How data science can drive SEO strategy
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This article was contributed by Atul Jindal, web design and marketing specialist.
Data science is trending among modern ways of digital marketing. It helps companies make data-driven decisions. Each two out of three marketers believe these decisions are superior to their non-data-driven counterparts. Data science magnifies different areas of digital marketing, making these processes more effective and less time-consuming. Search engine optimization is one of these processes.
Traditionally, SEO relied on assumption-based best practices. And it still does. However, with the presence of massive amounts of data, it doesn’t make sense why marketers won’t use it to streamline their SEO efforts. Data improves SEO by helping marketers see what past strategies have worked and enabling them to predict what will work in the future.
In this article, I’ll share some data-driven SEO strategies so you can improve your SEO efforts with data.
How to use data science to boost your SEO
Data science uses modern tools, technologies and practices to analyze large amounts of data and extract meaningful information from it. Data itself is nothing but numbers – it’s the science that makes it insightful and helps companies make informed decisions. Data science makes data the valuable resource it is considered today.
Data science can also boost your SEO by helping you make more data-driven decisions. Here are some data-driven SEO strategies you can incorporate into your SEO campaign:
Customer Behavior Analysis
Customer behavior analytics is a process that helps you find and analyze your audience’s data so you can learn more about your audience and build highly targeted buyer personas. Customer behavior analysis can help you gain critical customer demographics that can drive not just your SEO strategy, but your entire marketing campaign.
The search engine landscape has changed a lot in the past ten years. You can no longer reach the top of the SERP by cramming a bunch of keywords into your content and creating keyword-heavy metadata. Search engines now give weight to the experience your website provides. Do the users find it useful? Are they happy with it? They want to make sure that the website they rank perfectly matches the user’s search intent. That’s why you should take the time to understand your target audience and know what they’re looking for when they type a particular keyword.
In addition, you need to make sure that your website answers the questions that your users have a hard time finding. In short, you have to be intuitive and proactive with your solutions. That’s why you need customer behavior analysis to better understand your audience and shape your SEO strategy accordingly. This will help you build a website that aligns with the user’s search intent and answers their query or problems in the best possible way, ultimately providing the kind of UX that Google is looking for to rank websites.
Customer behavior analysis helps you be relevant to users, which in turn boosts your SEO metrics. Mario deal, an SEO expert, was tasked with increasing traffic on a health and fitness website. He optimized the company’s website to make the headlines more relevant to the users, increased the overall relevance of the website and implemented a lot of other SEO techniques. As a result, the site started generating 4x the traffic of their competitors. So never ignore the power of data-driven relevance that comes from a thorough analysis of customer behavior.
Improve website user experience
As mentioned earlier, the most recent updates from Google indicated that they tend to rank the websites with good UX higher than those with poor UX.
In the previous section, we talked about optimizing a website’s experience through content. But content is only one aspect of the entire website experience spectrum. Content works to increase the usefulness of the website. You need usability to really improve your website’s reputation in the eyes of your users and the search engines. The usability of your website is determined by how easy it is for users to navigate through it. Therefore, it largely relies on web design.
Aside from usability, website performance is another important part that contributes to the overall experience. The probability that a user will bounce back from your website increases by 32% as your loading time goes from one to three seconds. Additionally, 48% of users are annoyed when a website is not optimized for mobile. These variables are some of the most important elements that determine the user experience of your website. And with a data-driven approach, you can optimize them all to improve your UX.
With data-driven design, you can develop an intuitive web design that responds to your user’s questions and prominently presents the solution. Data-driven design is a design approach that builds on user data and guides your web design decisions. This approach improves the UX of the website by ensuring that it aligns with the user’s search intent, is easy to navigate, and quickly solves the user’s problems.
Apart from that, you can monitor your web analytics to discover website performance data and see if your website is taking too long to load. Google Analytics is a very valuable tool to make data-driven decisions; for example, it can tell you if most of your users are from mobile devices. With this data, you can optimize and optimize your website loading speed for mobile devices to ensure that you leave no stone unturned when trying to improve your UX, and consequently improve your website ranking.
Track and optimize user behavior metrics
Google representatives have denied any correlation between user behavior stats and rankings. But we can all agree that Google uses a website’s UX when determining its ranking. Therefore, I believe it should give some importance to user behavior statistics. How else would it determine the page experience?
There are many different variables that search engines like Google can rely on when assessing a website’s UX. These metrics include CTR, dwell time, bounce rate, time on site, pages per visit, repeat visits, etc. Track these metrics and compare them to industry benchmarks to identify areas for improvement. Then use your audience analytics data to optimize for (potentially) better search engine rankings.
Neil Patel notes, “If your CTR is high and your users actually spend more time on your page, Google infers that users find the information on your web page useful, thus [optimizing] it is an effective on-page SEO strategy. Google will then push your rankings to the top.”
SEO Competitive Analysis
Competitive analysis involves collecting SEO data from your competitor’s websites and then using this data to drive your own SEO strategy.
An effective SEO competitor analysis will give you an edge in doing your own SEO. You no longer need to implement strategies based on assumptions and optimize from there. You can extract real, proven strategies from your competitor’s data, implement them, and get going.
The first step to conducting a successful competitive analysis is identifying your competitors. Then you can use various tools such as SEMrush and Ahrefs to conduct a thorough page and backlink analysis and complete your competitive research. Generate a competitor analysis report based on this research and develop your SEO strategy based on this report.
Data-driven content marketing and SEO
Content marketing and SEO have always been closely linked. But the lines between the two have blurred even further as search engines become more content-driven.
Data-driven content in SEO brings magic to your marketing strategy. Conversions and user engagement are important ranking factors for organic results. Almost 64% of online visitors expect personalized engagement as part of their conversions. You can have an SEO optimized website, but unless it is backed by user-centric and valuable content, it is useless. Therefore, you need to create content that resonates with the users. And you need data for that.
Data-driven content marketing builds on customer preferences and helps you deliver content tailored to the needs and interests of your audience. It improves the performance of your website content and reduces your reliance on assumptions when developing a content strategy.
Knowing the type of content your users prefer, the tone they like, and other granular details will help you create content that engages your prospects and drives user behavior.
Data-driven link building for SEO
Link building is another SEO strategy that aims to get high quality backlinks from other high authority domains on the internet. It aims to build the authority of your website in the eyes of search engines. Despite all the updates, Google still attaches great importance to the quality and quantity of backlinks that a website has, so backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors.
Similarly, you can use data to improve the efficiency of your link building campaign. There are many tools that provide data for very valuable backlinking opportunities. This data reduces the tedious outreach process and provides a list of websites that have opportunities to get good backlinks. When you explore your competitors’ link profiles, you can identify which links may be the most relevant, have the most value to grow faster organically.
This data-driven backlinking approach can boost your link building efforts, increasing your SEO results. Trond Nyland, founder and CEO of Mattress Review, wanted to boost his website SEO. He implemented a data-driven backlink strategy and discovered data about the websites that offered high-quality backlink opportunities.
With his data-driven approach, he quickly acquired 170 backlinks from high-potential websites, significantly more than the eight backlinks he got from his non-data-driven backlinking approach. Quick math tells us that data-driven backlinking was almost over 400% more accurate than non-data-driven. What more evidence do you need to start using data to underpin your backlink strategy?
The benefits of data science for SEO are undeniable. It can improve the user experience of the website by inferring insights from customer behavior and preference data. Plus, it can give your SEO efforts a head start by extracting meaningful information from your competitor analysis data and increasing the efficiency of your link building process. However, keep in mind that the benefits of data science depend on the accuracy of your data and how you choose to analyze it.
Therefore, pay special attention when selecting your data sources. Never rely on a single source and analyze and implement quantitative data using qualitative information and heuristics to ensure your results are accurate.
Atul Jindal is a specialist in web design and marketing.
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