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The SaaS Technical SEO Guide for 2023

Perry Steward
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June 28, 2023
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The SaaS Technical SEO Guide for 2023

Are you seeing your traffic tank and your search engine rankings decrease despite creating quality content?

You’re not alone. This is a common scenario for many SaaS companies and something SaaS SEO Agencies like MADX often see when providing technical optimization services for our clients. The problem is that while you’re putting all your efforts into perfecting your content and link-building strategy, you’re forgetting to give the technical side of things the same attention.

Success in SEO isn't one or the other; it's getting both sides to work in tandem. Focusing on the technical aspects of your site can deliver better search rankings, increased traffic, higher CTRs, increased dwell times, and a great customer experience. 

This guide will arm you with everything you need to know to supercharge your technical SEO for your SaaS.  

What We'll Cover:

What is SaaS Technical SEO? 

Technical SEO is the process of optimizing the technical aspects of your website to ensure you meet the essential requirements of search engines like Google and boost organic rankings. 

The different search aspects prioritized in technical SEO are crawling, rendering, indexing, and website architecture. 

When you focus on these aspects, you make your SaaS website crawl-friendly. This means search engines like Google can easily crawl your website and index important pages. 

an illustration of technical seo audit checklist

What is the Importance of Technical SEO for SaaS Companies? 

The four important reasons why you shouldn’t miss out on technical SEO are: 

Highly Competitive Market 

Gone are the days when someone searched for a niche-specific keyword, and only a few companies popped up in the search results. 

Today, there’s competition in every SaaS niche, be it project management or financial budgeting. With over 31,000 SaaS companies globally and many more emerging daily, you can no longer ignore technical SEO and how it makes your site user-friendly and search-friendly. 

Improves Site Traffic 

If Google can’t successfully crawl your site, why would they position your site or page on the top SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)? 

And we already know that the higher your page features on SERP, the more traffic you’ll gain. Here’s a breakdown of how CTRs vary from position #1 to 10 on Google

bar graph of google organic CTR breakdown

When you get featured on top search results, your traffic improves, and you stand a better chance of placing your page in the “People also ask” or “Featured Snippets” section. 

Improves User Experience 

When you focus on aspects like site speed, navigation structure, and other technical aspects, you also improve user experience. 

For example, we have all faced the frustrating experience of waiting for the site to load. How many times did we close the website or, worse yet, bounce off to a competitor’s site? 

This is a common occurrence when consumers have too many options. That’s why improving user experience is paramount. 

Long-Term Benefits 

Working on your technical SEO can provide you with long-term benefits like increased reach, rich snippets in search results, reduced costs of SEO, and the ability to identify technical content weaknesses proactively.

What are the SaaS Technical SEO Elements? 

Without getting too technical, we’ll help you understand the different technical SEO elements you must focus on. 

Subdomain Vs. Subfolder 

comparison of folder structure of subdomain and subfolder

Subdomains act as a separate entity from the main domain. These are used for specific purposes, such as organizing website sections. 

These subdomains are usually considered standalone sites by Google. 

On the other hand, subfolders (also known as subdirectories) are often located beneath a parent folder. 

Many SaaS companies prefer using subfolders for blogs, as any link juice from the blog page will go to the main domain. 

While you might want to use subdomains for different reasons, such as branding, here’s a guide to help you make the correct decision. 

Meta Elements 

As properly formatted HTML headings are necessary for reader experience, meta elements are necessary for helping the search engine crawlers crawl your site and web pages properly. 

They help crawlers know what your page is all about. Without knowing what your page is about, they would not be able to start the ranking process. 

Let’s understand the five most important tags. 

  • Title Tags: This is the first thing a searcher sees on the SERP, giving a quick insight into the content. 
hubspot google search result page, mostly text field showing information about hubspot
  • Meta Description: This summarizes the page’s content and is used as a snippet in search results below the title tag.
hubspot google search result page, mostly text field showing information about hubspot
  • Robots Meta: This tells search engines if and how they should crawl your pages or site. For example, a tag with a content=”noindex” attribute instructs the search engine not to index that page.
  • Meta Viewport: This sets the visible area of a webpage. For example, different devices will need to have different viewport tags.
comparison view of viewport meta tag showing 2 kinds of web page layout
  • Meta Charset: This indicates to the browser how the text on your webpage should be displayed.

Crawling  

Crawling is when a search engine bot visits each page on the website and extracts data. It crawls each page by following links or reading XML sitemaps. 

The crawler will then bring back information like the presence of a no-index tag on a page, server response codes, etc. It can also notice issues like site speed or missing metadata. 

Here are five things you need to take care of to ensure your pages are optimized for crawling:

  • Create an XML sitemap.
  • Optimize your site architecture. The most important pages with the most internal links should be at the top of the hierarchy.
  • Set up a URL structure and be consistent with it.
  • Use breadcrumbs menus and have structured markup language for search bots.

Indexation  

Without indexation, your pages will not be ranked in SERPs. 

Indexation is adding web pages to search engine databases so they can be found and ranked in results pages. 

Here’s what it looks like: 

illustration of how google works, there are six icons, first a spider, then web pages icons, a folder icon, graph icon and last a man sitting with his laptop

This process is how search engines organize information and offer superfast responses whenever a searcher enters their query.  

If your website has any pages irrelevant to any search queries, you can add a no-index tag to these pages. 

Canonical Tags 

Canonical tags provided by search engines help website owners identify and control potential duplicate content. 

So, whenever you use the rel=”canonical” tag, it signals search engines, “Hey, don’t index this page. Instead, index the “XYZ” page because it’s the master version or the page we want ranking.” Wrongly canonicalized pages can stop these pages from completely appearing in any search results and can bring the traffic to 0. 

SaaS businesses often use these tags when they publish the same blog on third-party websites such as Medium to help the original source outrank the third-party website. 

It’s important to regularly check these canonical tags to ensure they are not hindering your SEO strategy. 

Site Maps and Structure 

A site map can be called a blueprint of your SaaS website. It aids search engines to find, crawl, and index your website’s content. It also tells which pages are the most important on your site. 

A sitemap is especially crucial for SaaS companies with many web pages or if your website is new and only has a handful of external links. 

There are four main types of sitemaps: 

  • Normal XML sitemap: This is the most commonly used, and it links to different pages on your website.
  • News sitemap: It helps Google find content on sites approved for Google News.
  • Video sitemap: It helps Google understand video content on your site.
  • Image sitemap: It helps find all the images hosted on your site.

Core Web Vitals 

When deciding which page to rank higher, Google uses Core Web Vitals to measure visual stability, responsiveness, and loading performance.

illustration of core web vitals

The three essential metrics it analyzes are: 

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): It measures the time it takes to load the largest asset on a web page above the fold.
  • First Input Delay (FID): It measures the time it takes for a page to be interactive (e.g., delay before a link becomes clickable).
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): It measures the visual stability of a page and the number of element shifts on a page which can lead a user to click on incorrect links.

Other factors like mobile friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and lack of interstitials are also considered. 

Schema Markup 

Schema markup describes the content of your webpage in an organized manner so more people click on it.  

While there are more than 700 schemas available today, you can start with the following ones to get the best results: 

  • Organization/Local Business: You can add this to your company’s About Us page or Contact Page.
Snippet of Twitter Wiki information
  • Person: It shares the basic information about a person you have mentioned on any web page. You can add this to your team page or on the author’s bio section on the blog.
About info of Jack Patrick Dorsey
  • Product: Add this to your product pages for a detailed featured snippet.
slack logo and dahboard on the upper part and slack information below
  • Article: This popular markup allows search engines to get basic information about the content. For example, the headline, publishing date, etc.
slack news google search results

How to Audit SaaS SEO Technical Factors? 

It’s important to conduct a technical SEO audit to proactively reduce inconsistencies on your website and improve the overall experience. Below are some factors you need to keep an eye on. 

Duplicate Content 

When Google or any search engine finds duplicate content on your website, they become confused about what to do next. Which version should they rank higher? Should they ignore any version?  

3 page icons with labels ABC on the left and 1 page icon on the right with red thumbs down icon

This can negatively impact your SEO efforts and rankings. 

Here’s how you can identify and fix these issues: 

  • Use a tool to crawl your entire website and find duplicate content or similar intent pages.
  • Identify pages using similar titles, meta descriptions, content, or headings.
  • Implement 301 redirects from your non-preferred URL to the preferred page.
  • Use canonical tags to remove any confusion for search engines and point them toward the correct page you want to be ranked.

Page Loading Time 

The ideal loading time for websites should be anything under 2 seconds. A 2-second delay in loading can shoot up the abandonment rate to 87%

It’s also an important factor that Google and other search engines consider when deciding which site to rank higher in SERPs. 

You can use Google Search Console to check your Core Web Vitals and find out the performance across the website and the problems with some pages. 

To fix a slow-loading website, here are four things you can do: 

  • Optimize images and videos to reduce their file size and aid in fast loading.
  • Reduce HTTP requests that can cause additional delays.
  • Minify CSS, Javascript, and HTML.
  • Enable browser caching so the site loads faster when they return to the page.

Incorrect Meta Elements Tags 

There are many mistakes companies make while assigning meta tags to pages. Here are some of them you should be avoiding: 

  • Avoid having duplicate meta tags. This includes titles, descriptions, and other meta elements.
  • Always use a hostname in your URL tags.
  • Avoid having multiple title tags on one page
  • Use the right date/time format for open graph meta tags.

Mobile-friendliness  

With users finding it more convenient to view a website on their smartphones, mobile now accounts for almost 60% of web traffic worldwide. 

Mobile-friendliness is thus a big part of technical SEO as Google bots index the mobile version of your website too. 

illustration of mobile friendly design, there's a mobile phone icon at the center with floating blue circles with percentage/rates inside

Some key aspects to focus on while making your website mobile-friendly: 

  • Develop a responsive layout that can adjust to different screen sizes and resolutions
  • Compress your images and videos so that your site can load faster on mobile
  • Ensure you have an easy navigation for mobile devices as the navigation for desktop would only confuse mobile users.
  • Have a touchscreen-friendly layout where you focus on placing the most important elements in places where the thumb can easily reach them.
  • Avoid too many pop-ups.

Response Codes 

Response codes are three-digit codes that show the communication state between the server and the browser.  

For example, you must have seen the error message with a 404 code while accessing a website. This is what a response code is. 

Taking note of the current response code of your website is important to understand your website’s health. 

Here are some popular codes you need to know: 

  • 404 (Not Found): This is shown when a page no longer exists or cannot be found
  • 403 (Forbidden): This shows that the user cannot access the page. This usually occurs when the browser cannot authenticate the user.
  • 200 (Ok): This indicates that everything is working properly and the page is available
  • 301 (Moved permanently): It informs visitors and search engines that the page is moved to a new location
  • 503 (Service unavailable): It indicates that the page is temporarily unavailable due to some reason

Missing Canonical Tags 

Search engines will have difficulty recognizing which content they should rank higher if you don't use canonical tags for your duplicate content. This could mean that you could have great content on your webpage, but because of missing canonical tags, your rankings will be impacted. 

While Google can pick which version of the URL to rank, it’s better to use a link rel canonical annotation to denote the search engine your preferred URL version. 

Instead of doing this manually, you can rely on tools that have dedicated functionality for identifying canonical issues. 

No Indexation 

No indexation of your pages means they won’t appear on SERPs, and your audience won’t be able to find them. 

The best way is to check the indexation right after you publish your website or add a new page. To do that, go to your Google Search Console dashboard and navigate to the URL inspection section. 

Paste the link; if it isn’t indexed, click “Request indexing.” 

But what if you already have a website and you want to check the pages that have been indexed? 

One way is by using Google’s site: operator function. 

Enter “site:” followed by your domain name. 

zapier google search result

This will get you all the search results from that particular domain. The pages that aren’t displayed here will likely have indexing issues.  

What are the Best Tools for SaaS Technical SEO? 

Technical SEO can be complex and take away much of your time if you don’t invest in the right tools. 

Here are seven such tools that can streamline your technical SEO process. 

Screaming Frog 

screaming frog website home page

Screaming Frog is trusted by many businesses for website crawling and SEO audits.  

The tool's best feature is undoubtedly the crawling feature that crawls your entire website, including images, videos, and other media files. This helps you discover any issues with your site and comprehensively analyzes the site’s structure and content. 

It also gives you insights into your website’s performance regarding load time, response time, dead links and mobile optimization that you can correct and improve. 

Sitebulb  

Sitebulb website home page

Sitebulb is yet another website crawler tool that performs SEO auditing. It offers detailed reports on page speed, content optimization, technical issues, broken links, duplicate content, etc. 

The best part about this tool is that it provides insights in graphical forms that are easy to understand and comprehend. You can even get reports on your website’s performance over time and detailed recommendations on improving your technical SEO. 

You can even prioritize SEO issues to focus on what matters the most. 

Google Search Console 

google search console improve performance page

One of the most widely used tools, Google Search Console, can give you a lot of information to help you strategize your technical SEO and other elements properly. 

It provides data on organic visibility levels, keyword rankings, crawl errors, the monthly search volume of queries, etc. It also analyzes your website’s overall health (including the mobile version) and ensures proper indexation. 

You can even use their other features like schema markup testing tool, fetch & render report, mobile usability test, etc. 

Google Tag Manager 

google tag manager overview dashboard

Google Tag Manager lets you easily update measurement codes and related code fragments (tags) on your website or mobile app. 

All you have to do is embed the tag manager code on your website and start creating and implementing tags from one interface. You can even establish triggers that cause your tag to fire when certain events occur and create variables that simplify and automate your tag configurations. 

Google PageSpeed Insights 

Mobile page speed insights report of sample URL

Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool by Google Analytics that helps businesses improve their website loading speed and overall performance.  

It provides insights into mobile responsiveness, the time taken to load pages and other technical details. It will score your website based on the speed and performance metrics discussed above. 

The best part about the tool is that it offers recommendations on the actions you can take to improve your site’s performance, like reducing image sizes. 

Oncrawl  

oncrawl website home page

Oncrawl provides technical SEO insights that can help you drive increased ROI and traffic to your website. 

It draws on over 700 indicators to understand how search engines view your website. It can analyze over 300 million URLs per crawl and provides 500 charts and 1200 data points to make the most out of the insights you get from this tool. 

You can even access heatmaps that point out the areas where you need to improve. 

Lumar  

Lumar website home page

Lumar is an SEO crawler that also provides architecture analysis that analyzes the structure of your website and discovers any potential technical SEO issues. 

It offers all the important features like monitoring of website performance over time, heatmaps to discover areas of improvement, detailed reports on page speed, crawl issues, HTML optimization, etc. 

It also helps you integrate with third-party tools like Google Data Studio to visualize your data easily. 

Key Takeaways 

Understanding and implementing a technical SEO strategy can take some time, but the return is high. Working on your technical SEO can increase reach, reduce costs of SEO, and ensure your website gets the much-deserved chance of ranking higher in SERPs. 

As a SaaS SEO agency, we have seen closely how technical SEO can help get more traffic and visitors to your site. If you are still confused or need expert help with your SaaS SEO strategy, contact us for our technical optimization services today. 

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