As the creator of an automated SEO tool, this may seem like a strange subject of choice, but if you use the The Reaction Engine and similar tools (SEO Workers is a good one) it’s important to understand the major benefits and conversely, the major limitations.

What’s Wrong with Automated SEO Tools?

Nothing, if you use them correctly. But there are a number of problems associated with the automated approach:

  • It tests pages in isolation. A site could have crippling problems like poor link architecture that cannot be accurately diagnosed automatically
  • It can’t test everything. A tool that could diagnose every factor affecting search engine performance would be as complex as a search engine itself. No developer has the time or resources to compile such a tool
  • Automated advice may not be relevant. Sure, factors like invalid HTML have the potential to cause major problems, but in most cases this is very unlikely. A site with many problems in automated testing can still perform very well.

There Must Be Something Good About SEO Tools, Right?

Of course! The most obvious benefit is that automated tools can collect a great deal of highly relevant information quickly: they save a huge amount of time. And by doing so, it’s possible to find important issues that could otherwise have been overlooked by a human following a manual process. SEO tools have the capacity to provide genuine insight.

Who Should Use Automated SEO Tools?

Pretty much anyone undertaking SEO has the potential to benefit:

  • Professional SEOs and developers. They can gain a valuable overview of a site quickly, in order to prioritise areas that need attention effectively
  • DIY-ers and those who wish to learn about SEO. Tools can highlight the sort of information that is useful, and they key factors affecting a site’s performance

4 Responses to “The limitations of automated SEO testing”

  1. John S. Britsios (aka Webnauts) Says:

    If you tried and liked the SEO Workers Analysis Tool, we have just published a nice Firefox Extension which you can analyze a web page with just a single click

  2. Reaction Engine Says:

    I do like the SEO workers tool (hence your link, webnauts) :)

    You’ll be pleased to hear I’ll be upping the competition soon, too with more development of this tool after a long hiatus, and actually updating this blog ;)

    And for a bit of shameless self-promotion, you’re one click away from a Reaction Engine analysis too, via a cross-browser bookmarklet (

    I’ll certainly give the extension a try.

  3. Evan Says:

    Tools are great when practicing proper SEO, however people also need to realize that these are representations and may not be 100% accurate, but they are great building blocks.

  4. stephen Says:

    It’s a good idea to run code through as many tools as possible. Personally, i like a lot of perspective and there is always someone out there with a creative idea with which to help me. :)

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