Growth Strategy
5 minute read

How to Overcome the 6 Most Common Programmatic SEO Challenges

How to Overcome the 6 Most Common Programmatic SEO Challenges
Written by
Iñaki Higuera
Published on
November 3, 2023

Programmatic SEO allows you to scale content production and boost your visibility in a relatively simple way. With this highly technical approach, you can identify opportunities and generate valuable pages while maintaining a consistent, user-friendly structure. Besides, you can easily manage thousands of pages without having to perform manual monitoring.

Although relatively simple, programmatic SEO comes with its own set of challenges. And as it involves a heavy dose of automation, any mistake you make might end up being replicated thousands of times. Plus, preparing the data set for your pSEO collection is as important as it can be resource-intensive. But don’t worry, we are here to help. 

In this post, we’ll go over what programmatic SEO is and the six most common challenges that arise when implementing it.

The 6 Most Common Programmatic SEO Challenges

While relatively simple and practical, programmatic SEO comes with its own set of challenges. With content scaling automation, a single mistake can snowball and replicate thousands of times.

When planning your pSEO campaign, you should consider these six common challenges:

  • Redundant modifiers
  • Thin content
  • Duplicated content
  • Poor data sourcing
  • Orphan pages
  • High bounce rate

Pss… Want to DIY your programmatic SEO? Sign up for our course.

Redundant Modifiers

The usual keyword structure for pSEO collections contains a static head term plus a variable modifier. It could be something like “Best restaurants” (head term) “In Paris” (variable modifier).

A common issue when developing a PSEO strategy is having redundant modifiers, which filter your data with similar criteria across several pages, and produce duplicate content. 

Following the “Best restaurants in Paris” example, if you were to filter your restaurant collection to create a page for “Best restaurants in Champs-Élysées” you’d get pretty much the same results. Why? Because Champs-Élysées concentrates most of the high cuisine restaurants in Paris. Both keywords target pretty much the same search intent and lead to similar results.

If you create a page for Paris restaurants and another for Champs-Élysées restaurants with exactly the same listings, search engines will interpret this as duplicate content. Thus, your SEO ranking will drop. Now, imagine this same mistake repeated across dozens of pages.

Solution: Target redundant keywords through different content formats. Use the best ranking keyword for your pSEO strategy and the other one for a different type of content, such as a blog post. For example: use “best restaurants in Paris” for your pSEO page. But then create a separate blog post focusing on “best restaurants in Champs-Élysées”, and featuring significantly different content.

Thin Content

As you may already know, search engines prioritize rich, unique, and well-written content. Plus, word count also matters, with 1500 words being the sweet spot.  

However, in pursuit of quickly scaling content and targeting multiple keywords, a pSEO campaign may end up with several low-content pages that are just a few paragraphs long. This results in Google flagging your site as having low-quality content.

Solution: You can prevent this when structuring your pSEO collections’ pages. Create content templates with enough space for dynamic, customizable content. Think beyond word count, and make sure each one of your pSEO pages is optimized for value & usefulness. 

Duplicated Content

When scaling content, you have to remember that everything will scale, even your mistakes. If you use repeated content, it will scale thousands of times and lower your site’s SEO rating. Search engines aim to display diverse, valuable results to users, and duplicated content can confuse them and hurt their experience. 

When search engines encounter duplicated content, they may struggle to determine which version to index or prioritize. Or, what’s even worse, they may drop your rankings for plagiarism.

Solution: Check and apply our suggestions for preventing thin content and dealing with redundant modifiers. These problems are usually related. 

Data Sourcing

You can’t launch a successful programmatic SEO program without a quality dataset. It’s the pillar of any pSEO effort, and trying to save resources at this stage will only set you up for failure later. Your data is the bread and butter of your pSEO strategy. Without quality data, you’ll create low-value pages, and those low-value pages will make Google flag your website as a low-quality source.

A mistake many commit, especially when they get started, is trying to overcome the lack of proper data by producing AI-generated content. It may be fast, but you’ll end up with both repeated and thin content, hurting your SEO standing.

This particular challenge has multiple solutions, but they all have one thing in common: being resource-intensive. 


  • Manually sourcing and collecting your database can be a great approach. Although it may demand some time, you will end up with a strong, well-curated database from which to scale content.
  • Use an API to collect data, but curate it thoroughly. Instead of going fully manual, you can automate data collection. However, you should make the final selection. Think of an API as a shortcut, not a replacement for your criteria. 
  • Collect data through your intended users. The optimal database model involves gathering and curating data that is submitted or generated by your users, such as product reviews.

Orphan Pages

Orphan pages refer to web pages that are not linked to from any other page within your website. Essentially, these pages are isolated and hard to find within the website's structure. 

Orphan pages can be problematic for a few reasons:

  • They diminish the user experience and reduce organic traffic, since they’re not easily discoverable.
  • Search engine crawlers rely on links to discover and index websites. Without those links, you may have poor search engine visibility.

Note that this is only true for live pages; sandboxes and test pages don’t count.


  • Create an index where you’ll compile every page from your pSEO collection. 
  • Make use of internal linking. Review your website's content and create internal links between orphan pages and relevant content. This helps improve both user navigation and search engine discoverability.
  • Check that no page is missing from your XML sitemap. This will allow crawlers to find and index all your content.
  • Manually upload your pSEO pages to Google Search Console.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of users that enter your site and leave quickly. A high bounce rate can be caused by multiple factors, but some common ones include: 

  • Thin content 
  • Matching keywords with the wrong search intent
  • Unintuitive website design
  • Slow loading speeds

Nevertheless, even well-designed sites, with the right keywords and high-quality content can suffer from a high bounce rate. Users might exit a site once they've successfully found what they were looking for. While the site offers valuable information and a good user experience, it may lack additional incentives to keep navigating it.


  • Start by revising your existing content. Does it answer all possible questions your users may have? Is it well-written? Is it clear? Is there anything redundant or outdated? Hold your writing to a high standard and avoid abusing AI-generated content.
  • Make sure your page’s offering actual value. Your content should bring a solution to users’ problems, not just provide information. Keep your pSEO collection’s purpose in mind. If you’re not sure about your purpose yet, we recommend you follow our step-by-step guide to crafting a pSEO proof-of-concept.

The Days of Wasted Content Budget Are Over

A programmatic SEO campaign may be the best option for your business. By harnessing automation and data analysis, it optimizes online visibility, improves the user experience, and ensures your business stays relevant and competitive. 

However, implementing a PSEO strategy by yourself might feel like a tightrope walk; any mistake can cost you dearly when scaling. Here is where we can help you.

We specialize in:

  • Designing and implementing PSEO campaigns
  • Focusing SEO efforts on acquiring leads
  • Writing high-quality content
  • Creating fast, cost-effective websites via low-code web design

In short, we’ve got the multidisciplinary skills & strategic insight you need to run an ROI-positive programmatic SEO program.

Book a free call and start your pSEO journey today.

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