My (Old, Noobie) Approach to Programmatic SEO

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Hey everyone, Justin here. Today I’ll talk about my entire approach to programmatic SEO from a complete newbie perspective. I’m doing this half for myself and half for you all so that in the future, I can look back and see how far I’ve come or if I was on the right track from the beginning.

Let’s get jiggy!

So, why programmatic SEO?

It helps satisfy that new itch or desire to start a new website. You know when you find a great suite of keywords and think, “what can I do with this?” With programmatic SEO, you can complete a project in a week for the cost of registering a domain name. It’s much quicker than coming up with an entire business plan around the keyword, writing 20-50 articles only to realize it was all for naught.

If the site works, it’ll work great. If not, no big deal—it didn’t take much time or effort to create.

My approach

I focus on working quickly and efficiently to produce as much content as possible. I publish a lot of shorter pieces, including some interactive element or tool for the reader.

This works well because the searcher isn’t looking to read an article but rather to find a specific answer. This intent of the search may not always be satisfied with reading material; sometimes, it requires a calculator or quiz.

You cannot do SEO offline – you must be constantly active and publish content to see results. The sooner you can get your material out there, the sooner you’ll be able to tell what strategies work and which don’t. In the long run, this will save you a lot of time and energy.

If a page isn’t getting indexed or it’s not performing well, I can delete it and move on. With this method, I can blast out 40,000 pages in the time it would take someone to write two articles.

I avoid some topics because they are very serious, like health and life-or-death things. Not necessarily YMYL (Your Money or Your Life), but mostly the YL (Your Life) part. Anything else, sure, go ahead, taxes, life insurance, whatever, I’m with it.

The software I’m using

I am currently using Google Sheets, Excel, and WP All Import.

Google Sheets or Excel for dataset manipulation, and WP All Import to put all that information, Mad Libs-style, into WordPress.

That’s about it, beyond the usual site-building tools.

The process thus far

So, my current process starts with finding a large data set. I’m trying to use the data set as more of a skeleton or foundation for what I’m going to create rather than the focal point.

Had a list of every college in the US. I found that there were a few things that every college in the United States had in common, so I went and created something for that.

The second time, I found a list of every city and state in the United States, thinking about what could be applied universally to all these places. (At the end of the article, I include an example that’s just an idea – something you could try out for yourself if you wanted to.)

I want to go big, fast, and be done within a week instead of a month. I don’t want to fill out information or scrape the web manually at this point – I can do that later.

Keyword research

The first site was based on a few keywords that were further analyzed. I said, okay, if these searches get 800 per month, and these ones get 600, then with the size of those colleges and query volumes – the smaller colleges will probably see 10 to 20 or 100 to 200 monthly.

I only care about creating the content and publishing it. I don’t need to put extra work into picking popular keywords because I’m not writing articles one at a time.

For the city-based site, the same thing happened. I imagine this gets searched often in big cities and sometimes in small cities. That’s okay because I don’t have to create each individual page; all I need to do is create the initial page.

I believe the more content I have on my site, the better off I’ll be. If people find my site and love it, they’ll share it and bookmark it. And if I have a lot of pages, there’s a greater chance that someone will find one of them.

One of the things I told myself a long time ago was that if I’m learning a new skill, I’m not going to wait until I’m an ‘expert’ to put something out for people to purchase.

For example, a long time ago, when I wanted to teach myself how to use programs like Illustrator and Photoshop, I knew that if I worked hard enough, I could get better at graphic design and make some extra money off of it too. So, following tutorials and learning as much as possible about the tools available to me, every time I designed something new – no matter how small or simple –  I would put it up for sale on sites like Amazon Merch and TeePublic.

That was the summer of 2017, and I’m still seeing sales today from designs that are literally just one word emblazoned on a black or white tee.

I’m just trying to learn the process, but if this stuff gets indexed and starts taking off, I could win big. This isn’t necessarily a gamble; I’m just trying to reach the best level possible. But even so, I will not hold back from putting out the terrible early stuff.

Publishing the stuff

Publishing using WP All Import is straightforward and easy to follow.

I like to include a video in every post, and this is the same video for every post. In the future, I might do some variation and have 5 or 10 videos that I cycle through, so there’s some difference between posts and pages.

Additionally, I often include some form of interactive content, like a calculator or quiz. For example, on a job board website, there is an element that is more than just written text. Adding this additional layer makes my site stand out from the competition and provides value to users.

You want to build up that interaction with the page. Even something simple like a poll could be beneficial.

Currently, the monetization methods are display ads and affiliates. We’re having some trouble getting display ads on the first site, but we’re hopeful that things will improve soon. I reached out to Ezoic, and they told me that I don’t need to be approved for AdSense to get started with Ads Manager. So that’s good news! I gave up hoping to get approved and went with an alternative to network: Adsterra.

Example cause examples are cool

If you wanted to create a job board for the construction industry, you could potentially rank 40,000 different keyword phrases related to construction jobs in a specific city. For example, “construction jobs in Akron, Ohio.” And I would have a slight blurb at the top of the page that says something like, “Hey, are you looking for the best construction jobs in Akron, Ohio? Here they are!” (obviously, much more content than that).

It would be beneficial to have the job board on the page with parameters already plugged in for location so that when people visit the page, they can see all of the available jobs in that area.

If you didn’t have native job postings from Akron, Ohio, on your site, you could always partner with bigger job boards. Indeed offers affiliate partnerships that pay money per view or click (CPM and CPC). This arrangement would let you show ads from other boards on your website. When people applied for a position through one of the displayed ads, you would get paid.

In other words, this wouldn’t be challenging and would only cost around $165 to test out. If you don’t know how to program your website, job board software would cost you about $150. Some extra PHP work might also be necessary, depending on the details of the job application process.

It would all depend again on what job board software you’re using.

There you have it!

BOOM, you’re done!