Ayima is proud to have sent along two of our very own to speak at London Search Marketing Expo (SMX London) and to say that both talks were well received would be an understatement. Janaya, from our London office was on the panel of the first morning, presenting a talk entitled: “SEO Periodic Table: How not to get lost in data and lose track of the overall goal”. Janaya Wilkins sits on our SEO team of 20 highly-skilled technical SEO experts here at Ayima. She has vast experience in developing strategies for a number of blue chip organisations.
The idea that data should drive SEO strategy is not a new concept. However, being faced with extremely large data sets, and having to draw important actionable tasks from it can be a very daunting, but necessary exercise. The overall message was to follow a framework in order to be proactive, not reactive. You need to factor the ebbs and flows of the market into your SEO campaign plan. An SEO campaign needs to be sustainable and long-term, equipped with a strategy and plan to protect your site from the evolving external environment.
Janaya provided some practical tips and recommendations to avoid falling down the data rabbit hole.
1. Define goals & success criteria: Start with the end in mind. Whether that be ROI, rankings and traffic, backlinks clean up, or reputation management. Know what you want to achieve and then set out a clear criteria for success.
2. Know your tools & data: There are numerous tools available that are available. From backlinks, content, social and various other suppliers vying for your attention, it is very easy to get bogged down. Make sure you know the data sources you have access to. Learn your tools; if you don’t know how to use your tools, you’ll spend hours or days trying to learn. Have a clear criteria for looking at your data and only use the data you need (instead of analysing a massive data set to complete a simple task). We, at Ayima, have our own in-house tools, but Janaya outlined some useful 3rd party tools here.
3. Don’t get sidetracked: When looking at large data sets, if you notice an interesting pattern in the data that is not in line with your project, make a note of it and come back to it at a later stage. Otherwise you’re likely to just skim the data, and get completely tangled up in all of it.
4. Plan & manage: Take your overall goal and split it into manageable chunks. Janaya mentioned some tools that are available to make managing SEO projects much easier, one being Teamwork PM – a central place for task management, prioritisation, timelines and reminders.
5. Be methodical: Establish a framework for the process; that way you know what you’re doing and most importantly everyone else involved will know too. If there is a problem, get to the source of it, but have a plan. Research, analyse data, collate findings, and hypothesise before taking action. Don’t change everything at once. Change one thing, then test. Then record results, then try something else, then test, and so on.
6. Stick to the plan: You have a plan in place and now you need to stick to it. Management throughout the process will enable you to do this with ease! Follow the structure and plan that was set out. Trust the process, it’s all based on your own decisions that were based on hard data from your initial analysis.
7. Measure, monitor & refine: Your analytics, rankings and market intelligence will be reporting against all of the KPIs you set at the beginning, with your goals and success criteria. It’s important to know the limitations around your reporting and factor those in (e.g. (not provided) in Google Analytics). So you need to report on the more significant performance metrics: YoY traffic and ROI, and focus on incremental results. Keep a track of what worked and what didn’t and constantly adapt and refine your campaign. Revisit goals vs. results, and revisit criteria for success vs. activity.
Janaya closed the session summarising that we, as SEOs, get bombarded with different things everyday: new techniques, updates, news, people telling us what they think is the next best thing in SEO. It’s easy to get bogged down with all of this data and new information everyday. But if you have a plan and you know what your personal success looks like, you won’t get side tracked or bogged down in all this data.