The Value of Benchmark Reports


Measuring the ROI of SEO can be challenging. Here at Distilled, we've found that creating a solid benchmark report that is specifically tailored to the client's needs helps with this process. However, benchmark reports shouldn't just be used in agencies, but are also useful in-house, especially when demonstrating the value of your work or when you want to make a business case for a specific change to the site, such as to the site's information architecture.

KPIs and Building a Benchmark Report

One of the first metrics that we request from our clients is their KPIs or key performance indicators, which are the metrics that they track and consider valuable. For example, most of our e-commerce clients track revenue growth.

After receiving the client's KPIs, we use that knowledge to build a benchmark report, which report upon the metrics the clients can then use to track and measure the success of our work together. At Distilled, we have two types of clients: playbooks or campaigns.

  • Playbooks are short engagements (2-3 months) that provide the client with an audit of their site, as well as some strategies on how to improve upon their SEO.
  • Campaigns are long-term engagements (6-12 months) that incorporate everything that is included in a playbook and can also include more hands-on activities, such as linkbuilding, writing content, building link bait, etc...
For playbooks, the benchmark report is provided for the client, so that they can track the success of their efforts after our work with them is complete and they are able to systematically implement our changes.

For campaigns, we provide the benchmark report on a regular basis contingent on the client's needs. Some of our clients request them on a weekly basis, while others on a monthly basis.


The benchmark report should be customized. However, there are some metrics that we continuously use in our benchmark reports. Below are some of the common metrics that I use:

Metric: Number of organic keywords sending traffic to the site each month

This metric is not as accurate as it used to be since Google started encrypting sessions for logged in users. However, it can still provide value. Also, the keywords can be further broken down by a designated threshold (example: the number of keywords sending >500 visits to the site)


1. Go to traffic sources (located on the left-hand navigation in Google Analytics) and select "Organic"

Google Analytics2. Select "keyword."
GA3. Export the data via CSV

GA4. Open up the keyword count template that is located below. Copy and paste the formula in column G (alter the number based on your criteria- in this specific instance, we want to know which keywords had a search volume that exceeded 100. If you want to know which keywords generated a search volume greater than 500, copy the formula and change the 100 to 500.) The "yes" indicates that the keyword does have a search volume that exceeds 100. The formula in column H tells you the number of keywords that met the criteria in column G. In this example, there are 3 keywords that had search volumes greater than 100.

Keyword Count Template

Metric: Number of landing pages (example: pages receiving at least one visit)


1.  Go to traffic sources (located on the left-hand navigation in Google Analytics) and select "Organic"

Google Analytics2.  Select "Landing Page" on the top navigation

GA3. The number that appears on the upper-right hand side shows the results. This represents the number of landing pages that brought traffic to your site.

GAMetric: Number of unique referrals to the site (example: domains sending at least one visit).

This could also be done on a month-over-month overlay.


1. Go to traffic sources (located on the left-hand navigation in Google Analytics and select "Referrals")

GA2. The default option should be "source". Then look at the number that appears on the upper-right hand side. This represents the number of domains that brought traffic to your site.

GAMetric: Breaking up keywords by number of words (For example "pants" is one word and "drawstring pants" are two words)


 Follow steps 1-3 from instructions for "Number of keywords sending traffic each month."

4. See keyword template count Excel sheet below. Copy the formula that is in column I. This tells you the number of keywords in each phrase. Sort accordingly.

Keyword Count Template

Other common metrics to track include: keyword rankings and segmenting branded vs non-branded traffic visits to the site.


Measuring the right type of metrics that provides both a sufficient overview and some depth in your benchmark report can be extremely helpful. Recently, one of my clients received a massive spike in traffic and based on their current reporting methods, they weren't able to determine why that massive spike came about - was it one keyword? Was it from long-tail traffic? Having this type of data in the benchmark report can help you determine the cause for rises/falls in traffic. It can also help you develop their own targeted keyword list. For example, if you kept track of which keywords generated the most amount of traffic and page views/time on site/lowest bounce rates, this could be useful information to have for site redesign/site architecture changes in the future.


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