Use The Right Tool For The Job
There's no substitute for hard work and attention to detail in the SEO business, but that doesn't mean that every task in our workday need be slow and painful.
There are an abundance of amazing tools available that can help make even the most tedious tasks more efficient. Many of them are free, and many of those that are not, including some subscription-based tools, are quite simply worth the money in terms of the time they will save you.
Ross Hudgens has a great write-up on many of the tools that are available to help eliminate pain points encountered through the SEO process. From performing on-site audits of things like title tags and meta data, to things like competitive research, link building/prospecting, and reporting, almost every step of an SEO campaign can benefit by using the right tools to increase efficiency.
Outsource Work To Intelligent People, When Necessary
Even with the best tool for the job, SEO inevitably requires some good, old-fashioned elbow grease. Your choices are simple: do the work yourself, or pay someone to do the work for you.
Freelance SEO consultants, agency employees, and in-house workers alike have all, at times, found tasks that are so repetitive and time consuming that it just makes economic sense to outsource the work. The key to success is to outsource to the right people in order to maintain the quality of your work. If you need to spend a few hours every week cleaning up after a sloppy or careless worker, the arrangement becomes much less profitable and much more of a chore.
When selecting a contractor from a website like Elance, oDesk, or PeoplePerHour, choose one that is highly rated, well-reviewed, has a history of completing successful SEO projects, and is easy to get in touch with on a daily basis. College students (found on Craigslist or local college job boards) can also work quite well.
Many have found that it is better to train an intelligent person with no experience than it is to hire an unintelligent person a great background. SEOmoz's Whiteboard Friday on Scaling Link Building starts off with a great discussion about what to look for in potential link builders.
Create Workflow Processes And Refine For Efficiency
Every SEO campaign is different, and tactics and strategies will vary greatly from website to website, but the tasks that one performs as part of each campaign are identical.
The most successful SEO teams create a workflow process for these tasks that is fluent, efficient, easily repeatable, and easy to teach. From a mile-high view, the SEO process might look something like (1) Assessment and Data Collection, (2) Keyword Research, (3) On-Site Technical Audit and Implementation, (4) Content Audit and Implementation, (5) Link Building, (6) Maintenance (continued link building, reporting, analysis, testing, etc.).
Each step along the way can be broken down into specific tasks. After a few campaigns, it is easy enough to be able to sit down and create a workflow checklist for each step of the process.
Refine and improve this checklist with each campaign, and eventually you will have an organized, well-planned method that is able to be reused again and again. Having this approach on paper gives you a roadmap for every new campaign, and reduces the learning curve for new employees or outsourced workers.
Scalable Link Building Does Not Require That The Links Be Low Quality
In the SEO community, scalable link building is oftentimes seen as something that can only be done with (relatively) low-quality link building tactics such as directory submissions or link request e-mail campaigns.
While it is true that most highly effective white hat link building tactics are not easily saleable in the traditional sense, they can be made quite efficient with a streamlined workflow.
Consider a tactics such as guest posting for example. The typical approach would be to do some research on a handful of blogs that would make for prime targets for guest post opportunities, then to contact a few blogs, set up an opportunity, and write the post. On a large-scale level, one could frontload all of the research required to find viable guest post opportunities, compile a master list of target blogs into an Google Docs spreadsheet (or pay an outsourcer to do the research), use ImportXML and the SEOmoz API to effortlessly import on-page and off-page metrics, use an outsourcer to e-mail each blog on the list with a form letter to set up the guest post, and hire a writer to create each blog post based on topics you select for each opportunity.
In the time that it would have taken a lone SEO to write a handful of guest posts, an entire guest post link building factory can be setup.
By using high quality link building tactics like guest blogging and scaling them by creating efficiencies in workflow, you build links top quality links that will have lasting power, and make way more of an impact than a directory submission campaign that was no simpler to setup and scale.
Enlist Your Entire Organization For Help
In many organizations that run successful SEO campaigns, the SEO team doesn't deserve all of the credit.
Companies that are able to make SEO a part of their corporate culture make the lives of their SEO teams infinitely easier. Link opportunities are hidden in all areas of an organization. A company's SEO team leader might not have access to the sort of industry connections or key online relationships that a company's CEO might. The PR department's work can have serious implications for link building and online reputation management. The product development team's timeline has huge implications for planning out future SEO campaigns and keyword research. Naturally, the content development team is going to require intimate collaboration with the SEO team in order to develop high quality linkbait.
Almost every area of a company can be tapped for link building potential, and organizations that get SEO on every level are able to outrank their competitors with ease.