Medium Data ROI Beats Big Data

Fortune 2000 companies wield big data to achieve marketing ROI that crushes competition. But in a David and Goliath story, Medium Data slays giants.

Medium Data vs. Big Data
David and Goliath (from catholicteacherresources.com)

Here I aim to coin the term “Medium Data” and explain why it can achieve higher ROI than Big Data.

By now even the general population has a sense of what “Big Data” is, but most web marketing executives don’t see how far Big Data reduces the marketing cost of acquiring new and repeat customers. Artificial intelligence (AI) and its subspecies machine learning accelerate the speed of gathering and using not only mainstream data like credit card purchases and browsing history, but also far-flung and spotty data, like patterns of proximity to stores or timing of boarding a flight to Rome. Economies of scale in AI-driven marketing automation–including on-the-fly prioritization of web page content–increasingly propel top corporations’ ROI. But the sling and stone of Medium Data deployed by a canny David can at least drop Goliath to one knee.

The stone is data you already have or can acquire easily. The sling is new platforms like Google Big Query and Data Studio. David is the warrior who knows how to use this weapon. Look, there are diminishing marginal returns from the more difficult to acquire and disparate data. Applying advanced digital marketing knowledge to only the most important sets of data means less “I” (investment) than with Big Data, raising your ROI above Goliath’s.

An Example of Medium Data in Action

Imagine this: Using Medium Data, you discover three topics and 30 pages of your website that, given a relatively small amount of SEO work, will produce over double the ROI of any other marketing channel you used in the past. Before medium data, you could have discovered this opportunity by stitching together sources such as Google Analytics, Search Console, search engine rank, and keyword difficulty scores. That’s what good search marketing firms have done for years. But now, with Google’s revolutionary new tools in G Suite and with new APIs for importing diverse data, we can do better..

Now Medium Data–gathered via APIs into Google Sheets and a Big Query database, then analyzed in part by free AI, then rendered and clearly displayed by Data Studio–reveals your most cost-effective next steps within or among marketing channels, like SEO, PPC, CRO, or email marketing. The requisite data has long been available to you but it was too difficult and expensive to gather and analyze. Examples of this data are InLinks per page, conversion rate by types of click path through your site or by browser or by demographic attribute, average page load time, average profit per offering, and recent trends in competitors’ advertising spend. In Medium Data, expertise earns its place at your table by knowing what data to select and how to weigh and correlate it in order to reveal your next best move.

For years firms have offered software that uses Medium Data, but it starts at $3,000 a month and goes way up from there. Google has “disintermediated” many marketing models, like radio and newspaper advertising, and it’s happening again in the arena of such software.

Your Smartest Next Move

Obviously I want you to contact DISC to explore your options here. But with or without DISC, your next best move is to get David and his sling and stone on your side.

What is PageRank Sculpting, and Why Do It?

PageRank-Pyramid
PageRank Sculpting Isn’t Easy

PageRank sculpting directs the flow of search engine spiders, indexing, PageRank, and other trust and authority assignations by using tools to open and close valves in the pipes of your website’s hierarchy. PageRank sculpting is vital to SEO management of large, dynamic websites, and it helps smaller websites doing redesigns. It is also crucial in dealing with Google’s Penguin and Panda updates. Visibility Magazine’s Fall 2012 edition publishing my complete guide to this highly technical topic. Here, I offer the big picture.

Google’s Matt Cutts noted the importance of PageRank sculpting, being sure to distinguish it from the bogus nofollow sculpting. (For more on this, see http://searchengineland.com/pagerank-sculpting-is-dead-long-live-pagerank-sculpting-21102.)

In PageRank sculpting, it’s important to understand the distinctions among spidering, indexing, and the passing of PageRank. Spidering includes a page in SERPs (search engine results pages), whereas indexing goes further to include the page’s words in the index, which is matched to searches. Pages can be spidered without PageRank assigned, and indexed pages may or may not get PageRank or pass it on to other pages in your website.

PageRank sculpting deploys standard tactics in combinations that should vary to fit each website’s CMS, navigation scheme, and budget. These tools are:

  • The robots.txt file
  • 301 redirects
  • Canonical meta-tags
  • Pagination with rel=“next” and rel=“prev”
  • The noindex meta-tag
  • X-Robots-Tag HTTP header directive
  • XML sitemaps
  • The nofollow meta-tag
  • Advanced and less essential tools (perhaps for a future post here) include cache controls, last-modified headers, the unavailable_after X-robots-tag, and a few others.

In addition to these tools, most of the standard rules of CMS-SEO pertain to PageRank sculpting.

(For an overview of CMS-SEO, see VisibilityMagazine.com/internet_marketing_magazine/previous_issues/html/december-2007 and VisibilityMagazine.com/disc-inc/rob-laporte/cms-and-database-seo-guide).

Choosing and coordinating the best PageRank sculpting tools for your website, and avoiding conflicts among the tools, is one of the most difficult jobs in SEO. There’s a need for an article or ebook which shows various scenarios and pitfalls. A good primer on avoiding conflicts is seomoz.org/blog/robot-access-indexation-restriction-techniques-avoiding-conflicts.

Once learned, it’s difficult to remember which of the tools block or redirect spidering, keyword indexing, and PageRank, and my Visibility Magazine article will serve as a reference. The important take-away in this blog post is simply to know what you don’t know.

The search engines will likely change relevant rules or become better at dealing with sites that have weak or faulty PageRank sculpting, but usually such changes are backward compatible (though recently Google has broken this implied contract with webmasters a few times). So, PageRank sculpting, like its parent categories of CMS-SEO and technical SEO, is an investment where you “write once, and profit in perpetuity.”

Is There an Optimally SEO’d CMS & Ecommerce Platform?

Automating SEO Writing and Attributes within CMS's and Ecommerce Systems
Thomas Jefferson’s copy machine: Is CMS-SEO much better these days?

No, there isn’t.

It amazes me that, given the huge benefit of having a CMS and ecommcerce system automate SEO, no pre-built solution does so optimally.

DISC has reviewed many of the top candidates, and while some are better than others, and most can be coded for much better SEO, none has completely seized this huge opportunity to help businesses implement SEO programmatically.

This post won’t review the candidates, for that would take too many words. I can tell you that CMSs purporting to be ideal are not. A CMS that allows you to edit meta-tags and URLs is not close to enough. An SEO’d CMS should automate these and other SEO attributes, while allowing manual override. A site with several hundred or thousands of pages needs to automate SEO as much as possible, so that you don’t have to manually enter all SEO attributes. (Of course body text must be written manually – though there are ways to automate some body text SEO by using database pulls into SEO’d footer taglines and small paragraphs of recurring, product-variable text on each page). To get an introduction to principles of CMS-SEO, please see my two Visibility Magazine articles at /about-us/press-and-media/visibility-magazine/cms-and-database-seo-guide-part-1/ and /about-us/press-and-media/visibility-magazine/cms-and-database-seo-guide-part-2/. These articles are about four years old, but the principles remain sound, while only a few details are dated.

DISC is currently building an SEO’d CMS based on osCommerce. This platform has the advantage of years of proven infrastructure, a large community, and some SEO modules that, properly adjusted, enable close to ideal SEO for e-commerce and large websites. True, like all platforms, osCommerce has some drawbacks, but accusing osCommerce of deficiencies is like accusing HTML of deficiencies: it’s not the platform so much as how you wield it.

DISC has SEO’d other content management systems and ecommerce platforms — the choice of platform depends in large part on your particular needs. All in all, we’re finding osCommerce best for SEO in most cases.

I’d be grateful for your comments and suggestions regarding CMS-SEO platforms. Have you found a CMS that is great for SEO? Are you developing one that you’d like DISC and other firms to consider? Let’s chat (right here on this blog or via Rob@2disc.com or 413-584-6500).

There’s still an enormous opportunity for a firm to market an optimally SEO’d CMS and ecommerce system. DISC is building one now, but if anyone has one or soon will, I’d love to consider it, and perhaps review it here.