Case Study 2, Month 4: First Results and Field Notes on Programmatic SEO vs. AI Content
It’s Dim here, back with another update for our programmatic SEO case study. Can you believe it’s already February 2023? Time flies when you’re deep in the trenches of SEO!
In the previous update, Yoyao and I continued to focus on our first topical cluster, publishing more articles and tracking our progress as we aimed to establish topical authority. We also encountered some indexing issues that seemed to resolve on their own.
In this update, I’ll share our progress for February 2023, including our traffic numbers and updates on our content and SEO strategy.
Let’s dive in!
February 2023 Metrics
We had 88 articles published by the end of February (23 in the month).
Those articles were aimed at one topical cluster: a category of products within the programmatic SEO website’s niche.
There are 8 different entities (meaning products within the category) and 9 different templates (in other words, the articles we use to generate the content).
We’re more or less done with topical cluster #1.
Yoyao’s Topical Maps service team created new, well, topical maps for two new clusters. From March, we’ll start publishing content for these two new clusters and cover more entities on the site.
In February 2023, the site got 23 clicks and 1.74k impressions in Google’s SERPs, with an average CTR of 1.3% and an average position of 10.3.
When compared month-over-month, that’s 15% more clicks and 34% more impressions. However, the numbers themselves are not impressive or remotely interesting just yet:
|Google Search Clicks
|Google Search Impressions
That one article continues to bring most of the traffic. Fewer articles got clicks this month:
If you read last month’s update, you remember that indexing was an issue.
By January 31, the site had 42 out of 65 posts indexed, and the indexing trendline was shaky:
But by February 28, indexing had stabilized, with 51 out of 88 posts indexed:
There’s still some way to go. Even so, the trendline is where we want it to be — pointing up.
Programmatic Content vs. AI Content
Are the numbers good or bad?
If you ask me, they’re in line with what you’d expect from a new site in 2023.
Here’s a snapshot from Google Search Console’s performance tab for one of my other ongoing experiments (not a case study). It’s a new, AI-only site with 19 articles published between January 16 and 20.
Interestingly enough, this one also ended up on Google Discover:
We’re not necessarily comparing apples to apples here because these two sites are not in the same niche (besides, the case study isn’t about pSEO vs. AI content). But if we were to compare apples to peaches, the new site with AI-generated content is, at least for now, winning.
The question is, is AI-generated content programmatic when the generation is done at scale?
I know people who use OpenAI’s APIs to generate programmatic content based on templated prompts with the GPT-3 and GPT-3.5 models.
The problem is that the outputs are unpredictable, and the facts inside those articles are often wrong.
What we’re doing with this case study is different. We have humans researching facts and producing templates for creating scaled content with verifiable factuality.
Is it an effective strategy? As with any other case study, only time will tell.
For now, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next month’s content!
Who We Are
Yoyao manages his portfolio of niche and authority sites, publishes the Niche Surfer weekly newsletter, and has a topical map service that helps sites build topical authority and drive organic traffic.
Dim started his first site in 2007, when he stumbled upon a blog about making money online. He’s been buying, growing, and selling sites ever since. Fast-forward to today, and Dim owns an indie media company and runs Publetise, a weekly email newsletter for online publishers.
Subscribe to Dim’s newsletter at Publetise.com