By Manley, Founder at Corigan

The brightest business brains will tell you that simply pedaling faster often isn’t the best way to win a race.

I was reminded of this pearl of wisdom when considering the results of a survey we recently conducted among SEO professionals, who shared through gritted teeth their feelings about their job.

At present, many of them say they’re saddled with processes that tick tactical boxes but only at the expense of reaching more strategic goals. It turns out the vast majority of SEOs are desperate to spend less time on day-to-day tasks, focusing instead on helping their employer build revenue and profit.

And what a black hole routine work has become for SEOs. We discovered they dedicate more than 40 hours each week – more than their salaried time – to the likes of rank tracking, report building and CMS changes.

While there’s doubtless some overlap between tasks that can be conducted simultaneously, a picture appears of SEO teams valiantly trying to stay on top of tasks that could be automated. Meanwhile, 66% of them agree that profit is being sacrificed on the altar of taciturn tasks.

All of which begs the question: what would they rather be doing?

SEOs’ five top picks for time well spent

SEOs are pretty clear about which aspects of their hugely varied roles they feel can be the most profitable.

Here’s what they told us could make more of a difference to the bottom line – if they are able to be more strategic:

  1. Competitor analysis – It’s not enough to focus on your own SEO game. Understanding what your rivals are doing, and how successful their strategy is, gives vital insight into what works and what’s best left alone. All of this requires data-driven analysis – and that needs a good deal of time.
  1. Briefing wider content creation – Efficient briefing is a crucial component of the content creation process. After all, first-class, relevant, strategically placed content is a key way to assuage the algorithm.
  1. Long-tail optimisation – SEOs know how crucial it is to devote attention to the long tail and not just concentrate on their champion landing pages, but traditionally this has been hugely labour intensive and tricky to scale. There’s gold at the end of this rainbow – it can drive brand differentiation, customer engagement and sales – but your team will need the right technology in place to pull it off.
  1. Keyword research – In some senses, this element gives SEOs the keys to the kingdom of digital marketing. Understanding the popular terms consumers use to search for products and services, and how these can help your brand’s SEO strategy, relies on a heady mix of ingredients: time, effort and technology.
  1. Internal linking – Strategic use of internal links between different parts of your website is proven to improve page authority. It helps search engines find, understand and index pages on your site more easily. Again, this aspect requires resource if you want to do it properly.

Better business outcomes from strategic SEO

While it’s true that the SEO managers we surveyed indicated they’re able to spend some time on these tasks, the total still lags way behind the number of hours they are committing to more routine work.

If there was a better balance – and, in truth, this would need to be delivered by the adoption of SEO tools that streamline processes and automate the most time-consuming and frustrating tasks – business benefits could be reaped.

For example, SEOs stated that if they could pour more resource into long-tail optimisation, the top three outcomes would be:

  • improved customer engagement
  • better revenues
  • reduced external spend

But they also identified other spin-off benefits linked to efficiency and effectiveness; from more traffic and better conversion, to boosted SEO performance and higher revenue per user.

The case for more strategic SEO is compelling – it can transform teams from busy fools into SEO superheroes. It’s time they were given the right tools to stay on track.

Download the full 2022 SEO Superheroes study here

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