What is programmatic SEO and how to do it in 2023
Programmatic SEO is a technique that allows you to generate content on a large scale using code. In this article I am going to explain what programmatic SEO is, how it works, what benefits it has, and how you can apply it to your business.
What is programmatic SEO and why is it important?
Programmatic SEO is the creation of web pages at scale using code. For example, creating 100 pages for “best hotels in town”, which is a technique used by companies like Airbnb and Expedia.
This is a relatively new concept in SEO that involves developing landing pages on a larger scale.
This method allows you to create targeted pages that aim to get more mobile, voice, and local searches on your search engine. To match the large number of Google search inputs, websites that employ this technique display large masses of web pages that contain modifiable content.
It is a method commonly used by aggregator sites to create and optimize landing pages using metadata at scale.
It's less about authoritative, informative, or quality content, it's more about creating high-volume, easy-to-use landing pages with transactional intent.
This technique can also be viewed as a process where ranking factors and their changes are detected, software or scripts are updated, and changes based on ranking factor modifications are applied and reflected on particular pages of the site.
Why is programmatic SEO important?
Because it allows you to reach as many users as possible by attacking many different searches. Thus, you can increase your organic traffic, your visibility and your conversions.
In addition, it allows you to save time and resources by automating and scaling the content creation process.
Elements of programmatic SEO
Generally, programmatic SEO has three elements:
- Main terms and modifiers
- Dynamic and optimized landing pages
- Automation and scalability
Main terms and modifiers
Head terms are the most generic and popular keywords that relate to your business or niche.
For example, if you have a travel website, your main terms could be “hotels”, “flights” or “destinations”. These terms have high search volume but also high competition.
Modifiers are the more specific and varied keywords that are added to the main terms to create longer and more precise combinations.
For example, if you add “cheap”, “in Madrid” or “for couples” to your main terms, you get modifiers like “cheap hotels”, “flights to Madrid” or “destinations for couples”. These modifiers have lower search volume but also lower competition.
The idea of programmatic SEO is to create as many possible combinations between your main terms and your modifiers to generate thousands of web pages that cover all the searches related to your business or niche.
This way you can capture the attention of users who are looking for specific solutions to their problems or needs.
Dynamic and optimized landing pages
Landing pages are web pages that receive users coming from search engines. These pages must be designed to offer a good user experience and to persuade the user to perform a desired action (buy a product, book a service, subscribe to a newsletter, etc.).
In programmatic SEO, landing pages are created dynamically and optimized using code. That is, software or a script is used that automatically generates the content of the page based on the combination of main terms and modifiers that has been chosen.
For example, if the combination is "cheap hotels in Madrid", the software will generate a page with a title, description, image and a list of cheap hotels in Madrid.
Page content should be relevant and personalized to the user's search. Also, you should follow good SEO practices like including the keyword in the title, URL, headings, and text; use meta tags, internal and external links; optimize loading speed, responsive design and security; etc
Automation and scalability
The last element of programmatic SEO is automation and scalability . This means that the web page creation process is done automatically and can be replicated on a large scale.
That is to say, it is not necessary to manually create each web page, but a software or a script is used that does it for us. Thus we can generate thousands or millions of web pages in a short time and with little effort.
Automation and scalability allow us to take full advantage of the potential of programmatic SEO. We can create web pages for any combination of main terms and modifiers that we can think of or that we detect as business opportunities.
We may update and modify the web pages based on changes in ranking factors or user preferences.
How to do programmatic SEO step by step
Now that you know what programmatic SEO is and what elements make it up, I am going to explain how you can do it step by step. These are the steps you must follow:
- Find your main terms and modifiers
- Create your landing pages with relevant and personalized content
- Use tools and software to automate and scale the process
Find your main terms and modifiers
The first step to doing programmatic SEO is to find your main terms and modifiers. To do this, you must do keyword research or keywords. This consists of analyzing what searches users do on Google related to your business or niche.
To do this research you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Semrush or Ahrefs. These tools allow you to enter a head term and get a list of keywords related to their search volume, competition, and difficulty.
You can also use other sources like Google Trends, Google Suggest, or Google Search Console to find more keyword ideas.
The goal is to find the most generic and popular head terms that relate to your business or niche, as well as the more specific and varied modifiers that can be added to those head terms to create longer, more accurate combinations.
For example, if your business is a travel website, your main terms could be “hotels”, “flights” or “destinations”. Your modifiers could be “cheap”, “in Madrid”, “for couples”, “all inclusive”, “with spa”, etc.
Create your landing pages with relevant and personalized content
The second step to doing programmatic SEO is to create your landing pages with relevant and personalized content. To do this, you must use software or a script that automatically generates the content of the page based on the combination of head terms and modifiers that you have chosen.
There are different types of software or scripts that you can use to do programmatic SEO. Some examples are:
- WordPress: It is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world. It allows you to easily create web pages using templates, plugins and widgets. You can use plugins like Yoast SEO or Rank Math to optimize your web pages for SEO.
- Webflow : It is a platform that allows you to create web pages without the need to know how to program. It offers you a visual editor where you can drag and drop elements to design your web page. It also allows you to create dynamic pages using a database.
- Python : It is a programming language that allows you to create web pages using code. You can use libraries like Flask or Django to create dynamic and scalable web applications. You can also use tools like BeautifulSoup or Scrapy to extract data from other web pages and use it in your own pages.
- Others : There are other options such as Shopify, Squarespace or Wix that allow you to create web pages easily and quickly. However, these options are usually more limited and less flexible than the previous ones.
Use tools and software to automate and scale the process
The third and final step in doing programmatic SEO is to use tools and software to automate and scale the process.
This means that you must use software or a script that allows you to automatically generate thousands or millions of web pages in a short time and with little effort.
There are different types of tools and software that you can use to do programmatic SEO. Some examples are:
- Screaming Frog : It is a tool that allows you to analyze your website and detect possible errors or SEO problems. It helps you optimize your structure, your metadata, your links, your loading speed, etc. It also allows you to create sitemaps and upload them to Google Search Console for easy crawling and indexing of your web pages.
- Google Sheets : It is a tool that allows you to create spreadsheets online where you can store and organize your data. It helps you create lists of head and modifier terms, as well as generate keyword combinations. It also allows you to import and export data from other sources or tools.
- Python : It is a programming language that allows you to create web pages using code. It helps you create dynamic and optimized pages using libraries like Flask or Django. It also allows you to extract data from other web pages and use it on your own pages using tools like BeautifulSoup or Scrapy.
- Others : There are other tools such as Zapier, IFTTT or Integromat that allow you to automate tasks and processes between different applications or services. For example, you can create a workflow that automatically generates a web page every time you add a new row to your Google Sheets spreadsheet.
Written by Moises Hamui Abadi : I am an entrepreneur, founding partner of Viceversa and SoyMacho. After being in charge of several digital businesses and advising several other businesses; I decided to form MHA Consulting, a digital marketing consultancy dedicated to growing and empowering digital businesses in more than 7 countries and generating more than 1,500 million pesos.
If you want more information on this topic or you are looking for other options to profile your ideal client, at MHA you will find the solution you need. Schedule a call.