Until now, we all heard about SEO or search engine optimization is the key to succeeding in your digital marketing efforts. However, times have changed and off late, SaaS SEO is another term that started floating around. For a novice, understanding what the same is can be a somewhat confusing aspect.
As the name itself suggests, if SaaS companies use SEO for moving ahead in the digital landscape, we call these efforts as SaaS SEO. A complete SEO strategy for any SaaS company requires excellent planning, approach, and reporting, which is not easy. You can easily assign the task to an agency dealing with all these headers.
However, as a deal, you should have an idea of SaaS SEO, and here, we tell you all that you would want to know.
What is SaaS SEO?
First of all, let us try and understand what SaaS SEO is all about. If we talk about it in easy terms, it is the process of increasing organic traffic for any Software as a service (SaaS) company by getting a top ranking in Google search. Though many companies still are stuck on performance marketing like PPC, Social ads to get customers, the costs of doing that show a rapid increase.
Also, when you reduce or end the paid advertising, the traffic also stops a situation not conducive to growth. However, if you focus on a solid b2b SaaS SEO strategy, you not only get constant traffic but exponential growth as well. Mostly the strategy here includes increasing your search visibility and put yourself in front of customers who are:
- Searching for your software
- Searching for software that fulfills the same purpose as yours
- Is ready to purchase the software and is considering pricing and other factors
- Not looking for software but reading content that matches with what you do
Why do you need a strong SaaS SEO strategy?
Initially, many SaaS companies were focusing their efforts on performance marketing only. However, now they realize the importance of organic growth as well. Here we will share with you why a robust SaaS SEO strategy is just so crucial.
Increase your growth
SaaS SEO is mainly about the usage of excellent and compelling content. The better your content is, the more customers you can drive towards making a final sale. This is precisely what companies are focusing their efforts on. With the right content plan, a quick growth pattern emerges. The content strategy usually involves:
- Creation of valuable content that focuses on a group of related keywords
- Promoting the content to earn links
- See an increase in ranking and organic traffic gained
- Achieve growth and maintain it consistently
- Repeat the same process for other keywords
Reduce the cost per acquisition
When you get new customers through PPC, you pay for every new click you get. The more clicks, the higher amount you have to pay. However, with time, the cost per acquisition increases as those customers who would actually convert are exhausted. It is possible that you can maintain a constant cost per acquisition, but that would show an increase with time.
On the other hand, SEO is the exact opposite as it reduces your cost per acquisition. Initially, the same costs would be high, but as growth increases, the costs show a sharp decline. The SEO traffic you receive balances out the expenses you have to put into attaining the growth.
Convert customers from other channels
As we have told before, SEO for SaaS companies requires a prime focus on the content you are sharing. This content just does not help you to rank high for the target keywords. You can also use it as a part of your social media strategy, email marketing, and other modes as well.
Also, by promoting your content, you can earn backlinks which means more referral traffic. The use of the right strategy could help you convert customers from other channels. This is one prime reason to incorporate SEO in your regular marketing plan.
Get an edge over the competition
You are not the only player in the market. There are many companies with similar software that are trying their luck in the market. Some might have already succeeded in the endeavor. If you rank high on the search results, the prospect considers your software more reliable than others.
The competition would also be working on removing the rankings. But, as a SaaS company, you can understand your prospect’s behavior better; you are sure to get an edge over the rest. Inbound marketing is a new and long-term strategy that many SaaS companies are focusing on. It implies organically pulling potential customers to your service with the help of techniques like SEO, content marketing, etc.
If you cannot set an SEO strategy, chances are your competition will steal all these potential customers from you.
SaaS keyword strategy
In order to succeed with SaaS SEO, it is essential that you know the usage of keywords in your content. Once you get the Keyword strategy right, there is no way you will not get the growth you were looking at. But first, we will tell you about the breakdown of keywords along the funnel.
Top of the funnel keywords
For SaaS, the top-of-the-funnel keywords are where the customers are looking to find a solution to a problem. For example, if someone wants sales management software, they will look for keywords like:
- Sales management process
- Sales script
- Sales follow up email
These people are not exactly looking for your software, but if you have these keywords inserted, your content will come on top of their list. Mainly your blog content would rank for this type of keyword usage.
Middle funnel keywords
Middle funnel keywords are when the prospect knows in his mind that the solution exists. However, he still has to start looking for a suitable answer to his problems. This implies that the customer is looking for keywords that will help them find options similar to what they want. In the case of sales management software, these will be keywords like:
- Best sales performance
- Sales CRM
- Pipeline software
Obviously, here the prospect only considers the options and has yet to decide on what he wants. In this case, it will be the product or feature landing pages where you will use these keywords.
Bottom of the funnel keywords
Now the prospect is at the end of the funnel. He has to make the final decision. They have to come to the conclusion that there is SEO SaaS software for their problem and they also know which companies provide the same. The searchers know about your product and will now search with keywords related to the same. This will mean keywords like:
- “X” pricing
- “X” reviews
- “X” integrations
Here X is the name of your brand or service. This is your last chance to convince the customer why he should select your product.
Creating an SEO content map
Now you have all the keywords at your disposal; what next? You must synthesize all this data into an actionable plan that will include landing pages, blogs, product features, solutions content, and integrations. Follow the below-mentioned steps to create a robust content map:
- Segment the keywords as per the funnel stage
- Even within each funnel stage, spread out your keywords list into groups. You can now easily place them into the content. Use 1-3 similar keywords with variations per page.
- Create a plan where you not only write all your keywords but also mention what content you will use.
- Now compare this content map with your existing website content and update them in accordance with the same.
- In case you find any gaps or pieces missing, create new content to match the same. By doing that, you can capture the search traffic from the prospects as they move ahead in their buying decision process.
Though keywords are crucial, that is not just all. You have to pay attention to some other aspects. A quick guide of SaaS SEO on-page optimization is mentioned below.
- Use of optimized and unique titles on each and every page
- One H1 tag on every page should be inserted, and hat should be optimized for the target keyword.
- Use of H2, H3 in accordance with the page hierarchy. The customer should understand what you are trying to say.
- Clean HTML and markup so that it shows which elements of the site are important
- Site architecture should be intuitive so that readers find it easy to navigate. Even the search bots should be able to crawl and index your website.
- No keyword stuffing, hidden content, cloaking, or any other black hat practices.
Link building in SaaS SEO
Next in line are the link-building tactics you need to use to implement your SaaS SEO strategy. Most marketers find it strange to ask for links for their content. However, content without any links does not rank on Google.
Links are the reason why people would ever reach your difficult-to-reach pages like product features. Even great content will not rank until you use some smart tips to help it move ahead. So how can you get those valuable links:
- You create content that is worthy of getting links inserted.
- You share it with the right people like influencers, bloggers, submit to newsletters, pitch to journalists, etc., to get the correct exposure.
The execution of this strategy will vary depending upon your business, audience, and the vertical you are operating in. Do your share of research before you proceed ahead with the exercise.
Making sure that Google understands your content
There is a step-by-step process to understanding which Google perceives your website and its content. Have a look at how things move ahead.
- Crawling, i.e., finding the content- Google spider enters the website and crawls it. Even your links or backlinks act as recommendations for it to do so. Use of sitemap, robots.txt file, and by submitting the website to the Google Search Console, you ensure that Google will definitely crawl your site.
- Indexing, i.e., understanding the content- Your customer and you see your website in a different light, whereas Google sees it in another way altogether. Using alt text for images, meta description, meta title, H1 tags, etc., you help Google in understanding your content. It is then able to index your website correctly so that it ranks high in SaaS SEO search rankings.
- Getting your content visibility- Your content needs to be visible so as to rank high by Google. In order to get impressions, your site should have high Domain authority or DA. The first step is to gain relevant backlinks from other websites. If your website is relatively new with no DA, then you need to produce valuable content. In case your DA is already high, then whatever new content you post will get more credibility.
- Staying on high ranking-Once, you achieved the valuable high ranking; you will have to strive hard to maintain the same. Firstly you have to find out what your target customers are trying to look for and then prepare the headlines and content accordingly. So if the customer is looking for email marketing software, your content on tips to improve email opening rates is sure to get the hits you want.
- Format choice- To maintain the ranking, you also have to find out which format is more prevalent in your choice of field. For example, if you search “how to play poker,” you will find the search results are majorly videos. So, this is what is expected out of you too. Apart from this, there are additional elements you need to focus on. If you type a query like “Cleaning services NYC” you will get a location map which means the location is an essential factor in this case. Similarly, if you type “stock market,” you get results from financial publications as these are considered to be more credible sources.
SaaS SEO company strategy
Finally, we reach the most crucial part of it all. You have to set up a consistent SaaS technical SEO strategy that works for your service and generates the results you want. Have a look at how to proceed with the same.
Setting up of Goals and KPI’s
Setting your goals is the most essential thing that you have to do. Without doing that, you are just shooting an arrow in the dark. You might feel tempted to maintain a broad goal like “increase sales”. This kind of approach will never generate conducive results.
You could start this process by asking yourself a few questions like:
- What would you like to be found for in a Google search?
- What kind of questions are your prospects asking?
- What are the features or functions of your service?
- Who are your direct, indirect, or “in the space” competitors?
- Your service falls in which software category?
- What industry or vertical are you working on?
- Examples of how your customer can use the service?
- Which products your service integrates with?
For example, if you work on software for “sales automation,” you can research keywords related to the same. You can use “sales automation for small businesses” or “sales automation need” instead of just the primary keyword you had started off with.
You should also identify your competitors, so you know in advance which spectrum you are targeting. There could be companies that are not your direct competitors but still rank on the topics that your service is ranking on.
At times you could find a competitor who is not on your radar, but his strategy can be helpful for your keyword research. Get some examples from their approach, and your work for the next step is almost done.
Creating a list of keywords and analyzing your competitors
Next on the agenda is finalizing your list of keywords. Pick up a reliable keyword research tool and enter the domain in the organic research and choose your location as well. In case you want to target the global market, you will have to repeat the exercise for every region separately.
Find all the keyword rankings and then export the whole list. Now do the same for your competitors as well. Start compiling all the keywords you received after this exercise and export those which have at least ten searches behind them.
Import all this information into a spreadsheet as it becomes easy for you to analyze the document. Prepare separate tabs for each of those competitors that you are working on. The first column that you write should be your company, and the rest should be the competitors. Write the keywords in each row and mention their ranking, density, traffic, authority, etc.
Prioritize each SaaS SEO keywords or phrases
This may take a lot of your time, but it is one of the crucial aspects of this exercise. You can do the same only once you export all the keywords based on the input data. Create one column for keyword prioritization. You can hide all the columns except the keyword and priority columns so that it is simple for you to understand.
Now mark each keyword with terms like “High,” “Medium,” and “Low.” Remove all the other keywords that you think are not worth prioritizing or working on. Now filter only the “High” keywords and select the top 10-15 that you feel are viable to work upon.
The objective behind this simple exercise is to get a priority list that is not governed by the buying intent, SEO value, or search volume. This is how you can move ahead with framing and choosing the right content for your website. By knowing the top keywords, you can handle the most important things to rank on.
Map the keywords to each stage of your journey
Even though you are talking about SEO, your focus while writing should be on the people you are targeting. If you add value to your content, Google will reward you with high rankings, and that is what you are looking for.
You must proceed with the same steps as prioritization; just now, you will divide your columns based on “Awareness,” “Consideration,” and “Decision.” This is particularly helpful when you are trying to create a content map for your service. When you look at the buyer’s journey, you get an idea of how your content will fit in.
The Awareness stage will include any keyword that is broad and gets high volumes. Consideration keywords, on the other hand, could be tricky. The user knows he has a problem, but he still has to figure out the solution. For a SaaS SEO company, there are a lot of terms that qualify in this category. Some of the common ones that you can consider are:
- For the “X” industry
- Alternative to “Name of your competitor.”
For SaaS companies, it is better to use decision-based keywords in Product or solution web pages instead of blog posts. A simple way to do so is to create a buyer’s guide as it helps in lead generation and building trust with the prospect.
Identify the opportunities
You know the customer’s stage in the buying journey. Now you have to check and find those customers who can prove to be future opportunities for sales. For example, if the keyword is in the Decision phase and shows high priority, it has a high potential to change into an opportunity.
Sort your current rankings column from highest to lowest. Now pick up opportunities from the end of page 1 to the end of page 2 (something from position 10-30). These are the ones that you need to focus your attention on.
Pages that are ranking on these keywords are high authority and have grasped the attention of the search engine. You might have to make some simple on-page optimizations to get them up in the rankings.
Remember that SEO rules remain the same for all the players. You and your competitors get a share of the same market. If you try and find opportunities where none of your competitors have reached, you will profit out of it. Many companies focus on volume. But if you pick up a few low-volume terms that no one is focusing on, you can build authority and relevance as well.
Divide topics into clusters
Earlier, this concept in SaaS SEO was known as building silos. It helps Google in crawling your site, and the website gets the authority that you are aiming for. If your website is disorganized, obviously, you cannot expect Google to crawl through it in a breeze.
Creating topic clusters gives your website the kind of organization that is needed. Here you will have to group the keywords into different clusters. Once you are done with that, you could sort the keywords in descending order by volume (From high to low).
You should try and reserve the highest column keyword for the primary or pillar page. This could be your long-form “guide” post. Now start creating content with the lower volume terms and add them to your long-form piece.
Here you might be in a doubt over which topic cluster to focus on first. Reference the top 3 high-priority keywords and start with them. Once you have grouped the cluster, you must pick one that shows what your SaaS service does closely.
You may also get a chance to explore gaps where no one has ever entered before. These could be your opportunities, and you can exploit them to do something different from what your competitors are doing.
Do not completely ignore the low-volume keywords. Competitors may focus all their attention on one keyword with volume 50. But you could pick five different keywords with volume 10 each and play around with them. If you write five valuable content pieces, at least one or more will rank and get you the returns you want.
Conduct a gap analysis
Now is the time to fill up any gaps present in our content. At this point, you have to find the gaps in the research you have done so far. For ANY industry, the gaps lie where there is either little or no competition at all. This means your low-volume keywords as nobody pays attention to them.
You must realize that SaaS SEO is a sum zero game, i.e., not all companies can get rankings for the same keyword. By doing this, you not only get traffic that no one has focused on but also achieve better results than your competition.
Everyone is running after the high volumes. But, the exciting thing about Google is that it picks up synonyms, contextual relevance, and plurals as well. So, a page of content can rank on the basis of various terms.
Execute the strategy
You must have heard about the 70/20/10 rule in SaaS SEO, and you should not ignore that.
- 70%- On-page optimization along with fantastic content makes up 70% of the results.
- 20%-Internal linking architecture without any flaws like broken links, page load speed fixing, errors, etc., will contribute the next 20%.
- 10%- Last 10% is the contribution you make through special efforts like backlink building, social media, etc.
Backlinking has to be done smartly. If you have nothing conclusive to backlink or if you are not providing any value to that person or company, you are not going to receive any links. Apart from the content in the body, you should also optimize the meta description, URL, meta title, and alt tags. In fact, your meta title and meta description should have the keyword you are trying to rank for.
All your posts should also have an internal link in the first paragraph. Here you should use either the main keyword or similar variations of the same. For example, if your main piece is on “gap analysis,” one of your cluster contents should have the same in the first paragraph. The other content pieces should have variations like “when considering gap analysis,” as the use of the same keyword shows over-optimizing.
SEO feeds into many things, like your content marketing strategy, paid search, and overall strategy. Always remember that SaaS SEO is an ongoing process, and in the case of SaaS SEO, it becomes all the more competitive.
You will have to monitor it continuously for any improvements or relevancy so as to get the results that generate revenue. In order to be successful in the first go itself, you have to keep going back and tracking the keywords that actually are converting.
Remember that something that works for your competitors may not work for you. If you notice you are not receiving the results expected, it is time you change a part of the SaaS SEO strategy. Go through all these steps again to find where you are making an error, and hopefully, this time, you will hit the bull’s eye.