When I first started looking at data more closely to grow my sites and define a strategy for growth, everything was way easier than it is today.
Running an effective link building campaign was easier, cheaper and offered faster results. Content marketing was more effective, content shock wasn’t even a ‘thing’.
Ah, the good old days right? Nope…
Shitty marketing was rife, especially in the search engine arena. Today it’s still much the same, but I’ve managed to sit back and refine my strategies and techniques to allow me to beat the competition… Not just that, but consistently beat the competition on a fraction of the budget.
As someone in the affiliate arena that’s been invaluable for me, not to mention as a co-owner of an SEO agency.
So what the feck am I on about anyway?
Cold hard data baby.
Growth is always achieved faster, cheaper and more consistently when you drill down into the data that’s easily available to you.
Let me take you on a journey of wisdom, through a brief common scenario that will demonstrate this.
Scenario: Beauty Blogger & Affiliate
Sarah has a beauty blog, she’s produced well over 200 pieces of content in 5 years, but she only makes $300 per month.
She’s acquired a number of mediocre links over the years, mostly to her homepage and articles that aren’t monetized.
What’s the advice you’d give her?
Most people would tell Sarah that she needs a link building campaign, some on-page changes, bla bla…
While this isn’t bad advice, it’s not the best advice.
Sarah has over 200 pages of aged content, most of which is probably useless, some of which has potential.
Let’s not forget she’s making $300.00/mo, where’s that coming from? In most cases the majority of a sites income will be made from just a handful of pages.
Is she ranking first for any of those terms making her money? What about other related terms?
Auditing Sarah’s current content with her rankings is the first thing that you should do. This data is easily available to most of us. We can use Ahrefs or SEMRush to get this data extremely quickly.
Focusing on improving existing rankings is a crucial first step for those wanting to achieve growth for their site in a way that doesn’t involve spending massive amounts of money beyond what they can expect any kind of timely ROI on.
In the case of a blogger like Sarah, odds are she doesn’t really have great on-page. So simply making some basic changes to the on-page of an aged piece of content that’s already ranking well can improve rankings dramatically, as well as expose her to brand new keywords that you’ve researched for her.
Then you repeat this process for keywords that are ranking at the bottom of the first page and anywhere on the second page. Even if that content is relatively new, or has no inbound links pointing to it. It’s extremely important to work with what you’ve got before you do anything else.
In all likelihood Sarah has dozens of pieces of content that rank for little to nothing, there may even be a lot of overlapping articles that are cannibalizing one another.
Working with a site of this size that’s not earning a lot is a dream, because you know that it’s going to be easy to combine a lot of the articles into mega-guides that you can craft a useful UX for. This creates an article that will not only rank better, but it’ll be easier to promote and thus attract more links naturally during promotion and over time.
The remaining pieces of content across the site can then be used as supporting content to internally link to the pieces of content that are that next step up in quality, the content that is monetized or simply re-purposed on the site in another format or elsewhere for marketing purposes.
There’s a lot more steps you can take before you ever need to start a link building campaign that will improve rankings and general search visibility.
These are quick wins, and we perform them for every new client at SEO AI. We also use this mindset to constantly progress our own sites, as this tactic is repeatable ad infinitum.
Set A Goal, Use Data To Achieve It
Want to know a secret? Just in the last 3 months I’ve grown one of my own sites organic keywords by just under 500% without building a single link.
The crazy part is that the site is essentially brand new, the domains never even been registered before and yet I’m fast catching sites that have been established in this niche for years.
How did I do it? By setting a goal, and collecting the right data to measure and analyze the effectiveness of the strategies I set out to achieve it.
In this case, my main goal was as you probably guessed search visibility. I want to rank in the top 100 for as much as I can. In this case, 10,000 organic keywords.
I could have published a specific amount of articles, then built links to attempt to rank them for as many keywords as possible, increasing the average volume of keywords per indexed page.
I could have created a dozen mega high quality articles with huge word counts to do the same thing.
Both of the above approaches are probably the most common approaches, or a mixture of the two.
Instead I wanted to take tap into the many advantages of publishing regularly. Initially starting out pursuing this new goal by publishing 5 articles per week. I knew precisely how much growth I was attaining in at least three key metrics that I needed to track to achieve my goal.
Keywords Per Indexed Page, Keyword Growth % and Article Growth %.
Taking stock of this once every week allowed me to see growth explode when I started to publish regularly.
Data also allowed me to see the law of diminishing returns kick in last month. Publishing 5 articles per week was becoming an expensive process for the amount of growth I was seeing. So instead I switched to publishing 3 articles per week and ensuring that I spent extra time on the keyword research and on-page parts of the process.
Once again, growth has spiked this month. At some point the same kind of issue will arise, but the data will be there to allow me to see when it does.
In fact, I look forward to the day where I’m seeing less than 1% growth per week, because I’ll know I’ve done an extremely good job and I know my wallet will be growing fatter.
When you hit that kind of level, the data is literally screaming at you to focus less on creating content at volume and instead start focusing on improving existing content and creating fewer articles that are of a quality that nobody can compete with the UX and information that you’re providing.
Going back to our scenario from earlier… I know I don’t need a lot of keywords to rank in order to make money on this site…
So I adjusted my goal accordingly, doing this backward to the way a lot of SEOs do makes far more sense. Build the volume of your organic keywords first, then use your data to help you focus on ranking more and more of those keywords progressively. That’s something I’ve learned from years of collecting and utilizing data for growth.
Most of us get into the trap of tracking a limited number of keywords for specific URLs on our sites, and that’s the one piece of data that I’ve found to be most useless over time.
Trust me, that’s not using data the right way. There’s a huge difference between using data and using it the right way.
– You need to be utilizing data in 2018 for SEO if you want the best growth possible, and the best ROI possible.
– You need to learn about better setting out your KPIs and Proxy Metrics in order to do this as not all data is equal.
– You need to use data toward helping you achieve specific goals, otherwise it’s pretty much useless.
Once you start using data the right way you’ll start to see how much of an advantage it gives you over your competitors.