So, you have an SEO strategy. But how do you know it’s working? More importantly, how do you make sure it’s the best possible strategy you can execute?

As many digital marketers and content creators soon find out, SEO is part art, part science. It’s the data that makes up the science part. And when your strategy depends on search engine algorithms and technicalities, data reigns supreme. Let’s explore why below.

It Shows You Where the Needle Is — So You Can Move It

Say you’ve done your keyword research. You believe you’ve nailed a list of phrases your target audience uses in their online searches. You’ve even published your first blog series based on what your research uncovered. Maybe one of those posts has picked up a backlink or two.

But now what? Are your content and strategy meeting the goals you initially laid out? You need feedback in the form of data to tell you whether your strategy efforts are on track. You might want to make some changes based on information from tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Testing new tactics, aligning with search trends, optimizing, and reoptimizing are part of the SEO journey.

It’s hard to overstate how critical tracking progress is to meeting your SEO goals. If you can’t measure a metric, you’ll experience difficulties influencing it. Your goal could be to increase online sales, build an email list, or increase organic traffic. Whatever needle your strategy is aiming to move, that metric must be measured. Otherwise, you won’t know whether you’re on track and what you can do differently to meet your objectives.

It Tells You What Your Competition Is Doing

Short of being a fly on the wall in other companies’ conference rooms, you can only anticipate your competitors’ moves. It’s why lesser-known industry names sometimes get stuck reacting to whatever the major players do. For instance, smaller regional wireless carriers may rapidly shift promo strategies to match whatever brands like Verizon come out with. But when it comes to SEO, data analytics tools can give you an inside view into what competitors are doing. These tools reveal what organic keywords competing sites are ranking for.

While you may think you need to go after terms where your industry rivals are gaining ground, competition for them could be insane. Relevance, a growth marketing agency, suggests that your SEO strategy would be better served by targeting niche, long-tail keywords to gain some initial traction. Once you’ve boosted your site’s authority, you can go head to head with your rivals for your industry’s top search terms. This is especially important if you’re a company just starting on your SEO journey.

Say your business is in the wireless telecom industry. The traffic to your top competitor’s content on the growing use of IoT is surging, and the data shows which keywords are driving this organic traffic. But rather than going after a bullseye like “IoT device,” you could develop content that tells readers “how to remote manage an IoT device.” By developing content that covers the IoT topic from a unique angle, you can increase your online visibility. Later you can leverage that gain in your hunt for bigger keyword prey.

It Helps You Understand What Makes Your Audience Tick

Google released its original helpful content update in August 2022. The purpose of the update was to shift creators toward crafting people-first content. The update means digital marketers should understand their audiences’ search intent more than ever. They also need to ensure their audiences find their content relevant and highly useful.

It’s all about the experience people have with content. If your content isn’t satisfying or lacks purpose and depth, your audience will respond accordingly. Signals like higher bounce rates, fewer conversions, and traffic drops could indicate a problem. Data like this can point you toward the need to go back to the drawing board. You may not understand your audience as thoroughly as you thought.

However, data analytics can also show you what works with your market. It will show which content and keywords are performing well. You’ll learn whether your audience is receptive to new copy on call-to-action buttons and links. SEO performance data can reveal where you might want to flesh out content and increase your authority with pillar pages. Think of SEO performance data as another source of consumer behavior and market research insights.

It Points to Revenue-Increasing Opportunities

Boosting traffic to your site and digital content is a step in the right direction. But ultimately, you want to rack up more than impressions and high rankings in the search engine results pages. To justify their efforts, content marketers also must prove what they’re doing is worthwhile. That means increasing revenue.

Without data, you don’t know how and when your audience hits the purchase button. Are they engaging with your content and converting online? Do they seem to call into an inside sales team and visit your stores afterward? Tracking these types of behaviors helps identify purchase triggers and preferences. Analytics also zero in on which content is converting.

Say you’ve noticed three of your blog posts are top performers for online purchases. These pieces consistently drive traffic to your digital store, where visitors eventually buy something. These stats should trigger you to examine those posts and purchases more closely. Maybe those posts use a more convincing CTA, and the content makes a better case for the related products. You can take what’s working there and replicate it across your SEO strategy.

Leveraging SEO Data

You might have an airtight SEO strategy. Your keyword research is thorough, and your content calendar is full for the year. Even your website has been revamped. Nonetheless, your plan can fall apart if you aren’t using data to determine whether your strategic goals are on track.

You wouldn’t make a budget and forget to check to see what you actually spent. The same goes for your SEO strategy. Data can help you shape and tweak it so you’re able to meet or exceed your targets. You’ll know exactly where you stand and what you can do to create more relevant, satisfying — and revenue-enhancing — audience experiences.