PDF reports is a feature that some users are asking for some time. I have added that to SheerSEO’s task list, but always gave it a low priority. So people kept asking, and I kept trying to convince myself, that it is not important. I recently heard that request again and again, so, I had to admit, that maybe, it is more important than I think. Hrm, hate to be wrong.
First, I want to explain, why printable reports makes no sense to me. Then, please tell me what you think.
So, once upon a time, before we had good online SEO softwares, people used printable SEO reports. Those usually were in Excel, Word and PDF formats. The SEO, would sit with his desktop application, pressed all the buttons, and came up with a 40 pages report in PDF. Then, he went to the client and showed him the big book he created. That surely made a lot of impression on some clients, especially the ones that had no clue about computers, and all that Internet talk. The funnier version (or sad, depending on who you ask), was the manual reports. That required the SEO to go to Google & Yahoo and look for the domain’s position for 100 search terms. He would then put his findings in a Word/Excel/PDF document, and formatted it to look professional. That probably took about half day of work.
That is all very nice, but we don’t live in that world anymore. Most business owners (well, at least the ones that have a website) know what a computer is, and they saw a few reports in their life. They see reports when they inspect their bank account online, when they see their statistics on Google Analytics, and probably some more reports that are related to their field of business.
So, since the ones wanting this feature are SEOs, I’ll present my view on printable reports with regards to SEOs. Here is what sucks about printable reports (as opposed to online reports):
1. You can’t edit the dates. The dates are whatever the creator of the reports decided.
2. If you try to see historical data, you’ll come up with hundreds of pages.
3. What about all the wasted paper?! The client isn’t going to keep that report anywhere, so why print it?
4. How are you going to give the printed reports to the client, meet him?! Isn’t that a waste of time?
5. Availability – since the client threw away his 40 pages report, they are not available. Online reports are available from every computer, every platform, even from cell phone!
OK, so what am I missing here? Why is it important to have PDF reports?