Combining SEO Data to Make Smarter Marketing Decisions — Whiteboard Friday

So let’s do priority first because this is the big one.


Firstly, we’re going to take things off in the canonicals. Suppose that we have some canonical problems across our website. Let’s say we run a big e-commerce site and we have some canonical problems on our category pages, on our product pages.

How do we decide the priority in which they should be solved? We can raise them as individual tickets. We certainly shouldn’t raise them all at one go.

How do we segment them up? The easiest answer for many technical problems is traffic, is to join it with your traffic data. By joining in with, for example, either the organic sessions or the conversion data that you’re going to get from analytics, you can immediately weight these. You can’t necessarily weight how likely Google is to fix your canonical, but because you don’t know that, weighting by the traffic that those pages and templates receive is going to be a pretty good way to get some prioritization data into the tickets that you’re making.

So that’s the first one. We join our technical things, and we join it with some source of traffic in order to get some prioritization.

Picking your content

The second one is probably one that people are most common with, which is when you’re sitting there, and you’re writing content, you need to pick which content piece you’re going to go do next, and often the way we do that is we join with third-party metrics. We go and join, and we get things like Search Volume, and we get things like Difficulty that you’d find in Moz. That sort of stuff you’re going to pull into here, and it’s going to help you prioritize.

But you can also pull in other parts when you’re sitting there and going through. You can quite easily pull in rank where, for example, you could see what do the featured snippets look like; what do the search features that appear on those particular keywords look like, and that might cause you to change your priority for what you’re going for.

You could pull in AdWords, and that’s going to, again, give you another different sense of, essentially, if your business is spending a huge amount of money on a keyword, you might be more likely to write some content for it.

Technical problems

Hopping on to a third example, suppose you’ve got another technical problem. This time, we’ve got a dropdown on our website, a language dropdown, and we’re fairly certain from crawling the website that it’s creating an infinite loop screen with an infinite number of pages.

But how important is this? Obviously, an infinite number of pages sounds very bad, and we’d certainly slap it a big old A in a tech audit.

But if we joined with another piece of data, for example, logs, we can see what Google is actually doing. And at that point, we might discover that yes, this is an immediate problem. Google has already found and crawled and is currently crawling a lot of these pages.

Or we might just discover that no, actually, it’s really not visited any of them at all, and this is a problem, but it’s maybe not a problem we have to solve right now. We’ve got a bit of a window. It doesn’t need to go into this sprint or the next immediate one.

As you can see, all of these things change order as we add in these other data sources.

Removing pages

Let’s speed through a couple of other ones here. So, suppose we’re removing pages from our website. We’re trying to decide which pages should be removed.

Again, we join back with analytics, but we don’t just pull in organic sessions, for example, because if you’re trying to decide which pages to remove, that’s sort of the loaded bit when it comes to stripping down and thinning out a website. Remove could mean no index. It could mean 404. It could mean redirect to another page.

Whether or not and how you should behave to those things partly matters to organic traffic, but also all traffic matters. I’ve absolutely seen people go, “Yes, this page should be 404’ed because it gets no organic sessions.” It doesn’t get any organic sessions, but the email team keeps sending traffic to it, so they absolutely shouldn’t 404 it. It should be no index or the equivalent.

By joining in multiple different metrics that you’re going to get from one source, it’s going to, again, give you some insight into the prioritization of it and how quickly you should go about doing it.

Ranking fluctuations

Take on one in the middle. The big thing that you get with Google Search Console (Search Console) is you get all of your keywords. The big thing that you get with rank is you get a far richer SERP model than you would get just from Search Console, which gives us a very reduced SERP model.

However, you have to pay for rank data, and you don’t have to pay for Search Console data. This typically means most people track a subset of their ranks, and they track, they have all of their keyword data or as much as Search Console will give you over in Search Console.

Where this falls down is when you’re trying to look at things, perhaps you’re looking into your Search Console, and you’re going, “Okay, great, I know that we lost traffic, but I don’t quite know why, and I’m struggling to unpick how rank is being put through in Search Console.”

If we’ve joined in with our rank tracking data here, we’re immediately going to get all that information about the SERP feature, for example, that are popping up. And because all of those are just naturally rolled up into rank and Search Console, it’s super illuminating to have joined your rank tracking data with your Search Console data.

And you’re not going to have tracked all of them, but you’re going to have tracked a representative sample. And you can say, “Okay, perhaps all of this entire section of the product has gone down, but we can see at least on 100 of those examples.” That is because Google has gone and changed the product snippet layout as it did relatively recently in the US, and that has caused this other one to happen.

Paid vs. organic

On to our final example here, joining together your AdWords with Search Console can also be super valuable, and joining your AdWords and your Search Console and your rank, these are all things that play in the keyword world, but they give you different bits of data.

So again, your rank gives us that rich SERP data, and we can get far better things and things we can use to model click-through rate better. We could get rank, but we could also get pixel height.

And then we’ve got AdWords, which tells us how much our business is spending. At a really basic level, we can just go, “Okay, great, we don’t rank very well for this keyword, but we are spending a ton of money on it. So let’s go refocus our effort. Let’s have a little sit-down with the team and try to work out how we can bump those keywords up.” Again, it’s changing our prioritization.

But we can even do more beyond that. Once we have all that data, we can start to change this in other ways. We can say, “Okay, great, we’ve got AdWords data and we’ve got our Search Console data. We can find the difference where we’re performing very well organically.” But maybe we’re still spending a ton of AdWords money and go, “Okay, can we lower the amount of ads that we’re putting there and instead spend that ad money just somewhere else on other keywords where we don’t organically rank as well because we’ll probably pick up more of that than we will relative to other keywords?”

So that’s priority.

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