Growing a SaaS business can be tough, especially when first starting out. You have a lot of competition, and it can be hard to get noticed.
The growth of some of the most successful companies in this industry clearly shows that their SEO strategy is the key driver behind their success. But what does it take to put together the perfect SaaS SEO strategy? And what are the key areas you need to focus on to get in front of your target audience?
Here’s a look at everything you need to know about optimizing your website for search engines, so you can start seeing the desired results.
SEO for SaaS Startups: The Basics
SEO is the process of optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
The higher your website ranks, the more likely people find it when searching for keywords related to your business. To put it simply, SEO is how you can get your website to show up on the first page of Google.
For SaaS startups, SEO is an essential part of any marketing strategy. The reason for this is that organic traffic can be extremely valuable. Not only is it free, but it also tends to be of high quality. After all, people who find your website through a search engine are already interested in what you have to offer.
Many SaaS companies use performance marketing methods such as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and social media ads to quickly acquire new customers. However, they’re finding that the costs of these methods are increasing, and they can be at a disadvantage if they rely too heavily on paid acquisition.
This is where SEO comes in. Growing your organic traffic can help to diversify your traffic sources and reduce your customer acquisition costs over time.
The goal of SaaS SEO is to attract more website visitors from organic search results who are:
- Searching for your software: These people already know about you and are interested in learning more.
- Searching for information about similar software: They know that software similar to yours exists and want to see whether it fits their needs. They might not be ready to buy just yet.
- Ready to purchase software like yours: These people are looking for pricing and/or deals.
- Looking for content related to your software: They’re not looking for software like yours right now, but they’re interested in content related to what you do. They may become customers in the future.
While there may seem no difference between SaaS SEO and SEO for other businesses at first glance, there are a few key things to keep in mind when optimizing a website for the software-as-a-service industry.
Importance of SEO for SaaS Companies
As mentioned before, many SaaS companies prefer performance marketing to grow their business.
SEO can help diversify your traffic sources and reduce customer acquisition costs over time. Here’s a look at some of the other benefits of SEO for SaaS companies:
Content-led SEO is one of the most effective and sustainable ways to scale the growth of your SaaS business.
Here’s an example of how evergreen content SEO can have a compounding effect on growth.
Image ref: @ttunguz
This is because your website will accumulate more and more backlinks (links from other websites) over time. Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for SEO, and they have a compounding effect.
In other words, the more backlinks you have, the more authority your website will have, and the higher it will rank on search engine results pages.
Not only that, but the more content you have, the more opportunities you’ll have to rank for long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are three or four-word phrases that are specific to what you do. They tend to have less search volume than shorter, more general keywords, but they’re usually easier to rank for.
The key to ranking for long-tail keywords is creating a lot of content around them. The more blog posts, ebooks, guides, and other resources that include these keywords, the more likely you will rank for them.
And as you can see from the example above, each new piece of content that you create has the potential to drive more traffic than the last.
As we mentioned, the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) of paid acquisition methods such as PPC and social media ads tends to increase over time.
This is because you’re constantly exhausting your most qualified audiences and have to keep bidding higher and higher to get in front of them.
SEO can help reduce your CPA over time by providing you with a more sustainable traffic source. The cost-per-click (CPC) of organic traffic is lower than paid traffic and tends to be more qualified since people are actively searching for what you offer.
According to a report from HubSpot, the average CPC for organic traffic is $0.58, while the average CPC for paid traffic is $2.32.
Moreover, the CPA of organic traffic tends to decrease over time as you build more authority and rank for more keywords.
The CPA of paid traffic, on the other hand, will continue to increase as you exhaust your most qualified audiences and have to bid higher to reach them.
In other words, while the cost-per-acquisition of paid acquisition may be lower initially, it will eventually increase to the point where it’s higher than the cost-per-acquisition of SEO.
Converting Customers From Other Channels
SEO can also help you to convert customers from other channels such as social media, email marketing, and even paid advertising. The reason for this is that SEO can help you to rank for keywords that are related to your product or service.
For example, let’s say you’re a SaaS company that offers project management software. You could use SEO to rank for keywords related to project management, such as “project management tips” or “how to manage a project.”
People who are searching for these keywords are likely to be interested in project management software, so if you can rank for them, you’ll have a good chance of converting them into customers.
In addition, you can use the content that you create as part of your SEO strategy to drive conversions from other channels.
For example, you could create an ebook about project management and promote it on social media or in your email newsletter. If people click through to your website and read the ebook, there’s a good chance they’ll be interested in your project management software and convert into customers.
Improving the Customer Journey
Finally, SEO can also help you to improve the customer journey and increase conversion rates.
The customer journey is the path that a potential customer takes, from becoming aware of your product or service to becoming a customer.
The main goal of SEO is to rank for keywords that are related to your product or service so that you can drive traffic to your website. But once people get to your website, it’s important to ensure they have a positive experience and can find what they’re looking for.
If your website is difficult to navigate or people can’t find what they’re looking for, they’re likely to leave without converting into a customer. SEO can help you to improve the customer journey by making it easier for people to find your website and navigate it.
For example, you can use SEO to make sure your website is mobile-friendly and fast-loading. You can also use it to create informative and user-friendly content that helps people understand your product or service and how it can help them.
Making these improvements to the customer journey can help to increase conversion rates and improve the ROI of your SEO investment.
SaaS Keyword Strategy
You’ll need a good keyword strategy to succeed with SaaS SEO. It will require you to learn and understand how to effectively conduct keyword research: finding and choosing the right keywords to target.
When conducting keyword research, the most important thing to remember is to focus on keywords related to your product or service.
There’s no point in ranking for keywords that are unrelated to your business because people who search for those keywords will not be interested in what you have to offer.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of keywords that are a must for a typical SaaS SEO strategy. We’ll categorize these keywords based on their appearance in the sales funnel.
TOFU Keywords for SaaS SEO
TOFU stands for top of the funnel. Top-of-the-funnel keywords are those people search for when they’re just starting to become aware of a problem or need.
They’re typically broad, general keywords that are related to the broad topic of your product or service. For example, if you sell project management software, some top-of-the-funnel keywords you could target might be “project management” or “productivity tips.”
People who search for these keywords are not yet ready to buy your product. But if you can rank for them, you can start to build awareness of your business and position yourself as a solution to their problems.
This is why blog content is typically the best type of content to target these keywords. You can write blog posts that educate people about the problems your product or service solves and position your business as a solution.
You can also use top-of-the-funnel keywords to create other types of content, such as ebooks, infographics, and video tutorials. These pieces of content can help to further educate people about the problems your product or service solves and position you as an expert in your industry.
MOFU Keyword for SaaS SEO
People search for middle-of-the-funnel keywords when considering their options and comparing different products. These keywords are more specific than top-of-the-funnel but not as specific as bottom-of-the-funnel.
For example, if you sell project management software, some middle-of-the-funnel keywords you could target might be “project management software comparisons” or “project management software reviews.”
People who search for these keywords are further along in the buying process, but they’re not yet ready to buy. They’re still in the process of considering their options and comparing different products.
It’s important to have comparison pages on your website that are optimized for these keywords. These pages should compare your product to similar products on the market and highlight the features and benefits of your product.
You may also want to create other types of content, such as blog posts and infographics, that compare your product to other products on the market. This type of content can help to show people why your product is the best solution for their needs.
BOFU Keywords for SaaS SEO
BOFU stands for the bottom of the funnel. These are the keywords that people search for when they’re ready to buy a product or service.
Bottom-of-the-funnel keywords are typically much more specific than top-of-the-funnel keywords. They’re usually related to a specific product or service rather than a general topic.
For example, if you sell project management software, some bottom-of-the-funnel keywords you could target might be “project management software” or “best project management software.”
People who search for these keywords are further along in the buying process and are more likely to be ready to buy your product. This is why it’s important to have product-focused landing pages that are optimized for these keywords. Your goal with these landing pages is to convert visitors into leads or customers.
To do this, you’ll need to make sure your landing pages are clear and concise, with a strong call-to-action that encourages visitors to take the next step. You may also consider using other types of content, such as case studies and testimonials, to further convince people that your product is the right solution for them.
SEO Framework for SaaS Companies
Now that we’ve seen the benefits of SEO for SaaS companies, let’s take a look at a framework that you can use to create and implement an SEO strategy.
This framework is based on our experience working with SaaS companies and helps to ensure that you cover all the important SEO elements. Here’s a nine-step framework you can use:
1. Set Your Goals and KPIs
Whether it is SaaS SEO or any other type of SEO, the first step is always to set your goals and KPIs. Remember, you need to have a clear goal in mind before you can start working on your SEO strategy.
Some common goals that SaaS companies set for their SEO campaigns include increasing traffic, improving conversion rates, and generating more leads or customers. Once you’ve set your goals, you need to choose the KPIs that you’ll use to measure progress.
For example, if your goal is to increase traffic, you might track the number of visitors to your website or the number of page views. To improve conversion rates, you might track the number of leads or customers generated from your website.
It would help if you could set a specific goal like “Generate 100 leads from SEO in the next 3 months”. This will give you a better idea of what needs to be done and how to measure your success.
For SaaS SEO, we recommend using additional measuring and analyzing KPIs such as MQLs, SQLs, MRR, ARPU, and CAC. These can give you a much better understanding of your SEO efforts’ accurate measure.
2. Build A Customer Persona
You need to have a clear understanding of who you’re targeting. It will help you position your platform as an ideal solution to their problems. The more details you can gather about your target audience, the better.
Sound knowledge of your target market will help you create content that appeals to them and answers their specific questions. It will also make it easier for you to know what type of content to create and where to promote it.
This is where creating customer personas come in handy. A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on accurate data and research.
While creating a persona, you must consider various factors such as demographics, interests, needs, and pain points. You can use insights from your sales and customer success teams to help you gather this data.
3. Understand Your Direct and Indirect Competitors
When it comes to SEO, you need to understand not just your direct competitors but also your indirect ones. Identifying and understanding both types of competitors will help you create an effective SEO strategy.
Your direct competitors are the ones that offer a similar product or service as you do. They will target the same customer base as you and use similar keywords.
Your indirect competitors, on the other hand, are those that don’t offer a similar product or service but help your target customer solve the same problem.
For example, if you offer a project management tool, your direct competitors will be other project management tools. But your indirect competitors could be things like to-do list apps, note-taking apps, or even productivity blogs.
The reason it’s important to understand your indirect competitors is that they will be targeting the same keywords as you. And if you’re not careful, you might end up competing with them for the same keywords, which will be detrimental to your SEO efforts.
4. Build A Keyword Strategy to Address the Problems of Your Personas
We’ve already talked about how important it is to target the right keywords if you want to be successful in SEO. But how do you choose which keywords to target?
We recommend starting with a list of solutions that your platform can provide to your users. Then, match each solution to the specific needs of your customer persona.
For example, if you offer a project management tool, some of the solutions that your platform can provide include “help users stay organized”, “help users hit deadlines”, or “help users manage tasks”.
You’ll need to create separate keyword strategies for each persona as they will have different needs. For example, a project manager will have different keywords than a software developer.
Once you have a comprehensive list of solutions, you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to help you find the right keywords to target. While choosing keywords, make sure to consider factors such as search volume, difficulty level, and click-through rate.
5. Optimize Your Platform’s Landing Pages For Top Keywords
You need to make sure that you are using the right keywords for your commercial pages before you can start ranking for them. These pages include your product and feature pages.
Think strategically about which keywords you want to target for each page. For example, if you have a CRM, some of the keywords you might want to target for your product page include “Small business CRM”, “Free CRM”, or “Open Source CRM”.
Once you’ve decided which keywords to target, you need to incorporate them into your page copy, title tags, and meta descriptions. But beware of keyword stuffing, which is the practice of using too many keywords in your content. This will not only turn off your readers but can also get you penalized by Google.
6. Use A Unique Comparison Strategy
As discussed above, MOFU and BOFU comparison queries are a great opportunity to get in front of your target audience and persuade them to sign up for your platform.
To make the most of this opportunity, you need to have a unique comparison strategy. This means that you need to position your platform to set it apart from your competitors.
When it comes to SaaS SEO, competitor analysis is key. You need to take the time to understand what your competitors are doing and how they’re positioning themselves in the market. Only then can you develop a unique strategy that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Create comparison pages (you vs. them) on your website where you can directly compare your platform to your competitors. Make sure to highlight the unique features and benefits of your platform. And don’t forget to include calls-to-action (CTAs) that encourage your prospects to sign up for your platform.
It is important to note that BOFU keywords may not have a huge search volume. However, they have a high conversion rate as they indicate that the user is ready to buy.
7. Make Your Content Stand Out From Your Competitors
Content quality is a major ranking factor for SEO. If you want to rank higher in search results, you need to create better content than your competitors.
Quality content is content, that is:
- Relevant to your target audience
- Well-written and free of grammar and spelling errors
- Informative and educational
- Entertaining and engaging
- Optimized for SEO
To make your content stand out from your competitors, you must go above and beyond to create exceptional content. This means putting in the extra effort to make sure that your content is the best it can be.
When it comes to SaaS SEO, one way to make your content stand out is to create targeted content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. This means creating content that appeals to your prospects’ needs at each stage of their decision-making process.
Create content that is:
- Longer and more in-depth than your competitors
- More engaging with images, videos, infographics, etc.
- Better formatted and easier to read
Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that SEO is all about keywords. However, while keywords are important, they are only one part of the puzzle. To rank higher in search results, you need to create high-quality content that is better than your competitors.
While creating better content than your competitors is a challenge, it’s well worth the effort. After all, ranking higher in search results can lead to more website visitors, leading to more leads and customers for your business.
8. Don’t Neglect Technical and On-Page SEO
Just because successful SaaS SEO strategies are mainly content-led doesn’t mean that technical and on-page SEO should be neglected.
Your website needs to be technically sound and properly optimized from an on-page perspective if you want it to rank higher in search results.
Technical SEO refers to optimizing your website’s technical aspects, such as its code, structure, and speed. On-page SEO, on the other hand, refers to the optimization of your website’s actual content.
Both technical and on-page SEO is important if you want your website to rank higher in search results. However, they are often overlooked in favor of content marketing.
If you want to improve your website’s technical SEO, you can use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix to find opportunities for improvement.
When it comes to on-page SEO, one of the best things you can do is to optimize your website’s title tags and meta descriptions. These elements appear in search results, so it’s important to ensure that they are well-written and keyword-rich.
In addition to optimizing your title tags and meta descriptions, you should also focus on creating high-quality, keyword-rich content. This is one of the best ways to improve your website’s SEO.
9. Promote Your Content to Earn High-Quality Backlinks
SEO is incomplete without link building. Link building is the process of earning high-quality backlinks from other websites.
Backlinks are important because they help to improve your website’s SEO. A backlink is basically a link from another website to yours. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the higher your website will rank in search results.
There are many different ways to earn backlinks. However, one of the best ways to do so is to promote your content. When you promote your content, you’re essentially giving other websites a reason to link to it. There are many different ways to promote your content. Some of the most effective methods include guest blogging, infographics, and social media.
For SaaS companies, some link building tactics that are effective include:
- Digital PR
- Resource links building
- Unlinked brand mentions
- Broken link building
- Guest posting
The SaaS industry is one of the most competitive industries when it comes to SEO. This is because many companies are vying for the top spot in search results. You must implement an effective SEO strategy to ensure that your SaaS company’s website ranks highly in search results. The tips and tactics in this post will help you to do just that. Implement them into your SEO strategy, and you’ll be well on your way to ranking higher in search results.