How Legendary Marketing Firm Seer Interactive Uses Traject Data To Eliminate SEO Malpractice
Seer Interactive originally started as an SEO agency.
Wil Reynolds, founder, and director at Seer, started his agency going door-to-door, connecting with businesses like local hair salons. Word spread quickly about Seer’s amazing service and exceptional results. Their business grew rapidly.
In 2005, just three years after starting, Seer began to expand, branching out to paid media services. They began using Big Data in innovative ways to integrate channel data, continually producing exceptional growth and legendary results for their clients.
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The Challenge: SEO malpractice
Seer wanted an in-depth look at customer behavior. They wanted to identify hidden trends buried in keyword data. They wanted to combat wasted spend and unlock savings for their clients. They developed an in-house proprietary tool to identify semantic inaccuracies and campaign leaks.
Seer grew rapidly.
They grew so quickly, that they required a more flexible solution to their new data consumption needs. A larger volume of data could get more expensive, fast. Ethan Lyon, a Data Engineer at Seer, shared the challenges they experienced with their previous provider.
“Using [other providers can be] much more expensive; we sometimes needed to run the rankings for up to three days to get all of the data, which means we could be paying 3x the cost.”
They were limited by the amount of keyword data at their disposal. To be fair, the amount of data they needed was massive. It was a big ask and it took Seer into uncharted territory.
They were already spending a significant amount on getting the data, but they weren’t getting the volume and depth they needed, at a cost that made the juice worth the squeeze.. This arrangement made it harder for Seer to identify important keywords driving conversions for their clients.
Seer wanted to integrate data streams from:
- Google SERPs Data
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Google Ads
- Other CPC Data
- Other 3rd Party Data Sets
They wanted to vacuum up all of this data and combine it in their big data warehouse. Previously, they needed to use an ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load the data) process to work with their data. They would have taken discreet JSON files, read them in, and then pushed them out into their data environment.
This extra step wasn’t ideal.
Reynolds realized he had a tough decision to make. If he wanted the data, in the volume and depth Seer needed, he would have to make a change.
“The old way just didn’t scale. I constantly found myself finding things for one client here and one client there. Then thinking… every client deserves this analysis right now, but knowing a bunch of CSV downloads or super metrics pulls into sheets wasn’t going to cut it at the billions of rows of data.”
They needed hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of keywords to get a true sense of the competitive landscape their clients faced.
They were only getting 500 to 1,000 keywords at a time. It’s a problem many SEO firms continue to face. Wil Reynolds described the situation like this.
“The way we used to approach selecting a set of keywords and competitors was malpractice.”
The results showed Seer’s work was exceptional. But they were limited by the scope and scale of their analyses. It’s difficult to gain an accurate picture of your client’s situation if you don’t have access to all the data. Why does this matter, though?
More data means Seer has a truer representation of consumer behavior.
More data means precise focus, no overspending and consistent, above-average returns for their clients. They didn’t have the volume they needed, so this meant they were potentially giving clients biased recommendations.
The kind of bias that’s expensive and unsustainable.
The Solution: Find a partner to scale with
Seer made the switch to Traject. They took advantage of the Traject Data SEO API and immediately began testing the platform. They began pulling data on millions of keywords, incorporating the data into their business intelligence and analysis tools.
The limitations they experienced previously were suddenly gone.
Reynolds and his team began pulling massive data sets into their data warehouse, using an unprecedented amount of data to identify new and hidden trends.
“It’s about finding trends quickly. For instance, we can now look across 20 million keywords looking for where our clients rank #1 and have a rich snippet showing above, potentially impacting (negatively) the value of that rank. The speed we got from hypothesis to answer is insane.”
Seer was suddenly able to request SERP data collection runs of millions of keywords, available in hours. For example, a large international shoe manufacturer recently ran 2 million keywords through Traject Data. The Traject Data process populated their BigQuery environment with 202 million SERP data records. Traject Data ran 2 million keywords, taking in all 202 million SERP data records into BigQuery, in less than 24 hours for Seer.
Many providers can’t provide this volume — it’s a lot to ask for. However, this unprecedented access enabled Seer to answer crucial high-level questions across their client campaigns.
“Faster answers, more hypotheses. Every day I have 10-20 hypotheses, things I “wonder” now I get answers to them, quickly. No more guessing.”
Seer has Traject Data’s PAPI read SERP results out of PAPI, then report them directly into their Google BigQuery account. Seer provides their service keys and a set of credentials. This enables Traject Data’s systems to import data directly into Seer’s data warehouse environment.
Traject Data integrates with big cloud data environments like BigQuery, so they get all of the robust processing power that comes with that (we also integrate with AWS Athena, AWS Redshift, Snowflake).
Seer can now complete ad-hoc analysis using massive data sets on an as-needed basis. The Seer team relies on Traject Data for support when they face challenging circumstances. Christina Blake shares a story where Traject Data provided support on the road.
“A few weeks ago, while at a conference, a team member side barred me to let me know that he’d had an ask from client to pull 1 million keywords to inform a major project. In the past, the ask itself, ‘1 million keywords,’ would have been the end of that. But, because we had access to Traject Data, my only concern was the best way to figure out how to scrape to find the data that would inform those keywords. We pulled it off, while we were still at the conference, and the client let us know how much he appreciated that we could work under tight deadlines with unusual constraints, and still find a way to make it happen.”
It isn’t just about massive data sets. For Seer, it’s about immediate access to the specific data they need.
This means custom data requests.
Traject Data adds to and iterates onto the data Seer collects via search results. Seer requested that Traject Data begin to collect and push the ‘Date Published’ value for any particular SERP result in their systems. Reynolds wanted to show clients, using hard data, that many of the top-ranked search results in any given category are evergreen content that has been available for years.
For Reynolds, it was about creating value for end-users, that SEO teams shouldn’t focus their attention on content creation with a short term focus to improve rankings over a few weeks or a quarter. He wanted to show clients, using massive data sets, that compelling, high-quality content has tremendous staying power.
He got his wish, thanks to the Traject Data.
Reynolds discovered why the team at Traject Data went out of their way to accommodate their requests. Lauren Beaver, Director of Enterprise Sales for Traject Data, explains,
“The product improves when clients come to us and ask us to add things to the data that we collect. We almost always try to accommodate data requests because we want our data to be the best in the market.”
The volume of data collected for Seer, how did it impact the analyses and insights they shared with clients?
The Results: Immediate insights from massive data sets
Seer’s access to the Traject Data SEO API produced a treasure trove of data. Seer had the data sets they needed to make unbiased, actionable recommendations to their clients. Traject Data implementation allows their team to request SERP data collection runs of literally millions of keywords.
That’s important because Seer lives by a mantra: STOP GUESSING.
Every time you guess, you bring bias and risk into your conclusions.
Seer had access to Traject Data SEO API. Did it make a difference? How did more access affect their business and their client’s businesses?
The impact on their client’s business was enormous. Reynolds shares the impact API had on specific client segments.
The impact on an eCommerce client
“Searching across millions of keywords and pulling in URLs has helped us to find URL patterns in auto-generated pages, we joined that data to paid conversion data, and we had a way of finding where we were getting beat by auto-generated pages for keywords that drive real money. We built curated pages with some editorial and outranked ’em all in a month.”
The impact on a media publisher
“We have a client whom a lot of people searching for their brand name are looking for jobs, and a lot are looking to buy. We were able to look at 100k+ search terms and get a feel based on the organic results which modifiers on their brand (other than jobs and career keywords) were showing job sites, knowing that intent helped us save that client a lot of money in paid.”
Seer clients received fast answers to difficult-to-answer questions. With a massive data set, Seer was able to move with statistical significance, free from bias and guesstimates. They’re consistently able to outperform bigger and better-funded competitors with superior information. Ask Reynolds about the client win he’s most proud of, and he’ll tell you about it.
“That one time, we reviewed a competitor’s TV ads and outranked them for the words they brought to market. The competitor was Goliath, our client – David. And we had to be sharp, when the competitor dropped over $25 million on a TV and outdoor campaign to bring a certain word to market, their siloed organization never communicated the TV script to the web team, so every time that ad ran, our client got huge bumps in traffic a fractions of the cost. By the time the competitor realized it, the campaign had run its course over six months.”
That’s the power of superior data.
What about the positive impact on Seer Interactive itself?
“Using Traject Data opens up so many more possibilities because we can get more data at a lower cost, faster. It’s a win, win, win,” said Ethan Lyon, Data engineer at Seer. “At the end of the day, we’d be limiting our ability to find insights for clients if we didn’t have Traject Data. It’s a game-changer.”
With the Traject Data SEO API, Seer gained more in-depth data, better data, at a lower price point. The SEO API saved Seer time, money and resources. Seamless, direct imports into Seer’s data warehouse means our data is immediately available and more accessible to Reynolds and his team.
Traject Data enables seamless population of data into Seer’s internal environment without them having to set up a specific importation process.
The results didn’t stop there.
Seer team members were able to achieve stellar results in less time and minimal busywork. The SEO API makes their jobs easier. Their team is nimble, more productive; they’re able to focus on the campaign details that drive conversions and generate revenue for their clients.
The quality and quantity of their output have grown dramatically.
These results mean Seer can serve more clients, with the same number of team members. It means they’ve found a way to scale their legendary service.
All this in five months.
Traject Data has enabled Seer to do the impossible, to drink up a sea of data. With the right partner, they’re finally able to absorb incomprehensible amounts of data their clients need to grow.
They’re able to do the hard work well.
Identify hidden industry trends buried in keyword data sets. Combat wasted spend and unlock savings for their clients: Spot semantic inaccuracies and campaign leaks.