What is programmatic SEO?

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Programmatic search engine optimization (SEO) is a digital strategy that automates the creation of large numbers of web pages at once, all tailored to specific keywords and search terms. Instead of manually building each page one by one, you can use templates and databases to produce hundreds or thousands of pages quickly. 

The goal of programmatic SEO is to ensure that when someone is looking for a specific term, there’s a relevant page on your website waiting for them in the search results.

What are the benefits of programmatic SEO?

Automating your page creation with programmatic SEO offers the following benefits:

  • Scale: The primary advantage of programmatic SEO is its ability to produce a vast number of search-optimized pages simultaneously. With this scale, you can cater to a wide range of search queries, capturing a broader audience. As per Ascend2, 27% of marketers surveyed used marketing automation tools in 2022 to create landing pages. 
  • Time efficiency: With automation, businesses can create content faster, enabling them to focus on refining strategy, conducting market research or improving core business operations.
  • Relevance: By matching user intent with the right content, websites can provide more relevant information. This approach ensures users find what they’re looking for, increasing the likelihood of staying on the site longer.
  • SEO growth: The sheer volume of pages can lead to a significant boost in organic traffic in a short duration. Programmatic SEO also broadens your keyword base, allowing your site to rank for a more diverse set of search queries, boosting rankings and visibility on search engines.
  • Affordability: The automated approach, especially when done right, can result in cost savings in the long run due to reduced manual effort. 

Programmatic SEO: Challenges and pitfalls

The top challenges of programmatic SEO are: 

  • Quality control: With the automated creation of numerous pages, you’ll have to ensure consistent quality across all content. There’s a risk of generating thin content or pages that may seem repetitive or lack depth.
  • Penalties: If not executed correctly, programmatic SEO can lead to the creation of “doorway pages” or pages that seem spammy. Search engines like Google might penalize websites for such practices, affecting rankings.
  • Technical challenges: Managing a vast number of pages requires robust technical infrastructure. Ensuring all pages are indexed and load quickly can be a daunting task.
  • Maintenance: As search trends and user behaviors evolve, the content on these pages may need updates. Keeping thousands of pages up-to-date can be resource-intensive.
  • Resource allocation: While programmatic SEO can be cost-effective in the long run, the initial setup, especially integrating databases and templates, can require significant resources.

How to do programmatic SEO

Here is a simplified step-by-step guide to implementing programmatic SEO strategies:

1. Perform keyword research

Use tools such as Semrush, Ahrefs or Google Keyword Planner to unearth high-volume, low-competition keywords pertinent to your business. Delve into long tail keywords and their variations to capture a wider audience. Discern the search intent behind each keyword, whether informational, transactional or navigational.

👉 Discover how building keyword clusters helps you organize your SEO strategy and improve content planning. 

2. Design content templates

Craft adaptable templates that can seamlessly accommodate diverse content types, from intricate product descriptions to engaging blog posts. Depending on your website’s content management system (CMS), you might have built-in tools to create templates. Ensure these templates are primed for SEO, integrating placeholders for meta tags, headers and strategic keyword placement.

3. Create and integrate a database

Choose a robust database system such as MySQL or MongoDB. Organize it to store data centered around keywords, diverse content elements and other salient details. Then, seamlessly integrate this database with your website’s CMS using APIs or suitable plugins.

4. Automate unique content generation

According to Adobe, 98% of marketers agree that automation is very important or extremely important to success. 

Begin by leveraging scripts or dedicated platforms designed for content automation. Programmatic SEO tools should efficiently pull specific data from your database to fill in the placeholders within your content templates. As you generate content, ensure each piece is distinctive. Introduce subtle variations in the content to maintain its uniqueness, ensuring you avoid the traps of content duplication that can harm SEO efforts.

5. Optimize for on-page SEO

When automating content, ensure that SEO elements are not overlooked. Generate meta tags dynamically, drawing from the core theme of the content and its primary keyword. Structure your programmatic SEO pages using header tags to establish a coherent content hierarchy. Weave in strategic internal links, not just to boost page authority but also to facilitate smoother user navigation across your site.

6. Handle the technical details

For content-heavy categories that span multiple pages, implement pagination to organize and streamline user access. To safeguard against the SEO pitfalls of duplicate content, use canonical tags, signaling to search engines which page version should be considered the “original.” Also, craft your URLs with care. They should not only be easily readable but also incorporate the target keyword, optimizing them for both user experience and search engines.

7. Implement QA and testing

Before any page goes live, it should undergo thorough testing. Ensure that each page loads quickly and functions without glitches. With mobile browsing now a staple for many users, your pages must be highly responsive on mobile devices. For a more in-depth analysis, SEO crawler tools such as Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl can help detect issues like broken links or missing tags, allowing for timely corrections.

8. Monitor and analyze

Use analytics platforms, such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, to continuously monitor the health and performance of your pages. Regularly assess how your keywords rank and adapt your strategies by collecting data. 

Don’t forget to audit your content periodically to remain relevant, reflecting current search trends and changes in your business’s offerings or focus.

Programmatic SEO examples

To better understand the concept of automated SEO, consider these two examples: 


Screenshot of Canva free templates page as an example of programmatic SEOCanva leverages programmatic SEO for its vast array of design templates. Each template-related search query — whether it’s “Instagram post templates,” “resume templates” or “business card template” — has its dedicated page on Canva’s website.


Screenshot of all G2 pages mentioning "CRM software" as a programmatic SEO exampleWhen you search for a particular software category, such as “CRM software,” G2 has dedicated pages showcasing top CRM solutions, user reviews and detailed comparisons. These category pages, along with individual product review pages, are generated programmatically to ensure that they cater to a wide variety of software and service queries that users might have.

Traditional SEO vs programmatic SEO

Here are the key differences between programmatic and traditional SEO:

CharacteristicTraditional SEOProgrammatic SEO
FocusIndividual pagesAutomated bulk generation of pages
ScaleLimited to a few key pages or sections of a websiteLarge scale, potentially thousands of pages
Content creationManual creation of (often in-depth) contentAutomated using templates and databases
OptimizationManual on-page and off-page optimizationAutomated on-page optimization, manual off-page
FlexibilityHigh — each page can be uniquely tailoredLow — based on a template but with dynamic content
MaintenanceRegular manual updatesPeriodic template/database updates
Use casesBlogs and corporate websitesLarge e-commerce sites, directories and listing platforms
PitfallsMissing out on niche or long tail keywordsDuplicate or thin content
Monitoring and analysisIndividual page performanceBulk page performance

Whether you’re exploring automated content generation via programmatic SEO for SaaS products or seeking meticulous, hand-crafted pages for your website, our team is equipped to deliver. With happy clients and a proven track record of driving traffic, enhancing visibility and converting visitors into customers, we’re committed to boosting your digital presence. Get in touch to learn more.

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