Getting traction for a SaaS startup is a constant uphill battle, even for experienced entrepreneurs who know what they’re doing.
The lifeblood of any SaaS company is its organic traffic – a steady stream of passive traffic that gives you qualified inbound leads over time which you only have to pay for once. Many would-be SaaS founders use paid search ads and social media ads to start generating search traffic and get eyeballs on their products.
Unfortunately, paid advertising is becoming more prohibitively expensive for new SaaS companies as time goes on. Paying lots of money for new users is throwing away good money after bad.
What’s more, your organic traffic from search engines is stagnating because you’re competing against corporations, enterprise websites and competing SaaS companies that have been publishing new blog content every week and building authoritative backlink profiles for years.
It’s a pretty daunting state of affairs since the SEO game is ever-changing, and it’s hard to know where to start.
However, coming up with smart, well-thought-out strategies for your SaaS company’s SEO will help you not only keep up with the competition but also surpass them. 92% of marketers have already recognized content marketing as an invaluable business asset, while organic search accounts for 68% of all leads for SaaS brands.
That means it’s time to leverage SEO for SaaS to improve your brand’s online presence and get in front of more qualified leads.
Here’s what you need to know about SaaS SEO to start executing an effective SaaS SEO strategy for your business.
SaaS SEO is the process of boosting the organic traffic and visibility of your SaaS website in search engine results pages (SERPs) by optimizing your site and its content for relevant target keywords.
Investing in SaaS SEO will help you move away from unsustainable and expensive paid traffic, in exchange for targeted and relatively low-cost lead generation.
SEO takes time and careful planning to work, but it sets you up for marketing success in the long run. SaaS SEO offers you the opportunity to:
Apart from putting the right SEO strategy together, you’ll also need a working knowledge of a lot of specialized tools to make the SEO process as smooth and efficient as possible and keep roadblocks to a minimum.
SEO software tools help you with the keyword research process, site audits, backlink analysis, rank tracking, and more.
It makes it easier and faster to execute a strong SEO strategy and gives you data and insights you can act on. There are various types of SEO software available on the market, each with its own unique set of features and capabilities.
When choosing SEO software for your business, it is important to consider your specific needs, and identify exactly what features you need and why. Typical SaaS SEO requirements include:
A well-executed SEO strategy offers a lot of enticing benefits for new SaaS companies trying to build SERP visibility and brand awareness, including:
The first and most obvious way that an SEO strategy can help enterprise SaaS companies is by increasing organic web traffic.
Organic traffic is the traffic that comes to your site from earned, or organic search results. This is in contrast to paid traffic, which comes from ads or other paid promotions featured at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) for a given query While organic traffic makes up a smaller percentage of overall web traffic, it is still the largest source of web traffic for most sites.
Users who come to your site organically are ultimately more valuable than paid traffic because they have a higher level of buyer intent.
27% of B2B SaaS customers who come to your site from organic search results are more likely to be interested in your product or service, and therefore more likely to convert into leads or customers.
Customers are more likely to trust a brand that ranks high in search results.
Higher search engine rankings are an indication that your website is trustworthy, credible, and authoritative.
As a result, enterprise SaaS companies that invest in SEO can improve their brand awareness and a stronger online reputation, which can lead to more customers and sales.
90% of startup founders see SEO as one of their top 10 priorities.
SEO can help you generate leads by driving traffic to your SaaS business’ website.
Once users start coming to your website, you can use effective calls-to-action and lead capture forms to convert them into leads.
You can then use lead nurturing and marketing automation to turn these leads into customers. SEO can also help you close more sales by ranking for relevant keywords specific to your SaaS business’ niche.
This will help you attract visitors who are already interested in your product or service and are more likely to convert into paying customers.
Unlike traditional SEO, SaaS SEO strategies have to take into consideration the unique challenges and buying journey of your SaaS product.
For instance, unlike eCommerce products that are bought once and then consumed, SaaS products are an ongoing investment.
That means users usually require a free trial or demo before they feel comfortable with a purchase. Once they purchase your SaaS product though, you start getting recurring revenue from them every month.
Therefore, your SaaS SEO strategy should include not only converting your high-quality traffic but also retaining them.
On the other hand, most eCommerce brands only need to focus on the former. This is why a successful SaaS SEO strategy should be geared towards all stages of the buyer’s journey, from the time they first hear about you to the moment they buy from you.
Let’s use a fictional SaaS company to serve as an example: You founded Powers.AI, a SaaS company that provides SaaS businesses with artificial intelligence-powered customer service solutions. Their target audience includes customer service managers, UX designers, and technical support managers.
They decide to start an SEO campaign targeted to “customer service software companies” and related queries to start getting leads from organic traffic.
A standard buyer’s journey for a SaaS company like Powers.AI might look something like this:
The top of the funnel stage is when your customer is just starting to realize they need you.
At the top of the funnel stage, your potential buyer is just beginning to understand their problem. They are conducting broad searches with general keywords related to their problem.
For example, a customer success manager will be searching for “how to streamline customer service” or “tools for managing customer complaints.”
Here, your potential buyer is now aware of their problem and is actively looking for solutions while comparing you to your direct competitors.
They are conducting more specific searches with keywords related to their problem evaluating different ways to fix them.
For example, the customer success manager might now be searching for “customer service solutions like Powers.AI” or “AI-powered customer service software”.
Now your potential buyer fully understands their problem and is ready to commit to a solution.
They are conducting searches with specific keywords related to your product.
For example, the customer success manager is now searching “Powers.AI pricing”, “Powers.AI reviews”, or “Powers.AI features.” If you want to rank for a particular keyword at each stage of the buyer’s journey, you need to produce content that is relevant to where they are in their journey.
Understanding the buyer’s journey lets you create content for each stage of the buyer’s journey and guide your customers toward taking the desired action.
Now that we’ve covered what SEO for SaaS is and why it’s different, let’s go over how to put together a successful SaaS SEO strategy.
If you’re looking to brush up on your SEO skills, turn to these helpful posts for some tips and tricks to get you started:
A sales and marketing funnel is the process that leads a customer from awareness of your product to becoming a paying customer. The typical sales and marketing funnel has five stages:
Awareness: The customer becomes aware of their problem.
Interest: The customer becomes interested in a possible solution to their problem (i.e., your product).
Consideration: The customer evaluates whether or not your product is the right fit for them.
Action: The customer makes a purchase and becomes a paying customer.
Retention: This is an additional yet crucial stage where the customer is now a paying customer and you work to keep them happy so they continue to use your product.
In a perfect world, your marketing funnel should look as much like a marketing pipeline as possible – with a seamless, unobstructed pathway from awareness down to retention. Sadly there’s no such thing as a perfect system.
Most customers will inevitably drop off at some point in the funnel as they go through each stage of the funnel.
We can also visualize the buyer’s journey in three stages:: Problem, Solution, and Decision.
In this stage, your potential customer is just becoming aware of their problem.
They’re in discovery mode and the initial phase of research. Content at this stage should educate your potential customer about their problem and possible solutions.
Some content ideas for a SaaS business at this stage include:
Here, your potential customer now understands the problem their facing and is assessing the solutions available to them.
Your goal should be to produce content that piques their interest and positions your SaaS product as their best solution.
Some content ideas for this stage include:
At the last stage, your potential customer has decided to purchase your product.
Your goal should be to produce content that pushes them to take action by offering content that highlights the benefits of your SaaS product.
Each stage of the funnel requires different types of content.
The key is to produce relevant and targeted content that will move your potential customers further down the funnel so they are more likely to make a purchase.
What’s more, building a massive content library of relevant and targeted content will not only boost your SaaS SEO strategy but reflect positively in your customers’ eyes. Potential customers who land on your site and see that you have a lot of helpful and informative content will be more likely to trust your brand and choose you over your direct competitors.
You will no longer be seen as a fledgling SaaS startup but an authority in your industry, which will go a long way towards building an audience and bringing in customers. While the sales and marketing funnel gives us a useful conceptual framework for understanding the value of SEO for SaaS companies, it’s only one part of the puzzle.
Executing on that knowledge means you need to also focus on your target keywords and produce content around those keywords. 39% of marketers say the keyword research process is the most challenging part of SEO, and some don’t even bother with it.
Don’t make this mistake.
For your content to get any visibility at all, you need to first build out a list of the right keywords and map each one to a piece of content.
Keyword research is time-consuming, tedious, and requires a lot of effort.
Besides spending hours finding the best-targeted keywords for a specific post, you also need to track your progress, analyze your competitors’ keywords, and even create engaging content ideas.
It’s tempting to shoot for the moon and start going after the high-search volume, high-value keywords right away. However, this approach is unrealistic.
As a new SaaS website, you won’t have the domain authority to rank for the keywords you want. When you’re just starting out, it’s a better use of your time to target less-competitive, low-volume keywords first, then scale to harder ones once you start to get more keyword rankings and backlinks.
Another thing to avoid is keyword stuffing – the practice of intentionally cramming your copy with keywords regardless of whether they make sense in context with the content. This comes across as spammy and intrusive, and also carries the risk of penalization.
It benefits you more in the long-run to be intentional with your keyword strategy, and insert keywords organically in places where they make sense.
Keyword research is a slog, but a necessary one.
If you’re not targeting the right target keywords, then all your hard work invested in writing engaging content will be wasted. To save you the trouble, you have to find a practical keyword research tool that will take the guesswork out of the SEO process.
As a SaaS company, you lack access to the kind of capital and keyword data that enterprise websites or SaaS startups that got into the SEO game earlier than you did.
Fortunately, a lot of SEO tools are free to use or have free versions you can use to try them out, which helps even the odds a little.
Many of them have pricing options that make them accessible for small businesses Google Analytics and Google Search Console are free tools provided by Google you can use to determine what keywords you’re already ranking for and your SERP positions for those keywords.
Google PageSpeed Insights will help you optimize your website from a technical standpoint and provide a better user experience.
Ubersuggest has a site audit tool that will identify ways to improve your website’s SEO health.
After choosing a reputable keyword research tool, and having identified the keywords you will be targeting, the next thing you want to do is assemble your team of top-notch, A-class content writers.
This is a very important step as the quality of your content will determine whether or not you get the keyword rankings you want.
Your content needs to be thoroughly researched, well-written, and engaging if you want people to stick around long enough to become paying customers.
Your team of talented writers will also be tackling the most time-consuming aspect of a successful SaaS SEO strategy: the ongoing maintenance, monitoring, and updating of each post.
Your team of content writers, researchers, and SEO analysts should be up-to-date with the latest SEO best practices, have an intimate understanding of your product, and have a detailed knowledge of your industry.
They will have an intimate understanding of common SEO tools like Google Search Console and Screaming Frog. They will utilize the best SEO content marketing strategies such as:
Good writers are a rare commodity. Anyone can splash words on a page, hit the publish button, and call it a day.
It takes someone with talent to write a blog post people want to read while formatting it in a way that’s optimized for search.
Your writers will need to keep an eye on new and emerging keywords to optimize for, as well as any new developments or changes in the industry to keep the post relevant.
On top of that, they’ll also need to monitor your post’s performance and make continual on-page keyword optimizations if necessary.
This is a lot of work, which is why many of the most successful SaaS companies choose to automate their content marketing needs by outsourcing to a specialist SaaS SEO agency.
Not only does this free up your time and resources so that you can focus on other aspects of your business, but it also gives you peace of mind knowing that your SEO is in good hands.
Overall, conducting wide and deep keyword research demands a high level of commitment and expertise to compete in the ever-growing world of SEO for SaaS.
If you’re not ready to put in the time and effort required, then we suggest you leave it to the professionals.
At the end of the day, the success of your SaaS company hinges on your ability to drive organic traffic to your website.
Content is still king when it comes to SEO, but it’s also one ranking factor out of hundreds.
If your website is slow or buggy or badly organized, it puts you at a disadvantage to any competitors with websites that are fast, responsive, and have intuitive navigation.
Ongoing technical SEO website maintenance includes things like:
Your website’s design should be clean, uncluttered, and easy to navigate.
It should be immediately obvious what everything on your website is and does from a few seconds of skimming.
Establishing your hierarchy system during the design process will make sure that important web pages are not buried too deep within your website.
It helps search engine bots better crawl and index your website too. Not to mention, your website should be easy on the eyes too.
38% of users won’t engage with a website if the design is unattractive, meaning you pose the risk of losing a large portion of your potential traffic if your website is an eyesore.
Creating a well-designed website will help make users want to stay.
Your website’s user experience is just as important as its design and technical SEO health.
Your users should be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, without having to search through a maze of web pages.
Your content should also be well-written and engaging, and your website should be easy to use. If you want people to stay on your website, then you need to create pages that give them a good reason to do so.
Google’s mission statement is to solve for the user.
If you give your users valuable content and a good user experience, Google will take notice and reward you for it.
Whenever you build a website, launch a product, or refresh your content strategy, you should ask yourself how it’s going to look on a smartphone.
If your website isn’t responsive, then it will be difficult for users to view your content, and this will lead to a high bounce rate. 57% of internet users will never recommend a business with a badly-designed mobile website for mobile.
Google has been shifting towards mobile-first indexing for years and will probably fully transition to mobile-first indexing in July 2022.
Other search engines like Bing aren’t far behind.
Google will penalize you for having a non-responsive website, as this will impact your ranking in search results.
If your web pages take too long to load, then people will simply click away and go to another website.
Google and other search engines also take page speed into account when ranking websites, so it’s important to make sure that your pages load quickly.
There are several ways to improve your page speed, such as optimizing your images, using a content delivery network (CDN), and using caching.
Building your marketing strategies and sales funnels, conducting deep keyword research, and optimizing for technical SEO are all crucial building blocks on which your content strategy must stand.
The aforementioned marketing efforts include data-driven research and discerning guesses to unearth the terms and topics your audience is searching for and produce the right content with surgical precision.
Questions such as these will guide your content strategy:
SaaS content is the bread and butter of your content marketing strategy.
It’s what will attract visitors to your website and keep them coming back for more.
Your SaaS content should be educational and informative, and it should provide value to your readers.
It should also be keyword-rich and SEO-optimized so that it ranks high in search results. When it comes to SaaS content, there are a few different types that you can create, such as blog posts, infographics, eBooks, and whitepapers.
Here’s a real-life example of a Saas content marketing strategy that can put this into perspective.
Sniply is a link customization tool that helps marketers maximize their conversions from social media content. Their most common use case is redirecting traffic from any third-party content they share on Twitter or Facebook back to their website.
Sniply is a tool that solves a very specific problem, so to communicate their tool’s value they created a content marketing strategy specific to their USP.
Sniply’s blog is catered to content curation and the value of sharing third-party content, a pain point their tool solves.
SEO is not a short-term battle, but an ongoing war. Creating a few blog posts and throwing some money at Google Adwords is not going to cut it.
You need to continuously produce high-quality content, build links, and optimize your website if you want to win the SEO war.
Shaping your comprehensive content strategy is a complex and ongoing process.
Ideally, you should have content ideas planned out up to a year in advance. That will help make sure that your SEO strategy is in line with the latest trends, technologies, and Google algorithm changes while utilizing informed creativity.
Informed creativity offers you the golden opportunity to combine fresh creative ideas and data-driven marketing tactics, and make your content marketing stand out from the deluge of blog posts that get published daily SaaS companies that have a content-first approach to their SEO strategy are the ones that will come out on top.
In a world where the average attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish, you need to make sure that your content is not only informative and valuable but also interesting and engaging.
SEO is historically difficult to correlate to a positive ROI.
Nevertheless, as with any marketing campaign, you need a way to determine whether what you’re doing is working. Unfortunately, high-quality, effective content doesn’t write itself, and it definitely doesn’t promote itself.
As with anything else in life, what you get out of your content depends on what you put into it. SEO for SaaS companies is a long-term investment. Realistically, it’ll take at least a few months before your SaaS SEO campaign starts getting results.
However, if you’re patient, diligent, and knowledgeable about what works, over time you’ll start to see that organic traffic and ROI.
Try different things, double down on what’s proven to work, keep making high-quality content and optimize high-quality content to take your SEO strategy to new heights.
Refining your content strategy for user acquisition will weed out any low-quality leads, saving you time and money in the long run.
Tracking user metrics should be a fundamental part of your user acquisition strategy from the very beginning.
By coupling search engine optimization with content marketing other types of marketing channels, such as paid ads, social media, and email marketing, you can create a well-rounded content strategy that will help you reach your target audience more effectively.
Metrics that you should track include:
All these metrics should be connected to user acquisition strategy and be collected by well-equipped SEO measurement tools.
Each of these tools will give you valuable insights into your SEO progress and help you make informed decisions about your user acquisition strategy.
In the world of SEO for SaaS, there is no such thing as a level playing field. You’re always going to have to deal with competitors who are ahead of you in the SEO game.
The best way to catch up is by monitoring their performance and learning from their mistakes.
Here are a few things you should pay attention to:
Monitoring your competitor’s SEO performance will give you a clear idea of the areas where you need to improve and how to make content that’s better than theirs.
Search engine optimization is never a one-and-done deal.
Even after you start generating organic traffic, you need to carry out regular website audits, keyword research, and content optimization to make sure that your website is optimized for both search engines and human users.
When someone types a query into Google, it scours its index of 130 trillion pages and returns what it deems to be the best results.
Google’s algorithm uses over 200 ranking factors when it organizes and prioritizes search results, including the quality of your content, the relevance of your site to the search query, the loading speed of your pages, and more.
Understanding these search engine ranking factors will improve your chances of ranking higher in Google’s search results. In turn, this will lead to more organic traffic coming to your site.
There are many other benefits of search engine optimization, such as improved brand awareness and increased leads and sales. However, increased organic traffic is the most tangible and important result of a successful SEO strategy.
If you’re not seeing an increase in organic traffic to your site, then it’s likely that your SEO efforts are not paying off. This could be for a lot of reasons, such as poor keyword research, low-quality content, or a lack of backlinks. To troubleshoot these issues, you can use Google Search Console to see where your site is ranking for certain keywords.
You can also use a tool like SEMRush to audit your site and find any areas that need improvement.
You may be new to search engine optimization and still trying to leave your mark and establish your footing in the notoriously-competitive SaaS industry but that doesn’t mean you can’t outrank, outperform, and dominate your competitors who have been around for much longer.
Tapping into SEO for SaaS as a practical growth strategy is what all new startups should use to amplify their reach.
It is a long-term strategy that if done right could be your clever advantage to close the gap between you and your well-funded competitors.
SaaS SEO should not be an afterthought but a rudimentary part of your growth strategy from the get-go.
With a little effort and a lot of persistence, you can see the fruits of your SEO efforts and reap the rewards for years to come.
If you’re not willing to commit to the long-term, then SEO may not be the right growth strategy for you.
But if you’re up for the challenge, then capitalizing on SaaS SEO can help you achieve the long-term, sustainable growth that every business depends on for survival.