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SaaS SEO: The Ultimate Growth Strategy

Perry Steward
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September 18, 2022
SaaS SEO: The Ultimate Growth Strategy

Not sure where to start with SaaS SEO? You’re not alone.

SaaS SEO has undergone a revolution in the last few years. SEOs are no longer limited to producing great content. It now encompasses several elements, including link building, user experience, and on-page optimization.

As a full-service SEO agency, we believe in making things simple for our SaaS clients.

This is why we present to you our no-nonsense guide to SaaS SEO, filled with a proven SEO strategy that we used to grow our client’s organic traffic by 277% and get 300 backlinks in 90 days.

What we'll cover:

What is SaaS SEO?

Let’s understand the two terms in SaaS SEO and what they mean when combined.

The SaaS (Software as a Service) model focuses on providing cloud-based apps to users via subscriptions over the Internet.

Example: A cloud-based project management tool

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving the visibility of your business by increasing the website’s rankings, traffic, and conversions. 

Example: Earning top rankings for relevant keywords on SERPs

SaaS SEO is the process of driving organic traffic for a SaaS company’s website by earning top rankings for a list of relevant keywords.

Example: Being on the first page of Google for the keyword “project management tool”

Why is SEO important for SaaS companies?

According to research by HubSpot, 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines.

Your first thought would be, “No problem! We’ll make use of paid marketing to get our brand on the first page.”

And you’re not wrong. Paid ads drive qualified attention in exchange for money. However, as soon as you stop paying for ads, the music stops. No more new accounts and leads.

This is where SEO comes in. First, if you own a high ranking for the transactional keyword, imagine how much you can save in ad spend. Some first-page rankings can be worth over $100k a month in ad spend. Second, your website continues receiving qualified traffic long after you’ve published and optimized the now-ranking page. And third, 70-80% of people ignore paid ads, focusing on organic results first.

What else can SEO do for your SaaS business? Let’s break it down!

SEO scales user growth

Buyers are no longer satisfied with knowing the problem your business is solving. They are more interested in “how” you will solve their problem.

A reason why buyers now prefer getting company information from a series of blogs rather than advertisements. 

Let’s take an example to understand this better. 

A buyer is looking for a tool to design their website. He goes on to Google to search for website design and he finds your brand’s articles in the top-ranking results.

The buyer trusts Google and you being on the top of the search engine results builds credibility with customers. This goes on to influence their purchasing decision.

This is how SEO helps move the prospect through the sales funnel faster and helps scale user growth.

SEO reduces your cost per acquisition (CPA)

Cost per Acquisition (CPA) measures the total cost it takes to acquire one paying customer.

With paid ads, you generally pay every time a person clicks the ad. The more clicks you get, the more you pay. If you’re making use of competitive search terms, every click can cost you a lot and your budget slowly evaporates each month.

Not to mention that the moment you stop paying, you stop getting results.

A much better alternative is SEO. The initial investment you put in keeps driving traffic, awareness, and revenue long after that. All of this makes SEO one of the best marketing avenues to reduce CPA.

SEO builds your domain authority

Domain authority is a score that indicates how likely a website is to rank in search engine results. In general, sites with a great number of high-quality and relevant backlinks (links to your site from other websites) have high domain authority.

An Ahrefs' study found that there’s a correlation between DA and SERP ranking which is why you should consider creating a solid backlink strategy.

If you’re still not sure whether backlinks and domain authority matter, here’s a case study that will definitely make you think again.

Good Annotations managed to gain over 365,000 page views and over 5000 email subscribers with the help of a backlink strategy.

SaaS SEO keyword research: understanding search intent

Search intent is the primary goal a user has when he’s typing his query in the search engine. For example, the same keyword “design” could have different search intents. Someone may want to know great design resources, while someone may want to research a design tool.

Satisfying search intent is one of the primary goals of Google, which makes it crucial for SEO as well. In just over 6 months, Ahrefs managed to get a 677% increase in organic traffic to their core landing page by aligning it with search intent.

Here are four primary types of search intent:

Navigational 

People with this search intent want to visit a specific website or webpage. As it’s tiring to type out the entire URL or even to remember one, they usually run a quick search on Google. 

Examples of navigational searches:

  • “Instagram”
  • “MADX Link Building Service”
  • “LinkedIn login”
  • “Slack Pricing page”

It’s important to remember that ranking high for a navigational search intent query is only beneficial when your site or page is the one people are looking for. For example, you may have a top-ranking guide — “Google Analytics: your one-stop guide” for the term “Google Analytics” but chances are people might not click on it because they actually want to navigate to Google Analytics, not read a guide on it.

Informational 

People with informational search intent are looking for… well, information. They might have a specific question, or they might want to know more about a topic. This could be in the form of a how-to guide, video tutorial, definition, or recipe. Triggering top-of-the-funnel content for this search intent can be a great SEO strategy.

Examples of informational searches:

  • “What is project workflow?”
  • “Best web design templates”
  • “Define link building”
  • “Excel formulas”

Google’s understanding of informational intent is nothing short of amazing. It knows that when people type “shoes”, they are looking to buy shoes and not read an article on shoes. In a similar way, it also understands that for some search terms like “Excel formulas”, it’d be helpful to include video tutorials.

Investigational 

With this search intent, people are looking to make a purchase. They’re past the informational stage of the research but are yet to make a final choice. Users can be found comparing products and looking for reviews to find the best solution for their requirements. This is where you should deploy bottom-of-the-funnel content.

Examples of investigational searches:

  • “Trello Vs Asana”
  • “Best messaging tool”
  • “Slack review”
  • “Top design agency near me”

Note that these terms may often include non-branded localized terms such as “best SEO agencies in London”

Transactional 

Transactional searchers are looking for a place to make a purchase. They have done their research and finalized a brand. They want to buy at the moment and want to get to the product page or contact page right away. 

Examples of transactional searches:

  • “Subscribe to Moz”
  • “Shopify coupon code”
  • “Slack subscription”
  • “Cheap Samsung TV”

These terms usually involve a brand name as the purchasing decision is almost final.

How to create a seamless marketing funnel for your SaaS SEO strategy

Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “I’ll buy a productivity tool today.” Instead, they go through a series of steps that involve awareness, research, evaluation, and commitment to a product. These stages form your business’s marketing funnel. 

Here’s how to transform your content marketing funnel into a solid SaaS SEO strategy:

Top of the funnel

Top of the funnel (TOFU) is the starting point of a buyer’s journey. They are not ready to make a purchase and do not have any knowledge of the different solutions on offer. Your goal here should be to attract their attention, offer the best solution to their problems, and gently introduce your brand to them.

For example: Slack creates a how-to guide on team collaboration for users searching for “team collaboration strategies” and then gently introduces how their collaboration tool can help.

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Showing up in these early stages in the search results can help you establish authority and gain credibility.

The most popular types of SEO-backed content you can create at this stage are how-to guides, infographics, and checklists. You can even find TOFU inspiration on sites where users are asking and answering questions like Quora or Reddit, or even social media forums.

The number one metric to measure TOFU content’s effectiveness is the number of visitors you’re getting.

Remember to perform keyword research and target different query-based keywords users are using at this stage.

Middle of the funnel

The middle of the funnel (MOFU) is geared towards the research phase of the buyer’s journey. At this point, the buyer may not know what they need to buy and from where but they are starting to get serious about making a purchase.

The most popular content formats for this stage are case studies, product comparison guides, product overviews, and product landing pages.

For example, Slack creates a comparison guide of the best collaboration tools in the market and shows the USP of their tool.

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The two most popular metrics to measure MOFU content’s effectiveness are the number of conversions and leads generated.

Regardless of the content type you choose, pay attention to keyword usage on the page and metadata.

Bottom of the funnel content

This is the end stage of the funnel where buyers are considering making a purchase from you, but they need that extra push. This push can be in the form of providing success stories, creating content for common questions they have, use cases, reviews, and testimonials.

It’s important to provide the buyers with all the information they need to make a purchase.

For example, Slack creates several customer success stories and persuades users to click on the “Try Slack” button.

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The most popular metrics to measure effectiveness here are ROI, conversions, and the number of payments made.

10 steps to create your SaaS SEO strategy

Getting your SaaS SEO strategy right doesn’t just drive more traffic to your website. It drives more “targeted” traffic to your website. Guess what this has an impact on? Conversions. And the best part is you don’t seem too salesy as well.

Let’s delve into the top 10 SaaS SEO strategies to unlock growth and conversions:

1. Define your business goals, conversions, and KPIs

Without clear goals, you’ll be left shooting in the dark. While you may hit the target on a couple of occasions like a blog post going viral, that traffic will do nothing for your business if it isn’t maintained or directed to a larger goal.

What makes a perfect goal then?

  • It is laser-focused. 
  • It is measurable
  • It is time-based.

One example of such a goal would be, “Rank in the top 5 for financial planning keyword within 6 months.”

Remember that the best goals can be broken down into relevant KPIs your team can work towards and track regularly.

Apart from popular KPIs such as traffic, rankings, and impressions, you should also measure and analyze deeper and relevant metrics such as SQLs, MQLs, CAC, MRR, ARPU, and more.

Spend some time researching and understanding all these different types of SEO metrics and how they tie around to your business goal. This step sets a solid foundation for your SEO SaaS strategy.

2. Define your target audience & create personas

To succeed with your SEO campaign, you must know “who” your ideal customer is.

The more clarity you gain on your target audience, the better equipped you’ll be to solve their problems, find the keywords they are searching for, and present your tool as a solution.

One way to do this is by creating buyer personas.

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your normal customers. As a SaaS company, you’ll ideally have more than one buyer persona as your product/service may appeal to different customers. 

For example, Mailchimp’s services may be used by a design agency as well as a consulting firm.

Here are three ways to find useful information and build your buyer personas:

  • Analyze your existing customers: Your existing customers have already signed up for your tool. No doubt you want more like them. So, find unique insights around the common characteristics these customers share.
  • Talk to internal teams: Sales, support, and social teams are customer-facing teams. They may have a better understanding of what buyers want.
  • Conduct surveys and interviews: Get information directly from your customers to build accurate buyer personas. Here are some starter questions for you:
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3. Research competitors 

Instead of guessing which keywords to target, what content marketing strategy to focus on, and where to build links, look into what’s working for your competitors.

This doesn’t mean conducting research only on your direct competitors. For example, if you’re in the time-tracking space, research your direct competitor like Clockify. But also your indirect competitors that can be a project management tool with an inbuilt time tracking feature. Look at each website in detail websites and study their content marketing strategy. This research will unearth target keywords that will form your content ideas and strategy.

You can make use of various SEO tools to dig deep about your competitor’s top organic traffic driving pages, top-performing keywords, branded vs. non-branded traffic split, sites they’ve got backlinks from, type of content that gets the most backlinks, and much more.

All of this will help give direction to your strategy. But avoid replicating strategies. Instead, try to find gaps in their strategies and capitalize on them.

4. Perform keyword research & understand the intent

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Shane Barker managed to rank 1800+ keywords on Page 1 of Google in 6 months.

Feels like an impossible feat, doesn’t it?

Do you know the number 1 strategy he used to get such results?

Aligning target keywords with search intent.

How to do this for your SaaS business?

First, start with keyword research. Here are three ways you can do that:

  • Brainstorm on seed keywords and expand on them with competitor research or Google’s Autosuggest queries
  • Use keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs
  • Study Q&A sites, niche forums, and groups to find target keywords you might’ve missed out on

Next, understand that a search engine like Google will always try to provide relevant results, be it a blog article or a YouTube video.

So, list all your keywords in the four primary types of search intent we discussed earlier. For example, the long-tail keyword “how to get backlinks” has informational search intent whereas “best backlink tools” has investigational search intent.

Once you are clear on the search intent, you can create keyword-backed content that is relevant and has a greater probability of ranking higher.

5. Create a content calendar & briefs for writers

As an SEO agency, we swear by having a content calendar at all times. Here’s why:

  • Executing SEO campaign becomes easier. Content calendars ensure a seamless content production schedule.
  • Teamwork. It’s easier to collaborate with others, and everyone knows what they need to work on in the future.
  • We get an overview of what’s happening. This way, we make sure we create a variety of content that covers all target keywords instead of publishing two articles on a similar topic.

Can embed here a template of our content planner (if possible)

That’s not all! We also add the links to detailed briefs for each article in the content calendar.

This gives a clear direction to the writer so that they can get a headstart and there’s less scope for edits later on.

Most importantly, we create these briefs keeping various aspects of SEO in mind; something which the writer may fail to do or not have the bandwidth to do.

6. Create better content than the competition 

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great your content is if it’s failing to get more traffic and conversions than your competitors.

But how do you outrank your competitor’s content? By answering the searcher’s query better than any result out there.

Here are 7 ways to do that:

  • Content that goes into more depth (not just in terms of word count)
  • Adding content types they haven’t. Interactive content like infographics, videos, and animations get 2X more conversions than static content like text.
  • Make use of short URLs. These tend to rank better than long URLs.
  • Make it better structured. Readers want their answers fast.
  • Use more visuals in your content. Adding 10 or more images to your article helps it rank higher.
  • Make it easier to read. Use bullet points, white space, small paragraphs, and so on.
  • Create a better title that draws the readers in.

7. Ensure technical SEO & on-page SEO is up to scratch

Whenever we hear of SEO, our first thought is optimizing the content. But there are other factors that impact your site’s rankings as well.

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Technical SEO (on page SEO) refers to any SEO work that isn’t content related. Say, optimizing your site for mobile or adding an XML sitemap to help search engines understand your website while crawling it.

On the other hand, on-page SEO means all the things you can get done on your website. Say, adding title tags, keywords, and meta descriptions, making use of proper URL structures, and image optimization.

You can also run a technical SEO audit using tools such as Ahrefs to find a range of improvements you can work on.

Ahrefs

8. Define a content distribution strategy

Getting your content in front of the right audience at the right time and in the right way is what content distribution is all about.

First things first, content distribution isn’t limited to articles. Here are all the different types of content you can distribute:

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To create an effective content distribution strategy, here are some things you should be clear about:

  • Where can my target audience be found? Which platforms are they most active on?
  • Which content types to produce? Which is the most popular platform to distribute each content type? For example, ebooks through landing pages, podcasts through Spotify or Google Podcasts, infographics through Pinterest or blog, and so on.
  • How will we ascertain a content distribution mix among owned (landing pages &  social media profiles), paid (social media ads & PPC), and earned media channels (shares and reviews)?

Figuring out the answers to these questions and similar other questions will help define your content distribution strategy.

9. Earn backlinks to your best content

The number and quality of your backlinks correlates strongly with high search rankings.

Canva is one SaaS brand that has achieved great results with backlinks. 

They have managed to gain more than 4.24 million backlinks from 100,000 domains.

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But Canva didn’t get all of these backlinks by chance. They have a team of outreach specialists who search for content that mentions things like “Instagram templates,” “posters,” or “content marketing tools”

They then reach out to the creators with an email to negotiate the link placement..

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So, how do you gain backlinks for your SaaS brand and get results like Canva?

An obvious way is to create unique content like case studies, infographics, and research on industry trends. You can even follow Canva’s strategy to look for stellar content where your SaaS tool fits in naturally.

Another way is to guest post on relevant sites. Make sure that the content you write is not just a lazy attempt to gain a link to your site. Make it educational and engaging so the reader is encouraged to learn more about you and visit your site.

10. Don’t forget about internal linking

An internal link is any link from one page of your website to another page of your website. Internal links, when used strategically, can help Google find, index, and understand the different pages on your website.

Not only that, internal links with keyword-rich anchor text can help users stay on your website for a long time and facilitate the flow of traffic from one page to another, helping it rank higher on Google.

Another important point to note while internal linking is to not use the same anchor text for different pages. That leads to Google thinking that both pages are on the same exact topic.

Final thoughts

For a SaaS business, organic traffic is one of the determining factors that lead to growth. A robust SEO strategy helps you get on the right track and achieve the business results you want.

While there are sure-shot strategies that work great, you’ll have to spend a lot of time researching your audience, figuring out the set of keywords that work best for you, and a lot of other things. This experimentation can easily take months or even years. 

One way to fast-track your SEO efforts is to get in touch with a full-service SEO agency that has a proven track record of helping SaaS brands grow.. Wondering who to contact? MADX is here to help you out.

Here are some amazing results we’ve achieved for our clients so far:

Get in touch today!