Should You Automate?
Automation is a concept born of the industrial age. There was a time when people were responsi-
ble for every step in manufacturing a product of any type. Then someone realized that it would be
much faster if you could have a machine do some of the menial, repetitive tasks. And that’s when
Since those first glimmers of inspiration, automation has been applied to a lot of different products,
strategies, and processes. Even on the Internet. Nearly as soon as computer and web applications
were developed, someone started trying to automate them.
The problem with automation is that it doesn’t work for everything. Customer service is a good
example. You simply cannot automate customer service entirely. Sure, you can automate some
aspects, but when it gets down to dealing with real people, you have to have real people do the
job. Machines just don’t understand how people operate.
SEO is one of those technologies that fall into the category of “you can automate some aspects, but
there has to be human interaction, too.” The thing about automation is that a computer program can
carry out a predefined set of activities based on guidelines that are also predefined. But when you
have dynamic (changing) parameters, as you do in SEO, there are limits to what you can automate.
Automating keyword research is an example. There are plenty of programs available on the Web
that will help you with some aspects of keyword research. You can find programs that generate
keywords for you, or that look at your competition’s site to see how it’s using keywords and what
keywords it’s using. A piece of software can also monitor keywords that you’re using in PPC pro-
grams to help you know when your bid is too low. But a program can’t use the human logic and
understanding that goes into determining which of those keywords will work for the nuances of
your web site.
Creativity is one reason not to automate. A second reason is that many search engines look down
on automated SEO strategies. There are bits of SEO that you can automate without being penalized.
We’ve talked about keywords, but you can also automate some of your management functions such
as analytics and rank monitoring.
The tasks you never want to automate are site generation, automatic link programs, and content
generation. It will be obvious to search engines that you’ve automated the tasks, and the result of
that automation won’t be better rankings, as you might hope. The result more likely will be having
your site delisted from search engine results, at least temporarily.
When you’re considering taking the automation route, stick with automation of functions that aren’t
critical to providing customers and site visitors with the information and capabilities that they need.
Don’t automate content or linking and certainly don’t automate the creation of your web site. Use
your creativity to make those elements of your site as appealing to site visitors as possible, and leave
the automation for the administrative functions that have no impact on your customers.
Optimizing Search Strategies
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