Keywords for Programmatic SEO: How to find and rank well

By Arso Stojović
Read time 9 min
Posted on December 1, 2022
Updated on May 18, 2023
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Keywords for Programmatic SEO pages

As in any SEO strategy, keywords for Programmatic SEO are an inevitable ingredient.

When working on Programmatic SEO pages, content creators need a lot of keywords. Dozens, really. So, to do it perfectly, they should have, plan and apply a keyword research strategy - at scale. It is important to note, though, that there are some cases where you should avoid Programmatic SEO strategies.

In this guide, I'll cover the keyword research process at scale to find many keywords for a specific topic.

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What is Programmatic SEO?

Programmatic SEO is a strategy that can help you create many different but similar landing pages that target specific keywords and/or variations on groups of keywords. Using this method, you can direct potential customers to a landing page based on their keyword and intent.

I know this can sound a bit confusing and complicated (I also thought the same since Programmatic SEO was one of the first strategies I did as a writer at BCMS), but it is super easy. If you want to read about it, I also wrote a Programmatic SEO guide because I managed to generate 3k organic visits to the BCMS site in 2 weeks and got the second position on Google without any campaigns and paid ads. 🤯

The "only" thing you must do to achieve these results is to perform keyword strategy impeccably.

Keywords for Programmatic SEO vs traditional keywords - what's the difference

Finding keywords for Programmatic SEO may be similar to the traditional one, but there is a big difference in focus. Everyone who did keyword research at least once was focused on finding high-search volume, low-competition keywords.

Unlike traditional keyword research, programmatic SEO keyword research focuses on finding low-search volume and low-competition keywords.

An excellent example of these kinds of keywords is long-tail keywords. Often, they are low-competition and easy to rank. Due to their highly specific search intent, searchers are also more likely to take profitable action.

Targeting these keywords for programmatic SEO makes sense, even though they have not yet attracted significant search volumes. As a result, you can rank for many keyword variations, which will result in large amounts of organic traffic.

These keywords provide search engines with information about your website's content, but they also refer to words and phrases people type into a search engine to find information. There are one too many ways people type their phrases to find the info they are interested in. So, you guessed it, there are as many different keywords, too.

5 types of keywords for Programmatic SEO

In this part of the text, I will introduce you to 5 types of keywords in SEO that you need to know. We will start with the basic ones and finish with more technical ones. When researching keywords for your own website, try to think if it will introduce duplicate content if implemented through Programmatic SEO.

Short-tail keywords

Short-tail keywords, aka "head terms," are phrases that contain 3 words or fewer. Usually, those phrases are the ones most people would think of first when they need something.

For example, short-tail keywords for food would be Italian food, Chinese food, Mexican food, Paella Valenciana, etc.

Short-tail keywords are insufficient for a Google search because they are general terms, and for search engines is too hard to find specific content. Think of them as a "topic" terms that need more words to be described.

Short-tail keywords characteristics

  • High search volume

  • High competitive rate

  • Low conversion rate

  • Use them as theme keywords that appear consistently throughout your website

Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords contain more than 3 words and are much more specific than short-tail keywords. As you can predict, long-tail keywords have a relatively low search volume (especially when compared to head terms.) Nevertheless, they account for most Google searches.

According to statistics, long-tail keywords have an average conversion rate of 36%. Compared to short-tailed keywords, they generate 2.5 times more paying customers.

Here are some examples of targeted keywords that are long-tail keywords:

Let's take one head term from above, for example, paella.

It is more likely that someone who searches for "Paella Valenciana in Madrid." and you have a restaurant in Madrid will come to your restaurant immediately than someone searching for "Paella Valenciana in Amsterdam." Also, if someone is looking for a "pet-friendly restaurant near me," it certainly narrows the choice of search and, therefore, the selection of restaurants.

Long-tail keyword characteristics

  • Low search volume

  • Low competitive rate

  • High conversion rate

  • Use them for targeted pages, especially for product pages and blog posts

How to find long-tail keywords for Programmatic SEO?

Later in the text, I will write about finding keywords techniques in general, but I want to concentrate specifically on searching long-tail keywords.

Google's Autocomplete Feature

One of the most proven and easiest methods for finding long-tail keywords. Why? Well, because Google does it for you automatically!

Google’s Autocomplete Feature

Google's search box lists related search terms when you start typing. It is that simple. 😍

Google's PAA Feature

PAA is an acronym for "People Also Ask," which is another terrific way to find long-tailed keywords in question forms.

Let's say that I typed, "What is a programmatic SEO." After a few search results, I could see this:

People Also Ask

As a reader, this can be another relevant source to find an answer I need, but as a marketer or content creator, this can be new blog text or heading in my article. Pretty useful, don't you agree? 🙂

Related Searches

"Related Searches" is another way for Google to help you find best-suit long-tail keywords. What do you need to do? When Google finishes searching results for your queries, just scroll down till the end of the page and:

Related Searches


The list of your long-tailed keywords is more prolonged ( I know it is fantastic, you will thank me later 😉)

BONUS TIP: Social media and their discussion topics!

This is another useful source of ideas when it comes to long-tail keywords. Just simply going through discussions and comments on Reddit, you can find an inexhaustible source of questions that want to be answered.

So don't be lazy; dig through social media; maybe after that, you will be able to write a masterpiece.

Product-defining keywords

Sean Si gave a perfect definition for this one: "Product-defining keywords are keywords that describe your product best. These are the keywords your average searcher will type in the text area of Google if they are looking for a specific product, service, or idea they want to acquire or get information about."

Utilizing these keywords effectively means analyzing your product list and explaining every product thoroughly.

Product-defining keywords characteristics

  • Low search volume

  • Low competitive rate

  • High conversion rate

  • Use them on your product pages to stand out from the generic crowd

Customer-defining keywords

These keywords are purposely written for a specific category of customers.

For example, if you sell menstrual pads, your target group is all women with a regular menstrual cycle. In this example, customer-defining keywords were selected based on two parameters, gender and age.

Try to find customer-defining keywords that reflect your brand's target market demographics. In the case of BCMS, an example would be “#1 Collaborative Headless CMS for agencies & their clients.” 🤓

Customer-defining keywords characteristics

  • Low search volume

  • Low competitive rate

  • High conversion rate

  • Use them to address your customers directly to create a sense that the product is made for them

Intent targeting keywords

To determine a user's intent behind searching, we can categorize all keywords into four main categories:

  • Informational (These keywords are parts of educational content created to educate the reader.)

Keywords examples: What is paella? How to make paella? Ingredients for paella?

  • Transactional (Transactional intent implies that a potential customer is eager to buy a product, but at the same time, he/she is comparing products from multiple stores and trying to get the best deal)

Keywords examples: The best price for paella.  Our paella has the best taste guaranteed!

  • Commercial: (Purchases made with commercial intent are more serious. But customers still want product-specific information.)

Keywords examples: Looking for Valencia-made paella? Our paella is made of real rabbit meat.  Have you ever tried paella with black rice?

  • Navigational: (Navigational keywords determine a search query's intent to navigate to a particular page. Navigational keywords may include brand names, product names, service names, locations, or words such as near me, directions to, etc.)

Keywords examples: Gracima’s Paella pan from “Pata Negra” line.

Each of these keywords can enhance your SEO efforts when used in different contexts. But how do you discover all these keywords?

How to find keywords for programmatic SEO pages

Improving ranking by using the right keywords as leading terms is possible. What are the most effective keywords to choose? Making the right choice can be easier with handy Programmatic SEO tools. Many keyword generators on the web can provide you with information about what people are searching for, such as:


Ubersuggest is a free SEO tool that specializes in generating new keyword ideas. This tool is pretty helpful for comprehensive keyword analysis.


I need to be totally favored because Ubersuggest is one of my favorite tools to help me in my work. This tool has a handful of features that can improve SEO strategies, such as:

  • Keyword ideas - You'll get hundreds of suggestions from our free keyword tool, from head terms to long-tail phrases. Each keyword will also show volume, competition, and seasonal trends.

  • Keyword overview - Keyword Overview gives you important data on a keyword you type into.

  • Content ideas - Ubersuggest provides a list of texts, blogs, and articles (as an example or inspiration) that is already written on the subject you want to write about.

  • SERP overview - you’ll get to see the top 100 ranking pages for searched keywords, along with data on their links, social shares, and estimated traffic.

Answer the public

Answer the public's visualized search questions and suggest autocomplete searches in a search cloud image.

Answer the public

Categories consist of:

  • 5 Ws

  • How

  • Can

  • Are

  • Which

  • Will

This can serve you as an inspiration, but simultaneously, you can find out and define different search intents.


With Ahrefs, you can build links, conduct keyword research, analyze competitors, track rankings, audit sites and manage SEO health.


You can also use Ahrefs to conduct keyword research for:

  • Google

  • Bing

  • YouTube

  • Amazon

And best of all, you can do all those things for free! 😍


A drag-and-drop feature makes it easy to use Soovle to gather keyword information from Google, YouTube, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon, and more.


In addition to the drag-and-drop saved suggestions feature, Soovle also offers the option to download your favorite keyword ideas. Once more, all of this you can do for free.


Contentpace is a content writing and research automation platform for SEO-focused content.


Contentpace allows content creators to find various keywords and, at the same time, compare their content with articles and pages on Google that rank best on the given topic. It is possible to do deeper analysis and comparisons such as:

  • number of headings in the text

  • types of headings in the text

  • preferable keyword usage

  • readability level

  • number of paragraphs needed

This platform is not free but is definitely worth checking.

Keywords for Programmatic SEO: Bad vs Good choice

Although there is a different focus on finding keywords (head terms and modifiers) for Programmatic SEO, you should know that not all are a good fit for a programmatic SEO strategy.

First, you should be aware that there are different levels of keyword difficulty (KD). Using keyword difficulty metric, you can estimate how difficult it would be for a keyword to rank on the first page of Google. Scales range from 0 to 100, with 100 being the hardest. The domain authority, page authority, and backlinks of the ranking pages determine it.

You can use keyword research tools to find out KD metrics, but with small differences, difficulty scores vary between keyword research tools. Here's how Ahrefs rates KD:

Keywords KD

How to differentiate between good and bad keywords for Programmatic SEO

The best keywords for programmatic SEO would be these from the following list:

  • Keep keyword difficulty between 30% and 70%. These keywords usually have good search volumes but not so much competition that it's not feasible.

  • Keywords between hard and super hard are bad because they're almost impossible to rank for.

  • Don't forget about keywords in the "easy" category. They can do miracles.

  • Be sure that your primary keyword (head term) can create at least 100 modifiers. If the head term can deliver that, it is a good keyword; if not, then it is a bad keyword because, with low modifiers, you won't be able to create enough landing pages to have topical authority to boost your domain authority.

  • Look at the keyword search volume. Too high or too low a search volume is bad.

  • To be effective, long-tail keywords should have transactional and commercial intent. Landing pages should focus on keywords with transactional and commercial intent since they're expected to be short and straightforward.

How to incorporate keywords into your Programmatic content

After collecting keywords and categorizing them, the next step you need to do is to use them. To attract visitors, you can either incorporate them into existing content or create new content. Check out our article on Programmatic SEO examples for some inspiration.

Here is how you can do that in the best possible way:

Incorporate keywords into page titles

Search engine results show your page title first when someone clicks on it. Seeing the keyword in the title tells search engines that what they're looking for has been found. The title of the page is also significant to Google!

Incorporate keywords into meta description

While Google doesn't pay attention to meta descriptions, your visitors do. Why? Because meta descriptions summarise the content of a page. For visitors, those text blocks are like trailers that will help them decide whether to enter your page or not. That's why it's vital to have well-written meta descriptions that include the head term.

Since this is another crucial part of SEO strategy, you must also learn how to handle HTML meta tags to raise your content to the #1 position.

Incorporate keywords into URLs

As an identifier, a URL gives some information about your web page and even your content. For Google, the URL provides the first impression. Keywords in a URL can also let Google know that your page contains information users are looking for.

Incorporate keywords into content

Putting keywords into content is an obvious step. But you must do it well planned. Keep in mind that you are creating content for two different audiences, search engines, and real people.

Search engines follow the rules, but people follow the narrative. So you need to write your text in a really structured way, but you need to keep it natural and emotional.

It's important to keep your keywords up-to-date so that you keep your competitors at bay and continue to attract traffic. Once you understand how it works, you'll be amazed at how manageable it is.

What did you learn about finding keywords for Programmatic SEO:

What is keyword research?

Finding and analyzing search phrases that people enter into search engines with the intention of utilizing that information for a specific purpose, frequently for search engine optimization (SEO) or general marketing, is the practice of conducting keyword research. Keyword research can reveal target queries, their popularity, the difficulty of ranking for these queries, and more.

What is the easiest way to find keywords?

The web is full of Keyword Research Tools, so the best way to find the one that suits you the most is to use those tools.  Be free to check out those I mentioned above in the text.

How do I find SEO-friendly keywords?

  • Keywords are the main tool for any SEO strategy

  • Different types of keywords can elevate your content

  • You always need to have in mind the visitor’s intent

  • Don’t hesitate to use various keywords generators and tools to build a high-quality keyword list

  • Implement keywords into your content often and naturally

  • Follow the structure and rules to please SEO standards

  • Think about the narrative to please visitors’ expectations

  • Get used to success if you do all these steps properly

What are profitable keywords?

The keywords that will draw interested readers who are likely to try your product or buy from you are the most profitable for your business. Companies and SEO experts attempt to select these kinds of keywords based on SEO ranking factors such as volume, keyword difficulty (KD), and cost per click (CPC).

How do I know if a keyword is profitable?

Targeted keywords need to meet four criteria: 

  • significant search volume

  • high relevance

  • strong conversion value

  • reasonable competition

 If any of these are missing, your SEO is likely to fail.

What is the best keyword strategy?

Every choice you make based on the outcomes of your keyword research project, whether it's about the content you plan to publish or how you'll track the results in Analytics, is included in your keyword strategy. In terms of keyword targeting, keyword strategy is how you want to do it both now and in the future.

How do you create the best keyword strategy?

  • Find keywords with search traffic potential. 

  • Make sure you can create content that aligns with search intent.

  • Make sure you can rank for the keyword.

How much volume is good for a keyword?

A Good Keyword Search Volume at least should aim for a minimum volume of 100–1,000 searches per month.

How many times should I use a keyword?

The unwritten rule among SEO experts says that a keyword should not appear more than once per 200 words of copy.

What happens if you use too many keywords?

You risk that Google dislikes you! Even though there is an SEO technique that uses too much repetition of keywords (Keyword Stuffing), if you go too far with repetition, Google will consider the content spam.

Why is it difficult to rank for a keyword?

The method of assessing the difficulty of ranking for a specific phrase in Google's organic search results is known as keyword difficulty (sometimes referred to as "SEO difficulty" or "keyword competitiveness"). Various variables, including domain authority, page authority, and content quality.

Now you know how to do keyword research at scale! To learn more about this topic, read our comprehensive guide on making Programmatic SEO Pages. But don’t go too much into theory. Just start with what you have, and iterate!

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