Manual Vs. Automated SEO: How to Choose?  

You’re likely familiar with search engine optimization or SEO if you have a digital presence. It’s the driving force behind all content used by search engines to connect users with relevant and valuable information. However,  it can be time-consuming, confusing, and challenging. To make matters more complex, there’s manual SEO and automated SEO, and each one has its pros and cons.

You know that you need to leverage SEO to make your content easy to discover, but which method should you use? Is there a superior option? That’s what we’re going to explore today.

In this article, we’re going to explain:

  • What manual SEO is and how it works.
  • What automated SEO is and how it works.
  • The pros and cons of manual and automated optimization.
  • Combining automated and manual optimization methods to get the best results.

Let’s dive in and explore these methods and what they involve.

What Is Manual SEO, And How Does It Work?



In short, manual SEO essentially means stripping away all the software, like Yoast, SEOptimer, and Swydo,  to improve your optimization. You or your optimization team will need to carry out all on- and off-page SEO after the primary research with digital tools like Google Analytics. For optimization purists, it’s often seen as the best way to approach your SEO.

With manual SEO, you’ll be relying on your team of specialists to perform all optimization tasks with the assistance of primary research tools that speed up or enhance performance. Manual SEO may include tasks like:

  • Manual keyword research, tracking, and performance reporting, using tools like Excel.
  • Researching and finding sources for reputable backlinks.
  • All on-page and off-page SEO.
  • Analyzing competitors and their performance compared to yours based on data obtained from automatic SEO tools.
  • Creating a website structure that’s easy to crawl.
  • Finding and fixing broken links.

These tasks, along with some others, need to be performed by an SEO specialist without the assistance of tools, except Google Analytics or Search Console.

Pros of Manual SEO

  • Control: You’ll have complete control over your optimization activities and ensure that all activities are performed according to plan.
  • Handpicked Backlinks: You choose where backlinks come from and where they point on your website, ensuring quality, high-authority backlinks, and traffic.
  • Unique Content: You, or your team, will also manually create all relevant content to ensure originality and quality.
  • Personal Touch: Removing the personal touch can result in mistakes, lack of personalization, and poor content.

Cons of Manual SEO

  • Time-Consuming: Manual SEO is extremely time-consuming. Performing all tasks by hand can take hours, months, or even years to execute, especially if you have an extensive website.
  • Skill Requirements and Costs: To execute a manual SEO strategy, you’ll need a large team of specialized staff with the right skills. These specialists don’t come cheap, and you’ll need to pay a pretty penny for their time and expertise.
  • Missed Opportunities: SEO is continually evolving, and search engines often change their algorithms to improve user experience. Since manual optimization is time-consuming, you may miss out on valuable opportunities while keeping up with new developments.

Which SEO Tasks Should Be Performed Manually?

Even though you can do most SEO tasks manually, it doesn’t mean you should. That said, there are specific tasks that benefit greatly from a personal touch. If you want your optimization team to use their time wisely and still get results, some key tasks should be done manually. Here are four of the most critical ones.

Website Structure

With most website platforms, the sitemap is generated automatically. However, it’s critical to have a solid website structure laid out before you get to this stage. The goal is to make it easy for both users and crawlers to find information quickly and easily, and the best way to do that is to have a real person create a manual structure.

Website Structure

Website Structure

Content Creation

Touting their capabilities of AI, numerous digital tools promise to create unique content quickly and easily. Unfortunately, no artificial intelligence can write entirely unique content that’s easy to read, free of grammatical errors, and meets the exact requirements. Unless you’re planning to create large quantities of relatively poor content that’s lacking optimization, it’s best to rely on an SEO specialist and writer to create your content.




If there’s one thing you should never, ever automate, it’s your backlinking strategy. You can use certain tools to identify backlink opportunities, but buying automatic backlinks is one of the worst things you can do. Many of these services don’t bother adding your links to relevant content and rarely follow the best practices. Instead of improving your website and SEO, you’ll be penalized by search engines.

It’s best to employ a specialist to help you identify backlink opportunities with reputable websites and platforms. They can focus on finding relevant sites and content and also create unique articles when necessary.

Fixing Broken Links

Manually finding all broken links on a website is virtually impossible. Luckily, an automation tool can help you quickly and easily find broken links, but it’s not always able to fix them correctly. Once your automated tool has identified all broken links, review them manually so that you can point them to relevant or replacement content. While it’s tempting to leave these pages unfixed if you have 404 pages, you may find yourself being penalized by Google.

What Is Automated SEO, And How Does It Work?



Most bloggers, website owners, businesses, and SEO specialists use at least some form of automated SEO to improve their processes and results. You can automate almost all of your SEO activities in one way or another. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Automation can perform many tasks exceptionally well, but there will always be certain activities that benefit from a personal touch.

When people hear “automation,” many immediately think of spam activities, lack of personal touch, and poor quality. While that may be true for many things, SEO can benefit greatly from automation. By handing the more tedious tasks over to capable software, your team can perform the manual tasks with a much higher quality standard.

Pros of Automated SEO

  • Fast And Affordable: Automating certain SEO tasks can save you significant amounts of time and negate many costs. For example, you won’t need such a large team of expensive specialists to manage your optimization with automated SEO.
  • Automate Monotonous Tasks: When you have a smaller SEO team, you need to ensure that they spend their time on activities that get results. By automating monotonous tasks, they can focus on those items that require a manual, personal touch.
  • Data Insights: SEO automation tools will often provide valuable insights, giving you actionable data to improve your strategy.
  • Competitor Monitoring: Monitoring competitors and keyword competition manually can be extremely time-consuming and may not always deliver accurate results. Specialized automation tools can give you the information you need to compete on certain keywords.
  • Advanced Capabilities: Tools like Google Analytics, SE Ranking, and SimilarWeb can improve your SEO and user experience while identifying critical problems you may not know or are tricky to spot with a manual analysis.
  • Quick, Accurate Reports: With automated tools, you can get accurate reports and information almost immediately – no need to analyze years of accumulated data on a spreadsheet.

Cons of Automated SEO

  • Poor Backlinks: Automated backlinks are often poor and can negatively impact your overall SEO.
  • Quantity Over Quality: Automation often focuses on quantity over quality. For example, automatic content generators, spinners, and AI writers can quickly create content but can’t optimize it correctly or focus on the best keywords.
  • Less Control: The more you automate your SEO, the less control you’ll have over the overall focus and performance of your content or website.

Which SEO Tasks Should Be Automated?

You can automate almost every optimization task there is. However, there are a few tasks that benefit greatly from automated SEO. We’ve listed a few key activities below.

Keyword and Website SEO Analysis

Sifting through dozens or even hundreds of pages to perform manual SEO is time-consuming and challenging. With automated tools, you can quickly review your website, identify problems or opportunities, and take the necessary actions.

SEO Reporting

SEO is an ongoing activity; it needs to be monitored and refined continually over time. With custom SEO reports from automated tools, you can get valuable, practical insights and determine if your optimization strategy is performing as it should.

 SE Ranking; Website SEO Analysis Tool

Source: SE Ranking; Website SEO Analysis Tool

Competitor Monitoring

You’ll be spending enough time optimizing your own site; there won’t be much time to analyze your competitors. You can see how your competitors perform and keep up with the right tools.

Social Sharing

By automating your social sharing, you’re creating additional traffic sources to your website, saving time, and improving your SEO. While shared links on social media don’t count as backlinks and increase domain authority, they still affect SEO. According to Orbit Media, interactions with social media posts can indicate quality content, boosting your SERP rank.

Finding Broken Links

Tools like Screaming Frog and Google Webmaster can help you identify broken links on your website. You can then redirect these links to relevant content.

Content Checking

When you need to create content manually, there are tools (Yoast, SEOSurfer) that can check your articles or website pages and make recommendations to improve SEO. These can include keywords, layout or structure improvements, meta details, and more.


Software platforms like Yoast and Rankmath can automatically create accurate sitemaps that are easy to crawl and contain all the information search engines require.

Other Tasks

These are just some of the many tasks you can automate. If there’s something that needs to be done for SEO,  chances are a tool available to automate the process. However, remember that balancing manual and auto is essential to get the best results.

Can You Mix Automated and Manual SEO?

Absolutely. In fact, it’s not a question of “can,” but one of “must.” There are some elements of optimization that don’t just benefit from a personal touch but require it. Similarly, many tedious tasks can be automated to save your team time while still providing valuable insights to enhance the manual SEO activities.

Ideally, you should use automated tools to take care of the tedious activities that don’t require much oversight and review other tasks manually. Tasks that should typically be automated are:

  • Social sharing.
  • Content checking.
  • Broken links review.

However, to get the best results, you can combine it with manual SEO to improve your results:

  • Manual backlinking strategies.
  • Content creation.
  • Fixing broken links.
  • Actions report and analysis recommendations.

Together, manual and automated SEO can deliver excellent results while saving time and money.


When it comes to automated and manual SEO, it doesn’t have to be an “either-or” scenario. In fact, these two approaches work extraordinarily well together – as long as you automate some tasks and remain hands-on with others.

Understanding how these two methods complement each other and planning your optimization strategy accordingly can help you improve your SERP rank and boost traffic. The ability to automate processes while identifying those that need manual attention shows proficiency and expertise in an SEO specialist – a key factor to consider before expanding your team.

In short, to get the best results, find a way to combine manual and automated SEO in a way that best suits your needs.