Is automated SEO possible? The simple answer is: yes, it is.
But the more intelligent answer is that fully-automated SEO cannot achieve the same results as a professionally optimized strategy.
Automated tools can’t (and shouldn’t) replace people when it comes to developing marketing plans based on:
- Target audience personas
- Analyzing competitive intelligence
- Relating to publications and influencers
- Making decisions based upon the data gathered
It’s true that search engine optimizers use systems to help us with our keyword research, site audits, and reports, but that doesn’t mean we would use robots to build links or run a PR campaign.
If someone promises you an automated “link-building program,” it can’t be anything but a scam. For example, an integral part of SEO is site optimization, in which we might use automated systems to locate errors, but we’d still need a human being to make recommendations and another human to implement them.
The idea of automating SEO is somewhat similar to that of a self-driving car. Can a car be driven by a robot? Sure, Google is even working on one. But so far, only the human brain has the flexibility to survive in ever-changing road conditions. The machines only identify other machines; they cannot tell if a police officer is waving his or her hands as a sign of danger. The road it organic, just like proper SEO.
Using automated SEO will, eventually, backfire. It takes a robot to know a robot, and when Google bots identify automated optimizations, they penalize the offending site.
The reason is that search engine optimization, like much of marketing, is both an art and a science. While some of the research and data-gathering can (and quite possibly, should) be automated with time-saving tools, we cannot eliminate the human factor: the creativity, the strategic decisions, the understanding and relatedness that encompass marketing.
Which Parts Of SEO Automation Need Human TLC?
Optimization of a website for search engines does include strenuous manual work like site audits, keyword research, and the other “candidates for automation” (which we will discuss in the next section). But SEO is not a checklist of tasks or a formula of implementations. A successful SEO project also includes the following human actions:
The base of any marketing strategy consists of planning, gathering data on the target audience, and building a customized marketing plan. Automation cannot replace a talented human marketer with experience and knowledge in these concepts.
Generating traffic to the site and turning it into leads needs human insight. Reducing the bounce rate and making sure people interact and stay on the site longer requires human analysis. Nurturing leads through the buying cycle until they eventually turn into customers is based on human strategy and planning.
For example, if you own a company that provides software to business managers, a robot will not be able to come up with relevant content that business managers will be interested in to attract them to your site. Only a person can understand and conceptualize the pain points of your target customer and create a user experience that will make them enter, stay on your site, and later become a paying customer.
You can’t automate relationships, and you can’t automate PR. Creating and strengthening contacts can never be fully automated. Getting human journalists to know your name and trust you to deliver top content is still manual work that is built slowly with a lot of effort.
Content marketing requires a Content Manager to come up with unique topics and writers to create engaging content that will get people clicking on the byline links. Furthermore, it requires an Outreach Manager to get placements and deliver the articles on time.
If we lived in a world where blogs and sites were completely governed by machines, while other machines send out guest posts requests and somehow they both make decisions together based on keywords and other variables, we wouldn’t read many new ideas, spur interesting discussions, or create content that is valuable to humans.
There is no doubt about it, we still need a human being to oversee the projects from beginning to end and make sure all humans and machines are synchronized and working together properly.
A Project Manager keeps everyone on track, follows up, and follows through until successful project completion.
Strategic plans, implementations, and decisions should never be automated. Optimizers can partially base their strategic initiatives on data gathered automatically, but that is the extent to which automation belongs in SEO.
The rest requires the tender loving care of marketing specialists who understand:
- The audience
- The competitive landscape
- The site design
- The site usability
- The site navigation
- The technical aspects
Where Should You Automate SEO?
That is not to say that we should not use some automation when optimizing sites. The following SEO tasks are great ways to automate on page SEO:
Automation can find broken links, keyword density issues, and meta content much quicker and easier than a human can. However, making decisions about changes based on these insights is best left in the hands of experienced optimizers.
One great tool to for website auditing is SE Ranking. One of their many features includes providing you with a detailed list of ranking factors and spotting key glitches that are holding you back. With their comprehensive analysis, your website is checked for over 70 different parameters.
Keyword ranking information changes often and can easily be programmed to be updated and accurate. The data gathering can be automated, and one great tool for that is Moz Pro Rank Tracker.
Moz Pro’s rank tracking software tool retrieves search engine rankings for pages and keywords, and stores them for easy comparison. Instead of manually checking daily, you can track selected rankings data over time to see which efforts are making the most impact.
Implementing changes based on that data, however, must be performed by a logical, methodical, real-life search engine optimizer.
Competitive Analysis Data:
To gather data on competitor’s keywords, backlinks, and SERP positions, automated tools can come in handy. One such tool that does just this is Ahrefs. Ahrefs allows you to analyze your competitors search traffic and see the exact keywords that they are ranking for in organic search results and how much traffic they bring them.
But, once again, the decision about strategies to emulate should be left to competent human minds.
Backlinks/Inbound Link Tracking:
Tracking the sites that link to your website is a task best left to automation. It is virtually impossible to track all of your backlinks without some form of automation. Find and track all your site’s backlinks with Small SEO Tool’s backlink checker.
The tool runs a series of tests to determine how many backlinks are pointing to your website and gathers additional information such as anchor text used, Page Rank of the backlink source, and any potential flags or warnings for each individual link.
However, performing the outreach and creating the content to enrich backlinks should never be left in the “hands” of machines.
Social Media Monitoring:
Though SEO automation tools cannot completely replace human minds, they can simplify the task of finding social media mentions of your brand and shares of your content. One of the best SEO automation tools is Mention, which can replace your Google Alerts by giving you a way to visualize your online presence, separating the signals you want of your brand from the rest of the noise online. Mention allows you to monitor your brand across millions of sources in real time and in 42 languages.
Duplicate Content Analysis:
Another task that is virtually impossible without automation is analyzing duplicate content. SEO Review Tools has a duplicate content checker that allows you to check for identical text on both internal pages and external sites.
SEO Optimization Automation:
SEO optimization automation is available through tools like HubSpot.
With HubSpot, the content you upload is automatically scanned to check for SEO markers for optimization such as:
- Alt Text
However, it takes an actual person to implement the optimization suggestions from HubSpot correctly.
Automated SEO Reporting:
Another way you can incorporate SEO automation into your SEO strategy is by using automated SEO reporting to keep yourself informed of your website’s search engine ranking status. The best SEO automation tools also bring to your attention things you can do to improve your ranking. One such automated SEO reporting tool is Raven Tools.
Raven Tools save you time by automatically generating reports on all your digital marketing campaigns, including SEO.
Full SEO Automation
Personal, manual search engine optimization cannot currently, and may not ever, be replaced by machines. It takes knowledge, experience, finesse, and a certain human “touch” that cannot be replicated by a robot.
However, automation can offer optimizers tools that save them time on menial tasks. The time saved can then be better invested in the strategic, creative, artistic, and innovative processes that require the expertise of specialists.
Search engine optimization has developed past the realm of “nice to have.” These days it cannot even be considered a “best practice.” Instead, SEO is an absolute, ubiquitous, integral “must” for every website. SEO is an ever-changing, ever-growing field that envelopes:
- Technical aspects
- Updates to search algorithms
- Website usability
- Content marketing strategy
- Social media
The effects of an effective SEO strategy on a website’s rank in the SERPs cannot be argued. In fact, a study found that 93% of all internet traffic comes from a search engine and another eye-tracking study discovered that while everybody looks at organic listings, between 70% and 80% ignore the paid ads. The first listing on Google gets 33 percent of search traffic, while the 10th gets only gets 2 percent.
With proven stats like these, investing in search engine optimization becomes a no-brainer.
The Bottom Line
SEO automation tools help professional optimizers by saving time on repetitive tasks, data gathering, and auditing. They cannot replace a search engine optimization team that specializes in strategizing, planning, executing, creating, implementing, tracking, and monitoring.
Like it takes a bot to know a bot; it takes a human to know, understand, target, and relate to other humans and compel them to take action. If your SEO strategy is intended for humans, it must be managed by humans.
Manual SEO is still irreplaceable as nothing can yet replace a human reading text. Only people can find intelligent new ways to optimize for SEO and ensure continued high rankings.
Learn how the humans (a.k.a. SEO experts) at KeyScouts can help you target your ideal audience and generate more leads. Contact us for a free consultation, or for more tips on how to do B2B SEO right, download our free ebook.
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