. Don’t forget to gather information about your competitors in your SEO dashboard. How are they evolving? What subjects/topics are they focusing on? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? These issues are very important because they provide indications on which you can base your actions.
Here is an example of how we deal with these kinds of topics in our ready-to-use SEO tool
- Acquisition and conversions
- Global visibility
- Comparison with your competitors
- Strengths & weaknesses on your focus topics
- Number of keywords positioned in the first Google results
- Progression of positions
- Evolution by topic (= category including several keywords)
Finally, be sure to insert this SEO dashboard into your existing process.
If no one uses your dashboard, it is a waste of money and time. This is why you need to make sure that the SEO dashboard will be integrated when reviewing the results. If you have a monthly results meeting, be sure to add an item to the agenda regarding SEO results. This will be an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the power of natural referencing and how essential it is to invest in SEO to achieve long-term results.
Another example was given by one of our customer. If you are involved in detecting market trends and needs, you can also use your SEO dashboard to give more weight to your recommendations. For example, if the company is out of stock on a product, your dashboard can help demonstrate the need for priority restocking due to peak demand.
3) Create a SEO dashboard with Google Data Studio
Some free tools such as Google Data Studio allow you to build a very solid dashboard that can integrate data from different sources.
You can start by integrating your Google Analytics data. With the right filters, you can easily get the number of sessions and organic goals per country. You can also add the Google Search Console that will give you valuable insights into the keywords that bring you impressions (= appearances in search results) and traffic.
Google Data Studio is a great tool and it’s free! Try it out! However, unfortunately, there is currently no free tool to add your competitors’ data into Google Data Studio. Semactic will soon be able to do this for its customers*.
* At Semactic, we are in the process of integrating a connector that will allow our customers to add competitive data from our SEO software into Google Data Studio. This will allow us to measure the performance of all online channels in one place. A pre-configured template will also be provided to make it easier for you to compare your visibility with your competitors, know what they are focusing on, measure your domain authority against your competitors, and access many other features directly through your own dashboard. More information coming soon…
A dashboard is a powerful way to monitor and measure your KPIs. It can even have a broader impact when it provides insights into trends and points of attention. However, it must be built in the right way to be effective and actionable. This may represent a long and difficult process, which is also why we have built a ready-to-use SEO dashboard – directly integrated in our software – which is based on the most frequently used indicators and the client’s SEO strategy.
In case you want to build your dashboard by yourself; we advise you a 4 steps methodology :
- Build your dashboard on the basis of your existing SEO strategy, which itself stems from your overall marketing strategy.
- Define the right KPIs and ensure that their visualization is consistent with your goals and thought for the dashboard end users.
- Put these indicators (SEO KPI’s) in perspective with your strategy and your competiton
- Integrate this SEO dashboard into your internal processes -> Make sure it is used!
Want to know more about the ready-to-use SEO dashboard included in our software or how to better measure your SEO impacts? We would be happy to help you, contact the Semactic team.