A friend of mine who has no money to spend on SEO got some advice from an SEO buddy (or should I say hack). They want to rank better in local markets. So they made 30,000 new pages – all the same except for a couple of words (e.g. city and state). Then they added these pages to the 75 page site. I thought I would ask WebmasterWorld and then send my friend to this page. Hoping for a bunch of feedback... In light of Panda and war on over optimization why are SEO “experts” still using this technique?
It really depends on the authority of the domain, the type of content you're automating, and the rest of the content on the site.
I've done some mad libs type stuff before with a lot of success (and way beyond the 30k pages you're talking about here), but I was working for major brands on high authority domains. They can easily get away with a couple sentences of autogen content at the top of their category pages.
But if your buddy only has 75 pages of other content (and I'm assuming he isn't running a really high authority site), then he's probably just going to torch his site by doing what they're recommending.
When you create a page about a city or state, you need content for it. A 30,000 page site with info about each city is a great idea. But you need to have more different on each page than just the name of the location. I've worked with several of these "local" sites in different verticals. They were all very successful. But they all had a large database of products, businesses, services, or travel info that could be used to fill in the pages.
30,000 pages that are 99% identical and probably have zero external backlinks is something that could have been profitable 10 years ago. People have been spamming Google with that trick for years and Google has become alot better at handling it. If you are really smart you can still get away with tricks like this.
To be honest you can typically make more profit by building sites with real long term value instead of working on these poor quality tricks. But why take my word for it. Do your own research and testing. That way you'll know what really works.