Developing an effective SEO strategy involves collecting and analyzing quite a bit of data, which sometimes comes without having a clear and cohesive understanding of what it all means.
Storytelling for SEO is no different. Nine out of ten SEOs are terrible at storytelling; that is, how to tell the perfect story about an organization’s SEO success using reporting and dashboards. Reporting and dashboards without the right story, however, are not engaging and don’t offer an opportunity for buy-in from others in the organization.
We believe that all of our clients are capable of receiving buy-in for their SEO initiatives. To get that buy-in, clients must master the art of storytelling.
How SEOs Spend Their Time
First, let’s take a look at how SEOs spend the majority of their time. We conducted a survey and learned that most SEOs distribute their time in the following ways:
Over 50% of their time is spent on acquiring data and reporting, which typically consists of going out and downloading data from Google Search Console or Google Analytics, various rank reports and the like only to organize all of the information in a massive Excel document to be shared with interested parties - who, oftentimes don’t even know what they’re looking at!
We want to see our clients spending the majority of their time on execution! They should not be worrying about research, analysis, and reporting. seoClarity has the power to do these once time-consuming tasks for you (so you can spend time on what’s really important - prioritization and execution of SEO tasks).
In order to get to this place where our clients can create the best SEO report possible, we have to start with the basics.
What is Storytelling for SEO?
Fairy tales are excellent examples of what makes a compelling story. They have an intriguing beginning, an engaging story line, and a thrilling ending. Though the specific elements involved in the story might vary, the basic structure stays the same: everything was good, something bad happened, then the problem was solved and everything was good again.
That’s what we need to be able to translate into SEO - the better we can get at explaining our SEO story, the more we can get others engaged.
You can do this by structuring your own research in a similar way: here’s where you started with your SEO, here are the applied strategies, and here is the outcome and where you stand today.
How to Craft a Good SEO Story
In order to craft a compelling story for your client, you must incorporate the following storytelling characteristics:
- Know your audience. Consider what your audience is interested in. When sharing a dashboard or report with others in your company, your audience is unlikely to have all of the technical knowledge and industry jargon that goes into developing an SEO plan. Speak their language and condense your findings down only to what your team or client needs to know. For example, your IT team might need monthly reports and understand industry language, whereas your company stakeholders require more frequent reports with language that they can understand.
- Pick strong characters. Focus on key performance indicators (KPIs) your audience is interested in and avoid unnecessary details that won’t be understood. It does no good to bombard your clients with a ton of data if you can't link them together in a meaningful way. Keep in mind your SEO dashboard is not for you - it’s for others to see the value of your work in a way that they can comprehend.
- Build a well-defined plot. Have a strong beginning, an interesting middle, and a thrilling end. Whether results are good or not so good, your dashboards and reports paint a picture of where you started, what happened, and where you wound up (leaving the door open for a sequel, of course!).
- Deliver an engaging story line. Keep the data cohesive and specifically note the cause-and-effect relationship between your SEO strategies and your client's results or your brand’s KPIs. Apply all of these elements to create a narrative that is both clear and compelling.
Reporting, or storytelling, in SEO falls into one of two categories: recurring or project based.
Recurring reporting is for those individuals who want consistent updates on how the story has evolved. Executives likely want to see reports quarterly or monthly whereas stakeholders prefer weekly or seasonal reporting updates. SEO analysts on the other hand will want daily reports - they are responsible for making sure the ship isn’t sinking, so they need to receive an update on the story every day.
Every one of our clients must provide recurring reports across their entire enterprise; otherwise, they have not evangelized SEO across their company and have not adopted a search experience optimization approach.
This is one of the biggest dependencies we can build in seoClarity! If clients lean in to dashboards and reporting, and capture the best possible story for their team, they successfully create a path to evangelize SEO across their organization.
Project based reporting on the other hand is established only when recurring reporting becomes a standard workflow within the organization. We will cover this in another post in the future.
The seoClarity Storytelling Framework
What makes seoClarity so unique in the marketplace is that we’re the only SEO enterprise platform to do daily reporting. So, if you’re an analyst or stakeholder in need of consistent updates, there is nothing better than the daily updates that seoClarity provides.
To create a story-driven client SEO report, we begin with four simple questions:
- Where are we now?
- How did we get here?
- Where do we want to be?
- How do we get there?
Every one of these questions can be answered in a single dashboard for any audience that we have. Let’s consider the example of your executive team and how to answer the above questions in a way that makes sense to them.
- Where are we now? We have a way to show the current state of affairs when it comes to visibility in the SERP, traffic, conversions, and so on.
- How did we get here? We have trended reports that show how something came to be where it is. Rankings, traffic, year-over-year - these trended reports are bound by time to display the start (where are we now?) and the journey (how did we get here?).
- Where do we want to be? Compare your share of voice of rankings, estimated traffic, search visibility and more against your competitors to show you who is out-performing you from a competitive standpoint.
- How do we get there? Actionable Insights, or client-created tasks, are a great way to highlight how we plan to get where we want to be.
Building the Story Within seoClarity
Again using the example of SEO reporting for your executive team above, I want to show you how to do this within the platform using the storytelling framework.
Where are we now?
We have a couple of ways to answer this question, but our favorite way to do this for executives is with the Research Grid, an unbiased data set that tracks 270 million keywords (and counting). This includes every keyword used to find the client's web page. While some SEOs focus only on those keywords for which the company ranks very highly, an unbiased view looks at all of the keywords to provide a realistic picture and introduce you to potential opportunities.
How did we get here?
Research Grid Trend, using either the 6-month or 12-month view, answers this question simply for any executive team. With this, viewers can see the trend graph of how we got to where we are presently over a set period of time.
Where do we want to be?
A Content Gaps Trend comparison shows executives where you and your competitors are ranking to determine new opportunities to target against the competition.
Now with the above story line we have created, we want to tie all of the metrics together. We might say,
“Over the last 12 months, with the addition of new keywords we are tracking, we’ve seen our rankings improve, but our search visibility remain flat. However, our closest competitors have dropped in weighted average rank in this same amount of time, and therefore consider our steady growth to be quite strong.”
To drive this point home, consider showing the YoY Summary in your dashboard. This gives a high-level picture of how you brand is performing better over this time last year.
How do we get there?
So, what’s left to do? After showing the success of what you’ve executed on, you can then share the Actionable Insights of what you need to do to continue growing toward where you want to be.
You can sort these insights by impact or effort to determine the priority of these tasks. While this isn’t relevant to all clients, it’s a good list to see of all the things to address to continue on success or improve overall results.
Above, we have laid out a very succinct, executive-level SEO story that can be told in 15 minutes or less. In the example of an executive team, they don’t need to know about backlinks. They don’t need to know about every little technical detail of your site health. If they want to know - great, you can share that with them. Otherwise, it’s best to leave out unnecessary information and apply only what needs to be shared with each specific audience.
Recommended Reading: Simple SEO Reporting for the C-Suite
Fortunately for our clients, seoClarity offers all SEO data, all SEO metrics, and all the capabilities without artificial limitations in a single, central view with 100+ custom visualizations so you can create as many stories for as many people across your team as you’d like. The great news is that we’ve taken the artistic guesswork out of dashboard creation for you, again giving you more time to execute and build upon SEO success.
For more examples of our custom SEO dashboards for different teams with different goals, download our free dashboards guide that highlights a few of the best stories you can capture with seoClarity.
Editor’s Note: This series is designed to showcase the power of our platform and the solutions our clients are raving about, according to our extremely knowledgeable Client Success Team. If you’re not a client yet, book a demo with us today to see our platform in action!