Why I Don't Care Much About DATA...

Last Update: June 11, 2012



Today I am going to give you some insight as to how I personally approach DATA...and how I think people overuse meaningless data to the point of paralysis.

I am sure you have all heard the cliche, "paralysis by analysis". This means that overanalyzing something can lead to “inaction”...which can be detrimental to your success. Yes, looking at too much data too often can kill your success!

I want to first explain what my personal take is on data then I am going to explain how I use it in a way that is advantageous versus being intrusive to productivity.

OK...let’s rock and roll...


Over the years I have been one to shy away from too much data. I didn’t buy keyword tools (I am a strong proponent of Jaaxy.com now), I was a late adopter of analytics and other traffic analysis tools,but without all of this data at my fingertips, I was still able to achieve success! But how?

Because I focused on things that built my business.

  • creating content
  • building web pages
  • building sites
  • research keywords and niches
  • understanding my audiences

Traffic behavior is secondary, but first you need traffic before you can start to analyze it. You are not going to be able to determine much by looking at 10, 50 or even 100 clicks to your site.

The ACTION was my focus. Whether this is a lead or a sale, this was my initial focus when it came to understand metrics. If I got a 10% conversion rate, I was happy....if I got 25% of people to sign-up to my list I was happy. If I got a 1st page ranking in Google, I was happy.

"I rarely look at metrics unless I have loads of traffic where I can refine a campaign."


Data is killing businesses and preventing people from creating success...one person at a time.

An obvious example of this is "rankings in Google".

I see every day people reporting that their article or their content has moved from page 10 to page 30 or has increased 2 pages in rankings. Page 1 or 2 and that is it. Who cares if it is on page 4 or page 100. It is meaningless after the first 2 pages and if you are sifting through data after that point you might as well be on Facebook posting a picture of your latest meal.

Another thing I see a lot of is "watching" over "building". TV's are for watching, not campaigns.

Looking at data as watching. It is like playing a sport but sitting on the sidelines...you simply don't get it if you are not on the field catching the balls or stepping up to the plate. I want to be the person out there trying to hit a homerun...not the person up in the box recording the stats and trying to make sense of them, in particular when using meaningless data.

So what is the important data then?


It is simple. Data that validates what you are doing. Data that implies what you are doing has worked. Trying to get a ranking in Google, check to see if you got a ranking on the 1st page. Don’t see it, then continue on OR try something to help get it ranked. Then check it works.

It is easier to write 10 pages of quality content that is "not quite" perfect and get several of them ranked than it is to try to perfect one page.

Another thing that you may find hard to believe is that I DO NOT look at competition. They are likely doing something wrong. Something careless and chances are they may be on their way outs of the search engines. Just because a page is ranked #1 right now, doesn’t mean that Google isn’t lining them up in the cross heirs waiting to SNIPE them with the next panda or penguin update.

People get lost in how many backlinks, how many words, what density, what images...they are data mongers. It is what is taught out there by many I suppose, but I can tell you through experience that the more data you are looking at, the more you are trying to copy what you see working, the worse for wear you will be from any Google Panda or Penguin. The people you think are doing brilliant things to get rankings, may in fact be gaming Google in a way that is going to get slapped right out of the rankings.

Focus on your content...focus on your readers...and focus on building your own business, not emulate someone else's.

When I look at data?


I start to carefully consider data when I have enough traffic to make it worthwhile. I don't make assumptions on data though, I will test something new and compare it to the data to see if it improves my campaign or makes it worse.

What you test could be a number of things, to the anchor links you are using, to headlines, to images, to ad copy, to different types of copywriting, to offering your email address within the page (which can increase conversions BTW!).

Once I have enough data, it is a matter of refining that campaign to make it perform better. The worse thing you can do is to try to refine and improve upon a campaign before you have this data because you are making "assumptions" which may not always be correct.


What is my biggest concern?


EARNINGS. If your campaign is not earning any revenue and you have traffic, then you need to look into data and see what is going on. If it is earning some money, but not the best, it may be time to optimize your campaign (look at traffic, top click-throughs).

People are strange and their behaviours online are often times not all that predictable. Without comparative data it is tough to make assumptions and you simply shouldn’t. Run tests when you have data and work to improve your "conversions" that lead to revenue.

So...

Your initial focus. BUILD.
Your secondary focus. TEST.
Your last focus. REFINE.

If you take this approach you will save yourself a ton of time looking through data which won't benefit you...time in which you can dedicate to building your campaigns up to a point where you will have enough data to truly benefit from. :)

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Blessings44 Premium
This is the kind of advice that means so much to us beginners so that we don't get lost in a maze of overloaded bits.Thanks Kyle.
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Kyle Premium
Glad I could offer you some insight Lydia :)
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emerald860 Premium
Wow! This was written back in June 2012 and still applies today! Nice one, Kyle! I am definitely one who has gotten caught up in the "keeping up with the Jones" mentality. I realize that I have spent too much time trying to compete with the competition and end up chasing my tail and getting discouraged. I will definitely focus more on what I'm doing as opposed to what the competition is doing! Thanks!
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Kyle Premium
Kind of a timeless thing here...over analyzing data is always going to exist and in fact, might be on the rise as we have access to more and more data and metrics. I like looking at results and refining based on that....over critique the entire process can lead to far less productivity (time you could use wisely on something else).
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howmuch Premium
This is actually a relief for me. I'm trying so hard to add pages to build up my website but trying to keep the keywords in mind and check Google to see how I'm doing--in other words, analysis--was stressing me out. I now know that this early in the game I can primarily concentrate on building out my site and keep a more casual eye on the other stuff. Thanks, Kyle.
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Kyle Premium
Over the course of a week, just think of how much time you are wasting "checking on stuff". Multiple this by a 52 weeks in a year and you are literally wasting weeks of your time looking at stuff that really doesn't matter.

We all do it, but understanding that the more you look at a set of numbers is not going to lead to improved success (unless you have enough traffic data and a plan of refinement), is going to save you a lot of time.
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Gordi Premium
I haven't even gotten to analytics yet, but have seen it mentioned. So, am adding content. I am starting to feel more confident about my writing. I used to wonder if it was good enough, but since I got ranked, I thought it's best to add quality content instead of worrying about how good I am.
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Kyle Premium
Yeah, don't be too concerned until you are getting a decent amount of traffic. Far too often people try to analyze their websites before they have an adequate data set to do so. This can lead to a lack of productivity and success...just don't fall into this trip (I know you won't) :)
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Freedomseekr Premium
Great info here Kyle! It is a much needed reminder on what to focus on to get more traffic to my websites in the first place. Thank you!
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Kyle Premium
Glad you are enjoying the training :)
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Rick Jantz Premium
Good points, Kyle. I need to do some training on testing now that my site has been growing in content. I'll go through the search bar but wondering if there is anything here now that is useful to begin learning about testing? Thanks
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Kyle Premium
I have a video coming early next week on testing within PPC campaigns. :)
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Rick Jantz Premium
So back to Boot Camp I go, eh? Kind of slacked off on that as I've had difficulty getting much traffic. But I have been giving my site lots of thought, mostly on how I think I've missed, if not outright ignored, my target audience. The site has lots of good content, I just haven't connected and engaged with my niche. Will carry on, stubbornness has it's upside, too. :)
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Kyle Premium
And do let me know if you need a hand with anything along the way Rick :)
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gulfsidewalt Premium
I am new,and goining through this great information.This posting really turned on my
bulb.FOCUS-FOCUS.
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Kyle Premium
Glad it could help you out! Most people are simply trying to be too perfect or trying to create perfection through their "preparation" which is impossible, it has to be done through refinement (ie. making mistakes and improving upon them).
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christopherM Premium
Much appreciated Kyle. I believe I was starting to fall into this trap of analyzing everything. As much as I hate to say it I think its because I was afraid of failing. So I found myself researching and not writing. Thank you for this post. Couldn't have come at a better time.
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Kyle Premium
Be afraid of "not doing enough" instead of failing. We all fail and failing makes us WAY better in terms of knowing how to run a business and a successful one at that. The key is to not fail at the same thing over and over. It is tough to make assumptions if you don't know what the end result will be (success or fail) and most of the time you will get trapped in the numbers if you try to do this through analysis instead of through implementation.
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WriterGig Premium
I am building. I know nothing about testing, but would refine if I knew what to refine!

Any tips on improving page rank to increase Google rankings in this post-Panda, post-Penguin age?

Also.... how important is an email subscriber list??
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Kyle Premium
Rankings, focus on quality content. Email list, they can be very powerful but you first need to focus on traffic.
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WriterGig Premium
Thanks, Kyle!
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Shawn Martin Premium
Thanks Kyle, just what i needed today!
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Kyle Premium
No problem Shawn...hope you can take something from this and improve your day to day activities.
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Acklins Premium
Excellent article, a lot of data which will benefit me greatly.
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Kyle Premium
Thanks for your feedback. Glad I could help you out!
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CEugene Premium
This is something that holds back a lot of internet marketers from being successful. I've been wildly successful in IM with a "shoot first, ask questions later" style of marketing. I'm a firm believer in throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks... and then focusing my energy on the 5-10% that actually sticks. There is absolutely no need in spending days on end analyzing something without knowing whether or not you have any idea whether it will work for you. There are lots of techniques that work for colleagues of mine but not for myself and vice versa.

The only area I really believe warrants a lot of scrutinization before beginning are PPC campaigns because you stand to lose a lot of money without the proper research.
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slayton1s Premium
Well said.
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Kyle Premium
The more you "shoot" the more you truly know. Unfortunately many people think they can take a few numbers and make sense of them and make assumptions on the success of their future activities. As you said, you are better off "doing" a bunch of stuff and seeing what sticks than to become overanalytical.

Of course the PPC world is a bit different because there is that financial investment, but the tests you do prior to entering PPC can be doing with free marketing techniques...which again is doing, not analyzing. Thanks for your feedback! ;)
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BIS Premium
Hi Kyle. So glad you wrote this - it should be compulsory reading for WA members old and new. I was beginning to think I was a bit odd because I have never focussed on data for my sites (partly because I'm rubbish with figures) but also because I have spent lots of time building lots of quality content.
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Kyle Premium
Thanks Beverley. I also think that everyone should read this as this is probably the biggest factor (beside not doing anything at all) that leads to failure. I almost think that sometimes it is a fear thing, people would rather look at data because they fear creating something. Hopefully this will help people get in this situation get over that hurdle.
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I am So Glad to hear you say this, Kyle. I feel the same way & I Don't Want to get caught up in all the analysis. I remember Travis Sago talking about a woman who was very "green" with affiliate marketing, did A Lot of things Wrong and yet, still was making $100,000 a year! She might be on to something.
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Kyle Premium
I think people get caught up trying to do everything "perfect" when in fact you do not need to be perfect to create a good deal of success online. Your content will never be perfect for everyone but it will become more perfect by "doing"...not analyzing. You learn how to fail and succeed by doing more often and this is a critical component o success.
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slayton1s Premium
I totally agree with this Kyle. I often see a lot of newbies get hooked up in all the data & metrics to something they're doing. A lot of its just common sense & doing it. I think most people make Internet Marketing much harder than what it really is. Backlinks is a good example. No need to tutor me over backlinks ;) but I see a lot of people spend a lot of there time looking at the metrics behind the backlinks they have going on, when it reality it really doesn't matter that much.
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Kyle Premium
A lot of this also has to do with what is being taught out there (the misinformation). People are only looking at back-links and trying to use this data to determine why their competition is ranked higher because it is something they have been taught.

I agree with everything you said, people overthink things and dig into data and focus on metrics that simply do not matter. Hopefully this post will help some people that are in this situation. Thanks for your perspective Seth, always appreciated.
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veronica.l Premium
Thanks another great post, I totally agree I rather play the game than sit on the side and watch :). I have to remind myself if the task I am doing is moving me towards my goal/building my business or is it just a time waster, checking your email more than 1 or 2 times a day is wasting time and taking focus away from building your business same thing with checking rankings.
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Kyle Premium
And so is checking your Facebook account...but we all have our flaws and inefficiencies throughout a day. 8-10 hours is a of time and you can accomplish a lot in a fraction of this time if you are able to remove a lot of the inefficiencies and time sucks.

Like you said, it is good to categorize things into different buckets. Priority tasks and "once a day" tasks (like email, facebook, etc).
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veronica.l Premium
4 hour work week is a good book on this topic, how to remove the fluff we do everyday and get down to core biz. Reading the book is one thing getting it done another lol.
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TJ Books Premium
Great! Makes me feel better, anyway. John
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jpnetco Premium
Well now, that's a breath of fresh air. I never was very good at the analytical side of things anyway, have always been more drawn to the creative side. So thanks, I am only going to focus on creating and giving. No sense trying to analyze something that's not there.
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Kyle Premium
Exactly...and this is the problem with most keyword tools. They give you a bunch of data that means nothing and people spend days looking at metrics that don't mean a thing. Your approach sounds like a good one, creating and giving!
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EddySalomon Premium
Another jewel! It's very true!
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Kyle Premium
Thanks Eddy, appreciate your feedback! Glad you liked it.
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morlandroger Premium
It is something I am just getting to grips with. How much of the last 2 years here at WA have I spent looking at figures and not producing content!
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Kyle Premium
Don't beat yourself up over it...just make changes NOW that will benefit you going forward. I think if you can get your "data" activities down to a couple hours per week you are going to see a significant increase in your bottom line.
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tommo1968 Premium
I get caught up in analysis all the time where is my page ranked where is my last article ranked how many views etc etc it eats into my time badly. Its a habit I will have to break as my development has been side tracked badly. Thanks for the info Kyle I will try and stay focused.
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Kyle Premium
Yeah, I think on occasion it happens to all of us. You just can't let it be a regular occurrence or it is going to dip into your productivity. Time is the only thing that we cannot create more of and if you are inefficient from the get go you are going to have a difficult time building a sizeable campaign.
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mama2karsten Premium
I have to agree with your Title (loud applause). As a 28 year veteran in media placement and other aspects of advertising and Marketing... I found when we relied too heavily on the numbers, we died by the numbers. Fortunately, I learned that lesson early on. Fast forward to today... If one builds their site to make Google happy, it's likely their customers won't be entertained or impressed... after all when you try to write to accommodate Google, you're writing for "bots". Google is trying to force all of us to lay out our pages in a similar way, place our keywords similarly... in other words, they want us to be "bots" too. Thank You Kyle for the reminder.
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Kyle Premium
I agree, sometimes we need to take the "process" out of it and add the "human" to the equation. I have always taken the approach that if you focus on the user, the search engines will follow and this has always been the best approach to get rankings and retain rankings in search engines.

Google is chasing users...users are chasing quality content, you want to deliver what the users are looking for and you will never run into issues. Sometimes we tend to approach this entire business as some sort of robotic procedure...there is still a massive HUMAN element in all of your activities.
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