Reporting

Search Engine Marketing Reporting: Everything You Need to Know

What is an SEM report and how do you create one? Which KPIs do you need to include in it? Here’s everything you need to know.

Djordje Cvijovic Djordje Cvijovic on January 6, 2022 (last modified on December 22, 2021) • 12 minute read

Does the mere thought of writing a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) report give you nightmares?

If so, we’ve got good news!

Like many people, you may have a good idea of what search engine marketing entails, but still, find yourself scratching your head about various components and pieces of the whole. Maybe it’s the difference between cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM). Or maybe it’s knowing how to tie everything back to actual dollars and cents in the bank.

Today, more than ever, search engines are driving significant traffic to websites. This means that eventually, in order to drive business growth, you’ll need to adopt an aggressive digital marketing strategy encompassing everything from pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to organic search engine optimization (SEO).

In this article, we’ll walk you through the specific reporting elements you need to monitor regarding SEM, how can those elements help you identify and grow new revenue, and lastly, the pitfalls that can hurt your overall results.

Sit back and enjoy!

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What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search engine marketing is a type of internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search results pages (SERPs) through paid advertising. This can be achieved by purchasing keywords, incorporating those keywords into your site’s metadata and link structure, or creating content with high-value keywords. SEM can also include other forms of advertising, such as display advertising and paid inclusion programs.

SEM vs. SEO: What’s the Difference?

Beware, when individuals in your organization talk about SEO or SEM they are speaking of two separate entities.

How can this be? Aren’t they both referring to paid search marketing?

Actually, when most people are referring to either of these two acronyms, they are referring to different actions. Generally, “search engine marketing” refers to paid search marketing, a system where businesses pay search engines (Google, Bing) to show their ads in the search results (display network).

On the other side, search engine optimization (SEO) is different because businesses don’t pay search engines for traffic and clicks. Rather, they earn a free spot in the search results by having the most relevant content for a given keyword search.

Related: SEO Analytics and Reporting: Tips, Best Practices and Tools to Get Started

What Is Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Reporting?

Relax, it’s no different than any other type of reporting!

Search Engine Marketing reporting covers the overall performance of the efforts of your paid campaigns. When it comes to SEM reporting, there are a lot of variations and options to collect data. One way to think about it is that SEM is like any other marketing; there are a variety of metrics you can use in order to understand the success or failure of your campaign.

Keep in mind that Google Analytics and Google Search Console don’t have a predefined SEM report, so you have to build the report yourself. This is why it’s important to know what KPIs you need to track if you want to measure the success of your campaigns.

We’ll cover them later on.

How to Create a Search Engine Marketing Report?

Even though you have everything set up to start presenting the data in your search engine marketing report, you still have a lot of work to do. You need to learn how to create a search engine marketing report so that you can make sense of all the data collected. These steps are essential for creating a comprehensive search engine marketing report:

  1. Define your goals
  2. Include the right KPIs
  3. Build and share report

Define your goals

The first thing that you need to do is set your goals.

What are you trying to achieve with this campaign?

You can take a look at your or your client’s website and try to figure out what they are lacking or what they are struggling with in terms of traffic, conversions, etc. Once you’ve figured this out, make a list of all the things you’d like to achieve through your SEM campaign. Then, prioritize this list in order of importance based on revenue potential and how much effort will be required to reach them from A-Z.

For example, if the goal is to increase sales, the SEM campaign may be adjusted to show more relevant, high-quality offers. Or, if the goal is to bring more traffic to a website, it may be better to increase their visibility in the SERPs.

Include the right KPIs

It’s not about the money, it’s about the data.

In the world of SEM reporting, it’s important to define all your KPIs (key performance indicators) before you start. Beware that every company has different goals, so the KPIs that need to be tracked might vary based on what type of business you are reporting to.

KPIs are not set in stone. You can add or remove any of them, depending on overall goals. You can also create new KPIs if you have specific data that can help you analyze your SEM strategy better. In the next section, we covered the most important KPIs for SEM reporting.

Build and share report

You can either create your SEM report automatically or manually.

If you choose the first path, creating a search engine marketing report is not a big thing.​ With the right software and information, it can actually be effortless. Databox is a tool that makes creating reports a breeze. You can easily connect Databox to your favorite marketing channels, as well as tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Ads. This drag-and-drop reporting tool makes it easy for you to build beautiful, informational reports that can be shared with your clients or team members. There is no need for any coding knowledge or technical skills to build reports with Databox. It’s very similar to a PowerPoint presentation – simply drag and drop the fields you want into the report builder.

If you want to create an SEM report manually though, follow these steps:

  • Gather all data from your digital marketing tool like Google Analytics or Google Search Console.
  • Adjust the time frame of SEM activities.
  • Export data into an excel spreadsheet.
  • Make it readable by creating some graphs and stylish fonts.
  • Repeat this process with every piece of data.
  • Do the proofreading check.
  • Export your report as a PDF.
  • Attach your report in an email.
  • Send to your client or manager.
  • Repeat the entire process next month.

What KPIs and Metrics Should You Include in a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Report?

One of the most daunting parts of preparing your report is deciding on what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics you should include in your SEM report. A KPI is a measurable value that represents a goal or an objective.

For example, it could be “Increase in Page and Organic Traffic” or “Reduce Cost Per Click“. There are many different KPIs you might use based on your company’s goals and objectives. The following are some examples of metrics and KPIs you may want to include in your report:

Impressions

This is the number of times your ads were displayed to people online. Impressions can be a useful metric but they don’t tell you much about whether or not your ad is actually effective at generating leads and driving sales. There are a few ways you can use impressions to your advantage, though. You can use them as a benchmark of how many impressions (and thus potential leads) you’re getting per month. If you see a significant drop in impressions from one month to another, this might be an indication that something isn’t working about your PPC campaign.

Click-through rate (CTR)

If you’re running ads that are meant to get people to visit your site (rather than generate sales), then CTR can give you an idea of how effective your ad copy is at getting people to do what you want them to do – whether that’s signing up for your email list or simply reading more of your content. Even if you’re running a brand awareness campaign, it’s still important to track your CTR because it can give you an indication of whether or not people care about what you’re advertising. The higher the click-through rate, the better.

Related: What’s the Average CTR for Facebook Ads, and How Do You Improve It?

Cost-per-click

Cost per click is the amount of money spent when someone clicks on your ad. It’s calculated by dividing your total cost by the number of clicks (not impressions). Let’s say you spent $100 on 100 clicks last month. That would mean a cost per click of $1.00.

Related: 42 Paid Marketers Share Strategies for Lowering Your AdWords CPC

Cost-per-conversion (CPC)

Conversion reporting is one of the most important factors in determining your success with SEM. The cost per conversion (CPC) is the price you’re paying per successful conversion on your site or business. If you have a high CPC but a low conversion rate, then there’s no point in having a PPC campaign, it’s too expensive and isn’t making any money for you.

Return on ad spend (ROAS)

One of the most important metrics to track when it comes to SEM is your return on ad spend (ROAS). Return on ad spend refers to the amount of money you are making from an ad campaign divided by how much you are spending on that campaign. In other words, it tells you how much money you get back for every dollar you spend on a marketing campaign.

As an example, say you spent $1,000 on ads and made $2,000 in sales from those ads. Using the formula above, you would divide $2,000 by $1,000 for a ROAS of 2x. This means that for every dollar you spent on ads, you made two dollars in revenue.

Related: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Your Advertising Campaigns: ROMI, ROI, or ROAS?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Reporting Templates

Whether you’re a search marketing agency or in-house marketing manager, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the data you need to analyze in your day-to-day activities. Databox created 40+ free-to-use PPC dashboard templates that will help you quickly see how your campaigns are performing. Tailored for PPC marketers, these interactive dashboards feature some of the most popular Google Analytics segments as well as data from popular marketing tools like SEMrush and Google Ads.

Google Ads Report Template

Though Google’s AdWords interface is a powerful advertising tool, it can be difficult to navigate. The reporting tools can also be a bit clunky and hard to understand. This Google ads dashboard template combines data from Google Ads and Google Analytics in one place, allowing you to get immediate insight into your campaign performance.

Google Ads Dashboard Template

Google Ads PPC Performance Report

This PPC dashboard template gives you a clear picture of your PPC performance across multiple accounts, with the ability to create customized dashboards for each individual account. This ensures that you know exactly how your ad campaigns are doing and whether or not they need any tweaks or changes.

Google Ads PPC Performance Dashboard Template

Google Ads (Competitive Health) Report

Monitor the performance of your Google Ads campaign at a glance with this customizable Google Ads dashboard template. Add as many ads as you’d like, and check how each is faring against its competitors. This makes it easy to monitor traffic and conversion trends in real-time, so you can make informed decisions about future optimizations.

Google Ads (Competitive Health) Dashboard Template

Automate Search Engine Marketing Reporting with Databox

Search engine marketing is the backbone of a modern online business.

More and more companies are switching to pay-per-click advertising to achieve their business goals, as it’s seen as the most effective way of achieving ROI at the earliest stage.

As you can see, there are a lot of parameters that can be tracked and analyzed when it comes to SEM. With Databox, you can have all that information in one place. You’ll have full transparency over your campaigns. And because Databox integrates with popular PPC analytics tools Google Analytics and Google Ads, you’ll be able to keep an eye on all of your data in only one dashboard.

Sign up now to streamline your SEM reporting process!

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About the author
Djordje Cvijovic
Djordje Cvijovic Grew up as a Copywriter. Evolved into the Content creator. Somewhere in between, I fell in love with numbers that can portray the world as well as words or pictures. A naive thinker who believes that the creative economy is the most powerful force in the world!
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