With the summer winding down in the UK, we were back online for September’s edition of the RemoteSEO Meetup. This time, we focused on one of the most essential parts of our jobs that is often overlooked: Using data and reporting to drive decision making in SEO.
As a special, one-off, we have made this RemoteSEO Meetup available to everyone to watch. You can find it on YouTube here.
Steph Whatley – Blue Array
Steph is an SEO Manager at Blue Array, and our ‘go-to’ for all things data and reporting. She is a seasoned speaker, with ReadingSEO and Women in Tech SEO meetups under her belt, as well as a prime-time spot on the main stage at BrightonSEO in 2019.
In her talk, Steph shared her advice on the right types of metrics to focus on and how to use that data to shape your actions going forward.
Key takeaways from Steph’s talk included:
- Don’t be seduced by vanity metrics. Keyword rankings, backlinks and huge numbers are not the be-all-and-end-all of SEO performance. Having a #1 ranking for an irrelevant keyword won’t do you any favours, nor does it guarantee you the level or quality of traffic that will actually meet your business goals. Instead, focus on the metrics that matter. Bonus tip: Use absolute figures as well as percentage differences to demonstrate change. It can be misleading to say we had a 300% increase in clicks, when that may only equate to an additional 30!
- Review holistically. Google doesn’t rank your website based on a single element. It looks at things more broadly, and so should you! Blend data from as many different sources as you need to drive your strategy. For example, look for correlations between page speed vs. rankings, or impressions vs. seasonality. To make this easier, use segments where possible to understand more about your users and how they interact with the website.
- Tell a story with data. Don’t just take the stats on their own – you need to understand where they sit in the context of the business and the website. Taking the analogy of a data story, think of the metrics as your introduction, the context as your main chapter, and the actions as your epilogue. You need all three to effect change.
Nick Wilsdon – Vodafone Partner Markets
Nick has worked in digital marketing for almost 20 years, and is now a consultant with Vodafone Partner Markets across 40 countries. He has a particular interest in data-led marketing and how to use reporting to drive meaningful change at all levels of business.
In his talk, Nick shared how to get decision makers to do what we want them to, by communicating and sharing data with them in the right way.
The key takeaways from Nick’s talk included:
- Know your audience. If you want data to drive decision making, it has to appeal to the target audience. Read the annual report from your company to understand what’s important, and then align your reporting KPIs to that using the appropriate level of detail. Done well, you can then use data strategically to meet business goals that go far beyond SEO objectives.
- Never underrate good design. If you want people to make decisions, your data has to look good. Even Google knows that beautiful reports get more action: “Your data is beautiful. Use it. Unlock the power of your data with interactive dashboards and beautiful reports that inspire smarter business decisions.” Learn the basics of data visualisation, and let design skills become your secret weapon.
- Embrace data democratisation. Data should not be owned by any one group. Everyone, at all levels of an organisation, should have access to it to make it useful. Use tools that make data portable – that you can export and blend with other forms of data.
- Bonus tip: Create an ad-hoc dashboard that shows search console keyword data filtered by questions. Regularly share this with your support team to help them provide your customers with better answers to their questions.
Anna Lewis – Polka Dot Data
Anna is a Google Analytics expert with over a decade’s experience in SEO, PPC and Web Analytics. Following various digital marketing roles, Anna launched Polka Dot Data – a web analytics agency that helps ecommerce brands to understand and use their data more efficiently.
Anna’s talk focused on how to make your life easier by focusing on what really matters, whether that’s metrics, processes or technologies.
The key points of Anna’s talk included:
- Track the RIGHT numbers. Measure what matters and focus on the numbers you can actually influence. Start with the business goals before developing your own objectives that drive trackable key results. Using the OKR system, an example might be “I will [objective] which will be measured by [key result]. To measure this result, I need to know [KPIs], so I need to add [tracking plan].”
- Automate the hell out of life. Spend longer doing the actions that have the most benefit, rather than spending too much time knee deep in data. Understand which parts of reporting can be automated. If something can’t be automated, do you need it? How can you speed it up? Can it be integrated better?
- Utilise Data Technologies. Use Google Tag Manager to track much more than just your key metrics, product data, ecommerce journeys and conversion pixels. You can even use it to implement key SEO technologies, like schema, canonicals and cookies. Google Tag Manager should be your best friend!
That just about wraps up our September event – what a great session! Thank you to everyone who joined us and asked questions, and a special thanks to our panel for sharing their top tips.
Our October meetup will be focused on using keyword research to form intent optimisation strategies. You won’t want to miss it, so make sure you’re following the event on Twitter for details on how to secure your spot.
See you next time!