According to Search Engine Land, 53% of all website traffic is organic traffic. For tech companies, this goes up to close to 60% and for B2B in general, it’s a staggering 64%. SEO for SaaS companies is crucial because it allows you to get a piece of that traffic and convert searchers into customers.
In this article, we’ll first discuss the exact benefits of SaaS SEO before we dive into actionable SaaS-specific SEO strategies you can start working on today.
The Importance Of SEO For SaaS Companies
Raising brand awareness
When you think about ways to let your target audience know you’ve entered the playing field and are ready to solve one of their biggest pain points, SEO might not be the first marketing strategy that comes to mind. It requires careful planning and, oftentimes, some patience before you see results.
But SEO has multiple benefits over “louder” marketing strategies such as posting on social media and doing cold outreach campaigns.
1. It has a lasting, compound effect
A well-optimized blog post can rank and generate organic traffic for years. On top of that, a proper content strategy ensures that individual articles don’t exist in a vacuum but increase each other’s findability and improve the overall domain authority and search engine rankings of your SaaS website.
While SEO isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it kind of top-of-the-funnel marketing strategy (then again, what is), investing in it can yield long-term results, contrary to, for example, paid advertising, which stops working as soon as you stop pouring money into it.
2. It gets you in front of people you didn’t even think of
The beauty of SaaS SEO is that it helps you reach businesses you didn’t even know needed your software as well as companies you failed to reach in other ways. Catching a decision maker’s attention is easier when your article answers a question they’re googling than when your Linkedin connection request gets buried beneath dozens of others.
In fact, organic traffic makes up the largest traffic source for some of the biggest SaaS companies in the US.
3. It’s easy to outsource
Plenty of agencies specialize in doing nothing but SEO for other companies and some of them focus solely on SEO for SaaS companies. Flow SEO is one of them. Through a thorough intake process, we learn about your goals, devise a plan to reach them, and get to work. That way, you can focus on your core activities. Don’t want to worry about SEO? Reach out to learn what we can do for you.
A solid SaaS SEO strategy ensures that your SaaS company not only ranks on Google for the keywords your target customers are looking for but also gets them to click through to your website.
Creating brand authority
Once they’re on your website, it’s key to demonstrate your expertise and offer value. SaaS SEO can help with this in that it tells you what the most prevalent problems are your target audience is facing. Through keyword research, you’ll learn which questions come up most, what type of information they’re looking for, as well as the exact language they use to talk (and thus also want to read in) about these things.
On top of that, SEO allows you to discover which of your competitors Google thinks are best at answering your customers’ questions right now so you can study their content and create something even better.
Aside from answering your customers’ questions, you can also create brand authority by publishing and optimizing thought leadership content such as original studies or opinion pieces that go against the mainstream. A good example of a thought leadership piece is this study by Gmelius.
Before you invest resources in a study, make sure it’s relevant to your offer. Gmelius’ study addresses digital collaboration in 2021 which is a great fit as they’re a collaboration platform for teams using Gmail/Gsuite.
The same applies when you decide to publish an opinion piece. You want to make sure that it’s relevant to the industry you operate in.
Bringing in qualified leads
For your SaaS company to generate new leads, you need to
- make sure your target customers know you exist,
- convince them you understand their problems by addressing them in their language,
- and show them you have a trustworthy solution.
That is exactly what SaaS SEO helps you do. It creates demand for your brand by putting it in front of people and showing you which words to use to get your content clicked and read through keyword research.
Even more so, by targeting specific keywords and purposely leaving others aside, you can avoid the trap of growing organic traffic for the sake of growing traffic and focus your efforts on attracting the right kind of leads.
A few months ago, I was looking for a tool that would easily let me map out site structures but also organization charts as well as mind maps. A quick Google taught me that I needed a flowchart maker and one search later, there they were. Out of all the search results on page one, Zen Flowchart seemed to be the best fit for what I was looking for and so I signed up for their free trial. Not long after that, I’d reached the limits of their free plan and became a paying customer.
That’s the power of SEO. I had a problem, I knew what I needed to solve it, and because Zen Flowchart ranks on the first page for keywords such as “simple flowchart maker”, I found them and signed up with them. They led me from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel in just a few weeks.
Increasing user experience
As a SaaS business, you know how important user experience is. It doesn’t matter how innovative or clean your software is under the hood, if your customers can’t find their way around the dashboard, they’ll get frustrated.
The same thing happens when they’ve excitedly clicked one of your articles in Google only to find that it takes ages for the page to load. Or when they want to check your pricing packages on their phone in between meetings but the layout appears all scrambled up.
Site speed and mobile-friendliness are just a few of the technical SEO metrics you should monitor not just to please Google, but your audience too.
Creating A SaaS SEO Strategy: Things To Consider
Doing it yourself vs hiring an SEO agency
We already mentioned how easy it is to outsource both your SEO strategy and execution and while we may be biased, we truly feel doing so is the best choice for 90% of SaaS companies.
When you hire an SEO agency, you
- benefit from years of experience within your industry. There’s no need to train anyone.
- get an outside perspective fueled by insights of what worked and didn’t work for other SaaS companies.
- know your SEO is being monitored and improved upon regardless of the other priorities your core team has.
As you’re growing your SaaS business, you want to build a team that specializes in and can support your core activities so that when you experience sudden growth, the chances of something breaking are minimal. Unless you’re selling SEO software as a service, that team likely won’t consist of SEO experts.
At Flow SEO, we specialize in SaaS SEO. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you too.
Quick wins vs long-term goals
SEO is often said to be a game of patience as sites need to build up authority to be able to rank content better and faster, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get any quick wins. In that sense, SEO can play a role in reaching both your short-term and long-term marketing goals.
Targeting low-volume, low-competition keywords can get you some page one rankings fast, building your site trust to later rank for more competitive high-level and high-volume keywords.
At the same time, top-of-the-funnel educational content can act to draw in cold prospects while bottom-of-the-funnel content that targets transactional keywords will help you turn warmed-up leads into sales.
The exact focus of your SEO strategy will depend on your SaaS’ goals and the site authority it has already built.
Ranking sales pages vs blog content
As a SaaS, you want your sales pages to rank for your main target keywords but whether that’s possible depends partially on the pages that are already ranking for those target keywords on page one of Google, and those might not be sales pages.
One of our clients is a SaaS that improves inter-organizational communications. They have a sales page that’s all about interpersonal communications.
When they came to us, they wanted to rank this page for terms related to “interpersonal communications” yet keyword research taught us that the pages ranking for those and similar keywords were informational and educational articles. It was clear we wouldn’t get their sales page to rank for those terms, so we took a different approach.
We created an educational blog article on how to improve your interpersonal communication skills and managed to rank it on the first page for no less than 37 keywords, and in the first spot for 8 of those.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are several ways SEO can lead buy-ready users to your sales pages. Ranking them directly is just one of them. If it’s clear that won’t work, create content that matches the type of content already ranking for your sales page topic and use that content as a stepping stone to guide leads to your actual sales page.
SaaS-Specific SEO tactics
SaaS websites form a category of their own. They don’t have hundreds of product pages like an ecommerce site does, nor do they consist of purely informational and buyer content like an affiliate site would. Because they have their own specific structure, they also have their own set of SEO strategies to follow.
Create a solid site structure
That structure forms the basis of a solid SaaS SEO strategy. Get it right, and you’ll be miles ahead of competitors who are putting up content without having a solid plan.
So what should a SaaS site structure look like?
Something like this:
If this looks a little overwhelming, fear not. We’ll break it down for you.
In general, there are three layers to all the information on your SaaS website:
- your core layer
- your SEO silos
- your SEO-optimized content
Your core layer consists of all the pages someone can see who goes directly to your website. They are your homepage and, from the navigation on your homepage, your
- feature pages
- about page
- contact page
- case studies
Your SEO silos consist of clusters of similar content. As a SaaS, you’ll typically have silos for
- tutorials for your SaaS
- resources about your SaaS
- articles that review your SaaS and compare it with competitors
- blog content about the same topic
While these silos can be visually represented on your site through your navigation or hub pages, they don’t need to be. What matters most is that you create them through strong internal link building. That means all your tutorials will link to other tutorials, all of your blog posts about email productivity, for example, will link to other posts about email productivity, and so on.
Lastly, your SEO-optimized content consists of the individual tutorials, comparison posts, and other blog posts within each of these silos.
Having a tight site structure filled with highly relevant content allows you to outrank older, higher authority sites. Want to learn more about this? Read this article.
Rank your knowledge base
The tutorials and resources we mentioned above form the knowledge base for your SaaS. A publicly available and indexed knowledge base has several benefits:
- prospects can see how your SaaS product works before signing up, which means fewer questions for your sales team.
- existing customers can easily find the information they’re looking for, which means fewer questions for your customer support team.
- you can rank individual knowledge base articles for branded terms such as “Brand Name how to install” or “embed images Brand Name”, making it easier for existing customers to use your SaaS product.
Create smart blog categories
All of the other content that is not part of your website core, nor of your knowledge base, will typically live on your SaaS blog. To let both Google and readers know what your blog content is about, it’s important to use clear blog categories.
Continu is a SaaS that offers B2B learning software and they do this very well.
One look at their blog categories and we know their content covers three main topics: sales training, onboarding, and learning. When landing on the blog page, we see their latest articles first by default, and then we can also choose to read some company updates.
This last category is an important one for SaaS companies as you’ll want to keep your users informed about the new features you’re adding as well as any other evolutions that might affect them.
On top of that, company updates are a great way to give your SaaS a human touch. It’s where you can feature team members and give users a little behind-the-scenes.
Target competitor keywords
While most companies want to stay away from doing anything that might make competing brands show up in Google, that’s not a route you can take as a SaaS. Here’s why:
Say you’ve created an image editing tool specifically for ecommerce businesses. People who are already looking for this might be doing so using search terms such as “Canva alternative” or “Canva for ecommerce”. And you know what? If someone’s looking for it, someone else is going to want to rank for it.
Especially keywords such as “Brand alternatives” or “Brand X vs Brand Y” are popular target keywords with affiliate marketers and the chance that nobody will create an article comparing you to your competitor, or listing your SaaS in a list of alternatives, is non-existent. So you make sure you create those articles yourself and outrank both your competitors and those affiliate marketers.
Not convinced? There’s another reason you should go after competitor keywords like the ones mentioned above. People who are searching these terms are people who are ready to buy. They’re not happy with the options they already know of and they’re looking for an alternative. If you can get found the moment they need a solution to their problem, your chances of closing that sale or significantly higher.
See new features as new possibilities to rank
Most SaaS are constantly evolving. Either you’re improving existing features or adding new ones. Each of those updates opens the door to addressing new pain points and thus creating new content around those pain points.
Just like you can prioritize certain new features over others based on what you know people are searching for, you can also use new features to expand on your keyword research and reach prospects who may not have been interested in the earlier version of your product but are now that you’ve added functionality.
SEO for SaaS: A Full-Funnel Marketing Tool
From raising awareness about your SaaS by getting it on page one to converting qualified leads through problem-solving content, SEO is a full-funnel marketing tool you can’t ignore. Start with the tips in this article to create a solid outline of your SEO strategy or reach out to us if you’d rather have your SEO done by a team that has been ranking SaaS businesses for several years.