We now have more access to more data than at any other time in human existence. We also have the least amount of access to the least amount of data that we’re ever going to have again.

What I’m trying to say is data volumes are only going to become increasingly immense. As marketing data grows, it will become harder to see through the fog and gain valuable insights from it – particularly for a distinct marketing specialism like search engine optimisation.

So, what can you do to prepare yourself for the ever-growing data tidal wave and how can you find meaning in it when it’s crashing down around you?

Bringing it all together

Collating all of your information in a single location is an enormous task. We’re talking about taming an immense tidal wave of data. Any comprehensive solution for collating, analysing and refining your SEO data should not be ignored. This is the basis of comprehensive SEO: ensuring that you’re covering all the elements of a project that can influence and support your desired end result.

There is little justification for not seeking out, or being provided with, a comprehensive SEO service in 2016. When you’ve collected and stored a ton of data, however, there remains a notable challenge for many: How can one make sense of it all? How can you attain marketing intelligence and actionable insight from the wealth of data?

When it comes to ‘big data’, Gary King from Harvard University sums it up nicely:  “Big data is not about the data.”

Actually having access to big data is great, but it’s not enough. You need to do something meaningful with it.

Extracting meaning

When you have access to information, the primary action has to be extracting meaning from it as comprehensively and efficiently as possible. In relation to SEO, this can cover a vast array of areas such as keyword research, on-page SEO competitor research and analysis. I’m not talking about the technical processing of data, or the facilitating of data use, but rather what you are able to do with the information.

Let’s consider a practical example SEO for this: I have a lot of keyword data (hundreds of thousands of terms) for a website. I can see that the opportunity for progression is vast, as every keyword is not ranking in the peak areas in Google, or other main search engines, but I am overwhelmed by the data.

What should I do next?

I need to think about what I want to achieve from this information.

What do I want to achieve?

In this case I want to increase the traffic coming to the site for relevant, existing visibility.

How do I extract meaning from the data?

At a basic level I start by refining my search. So let’s remove all the data that’s unwieldy to work with.  Going back to my objective. I extract the keyword data to make it more relevant to the topic, theme or criteria I am considering. Then I filter everything else out. This could be a combination of filter areas like ‘greater than x number of impressions’, ‘between positions x and y in Google’, ‘current visits less than x’, etc.

Now I want to get more comprehensive with my strategy and problem-solving approach:

Comprehensive problem solving

A key part of an SEO strategy is tied to solving dilemmas. So, I now need to look at the bigger picture: ‘What does the ideal result look like and how do I get there?’

Now that the data has been refined I need to prioritise and I should be thorough. Thoroughness in this scenario may include items like identifying and finalising the groupings of terms to target, or analysing your current performance in this area. There are many more I could add.

Analysis and refinement

A crucial element of comprehensive SEO is the continuous refinement of your approach and strategy. A typical SEO approach will include cyclical elements for generating incremental improvement over the much longer term.

The availability of real-time data makes this an easier and more efficient task than it would have been historically, and something that can add value to most projects you work on.

When you implement change, you gather new data. New data provides new insight and associated opportunity. This new opportunity needs to be utilised for the next phases of strategy improvement and result attainment. In theory, this never really stops.

Add comprehensiveness to your approach

If you are thinking where do I start, or what to do next, ask yourself how comprehensive your approach to SEO has been to-date. Try to self-analyse what you could have done better, or differently, with a more comprehensive perspective to delivery.