The internet is filled with SaaS success stories, all fueled by rich Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies. With rising customer acquisition costs and competition, you must find strategies to balance the huge advertising and PPC investment.
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: link building, user experience, and on-page optimization.
As a SaaS SEO agency, we make things simple for our SaaS clients. This is why we created this no-nonsense guide to SaaS SEO, filled with the proven SEO strategy we used to grow our SaaS client’s organic traffic by 28 times in less than a year.
What We'll Cover:
What is SaaS for SEO?
SaaS SEO includes all the activities you undertake to increase your organic rankings and boost your SaaS website’s visibility so you can get more conversions and boost your revenue.
It involves shortlisting keywords that matter to your business and finding ways to get into the top 10 results for that keyword. For example, if you have a project management tool, your aim should be to claim the 1st SERP for the keyword “best project management tools.”
While you can pay to appear at the top for this keyword (PPC), these costs are increasing, and solely relying on paid channels can prove detrimental.
Conversely, SEO provides you results in the long run, even if you stop putting loads of money into it.
What Makes SaaS SEO Different?
When working on SEO for SaaS, you need to focus on three things:
- Create content for different funnel stages, as SaaS sales cycles are generally more complex. You also need to focus equally on acquisition and retention.
- Focus on portraying yourself as an authority leader in the niche. Brands like HubSpot and Ahrefs are the go-to companies for educational content in their niches.
- Building trust and credibility through valuable backlinks and other SEO strategies.
These strategies contrast with other industries, like news websites or beauty brands, that are more concerned with generating traffic and clicks or driving one-time purchases.
Why is SEO Important for SaaS Companies?
According to research by HubSpot, 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines.
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 spending. 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.
The importance of SEO can’t be understated. As a SaaS SEO and link-building agency, we looked at 50+ reports (not kidding) to uncover the most interesting findings about SaaS growth, usage, market, pricing, trends, views, and challenges. You can read more here.
What else can SEO do for your SaaS business? Let’s break it down!
SEO scales user growth
Would you subscribe to a tool that appears on the top results for related keywords or a tool with minimal internet presence? Unless it’s coming from a personal recommendation you trust, most of us would choose the first option.
Buyers have now increasingly become wary of the things they purchase. They now prefer getting company information from blogs rather than advertisements.
Let’s take an example to understand this better.
A buyer is looking for a tool to design their website. They go on to Google to search for website design and find your brand’s articles in the top-ranking results.
The buyer trusts Google, and being on the top of the search engine results builds credibility with customers - which directly influences their purchasing decision.
With the correct SEO efforts, you can build trust and credibility in your brand. These factors help the prospect discover you quickly and move through the sales funnel faster.
SEO reduces your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
Cost per Acquisition (CPA) measures the total cost to acquire one paying customer.
By utilizing paid channels like PPC, you pay for every time a user clicks on your ad. The higher the number of clicks, the more dollars you need to shell out. These prices can be sky-high for competitive terms. Not to mention that the moment you stop paying, you stop getting results.
With SEO, you don’t have to deal with these charges. You are trying to get on the top page organically. Unlike paid ads, this reduces your CPA, and you keep getting results even after you stop paying.
SEO builds your Domain Authority (DA)
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 a correlation between DA and SERP ranking, which is why you should consider creating a solid backlink strategy.
If you’re unsure whether backlinks and domain authority matter, here’s a case study to change your mind.
Good Annotations managed to gain over 365,000 page views and over 5,000 email subscribers with the help of a backlink strategy.
SaaS SEO Keyword Research: Understanding Search Intent
Search intent denotes the user's primary goal when they are typing a particular keyword. For example, when someone types “design templates,” they want readymade templates they can purchase. On the other hand, when someone types “how to create design templates,” they want educational content.
Satisfying search intent is one of the primary goals of Google, which makes it crucial for SEO as well. In just over six 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:
This search intent denotes trying to visit a particular SaaS website or webpage. As it’s tiring to type the entire URL or even remember one, they usually run a quick search on Google.
Examples of navigational searches:
- “MADX Link Building Service”
- “LinkedIn login”
- “Slack Pricing page”
Note: 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 for the term “Google Analytics,” but chances are people might not click on it because they want to navigate to Google Analytics, not read a guide on it.
People with informational search intent may want to know more about a topic or need an answer to a specific query. The various content types for this intent are how-to guides, definitions, videos, etc.
Examples of informational searches:
- “What is project workflow?”
- “Best web design templates”
- “Define link building”
- “Excel formulas”
Triggering top-of-the-funnel content for this search intent can be a great SEO strategy. For certain queries like “how to design a content calendar,” it could be beneficial to add video elements, as Google will favor content that includes videos.
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.”
These searchers have completed their research and are looking to buy a product right away. Transactional search intent, thus, denotes a product page or a contact page where the searcher can buy or contact the relevant team.
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.
SaaS SEO Strategy: How to Create a Seamless Marketing Funnel?
Nobody wakes up 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 (TOFU)
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, MADX creates a how-to guide on keyword research for people searching for “how to perform keyword research?” The article then gently introduces readers to our SEO services.
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 ask and answer questions, like Quora, Reddit, or even social media forums.
The number of visitors you're getting is the number one metric to measure the effectiveness of TOFU content.
Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
The searcher for this type of content is in the research phase. They may not know what they need to buy and from where, but they are starting to get serious about making a purchase.
The content formats most used for MOFU are case studies, product comparison guides, product overviews, and product landing pages.
For example, MADX creates a comparison guide for the best SEO agencies and showcases its USP.
The most popular metrics to measure the effectiveness of MOFU content are the number of conversions and leads generated.
Regardless of the content type, pay attention to keyword usage on the page and the metadata.
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
This is the last stage of the funnel where users are considering purchasing from you, but they need that extra push. At this stage, you must provide all the information a user might need to purchase.
This information can be in the form of success stories or creating content for common questions, use cases, reviews, and testimonials.
For example, MADX has an entire section on case studies and a CTA for visitors to book an intro call with the team.
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 either.
Let’s delve into the top 10 SaaS SEO strategies to unlock growth and conversions:
#1 Define your business goals, conversions, and KPIs
Have you ever wondered why you have so many blog posts going viral but not leading to conversions? This happens when you create an SEO strategy without tying it to solid business goals or KPIs.
Here’s how you should set an overall goal:
- Make it laser-focused.
- Make it measurable
- Make it time-based.
One example of such a goal would be “Rank in the top 5 for financial planning keyword within 6 months.”
Once you set a goal, break it down into relevant KPIs your team can 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.
Here’s a detailed guide to selecting and tracking SaaS SEO KPIs.
#2 Define your target audience and create personas
You can’t create high-converting SEO campaigns without understanding your customer first. You need to know their demographics, requirements, motivations, platforms where they are most active, how they find products and which keywords they are searching for.
To know this, SaaS companies generally create buyer personas, fictional representations of your ideal customer. 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 appeal to a design agency and a consulting firm.
Here are three ways you can build these personas:
- Analyze your existing customers: Find unique insights around the common characteristics your customers share.
- Talk to internal teams: Sales, support, and social teams are customer-facing teams that better understand 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:
#3 Research competitors
Instead of shooting arrows in the dark, you can conduct competitor research to find out what’s working for similar companies in your niche.
This includes researching your direct and indirect competitors. For example, if you’re in the time-tracking space, your direct competitor would be Clockify. But your indirect competition would be a project management tool with an inbuilt time-tracking feature.
As both these websites would be fighting for similar keywords, you need to see the kind of content they’re creating, the keywords they prioritize, the links they’re building, their top traffic-driving pages, the type of content that gets most backlinks, branded vs non-branded traffic split, etc.
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.
You can use various SEO tools like Ahrefs to conduct this research.
#4 Perform keyword research & understand the intent
Shane Barker managed to rank 1800+ keywords on Page 1 of Google in 6 months.
The number one strategy he used was aligning target keywords with search intent.
How do you apply this to your SaaS business? 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, work on the search intent. Group all your keywords and categorize them into the four search intents we read about earlier. For example, “How to design a website?” falls under informational search intent, whereas “best design tools” falls under investigational search intent.
Once you have the search intent cleared, you can prioritize relevant keywords with high search volume and probability of ranking.
#5 Create a content calendar & briefs for writers
A content calendar is helpful for many reasons:
- Executing an 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 ensure we create a variety of content that covers all target keywords instead of publishing two articles on a similar topic.
At MADX, we add detailed briefs for our writers on this content calendar. It ensures everyone is on the same page and writers know what’s expected of them for a particular target keyword.
As not all writers will be experts at SEO or have the capacity to handle it, our editor/specialist is responsible for adhering to SEO requirements while creating these briefs.
#6 Create better content than the competition
Are you creating great content, but it’s still not outranking the other articles on the same topic?
It could be because you’re not satisfying the user’s query better than the other results.
Here are eight ways to do that:
- Content that goes into more depth (not just in terms of word count)
- Add content types that 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.
- Use proven blog post templates and give your article a better structure.
#7 Ensure technical SEO and on-page SEO is up to scratch
There’s more to SEO than churning out new content or finding new keywords.
Technical SEO refers to optimizing elements on your website to improve rankings, visibility, and user experience. For example, you can optimize your site for mobile or add an XML sitemap to help search engines understand your website while crawling it. You can use Google Search Console to find and optimize these technical issues.
On-page SEO refers to non-technical optimizations you conduct on your website to achieve the same goals. For example, this could be adding title tags, keywords and meta descriptions, or using 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.
#8 Define a content distribution strategy
Writing a solid article isn’t enough. It takes effort to get your content in front of a wider audience and gain more traffic, engagement and backlinks.
Content distribution isn’t just restricted to the articles you publish. Here are all the different types of content you can distribute:
To create an effective content distribution strategy, you need to get clear on a few things:
- 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 can be sold through landing pages, podcasts can be listed through Spotify or Google Podcasts, and infographics can be shared through Pinterest or blogs.
- How will we ascertain a content distribution mix among owned (landing pages and social media profiles), paid (social media ads and PPC), and earned media channels (shares and reviews)?
You can create an effective and focused distribution strategy by answering these questions.
#9 Earn backlinks to your best content
Undoubtedly, the quantity and quality of backlinks a brand has correlates with search engine 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.
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.
To get the same results, here are three things you can do:
- Create unique content like data reports, market trends, case studies, infographics, etc.
- Look for stellar content where your tool fits naturally and reach out to them
- Guest posts on relevant sites. Make this content engaging so the reader would like to 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, which can harm page ranking.
Drive Growth to Your SaaS SEO Today
For a SaaS business, a solid internet presence is crucial. When this comes through organic initiatives like SEO, you can save on resources while delivering results in the long run.
But, creating a solid strategy requires a lot of time and experimentation. You’ll have to invest in tools, gather SEO experts, conduct competitor and audience research, find the strategies that align with your goals and bring organic traffic. It can easily take months or even years.
Instead, you can partner with a full-service SaaS SEO agency like MADX that does everything for you. From strategizing to creating content, our team has done it all for many SaaS clients. You can read the success stories here.
If you’re still unsure how to proceed, book an introductory call today.