What Is Programmatic SEO?

what is programmatic seo


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George Panayides

Digital Marketing Specialist

What Is Programmatic SEO?

Black Hat Or Ingenious Strategy?

Programmatic SEO has been used in strategies by experts for years, but has only just recently blown up through the increased use of AI to automate the production and creation of content at scale. 

Now, in my eyes programmatic SEO is both helpful, but can also be used in black hat spam strategies. I’ve written a post about whether or not you should use programmatic SEO here. 

Later on in the blog I’ve embedded a tweet by Google’s John Muller who shared his honest thoughts about programmatic SEO (which were not positive lol 😆). 

I think if we respect programmatic SEO, then it can be used in a white hat and helpful way. When you simply use this just to manipulate the search engine algorithms, you’re going to ruin it for the rest of us. 

Anyway, let’s jump in and find out exactly what programmatic SEO is. Here’s a big guide on what SEO is as well

Programmatic SEO Is The Creation Of Automated Pages Across Your Site

So, in a simple to understand way, programmatic SEO is where you automatically create multiple pages across your site using a single template. 

Usually these pages will each target 1 singular, high traffic keyword. The purpose is to get that page ranking for that 1 keyword. When you have over 1000+ pages all ranking for each keyword, you can see mass gain in traffic very quickly. 

Some examples of programmatic SEO include businesses targeting a location based keyword. For example, travel insurance {{country}}. SEO’s will automate the content using a database or website crawler to automatically generate the content and push that dynamically into a template on their site. 

This can be repeated over and over, so quickly and so efficiently. Below are some real life examples of programmatic SEO and the results they get: 

nomadlist programmatic seo

Based on their database, they have pages for each destination with core information like internet speeds, cost of living and quality of life. This will be regularly updated as their database changes and grows.


trip advisor programmatic seo

Trip Advisor uses programmatic SEO to create multiple pages to rank for keywords like “best restaurant {{location}}”. No doubt you would have seen them rank for a keyword you type in, and the page is exactly the same as all the others on their website, just with updated content that users publish through reviews. 


shopify programmatic seo

Shopify uses programmatic SEO to display different themes that you can use across a single template and page. Based on the backend data you can see things like price, reviews, features and other related callouts.


How Does Programmatic SEO Work?

Programmatic SEO works by automating the creation of web pages using a single template to target a large number of keywords.

Essentially, it’s a method that leverages software to generate content and pages at mass, based on data and algorithms. This approach can be particularly beneficial for a large company with a vast database, as it can provide detailed insights into specific areas, assuming the content is unique and factually correct.

From my experience, programmatic SEO is a powerful tool when used wisely. It’s excellent for scaling SEO efforts, especially when you have a wealth of data to work with. I’m going to go into much more detail in a moment.

However, it’s crucial to ensure that the content produced is not just a regurgitation of existing information, which could lead to issues with duplicate content and potentially harm your SEO performance.

Programmatic SEO Uses a Database Or The Web To Crawl From

So the way that it works is through having dynamic data you can feed through to a workflow that populates in your page template. Usually SEOs will use Google sheets or Air Tables to create the data either from their own databases, or information they have crawled from the web. 

Now, I think if the content is unique and accurate, based on a database provided by a company, then I can’t see why this would be an issue. It’s got a high chance of ranking pretty good as the content is going to be up to date and unique. 

However, if the content is just being scraped from the web, or mass produced by AI bots then I think you will struggle to get the best results from this. Simply because it has such a high chance of so much duplicate content spamming up the web. 

So, if you are considering programmatic SEO then make sure your machines are using genuine, original databases to provide up to date content. Not just creating duplicate content from what already exists on search engines. 

I’ve Seen Websites Get Some Amazing Results With Programmatic SEO

To be honest, I have seen some websites get some pretty incredible results using programmatic SEO. This even suggests to me that Google isn’t looking to penalise websites yet. However, I will say that programmatic SEO is still quite new and therefore hasn’t been picked up by the many yet. 

If you think about it though, for some businesses it does make sense. For example, if you provide travel insurance across multiple different destinations, you may want to create a 1 page template for all of your locations and provide insights into healthcare costs in that location. 

This in my opinion is a useful, helpful way of using programmatic SEO to generate your content still with a user first approach. The only trouble is going to be finding and getting hold of that data, or filtering that data from your systems. 

Making sure you keep your content up to date is so important as well. Most of the sites doing successful programmatic SEO are keeping their content fresh and updated regularly which is a good sign for search engines. You can see some excellent traffic increase

results with programmatic seo

Programmatic SEO Is Actually Classed As Spam Or Black Hat

According to John Muller on X, Google believes programmatic SEO is just a “fancy banner for spam”. Now, I kinda understand what he means, but at the same time I kind of disagree. 

If you are using programmatic SEO simply to try and duplicate heaps of the same pages with pretty much the same content to rank for hyper-target keywords, then yes it’s going to be spam. 

However, if you use programmatic SEO to create and update pages with fresh sources of data and information that are relevant to a specific area or industry then I think programmatic SEO is actually required for this. 

The big difference will be the content. If the content is unique to each keyword and landing page with specific details around the keyword and topic, then I’d say this is quite helpful. 

If the content is just the same as all of the other pages, but the meta tags and other SEO components are optimised for the keyword, then I would class that as spam. 

I’ve got a helpful guide here on black hat vs white hat seo

Technically, Programmatic SEO Means Automating Your SEO

In my opinion, programmatic SEO just stands for automating your SEO processes. Although the ‘technical’ term means creating multiple pages from a database and automatically pushing this to one template, I personally think programmatic SEO is more about automation than anything else. 

At the end of the day, AI has moved this so much more forward as well. There are some parts of your SEO you can use programmatic strategies to help automate, and there are other areas that it just won’t work. I’ve written a bit of a guide on this here. 

Now that we are seeing so much more automation in our daily lives with AI, I think we can all probably agree that programmatic SEO can become part of a bigger automation process. It’s not just automating the creation of hundreds of articles, instead it’s automating part of your SEO strategy. 

Essentially it’s the automation of SEO

I think this is important when it comes to understanding programmatic SEO and how you can adopt parts of this strategy to help automate some parts of your SEO. 

For example, if we can use data to create 1000s of pages and display this through one template, why can’t we do the same but for all of our meta tags? Why can we use this process to automate our internal link building?

These are areas that are going to directly cause us to produce spam for users, but it will save us heaps of time if we can use programmatic SEO to automate the workflow and strategy. 

So for me, programmatic SEO should correctly be about the automation of your SEO strategy, not just specifically about the creation of hundreds of duplicate pages. It makes more sense this way. 

It Just Creates a Whole Bunch Of Duplicate Pages Across Your Site

In the eyes of many SEO experts, programmatic SEO does just create a bunch of duplicate pages across your site. But if you are smart in the way you convey your information, I do believe you can make it so it’s helpful to users. 

Simply put, it does create 1000s of pages using the same template. And this is spammy, especially if users keep reading across the same information just with a different headline. 

But having a unique strategy here will help you overcome this issue. For example, if on each page you decide to take a dynamic section which displays information or data that is targeted to what the keyword is about. 

An example would be search volume trends by country. You could create a database of stats and target keywords like search volume Australia, search volume United Kingdom, search volume New Zealand etc. 

Using the same template, you can display this information and keep it ultra relevant to the search query. However, I would expect that Google would want you to move towards a software or tool over creating heaps of duplicate pages.

If Each Content Is Unique, It May Be Considered Helpful

So as I tried to give an example above, I honestly think programmatic SEO won’t get penalised if people use it to help provide fresh data to the web. That’s literally it. 

As soon as people start using it to create 1000s of pages that are the same, just with a changed headline and meta tags, that’s when it will get ruined. 

But I can actually see how programmatic SEO can be very helpful to users. If a large company has a big database and needs to provide insights into specific areas, then this can be very helpful. Most importantly, if this information and content is unique and factually correct though. 

You might struggle to do good programmatic SEO if you are just scraping the web. Because the information already exists, you might find you will just come out as duplicate content. It wouldn’t have provided a fresh insight, or up to date version of the topic. 

Programmatic SEO Looks Like It’s Here To Stay

In my eyes, programmatic SEO is here to stay. I can see more and more businesses starting to adopt this type of strategy and it makes total sense. 

However, when I can see it leaving would be when SEOs start to use it for creating machines to spit out 1000s of duplicate pages to try and manipulate the system. It’s quite easy for you to get caught out as well because so many pages will be made at once.

More naturally, those who are creating helpful pages and posting once per week may overcome issues like this. 

Anyway, I do think programmatic SEO is only going to get bigger and bigger, so if you haven’t jumped onto getting your machines set up yet then you may get left behind. But don’t ruin it for us all, create helpful content

Don’t just use AI and scrap the web for existing content. Find new and useful ways to create user first content. There are heaps!


So overall, programmatic SEO is the mass creation of pages using a single template, but really programmatic SEO is the automation of your SEO strategy. That’s a more accurate representation of what it really means. 

Use this strategy wisely and don’t go ruining it for the rest of us 😆. However, I do recommend you explore a little with this because it can seriously speed up areas of your SEO. 

This means less labour, lower costs and more time available to focus on other areas. This is a huge advantage and should be considered by everyone. 

I’ve also got a quite interesting read on whether or not SEO is worth it anymore, especially with strategies like programmatic SEO becoming more and more active. 

Share your thoughts in the comments below so we can find out if you are using programmatic SEO, deciding or if you have any more strategies to share!


About The Author

George Panayides is a digital marketing specialist, focusing on SEO, Google ads, Social media marketing, website development and link building. He’s looking to help other freelancers or business owners become a master in their industry and move towards a better, more successful future.

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Hey, it's George. I'm giving away my marketing secrets (because apparently, I'm just that nice 🙄). You can thank me by linking to my content ha ha.

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