I have said it before now, and most data enthusiasts agree that the term “Big Data” is difficult to define. In addition, it’s worth repeating my simple definition of Big Data as any data sets too large to process using conventional methods like an Excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint or text processors, but instead, requires parallel software running on thousands of servers to be handled. Most of us interact with Big Data, whether we’re aware or not. My favorite example is: every time you use the Internet, you use Big Data. Many – and that is including me – have talked about how you can use Big Data to improve your business overall. However, have you taken the time to consider how Big Data can help improve your website’s SEO? Other than following necessary SEO best practices to your best ability, it’s important to try to find creative ways to enhance your efforts for better results – and to try to stay ahead of your competitors. In this post, I’ll be showing you how Big Data can be taken advantage of in improving your website’s SEO. The most important part of using Big Data in business generally is not really in the tools, but in finding creative ways to gain insights to help you make smart business decisions. You cannot however get these useful insights without the necessary tools. Therefore, you need to keep an open mind with the various tools available, and be flexible in their use as long as you get the data you need to grow your business. Your aim with SEO should be:
- Identifying your audience and knowing what exactly they’re interested in
- Using this knowledge to position yourself strategically so you can be easily found via organic search
I’ll break the first point up into various stages and give you the Big Data tools that will help you at each stage.
1. Identify Your Biggest Competitors
What better way is there to know who your audience is than spying your competitors so that you can identify whom they’re targeting? Fortunately, this step is the easiest, and the Big Data tool we’ll be using – also the easiest to use – is Google Search. You’re probably already familiar with this tool. Simply open Google in your browser and type in what you think your primary keyword is. Do not worry if you’re not sure about your primary keyword at this stage; just write whatever comes to your mind, we’ll adjust that in the next steps. Write out the top 10 websites in the organic (non-paid) section of the search results. These are your biggest organic competitors. Next, look at the paid ads above and beside the organic results. Write down the top 10 too. If they’re not up to 10, check the next pages. If you cannot find any paid ad, avoid that keyword! It’s probably not profitable.
2. Identify Your Ideal Keywords – And More Competitors
Next, you want to be sure you have the right keyword(s) – and really nail down your best competitors. The Big Data tool to use here is SEMRush. It’s a paid SEO tool, but you can use the free version for this step. Robert Carter of Your Virtual Office London succintly explaned how to use it in a recent webinar: “Type in your biggest known competitor’s website (or yours) and you’ll be able to see a list of competitors in the same niche. You can then identify their most important keywords to determine the ones that are related to your business.” That’s simple yet powerful stuff. Other Big Data tools you can further use to nail your keywords at this stage are Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Amazon, EBay, and ClickBank. These will help you get more keywords and know what exactly your prospects want.
3. Identify Your Ideal Audience
It’s time to determine whom your audience really is and where to find them. Know the specific geography of your ideal audience, their age, their interests and whether they’re consumers or other businesses. If for instance, you’re providing QuickBooks inventory management, your ideal audience will be other businesses, not individuals. Examples of other Big Data tools you can also use are SimilarWeb, Alexa, QuantCast, Compete, and so on. Let us start with QuantCast. Bring out your list of competitors and enter each into QuanCast’s search box. Hit search, and you’ll get a lot of very helpful information, including demographic, audience interest (what they search for and sites they visit) and geographic information. Ensure you click on each of these tabs for deeper insights. Go to Alexa for more data. Here you’ll be able to identify your competitor’s “Top Keywords from Search Engines” and the sites that link to your competitors. Therefore, if there are any gaps from the QuantCast search, Alexa should fill them up. Use SimilarWeb to find out where your audience is hanging out; places they frequent online, using your competitor’s URL. You can click on the “Referrals” button to reveal the site’s inbound and outbound traffic; all of the sites visitors went to just before coming to the competitor’s site, and those they went to immediately after leaving the site. This will give you a lot of valuable information about your audience, and reveal more competitors on which you can spy.
4. Optimize Your Site.
Now you know who your audience really is, what they want, and where you can find them. Simply use this information to optimize your site for search engines. Ethically place the keywords you discovered around your site; in your Meta tags and web content, not just texts written on images. Search engine spiders cannot read what is written on images. Therefore, if for example, you have an infographic comparing business phone solutions, it’s smart that when you upload it, you also write sufficient text on the webpage about the content of the infographic. Otherwise, the infographic is not optimized for search engines and your ideal audience may never find it on Google. It is also important to make sure that your site is designed for a wide range of mobile and desktop devices. According to a recent study from this web design agency, over 60% of company websites that aren’t adequately optimized for mobile will suffer in the SERPs. In addition, you can focus on where your ideal audience hangs out. If it’s a forum, get active; if it’s a blog, see if you can guest-post on it, and so on. Now you see using Big Data is all about gaining insightful, near-perfect information you can use to improve your business, even as far as SEO is concerned. Go out now and let Big Data work for you.