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 general 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 to come in, look at, analyze and use the information to know where to start to dig deeper with you to find out the cause of, 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 spec’ing 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 SEO care.
So what “legitimate” things can you do?
Added: Someone howled a valid question below, so I’m adding to this entry to give some quick examples. ;-)
Site audits are a big place to use mechanical grunt work. Most of the information that needs to be gathered (site searches, titles, etc – I won’t go too further into etc as that would likely violate something LOL) are easily done by a mechanical grunt without needing human intervention to gather the basics. 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 tracing their backlinks to tracing their site structure and setup.
Link development related things
Analyzing backlinks from any site in general. There are many out of the box programs for this, and one or two are decent, but building one in house means it being exactly what you’re looking for.
Keeping track of link development tasks, requests, etc (no, not crap auto-emailers). Same with identifying potential link sites… tell a program check the links for x domain and gather a list of all linking domains with .edu of any pagerank and non .edu of higher than PR4 (if you give a shit about PR) for you or your employees hand review and contact.
Have some industry blogs talking about your company? Automate brand checking… set up a program to do a site search of 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.
Tons more, tons more…. I’m stating the more obvious uses, but there are some really sweet ones when you think about it. And they’re all legitimate uses… none of this stuff being done by a human would make it any higher quality.