When growing an online business, the importance of historical data can hardly be overstated. Because by learning from the past, one can make better-informed decisions for the future. And this is particularly true when trying to create an effective SEO strategy. Two historical website metrics, in particular, website rankings and traffic, can be useful to a business. In this short overview below, we will explain more about these historical data metrics and how analyzing them can help one’s business.
From auditing the company’s own website to better performing competitor research, learn how to leverage historical data to drive business growth. Let’s go!
Why historical data matters
Let’s start by answering the obvious question here: Why does historical data matter?
After all, ranking first place for dozens of keywords five years ago doesn’t help with rankings (nor revenue) today. So why should we, as digital marketers, care about rankings and traffic data from the past?
The short answer: It puts things in perspective. Say a company only has today’s data of their website at their disposal. They might notice their site ranks for a hundred unique keywords on the first page of Google, which together drove 100.000 unique visitors to the site. So, is this a good day or a bad day?
They don’t know. Because they don’t have historical data to compare these numbers to. Without more data for perspective, they can’t deduce meaningful, data-driven conclusions from the data at hand.
This, in turn, means they don’t have the necessary knowledge to strategize, plan, or make informed business decisions, which is crucial to any successful business for moving forward.
Ways historical data can help drive your SEO strategy
So how exactly can one leverage historical data to better their business? Below we’ll run through a few common use cases of how historical data can help drive your SEO strategy.
Better understand the present in a wider context
Knowing what happened in the past means one is better equipped to explain the present situation. This, in turn, also helps them better predict the future. Let’s take a seasonal product to explain this point.
Say a company sells barbecues. It’s the middle of June, and the SEO manager notes 500K organic users visited the site that day, generating $100K in profit for the business.
The SEO manager, excited with such great organic performance, presents this data to the CEO. The CEO decides, based on this data, to agree to expand the SEO team with two new members. Six months later, organic traffic has plummeted, and profits have dropped to a meager $10K. The SEO manager is called into the office of a very angry CEO…
Had the SEO manager had historical data of the past years at his disposal, they would have spotted the clear seasonal trend in the barbecue world. After all, keyword search volumes, traffic, and sales are much higher during Summer than they are during Winter.
By analyzing historical data, a business can detect (seasonal) trends and adapt its strategy accordingly.
Identify performance over time to inform strategic decisions
By looking at a website’s performance of the past months/years/decades, one can make better informed strategic decisions moving forward.
For example, say a company’s traffic has been growing year-on-year (YoY) for the past five years, but one year it saw a significantly larger growth than the other years. The SEO manager can then analyze this historical data more granularly to find out why there was such a large growth in that particular year.
The SEO manager can then use this knowledge to create a similar strategy for the year ahead to try and replicate these great results.
The same principle of performance over time can be applied to specific keyword rankings as well. Say a blog post ranks for the keyword “historical data use cases.” Over the past months, rankings have slowly improved month-on-month, taking the page to the second page of Google.
But now, it’s been stuck there for the past three months. Seeing this, the SEO manager can then use this knowledge gained from historical data to decide that this low-hanging fruit needs an extra push to make it onto the first page.
Improve competitor analysis
A business doesn’t just have to use historical data for their own site, but they can use it to better analyze their competitors as well.
Looking at keyword rankings again, say the competitor’s blog post was ranking worse all year, but then all of a sudden overtook the company’s post and started outranking it. The SEO manager can now analyze their blog post to see what changed.
Maybe they’ve invested in link building, or maybe they’ve given their content a massive update. Whatever it is, the SEO manager can take this learning and apply it to their own page to try and overtake the competition once again.
Improving SEO strategy with historical website data
These are just a few examples of how historical website data can inform a business’ SEO strategy. By looking at the past, one can make better decisions for the future.
There are many ways to obtain historical website data. One can access it through a SERP database, build a web crawler to scrape the SERPs, or use a third-party SEO tool that does the work for them. For example, SERPMaster’s SERP database contains 12-month old search result data globally. You can choose the amount of data and the country you need the results from.
Also read about: What Are Website Heatmaps? The Ultimate Guide