Being a “great” SEO, now, is something that comes from various levels of proficiency. Talent isn’t relegated to one point along the scale – you can be a great in-house, a great agency SEO, a great link builder, or otherwise, have the computer science background to understand the algorithm more than most other search practitioners.
Much of this won’t change ten years from now. All of these factors will offer deliminating characteristics that separate the top three positions from the top thirty. But there is something else that will change – and is continuing to change – that, for now, is providing much of the differentiation between the top rank and a middle position. That something is the ability to eliminate SEO pain points.
Economies of Scale
Every point along the SEO process, there is time wasted performing data entry type tasks – ones that, for all intensive purposes, don’t require a brain to implement. But, because of the size of the search field, the relatively small number of programming-posed practitioners, and the relative youth of the industry, many of these pain points are still relatively unsolved, or otherwise, not solved to an acceptable point.
For every SEO, these pain points are different – some haven’t heard of things like Textbroker, don’t use Open Site Explorer, or don’t use article spinning software. Others have top-level SEOs doing data-mining tasks like e-mail gathering when they could outsource it at a much lower cost.
As I talk to lots of colleagues in SEO, I’ve come to notice how widely knowledge of these scalable, time-saving practices varies between professionals. Often times, the holes is productivity come from lack of need – if you choose a high-quality-only link acquisition strategy, automating the link report process with Raven SEO might not seem like a must – but the time adds up. Similarly, if you don’t see e-mail link building as a viable aspect in your niche, familiarizing yourself with Mechanical Turk or ELance might not seem worth the pain gathering the random 300 e-mails you want requires.
These little blips come into play from process to process – and, on a long enough timeline, every SEO will see benefit from finding the holes in their process where these pain points occur – and then go about solving them.
The Future of Being a “Great” SEO
Today, these pain points – and the ability to eliminate them – can separate websites in the search results. These data-entry tasks still hold up many SEO teams – even if it means having your intern spend time gathering e-mails when they could be doing something else that generates hypertext that moves the needle.
Every day, SEO tools get better. Their job is to eliminate these pain points. In five to ten years, I imagine that much of our pain point problems will be solved – and because of that, competitive advantage in the form of productivity maximization will be minimized. But, for now, the leverage this creates is real. It makes the difference. It can turn 100 links a month to 150. 200 to 300. And on. As SEOs in this for the long haul, it’s absolutely required that we find these little time losses in our process, eliminate them, and scale the heck out of our efforts so more time can be spent getting links.
Many agencies and businesses have proprietary technologies to take care of many of these pain points. But much of them will leak, or will eventually be created by public tools. So, getting these answers now – rather than waiting for them later – is the best bet for holding any competitive advantage tight we have in the coming years.
I definitely have a few holes in my “pain points” process – which is where you come along. Below, I detail every good tool for every immediately identifiable SEO pain point – as I’ve come to discover it. I also offer up my current pain points – with hope you have a remedy, or to grow awareness that this is something that SEOs need. It’s even possible that much of my dilemmas are solvable by a rather advanced Excel equation – if you’ve got it, please serve it up. But, of course, you’d do us all a favor by creating a webapp for efficiency/ease of use.
If you have any more, or I’m missing some other SEO process, please inform – I’ll add it to the list immediately, and also give your site some link love, should you want it.
- Scraping Title Tag/URL/Meta Data for Page Recommendations: Scraping with Google Docs by Tom Critchlow
- Keyword Research: RavenSEO, Google Adword Tool, Keyword Discovery, Wordtracker
- Keyword Generator – Auto Create Keywords/Title Tags Based On Primary Base + Local/Product Variant: SEOBook Keyword Generator Tool (Hat Tip: Tom Demers)
- Competitor Research – SERP Level: SEO for Firefox
- Competitor Research – Page Level: SEOmoz SEO Toolbar, SearchStatus
- Backlink Analysis: Open Site Explorer, Yahoo! Site Explorer, Majestic SEO
- Keyword Difficulty Tool: SEOMoz
- Locating Link Prospects: Ontolo.com
- Automated Link Reporting/Management: Raven SEO
- HTML Code Generator for Link Building/Article Directories – By offering Keyword/URL in a spreadsheet/list, auto-create HTML code to be used for link building (a href=) – mostly for article directories: No known tool
- E-mail Gathering/Data Entry at Scale: Mechanical Turk, ELance, oDesk
- Content Spinner for Unique Content Generation: Spin Profit
- Form Filler for Expedited Website Registration/Contact Form Fillling: Autofill Forms Firefox Extension | Chrome Settings Under Options>Personal Stuff
- Rank Checker: RavenSEO, Authority Labs, SEOBook, Advanced Web Ranking
- Client/Internal Reports: RavenSEO
I’m sure there are a few problems with this list – first, that there are other good tools that might do the preceding things, better – and that two, I’m missing some pain points that you might have or have had experience with as an SEO. Feel free to send both along – I expect this list to grow/improve over time, and it’s something that I will keep constantly updated as I walk into more SEO pain points.
As the saying goes – no pain, no pain. Right?
Image credit goes to The New Yorker.