2022 is the year to dabble with SEO

SEO has always been a magic word of sorts for anyone in the digital marketing space.

For a layman customers who know what it is but not how it works, it’s a magic trick that can supposedly put you on the first result of Google search result page.

For marketers who know what it is but not how it works, it’s a hot selling service every customer asks for, but also a complete blackbox – and urban legend to some extend.

I have long been under this group where I know SEO is a thing but I don’t know what it works, or if it actually works. Maybe it’s all bluff, maybe to be the first result of Google search – hard work and good technique just aren’t enough, there is no other way than just throwing money at it (which makes it SEM, and NOT SEO)

* For context, SEM is buying Google Ads. SEO is improvement done on your website to make it more relevant and appealing to climb through the rank on Google Search Result page.

A while back, I started following Charles Floate on Twitter. Charles has been constantly sharing amazing SEO tricks for free – not the generic advice you can find via google search – instead many tricks that don’t seem obvious but makes a lot of sense when broken down by facts. By the way, he is offering many free SEO resources on his Gumroad here.

I have started embarking on SEO journey to better market my Shopify app, maybe build another income source and skill sets. To be fair, SEO is an on-going game that takes constant work and months to see even the slightest of result. It takes a lot of hard faith to keep going, and I am not seeing wild result now yet.

However, knowing how things work (instead of a blackbox), it keeps me going and I am so excited on the various SEO possibility I can incorporate for my project(s). Anyway here are some of the interesting SEO things I have learned and dabbled on this year so far.

Programmatic SEO

At its core, SEO is building good signals for your website so Google can pick them up and show them to the right people (searches). There are thousands of signals you can work on, and high volume of quality content is one of it.

Programmatic SEO is a way to create thousands or more content pages without manually writing the content one by one. I first heard of this term from Charles and have been trying to use it for my app website, but it seems all information on the internet is vague and not meant for non-developer. Eventually I found a wordpress plugin and managed to understand the basic concept of it. I am not getting crazy traffic from there, but recently the search impression does spike.

Screenshot below is the impression chart, filtered by query related to the 72 pages of programmatically created content pages. The pages were created in May, so as you can see the results only started to show now, almost 4 months later.

This is what I understand of programmatic SEO in simplest term from this experience:

  • Create a database for your content (eg. in excel or Google sheet)
  • Hook it up with a programmatic SEO tool
  • Tools generates content URLs (instead of actual content piece) + a sitemap
  • You submit sitemap to Google Search console for faster indexing
  • Google indexed your programmatically generated pages
  • When someone clicks on the URL via Search result page, tools will generate the page on the fly

This is my experience with the MPG WordPress plugin that I used. I later found out there are a varieties of way to make programmatic SEO works. Some differences lie in whether or not the tool generate content on the fly, or actually generate the content.

I probably didn’t do a good job researching, as today there are far more superior tools and resources to help you with programmatic SEO. If you are looking to get your hands on programmatic SEO as a non-developer, I would like to recommend datatopage.com built by my friend Khaled. Some advantage I have seen so far, over MPG plugin that I used:

  • Works outside of WordPress, including Shopify and more
  • More layout design options
  • Inclusive of a web scraper to build your initial database
  • I also understand from Khaled that an AI writer function has been added to the tool

I’m also building a niche content site. Read the part 2 of my SEO journey here.

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