Are the SEO Tools Really Offering Helpful Data?
Data-driven SEO veteran Ori Zlibershtein joins the podcast to share his take on how SEOs use data:
The problem of too many visuals inside of SEO tools
Why overlying on SEO tools is not a good idea
How to best use the data you get from SEO tools
We go deep into how the over-abundance of SEO tools and the type of data they provide might actually make things harder when doing SEO. While the SEO tools are great, they do damper the perceived need to critically think and problem-solve. That, of course, can mean SEOs are missing big issues and/or spending their time on things that are not that important.
Are SEO Tools Giving Us Good Information?
SEO tools are everywhere now and they're really sophisticated. But that's not how things always were. Back in the day, you had tools that scrapped your site and churned out some tables and spreadsheets. There were no super-shiny graphs and all sorts of colorful representations of your data.
Now, there's nothing wrong with data being represented visually. The problem comes from the SEO tools trying to throw as much data as possible at you in order to come off as being a "total and comprehensive software solution."
The result of this is all sorts of issues and warnings that SEO tools point you towards that very often have no actual impact or real significance. If you follow the tools down this path you could very well spend your time working on issues that will not help the site grow and will not move the needle on the site's earnings in any real way.
The Problem with SEO Tool Metrics
All sorts of SEO tools come with homegrown metrics that can be helpful but are not inherently accurate nor inherently significant metrics. Often, people take these metrics as being the gospel when they are not. These metrics can point to a trend or offer a general understanding of where things stand. They are not absolutes.
Should You Be Careful Before I Choose an SEO Tool?
Yes. Often, the SEO tools offer the same information just with a different visual or from a slightly different perspective. When you decide to use a tool you need to make sure you understand what's really there. You might think that there are all sorts of various insights available when in reality the tool fundamentally does 3 or 4 different things but has dozens of reports that give this information in various forms.
In such cases, you don't really have a robust tool. You have a tool that does the same 3 or 4 things but offers it to you across multiple visuals. Is that really helpful? It might be but it really might not be.
Before choosing a tool you need to understand what your needs are, what the tool really offers, and if those two things align.
How to Use SEO Tools Effectively
In order to use SEO tools effectively, you have to apply your own analysis to the data. That means seeing the metrics, looking at the charts and tables, and understanding what it means. Seeing a list of keywords by search volume doesn't help you to know if the keyword is a good fit for your site and or if it fits into your content and sales strategy. As an SEO you have to qualitatively analyze the appropriateness of the keyword, think about it topically, understand how to best cover that topic, and of course, know if that topic fits in with what the site does (and if so, where fits in).
SEOs need to solve problems not check things off a list. If an SEO tool recommends certain issues be fixed you should think about how that recommendation actually helps the site. It's on the SEO to understand what problem the tool's recommendation points to and why it's significant.
If an SEO tool points out that you have broken links do you understand why that's a problem or are you just automatically thinking "broken links are bad?" True they are bad, but maybe it's on a page that is buried deep in your site that no one visits or is really meant to visit and where the link shouldn't even be there and that you have blocked from crawling and isn't even indexed? Should that link really be your top priority?
Think before you act on SEO reporting.