SEO reporting is certainly one recurring debate we see in our industry. How much SEO reporting is too much?
Reporting can definitely drag on productivity; so where does one stop? There are more than a few schools of thought.
Some people are minimalists, keeping things actionable and getting on with the work at hand. Others spend several hours per month on reporting elements so they can bombard clients with pages full of flowery SEO terminology and purdy graphs.
As with many things on the business side of SEO, the answer can be situational. Consider consultants, agencies, in-house staff situations, small business, large corporation, new sites, old sites... on and on. Seemingly, the answer isn't as straightforward as you might think.
Crowdsourcing posts isn’t really my thing, but it seemed the way to go on to answer this question. I hit the trails (Facebook, Google+, etc.) and sought to get some input on this interesting issue. What follows are some of the more interesting/diverse responses.
Add your own thoughts in the comments... I might just add it to this article. Consider this a living post, in the sense you can come back over the next few days to watch it evolve.
SEO Reporting: How Much is Too Much?
At the point where it stops being useful to you or the client, and is simply done to overwhelm them with stats. - Daniel Thornton
Explicitly ensure that all data that is being reported on is valuable for the client, more often than not reporting can get into a position where reporting is done "for the sake of it" and not scrutinized enough. Streamline your processes and automate (or delegate to juniors) wherever possible. Even if this process ends with you tuning down your amount of client hours, the client will be appreciative of your honesty, and your time can be spent more efficiently elsewhere/servicing other clients! - Ned Poulter
Valuable to the client? They'll want lots of data if they understand shit, so that doesn't really work. The only reporting that's needed is reporting that's going to be acted upon. If you need 25 percent of your time to figure out what you're going to do the other 75 percent, you need to get better at it, fast. - Joost de Valk
I try to avoid getting into situations where the client wants monthly reports, as it's rarely necessary. Sixty day reports are typical, and is usually just a couple of pages, telling what we did and what effects we've seen, in terms of traffic, ranking and conversions.
My philosophy is, they're paying me for results, not talk. Spending hours generating pretty reports is a waste of the client's money. Haven't seen a site rank better yet, because of a report. - Doc Sheldon
Focus on reporting on data that tie into your KPIs (key performance indicators). We try to ask what data they want but more importantly, what data we provide that they don't want or feel that they need. If we agree to exclude it it gets excluded unless the KPI warrants it to be reported on. - Alex Moss
I'd try and automate everything – particularly anything from Google Analytics / other packages. Use Leftronic or Geckoboard and then just have a call with a client to explain changes. Dashboarding is clearer, and saves so much time... - James Carson
Anything more than 10 percent is way too much in my opinion but definitely with Yoast on the audience of the report is key. Sometimes a succinct report with broader objectives is better for a marketing director who wants to see those broad goals delivered. For a more detail oriented SEO type you need more granularity but then let them ask for it and illustrate the time oure taking away from actually getting shit done.... - Louis Venter
I do about 12 hours per quarter on a client report. The 12 hours include crunching Omniture numbers and creating pivot charts to produce insight. The actual report takes me less than an hour to put together. It's just that data analysis as a one man shop on an enterprise website takes time. - Jey Pandian
I try to limit reporting one per quarter for year long clients. What I've found is that the agencies we work for use our reports for their clients, (re-branding them as theirs) therefore, sometimes we have to create them when asked. I'll add there are some great tools out there that can make your reporting easier, especially if the client (like some do) insist on getting a report every month.
Personally, we've spent too much time creating them...the good thing is now we have several templates to choose from when we need to create one. Almost like a plug and lay. But after it's all said and done, half the time they don't bother looking at them. It seems as long as they have them they're happy, but not necessarily in better shape because of them. - Gabriella Sannino
Enterprise level clients want/need reports in order to justify their spend toward SEO/SEM and also to placate the higher-ups. So it's important to understand what their KPIs are and report on them. Making clients look good in front of their bosses helps establish long-term client relationships.
However, it's also our job to inform the client if the reports we do are a waste of resources which do not lead to any value add. I strongly believe that client reporting should only be focused on what really affects the bottom line. Anything more, could be classed as too much. - Shaad Hamid
On average we spend about an hour a month per client on monthly reports. Something new we are trying is no reports at all. We set up several docs and spreadsheets in Drive and just tell them to look there whenever they want to know something. We keep those pretty up to date with whatever metrics they want tracked.
It also comes in handy when we put content schedules and things in there. Things we normally do in house anyway to stay organized, just now the client can see them and know what's going on at any time. - Steve Gerenscer
What's Your Take?
Be sure to add your thoughts in the comments, we might just add it to the post! Check back over the next few days as the discussion grows.
For now? The jury is still out.... To be continued.