SEO can be automated!

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Loren Baker has asked a thought-provoking question: “Can SEO be automated?” Coincidentally he asks the question just a day after we released a product at TechCrunch40 with just such a goal.

It seems that the folks at Commerce360 are working to build a product similar to our RankSense. There is a fundamental difference in approach, however. We are not trying to replace the human element; we are trying to make humans work far easier and simpler. Truthfully, I don’t even think their goal of fully-automated SEO is possible. In many ways search engine optimization is plain old marketing—and marketing is driven by creativity. No machine can quite claim to be creative just yet.

How to build an SEO product

Everyone sees the great value in search traffic. The advantage you have placing on the first page of Google’s search results is indisputable. But so far your options to accomplish this have been:

1) DIY pay-per-click. This is the easiest way to do search marketing. Give your credit card info, follow some wizards in Google Adwords and you will start getting customers in minutes. Unfortunately, the competition has driven click costs to levels that are no longer affordable to people without some advanced skills.

2) DIY SEO. Many say it is as simple as writing great content and attracting links, but as I have explained before, there is far more involved in doing successful SEO. People trying to do it themselves rely primarily on SEO education via blogs, e-books, seminars, and conferences. Education implies that substantial time is necessary, and in many ways SEO can be very technical and not necessarily exciting to most. (My readers excluded, obviously 😉

There are also a bunch of useful SEO tools available from multiple vendors, but the only integrated options like WebPosition and WebCEO haven’t updated the processes they modeled 10 years ago! What’s the use in submitting your site to thousands of unknown search engines anyway? Perhaps if you need more spam in your inbox, but I can’t think of any others.

3) SEO experts and SEM agencies. We have two big extremes. On the low end are cheap ‘SEO’ submission services and scams mailing solicitations dressed as invoices, who together are giving our industry a bad name. On the other hand, we have reputable companies that do get results but the price per hour is no way near the budget of a small business owner. Demand for SEO services is bigger than the number of companies offering it. SEO experts get many requests for services but their time is limited and the price goes up.

All this leaves a big segment of people that have a limited budget, don’t have several weeks to learn SEO on their own, don’t want to pay high PPC prices but still want results. Given my affiliate roots and how I built my business with no outside funding, I relate a lot with this group.

SEO on shoestring budget

I think this is where intelligent productivity software helps. Software is scalable and can be made available to the masses while still keeping costs low. I envisioned RankSense more than 3 years ago with this goal in mind: powerful software at the touch of a button to help (not replace) people.

My team has worked to automate everything that can be automated, while including a lot of unique ideas and SEO insights gained through years of optimizing our own sites. We still have many more ideas of things that can be improved and perhaps automated in the future, and we’re welcome to outside ideas as well.

At the end of the day, though, nobody can replace the human component of creativity, social networks, and emotions necessary in this endeavor. Search engines have a long way to go before they start producing results that really please human beings. SEO software in comparison, where only modest investment is being made, has an even longer way to go.

17 replies
  1. Darren Moloney
    Darren Moloney says:

    we have reputable companies that do get results but the price per hour is no way near the budget of a small business owner

    I get reputable results for my clients every time and for an affordable amount, though as an SEO consultant and practitioner I've found that there are plenty of companies who carry out web optimisation for stupidly high prices and others that do it for pathetically low rates… there just doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground in this arena which makes it harder for everyone.

    I still find many companies in the UK just don't want to pay up for a fair, reasonable rate for SEO services because they have made the mistake of having the site built first without due regard to SEO. They then see that SEO is just an additonal COST rather than a worthwhile investment.

    I still don't think that Automated SEO can be as intuitive and creative as Human SEO….

    • Hamlet Batista
      Hamlet Batista says:

      Darren – Thanks for your comment. I believe what you say about your services, however companies like yours are far and few. Definitely not as many are needed to serve the increasing demand.

      How will you scale when faced with an overwhelming number of customer requests for service?

      I honestly think that the goal of SEO packages must be to help us ease the load of work and be more efficient and profitable.

      • Darren
        Darren says:

        Hi – sorry for the delay in replying – I've been away on a break (wifes birthday).

        Right now I am faced with an overwhelming response of request for service (which is a nice position to be in).
        I manage my time carefully, give extremely realistic timeframes and ask that new clients are very patient whilst waiting.

        The only way to scale would be to recruit staff (something in the offing) or as you say automate some of the SEO (which is fine if its just some of the mundane tasks)…


    • David Hopkins
      David Hopkins says:

      As a web developer (primiarily) I see a lot of the people you mention who have a web site built and then it doesn't bring them anything because they have a new domain and a handful of links. I'm sure Hamlet or someone else mentioned before that most companies/people think SEO is a quick drug to be injected into their website for a few notes. I was once asked how much it would cost and how long it would take to put a website with not a single incoming link on pages one of Google for over 23,000 towns. I guess this kind of illogical thinking could be explained by the fast nature of the western world?

      On the automated front, I think you are more or less right. You cannot have all your SEO done mechanicaly. Although individual aspects can be handled almost entierly by software: link exchange, spammy emails, Digg spammers etc.

  2. Jez
    Jez says:

    Many say it is as simple as writing great content and attracting links

    I cannot count the number of times I have read this, far more than I have read great content thats for sure! To write good viral content you really have to have the aptitude for it, it is easier said than done.

    Can SEO be automated

    If everyone were to rely on a handful of automating products, how would they derive competitive advantage?

  3. Jab
    Jab says:

    Why don`t you explain how SEO can be automated? It would be very interesting to see an automation in linkbuilding and Keywordresearch.

    Of course…a couple of plugins for rewriting and Tagging is not automated SEO.

  4. Manual Directory Sub
    Manual Directory Sub says:

    SEO can not be automated.

    Reason? Because If it is automated, it will become SPAM instead of SEO and If every body use the same automated process to do seo, every body should get exact same ranking position which can not be practically possible.

    Padhamanabha Sharma
    Directory Maximizer

  5. Buy links
    Buy links says:

    I agree that SEO can't be automated, sending automated link exchange requests are considered spamming. Also, I tried and used many SEO tools that was helping me on certain tasks. I don't believe that one tool can bring a top 10 ranking 100% on his own.


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