With a little help from Dave Taylor, author of a number of cool tech books, including the book that inspired this time-saving tip, Wicked Cool Shell Scripts, I was able to save myself a tremendous amount of time and energy. Time that I used to spend doing mind-numbing repetitive data entry can now be used to build my business. Here’s how you can your time back…
Let’s say that you are optimizing ten different web pages to be found on Google, Yahoo, and MSN and you’re optimizing each page for 3 different keyword phrases. Obviously, you’ll want to keep track of each of those keyword searches to see who’s making a run for the top and for when your page finally makes page one. That’s 90 different search engine results you have to follow.
What does the average marketer do? They type or copy and paste each keyword from a master keyword list into as many search engines as they are tracking and enter the results into a simple spreadsheet or database. If they are thorough, they will compare that data with the last time they did the search to see what’s changed.
That’s a lot of work and takes a lot of time. And most internet marketers are tracking a lot more than 10 different web pages. I’ve managed to narrow this tedious task down to a simple 11 character command.
Using Lynx, a powerful text-only web-browsing tool in Unix, I can track the changes on any website and have the results sent to my email. All it takes is a data file filled with URLs. What’s really slick, is this script only emails me when changes have been made to the page. Then, it’s simply a matter of sorting my email by subject and date to scan changes over a long period of time. No more Excel sucking the sexy out of my day.
There’s more than one use for this script. You can also use it to spy on your competition. Every time they make a change to their site, you’ll know and you can see exactly what they’re doing. If they’re doing any split testing, it won’t be long before you know which test won.
The workflow is simple. Type
changetrack into Terminal. The results are waiting for you next time you check your email. In Mail, create a smart mailbox that sorts your results. If you use MailTags, you can create a to do in iCal if you need to take any kind of action. I’ve got some more automation tips on the Changetrack wiki page.
It might take you 30 minutes to get the script up and running. But over the course of a single month, it could save you hours. Not only will you save time and energy, but you will have very little resistance to tracking your search engine results — A time sucking task that most SEOs would rather not have to do. Plus, you could potentially increase your income by tracking the conversion secrets of your competitors.
You’ll find complete instructions on my Changetrack wiki page. If you have comments or come up with some other slick workflows, please share them below.
The one sure way to make a lazy man look respectable is to put a fishing rod in his hand.