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What’s the Best Way to Utilize Search Data?

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Search data is some of the most detailed consumer trends and behavioral data you’ll find anywhere, but that depth can make it difficult to know where to start.

Get the most out of your data by asking the right questions and aligning metrics to strategic objectives.

Data Without an Objective is Just an Extra Expense

We’ve all heard the saying that what gets measured, gets managed.

These days it seems like everything is getting measured, but not so much managed.

With the cost of collecting and storing data decreasing, you’d think we’d be able to better deliver on the promise that more data equals more value.

Oftentimes though, having too much data can result in too little information, with hundreds of fields of input and no clear understanding of where to look for answers. And even if you do know where to look, data from different systems rarely speak the same language, making integrating data sets to surface those novel insights, difficult.

To make the most of your data without chasing charts and graphs down rabbit holes,  it’s important to take several steps back; before even opening up a data set or your business intelligence tool of choice, you’re going to have to do some detective work.

To Add Value, Ask The Right Questions

In most cases, collecting the data is easy. Asking the right questions to extract actionable insights is hard.

Before identifying what data to use you’ll want to first start with a strategic objective.


In order to do this, analysts need a comprehensive understanding of all the relevant drivers (consumer / market factors) and desired outcomes (revenue, brand awareness, etc.). These become the inputs of your analysis and direct you to which data sources you’ll need, ensuring that you aren’t analyzing any data points that don’t directly lead to business outcomes.

Once you complete your investigation and understand the drivers and outputs, you can then map the question you’re trying to answer to the data sources that will help you answer it.

For example, if a client is looking to understand how they should incorporate branded language and slogans from offline campaigns into their landing pages:

  • Drivers: Cost, Placement, Frequency, Messaging
  • Outputs: Search Volume, Branded Traffic, Conversions, Digital Mentions

We now know to include those dimensions and metrics in our analysis and what exports to use, rather than starting with ALL the data and THEN determining what questions to answer.

When we’re working with clients to understand their business challenges and what data we can use to overcome them, it’s not enough to simply ask “what are you struggling with.” The response is usually unnerving silence and blank stares. You have to go a little deeper. To do so, we like to use the following questions:

  • What would you like to know about your [client, consumer, target audience] that you don’t right now?
  • How do you see your industry changing? What’s driving that?
  • How do you create value for people beyond the products or services you sell?
  • What is the most pressing issue on your mind right now and why is now the right time to tackle it?
  • What are you doing differently this year to hit your revenue goals?
  • What element(s) are you least confident in regarding your plan to meet your revenue goals?
  • What are the underlying assumptions we are making about XYZ? Have we ever challenged those assumptions?

Business Intelligence in Digital Marketing

You don’t gain a competitive advantage by looking at the same data as everyone else or by looking at it through the same lens.

When companies use SEO data for just organic strategy or PPC data just for PPC strategy, initiatives in the marketplace look ubiquitous.

Even if you don’t have access to terabytes of consumer data to help make decisions, you’re sitting on a goldmine – search data. Search data provides the truest view of your customers and prospects. Google incentivizes searchers to type in their exact needs, wants, and worries and you have access to this data to enhance the customer experience and improve decision making.

It seems simple, but framing organic search outside of the context of SEO can earn you a seat at different tables and position you as a data partner.

  • Organic Keywords: How are people discovering [Brand] and deciding to use [Brand]?
  • Search Volume for: How common are problems and how popular are products based on the number of people searching each month, each year, or by location?

Here are some examples of ways we’ve used search data to tackle larger business questions from the C-Suite.

  • Market Sizing: What is the Organic market size for [Brand] and what opportunities exist to capture more market share?
  • Technological Advancement: What competitors are auto-creating content with artificial intelligence? How can we stay efficient and produce quality content?
  • Traditional Media Efficiency: What TV spots, and what placements, most efficiently drive organic, PPC, and direct traffic and conversions to [Brand]?
  • Brand Campaign Integration: How well is brand language from offline-campaigns incorporated into [Brand’s] digital experience? How should [Brand] utilize brand language on landing pages for optimal performance?
  • Affiliate Value: Who are the most valuable third party websites to partner with to ensure holistic search coverage? Can we negotiate the affiliate’s contract based on coverage?
  • Location Expansion: Based on Google My Business results and local rankings, what regions or locales should [Brand] expand to?
  • Product Naming Conventions: What should you name new products based on how people search colloquially for that product or service that you’re selling?

Leverage Search Data in Unique, Powerful Ways

It takes more than having access to “big data” to solve your pressing business problems. Results from the CMO Survey found that only 1.9% of marketing leaders are confident that their companies have the right talent to leverage marketing analytics.

To realize the true value of your channel data, hone your consulting skills, ask better questions, and start with clear objectives before diving in.

Published: December 28, 2020

Source: Reprinted with permission from SEER Interactive

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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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