How To Survive In A World With No SEO Data

August 13, 2013

A world with no SEO data

The best SEOs I know approach the trade as 80 percent science and 20 percent art. Under that model, the majority of our time is spent recording, reviewing and responding to the numbers that govern our industry.  The first portion, data capture, is mostly automated, leaving the rest of our day to hem and haw over what we find. But what if we woke up tomorrow and the numbers were gone?

No data tracking. No volume estimations. No conversion projections.

Can you hear the industry-wide record scratch? Aside from the welcoming chuckles of billboard advertisers (and other marketing sects that rely more heavily on intuition than information), we would be listening to the sounds of silence. Welcome to the real world of data not provided.

Can We Recover Lost SEO Data?

The short answer is that you couldn’t. At best, we would be scraping to survive in this post-apocalyptic online marketing nightmare. Although it is not time to begin practicing our duck-and-cover bomb drills–we are not at 100 percent (not provided) yet– it is an interesting conversation for the industry. Data nerds need data. So, how would we find that information in a world without it at our fingertips?

We would have to talk to the people behind the numbers to discover the information we cannot see. Here are some SEO data recovery questions for different divisions within the company.

Sales Team

Google Analytics allows online marketers to see many trends that salespeople cannot at the day-to-day level. But, without that insight, we would have to learn about the sales process and conversion funnels from the people who know them best. Let’s go chat with the sales team.

  • How knowledgeable are new customers?
  • How long is the sales funnel?
  • Is there a common referral process?
  • How frequently do customers purchase?
  • How does the company retain customers?
  • Are there complementary products?

Marketing Team

We can see a variety of demographic information in Google Analytics, but the truth is that SEOs have always relied on the rest of the marketing team to fill in the gaps. So, aside from basic demographic and positioning questions that would begin every SEO project, here are several that would be added by our lack of data.

  • How does the product differentiate?
  • Do customers have complementary interests?
  • What topics inspire conversation?
  • What is the brand tone?
  • How long is the product lifecycle?
  • How long is the customer lifecycle?
  • What is the goal of the website?
  • How do online initiatives support overall marketing goals?

Customer Service Team

SEOs should already be familiar with the values of working closely with customer service representatives–great content does not write itself. However, there might be questions that we currently forget to ask.

  • What are frequently asked questions?
  • What are common complaints?
  • What service qualities are valued?

Once the dust settles from all of those questions to all of those internal groups, the last step is to verify that information with current customers. From experience, it does not need to be a formal focus group, but several data points provide considerable insight and stability.

I hope the takeaway is that we should be asking these questions even in the presence of data. It should also make us really thankful for easily accessible information. That chaotic space of uninformed decision making is nowhere I would like to live.

What other questions would we have to ask in this scenario? Are there any that we should be asking already?