SEO Can't Be Automated — or Can It?

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Jul 20, 2009
More Articles by Janet

I’ve long said, and I think many agree with me on this, that search engine optimization (SEO) is not, nor can it be, an automated process. Why? Let’s break it apart:

Keyword Selection

I always like to say that selecting the right keywords is the foundation of good SEO. Sure, you could have a program read through your website, scanning for existing keywords on your site, but, what if you’re missing the RIGHT keyword on your website? Keywords, like searches, require human interaction to decipher the semantic meaning in terms as well. So far, I’ve not found a tool that adjusts for semantics well.

Content Edits

Can you have software edit your page? I guess so. But do you want your page — your interaction wth the prospect — to sound like it was contrived by a computer? No!

Inbound Linking

While inbound links can often be built with bots and such, many sites now have techniques like CAPCHAs to ensure that bots cannot submit links.

What You CAN Automate for SEO

As a small business, we’re constantly challenged by how we can improve efficiencies and profit margin. The other day, Dev Basu posted “Creating Automated Systems in Your SEO Business” on Search Engine Journal, and I was excited to see what his suggestions were.

Like Dev, I believe that there ARE things you can automate about your SEO business — even if you can’t automate the process of SEO itself. One area that is RIPE for automation is reporting. Recently, I shared a cab on the way out of town from the SMX Advanced conference, and my cab-mate, from another agency, shared with me his reporting tales of woe. He shared how it was very complex and timely to get reports together each month.

We faced that same challenge at Search Mojo early on. We had one large enterprise client who had a rankings report that totaled over 500 pages. That’s right — 500 pages. It took me almost seven days to compile it. And even then, Microsoft Word blew up left and right because of all of the tables in the document (Word doesn’t handle large tables well…).

The answer? Reporting automation. By importing our data from various tools into a database, we could customize our report in the design we wanted and streamline formatting time. Besides, our account managers’ time is better spent actively working on SEO than formatting fonts and tables, right?

The result? That 500-page report that took over seven days to compile I can now compile in about two hours. What a timesaver!

How did we do it? We primarily use databases paired with an application called ASPPDF. It’s a tool that allows you to create PDF documents on the fly from ASP code. It’s incredibly flexible, and it’s worked well for us. We continue to add more detail and options to our reporting methods — allowing us to provide superior reporting to clients at an affordable rate — all while improving our profit margins.

So can you automate SEO? Maybe not the process itself. But I do encourage you to find ways to automate other areas of your business, like reporting, that you can streamline and improve efficiencies.

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