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A quality SEO reporting tool is a necessary investment for any digital agency, large or small.
For one, clients are going to want to see evidence of progress. It’s a whole lot easier to have an automated report with all important key performance indicators (KPIs) delivered on a scheduled basis, rather than manually assembling and cross-referencing data points at the last minute.
Additionally, good SEO reporting software will give you the information you need to flag action items, see the results of experiments, and ultimately run a successful SEO campaign.
There are hundreds of SEO reporting tools on the market, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.
Agency Analytics, SEMrush, Moz, Google Data Studio, Authority Labs, and SE Ranking are just a handful of the resources available to agencies.
Similar to the adage in real estate – pick any two of location, price, or size – as an agency you must weigh the balance of price, features, and ease of use.
For instance Google Data Studio is free and comes jam-packed with rare features like database integration, but there is a steep learning curve.
SEMrush is always adding new features and is relatively easy to use, but it will cost a pretty penny, especially for larger agencies.
What to Look for in SEO Reporting Tools
With so many SEO reporting tools out there, how can you be sure you’re choosing the right software for your agency?
Here are are 13 essential requirements of SEO reporting tools.
1. Accurate & Current Regional Data
SEO reporting is all about data, so it’s important that the software have access to accurate and current data localized to your client’s targeted region.
Search data from the U.S. is meaningless if your client is trying to rank for London plumbing services, so localization matters.
Data must be updated reliably so you can make informed decisions about where your client stands against the competition.
2. Integration with Third-Party Tools
Especially for full-scale digital marketing campaigns, the ability to report on all KPIs in one place is essential.
The more available integrations with third-party tools (e.g., Google Analytics, Google My Business, Majestic), the better.
Some tools even allow you to upload custom data sets.
You don’t want to have to retrain on or reinvest in new software every time your agency reaches a new tier.
The right SEO reporting tool should work just as well whether you have one client or 200.
4. Strong Suite of Features
A great SEO reporting tool should include:
- Position tracking.
- Backlink monitoring.
- Competitor data.
It is a bonus if the tool has reporting features for social media, email marketing, call tracking, and/or paid ads to make it a full-suite digital marketing software.
5. Continually Improving & Updating Features
SEO is constantly evolving. So should SEO reporting tools.
As we continue the transition from website optimization to web presence optimization, the ability of reporting tools to integrate new features is essential.
6. Ability to Customize Reports
Each client will have different KPIs, objectives, and priorities.
Reflecting this in reporting is paramount to client retention.
Your reporting software of choice should be able to emphasize the right data at the right times.
7. Client Integration
A good SEO reporting tool must have the client in mind.
It should have a simple bird’s eye overview of the basics, but also be easy for clients to dig into the data at a deeper level.
This can mean automated summary reports or 24/7 client access to the dashboard.
8. Ability to White Label Reports
While white-labeling is not essential (no client will sniff at receiving a report with a Google logo in the top corner), it helps keep branding consistent and gives a professional sheen to everything you send a client’s way.
9. Access to Support Resources
When you encounter a roadblock, quality support resources can help you find a detour.
Whether it’s detailed support documentation, a chat feature/support desk, or responsive customer support on social media, finding the help you need to solve the issue is important.
10. Cost-to-Value Ratio
With a proper process, time investment, and leveraging support resources, it is entirely possible to get better results out of a free reporting tool than one that breaks the bank.
No matter what, though, you want to keep costs reasonable.
The last thing you want is a reporting software that causes hesitation in expanding your staff or client base due to the associated cost.
11. Ability to Export Reports
Even if clients are given unrestricted access to the dashboard, you want reporting that is even more accessible.
The ability to export all data via PDF, CSV, XLS, or email is important.
With the ability to automatically send reports on a recurring basis, you can save time and money and dedicate those resources elsewhere.
13. Ease of Use
There is value in intermediate and advanced reporting tools that might take longer to learn but facilitate more complex analysis.
In general, however, the ability to quickly get new users up to speed is important, whether they are clients or staff.
Top SEO Reporting Tools
In evaluating five of the most popular SEO reporting tools, based on the above criteria, here is how they stack up:
In considering all requirements, Agency Analytics stands as the best value in my opinion, followed by SE Ranking, SEMrush, Google Data Studio, and Authority Labs.
1. Agency Analytics
My Overall Rating: 4.7/5
Agency Analytics is a quality introductory/intermediate reporting tool for agencies. Among the tools on this list, it is one of the most cost-effective and easy to use for small to mid-sized agencies.
It starts at $49 per month with unlimited staff and client logins, a white-label dashboard, and automated branded reports. You can also purchase additional campaign and keyword credits if you hit the default cap.
Agency Analytics comes with 30+ third-party data integration, from the basics like keyword rankings and Google Search Console to integrations with call tracking software, email marketing software, and more.
However, this reliance on third-party data means if there is an interruption in the transmission, you may have incomplete reports.
Though new integrations are always being added, they can be glitchy at first which makes them unreliable to share with clients until stabilized.
With the ability for clients to log in and view daily data updates, it provides real-time transparency.
Automated reports can be customized, and the drag-and-drop customized dashboard makes it easy to emphasize priority KPIs.
2. SE Ranking
My Overall Rating: 4.5/5
The most cost-effective of the tools on this list, SE Ranking has plans starting at just $7 per month – though the minimum of $39 per month plan is necessary for agencies monitoring multiple websites.
Setup is a breeze, as the on-screen tutorial guides you through the process.
SE Ranking features a strong collection of SEO-related tools, including current and historical position tracking, competitor SEO research, keyword suggestion tool, backlink explorer, and more.
SE Ranking is hooked up with Zapier, which allows users to integrate more than 1,000 apps and provide a high level of automation between apps like Klipfolio, Salesforce, HubSpot, and Google Apps.
At a beginner to intermediate level, SE Ranking is an effective SEO reporting tool.
You may want to look in a different direction if your agency requires more technical implementations or advanced customization.
My Overall Rating: 4.4/5
SEMrush is one of the most SEO-focused reporting tools on the list, which is reflected in their features. Starting at $99 per month per user, SEMrush provides a full suite of tools that can be learned at an intermediate level.
A major downside of SEMrush, especially for cost-conscious agencies, is that an account comes with only one user login.
Having to purchase individual licenses for each SEO analyst or account manager adds up quickly and everything but the business license caps out at three users per account. This makes scalability an issue.
SEMrush has both branded and white label reports, depending on your subscription level. It uses a proprietary data stream, tracking more than 800 million keywords.
The ever-expanding “projects” feature covers everything from position tracking to backlink monitoring and social media analysis.
Though it doesn’t fall specifically under the scope of SEO reporting, SEMrush’s innovation makes it a one-stop shop for many agencies.
Project features include Ad Builder, which helps craft compelling ad text for Google Ads, to Social Media Poster which allows agencies to schedule client social posts.
Combining such diverse features under the SEMrush umbrella offsets its relatively high cost, especially if you can cancel other redundant software.
4. Google Data Studio
My Overall Rating: 3.6/5
Currently in beta, Google Data Studio is one of the newest offerings from the Mountain View megacorp.
Though it is much more technical and requires more time investment to set up than most other tools on this list, it should be intuitive for staff who are familiar with Google Analytics.
If you’re on the fence, GDS is completely free.
A major upside to GDS is superior integration with other Google properties like Analytics, Search Console, Ads, and YouTube.
Like other reporting tools, it also allows third-party data integration, but the ability to query data from databases included MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Google’s Cloud SQL sets it apart.
With proper setup, you can customize reports with important KPIs, pulling from lead information and customer information. For ecommerce clients, you can even integrate sales data.
Though initial setup will be much more technical, the ability to import templates saves time and effort.
You can also create your templates, which better reflect your processes and can be shared across clients. Google also has introductory video walk-throughs to help you get started.
5. Authority Labs
My Overall Rating: 3.2/5
If you’re looking for a straightforward position tracking tool, Authority Labs gets the job done.
Authority Labs is $49 per month for unlimited users, though for white label reporting you will need to upgrade to the $99 per month plan.
You can track regional ranking data, get insights into “(not provided)” keywords, track competitor keywords, and scheduled automated reporting.
However, the lack of other essential features like backlink monitoring or analytic data means you will have to supplement this tool to provide a full SEO reporting picture for clients.
There are many quality SEO reporting tools on the market.
SE Ranking has fantastic cost to value ratio, while Google Data Studio has advanced reporting capabilities if you can withstand a higher barrier to entry.
Agency Analytics prioritizes client access, which is a big deal if transparency is a core value for your agency.
Authority Labs keeps it lean and clean, while SEMrush is always adding innovative features.
Consider what matters most to your agency. Is it:
- Feature depth?
- Cost-to-value ratio?
Once you weigh the factors that matter most for your agency, you can find the right SEO reporting tool.
All screenshots taken by author, February 2018