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Enhancing SEO Reports With Narrative Explanation

Enhancing SEO Reports With Narrative Explanation

If you've watched many of my SEO trainings, you know that I am extremely passionate about providing our clients with SEO transparency. I want them to understand how it works, how long it takes to see results, and what strategies are effective. One way to achieve transparency and add value to an SEO product or engagement is by incorporating thoughtful analysis in the form of narrative reports. Let me explain.

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Tips for Writing SEO Reports

When writing an SEO report, it's not enough to simply present numbers and tables. You need to provide context and meaning behind those numbers. Nowadays, most clients and marketing departments have access to tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and social media platforms. They are familiar with the basics. What they need from you is not just a recap of how their website performed in a given month, but a deeper analysis that helps them understand their website's behavior and performance trends.

Don't just grab semrush reports

Avoiding unethical practices like exporting generic reports every month or sugarcoating the data is crucial. Sometimes, things might not be as bad as they appear, but it's important to conduct year-over-year comparisons to determine if a downward trend is normal or requires further investigation.

be honest

Honesty and credibility with clients come from delivering clear, candid, and informative reports. You should communicate the truth and be transparent about the factors you are unsure of, acknowledging the need for further research.

SEO report examples

Let me share a few examples. Meagan, a member of my team, is an excellent SEO report builder. She always provides straightforward and honest insights, allowing clients to understand what she observes and why certain aspects require attention.


Deliver SEO reports live

When delivering an SEO report, your goal should be to help clients gain knowledge about their website each month. Ideally, you should present the report in a live setting and discuss it with them. This way, clients can progressively understand their website's performance, demonstrating the value you bring.

Add narrative elements

Whether you focus on SEO content, technical SEO, or any other aspect, incorporating narrative elements into reports is what makes them truly valuable.

Let me show you some examples of how we do it at Winding River Consulting. Keep in mind that the reports we generate fall into two main categories: monthly reports for clients with ongoing SEO contracts and one-off reports such as SEO audits or baseline reports when starting with a new client.

Baseline SEO report

When working with a new client, it's important to establish a baseline report for the first month. This report may not reflect recent work due to indexing delays, so setting the right expectations with clients is crucial.


As you review the data, consider presenting it in a narrative format. For instance, point out acquisition channels from Google Analytics and highlight the significance of organic search compared to other channels.

Additionally, pay attention to form submissions driven by SEO efforts. This requires exploring data outside of Google properties, such as the client's CRM, website, and CMS. This broader perspective showcases your ability to bring strategic insights beyond SEO metrics.


Include Lighthouse or another technical overview

Be candid and address specific aspects like the Lighthouse report, which evaluates plugins and assesses mobile and desktop experiences. Furthermore, make use of tools like Google Search Console and HubSpot to compare performance metrics month over month and against competitors.

don't forget cx considerations

If you are presenting a baseline report, it can be helpful to include narrative elements related to customer experience (CX) since CX impacts SEO. Remember, all the supporting data for these narratives should be included in the report, but by adding a narrative section, you can capture the client's attention and summarize key findings effectively.

summarize wins and cautions


To provide a comprehensive report, we follow a structure that includes a report summary at the beginning and a section called "Wins and Cautions" at the end. This structure applies to both monthly reports and baseline reports.

Summarizing the strengths and weaknesses and identifying actionable steps helps inform the next month's strategy.

SEO reports with narrative for agile strategic recs

SEO strategies must remain agile, allowing for adjustments based on observed changes. By bookending the report with narratives, you ensure that clients focus on the most critical information rather than getting overwhelmed by pages of data they may not fully understand.

I encourage you to develop a standardized protocol for SEO reporting within your team. This protocol should include guidelines for generating reports, identifying data sources, and specifying the metrics to be highlighted. Incorporate narrative analysis by encouraging your team to interpret the data, identify trends, express concerns, and provide recommendations for the client to implement in the coming month.

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Remember, this process requires time, not only to gather and present data but also to analyze it thoroughly. Investing this time is crucial to ensure that you continuously deliver value to your clients. They entrust you with their websites; your commitment to providing meaningful insights is vital for their success.

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