“Any SEO tool will spit out 10s or 100s of ‘recommendations,’ most of those are going to be irrelevant to your site’s visibility in search. Finding the items that make sense to work on takes experience.”
–John Mueller, Google, Reddit Thread
There’s a difference between data and wisdom. That’s why relying only on the recommendations of your SEO software is an inefficient way to do SEO.
SEO tools make life easier for those of us doing SEO. But so many generate busy work that will not move the needle.
The problem is that if you don’t understand the context behind the tool’s recommendations — if you cannot see the bigger picture on how things connect and you aren’t able to read between the lines when it comes to the data — you won’t be able to execute a successful SEO strategy.
That isn’t the tool user’s fault. Most SEO software companies market to the masses in such a way that users think they can just follow the tool’s recommendations, and they are doing SEO.
Even if the SEO software is simple to use, most require training to use it properly. If someone doesn’t do any training, the tool may be fairly useless. If they get the training but don’t have the SEO knowledge to question the data, that’s useless too.
This is one of the reasons that for years, we’ve had our clients take our SEO training at the outset of their project. It helps them understand the big picture.
Compounding the problem is that many of the tools out there are based on SEO “best practices.”
These best practices often come from data in large-scale SEO research studies, which look at a massive amount of search results across all niches and all types of keywords. In other words, generic data not customized to the business or website (think recommendations based on data like “optimal article length”).
Related: Why real-time and customized data matters
This generic data then becomes an SEO “truth” that trickles into every corner of the SEO industry, including practices and SEO software.
Then, of course, you have to navigate the SEO software’s “branded” metrics, which the company making the tools invented. These metrics, if not understood, can confuse people and even steer them in the wrong direction.
(See my article on “site authority” for more on why this metric is a false target).
So what ends up happening is that many businesses subscribe to SEO software and blindly follow its recommendations.
A better way:
- Become educated on an SEO need and find the right tool to help. (Hint, it’s usually not just one SEO tool. See the top SEO software tools our experts use every day).
- Take the recommendations with a grain of salt and discern which activities are worth the time.
Real SEO tools support the project rather than become the project. Use tools that provide you with the right answers without getting lost in unimportant detail, and focus on applying wisdom to implement successful SEO strategies.