Automation in SEO is the Future! Interview with Dmitry Sevalnev, member of the Optimization program committee


Good afternoon, Dimitri. You are one of the members of the program committee
Optimization 2019 and the moderator of the “SEO Automation” section. Please tell me, why did you decide to take part in the organization of the conference?

Good afternoon. I have long participated in this conference as a listener and speaker.

When I first came into the field of search engine optimization about 10 years ago, this was one of those conferences, which I always wanted to attend. And largely because of the speakers that were there and the speeches that they read, I was able to learn about search engine optimization as I know it now.

Then, later on, I dreamed of being a speaker. And finally, now I was invited to organize a conference, to become a member of the program committee. I gladly accepted the offer, and I help in the organization as much as I can. Also, as Pixel Plus agency and Pixel Tulsa we are partners of the conference, and announce it to attract more listeners.

I hope that by working together we manage to make a strong event that people want to go to and where they want to speak. And I think that reputation needs to continue to build, and we’re going to work towards that.

What do you think are the major trends and issues in the industry right now? What has changed compared to last year?

Now search engine optimization in many ways is no longer perceived as a magic wand, to which you can bring 20-30-40 thousand rubles, and you can immediately get good results. The attitude towards it has changed: now it is perceived more as a regular marketing channel which people actively use.

But at the same time, a certain “hype” around search engine promotion has disappeared, and due, among other things, to the economic situation in Russia, small businesses often do not go into SEO and try other channels for attracting clients. Because of this, the influx of new business into the industry is not as large as before, but the serious players are beginning to allocate large budgets to make this channel work effectively.

Many companies are organizing internal SEO-promotion departments, which actively work with search engine promotion, and encounter various problems.

The two main ones are:

  • Misunderstanding what specialists are needed and, as a result, hiring incompetent employees. Managers think that internal specialists are easier to control, but there are few results.
  • Absence of any strategy. Specialists in a company do not consult with someone experienced, and even if they are more or less literate, with good knowledge (which is actually quite rare), they have problems understanding where to go next.

It is also possible to identify several major trends in search engine optimization.

First, ubiquitous adaptation. Google has introduced Mobile First Indexing for default sites. The share of mobile traffic in commercial topics in Yandex is over 50%.

This is a general trend, and SEO-specialists understand this, and actively work with mobile traffic and conversion. They optimize websites for mobile devices and voice search. And this can be combined as a technical version of the mobile (adaptive) version of the site, optimizing the site for users’ voice queries and auditing what happens in terms of the mobile version – this is a global trend.

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The second global trend that works for both Googl and Yandex is a bet on quality, improving the quality of the site in terms of authority and increasing credibility. This plays a key role. Many sites now go under sanctions in the areas of finance, medicine. And this affects the work: people begin to take the credibility of the site more seriously, how authoritative the information on it is, who its authors are, whether they are experts in the industry, famous people. And in general, whether it is clear who is responsible for this information, whether the content corresponds to a commonly accepted point of view.

That is, if you say, for example, that cancer can be cured with Aloe vera, then your content will be ranked lower by Google, because it is at odds with the general perception in the scientific community.

The third trend is that the big players are taking search engine optimization more seriously in terms of scaling up. The increasing role of post-performance analytics and automation, the growth of services that work with SEO traffic and allow you to identify key points of growth of the project, pump up analytics and the project itself.

The problems of the industry partially overlap with these trends.

The main problem is that most customers do not understand how this channel is structured, there is no transparency. Therefore, they do not trust SEO and allocate a small advertising budget compared to other advertising channels. On average, for a commercial project, search brings in the area of 50-55% of traffic, and the share of the budget in advertising is much smaller (often it is 2-3-10). Of course, this is a global problem – that people do not understand how to work with this channel.

The second problem is related to the fact that search engines are actively locking in traffic within their infrastructure and ecosystem. There’s an increase in the number of queries that people don’t click anywhere because search provides the answer right on the output.

It can be a word translation or an answer to a short question, such as “how does CEO spell English.” The answer appears right away:



Yandex doesn’t require you to go to any site, and the number of such queries increases, and the search engines lock in traffic.

You take part in the selection of speakers. What criteria do you use to assess them?

There are two main criteria.

Firstly, the relevance of the report and how interesting the report is to the audience, how rich it is in fact and interesting details.  Secondly, the level of the speaker, his recognition and experience are important.

When you combine these two factors, everything turns out cool. People like to come to known experts. If it’s good, fresh, interesting material, everything is great.

If one of those factors is lame, then we’re playing roulette. We have to do it, and we’re willing to do it. We’re ready to open the door to new speakers if they have interesting themes, and we invite them.

In the program committee, we exchange applications that are sent to the conference, and we ourselves invite interesting speakers that we respect. Thus the program is filled with experienced speakers who have interesting thoughts, as well as fresh players, because without new people, the development of the industry slows down significantly.

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Why did you decide to supervise the automation section?

As I said, automation is one of the main promotion trends right now. In addition, I am an evangelist and founder of the service “Pixel Tools,” which is used by most SEO-agencies in one way or another. I know quite a bit about automation, as it is a comprehensive tool that allows you to both automate projects by analyzing a lot of convergences and contains more than 50 different tools to address the current, everyday tasks of an SEO specialist. This is a specification for a copywriter, collecting and evaluating the semantic core, evaluation of link mass, text optimization quality, behavioral factors and so on.

This is a very interesting section in terms of the approaches of different services to automation. I believe that the section is very important, because, firstly, automation allows you to enter certain standards in the market, which do not exist now, generally accepted standards and methods, and due to automation and popular services approaches become unified and fast, and this helps the market to develop. It helps increase transparency in front of the customer and solve the problem of distrust in the channel.

What do you think is the situation on the market right now with the automation of processes in SEO?

There are many automation services now, and every year there are several new ones. There are large Western services that cover a large share – Ahrefs, SemRush. They help professionals to solve problems. However, there are big problems, many of the needs of optimizers are not covered. We try to solve them with our services.

The field of automation is active with many new players emerging. Not all of them have a serious approach, some write on their knees – and they, too, sometimes cause a great response, because they get into the existing problem of optimizers. Many agencies create their own internal services, and inhouse teams, at the expense of their own programmers, also work on them. And this is good: the more players on the market, the greater the level of competition, and the higher the quality of the end result.


What are the main problems in automation right now?

The problem with automation is that there is no single universally accepted approach. There are many services, many different points of view. I think that this problem will gradually resolve itself. Besides, there are certain unsolved problems of automation that none of the services covers yet.

How do you use automation in your agency?

We are very active in using automation – the service Pixel Tools and others, in particular those that help work with semantic kernels. In addition, there are internal automation capabilities. All of this helps us do work in a day that would otherwise take perhaps a month.

That is, we use automation to increase the LTV of our clients (the businesses we promote) and increase our productivity.

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How did you choose the papers for your section? What can you say about their authors?

I thought inviting authors to the automation section would be easy. I know everyone who works in search engine optimization, and I thought that I would quickly get speakers. It turned out that this was not quite the case. I had to ask my colleagues on the program committee for their opinion, in order to understand how to cover the needs of the audience, how to find speakers who are willing to speak. Many representatives of automation services either do not have relevant information in terms of reports that were not covered anywhere, or do not want to speak because of the workload and so on.

As a result, we invited one speaker from Netpeak Softwar, Konstantin Bankovsky. He will tell us how his company analyzes and finds SPA-sites and investigate their ranking in several topics. This is one of the very hot topics in optimization.

Ramazin Mindubaev of TRINET.Group is a specialist who oversees many projects. He will talk about the tools their agency uses and what enables optimizers to save resources. I think it will be interesting for many people to learn about new tools as well as nuances of using tools they already know.

The third talk will be given by Artem Melikian of Netpeak. He will talk about how they perform SEO market analysis. How to competently perform analytics of the current ranking and how to work and make decisions based on it. He has some interesting cases on the analysis of this market, and the conference participants will be able to listen about the experience of implementing tools on cases.

The fourth speaker is Evgeny Syzrantsev from the small agency Kite. This is a new speaker and he will talk about working with listings. About how they create a lot of listings that rank well and get to the user’s needs. This is a hot topic that I can recommend in terms of an approach for increasing traffic on commercial sites. The main trick of the report is the cases that the agency has. Those who listen to the report will understand a specific methodology, a specific approach to one of the points to multiply the growth of search traffic.

Who will be primarily interested in coming to your section?

I think that first of all, people who already understand search engine optimization at a basic level or higher would be interested. That is, they have a good understanding of what search engine optimization is and what its stages are. They know the terminology, they know what anchors, unanchored link, subdomain. And they’ve done something manually and want to speed up their work. That is, they are practicing SEO specialists.

Also, these are department heads, or small agency owners who want to increase productivity in the agency.

And inhouse teams, who often do not have any automation tools and want to hear from industry leaders about how to use automation, what tools are most interesting, what application tasks they solve.

I think all of them will find it very interesting.
Come on over!

Questions were answered by Dmitry Sevalnev.

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