Evangelizing SEO

Why Is First-Party Data Valuable For SEO?

By Tania

When it comes to enterprise SEO tools, many highlight the value of competitive keywords or tracking a certain number of keywords as part of a comprehensive SEO strategy. The problem is that often this data comes from scrapping search results instead of any actual data. Many marketers will also use data from Google Keyword Tool, a tool that’s important for performance marketers managing ad campaigns. 

For paid marketers, this data and the projections of cost and clicks can be helpful to make critical decisions about how to maximize their budget and ROAS. However, for organic marketers, this data isn’t all that valuable for two important reasons. Firstly, the information estimates the total volume of searches that may occur for a given keyword in a month rather than providing an actual number. For industries that have seasonality or other trends, GKT doesn’t always account for those variations. Secondly, it doesn’t tell you anything useful about your website users or customers. Knowing that 1,500 people may search a keyword in a month isn’t as valuable as knowing how much traffic or revenue a given keyword generated for your website. 

Why Is First-Party Data Valuable For SEO? 

To understand what’s going on in your SEO program, you have to understand the entire organic search funnel. This means looking at your first-party data to understand what search terms of pages drove traffic to your website as well as the impact that traffic had on your business. It doesn’t matter what position your competitors are ranking in. Instead, it only matters what your own website’s performance is because you can change that. This is why first-party data is paramount: actual data on your users can drive decisions and positive change for sustainable growth. 

Where Do I Get First-Party Data? 

The best source for SEOs to get first-party data is from the Google Search Console Performance report. The Google Search Console Performance report shows you how your site performs in Google Search Results. You can access it by navigating to your verified property in Google Search Console, then clicking “Performance” in the left navigation.

Google’s metrics to show you how your site performs are clicks, impressions, CTR, and average position. The Performance report also has extensive filtering options and allows you to view your data by specific dimensions.

Google Search Console’s Performance report has four main metrics: clicks, impressions, average CTR, and average position. You can view these metrics by individual URL (e.g., how many clicks a specific page is getting) or the average of multiple URLs (e.g., how many clicks you’re getting total across all pages).

Clicks

A click in Google Search Console is counted when a searcher clicks on one of your URLs from the SERP and is taken to a page outside of Google Search. Google explains that if a searcher clicks something that keeps them on a Google property (such as query refinements), that is not counted as a click. No need to get overly complicated, though — it’s sufficient to know that any time someone clicks on one of your URLs in the search results and is taken to your website, that counts as a click.

Impressions 

An impression in Google Search Console happens whenever that URL appears in a search result for a searcher.

A URL can get impressions even when it shows up “below the fold,” meaning a searcher would have to scroll to see the result, regardless of whether or not the searcher scrolled the URL into view.

A URL will not get the impression if it’s listed on page 2+ unless the searcher clicks through to those deeper pages of search results.

Average CTR 

CTR stands for “click-through rate,” and it’s a metric that tells you how often people who see your URL in search results end up clicking it. To calculate CTR, Google divides your clicks by your impressions. So, for example, if your URL has 1,000 impressions and 100 clicks, your CTR would be 10%.

Average Position 

The average position is the numerical order in which Google displays a URL in search results. According to Google, “Position is calculated from top to bottom on the primary side of the page, then top to bottom on the secondary side of the page.”

There are certain SERP features, like AMP carousels, where Google features multiple pages in a single section. In cases like this, all URLs in a single element are counted in the same position.

“Average” position also means that this metric doesn’t represent exactly where you rank on the page at a precise time. If your URL appeared in position 3 one day, 7 the next day, and 4 the next day, the URL would show an average position of 4.6.

How Do I Action First-Party Data? 

One of the best ways to action first-party SEO data is with a tool like Botify that combines that data with other data sources in your business to provide more actionable insights. However, even without that, there are several easy ways that you can action Google Search Console data, such as: 

  • Identifying which keywords are seeing more impressions or clicks over a period of time
  • Identifying which pages are driving more traffic from organic search 
  • Finding opportunities for new ways to link content on your site, such as a Hub and Spoke model
  • Seeing if your CTR is changing across different devices, often a signal of a technical issue with your mobile website 
  • Identifying if pages published on your website are being crawled (and how frequently) 
  • Identifying the impact of internal links as well as external links across the Internet 
  • Finding unique long-tail keywords that are driving traffic to your site, creating opportunities for new content or landing pages 
  • Finding opportunities to build backlinks 
  • Improving your page’s HTML using Page Insights 
  • Testing URL’s on your site by Fetching and Rendering

Of course, much of this work is simpler when you can ingest this data into a powerful tool like Botify. The Botify platform is powered by a unified data model that pulls essential first-party data from various sources. This is a critical distinction; customers and analysts often ask if we have some very SEO-typical “type in a URL and get an audit” feature. We don’t, precisely because that kind of analysis is so generic and so limited. Instead, we specialize in extracting insight from that first-party data because that’s where all the value for our customers is. 

Those data sources include our industry-leading site crawler, our customers’ server logs, search data from their Google Search Console accounts, and their business/conversion data. We work with all of this, not just because it’s nice to have in one place — we cross-index this data to derive higher quality insight and report on things that you literally couldn’t see from just one data source. 

Interested in learning more about how Botify can help you unleash the power of your first-party data? Request a demo today

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