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What Is Programmatic SEO and Why Is It So Effective?

In our work with SaaS clients, we’ve seen the profound impact that programmatic SEO can have on a website’s organic traffic. Read on to learn more about what programmatic SEO is, how to implement it, and some of the extraordinary success our clients have seen using this SEO strategy.

Date IconAug 30th, 20225 minutes

Devon Wood

Content Marketing

What Is Programmatic SEO and Why Is It So Effective? - Blog Post

What is Programmatic SEO?

Programmatic SEO (search engine optimization) is the method of mass-producing pages of content using a database, with the goal of ranking high in Google’s search results for similarly-structured, long-tail keywords.

When is it Best to Use Programmatic SEO?

Programmatic SEO is the most useful if your planned content meets the following criteria:

  1. The content has one encompassing theme, and shares the same head term.

  2. The content theme has substantial search volume.

  3. Most of the long-tail keywords have a relatively low keyword difficulty.

  4. The end goal is to publish many landing pages, either hundreds or thousands.

  5. You plan on utilizing a headless content management system (CMS).

  6. Sourcing the information (data) for each landing page will be somewhat low-effort.

Advantages of Programmatic SEO

There are many advantages to adopting a programmatic SEO strategy:

SEO benefits

First and foremost, the goal of programmatic SEO is to attract as much organic search traffic as possible.

A successful programmatic SEO campaign can significantly boost your website’s domain authority, link building, and number of organic keywords. This is achieved by creating a superb user experience (UX) that is concise, but solves the user’s search intent better than any other result does.

Speed to market

Creating pages programmatically is the fastest way to deploy a website project. In just seconds, you have the ability to create hundreds or even thousands of landing pages by leveraging data automation. Because of its exponential speed, programmatic SEO is optimal for any SaaS go-to-market strategy.

Also in relation to speed, programmatic SEO reduces the reliance on engineers, and allows marketers to make fast and frequent iterations to all the landing pages.

Scalability

One of the most common ways that marketers come across programmatic SEO is they have an idea for creating a large scale content marketing strategy, but are concerned with the amount of effort it will take to deliver. Content that is automatically generated dramatically increases the practicality of executing a website project at scale. Additionally, data can continuously be added down the road to keep expanding the content theme. 

Consistency in design

In addition to the queries being similar, the content of each page is formatted the same using a headless CMS. This way, the content and design elements of the templated page are decoupled, and allows for the page layout to easily be replicated with variations of content. Programmatic SEO enables a structured and reusable library of components with flexible variations.

Uniqueness

The underlying benefit of programmatic SEO is that it results in the creation of unconventional content that differentiates you from the competition. The reality is that in today’s content landscape, blogs can only take you so far. Organizations need to create content that provides exceptional, unparalleled value. With a bit of ideation, there are endless applications for implementing programmatically generated pages.

How to Do Programmatic SEO

Let’s dive into the actual process of implementing a programmatic SEO project.

1. Choosing a head term

The head term is the overarching pattern for your content theme.

For example, Tripadvisor consistently ranks Google’s search results for the head search term “things to do in [city name]”.

By themselves, head terms will have a large amount of search volume, a lot of competition, and less relevance to your content. The real opportunity is unlocked when you begin to add on to the head term.

2. Identifying long tail keywords

Long-tail keywords will be known as the modifiers alongside your head term. Each landing page should be structured to include your head term, plus one unique long-tail keyword.

For example, Tripadvisor uses their head term “things to do in” with modifiers such as “San Diego”, “Nashville”, or “Phoenix” (each city having its own landing page).

Individually, each keyword will most likely have a relatively small amount of search volume. However, they will have a significant impact collectively. When programmatic SEO is used across hundreds or even thousands of landing pages, your reach becomes exponential.

Discovering these modifiers can best be done with SEO tools such as Ahrefs or Google Search Console. This long-tail keyword research gives you insight into metrics most relative to your users’ behavior, including search volume and keyword difficulty. Equipped with all the data, you can begin to pinpoint which modifiers will be most valuable to your programmatic SEO strategy.  

3. Create landing pages that directly addresses search intent

Since many of the target keywords will have low competitiveness, writing long-form, authoritative and quality content will be less necessary.

As previously mentioned, the key to programmatic SEO is understanding a user’s intention. Many programmatic SEO strategies will revolve around transactional intent - meaning that users are looking to take a specific action or find a particular solution. Being long-tail keywords, these niche searches are often lower in the funnel and therefore signify a high intent.

4. Generate pages automatically at scale with data

To begin the process of generating pages, you must first collect data for each page. Sometimes, you may already have the necessary data readily available. Other times, you may need to research and curate the data manually. 

In regards to software tools, there are a number of leading platforms for generating pages programmatically, including WordPress, Webflow, and Hubspot.

Examples of Programmatic SEO

While there are plenty of ways to put programmatic SEO into action, our greatest success stories were from the creation of integration tools. Here, we will showcase how Webstacks took inspiration from Zapier’s approach to programmatic SEO and helped two clients develop and design integration libraries.

Calendly’s Integrations

Webstacks produced a brand new design to better showcase Calendly’s integration library.

Programmatically generated pages allowed us to quickly build a single framework, then edit each integration page’s content without altering the design or layout.

Calendly is now optimized to rank for any searches related to “[Calendy][Tool] integration”.

In addition to SERP optimization, we were able to enhance the integrations home page with search functionality and category filtering.

An example from Calendly’s Integrations is this “Calendly + Zoom” page. While the design layout for every individual page is exactly the same, each Zoom-related content section is sourced from the database and automatically inserted.

From a conversion standpoint, each page has multiple apparent CTAs that directly address the user’s search intent (integrating Calendly with Zoom).

Thanks to programmatic SEO, Calendly has been able to attain a network effect with its integrations. As Calendly adds more partners, its platform becomes more valuable to users. Subsequently, as Calendly attracts more users, more applications will want to join their integration library.

To make the publishing process even more efficient for new integrations, Calendly can request that tools interested in partnering with them fill in the content (data) for their integration page via their Developer Portal. This way, creating a new page requires nearly zero effort from Calendly and is practically built on its own.

From 95 programmatically generated pages, Calendly has seen some incredible results:

  • More than 2,600 new backlinks

  • Over 4,700 new organic keywords

  • And over 4,600 organic traffic per month 

Retool Database Integrations

Another example of programmatic SEO is the Zapier-inspired Retool integration library.

Now, Retool’s integration content is structured to maximize search rankings and conversions for “[retool] [application name] integration” searches. 

An example of a Retool integration is this Slack page, which is optimized to rank highly for query “[Retool][Slack] integration”.

Just like Calendly, each Retool integration page has the exact same layout, and CTA placement.

From 43 programmatically generated pages, Retool has achieved:

  • More than 850 backlinks

  • Over 3,200 new organic keywords

  • And over 1,900 organic traffic per month

Get Started With Programmatic SEO

Given the limitless possibilities, programmatic SEO can be a tremendous organic growth tool for SaaS companies. Beyond its search engine optimization implications, this strategy also aligns with other top priorities, such as speed to market, efficiency, and scalability.

At Webstacks, programmatic SEO has been an overall SEO strategy for clients. If you are interested in learning more about how your organization can develop a programmatic SEO project, feel free to contact our sales team.

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