SEM Reports 101: What KPIs You Need to Climb the Ranks

SEM Reports 101: What KPIs You Need to Climb the Ranks

Are you trying to build a SEM report, but not sure what KPIs you should add for the best results?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a type of marketing that helps companies get more visibility through search engines (like Google).

But the results of SEM campaigns aren't always totally obvious. That's why it's so important to track the data and ensure you're seeing a positive ROI from your campaigns.

So, in today's post, I want to talk about the KPIs you should include in your SEM reports.

First, though, let's get clear on what Search Engine Marketing is and how it's different from Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

What Is Search Engine Marketing?

what is search engine marketing

SEM is a type of digital marketing strategy that involves buying ads on search engines.

A common misconception about SEM is that it's the same thing as SEO (search engine optimization). But they're very different:

Search Engine Optimization helps companies get more visibility and traffic from organic, or unpaid, results on Google.

SEM, on the other hand, includes buying ads from Google (the search engine) to get more traffic and visibility than you would organically. But it also involves driving more traffic organically, too.

The best way to think about it is this:

SEO is ALWAYS part of a larger SEM strategy. But SEM strategies don't always involve SEO.

The difference? SEO only focuses on organic traffic. SEM focuses on both organic AND paid traffic from search engines.

That means you'll need custom marketing reports as you expand your SEO plan to include paid advertising.

With that in mind, let's look at the top 9 KPIs you need to add to your SEM reports. Then we'll show you how to build an automated SEM report in under 10 minutes.

9 KPIs to Track for Any SEM Report

Since SEM reports have 2 components (organic and paid), we'll focus on what to track by those categories.

Let's start with the best organic SEM report KPIs.

Organic SEM Report KPIs

organic kpis for sem reports

1) Organic Traffic

Every month, your SEM report should include how many people visited organically (and from what devices). This will help you understand if more visitors are coming in every month than before and where they're coming from.

You can also add a separate column for organic and paid search traffic to see how each of those sources performs on its own.

By adding these metrics, you'll be able to better understand which channels are driving the most visitors organically (and what your target market is).

2) Time on Site/Bounce Rates

This tells you how your visitors are engaging with your site.

If they're staying on the page for a long time, that's great! But if they leave quickly (or never click through to another page), then it might be an issue. Knowing this will help you figure out where people drop off and what pages aren't performing well.

You'll also want to know how many people are bouncing from the page. A high bounce rate could mean that your visitors aren't finding what they're looking for on the site or that you're attracting the wrong audience through your content marketing strategy.

3) Rankings

Make sure you include a column for your website's ranking on search engines.

This will help you compare where you rank in the past to where you are now (and what channels and keywords have contributed most to that change).

The good news is that you don't need an expensive SEO tool to track these metrics. In fact, you can get them directly from your Google Search Console dashboard.

4) Organic Conversion Rates

This metric analyzes how many people who come in through search engines actually take action on your site.

You can think of this as the percentage of visitors coming from organic searches that turn into customers and leads.

For example, if 100 visitors came to your website organically last month but only 25 signed up for a free trial, then your conversion rate is 25% (or 0.25).

But you should get an idea about how your content marketing efforts are actually paying off to make sure you're spending time (and money) as effectively as possible.

Now let's turn our attention to a few KPIs from your paid ad campaigns.

paid kpis

5) Impressions

Impressions are similar to impressions for organic search. In fact, they're basically the same metric but just under a different name.

This shows you how many times your ads were displayed to people online through Google Adwords (or whatever PPC platform you use). You might also see this referred to as "ad views" or "ad clicks".

Impressions will help you understand how many times your ads were displayed to people online.

You'll want to know if that number is increasing or decreasing over time because it can reveal a lot about what's working and what isn't. It might also be an indication of the quality of your ad copy (or Adwords account manager) and how well your ads are targeted to the right audience.

However, impressions paint a broad picture of whether or not people see your ad but it doesn't tell you anything about what they do when they land on those pages (or if there was any engagement with lead forms).

That's why we'll need to add a few other targeted KPIs to our SEM report, too.

6) Click-Through Rate

This tells you how many people clicked your ad to visit your site (in a specific timeframe). It's also the most important KPI for paid ads.

That means that CTR is an indication of whether or not people actually see and engage with your content while they're browsing online. And if it isn't performing well, it could be an indication that your ad copy or targeting isn't as effective as it could be.

To get the CTR for your ads, you can simply divide the number of clicks by the number of impressions in a given timeframe (like per day or week).

You'll also want to know what percentage increase/decrease there was from the previous timeframe.

For example, if your CTR was 0.25% last week and this week it's at 0.28%, then that's a good thing.

It means that people are actually engaging with your ad content more often than they did in the past which could mean higher rankings down the road (at least for keywords related to your ad).

But you can only feel confident that your click-through rates are increasing if you actually, you know... track them!

7) Cost-per-Click

CPC (or cost-per-click) is how much you're paying per click for your ads.

It's an important metric to figure out if your SEM marketing campaign is actually profitable or not over time.

Are you spending more money than people are willing to pay?

Or does the CPC exceed what you can reasonably budget and still make a profit?

To get your CPC, you'll need to add up how much money you're spending on all ads and then divide that by the number of clicks (or conversions) they receive.

For example, if your total ad spend was $500 last month but only 100 people clicked it for a conversion rate of 0.25%, then your CPC would be $50.

You can use that to compare CTRs and CPCs over time to see if you're getting a good return on investment (ROI).

And this is important because it's better for the bottom line of your business when customers are clicking ads but not converting instead of just clicking them and ignoring your offer.

8) Cost-per-Conversion

This is the exact same formula as CPC but this time you're looking at it from a conversion rate perspective.

It's how much money your spending (per click) to get conversions for your business or website.

Conversion rates are important because they tell you if people actually see and engage with your ads enough to become customers.

But you'll also want to keep an eye on your cost-per-conversion since that tells you whether or not people are willing to pay for the product/service your offer.

If it's too high, then it might be a good idea to reevaluate how much money and time you're spending compared with what conversions are really worth to your business.

You can't just keep throwing money at a campaign that isn't profitable, right?

Which leads us to the last SEM report KPI you need to track religiously...

9) Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

ROAS tells you exactly how much money your campaign has made for your business.

It's the perfect way to know whether or not that specific SEM marketing channel is worth it and profitable (or if there are other areas where you should spend more time).

To find out what ROAS means, take all of the revenue generated from your SEM campaign and divide it by the ad spend.

For example, if you made $500 in revenue but spent $400 on ads to do that, your ROAS is 125%.

That's a good thing since it means you're getting more money than what you're spending (which could potentially increase over time).

On the other hand, if you spend $400 and only make back $300 in revenue then your ROAS is 75%.

That means there's a good chance that it's time to reevaluate how much money and time you're spending on SEM marketing.

It's also important for scaling up or down as needed. So if things are going well and you want to increase your ad spend, then make sure it's profitable enough for the extra dollar.

If not...then don't do it! Just because SEM is a great way to get more customers doesn't mean that there aren't other marketing channels (like pure SEO) worth trying out first.

These are the kinds of decisions you can only be sure of once you've analyzed the results of your SEM report.

And that leaves the following question: How do you make an automated SEM report (that you'll actually use)?

How to Make a SEM Report

Marketers tend to avoid producing reports for the same reason that they avoid building them: they're time-consuming to create.

When it comes to marketing your business, you need to keep track of data from dozens of sources. You also need to avoid costly errors while recording it all.

This is why I always suggest working with a report building tool like Metrics Watch:

metrics watch homepage

Metrics Watch is hands down one of the best report builders on the market. It enables anybody to quickly produce SEM reports without any coding knowledge required.

It also allows you to seamlessly connect with your favorite marketing channels, such as:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Google Ads
  • Facebook (organic and paid)
  • Instagram (organic and paid)
  • LinkedIn (organic and paid)
  • And much more…

This means you can hook up your account and have a stunning report with YOUR branding on it created in minutes.

And since Metrics Watch uses a drag and drip report builder, you don't need any coding or "tech skills" at all.

But the best part is how these reports get shared. That's because if you're creating SEM reports for a business, then you're likely not working alone.

You can easily send these reports directly to your clients' or team members' inbox. NO more messy PDFs to organize. And NO more managing user roles for 3rd-party report dashboards.

Instead, you send the data you want to the people who need it in a way they already know, love, and use.

Yup, it's just that simple.

Want to see t inaction for yourself? Click below to start your 100% risk-free Metrics Watch trial today (no credit card required):

Build Automated SEM Reports Today!

And that's all for now! This has been an in-depth guide on SEM reports and the KPIs you should consistently track.

I hope you enjoyed this post and, if you did, you'll definitely want to check out the following resource:

  • SEO Reports for Clients Made Easy
  • Paid Search Dashboards: Is There a Better Solution?
  • PPC ROI Tracking: Is What Your Spending Worth It?

These articles will have even more information to create better (and more profitable) SEM reports.

Start sending automated reports today

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