SEO can’t be replaced by software

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There are several tools that I love using daily and without them I would not be able to work on any SEO projects. Yet, I think tools are just that – tools to help complete a project they are not the solution in of themselves. I believe there are many areas where tools will supplant humans and be able to do a job beginning to end without human intervention, but anything in the realm of marketing in my opinion must have human input.

Analogy to construction

It’s best to explain my opinion with an analogy to home construction. While any construction worker would likely disagree that their job could be completely automated, it is not farfetched to see how the robots could take over once each task is broken down. There are devices which hammer in nails automatically, hold walls straight and even follow a schematic to build a frame.

For now, there is no single robot hammer that can crawl across a house frame and know exactly where to hammer in a nail, but years ago there wasn’t a robot that could vacuum a house either. It is entirely possible that one day an inventor will realize that it is cheaper and safer to use robots for monotous labor intensive tasks that can be guided by a repetitive algorithm.

However, there is one area of construction that will never be replaced by a robot and that is the design and architecture. A robot will never be able to understand the human emotions and personal choices that go into deciding how a home should look, where the front door should be and how big the walk-in closet can be. A robot can certainly perfectly build a blueprint to spec, but it can’t translate desire into a plan.

Human marketing

I believe this same concept applies to SEO and marketing, one day there may be tools that construct the perfect website based on findings on what works in search, generates the best keyword ideas and maybe even writes the content, but the human element will always be missing. At best software can mimic what others seem to be doing well, but it would be impossible to have  a creative idea on how to get ahead. Even further, while software can even write content based on keywords and it may even appear well in search, it will lack the human emotion that is necessary to resonate with the humans who need to engage with that content.

Automatic SEO

Every once in awhile there’s an article about a tool that does SEO “automatically” getting a round of funding. There’s usually some breathless proclamation about how it will disrupt the entire industry, but all these articles always neglect to mention the AI factor that already exists. Google is already using AI to understand and rank content, the way to “beat” Google’s AI is not to have a duel with another AI tool but to put a human in the mix.

If all of SEO could be distilled down to doing keyword research and structuring web pages, then SEO could be disrupted by software. However, successful SEO is so much more. An SEO effort includes knowing how to architect a website, the types of content to create, the personas of the potential users, learning from performance to optimize for growth and most of all building a product that resonates with real users. Until we live in a world where robots do all our shopping, none of this could ever be disrupted by software.

In my opinion, all the sites that try to use software only to manage their SEO, leave a gaping hole for a human driven SEO campaign to beat them in search visibility.

Think about all of the most successful sites on the web, and then imagine if it were possible to replicate their success. Could a machine have built Wikipedia? Would automated reviews helped Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon win their categories? Would Google News be a dominant source of news if all it did was index machine written content?

I don’t think humans would have considered these sites key sources of information if machines had build the strategy, websites and content. Anyone looking to replicate their success would be better served by finding the smartest humans rather than looking for the next automated shiny object.