Best Programmatic SEO Tools

mushfiq sarker
Last updated: January 21, 2024

Imagine you wanted to create a website like TripAdvisor. Would you sit down and build a page about the best restaurants in London, then a page about New York, then Sydney, then Paris, Berlin, and so on? 

The process of covering even a small percentage of the world’s towns and cities would take years! And that’s before you get to pages about the best hotels, days out, etc.

That isn’t practical. And you’ll be unsurprised to hear that it isn’t how TripAdvisor was created. 

Instead, you would need a way to generate thousands of web pages that have the same structure but different content. In other words, you’d need programmatic SEO

What is Programmatic SEO?

Programmatic SEO lets you create thousands of unique web pages without having to write, edit, or publish each page manually. It’s an extremely powerful technique that automates the process of creating web pages at scale. 

Traditional SEO involves spending hours, days, or even longer creating individual pieces of content. With programmatic SEO, your website could start ranking for thousands of keywords in a fraction of the time and with far less effort and expense involved. 

The two key components of programmatic SEO are the page template and the database:

  • The template contains the web page structure, static content, and placeholders for variable content, such as text, numbers, and images. 
  • The database contains the data that will be inserted into those variable placeholders to generate unique web pages. 

For example, a template may include this text: “The best restaurants in {city}”, where {city} is a variable placeholder to be replaced with a different city name on each page of the website. Meanwhile, the database contains the list of cities. 

When the two are combined, they can quickly generate a website with pages such as “The best restaurants in London”, “The best restaurants in New York”, etc.

Of course, this is a very basic example. But, with a quality page template and enough data, programmatic SEO can be used to automatically create an unlimited number of pages that all contain unique, useful information that users will find helpful and search engines will rank highly.

How to do Programmatic SEO

Programmatic SEO can seem complicated to beginners, but it really isn’t too difficult once you understand the process and have worked through a practice project or two. 

There are nine steps in the programmatic SEO process:

  1. Keyword research: Finding head terms and modifiers.
  2. Page template design: Planning the structure of your web pages.
  3. Data collection: Sourcing data at scale to populate your web pages.
  4. Building a database: Organising the data you have collected and other variables.
  5. Creating content: Manually writing and/or using AI to generate content.
  6. Generating images: Bulk-creating images to ensure each web page has a unique look.
  7. Building a page template: Combining static content and variable placeholders within a CMS.
  8. Connecting the database and page template: Pulling the variables out of your database and into your website CMS to bulk create and publish pages at scale.
  9. Indexing and analytics: Getting your pages indexed by search engines and tracking traffic.

Learning how to do programmatic SEO is simply a case of understanding this process and finding the right tools to help along the way. 

The Best Tools for Programmatic SEO

From keyword research and collecting data to building a page template and analyzing the performance of your website, we’re going to run through the programmatic SEO process step-by-step and reveal our favorite tools to use at each stage.

1. Keyword Research

Programmatic SEO is built around ‘longtail keywords’. These are longer, more specific keywords that refer to a niche topic rather than a broad, general search. 

Because they are more specific, longtail keywords are often less competitive and easier to rank for. 

With programmatic SEO, we can publish thousands of pages that each target one longtail keyword. While each page might bring in a relatively small amount of traffic, publishing at scale means this traffic can add up to large volumes across the site as a whole.

To find our keywords, we need to use a keyword research tool. We start by looking for a head term, which is a broad topic like “best restaurants”. 

This isn’t a longtail keyword and is far too broad for us to target in our example programmatic SEO website. We therefore need to come up with some modifiers that turn “best restaurants” into a longtail keyword. 

One modifier that would work with this head term is “in {city}”. E.g. “Best restaurants in New York”.

We could also consider adding secondary modifiers to make our keywords even more targeted. For example, “Best restaurants in New York for vegetarians”.

The best tools for programmatic SEO keyword research:

LowFruits – This keyword research tool is perfect for programmatic SEO, as it is designed specifically to help you find low-competition keywords that are easy to rank for. 

Ahrefs – One of the leading keyword research tools, Ahrefs includes a tool called Keyword Explorer and a Matching Terms report, which can help you find low-competition keywords.

SEMRush – Like LowFruits and Ahrefs, SEMRush can also be used to find and analyze head terms and modifiers, including checking their monthly search volumes.

2. Page Template Design

To know what data you will need, you first need to think about what will be included on each page of your website. This could include headings, sub-headings, paragraphs, bullet points, tables, images, pricing information, or any number of other things.

It’s therefore important to design your page template early in the programmatic SEO process. Otherwise, you could end up wasting time collecting unnecessary data or going back later to collect missing data.

The best tools for programmatic SEO template design:

Figma – Figma is one of the most popular wireframing tools used by web designers. It includes a free tier that will give you everything you need to plan your page template design. 

Canva – Canva also offers a free wireframing tool. Like Figma, Canva Whiteboard can be used to plan the layout of your page template, including positioning headings, text, and images.

3. Data Collection

To create thousands of unique web pages, you’re going to need a lot of data. If you don’t have enough data then your content will be thin and unhelpful and your pages will be too similar to each other.

While it is possible to collect data manually, doing so can be dull and time-consuming. A popular alternative is to scrape websites for the data you need.

Using a website scraping tool will enable you to quickly collect large amounts of data to populate your programmatic SEO pages with minimal manual effort.

The best tools for website scraping:

ScrapingBee – Extracts website data while taking steps to stop your activity from being blocked by your target websites.

BardeenAI – This ‘point and click’ tool uses AI to extract the data including text, links, and images. It can automatically recognize similar data elsewhere on the page or bulk process a list of pages.

4. Building a Database

Programmatic SEO involves collecting a large amount of data and using it to produce content in bulk, so you’re going to need somewhere to store a lot of data and keep it well organized. 

When we talk about a database in programmatic SEO, we’re talking about a spreadsheet that contains all of the data that will be pulled into your template to create unique web pages.

Each row of the spreadsheet contains the data for one page of your website. 

The columns of the spreadsheet contain the various data points that appear on each page.

For example, the table below contains data that could be used to create three different pages on the top restaurants in New York, London, and Berlin.

Building a Database

We could expand upon this with more cities (rows, which means more pages) and more data points (columns, which means more detail on each page) about each restaurant. For example, we may want our page to include the restaurant’s contact details, review score, opening hours, etc.

The best tools for building a programmatic SEO database:

Google Sheets – As a free online spreadsheet tool that is compatible with a wide variety of other apps, Google Sheets is perfect for storing all of the data for your programmatic SEO website.

AirTable – A popular Google Sheets alternative, Airtable is an advanced spreadsheet tool that is popular with developers. It connects to the Webflow CMS, which makes it easier to import data into your page template from your database. 

5. Creating Content

You don’t want Google to view your website as thin content, so you will need to make sure that each page includes a reasonable amount of well-written, useful information that matches the search intent of your visitors.

The content that is the same for all pages (static content) will be part of your page template, while the content that varies from page to page (variable or dynamic content) will be part of your database. 

Both types of content can either be written manually or created using an AI writing tool.

If you write well and don’t need a huge amount of written content then we would recommend writing this content yourself. However, if you struggle with writing or need to produce large amounts of text, you may want to consider getting some AI assistance.

The best AI writing tools for your programmatic SEO website:

ChatGPT – Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT revolutionized AI writing when it launched in late 2022. It has a free tier as well as a more advanced language model available on a paid subscription.

Reword – Reword is an AI writing tool that allows you to train its AI to write in your style using articles that you have written manually.

6. Generating Images

Images are an important part of SEO. They can be used to illustrate a point, break up text to make a page easier to read, and catch the eye of users who may see the image as a thumbnail on search engine results pages or in social media posts.

But how can you include images on a programmatic SEO website where you may be publishing thousands of pages at once? 

Like text – which can either be written manually or created by AI – images can either be pulled from an existing source or generated using an AI tool. 

The best AI image generators for your programmatic SEO website:

Placid – Placid is an automated image generator that connects to Airtable. It allows you to create unique images from your Airtable records and save them in your database.

TailGraph – This image-generating tool can be used to create featured images for each of your posts. By default, you’ll need to create one image at a time, but it is also possible to create images in bulk using TailGraph and Google Sheets’ “CONCATENATE” function.

7. Building a Page Template

Like other types of websites, your programmatic SEO website will need a content management system (CMS) where its pages are created and managed.

The good news is that programmatic SEO doesn’t require a special type of CMS. If you’ve built a website before, you will likely be familiar with the tools involved.

The only difference with programmatic SEO is that, rather than manually creating and publishing lots of unique pages, you will need to create a page template. This means creating a ‘collection’ in Webflow or a landing page template in WordPress.

At this point, you should refer back to step 2 and aim to build a page template that matches the design you prepared earlier.

Your page template will be a combination of static content that is the same on every page of your website (e.g. “Discover the best restaurants in”) and dynamic content that will vary from page to page (e.g. “New York City”, “London”, “Berlin”).

The page template is an extremely important part of the programmatic SEO process, as it will affect the content, SEO, and user experience on every page of your website. 

It’s worth spending some time on your page template to make sure you are making the best possible use of the data you have collected. The aim is to structure the page in a way that is user-friendly, visually appealing, and optimized for SEO, while combining the static and variable content to produce a genuinely helpful resource. 

The best CMS for programmatic SEO websites:

Webflow – We build most of our websites in WordPress, but we build our programmatic SEO websites in Webflow. Its templated pages, collections functionality, and connection with Airtable make it the best CMS for programmatic projects.

WordPress – As the world’s most popular CMS, powering over 40% of the web, it’s probably no surprise to learn that WordPress is well suited to creating programmatic SEO websites. Simply combine WordPress with the WP All Import plugin and you have everything you need to create a page template and import data from your database.

8. Connecting the Database & Page Template

Once you’ve prepared your database and page template, it’s time for the exciting part! We’re finally ready to pull your data into your template and create your programmatic SEO pages.

To do this, you’ll need to use a tool to map the columns of your spreadsheet to the variable names in your page template.

The best tools for importing data into your programmatic SEO website:

Whalesync – Whalesync is a ‘sync engine’ that connects apps like Airtable and Webflow or WordPress. It makes it easy to get data out of your database and into your CMS to create your programmatic SEO pages.

PageFactory – Create a template and upload a CSV file containing your data, PageFactory will then automatically create and publish your programmatic SEO pages to WordPress.

9. Indexing & Analytics

You won’t start to get traffic to your website until it is indexed by Google and other search engines. And when you do get traffic, you’ll want to know about it so that you can assess how your website is performing, refine your on-page SEO, and decide what content to create next. 

You can use some useful SEO tools to help your pages get indexed, monitor your website’s rankings, and track your visitor numbers.

The best indexing and analytics tools for programmatic SEO websites:

Google Search Console – Monitor how many of your website’s pages are indexed, track your website’s rankings for various keywords, and see how many impressions and clicks you are getting. Google Search Console is also useful for troubleshooting problems with your SEO.

IndexNow – IndexNow tells search engines about new and updated content on your website. It’s available via a dedicated plugin or as a feature of SEO plugins like Yoast and RankMath.

Google Analytics – The leading tool for analyzing website traffic, Google Analytics tells you how much traffic your website is getting, which landing pages are performing well, and allows you to track visitor interactions with your website.  

Final Thoughts: The Best Programmatic SEO Tools

Programmatic SEO is technical, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. By choosing the best programmatic SEO tools, you can make the process quick and easy.

There are lots of different programmatic SEO tools available and you may need to experiment to find what works for you. Your programmatic SEO tech stack might look something like this:

  1. Find keywords with LowFruits
  2. Lay out your page in Figma
  3. Collect data with ScrapingBee
  4. Organize your data in AirTable
  5. Create content with ChatGPT
  6. Generate images with Placid
  7. Build your pages in Webflow
  8. Sync your data and template with Whalesync
  9. Track your traffic in Google Analytics

Once you’ve defined your process and favorite tools, you will be able to plan and implement a programmatic SEO project in as little as a few days and publish thousands of unique pages in minutes.

mushfiq sarker

Analyzed by Mushfiq Sarker

Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 218+ website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. He is the founder of The Website Flip. Check out all Mushfiq's articles, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

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