Automation has been the best thing that has happened to humanity since the invention of the wheel (which, by the way, helped automate many tasks as well). We are not even exaggerating. It is the best ally of any business owner, and the root of any efficient SEO tool you can think of. It saves time and resources by taking off from your shoulders all the boring and infinitely repetitive tasks, and allowing you to work on the really meaningful parts of your business. But what is it and how can you enjoy its benefits?
More often than not, having an E-Commerce business means building spreadsheets that contain tens of thousands of products with their descriptions, or creating an extensive database with names and contact information of endless lists of clients or potential customers. This means dedicating days or even weeks at a time to create these neat and organized spreadsheets, or hiring a couple of guys to do them over a weekend or two.
Automation means creating or using a tool that performs these tedious and mindless processes in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost while reducing human intervention. If you put it like that, it sounds like everyone should be doing it by now. But you would be surprised to know that not many people have discovered the advantages of automation.
Although they are practically the children of online automation, online businesses still spend a lot of resources in low level tasks in key areas. You have no idea how many times we have seen companies divert valuable resources and employees to tedious activities just because they haven´t automated repetitive low level tasks, punishing highly rated employees with mindless chores that produce the same effect as a lobotomy. For example, some companies routinely need to compare thousands of product prices from their competitors. It takes 3 or 4 employees a whole weekend to do this, it burns their eyes and wrists and they will probably miss many products or small details.
It is known that these low level chores eat up a lot of time that could be devoted to more engaging or relevant tasks. In fact, many businesses force these tasks upon over-qualified operators or employees who end up dreading their day jobs. Others tend to outsource these tasks, but risk ending up with a poorly done job.
The beauty of automation is that, for any repetitive task, anyone with the right set of skills can write a small piece of code that will do it in a matter of minutes without the use of any employee. Just set and forget!
The downside is that you might need a programmer to write small pieces of code for you, or learn a programming language yourself. Not that it is too hard. It´s just that, as a businessman, your attention should be focused on the productive process as a whole and not just in one aspect of it.
However, the benefits outweigh the costs by minimizing the expenses related to salaries, human error and inefficiency. Having a well-written software that effectively does the job it is meant to do, normally means that it can replace a lot of hands. The best part is that it never gets tired and does not stop until you tell it to, without having to pay night hours or overtime.
One other advantage is that software never makes mistakes. Some might say they can think of a case or two where a piece of code has caused a process to go awry, but there is 100% chance that it was due to poor coding or preparation to change.
Every business is unique and many of the tasks they require are so specific that it is impossible to recommend a universal problem solving tool. However, there are some options that take care of problems most online businesses face.
All usual and inefficient paper based processes are being replaced by pieces of code. If this university could reduce a lengthy process, that allowed the placement of thousands of students to mere seconds with the use of a software, just imagine how automation can enhance your productivity.
Professional SEO automation
Of course, we are more concerned with tasks related to SEO that can be automated. Fortunately for you, and us, there are plenty of tools that can really take care of the boring stuff without you having to hire more staff or wasting hours of your valuable time.
The best candidates for processes that can be automated are those that are constantly repeated and allow extremely few exceptions. Although generating organic traffic to a website, thus boosting its ranking, is at the core of SEO practices, it does not mean there is no space for automation.
For example, obtaining reliable and up to date traffic data for any given industry is something that might take hours a day. Luckily, tools like SimilarWeb are there to make your life easier. What about finding the best keywords for your business? You surely do not have time to get a 360 degree analysis of what your competitors are doing when you are struggling to get your business on its feet. That´s where the guys from Sistrix come in handy.
There are some of us that hire web developers to build great sites that after a while start growing uncontrollably as we add content to it. Keeping track of every page, how they relate to each other, and what the necessary steps to creating valuable content are, can be a tedious task. This can all be easily done with OnPage.org in a second.
Of course, these automating certain processes just means that you will have more time to apply the human creative touch to areas that will always require your very unique way of contributing to the world.