So, a few friends and I were talking about how some SEO firms, consultants, affiliates – whoever the hell they may be – cost themselves a lot of time and money by not automating processes.

I’ve automated several processes for quite a while now and can’t imagine why others wouldn’t do the same. I think the consensus was that people don’t automate processes for several reasons…

  1. They don’t even know to automate things.
  2. They don’t have the programming knowledge to automate things.
  3. They can’t or think they can’t afford to hire someone to automate.
  4. They tend to view automation as blackhat or lesser quality.
  5. They understand the concept but not how to apply it to their business.
  6. Sheer laziness.

If you’ve read me for any amount of time, you’re likely thinking “you’re the one always saying do things the old fashioned way.” Yes and no.

I think sending out tons of automated link requests for a serious client is a bad thing. I think replacing any process that requires no intuition and only time is a good thing.

I look at automation as the nurse to my doctor. When you go to a doctor, the nurse comes in and takes your vitals, asks your symptoms and gathers all off the information on your chart for the doctor. The doctor then comes in, looks at, analyzes and uses the information the nurse collected to know where to start to diagnose and treat your problems.

Would your treatment have been any better with the doctor performing those basic tasks instead of the nurse? No. Mechanical grunts (what I call any program automating a thoughtless task that requires time) are my nurse.*

Most of my friends use automation for remedial tasks, but I was shocked at the sheer number of people that had never even considered it this week. Seems some people need to sit down, take a hard look at their processes and start planning some shit out. None of this is profound (or meant to be). People just have to get off their asses and do something about it.

*Disclaimer: I think nurses are very valuable, and I do not think of a nurse as a mechanical grunt or some performing remedial tasks. It was just the easiest real world explanation I could think of to explain how automating the gathering of basic information does not decrease the overall quality of the SEO care.

So what “legitimate” things can you do?

Basic intelligence

Site audits are a big place to use mechanical grunt work. A mechanical grunt can easily collect the needed information (site searches, titles, etc.) without the need for human intervention. Then you can take the starter information and dig deeper based on what you see or infer may be problem areas.

Checking for copyright infringement

Checking for duplicate content on a regular basis – if that is a concern for the site owner – is another thing easily automated.

Checking out the competition

Doing competitive intelligence on competitors is another example – from tracking their backlinks to tracing their site structure and setup.

Link development related things

A mechanical grunt can collect data about the backlinks from any website. There are many out of the box programs for this, and one or two are decent, but building one in-house means the data will be what you need.

Keeping track of link development tasks, requests, etc. (no, not crap auto-emailers). The same goes for identifying potential link sites. You can tell a program check the links for x domain and gather all linking domains with .edu of any page rank and general TLDs with a PR higher than PR4 (or whatever metric you want). Then you or your employees hand review and contact.

Brand policing

Have some industry blogs talking about your company? You can automate brand checking. Set up a program to do a site search for all the industry blogs/forums on a once a month basis and reporting back any pages to you with your company name listed on them. Don’t want to keep reviewing old posts? Have the program auto compare it to the last check and kill the dupes to only show you the new ones.

I’m stating the more obvious uses, but there are some sweet ones when you think about it. And they’re all legitimate uses. This stuff being done by a human would not make it any higher quality.