Why You Should Never Trust Your SEO Data And Tools

Don't Trust Your SEO Data

You are working hard to increase your organic search traffic for your new blog.

There are so many aspects to SEO metrics to track and improve, so you use a bundle of free and possibly paid SEO tools to help you.

I have used so many of them over the years.

But there is one valuable lesson I have learned the hard way, which is, don’t trust your SEO data.

SEO data is only a guide

When you start getting serious about blogging, it can be confusing at first.

There is just so much data and analysis available for you to use to measure your SEO campaign.

But every tool you use to track and improve your SEO strategy will give you different results.

It doesn’t matter if it is your top-ranking pages, external links, or keyword rankings; there will be a lot of variation in the results.

I don’t classify myself as an SEO expert at all. But I use a wide range of paid and free tools to track my site performance and keyword research.

When I first started blogging seriously, these tools helped me a lot. I can’t complain too much about how helpful they were.

However, I slowly learned not to trust the accuracy of a lot of the data.

The reason is in the way the data is collected and analyzed.

Some tools use historical data to create forward projections, while others are purely looking back at your site performance.

There is also the factor of different crawlers and spiders that collect a lot of the data.

As a site owner, you need to take a broad view of your organic traffic, links, and domain authority by looking for trends rather than hard data.

If you are relatively new to blogging and SEO, it is easy to make hasty decisions that are not always correct.

Every tool has a use. But you shouldn’t make any changes based on one tool or measurement alone.

Here’s a look at three essential elements: Top page, backlinks, and site speed.

You will see how the results from each of the tools can sometimes vary considerably. It is why trusting one tool is never a good idea.

 

Comparing top page results

What are your top-ranking and best-performing pages? It’s the most basic and essential information you need.

But you will get different results depending on which tools you use.

Look at how different the results are for my site for the top five pages.

GSC top pages
Google Search Console Top Pages

 

Bing top pages
Bing Top Pages

 

Semrush top pages
Semrush Top Pages

 

Ubersuggest top pages
Ubersuggest Top Pages

 

GA top pages
Google Analytics Top Pages

 

There are some similarities, but it would be hard to pinpoint my top-performing page if I only used one tool to measure.

The problem is that Google and Bing are ranking by clicks from search.

Semrush and Ubersuggest are using algorithms that estimate page views based on ranking keywords.

Because your ranking keywords are usually totally different on each of the four tools, you can’t say for sure which pages are your top five.

The best way would be to download the data for each tool and merge it into an Excel spreadsheet.

But which tool is the most accurate?

I would have to say Google Analytics (GA) because it is recording historical data of unique page views.

These views can come from organic search, direct traffic, referrals, and paid search.

You can dive deeper into your GA data and then compare it to data from your other tools.

But you need to make sure that you have GA set up correctly because it is very easy to get things wrong.

If you use a GA or SEO plugin on your site, be careful that you don’t have a double instance of your GA tracking code.

This can cause a lot of problems with the accuracy of your data.

As far as your top page performance is concerned, you always need to look at it from a few angles.

Keep track of your top twenty or thirty pages and monitor each tool to get an overall view.

 

How many backlinks do you have?

Calculating your external backlinks is a huge guessing game.

Take a look at how the results vary wildly from one tool to another.

GSC backlinks
GSC Backlinks

 

Ahrefs backlinks
Ahrefs Backlinks

 

Bing backlinks
Bing Backlinks

 

Semrush backlinks
Semrush Backlinks
Ubersuggest backlinks
Ubersuggest Backlinks

From the data above, do you believe that my site has 22,061, 51,847, 10,900, 47,800, or 29,107 backlinks?

The only way you can measure your link building is to look at each number over a few months to see if the result is going up or down.

Ubersuggest is perhaps the most helpful, though, because it is the only tool that gives you a progressive graph.

Backlinks are vital for your ranking on Google.

So it is worth keeping an Excel sheet with your weekly backlink score from Google Seach Console (GSC), so you can track your progression.

Also, keep an eye on your internal link count on Google, because this, too, is a factor that can affect your ranking.

But in general, don’t trust SEO data for backlinks to be accurate. Every tool uses a different spider or crawler, and it can take months for new and lost backlinks to register.

I removed some problematic backlinks some time back, and it took GSC well over four months to recognize the change.

 

How fast is your site?

The variations in load time and site speed depend on so many different factors.

These include the distance from your server to the testing server and what factors the test deems as critical.

You will always get different results with every tool you use.

Even with the same tool, your results will change from one hour or day to the next.

GTmetrix Speed Score
GTmetrix Speed Score

 

Pagespeed Insights Score
Pagespeed Insights Score

 

Pingdom Speed Score
Pingdom Speed Score
WebpageTest Speed Score
WebpageTest Speed Score

 

DotCom-Tools Speed Score
DotCom-Tools Speed Score

The only way to evaluate your site speed and page loading time is to look at the performance over a period of time, and from different locations.

There is no one accurate measure that you can rely on to give you a precise result because there are many load-time variations.

But if you see that your speed is regularly over 3 seconds for desktop or jumping up and down, you should investigate what you can do to improve your site performance and user experience.

If you are targeting a broad audience around the world, you should investigate using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to improve your performance.

If you are concentrating on local SEO, your server is close to your readers, so there is usually no need for a CDN.

 

Never trust one SEO tool

Even if you use premium tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or Majestic, you will still need to use other tools to verify, compare, and check your data.

Your organic traffic is never set in stone and can dramatically change, especially when there are algorithm updates.

The same applies to any keyword explorer or analytics you use. Search volume for any given keyword can vary a lot from one tool to another.

When you start learning how to use SEO, the amount of data you get can be overwhelming.

The best approach is to take a helicopter view and not to focus on the minor up and down details.

Look for trends from a selection of your tools before you make any rash decisions.

If you are chasing the daily changes that will undoubtedly happen on your site, you will end up going around in circles and chasing your tail.

Always take a long term view of your SEO work, and always check, double-check, and verify your data.

No one wonder SEO tool can do it all.

You need a whole toolbox of SEO tools to get the full picture.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent teaching English and writing, as well as testing and taming new technology.

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