The Unoptimized SEO


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This Conductor study reveals that repetitive and time-consuming tasks consume up to 40% of the SEO professional's day and that they can increase their productivity by up to 340x with an SEO platform. This is the first time that a study has quantified the time-savings that technology solutions can introduce to an SEO.

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The Unoptimized SEO

  1. 1. researchHow Manual Tasks Sabotage the Potential of Natural Search Marketers
  2. 2. The Unoptimized SEO Executive Summary Due to the technical nature of the SEO industry and its immaturity relative to other marketing disciplines, many SEOs spend a significant percentage of their time on manual tasks. Conductor analyzed the day-to-day life of an SEO, determined the tasks they engage in that could be automated and examined how technology could increase their output. Repetitive and time-consuming tasks consume up to 40% of the SEO professional’s day. Access to a technology SEO Platform that automates these tasks, frees the SEO professional to focus on high growth activities. By reallocating time saved on automatable tasks to the top three high-impact activities, SEOs can achieve up to 133% gains in time spent on revenue producing activities such as content creation and link-building. Key Findings: • There is an inverse relationship between the high-impact tasks SEOs want to be spending time on, and the low-impact automatable tasks that they are actually spending time on —which consume up to 4 out of their every 10 hours • SEOs can achieve up to 339x efficiency gains on repeatable, automatable tasks with an SEO platform versus traditional tool sets • SEOs can increase their time-spend on high-impact activities by up to 133% by using an SEO Platform The Life of the SEO is Underanalyzed Much has been researched, dissected and written in the SEO industry about tactics, budgeting and headcount. Far less has been written about how SEO professionals actually spend their day. This is due, in part, because there is a fractured and ill- defined definition of what an SEO practitioner does. For example, some SEOs are involved with content creation while others never touch it. Some focus disproportionately on link building while others are laser focused on on-page factors. Over the last 18 months, the introduction of the enterprise SEO platform has led to further changes in the SEO job definition. An SEO platform provides unprecedented visibility into the SEO of a website and automates many of the tasks that eat up a 2
  3. 3. The Unoptimized SEO large percentage of the SEO professional’s time, permanently altering the way SEOs do their job. With this paper, for the first time in the industry, Conductor will formally quantify how an SEO’s task breakdown changes when they have access to the efficiencies of an SEO platform. SEOs Surveyed About How They Spend Their Time To gather conclusive data about how an SEO professional spends their day, Conductor surveyed 65 Enterprise Marketers with ‘SEO’ in their job title about the percentage of time they spend on various SEO tasks. Respondents were asked to indicate the percentage of their time they spend on each of the following activities: • Content Creation • Keyword Research • Link Building • On Page Auditing • On Page Changes • Rank Tracking • Technical Issues • Web Analytics Manual Tasks Consume the SEO The survey results showed SEOs spend the most significant amount of their time— nearly 40%--on low-impact operational activities such as rank tracking and on-page auditing. High and medium impact activities such as mining web analytics, keyword research, and link building activities, widely considered to be the most impactful in moving up the rankings received significantly less attention (Figure 1). FIGURE 1 3
  4. 4. The Unoptimized SEO When asked about the top three activities they’d spend more time on given the opportunity, SEO professionals overwhelmingly pointed to high-impact activities rather than the operational activities they were actually spending time on (Figure 2). FIGURE 2 SEOs Hungry for Operational Efficiencies to Focus on High-Impact Activities The gap between what SEO professionals are actually spending their time on versus the growth producing activities they would like to be spending time on becomes even more evident when actual time spend is compared to desired. This comparison shows SEO professionals spending a disproportionate amount of time on operational activities such as on page auditing and rank tracking while actually preferring to spend time on high growth and strategic activities such as mining web analytics, content creation and link-building (Figure 3). FIGURE 3 4
  5. 5. The Unoptimized SEO Quantify Potential Time Savings with Operational Efficiencies To determine how the enterprise SEO professional’s day changes with efficiencies in their operational activities, Conductor designed a series of experiments to simulate their weekly rank tracking activities. The target of the simulation is to end up with the basic metrics required to effectively run an SEO campaign, which include: • Search engine ranking data from Google and Bing • Basic competitor data • Basic keyword trending data The timed experiments simulated an SEO gathering rank data every week over a four-week period. To adequately represent SEO professionals from the broad spectrum of SEO technology maturity, experiments were run using: • Manual tools (a web browser and Excel) • Semi-automatic tools (rank-tracking software) • Fully automatic SEO automation platform To simulate the described activities the experimenter: 1. Gathered rank for target keywords in Google and Bing up to position 50 2. Gathered rank for each keyword for up to 5 competitors 3. Did light trend analysis to expose week over week trends Manual and Semi-Automatic Rank Tracking Hugely Inefficient The experiment results will come as no surprise to industry participants. However, seeing a visual representation of the discrepancy between the effort involved in rank tracking manually and semi-automatically versus with an SEO automation platform may give some SEOs pause as to the inefficiencies of yesterday’s toolset (Figure 4). FIGURE 4 5
  6. 6. The Unoptimized SEO Manual The results highlighted the inefficiencies in gathering and analyzing key ranking metrics using manual and semi-automated tools. No SEO in their right mind would manually track rank for a thousand keywords every week, but we talked with SEOs that still do so for hundreds of keywords. Conductor included manual rank tracking for up to 1,000 keywords for illustrative purposes. Semi-Automated While semi-automated tools do a reasonable job of gathering basic rank data on a one-time basis they are not designed to effectively rank-track over time. Exposing rank change trends requires an export to Excel and labor intensive data manipulation. Conductor encountered these limitations in our experimentation, and this accounts for semi-automatic’s ‘up and to the right’ data series reflected in the chart below. SEO Platform The SEO automation platform, on the other hand, effectively tracks rank for up to thousands of keywords and multiple competitors, and does automatic trend analysis for target keywords and competitors. The time investment is unchanged even as keywords scale, requiring little more than half an hour for initial loading of keywords in the system. The table below reflects the efficiency gains SEO platform users achieve when compared to manual and semi-automatic toolsets. While there are considerable gains to be had when managing even up to 250 keywords, the most significant gains can be realized when managing 500 or more keywords (Figure 5). FIGURE 5 Monthly Rank Tracking Activities Efficiency Gains No. of SEO Platform vs. SEO Platform vs. Keywords Manual Rank Tracking Semi-Automatic Rank Tracking 100 33x 17x 250 84x 44x 500 169x 89x 1,000 339x 179x 6
  7. 7. The Unoptimized SEO SEO Platform Operational Efficiencies Enable High-Impact Activity Focus Armed with a concrete measure of the time savings achieved with an SEO Platform, Conductor reallocated the time-spend on rank tracking activities by distributing it evenly to the top three activities SEOs reported they would like to spend more time on (link building, mining web analytics and content creation). The result, pictured below (Figure 6): • Reduces the time-spend on low-impact rank tracking activities to .5 hours per month, a 98% reduction • Increases the available time-spend on high-impact content creation activities by 11 hours per month, a 133% increase • Increases the available time-spend on high-impact web analytics activities by 11 hours per month, a 51% increase • Increases the available time-spend on link building activities by 11 hours per month, a 51% increase FIGURE 6 7
  8. 8. The Unoptimized SEO Summary Our previous white paper demonstrated how the SEO Platform is bringing SEO considerably closer to the technology maturity of other online marketing disciplines. This paper takes us one step further by quantifying the efficiencies the SEO platform bring the SEO professional. Specifically, how does the day of the SEO professional change given the introduction of the SEO platform? Survey data demonstrates conclusively that SEOs hunger for operational efficiencies in their day so they can focus on growth activities. Conductor showed, with an experiment based approach, how the SEO Platform can give the SEO professional these efficiencies in rank-tracking activities – up to 340x more efficient than manual or semi-automatic toolsets. By applying the newfound efficiencies to the top three activities SEOs want to spend more time on, Conductor demonstrated how they can focus a significantly larger percentage of their time on strategic and growth oriented activities that will actually have a material impact on natural search visibility. In the next paper in our ongoing series on the SEO platform, Conductor will apply a similar experiment-based approach to calculating efficiency gains in on-page auditing that can be achieved with an SEO platform. To close the loop, Conductor will then apply those gains to the ones described in this paper to obtain a complete picture of the operational efficiencies attainable with an SEO platform. 8