In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, staying ahead of the curve is the key to success. As businesses strive to increase their online visibility and organic traffic, a new strategy has emerged on the horizon: Programmatic SEO. This innovative approach is transforming the way businesses approach SEO, making it more efficient, scalable, and targeted. If you’re looking to level up your SEO game, this comprehensive guide on programmatic SEO is just what you need.
What is Programmatic SEO?
Programmatic SEO, or pSEO, is a revolutionary approach to search engine optimization. It’s about automating and scaling content creation to drive traffic to your website and rank organically on search results for low-competition/long-tail keywords.
In simpler terms, think of pSEO as building landing pages from a spreadsheet to rank higher in Google search results. It’s like having a virtual army of content creators working round the clock, generating high-quality traffic to your website. This strategy is less about creating authoritative, informative content and more about generating a positive user experience and high-volume landing pages with transactional intent.
The Power of Programmatic SEO
Programmatic SEO strategies can capture hundreds and thousands of niche search results and business searches. It also automates the most labor-intensive part of SEO: content creation. A prime example of pSEO in action is on sites like TripAdvisor, which has created landing pages for everything travel-related, capturing searchers from search engines to their website.
Programmatic SEO also helps with publishing hundreds or thousands of pages at scale. For instance, TripAdvisor groups most of their site information under topic types like “Things to do”, “Restaurants to visit”, “Airlines”, or “Hotels”. Creating these variations for each city in the world results in thousands of programmatic pages. This strategy, if done manually, would take years to achieve. Instead, they created these programmatically generated pages with the same design and content structure within a few months.
Why Programmatic SEO is Effective
Many companies start their SEO strategy by targeting top-of-the-funnel and highly competitive organic keywords they can’t rank for because they lack high domain authority. This approach is labor-intensive and requires a significant amount of on-page SEO, link building, SEO-optimized content, and content promotion efforts. The solution? Combine programming and SEO to create hundreds or even thousands of well-optimized pages automatically!
Take the case of Failory, a startup-focused platform. In December 2022 alone, Failory attracted 178,472 users via Google, with a staggering 54% (97,450 users) landing on their programmatically created pages. This data underscores the potential of programmatic SEO to significantly boost a website’s visibility and reach.
The beauty of programmatic SEO lies in its scalability. It leverages automation to generate hundreds or even thousands of pages or articles, each targeting specific long-tail keywords. While these keywords individually might have a low monthly search volume, their collective search volume is immense due to the sheer number of pages created. This approach allows businesses to cast a wider net in the vast ocean of online search queries.
In Failory’s case, they identified “[Industry] Pitch Decks” as their head term and curated a database of pitch decks categorized by the startup’s industries. Using this data, they programmatically created articles, each targeting a specific industry. The result? A whopping 429 pages were published in just three months, with less than 50 hours of work. Over the next three months, these pages attracted over 30,000 organic users, demonstrating the impressive return on investment that programmatic SEO can deliver.
How to Start a Programmatic SEO Project
Starting a programmatic SEO project involves a four-step process:
- Find Head Terms or Search Intent: In programmatic SEO, a Head Term is a broad term for which you are attempting to rank. Finding the right head term is crucial. For example, TripAdvisor’s head term would be “hotels in” or “things to do in”.
- Find Your Modifiers: Modifiers are long-tail keywords that, when combined with a head term, provide more specific search queries. For example, TripAdvisor uses the head term “things to do in” in conjunction with modifiers such as “Bangkok,” “San Diego,” “Tokyo,” and so on.
- Create a Template: Understanding a user’s search intent and providing suitable resources is critical to implementing an effective programmatic SEO approach. The template should reflect that.
- Generate Pages Automatically: The final stage is to build landing pages. To accomplish this, you must first collect data on each page. This might be manually collected, extracted through APIs, accessed through data scraping, or generated by users.
Common Programmatic SEO Problems and Their Solutions
With every new technology comes a learning curve and a few roadblocks when implementing it for the first time. And programmatic SEO isn’t any different. As you progress through your journey, you’re likely to encounter some of the Programmatic SEO problems mentioned below:
- Crawl Speed: With hundreds of thousands of pages created, Google may need to index some of them. This results in a slow crawl speed. To prevent this, use excessive internal linking to guarantee that Google finds all your pages.
- Content Duplicity: Reusing data across several pages may eventually make all pages look the same. Google may penalize you for this, limiting your reach. Aim for at least 50% – 80% of your material to be unique.
- Low Quality Content: Many programmatic SEO sites are devoid of descriptive content and consist solely of graphs and images. These pages with limited content will struggle to rank highly in Google. Make sure to include sections that adequately describe your services/products.
- Keyword Cannibalization: When numerous of your sites target the head terms, the problem of keyword cannibalization arises. This confuses the search engine visibility as to which page to rank, resulting in nothing being ranked. You can fully prevent this issue by conducting extensive keyword research with a keyword tool that includes head terms and modifiers.
- Manual Penalization: Avoid the error of publishing all the pages all at once. Google may manually evaluate your site and penalize you for this. The search engine algorithm picks up unusual publishing patterns, so avoid posting everything in one go.
Programmatic SEO Best Practices
Just like traditional SEO, there are a set of practices to uphold to remain in Google’s good books when you use programmatic SEO on your website. Deviating from this might invite Google’s penalty.
Some of the best practices include:
- Employ Search Engine Optimization Best Practices: One mistake companies make is neglecting basic SEO rules when implementing pSEO on their site. Just as in traditional SEO, your indexed pages should adhere to basic on-page and off-page optimization.
- Drip Publishing: One of the reasons Google is slow to index programmatically generated pages is because of mass publishing. Publishing thousands of pages at once can be seen as a red flag from Google. The solution? Publish content in batches, and allow Google to index before publishing more.
- Limit Identical Pages: Identical pages refers to situations where you have the same texts in multiple pages on your programmatic sites. Ensure each text on a page is unique. If you must repeat texts, do so with sentences, not with a whole paragraph.
- Avoid Having Too Much “Thin Content”: It refers to creating content that provides little or no value to readers. A common practice among programmatic SEO sites is having few words of text, and this is often judged as “thin content” by Google’s algorithms. To avoid this issue, we recommend keeping the texts on your pages at a minimum of 200 – 300 words.
- Use Proper Text Formatting: Give readers a good experience by employing proper formatting. A good rule of thumb is to keep your paragraphs at 1 – 4 sentences, sentences at 15 – 20 words, and have at least one variable appear in each paragraph.
Programmatic SEO is a powerful tool for businesses looking to increase their online visibility and organic traffic. By automating and scaling content creation, companies can capture a larger share of search results and drive more traffic to their websites. However, like any strategy, it requires careful planning, execution, and monitoring to ensure its effectiveness.
Key Takeaways: Leveraging Programmatic SEO
Programmatic SEO is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It requires a deep understanding of your target audience, their search behaviors, and the competitive landscape of your industry. It also requires a commitment to creating high-quality, unique content that provides value to your audience.
In conclusion, programmatic SEO is a powerful strategy that can significantly enhance your digital marketing efforts. By leveraging automation and data, you can create more effective, targeted, and scalable SEO campaigns. Whether you’re a small business owner, a digital marketer, or an SEO manager, programmatic SEO can provide you with the tools and strategies you need to succeed in the competitive world of digital marketing.
Remember, the key to successful programmatic SEO is continuous learning, testing, and optimization. So, don’t be afraid to experiment, learn from your mistakes, and continually refine your strategies. With time and effort, you can harness the power of programmatic SEO to drive growth and success for your business.