The Business Part of Business

Your Next Business Consultant

This is a test. This is only a test.

Except, it isn’t. The Answer Guy is your best option when you need business consulting, and today we’re testing a piece of software that purports to take a new look at Search Engine Optimization. We’re testing—no surprise—for the phrase business consultant.

The software we’re using is called Squirrly SEO. It’s gotten quite a bit of buzz and today Squirrly SEO has “gone version 3.0”. Click here if you’d like to check it out (note that we get paid if you buy Squirrly).

So far, I’m not impressed. Or maybe I am. Squirrly certainly changes the way people might do SEO, and makes a couple of parts of it a lot easier. But we’ve been doing this SEO thing for a long time. So long, in fact, that we no longer sell SEO as a stand-alone service. And that covers both what’s great about Squirrly and what makes me a little bit nervous.

Unlike Yoast, the long-time Gold Standard in SEO, Squirrly automates quite a few things. For example, It’s good practice to alway include an image in your posts, and when I told Squirrly I’d be writing about being a business consultant today it helpfully dug up a few images so I neither had to hunt myself nor create one. Not only that, but Squirrly found only images that are in the public domain, and inserted the images with both title and alt tags ready-to-go.

On the other hand, Squirrly pointed to the image in the location it had originally been located at on another website, which we’ve been clear is a bad idea for SEO and because it risks your page breaking in the event the image ever goes away or gets moved.

You can see the basics of how Squirrly does its magic in this picture of those recommended images, where the green items indicate we’re doing a good job with SEO, the red is a warning, and the white represent items we haven’t yet addressed.

Yoast does most of the same things as Squirrly, but in a more manually-focused way. And (it’s “and”, not “but”) the advice from the two SEO tools differs; note that at the point immediately before I started writing the sentence you’re reading now Yoast thought my utilization of the keyword business consultant was just fine, while Squirrly thought I needed either to shorten the article or start peppering it with more instances of that “business consultant” keyword:

The differences don’t end there. In yet another example of that whole “and vs. but” thing, Squirrly looks at proximity in the way you use your keyword—and changes its recommendations as you write. So in the previous paragraph when I used “business consultant” twice in adjoining sentences it warned me that I should consider a change:

There are other differences between the Yoast and Squirrly approaches to Search Engine Optimization. But/and they seem to lead to much the same place and the issue is whether you want to be guided as you write or handle the nitty-gritty manually.

Being a Business Consultant

Comparing Squirrly SEO with Yoast underscores how much doing SEO and being a business consultant have in common. Put simply, most problems can be solved using different approaches. And as I’ve said before, very little of what we do is rocket science.

But very little is as simple as “automatic versus manual”, either. Finding that picture at the top of this article was great; still needing to edit it manually was not. For me, it feels worse to start automatic and have to switch than to always work manually.

Does this come down to consistency versus ease? As with most business decisions, yes. And that’s not even the full-stop point.

There is none.

I had a conversation with Squirrly’s CEO about this. My overall opinion is that Squirrly is a better SEO tool for people who know very little about SEO. But Yoast seems to be a better tool. Maybe. Unless Squirrly is right about that keyword proximity thing.

I could go on, but I think I’ll stop here. My guess is people who like automated things will appreciate that. Details wonks and other business consultants will see it differently.

That’s the big takeaway. People who hire us to manage their business issues are usually folks who want to offload a few processes. People who opt for Squirrly over Yoast are likely in the same place. Writing is already plenty of work; optimizing afterward is a huge pain.

Of course, you could always just offload both your writing and optimization to The Answer Guy. Drop me a line.