What You Need to Know About SEO For Your SaaS Business
If you are part of a Software as a Service (SaaS) business, you may be starting to feel the pressure from the increasingly aggressive marketing landscape. As competition soars, you continuously need to find better ways to generate leads now and over time, without breaking your budget. Maybe you’ve tried paid advertising and been impressed with the quick activity but disappointed in the long-term results.
SEO for SaaS gives you the ability to expand your visibility, reduce dependency on paid ads, and continue to nurture new leads, visitors, and customers. You can’t predict what the competition will do or even when new rivals will appear, but SEO (search engine optimization) is an excellent way to leverage your resources and drive results.
This SEO Guide for SaaS businesses covers all the bases and considers the unique perspective of your industry. When you understand what it is and how it can help, you’ll be well equipped to cultivate the right SEO strategies to boost your business!
Why Should SaaS Companies Invest in SEO?
The customers you are looking for are also looking for you, but where might they be looking you say? Yep, you guessed it, Google (and other search engines). So naturally, the best place for them to find you is at the top of Google’s search results. When your company shows up here, it builds trust and traffic, so putting in the time and effort to establish a high ranking website is well worth it. SEO best practices and strategies can position your SaaS business right where customers can find you and deliver sustainable and significant growth.
How do we know this? Because even though digital marketing is continuously changing, there are some stand-out statistics we can use to track the success of SaaS SEO:
- The largest source of traffic, new visitors, and leads is organic search (i.e., Google), driving up to 77% of traffic.
- Only 11% of SaaS companies invest in content marketing, so there is plenty of room for more thought leaders.
- Only 24% of SaaS companies use their blog to educate readers.
- 85% of customers regularly seek trusted content before making a decision.
- 75% of all clicks come from the top 3 (non-paid) Google search engine results.
For example, HubSpot is an extraordinarily successful SaaS company that focuses heavily on SEO tactics. They currently rank for more than 500k keywords and have over 800k organic visitors a month. Their brand is well known for a great CRM product and as a trusted supplier of digital marketing resources.
With this SEO Strategy for SaaS Guide, you’ll have the information you need to design an effective digital marketing strategy. And the sooner you enter the world of SEO, the sooner you’ll see results and long-term benefits.
How are SEO Strategies for SaaS Companies Different?
The most common conversions for SaaS websites are demo requests and trial subscriptions, which makes the SEO process a little different than the typical e-commerce site. Your biggest asset is the in-depth industry knowledge and technical innovation of your leadership and product development teams. Hence, the foundations of your saas SEO strategy can be enhanced by high-quality content that demonstrates your expertise and builds trust.
However, to ensure your assets and resources produce optimal results, all the elements of SEO best practices need to be used in your strategy. These include:
- Market Research & Competitive Analysis
- Keyword Research
- Content Strategy & Developing Content
- Link Building
- Technical SEO
How Does Market Research and Competitive Analysis Support SEO for SaaS?
Every day we are bombarded with information and ads vying for our attention. If you want your message to reach the right customer, you’ll need to define your buyer persona. Market research will help identify the precise needs of your customers so you can address them.
Your target market is defined by the characteristics of your ideal customer or buyer persona. It includes everything from age and income level to family size and purchase habits. This information can help you understand their pain points, what motivates them, and how to tailor your marketing to speak directly to them.
In addition to market research, you can also gather your own insights through interviews and surveys of your customer base. Find out what channels they use, what features are critical to them? Once you’ve completed the buyer persona, you’ll need to find tactics to reach them. A viable method for doing this is the competitor analysis – find the company that successfully does what you do, then do it better. You can look at various metrics, some done manually, and some using free SEO tools. Some of the measurements to consider include:
• How much traffic (visitors) do they get per month?
• What is their domain authority?
• How many quality backlinks do they have, and how do they build them?
• How many keywords are they ranking for, and what position?
• How many pages on their site are indexed?
• What is their site speed?
• What is the quality of their site content?
• How often do they add new content or actively blog?
• Is any of their content being shared, if so, where?
• How strong is their technical SEO?
• Is their site optimized for mobile?
• Do they provide a quality user experience?
All websites will have weaknesses and strengths, yours, and your competitors. By identifying those areas, you can determine how to take advantage of open opportunities.
Keyword Research Deserves Maximum Effort
Keyword research is the heart and soul of a successful SaaS SEO strategy. Before you can rank for targeted keywords, you need to identify which ones will give you the most bang for your buck. Focus on researching keywords relevant to your audience, have high search volume, manageable competition, and clear intent.
Consider the “why” behind the search. If I am trying to solve a problem, I may search for “how to generate leads.” If I already know what I need, I will search “lead generation software.” Both may be included in your SEO strategy, but each will need to be on a page with content aligned with the searcher’s intent.
It’s an absolute must that you develop useful content for your audience and for each intention they may have. In fact, using targeted keywords and semantically related keywords (LSI keywords) more naturally not only helps deliver more relevant information for your audience, but it helps search engines better understand your website. Keywords will have approximately four primary intents:
• Informational keywords are not specifically about your software but center more on finding a solution to a problem or answering a specific question.
• Transactional keywords include your brand or product name, and the user likely intends to purchase a SaaS product.
• Investigational Keywords are used when searching and comparing similar products.
• Navigational Keywords help users find a specific site and will likely include brand and brand-related words.
Three are many tools to help you perform your keyword research, including Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Ubersuggest, Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush. Because SaaS companies are highly competitive and often provide a niche service, it is important to dig deep for long-tail keywords and keywords that move consumers through the marketing & sales funnel.
Feed the Success of Your SaaS Company with SEO Content Strategy & Development
A good content strategy includes a generous amount of quality content that is appropriately integrated and helps your customers understand your product. An effective content plan educates, demonstrates solutions, and guides users toward testing your service.
As previously mentioned, only 24% of SaaS businesses create blogs to educate, yet 85% of searchers look for trusted content as part of their decision-to-buy process. This means there are tons of users out there looking for reliable, authoritative, quality content.
Create content for your buyer persona and tailor it to paying customers, not trial users. Have a clear understanding of how your SaaS product helps your users solve problems and achieve their goals. Educate them on a specific product solution, then capture these prospects without making them feel obligated. Invite them to learn more through success stories, testimonials, or case studies.
Map out a process for creating the content you need, including who will produce it, when it is due, and where it will appear. There are various low-cost tools to help accomplish this, especially for small to mid-sized companies. It is a good idea for a larger SaaS enterprise to invest in a more robust SEO content planning tool.
Most SaaS businesses have three types of pages you can improve by applying SEO best practices:
Homepage: Because there is a ton of competition from aggregator sites for popular keywords like “software service,” you may think there is no hope for a winning strategy for your home page. Obviously, you will want your homepage to rank for your branded keyword, but don’t stop there. Use this page to let search engines and users understand your site’s core purpose, and CLEARLY state what product you are offering.
Product Pages: The primary purpose of product pages is to convert. Although keywords are important, the user experience is what matters most. If the relevant keywords have low organic traffic, it’s still better to use them instead of stuffing the page with irrelevant keywords. You may find there are some keywords that you don’t have a product page for yet. It’s ok to create one, as long as it doesn’t overwhelm or confuse your customer. After the page is optimized for intent and keywords, then you should link your product pages appropriately.
Features Pages: Even when your customers search for your product’s features, they don’t want to hear about how great it is. They want to know how that feature will provide a solution for their need. Use features pages to demonstrate how your product can revolutionize their business or eliminate pain.
SaaS companies have long sales cycles, so content needs to be created for multiple touchpoints and different stages of the buyers’ journey. Product pages are important, but high-funnel content like blogs can reach that 85% who are still investigating.
Content not only offers scalability, but it also has compounding effects. Good content keeps producing organic search traffic for months or years. By creating quality content regularly, those effects start to multiply.
Quality Link Building Requires Dedication
Link building is the process of acquiring links from other authoritative sites back to yours. High numbers of backlinks signal search engines that your site is trustworthy, that the content is authoritative, and that your brand is a symbol for expertise.
How it works: There are three key elements to your link profile, and it’s not only about developing backlinks. Your website should have:
• Internal Links – From one page to another within your domain
• Outbound Links – From your website to other related sites
• Inbound Links – From other sites with authority to your site, aka, backlinks
That said, backlinks are still one of the most vital signals you can have to improve ranking. There is no shortcut to developing strong backlinks, and quality is WAY more important than quantity. Building relationships with experts in your industry and producing fantastic content are two of the best ways to create backlinks.
Link building tactics: Despite what you may have been told, the most successful link building strategies are based on outreach and great content. Brand new sites are not expected to have a zillion backlinks. Quality links are earned, not bought, using a variety of approaches that will compound over time. Some of the popular (and honest) methods for building links include:
• Produce high-quality resources for your industry, such as surveys and tools. For example, a mortgage calculator on a real estate website is effective.
• Expert guest blog posts should be high quality, published on trusted sources, and link back to useful content.
• Infographics you create can enrich blogs with the same theme and include your site as an image source. They are also easy to share on social media channels.
• Link roundups will pick up your content if it is high-quality, long-form, and relevant to your industry. Finding roundups and pitching your content can result in backlinks from authority websites and increase organic traffic.
• Sponsored posts are essentially ads, but without being obvious or annoying. By partnering with another brand or influencer, you can provide quality exposure for both of you and positively impact the user experience.
• Social media can provide quality links by building social proof. Likes and shares give credibility to your content, builds trust, and increases your chances of acquiring organic links.
Last but Definitely Not Least, Technical SEO
Technical SEO is critical for SaaS SEO because all the competition is just as tech-savvy as you are. In an industry where everybody is all about the latest technology, an optimized website is a cornerstone and not something to skimp on. You can create the best content using the best keyword strategy, but your site will not rank if your technical SEO is not optimized.
Search engines like Google need to understand the pages on your website. This is achieved through crawling, indexing, and rendering the architecture of your site. You also need to make sure your site is secure, optimized for mobile, loads quickly, and is free of duplicate content. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but you will have a better chance of ranking if your site is easy for Google to access. Here are some commonly overlooked technical features that can boost SEO SaaS:
Navigation & Site Structure: A well-designed site can make all other technical SEO tasks easier and more effective. You want a structure that puts every page within a few clicks of each other. This makes it easy for search engines to crawl all your pages and reduces frustration for your website visitors.
XML Sitemap & Indexing: Most SaaS websites have fewer pages than large e-commerce sites, making crawling and indexing by Google and other search engines easier. WordPress and other platforms now have built-in SEO components that allow you to address metadata and implement a dynamic XML sitemap effectively. Using Screaming Frog or Ahrefs to check your website monthly will help keep your website error-free. As you add or update content, submit your sitemap in Google Search Console so the most important pages on your site can be indexed and ranked.
Duplicate Content: Identical pages or copied content leaves search engines in a muddle. They don’t know which version is the original or how to show them in the search results, so the different versions end up competing against each other and losing rank. There are various ways to identify and correct duplicate content, and fixing these issues can benefit your site’s overall rankings.
Schema Markup: Setting up structured data allows for the possibility of rich snippets. Rich snippets show at the top of the search results and can significantly improve your click-through rate and organic traffic.
Mobile Usability: Even if your site is set up well for mobile, other issues can occur. These problems can be hard to spot, so Google Search Console provides a Mobile Usability report to help you find them. It can identify text that is too small to read, clickable links that are too close together, and content that is wider than the screen.
How to Track & Measure Your SEO for SaaS Success
Assessing your SEO results is essential, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Understanding specific metrics will show you what’s working and what’s not, then you can adjust your marketing strategy. There are many great tools to help you with this task, but the most thorough and popular are Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
GA provides information about how many visitors you’ve had, where they are landing on your website, and how much time they spend checking you out. Search Console gives you more detailed information, like which keywords you are ranking for, inbound links, and any errors or malware.
Installing & Using Google Analytics
Google makes installing analytics simple. Sign up with your email and follow the step-by-step directions for adding all your website information and setting up your profile. Then you can go to Admin>Tracking Info>Tracking Code to find your unique tracking code. Copy and paste this code to the header file (before the closing </html> tag) of each page on your website.
With Google Analytics, you can create a convenient dashboard that displays your critical KPIs, as well as valuable reports to direct your future SEO efforts. Some of the most vital metrics for SaaS businesses include:
Search Visibility: Indicates how often your domain shows up for the keywords it ranks for and helps you monitor SEO results.
Overall Traffic Source Comparison: This is well help you understand the number of visitors to your site from each respective source. This will allow you to understand how your SEO efforts compare to paid search, social media, and direct traffic coming to your site.
YoY Organic Traffic Comparison: When it comes to driving traffic to your website, sustainability is key. Doing a year over year comparison or other periods of time provide a larger view of your SaaS business’s long-term health and the potential seasonal ebb and flow of traffic throughout the year.
Leads and Goal Captures: This allows you to understand how organic search is impacting your contact with potential customers, such as contact forms, calls, or newsletter signups. These conversion metrics are vital to understanding whether you’re driving the right traffic to your website.
Syncing & Using Google Search Console
Google Search Console is also easy to install. After you log in, you’ll be prompted to create a New Property. Here you will verify that you own your site domain through the steps recommended, then data will begin to come through to the console.
The Overview page will show you three charts: performance, coverage, and enhancements. On the left-hand side, you have a navigation menu with tools and reports. Under the Performance tab, you will see data and graphs for critical metrics about your site.
The Performance chart shows four key measurements of your site’s performance.
Total Clicks: This is the number of people clicking onto your site from the pages listed on the search results page.
Total Impressions: This is the number of times pages from your site are showing up in the search results.
Average CTR (click-through-rate): This is the percentage of people who have clicked on your pages compared to the number of times your pages were shown. This can be calculated by dividing total clicks / total impressions.
Average Position: This shows the average rank or positions that your pages appear in the search results.
Analytics can be very confusing for those of us who don’t speak geek, but it is still important to understand the basics. These measurements will show you how your website is performing and guide you on finding more opportunities for your SaaS to connect with the people who need your product.
How to Get Started with SEO for Your SaaS Company
Whether you do the work yourself or hire a professional will depend on your available resources to execute a comprehensive saas SEO strategy.
Whether you have a small business and don’t know where to start, or a larger business and have no time to do it yourself, you may want to consider working with an SEO consultant or agency. When you understand the basics, you can recognize a good SEO professional that will provide you with the level of service you need.
At BCC Interactive, we’ve helped both Fortune 500 and small businesses implement and execute successful SEO strategies that get real results. If you’re looking for a team to take your SaaS business to the next level, we’d love to chat with you. Set up a complimentary consultation with our team today!