Media Coverage

SEO Marketer, It’s Time To Automate Processes

May 31, 2011

MediaPost by Laurie Sullivan

Repetitive tasks consume up to 40% of an SEO professional’s day. Tapping into automation tools can help SEOs achieve up to 133% productivity gains on revenue-producing activities such as content creation and link-building. That’s according to a study released Wednesday by Conductor.

It’s about time someone conducted research on automating SEO processes. As the search industry continues to mature, automation will become the only means to cut costs. And it doesn’t mean SEO professionals will lose their jobs. They will simply spend less time on some tasks and more time on others.

Conductor took it one step further. Determining how an SEO professional’s day changes with efficiencies built into the processes, Conductor designed a series of experiments to simulate weekly rank-tracking activities. The study set out to determine what it takes to effectively run an SEO campaign supported by search engine ranking data from Google and Bing, and basic competitor and keyword trending data.

The timed experiments simulated an SEO that is gathering rank data weekly during a four-week period. Experiments were run using manual tools such as a Web browser and Excel, rank-tracking software, and an SEO automation platform. Simulating the activities, those participating in the experiment gathered rank for target keywords in Google and Bing up to position 50, gathered rank for each keyword for up to five competitors, and conducted light-trend analysis to expose sequential weekly trends.

The results of the experiment demonstrate inefficiencies in gathering and analyzing key ranking metrics using manual and semi-automated tools. Surprisingly, SEOs still manually track rank for hundreds of keywords weekly. Conductor included manual rank tracking for up to 1,000 keywords for illustrative purposes.

While the study found that semi-automated tools do a reasonable job of gathering basic rank data on a one-time basis, they are not designed to effectively rank-track over time. The SEO automation platform, on the other hand, effectively tracks rank for up to thousands of keywords and multiple competitors, and does automatic trend analysis for target keywords and competitors. The report notes that the time investment remains unchanged even as keywords scale, requiring little more than half an hour for initial loading of keywords in the system.

Conductor found gains when managing 250 keywords, but the most significant were realized when managing 500 or more keywords. And while the findings demonstrate where SEO professionals could better spend their time, Conductor missed the cost savings part of the equation. Once an industry matures, automating processes through software and Web services becomes the only tool to drive down costs and raise profits.

Productivity increased after reallocating time spent on rank-tracking activities by distributing it to the top three activities — link building, mining Web analytics and content creation — that SEOs would like to spend more time on. Yes — Conductor builds automation tools, but the fact remains that automating processes increases productivity. The study reveals that automated rank-tracking activities are now 340 times more efficient than manual or semi-automatic toolsets.

The results of automation include:

  • Reduction of the time spent on low-impact rank-tracking activities to .5 hours monthly, up 98%.
  • Increase in the available time spent on high-impact content creation activities by 11 hours per month, up 133%.
  • Increase in the available time spent on high-impact Web analytics activities by 11 hours monthly, a 51% increase.
  • Increase in the available time spent on link-building activities by 11 hours monthly, up 51%.