SEO Automation: Does It Really Work?

Business.com / Business Intelligence / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Find out whether or not you should employ SEO automation in your marketing strategy and how to do it the right way.

In the world of post-Penguins and post-Pandas, the phrase “SEO automation” sounds taboo.

It is easy to think of this term as "black hat" when tools like SeNukeXcr and XRumer help webmasters build hundreds of backlinks and attract thousands of visitors with a few clicks of a button.

You do not have to do the legwork for building links and drive traffic because these tools will do the laborious work for you.

In essence, this is the idea of what SEO automation does – taking away the guesswork from intricate SEO tactics to produce results.

However, the algorithm changes undertaken by Google throughout the years starting with the Farmer Update has made SEO automation in this manner obsolete. 

Related Article: 6 Toxic SEO Habits You Should Stop Today

Automation Is Not the Same Anymore

As SEO automation prioritize the production of backlinks in quantity at a blazing fast rate, the algorithm has put a premium on quality. This takes into consideration the type of website where your links are featured in, among other factors.

The problem with the tools above is that they play the numbers game.

Link building, unlike any other task under the SEO flagship, requires you to discern which sites to links to, as well as how you intend to link to them.

Automation will not be able to help you build a sustainable link profile from authoritative sites. At best, automating your link building campaign can net hundreds of backlinks from mediocre sites.

“The days of automating SEO has passed, and it is a good thing for the user,” says Michael Jenkins of Shout! Social Media Agency. “Creating high volumes of automated links is yesteryear. To succeed in SEO, you need to become a genuine authority in your space. Just creating volumes of bad links will not get you in pole position. You need to a trusted leader in your space, and Google will recognize your authority and rank you accordingly.”

Inbound confessions of a google spammer meme

Take this revealing piece by Jeff Deutsch over at Inbound.org on how his automated link building empire has crumbled down after Google cracked it wide open. The post is proof that automation has its limit, especially when it comes to complicated SEO tasks like building links.

This has stuck a fork in how most marketers do their SEO. They now need to employ different tactics like blogger outreach and link bait content such as the Skyscraper Technique to net backlinks that pass in the eyes of Google.

By developing trust and influence to your audience using the tactics above, you can gain backlinks from authoritative sites.

“Rather than just hiring one of the millions of "SEO" companies to do the dirty work for you, and potentially risking them harming your site, I recommend digging deep into your blogs industry to connect with influencers and other bloggers within your niche,” says Matt Banner of OnBlastBlog.com. “These relationships will eventually lead to natural inbound links and social shares, which will ultimately help your website rank for the primary keywords that you focus on.”

These things being said...

Related Article: Get Found Faster: The Comprehensive Toolbox for SEO Marketing

Is There a Chance That SEO Automation Can Exist in a White-Hat Context?

Could it be possible that automating your site optimization tactics prove to be beneficial to your online business?

On the other side of the coin, there is good reason to automate your SEO tasks.

“SEO can impact your bottom line, but if SEO is not your core strength or you do not have the time to do it yourself, you are spreading yourself too thin,” says Rob Lons of pay for performance SEO RankPay. “It is almost a no-brainer to outsource and automate whatever you can. The easiest solution for most business owners is to hire an SEO company that already has the processes in place to deliver results.”

What is being referred is the statement above is learning how to discern which tasks to outsource and automate, especially if you are not keen with SEO.

Caroline Middlebrook, who owns social bookmarking automation service IMAutomation, offers a more diplomatic answer by suggesting how to use black hat SEO tools in a white hat setting.

“You cannot deny the fact that some tasks take a huge amount of time to perform manually but a computer can do them on auto-pilot,” she says. "There is lots of other software similar to mine such as SE Nuke, Ultimate Demon, GSA, etc. and all of our tools can automate the creation of tons of backlinks. All the user has to do is set it up and then let it run."

“But before you even get backlinks, you first have to start with good content, that has good on page SEO without being over optimized. Then there are social signals. While some tools attempt to automate things like Facebook likes etc., nothing can replace and real engaged audience liking, commenting and sharing your content.”

Since SEO is just part and parcel of your overall marketing strategy, it works to great effect with useful content and active outreach campaign in place. Once you have these things set up, automating some aspects of your SEO strategy can deliver the results you want.

That said, it is wise to automate your SEO tasks when necessary.

Ahrefs SEO backlink tracking home page

For instance, instead of running a manual crawl on your site using Screaming Frog, you can use a tool like Moz or Ahrefs to crawl your site and identify actionable items that need immediate attention.

The difference may be a few hundred bucks over time, but if you have the resources to spend on, I believe that automating your site diagnose using paid tools will save you hours in a week and increase your conversion if you play your cards right.

In fact, automation is not limited to SEO.

Paid blogger outreach tools like BuzzStream and Ninja Outreach cuts down the time of manually searching for data about influencers in your niche and streamline your email outreach campaigns.

In other words, SEO automation will and should work as long as you know what you are doing.

Conclusion (And What You Need to Do)

To determine how you can automate your SEO tasks, here are things that you need to do:

  • Determine your SEO competency and find your weak areas. If you prioritize identifying link building opportunities but do not know where to begin, you need to look for services that can offer this for you. Corollary, if you feel that you can look out for your on-page SEO without assistance, then you do not have to automate this feature.
  • Scale the performance of your SEO automation. Since you are investing in these tools, you need to make sure that you are getting back what you paid for them, if not more, to determine their effectiveness.
  • Maintain a human touch in your automation. If you are launching an off-page SEO automation, always keep things personal as possible. If you are using a blogger outreach tool, send a different email to each influencer to make your message unique.

Related Article: Storytelling 101: What Defines Good Content for Off-Page SEO?

By observing these things when choosing which SEO tasks to automate, you can approach your SEO in a brilliant manner while increasing your productivity in doing other things for your site at the same time.

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