In 12 years doing marketing for myself and others, I have looked at so many numbers.

So. Many. Numbers.

They call this the era of big data and machine learning.

When is Too Much Information Too Much?

If you have been around the marketing space for very long, you have heard of Niel Patel. When I first started following him, I was always amazed by his in-depth and extremely long-form content.

He was the marketers’ marketer.

And he used ALL THE DATA.

He captured your information with exit intent pop-ups, bottom-scrolling pop-ups, and side-bar embedded forms.

His posts covered everything you could think of.

My How the Times Have Changed

I have been pretty busy and thinking through a re-brand for my own sites, so Niel Patel was not on the top of my mind for quite some time.

Today, I went to his newest site, Niel Patel, and was pleasantly surprised by his minimalist homepage. His blogs are easily readable within 15 minutes, and besides the form to try out his own SEO tool, there was not a single pop-up or lead-capture form in place.

Intrigued, I immediately clicked over to his blog and started reading up on the changes.

“Put Yourself in the Users’ Shoes.”

In a post describing why his search results were dropping, Niel stated that he had spent over $60,000 in software and big data testing and could not recover the traffic on his site.

Over $60,000 in Big Data and No Measurable Improvement

He recommended two common-sense alternatives to all the data:

  1. Look at the sites of people who are ranking better than you and image you are a reader of both sites. What did they do better?
  2. Make sure your content is regularly updated to keep the pages fresh in the minds of readers and in the search engine algorithms.

That’s it?

Simple and doable, and requires zero big data.

Picture of A Lake (and my kids) to Remind You To take an Eye Break from Reading

The Myth of Big Data

Like all myths, the big data myth takes something rooted in truth and reality, big data is really useful, and expands it to absurd proportions, big data will produce sentient machines, provide for a universal basic income, and guarantee my website gets to the first place in all the google searches.

Not only are the socio-political hopes we put in big data proving to be misfounded (Cambridge Analytica, anyone?), but it also is proving to be less than useful for myself and 100% of my customers.

We Are Surrounded by Too Much Information

The picture I started this post with is a picture looking out from the balcony at my coworking space in Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.

When I am up here, traffic sounds like traffic. When I am up here, people walking by on the street sound like random passersby.

In other words, all the sounds become the mildly pleasant but basically useless sounds of a city.

If you look down at the street, you will see a square I walk through multiple times a week on my way from my house to coworking or to a teaching center.

Down there, honks mean something.

Down there, a voice raised in greeting, request, or command means something.

When I am down on the street, I have access to much less noise. Traffic is a car. Pedestrians are a young child asking me for some money to buy bread.

Up here, I have more information. I have too much information to do anything with it.

Down there, I hear less cars, less people, and less other noises (birds, scooters, dogs, wind), but each sound is more useful to me.

Listening in Business

In the same way, someone could hand you a list of the 10,000 keywords you want to rank for, but it does you absolutely no good if you have less than 500,000 words on your site.

In other words, if you are the average small business owner, SEO big data is less than useless.

What you need is a plan to navigate the streets of business and listen to the relevant data when it comes your way.

The data you use should be targeted, and gathered in as close to real-time as possible, because you only need enough information to take the next step.


We are REAL people helping REAL businesses solve REAL problems for REAL customers in REAL-time; we ARE your real-time marketing team.