Today's businesses are now digital-dependent in ways that nobody would have imagined as recently as 20 years ago. But small businesses, in particular, still lag behind their larger peers in terms of exploiting digitization to the greatest possible extent. For proof, look no further than the shocking statistic that over a quarter of small businesses still don't have a website.
But now that the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that having a robust web presence is a matter of survival – there's every reason to expect that to change. And that's going to leave a whole lot of businesses playing catch-up when it comes to SEO and site promotion.
The obvious solution for them is to turn to automation. It can reduce their need to hire outside experts to make their new websites competitive in an already saturated environment. And one of the core tools they can use to power their efforts is Python. Here's an explanation of how businesses can use Python to create automated SEO workflows and some of the tasks they can use it to automate.
Python and SEO Automation
The reason that Python makes an excellent tool for SEO automation is that it's easy to learn and comes with some pre-built libraries that are perfect for automating certain SEO tasks. For small businesses, that means finding someone with the necessary expertise to do the job is easy and there's very little code customization needed. And by using Python to automate the following tasks, the most labor-intensive parts of the SEO process can be left on auto-pilot.
Link Validation and Response Code Analysis
For small businesses, protecting the SEO value of a handful of high-performing pages is critical. For example, if a specific blog post has a big impact on the desired audience, that page alone might become a valuable traffic driver for the whole website. Imagine, then, if a technical problem were to take that page offline or otherwise impair searchers' ability to see it. That could seriously damage the business's sales funnel or conversion process.
And Python offers a solution for that problem in the form of an open-source script called Pylinkvalidator. It can be the core of an automated workflow that checks and validates the accessibility of critical pages by detecting any error codes that indicate a problem. And as the site grows, it can save a small business countless hours of manual but necessary SEO maintenance work.
Keyword Trend Reporting
One of the key ways that businesses can improve their site's SEO is to create content that's in demand by their target audience. But doing that requires staying on top of search trends to see when a particular topic is hot and when it's not. If you were to hire a B2B SEO agency or any other outside firm to handle SEO for you, this would be one of their most important and time-consuming services.
But with Python and the handy PyTrends unofficial Google Trends API, it's a simple matter to automate keyword tracking and produce interest reports. Those make it possible to create timely content that suits current search demands. It not only saves the costs involved in conventional keyword tracking but also optimizes content creation to create high-engagement pages that drive positive SEO.
Creating Content Briefs
Knowing what keywords to target is a critical part of the SEO process, but it only provides direction, not comprehensive instructions on how to succeed. For that, it's necessary to know how the competition is targeting those same keywords in their content so you know what's working and what isn't. Needless to say, however, manually analyzing competitor pages is both time-consuming and inefficient.
But it is possible to use Python to automate the most time-consuming parts of the work. All that's needed is a simple script to scrape the top-ranked pages for a given keyword and to extract the text they contain to look for similarities in content and structure. An open-source Python-based data tool like Pandas can then take that data and turn it into the outlines of a content brief. This can help a small business get the most bang for its buck when it comes to content creation.
Automating the Road to SEO Success
Although it's not possible – or wise – to try and automate every SEO task a small business needs to get a fledgling website up to peak search performance, some automation is a necessary part of that effort. And Python offers the fastest and cheapest way for those businesses to create custom tools to handle their most time-consuming SEO tasks.
Just automating the three tasks identified here can save countless man-hours of work and eliminate the need for costly outsourcing. That alone will provide the budgetary flexibility necessary to call in the experts when needed without wasting precious funds on ongoing tasks.
And integrating Python has other benefits, too. One is that it's a key part of more advanced digital marketing efforts like the decision modelling you can do in Watson Studio to game out marketing campaigns. So it's like an on-ramp that gets businesses closer to adopting more state-of-the-art business tools. And with the head start small businesses have given their competitors in the digital arena, every advantage is one worth exploiting.