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So You Have a Ton of Big Data, Now What?

Collecting, storing, and managing big data can be an invaluable asset for a business; however the thought of analyzing a copious amount of data—even if it does reveal a hidden company gem—can appear to be an exhausting, time-consuming, and repetitive process. As SEER interns, we had the amazing opportunity to research our own big data keyword project to create a multi-faceted content asset. Although the journey had its fair share of trial and error, we can confidently report that we learned skills that not only allowed us to lay serious groundwork on an interactive infographic, but also enabled us to take away skills to implement when working on a variety of projects. Hoping to share a bit of our quest, we compiled a brief guide to staying sane when turning big data into a compelling story.

Stick to Strategy, Change Your Tactics

Big data can appear to be endless; it’s easy to get lost in a web of numbers that may or not be linked to a great story. Whether it’s in the beginning planning stages or when reaching a road-block in the middle of the process, don’t be reluctant to take a breather, and go back to the drawing board.  When analyzing a sea of information, it’s vital that you keep an overarching goal in mind, yet still allow for flexibility to switch up your tactics and test all possible options. Repeating this mantra, we left no method of data analysis un-turned. From formulating complex correlations between keywords to using simple word-clouds, we continuously brainstormed new ways to tell our data’s story—even if meant checking off a tactic that didn’t work. The key element to our success was to turn our “failures” into an opportunity to learn, and  then use that knowledge to shape a different plan of action.

Work Smarter Not Harder

Consistently seek out faster, and more efficient methods by pulling from the most beneficial resource: your company team. As a part of the SEER team, we have had the benefit of working with almost 100 team members who have a variety of knowledge and expertise across company divisions. Yet even with a wealth of bright people within arm’s reach, we originally started the daunting task of compiling over 650 transcripts for the big data set—alone.  After spending a week copy and pasting millions of words and hitting our heads against the wall—we decided this couldn’t continue. Reaching out to SEER’s awesome Analytics department, we sent out a quick email saying, “Hey! Does someone know how to speed this up?” From a simple message, we discovered data scraping: an amazing tool that will save you time and energy. Word of the wise: if you are spending hours conducting tedious tasks for a big data project—seek out a way to automate it.

Fresh Eyes, Fresh Perspective

After spending countless hours sifting through data, settling into a worker’s bias can be a common occurrence. The data, which has taken various steps to piece together, may not make sense to an outside reader. To ensure that our super-focused perspective didn’t limit our data’s outcome, we continuously reached out to members of our team to get a clear idea of the “bigger picture.” By bouncing ideas off of team members and reading up on related articles, we were able to pair together numerical “facts” with important context to piece together a relevant, and engaging story within the data.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Focus on the heart of the project—the data. It’s vital to create a road map—but to truly discover the most interesting and hidden facets, retain an open mind that won’t be sidelined by finding “one” piece of information. Originally our project was on a time crunch, but after diving in we discovered that the story was too big to be limited to a single element. Although it’s beneficial to divert from the route from time to time, make sure you reach the destination in the end. Numerous times we found ourselves formulating design for the finished product—when the data wasn’t finishing telling its’ story yet! With patience and detailed efforts, the data will ultimately be the core sculptor of your content and drive design.

The Best is Yet to Come

As we wrap up our summer internship today, we can proudly say that we have learned a tremendous amount of knowledge from the SEER team. During our time as SEER interns we were not only able to learn about SEO, PPC, and Analytics, but complete our own data research project from start to finish. You may be wondering—but where’s the data project that we are alluding to? It’s currently in the final design stages—stay tuned!

This article was originally published by SEER Interactive

Published: August 29, 2014

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SEER brings a wealth of knowledge that collectively spans decades of Search Marketing, SEO and Analytics experience. Our team likes to win—A LOT, and not in a trip-an-old-lady-down-a-flight-of-stairs-to-win way. Search engines are our scoreboards. We’re able to use our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channels to reach every facet of the Search and Business communities. By freely sharing best practices, strategies, and insights, we lift the industry as a whole and call out spammers, scammers and overall snake oil salesmen.

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