Nothing in your search marketing campaign is as important as the data you collect and react on. However, there are basically two types of data that SEOs look at:
- Campaign Data
- Third Party Data
Campaign data is worth its weight in gold, but too many SEOs become blinded by third party data, and allow it to affect decision making about their marketing campaigns. Third party data is valuable as a learning tool and can help create great foundations for testing and segmenting campaign data, but at the end of the day, marketers must leave major decisions to campaign data alone.
The Internal No-Follow Discussion
Ever since SMX Advanced in 2009, when Matt Cutts made his announcement about the internal use of No-Follow changing unbeknownst to SEOs, I have heard continued opinion on the debate.
Conjecture is always good. However, what really struck me as odd was the large number of SEOs that ran out and began making wholesale changes to websites without digging into the data available to them for their own sites. They became so sold on the mathematical concept of link dampening and its relation to this change that they did not look at the websites performance on an granular basis to see how the change would affect their sites. In the end, I heard quite a few stories of SEOs having issues stemming from site changes around this issue. Was “no-follow” the culprit? I don’t know, but I do know if they based their decision on historical data, and setup proper testing to collect more data, they would not have run into these issues.
SEOmoz’s Correlation Factors
SEOMoz took a bunch of heat for putting together a great presentation (delivered by Rand at this years SMX Advanced) and post on the correlation factors in Google and Bing. Too many people spent time questioning the math behind the post, and trying to look at the SEOmoz post as some type of reverse engineering of the algorithm. What Moz was doing was creating a great piece of content for SEOs to see that in the end the one decisively clear metric that matters in search today is links, that and exact match domains are still able to kill it.
SEOs became blinded by data points suggesting that somehow .orgs rank better than .coms, but the data didn’t support that, what it did support is nominal correlations except in the place of links, which showed a true mathematical correlation to ranking.
Why didn’t the people of search simply look at this post as a significant piece of content, and then begin to dissect their own verticals for correlations based on their mathematical standards?
That type of data and analysis could provide critical campaign altering benefit.
Being Blind is Simple
The way information moves on the web it is easy to become completely focused on third party data. As consumers of media we read or view the content, discuss it, and share it. The process replicates itself in some cases, and these are where we become blinded by theory, and lose site of the reality of data at our disposal. Perception outweighs proof.
You cannot allow your inquisitive mind to win over your analytical mind. If you are running your own business online or working for clients, there is too much money at stake to base decisions on anything but relevant data .
How You Should React to Third Party Data
This isn’t to say that third party data is useless. It becomes useful in a balanced marketing approach. Basically you should use third party data as a catalyst for testing and campaign data segmentation to find the answers to your particular marketing issues.
Utilize analytics and testing to make large scale marketing decisions and not information collected elsewhere, because at the end of the day the effects will be hitting your pocket.