Lee Wilson, Service Operations Director, at Vertical Leap, explores where intelligent automation can be deployed in SEO, the benefits of using it and how this can increase ROI, by eliminating the need for specialists to waste time on simple tasks.
Effective SEO is hugely labour intensive. Experts can spend weeks on tasks such as sorting search data or fixing backlinks. With the wide array of technology on offer, why wouldn’t teams add these to their armoury?
By building a highly functional data ecosystem, SEO practitioners can combine the tech with their own expertise to save time and budget for customers and provide more meaningful value.
What are the benefits of automation?
Automation offers a plethora of benefits directly to end users and customers, but also to the SEO specialists who deliver the work.
One major advantage is that automation can make SEO activity far more efficient. It can perform the heavy lifting associated with repeatable and process-led tasks. For activities such as backlink analysis - reviewing thousands or even millions of them to see which are useful, or potentially damaging - the process is simple but often time consuming. In truth, it’s more suited to a machine than a human.
By implementing an intelligent algorithm, the task can be completed quicker and without human error or emotion - providing customers with an infinitely-more efficient service. It is significantly faster to review 15 potential issues flagged by an algorithm than 500,000 of unknown value and intrigue.
More importantly, SEOs can use the time saved by making tech handle these mundane tasks to focus on higher-value work - such as turning raw data into meaningful information. By focusing on detailed analysis of customer behaviour, then implementing the insights into business strategy, professionals have a much better chance of achieving stand-out ROI and giving commercial value to clients.
In this regard, automation is not replacing specialists, but enriching their time. Being able to prioritise and focus on value-adding tasks - from competitor audits to situational analysis - makes far more sense. Let the tech do the real heavy lifting, and manage the mundane.
Take Chat GPT and Bard. These are the first examples of AI that are easy to access and use. Being able to ask a question surrounding a formula or piece of code that could take hours to perfect, and for it to provide an answer immediately, is invaluable.
An SEO expert can achieve more from their time by embracing the role of AI such as ChatGPT to complete targeted actions which supplement their skills. Excel and website code are good examples of this. By combining the knowledge of an expert with AI marketers can save needless time inefficiently troubleshooting and will reach a positive outcome sooner.
The logistics of automation
With the value automation provides, many organisations might feel it should handle all aspects of SEO strategy. In fact, this can be detrimental and result in goals being missed.
Automation should be used for actions that follow a very specific process that is also repeatable, and sucks up a huge amount of human time. Meanwhile, many aspects of SEO clearly require a human touch: ultimately, behind every click there is a person with a unique set of needs. Continuing to ‘humanise’ SEO strategy remains crucial.
Another consideration to be mindful of is the difficulty and questionable reliability of automation. Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits all approach to using the technology and implementation can vary depending on the complexity and scale of an organisation’s needs. There are numerous factors to include when weighing up whether a process is worth automating: from investment value and frequency of use, to the time taken to develop an algorithm.
It’s equally important not to jump on the bandwagon of shiny new tech that promises the Earth. Numerous highly effective applications are already established in the market. The likes of Screaming Frog, SemRush and Google Search Console are all indispensable tools in an SEO specialist’s armoury but it requires an expert to translate these many competing priorities into meaningful actions that will have the greatest impact on the customer’s goals and objectives
It’s also worth being aware that automation tools should be extensively tested for reliability. If it doesn’t work consistently, it is not ready to use.
The benefits of automation are clear and organisations should not hesitate to integrate the tech into their SEO activities. This will free up time for SEO experts to focus on analysing customer behaviour, building relationships, creating impact and driving value.
Machines may be on the march, but used well they will enhance SEO experts - not make them extinct.
By Lee Wilson
Service Operations Director