When to avoid Programmatic SEO strategy

By Arso Stojović
Read time 7 min
Posted on December 1, 2022
Updated on December 13, 2022
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Programmatic SEO strategy

A programmatic SEO strategy is a tempting option. Seems like, with the rise of powerful website tools like Headless CMSs and javascript frameworks, Programmatic SEO is getting more and more popular. But are Programmatic pages really for everyone? This article will cover some pros and cons of the Programmatic SEO approach.

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Programmatic SEO has a specific role in establishing landing pages on a large scale and fulfilling the ever-going search demand and online traffic.

In other words, an effective programmatic SEO campaign can increase your website's domain authority, link building, and organic keyword rankings. To accomplish this, developers write code that automatically creates large-scale web pages. This is how your or any other website can pop up on the SERP seemingly out of nowhere.

Is Programmatic SEO really that powerful

It would be a lie to say that Programmatic SEO is not one of the most effective ways to achieve the desired results in the shortest period. Programmatic SEO strategy brings a lot of benefits, to name a few:

Programmatic SEO benefits

First and foremost, programmatic SEO aims to attract as much organic search traffic as possible. Any website should prioritize driving organic traffic. Advertising can boost revenue and brand awareness in the short term, but it can also drain cash from your company's account. Using programmatic SEO, you can target a wide range of long-tail keywords with low competition so your content reaches the largest possible audience.

Why is organic traffic so important? Did you know that 70% to 80% of users completely ignore paid advertisements? Or that almost 15%  of users that find websites through proper SEO tactics become customers? Considering the stakes, paid search is a good short-term solution, but organic search creates long-term, compounded returns. Building your brand on social media is essential, but targeting high-intent customers with organic search is even more crucial. Don't you agree?

Consistency in design

Additionally, each page's content is formatted identically in your (headless) CMS. Decoupling the content from the design elements allows the page layout to be easily replicated with content variations. By using programmatic SEO, you can build a structured library of components that can be reused and modified.

Easily scalable

Marketers often come across programmatic SEO when they create a large-scale content marketing strategy. Delivering it will require a lot of work. Since programmatic SEO is code-driven rather than manual content creation, it can be scaled rapidly. As a result, brands can target less competitive long-tail keywords and generate steady traffic from low-volume keywords - all that on the scale.

Programmatic SEO provides a better user experience

UX can be improved with any SEO strategy. Using keywords alone is no longer enough for search engines to evaluate web pages. To rank highly in organic search engine results, a website must understand user intent and provide a rich user experience. Programmatic SEO understands and responds to those specific search intents through long-tail keywords.

Programmatic SEO puts you on the map!

Your website's chances of appearing in the SERP for the related keywords will increase the more SEO-friendly pages you have. You can create SEO-optimized pages using programmatic SEO by targeting keywords that help users with specific intents. You must keep in mind that a page that users love will be loved by search engines as well. In spite of low monthly searches, targeted long-tail keywords are much easier to rank.

For example, instead of writing four texts for 20,000 visits per month for some high-competitive keywords, you can create 100 programmatic long-keyword SEO pages, each of which gets 300 visits.

Why is the second option better?

For high-competitive keywords, you won't rank in the first two places on Google, and you will get maybe 100 visitors a month, but for long-tail keywords, you can rank mostly in the first two spots, and you get over 10,000 visitors.

How to do programmatic SEO

It is simple to perform programmatic SEO, but it isn't easy to do so correctly and effectively. Luckily, I wrote this step-by-step Programmatic SEO guide to help you understand and implement Programmatic SEO. In continuation, I will explain common challenges associated with programmatic SEO and some side effects.

Is Programmatic problematic

Well, like anything in life, it can be if you don’t nurture it.😅 So, to do it right, consider these common problems, challenges, and failure points you need to know, avoid, and overcome:

Over-prioritizing keywords

Keyword research is the foundation of SEO. Creating content that features the keywords and head terms your target audience is searching for seems like the most logical approach, but it can bring some risks.

Keywords over-prioritizing

If you use keywords in a way that doesn't seem natural or complement your web page's content, you will come across as spam. The user may not click because of this. Create informative, easy-to-read content, avoid keyword stuffing, and prioritize user experience. How to do that? You will find answers in this guide: How to find keywords for Programmatic SEO pages.

Poor crawlability = Google indexing issues

If you already have a large site with a million visits and dozen pages to sift through, Google may already have issues finding and indexing every single page.

Each page should exist to serve a purpose and to be unique in some facet and, in general, need to provide quality information. Mass-produced page content can lead to troubles for indexing if the pages don’t have a sensible structure or enough authority.


How to speed up crawlability

Google may not index some pages if you have a lot of them. You must improve their interlinking if you want Google to find all your pages. How:

  • Internal linking: Create a system to effectively add internal links to all pages, even if you're programmatically generating them. It not only distributes link juice to all of those pages, but it also aids search engines in quickly locating the linked pages.

  • Backlinks: Backlinks are another way for search engines to discover brand-new pages quickly. The more backlinks you have on the pages, the better your chances of getting them indexed quickly.

  • Include an HTML sitemap: Add your XML sitemap to Google and ensure it has indexable URLs. Another key consideration is that Google recommends including no more than 50k URLs in a sitemap. The best way to create a user-friendly sitemap with a logical structure is to organize pages in groups by categories or other criteria. Also, it is crucial to include the most important pages first.

Duplicate content

For Google, duplicate content refers to the parts of content that are either identical to one another or very similar. This “Copy-Paste" content can have a negative impact on your SEO rankings.

Duplicate content

On the web, duplicate content is available at more than one URL. Multiple URLs show the same content, so search engines don't know which URL to rank higher. In this case, both URLs might be ranked lower than each other, and other web pages may be preferred.

There are two types of duplicate content:

  • Internal duplicate content: refers to content where one domain creates copy through multiple URLs on the same page.

  • External duplicate content: Google considers that two or more domains have identical page copies. Twin content is confusing and forces Google to choose which page should rank better in search top results.

How to deal with duplicate content

In many cases, the best way to fix duplicate content is to implement 301 redirects from non-preferred URL versions to preferred URL versions.

Besides redirects, there are numerous methods and strategies available to prevent the creation of duplicate content on your site, such as:

  • Taxonomy

  • Canonical Tags

  • Meta Tagging

  • Parameter Handling

  • Duplicate URLs

To find out which method is best for you, I suggest you read the guide I wrote about the best ways to fix duplicate content.

Too big now too thin (Less definitely is not more)

Thin content can be defined as low-quality pages that have little to no value for visitors. It is not uncommon for a Programmatic SEO strategy to be based on visuality. There are images, videos, and graphics, but there is a lack of text, especially descriptive ones.

Thin content

Your goal is to create pages that will provide value to the users while keeping Google pleased. Remember that: It is imperative to show your users the most valuable content. Google evaluates content across your entire domain, so thin content does not rank as well as dense content.

How to fix thin content

It is simple; thin content can be fixed by:

  • Removing

I know this sounds weird, but removing thin content from a website can increase SEO results. How? Simply, Google will pay attention to other/relevant content. Of course, you need to do this carefully, so choose outdated content pages with no target words or head terms or are made of off-topic categories.

  • Improving

Improving requires more time, but at least you won't give up the content you've created. And you can improve your content in various ways:

  • First, use more text instead of images and graphics.

  • Improve your textual part of the content by creating sections/ categories that properly describe your product/service. (This is how your content is getting on relevance from Google's point of view.)

  • Describe brand-new sections

  • Add descriptive captions and alt text to the images

  • Add/embed a video on the page

Consolidating pages

This step may seem as same as improving, but it isn’t. Consolidation requires a more progressive approach to problem-solving but also a bit of cunning. 😈

I will show an example:

Let’s say I wrote various blogs about Headless CMS:

As you can say, I did it ( isn’t that cunning? 😊), but let's say that all those blogs Google considered as thin content. What should I do? Delete them? NO! Improve them? Already did! What is next to do? Mix those two steps into one!🤓

It would be best to remove sufficient parts of content from all of the blogs and then merge the remaining fragmented posts into one cohesive piece. And the result could be this:

Once you’ve removed, improved, or consolidated your thin content, you are back in the game for the highest SEO rankings. 🤩

Keyword cannibalization

It may not be as dangerous as Hannibal Lector, the most famous Hannibal, but it can harm your content, perhaps even more than him. 😅

Keyword cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization occurs when several pages on your site target the same keyword.

You create unnecessary competition on your website when several pages target the same keywords. You reduce your site's organic reach/performance when your web pages compete with each other. Due to this, none of these pages reach their full potential.

How to deal with keyword cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization could not even happen if keyword research and finalizing the target keywords, including head terms and modifiers, were done thoroughly and according to the existing rules. But if it happens, here is what you can do:

  • Choose your favorite kid 👨‍👦

If you target two keywords with very similar meanings and they are describing exactly the same thing, just choose the one which has more search volume.

  • Do you love all your kids the same? Then, act like that! 👨‍👧‍👧

If you can’t decide which keywords to choose, your choice can be to use both of them or even more but then do that on the same page.

  • Make more kids 🐣

In the end, if your website is suffering from a poorly planned keyword strategy, you may need to find new keywords. Keep in mind two things, keywords need to describe your page’s content precisely, and visitor search intent.

What you learned:

This article covered some advantages and disadvantages of Programmatic SEO, some of the most common SEO mistakes, and how to avoid them.

  • Programmatic SEO is a powerful tool that puts you on the map way faster.

  • Programmatic can be problematic if you don’t use it properly.

  • There are various solutions for the most common Programmatic SEO challenges.

  • With Headless CMS, you can overcome most of the Programmatic SEO challenges.

And in the end, when to avoid Programmatic SEO? The ultimate answer is when you don’t need landing pages at a large scale or when a high Google ranking is not your primary goal.

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