How is Big Data Impacting Search Engine Optimization?
Researchers have described Big Data as the “oil” that has helped optimize the digital ecosystem over the last decade—and whether we know it or not, we see it in action every single day.
Every ad that comes up on your Instagram feed, every marketing email, every video on your FYP, and even the types of YouTube content you see are all influenced by big data. Put simply, big data is everywhere.
But how does this concept actually affect SEO? Is big data good for SEO? Let’s dive into how these two ideas impact each other in the most profound ways.
What is Big Data?
The simplest way to describe big data is to take the term at face value. Quite literally, it refers to data sets that are too large to be processed using traditional techniques.
The concept rose to popularity in the early 2000s as we had more cost-effective avenues for storing information. Big Data refers to the massive volume of structured and unstructured data generated from various sources that is difficult to process using traditional data processing techniques.
Google Search API can play a crucial role in collecting and organizing this big data by providing an efficient way to search for and extract relevant information from the vast amount of data available on the web.
The API can also help preprocess the data and organize it into a structured format, making it easier for data scientists and analysts to analyze and extract insights from the data.
The use of Google Search API, for instance, is one of the many examples of how big data is utilized in optimizing search engine results
Most consider the three Vs of big data as the concept’s defining traits, but let’s take it a little bit further and talk about five.
- Volume. Of course, let’s start with the biggest one. Big data sets have to be huge. Volume is a crucial aspect of making big data actually useful and is a cornerstone of the entire process of mining and analyzing;
- Variety. Big data comes in various formats. While our knee-jerk reaction to information would be to think of numerical figures on an excel sheet, big data is much more than that. It can be structured or unstructured documents and can even come in the form of media like photos, videos, and social media interactions;
- Velocity. Another key concept behind big data is the speed at which data is collected and stored. With so many different sources of info, it is now possible for data to come in at previously unprecedented speeds. However, with this also comes the fact that the docs must be handled in a similar, timely manner;
- Variability. Much like anything else, big data is also a participant in the era of high-speed, ever-changing trends. For data to work as big data, it’s crucial to recognize its inherently changing nature. Businesses and organizations must adapt to managing the typically unpredictable nature of big data.
- Veracity. Not all data is good, especially in the context of huge datasets. A key component to utilizing big data is ensuring that whatever information you have is accurate—or at least as precise as it can be. This gets increasingly more complicated the more sources, so it’s essential to keep veracity in mind.
Sources of Big Data
Big data is humungous, complex, and seemingly encompasses all aspects of daily life. But where exactly do we get these large bodies of information?
Social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter are among the world’s top sources of big data. Just think about it: how many things on social media do you engage with every single day?
In 2022, people spent about 147 minutes every day on social networking sites—a two-minute uptick from 2021’s 145 minutes. Spending more than two hours of your day on any given platform is a recipe for hundreds, if not thousands, of daily engagements.
Social media is a great avenue to gather user-related data and make business decisions, like ad spending, based on that data.
Online shopping, or eCommerce, has seen dramatic growth over the last few years—partly due to the pandemic. According to Morgan Stanley, the eCommerce industry could grow to $5.4 trillion by 2026—compared to $3.3 trillion in 2022.
eCommerce is an excellent source of big data because it allows for the careful observation of consumer behavior and trends. This information is incredibly valuable in making forecasts, determining new product lines, and facilitating business growth.
Media platforms like YouTube or Netflix are another great source of big data. Unlike social media platforms, media sites are primarily media focused instead of networking focused. Although one could argue that YouTube is beginning to look more like social media than just a media platform, the point still stands.
Our modern lives are filled with transactions. Every grocery run, every trip to the gas station, and every pastry from the local corner cafe' are all transactions we make pretty frequently. Now imagine that compounded over hundreds of people over a year. That’s a pretty solid data set.
Usually, these transactions come with basic information like the products you purchased, discounts you availed of, and other transaction-related data. Businesses can then use and analyze this information to make timely business decisions.
For instance, a local retailer discovers that low-rise jeans have gotten more popular over the last week. This could mean that the retailer needs to stock more of that style or make it a core aspect of the store’s design and layout.
How Big Data Impacts SEO
Now that we know a bit about big data and where it comes from, let’s get to the most important bit for this article—how it actually affects SEO.
SEO is all about optimization. And to optimize, you need data, which is where big data comes in. With its advent, businesses will now be able to analyze audience behavior better and assess for the next steps.
With big data, businesses can gain far-improved analytical processes that help them obtain accurate and timely information. And in the world of business, it’s so crucial to move fast and be able to respond to issues as they arise.
Once a business has improved its analytical processes, it can apply the same concepts to SEO. Better analysis of business information results in better SEO and enhanced business results.
Catching Complex User Behavior
Now, more than ever, businesses are able to capture a clear view of user behavior. Human beings are complex by nature, and it may be challenging to create a 360-degree view of who your customer really is.
But with big data, we can get as close as possible. With people interacting on so many forms of media, it’s no surprise that there is now an abundance of information on consumer behavior. Every site where we consent to cookies and every click we make on Amazon contributes to a massive body of info describing who we are as customers.
And while there isn’t a literal file where all your Internet history is stored—and if it were like that, it would not nearly be as simplistic—the choices you make every minute profoundly impact how businesses understand you.
This is an excellent thing for SEO because businesses can then create accurate responses to consumer needs and wants.
Deeper SEO Insights
SEO is a constantly evolving process—your SEO practices at the beginning of the year may no longer be the ones you use by year-end. Integral to making these changes is the idea that businesses and organizations are able to respond to changes thanks to data analysis.
With big data, organizations will have an easier time navigating how to adjust SEO practices because data reveals much more information. In effect, businesses will obtain enhanced SEO insights that will help:
- Boost their website
- Increase reach
One of the primary goals of SEO is conversion. For many websites, the best landing pages are those that convert customers the most.
Big data impacts SEO in this regard because it allows business owners and organizations to have a better picture of their customers. While a business might have its Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) outlined well, data might still prove otherwise.
Using analysis from big data will give businesses more context into the customer’s thought process—allowing them to make the necessary changes to increase conversion.
Can Small Businesses Use Big Data?
Yes! Although big data can sound daunting, it is entirely possible for small businesses to use it. In fact, most small businesses do!
Targeted ads, for instance, are already a way many business owners take advantage of big data. Companies only know which people to show their ads to thanks to big data, so even though it is not explicitly mentioned in marketing campaigns, it is still very prevalent in small business operations.
The Cons of Big Data
While big data is a magnificent product of technology, it isn’t perfect by any means. Sure, we can use it for a wide variety of applications (including SEO), but we still need to understand it to actually reap its benefits.
Big data, due to its sheer size, can often feel:
- Difficult to sift through
This is especially true when you’re dealing with unstructured information like media files.
In these situations, it becomes increasingly crucial to be able to pinpoint which areas are helpful and which don’t add any value. Understanding which points to analyze is essential in producing value-adding information to facilitate business growth.
In conclusion, big data does impact SEO a lot—and in mostly positive ways! With the still-increasing amount of information we process every day, we can only expect the relationship between big data and SEO to keep growing.
Dmytro Sokhach is an entrepreneur and the 6-Figure Flipper Club member. Founded Admix Global (web agency) that builds websites, makes them profitable, and sells them as business.