When special guest JR Oakes, Senior Director of Technical SEO Research at Adapt Partners, joined Site Strategics CEO Erin Sparks and Digital Media Director Tom Brodbeck for Episode 308 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast to find out why SEOs should learn to love data and leverage it to their advantage, here’s what we learned
JR Oakes: His Background and Experience
JR currently works as Senior Director, Technical SEO Research at Adapt Partners. He works with clients on a wide range of fronts including technical issues, performance, CTR, crawl-ability, content, and data analysis. He works with marketing and SEO team members at enterprise clients to help them prioritize, make business cases, and understand their audience. Adapt Partners does a ton of novel data analysis, data mining, data blending and so on to help organize, develop, and refine content and experience to enhance search satisfaction. JR is also one of the co-organizers of the Raleigh SEO Meetup and is an author for Search Engine Land.
Once upon a time, JR was an architectural glass artist for about ten years but found himself building WordPress websites on weekends, so when the opportunity came up to do that work for a company for significantly more pay and the flexibility of working from home with the birth of his first child, he took it. About a year into it, he was asked to head up the company’s SEO team. He politely declined, but they insisted. He didn’t want to give up the development work he enjoyed so much, but he learned to love not only the SEO work, but also the SEO community of people he found to be among the most genuine, sharing, giving people he has ever met. At Adapt he found an opportunity to work more with data analytics and machine learning while combining both his expertise in development and technical SEO. And he still sticks to his mantra of creating value for customers.
Leveraging Data in SEO Avoids Not-Seeing-the-Forest-for-the-Trees Syndrome
The key task is figuring out how to transition the queries and words used into things that have value on websites. Anyone can go into Google Search Console and pull a report that gives you a thousand queries, but using the API to create a different kind of data pull can give you much more queries, all the way up until not receiving any impressions. This can result in pulling hundreds-of-thousands and even millions of queries over a 365-day period. That, of course, is too much to manually parse through, so we developed a clustering algorithm that automatically finds the categories based on word analysis and clusters the queries into those categories. This allows you to get away from looking at the level of individual keywords and phrases to looking at categories – you’re getting a big-picture analysis rather than being stuck at too low a level of detail like individual keywords (the metaphor of not seeing the forest for the trees applies here). If you then take this into a click-through analysis by category, it can help identify areas that need further study to find out what’s going on with your click-through rates.
Example Use Case for Data Analytics in SEO Work
The kind of ad-hoc analysis mentioned above can really help prioritize SEO work. For example, a company might decide it wants to improve click-through rates of various titles it uses in the next month. Running an analysis as described will then give the company an itemized list of all the titles across the entire website prioritized by which ones have the most potential for improvement. The company can then choose which titles to adjust, benchmark them, make changes, and then see what impact the changes had the next month. This can result in showing the opportunities you have for precision tweaks and improvements to your SEO. And by developing these tools, you’re automating a big chunk of work that would just be impossible to do manually. Then you’ll have the time you need to focus on big-picture analysis and strategy.
Connect with JR Oakes, Senior Director, Technical SEO Research at Adapt Partners
Twitter: @jroakes (https://twitter.com/jroakes)
SEO meetup (Raleigh, NC) Twitter: @BEERandSEO (https://twitter.com/BEERandSEO)
Adapt Partners website: https://adaptpartners.com
Adapt Partners Twitter: @AdaptPartners (https://twitter.com/adaptpartners)
Adapt Partners Facebook: @AdaptPartners (https://www.facebook.com/AdaptPartners/)
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