As SEOs, we value our time more than anything else in the world (or at least we should). We’re always in a state of learning, while fully aware of the fact that there is always a better way to complete a certain task or apply a specific method or discipline.
Here are just a few ways we stay on top of our day and streamline our time to get more done as SEO consultants:
We have previously covered which bookmarklets can help in terms of SEO analysis, but that is merely scratching the surface. This concept can be applied a thousand different ways, shortcutting many-a-path to arrive at the same destination quicker and easier.
Perhaps not what you would imagine, the command line interface has a ton of flexibility and cases where it is the most fitting application for a certain job.
A few examples we find ourselves using frequently, include:
- Combining .csv files together.
- Performing a quick Whois lookup.
- Bulk resizing images.
- Deleting/extracting large rows or columns from databases.
- Text-to-voice functionality.
If you find yourself doing a lot of local file enhancement similar to the aforementioned, there may be a command line for it. It certainly doesn’t hurt to inquire. Our machines have some default applications that are more powerful and useful than we realize — Terminal being no exception.
3. Browser Extensions
Chrome and Brave are popular browsers for their speed, but also for their extensive catalog of powerful extensions. With over 180,000+ extensions live in the web store, there are more than a few that can boost your output and overall productivity.
Beyond the basic SEO extensions that can analyze the elements and certain data points of a page/domain, a few lesser-known ones that can help (even to a greater extent) are:
- LastPass – Manage your passwords without having to reset/remember them.
- Checker Plus for Gmail – Remove the need to keep a Gmail tab open at all times with this incoming email notifier.
- Auto Text Expander – Replace same phrases you frequently type, with a shortcut (e.g. “Hello, it’s Sebastian. How are you?” can be written by typing “heyseb”).
- Linkclump – Open a bunch of URLs on the same page simultaneously, without needing to click each one individually.
- ColumnCopy – Copy a single column on a webpage instead of being obligated to copy the entire table.
- Fast Note – Keep a body of text ready for use at any time, without having to open files or webpages.
We are routinely adding new extensions to our arsenal, as you should be also, since new ones are being released daily.
4. Google Sheets Formulas
As we’ve discussed at length, there are many Google Sheets formulas that can dramatically increase your productivity.
In addition to what we have previously highlighted, there are basic formulas that can be applied to cells that make a significant impact over the long term, such as:
- Trim any excess spacing
- Count the number of words
- Remove the first/last few characters
- Insert characters into a word
These formulas should all be applicable to Excel also, if that is your preferred choice of spreadsheet software. Regardless, you absolutely need to be using one or the other, if you want to step up your SEO game.
5. Gmail Filters
Inbox zero is not as hard as we make it out to be. The correct Gmail filters can easily weed out or archive the emails you still need to have in your inbox, but not show up as a notification or one you need to ‘mark as read’ all the time.
Filters allow you to treat emails with a certain subject line, or from a specific email address differently by either moving it to another folder, immediately marking it read, deleting it or a host of other methods of dealing with it. These are helpful when you don’t want to be receiving an email for every PayPal transaction that occurs, or every Amazon receipt when you purchase something. It also helps us remove the emails that come in from our website contact form that mention purchasing guest post links, among other things.
Marking as spam is just too limiting. Filters are the way to go. Set them up once and forget all about them. You will save hundreds of hours over the long haul.
6. Custom Search Engines
There are many searches we perform on a number of websites these days. Whether it be Google, YouTube, Amazon, eBay, Dictionary.com, Twitter or Wikipedia (to name a few), it would be a hassle to visit each website first and only then proceed to key into the search bar what you are looking for.
What if you could do so directly from the address bar of your browser?
Custom search engines allows you to do just that, if you are using Chrome or Brave. Right-clicking within the address bar will provide the “Edit Search Engines…” option, which will allow you to specify what website you want to search and what shortcut you would like to use in order to trigger the search bar for the respective website.
It may only save a few seconds or minutes a day, but we can’t live without it. Once you start using it, you’ll probably feel the same way.
7. Python Scripts
Python is a programming language which can be used for many things, although SEOs tend to use them for a lot of automation and daily task management.
While you don’t need to learn the language yourself, hiring a skilled Python developer will go a long way in creating customized scripts and tasks that traditional software has not explored yet, nor plans to. We’ve hired many Python developers for automation scripts that include mass link analysis, scraping data from certain webpages and mass outreach.
The great thing about Python scripts are that they are usually cheap to outsource (anywhere from $50 to $500) and is a one-off payment, meaning you won’t need to keep paying for it, no matter how much you continue use it. This brings the cost down to pennies over the long term.
Opportunities for automation are all around you, especially in the realm of SEO. Once you discover a task that can be automated in your day-to-day, there’s a good chance a Python developer can make it a reality.
8. Text Editors
A good, advanced text editor is a life saver. There are so many every day functions that it performs, that we can sometimes forget just how powerful they are. While we use BBEdit, there are many feature rich editors out there that can accomplish similar things with perfect utility.
At the bare minimum, such text editors can perform tasks like:
- Sort by.
- Remove duplicates.
- Process lines that include any character or phrase.
- Include or remove any suffix/prefix.
- Change text case to upper, lower or capitalized.
- Number lines.
- Cut, copy and clear columns.
Best of all, they are usually free to use. Take the time to experiment and find the right one for you — it will turn out to be a tremendously high return on your investment.
It had to be said. Software is what the world has realized saves us exponential amounts of time and money. It’s why the top companies in the world are what they are because of the software they have developed.
SEO is no different. SEMrush, Hunter, PressHunt, Bonsai, Content King and Hotjar are just a few pieces of software that have saved us hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of frustration and manual labor. We happily pay them because they allow us to capitalize on our time and raise our productivity tenfold. We are better, faster, smarter SEOs because of the software we have chosen to utilize.
Investing in software is one of the first things someone should do once they begin their career in SEO. It will pay for itself much quicker than you could anticipate.
Final (Important) Thoughts
SEO, in many ways, is a game of margins. It’s in these margins where the game could be won or lost. Indeed, these productivity tips or hacks could be the deciding factor between a happy client who stays on with you for years to come, or cancels to find another agency. It could be what widens the capacity for 2 extra clients, where you would normally be maxed-out and had to decline any new business.
Don’t look down on these seemingly small and trivial suggestions – they could be all that stands between you and the traditional SEO analyst next door.