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Creating Automated Systems in Your SEO Business

Smart Businesses Create Systems

Do you realize the value of systems? A system is simply a way achieving an end result by following a set process of events. Good systems are the reason Fortune 500 companies pull in billions of dollars every year in revenue, with very high profit margins. The primary reason why one-man-shops fail is because they are unable to piece together all the pieces in the puzzle i.e: they don’t have a system. You’ll find the individual <insert your pick: SEO/SEM/Social Media> consultant trying to do business development, design work, keyword research, proposal creation, phone calls, all at the same time – It’s a model that simply cannot scale.

How Not to Fall of Your Own Weight

This applies to small businesses, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and any hybrid inbetween – To create scalability it is important to have a good system, where you can rely resources other than yourself. A good system has general characteristics such as:

  • Simplicity – You should be able to explain your business model by drawing a flowchart on a paper napkin.
  • Minimal Steps – Too many steps can make your system unnecessarily complicated.
  • Role Accountability – To ensure that every little link in the chain of events ‘works’, you must make people or resources accountable.

McDonalds: The World’s Most Profitable System

Year after year, McDonald’s posts profits because it’s system of operation is so unbelievably simple. The proof is in the pudding of course because any unskilled 16-year old can be taught how to punch in an order, run to the back, get the buns off a conveyor belt, put on a patty followed by lettuce, tomatoes, cheese etc, and serve the customer. The simplicity of the system also makes it extremely efficient, which is generally why you can get your Jr. McChicken burger in under a minute at the drive-thru.

How to Create Systems in Search Marketing

Search marketing is one of those rare industries where creating a system of operation that creates economies of scale is relatively easy. The variety of tools both in their free and paid versions are absolutely staggering, so as the genius that puts your system together, your job is to figure out:

  • Which tools to use
  • How to make one tool talk to the other
  • How to generate meaningful reporting from the data sets you’ve mashed together

Alternatively, from a link building standpoint you might want to have the following process:

  • Find a tool to examine competitor backlinks
  • Generate the data set of these backlinks and connect it to another tool that will process commonalities between 2 or more competitors
  • Use a 3rd tool to import the data set in the last step to organize your link building efforts.
  • Automate all of this using a cron job, cheap labour, or anyone or thing that removes yourself from this tedious but necessary task.

There you, you’ve successfully create ‘a system’ to semi-automate one cog in the big wheel of search marketing. Can you think of other ways where you can automate your work processes by creating systems? Think of how this can be applied to competitive research, ranking reports, follow up email marketing, predefined message templates, and other items that apply to your own business.

If you’re the brains behind your business focus on creating the system that fuels it first – This will allow you a couple of things:

  • Lower opportunity costs
  • Greater Scalability
  • Freedom to do whatever you want (that last one is pretty important ;) )

Dev Basu is a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal. He owns Powered by Search, a full service internet marketing agency located in Toronto, Canada; and blogs about online marketing for small businesses, search marketing, and all matters in local seo and social media. Catch up with him at his blog, twitter, or connect on Linkedin.

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16 thoughts on “Creating Automated Systems in Your SEO Business

  1. “Simplicity – You should be able to explain your business model by drawing a flowchart on a paper napkin.”

    As a one-man creative shop, I rely heavily on freelance programmers and developers. This “virtual” agency model benefits from low overhead, but coordinating all of the work is indeed a bit chaotic. Whether on a paper napkin or a more formal presentation, a “system” flow chart is a great way to illustrate efficiency to potential clients who may be wary of such a small operation. Good business sense.

  2. Very good post, a not insignificant portion of my department’s (SEO) time is spent on automating processes such as this.

    First time around we’ll do the whole thing manually (this can take a couple of weeks some times)… but it allows you to understand the process enough in order to write the necessary automation programs.

    Python is our weapon of choice, lightweight, multi-platform and blazing fast to achieve results with.

  3. @Kiran @Carter @Tag44 – Thanks!

    @ Phill – Python is a sweet language to code in for sure. Glad to see that you’ve got a great system to automate parts of your business.

    @Raghavan – I do have a couple of ideas up my sleeve. If and when I can code them up, I think they should speed up your work processes quite a bit.

  4. Great Post Dev, I have been working along these lines for SEO projects. I repeat the same process each project.

    Some open source systems i find helpful to create systems are:
    vTiger CRM for sales/invoicing
    Project Pier for project management like basecamp
    PHPlist for automating my email marketing

  5. Great Work.I’d like to learn more about this topic. Looking forwards to your next post on relevant information.

  6. Due to the recession, there are fewer opportunities for online businesses.
    However, as the payment for online advertisement has been greatly reduced by the
    advertisers, for online stores, it might be a good time to promote themselves online at low costs instead of selling.

  7. Automated tools are definitely the way to go I agree.

    The more complex the business gets the more we look for ways of simplifying it so we can go do something else.