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Apple’s 2021 privacy changes altered the marketing landscape. iOS 14.5, released in 2021, was initially expected to go (relatively) unnoticed by consumers. Experts predicted a heavy-but-manageable 50% drop in app tracking. However, upwards of 90% of users ended up declining access.

While good news for consumers looking to protect their privacy, iOS 14.5 had a notably detrimental impact on Facebook. Since the privacy release, Meta’s platforms have struggled to target users on whom they no longer have comprehensive information. When iPhone users opt out of tracking, Apple restricts tracking by disabling access to its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), the anonymous but unique code assigned to a user. Instead of receiving a code, advertisers receive a string of zeros. 

What’s the big deal? This change keeps big corporations from fully analyzing individual users’ data habits, which makes it harder to target ads. Functionally, it’s disrupting many of the traditional advertising algorithms.

Profit drops demand new approaches

According to Forbes, App Tracking Transparency (ATT) will cost Facebook $12.8 billion in 2022. Generally speaking, other advertisers are also experiencing profit drops of 15–20%. Meta/Facebook is experiencing the largest amounts of tracking and targeting data being cut off, with ripple effects on how advertisers gather data on desired audiences.

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It’s not just because of Apple’s privacy changes. Advertising, in general, hasn’t been doing so hot — and the numbers back it.

This completely shifts how brands not only approach data privacy but generate advertising and campaign strategies. Brands and developers are starting to utilize previous/owned data more, use first-party Facebook data sources, use Google Analytics data more creatively and use Facebook Conversions API (CAPI).

With advertising down, marketers are scratching their heads for more omnichannel approaches that better target users. Moreover, they need cheaper options. One way to do this is search engine optimization (SEO). 

For a while, marketers believed pre-established brand recognition was a marker of success. As purchasing power has shifted to younger generations, however, that’s no longer the case. In fact, 90% of smartphone users are not certain of the brand they want to buy from — and plenty of our online searches do lead to online purchases. 

When a customer is looking for something, it could be your brand that provides an answer to their problems. When that happens, the customer has found a reason for brand loyalty — not just brand recognition.

SEMRush’s 2018 annual study showed that 37% of all traffic to ecommerce sites comes from search engines. That’s compared to just 6.83% from Google Ads and 4.79% from social media.

Unfortunately, brands that jump into the SEO scene may find themselves in the fabled “Google Sandbox” for a while. However, there’s a solution to that, too. Meet automated, optimized web property generation: Programmatic SEO (pSEO).

What is programmatic SEO?

Programmatic SEO is a combination of content and the ability to deliver it. More simply said, it’s speed plus scale. 

pSEO is defined as anything that makes a lot of web pages at scale. The faster you can do it, the better. The programmatic aspect is defined by its automation features, which use different platforms or tools to increase the SEO content’s speed, scale or both.

SEO powered by automation can achieve far more than traditional methods alone. In fact, the benefits of SEO that once took a minimum of four to six months to realize can now be achieved in one or two.

Hubspot’s recent marketing benchmark research proved that having lots of web properties (sites, pages, articles) promotes increased traffic and leads — nearly tenfold, in some cases.

pSEO is a reliable way to appeal to the vast number of customer search queries at scale. From phrases that vary by region to chain businesses operating in hundreds of cities, pSEO can provide landing pages tailored to everything people search for — everything.

How is programmatic SEO different from normal SEO?

pSEO accomplishes all of the same objectives as SEO. It’s not just for ecommerce, but for anything: services, digital goods, even the simple delivery of information. One business may be trying to sell something, another trying to grow its number of users — pSEO can accomplish both.

The case for programmatic SEO can be seen in recent consumer reports on website traffic compared to the number of website pages. Companies receive 55% more leads by increasing their number of landing pages from 10 to 15. 

Companies with 1,000+ web pages generate 9.5 times more traffic than companies with 50 or fewer. Not only that, Business Insider reported that 23.6% of ecommerce orders are directly tied to organic traffic

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that SEO generates 20 times more traffic opportunities than pay-per-click ads on both mobile and desktop.

Does that mean you need 1,000 web pages? Not necessarily — companies with even 51–100 web pages generate 48% more traffic than those with fewer.

Digital presence goes beyond digital businesses

Programmatic SEO equally benefits ecommerce and physical stores.

Brick-and-mortar stores still need to capture digital attention, seeing that 99% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in 2022. This is especially important in an age of search queries with “near me” in them — which grew in frequency 150% from 2015 to 2017, reports Google. Now, nearly one-third of all mobile searches are related to location. 

Ultimately, pSEO is about increased web surface area. Whether for a physical or digital store, pSEO empowers business owners to instantly generate content that’s easy to edit and provides faster results. According to 72% of surveyed marketers, how-to articles are top for traffic — followed closely by comparison pages between different products. There’s no need for your marketing team to sweat this, though. Companies that minimally increase blogging from 3–5 times/month to 6–8 times/month nearly double their leads.

Instantly generating all of these pages also opens up opportunities for linking strategies — for which 68% of digital marketers use content marketing specifically.

In addition to its insanely-fast effects, pSEO is relatively simple to manage, especially compared to more traditional forms of page generation. You can plug content stored in a table — whether Notion, Airtable or otherwise — into a CMS or automation platform for templated property generation.

94% of SEO specialists believe Google will continue to use links as an algorithm ranking signal for at least the next five years. Investing in pSEO is a worthwhile strategy, and plays a role in other key ranking signals.

How should you implement pSEO?

pSEO can be implemented in a manual manner, with any existing CMS. Each page can be hand-duplicated or created. You can set it up with a template, turnkey content, and a system for inputting page-specific content.

There are also some less refined methods for implementing pseudo-pSEO. A few website builders allow you to launch up to a few hundred web pages. You can use tools like Copy.ai, Verblio or Jasper to auto-generate content while you manually build web properties and automate their launch. This is partial automation — using automation tools for portions of the overall content creation. 

As technology improves, platforms are also finding ways to automate pSEO from start to finish — so you can generate thousands of web properties in a single click. 

With 40–60 billion searches happening on Google per month in the U.S. (and the average search session lasting less than a minute), it’s vital to be climbing the rankings in order to find customers where they’re looking for you.

Jeff McKinnon is cofounder of The.com.

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