Paul Shapiro’s Top 4 Benefits of Programming for SEOs

Paul Shapiro is Head of SEO at Catalyst, who specialises in Technical SEO for Fortune 500 companies. These are the 4 benefits which he thinks SEOs receive when learning how to program!

Learning to program

Learning how to program can be a core skill for any SEO. However, SEOs interested in getting into the programming side of SEO might have a hard time picking the “right” language.

Paul Shapiro believes there is “universal language.”

Oftentimes I hear people say, “I did a little bit of programming in college or high school. I learned so-and-so language.” To them, I say, “You’re in great shape. Stick to whichever programming language you’re comfortable with.” You don’t have to start from square one.

Paul Shapiro | Catalyst


Python is definitely a language geared towards data processing, visualisation, and at it’s most extremes: Artificial Intelligence. Some of the Google Ranking algorithm is based on Python!

Python is a robust language with tons of libraries, and is also one of the oldest back-end programming languages around!


On the other side of the coin, a website front-end is often done in JavaScript. This is best for aspiring web-developers, or front-end developers. JavaScript has seen a boom in usage in recent years due to the coming about of Progressive Web Applications (PWA’s)

JavaScript also has a back-end version of itself called node.js, which has a few library variations of traditional JavaScript. In order to be fully proficient in JavaScript some HTML and CSS knowledge is required too, which can create a slightly longer learning curve for front-end developers.

Programming benefits for SEOs

1. Improved developer relations

Working with developers is an SEOs day in and day out. It’s important to be able to communicate effectively with your developer teams in terms of best practice, strategies, and implementation methods that you propose to them.

Google has recently been providing lots of support for developer based improvement in websites, meaning you need to be able to both understand the adjustments, and communicate that to the teams!

Making the pivot to understanding how they work can be a huge step forward in your career.

2. Becoming a better technical SEO

Understanding the construction, maintenance, and operation of websites is critical to a technical SEO. Being able to automate mundane SEO tasks, such as data extraction or monitoring will drastically improve your efficiency. An improved efficiency will mean more projects, better projects, and more time devoted to things you enjoy!

This particularly opens up more time to consider grand strategy, communicate with teams, or engage with new clients.

3. Improving your data analysis

SEOs swim in data. Whether it’s imported from several client sites, monitoring keywords, rankings, or even competitors! Almost everything we do is data driven, and therefore you need to make sure you can understand the numbers in front of you. In fact, a quick course on Excel, or language like Python, doesn’t hurt to level up your abilities.

R is also a great option for SEOs looking to process large quantities of data.

4. Literacy

Understanding programming is becoming a fundamental. Soon it may even be taught in schools instead of second languages. Make sure you can communicate with all the right stakeholders in the future by getting in touch with programming fundamentals.

Just understanding logic systems and concepts that are fundamental to programming is enough to put you in the right position!

Thanks Paul for those insights!

Learning Resources


Codecadamy was the first place I began learning Python back in 2012. After a few Python gigs I discovered the application in Machine Learning, the transition to SEO was obvious!

Shapiro agrees that Codecadamy is “fantastic,” with complete interactivity and a very logical learning system.

Codecademy has both a free and paid version, with the paid version allowing you to go on “tracks,” which are intense programs to get you job ready. I highly recommend, if you’ve got a bit of spending money, to dedicate the 5-10 weeks that these courses require.


Coursera provides a slightly more traditional classroom feel. Lots of universities provide courses on Coursera, particularly one publisher “W3Schools.” W3Schools is perfect for web development courses with great training in JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.

Courses on Coursera are both free and paid, depending on the provider. However, you’ll find the paid courses are of far more value.


FreeCodeCamp is a free, open-source training platform that provides completely free introductory lessons.

While the User Interface is not as sleek as other platforms, it is completely free! The courses are informative, and more in depth than the free versions of the other platforms. A true labour of love by the developers.

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