The Importance of SEO for SaaS: The Reasons Why You Need to Invest in a Solid Strategy
Let’s face it, it’s 2022 and the recipe for hitting a home-run in SEO (search engine optimization) is no longer farm-fresh links or overseasoning with keywords. The horror! If you’re a digital marketer, you’ve likely been the voice of reason ensuring that your SaaS SEO strategy is not only to-the-minute in uniqueness and technology but will keep driving wins for the long haul.
Too often, digital marketing overemphasizes tactics and outcomes without tying each action to a timeline and overarching goals. In these cases, even the most outstanding strategies are tabled for quicker wins.
SEO campaigns are akin to planting an orchard, not picking apples–it’s a long-term SaaS marketing strategy that will continue to produce results so long as both parties stay the course.
In this article, we’ll equip you with the tools you need to design a long-term, impactful strategy for your SaaS company and the barometer for success. Let’s dive in.
SEO Scales Exponentially
Search engine optimization is a long game. It takes patience and perseverance. So, how long does it take before one starts seeing results? Usually about three to six months but that’s not an absolute.
Your SaaS SEO strategy should contain calculations that show potential CTR for the best-fit keywords as the site climbs the search results. These CTR calculations will quickly convey the traffic potential (and income from conversions) that the business could achieve if they continue moving forward beyond the first five months of the strategy execution.
After the SEO engine is well-oiled and running, traffic can increase by upwards of 10% every month–and this is compounded on the prior month’s traffic. Let’s say hypothetically that your organic traffic is 3,000 users in March of 2021. Six months after the strategy launches, your traffic is up by upwards of 3,300. By the following September, your traffic could be upwards of 9,400 users per month.
SEO Reduces the Dependence on Paid Marketing
If SEO is planting an orchard, paid marketing is picking apples. Paid marketing can help an organization gain a quick, steady stream of leads and visibility. However, this doesn’t last long after the ads are turned off. That’s not to say that the two cannot be used in conjunction. (They’re actually a fantastic, strategic combination.)
SEO is intended to help an organization gain long-term, sustainable visibility in the SERPs (search engine results page). On a deeper level, every tactic will tie back to conveying the value and purpose that the service set out to offer. For every piece of content, technical SEO tweak, and digital PR effort you need to ask yourself, “Is the internet a better place because of this new or newly visible content?”
When you’re building out new sections of your website to better explain what you do, be sure to have a specific purpose behind each construction project that isn’t solely focused on target keywords. These new pages need to be tied to a specific action you want the user to take as well as consider their place in the buyer’s journey.
SEO for Software Companies is a Long Term Game
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same goes for keyword and domain authority. It’s possible for both new and older websites to rank on the first page for the same topic–what matters is trust and intent.
Once your site has claimed the coveted “above the fold” slots, your work is not done. In fact, your SaaS content marketing strategy is only getting started. Getting recognition from the search engines is the first step. After that your team needs to strategize on maintaining and growing your presence.
The Basics of SaaS SEO
Now that we’ve covered your driving arguments, let’s discuss the key elements of your SaaS SEO strategy.
Never Underestimate Technical Optimization
Technical optimization addresses SEO issues that are less obvious to the eye, but if unaddressed will gradually land you on the second and third page of the SERPs. Technical SEO places emphasis on URL structure, page speed and loading, indexing, structured data, responsive design, and functionality.
Pages need to be easy to navigate for the user but more so search engines. When your site contains jumbled URLs or key pages are hard to find, the purpose is muddied. Make sure that your URL structure clearly outlines the path the user took to arrive. For example, awesomesaascompany.com/solutions/cloudscaling. If your company carries packages for enterprise or SMB it’s better to explain this on a separate page of the site and dedicate another section to features.
Speed and load times are near the top of Google’s ranking factors and with good reason. They’re directly tied to user experience. When someone sees page elements moving around as they scroll, grayed out images, and slow-loading pages, they’re less likely to trust your site. Make sure to check your Page Speed Insights results and follow through on all the recommendations based on your priorities.
Find the Right Keywords, Create the High-Quality Content
The way search engines evaluate websites has evolved–along with that, your SaaS SEO strategy needs to evolve. Keywords are a ranking factor but when crafting your strategy, you need to be conscientious of how you use them. Are you tying each selected keyword to a purpose? Is this purpose educating and delighting your users? If it’s only to outrank others for that keyword, you need to re-think your approach.
Your content needs to operate along the same lines. As we said before, “Is the internet a better place because of this content?” When constructing your content strategy, make sure that each piece of content serves to inform and delight, not just sell.
Show Expertise and Authority in Order to Build Trust
E-A-T, or expertise, authority, and trust measure content quality. Unique, high-quality content gets links, clicks, shares, and high readership. This is especially true if it’s coming from a source with a reputation for being the best in their industry.
Earning trust is not an easy feat. Your content needs to reflect that you have a deep understanding of your potential customers. On a deeper level, it needs to speak to the problems they didn’t know they had or the problems that your competitors aren’t talking about solving.
Don’t Rush Your Link Building
Excellent content gets backlinks-it’s inevitable. Backlinks help your website incrementally grow its EAT in Google’s eyes. However, investing your efforts into hustling high-authority sites for backlinks is not going to be your best-time investment.
As we mentioned before, your SaaS SEO strategy needs to consider what problems your users don’t know they have and the problems their competitors are not actively trying to solve. If you place your efforts on creating content that is unlike everyone else, your link outreach efforts are going to be much more effective.
SaaS Keyword Strategy
If you’re operating on a larger scale, your enterprise SaaS SEO keyword strategy should be broken out into buckets based on your SaaS product’s key features, functions and users. Within these clusters, be conscious of overlap, connections, and how you can keep expanding upon the existing structure in the future.
Understand The Company’s Specific Goals and KPIs
The buckets of keywords that we mentioned above all need to tie back to your overarching goal: What specifically about your company’s SaaS offering is the crowning achievement–what you want to be known and differentiated for in the space.
Now here is where we’ll tell you and will probably say it a few more times: don’t overdo it. Less is more in terms of throwing keywords at your target audience on every single page. Instead, you need to dive deep into how your unique value proposition is connected to all of the core functions of your service using the keywords that humans use in a search engine query.
If you have a SEMrush or ahrefs subscription, you’re in a great place. These tools are your SEO Swiss Army knives, but in this section we’ll talk about how they help you find keywords. Say your SaaS product is designed for engineers but the purchase is signed off by the CTO or CFO. Should your keywords be mostly in engineer-speak? No.
Defining Your ICPs
Your ICPs or Ideal Customer Personas are the people that are going to directly use or benefit from your product. Your product pages, especially your keywords need to be aligned with the problem you solve and even more importantly, it needs to speak their lingo.
It can sound like a lot to tackle but if you break it into actionable steps it will take time, but set your team up for future success.
Build A Keyword Strategy Around Your ICPs Problems and Challenges
First you need to define exactly who is using your product down to the features. Bucketing all of your ICPs into one can make your messaging muddy. Your ICPs need to be broken out by their specific role and department. In doing this, you should also have a deep understanding of their job functions within specific industries. Does a Director of Demand Generation at Wayfair and Whole Foods solve the same problems? Generally, no, but our product might have a feature specific to making a Demand Generation role easier. Make sure you’re very specific about what these things are.
Likely your organization is going to use the product differently across departments. (If they do, these are excellent value positioning points.) Next, you need to outline their specific problems from the following perspectives:
- High-level operations
- Day to day annoyances
- Challenges in the industry or company
The next layer is to explain how your product will solve problems for their role and department.
Creating Better Content Than Your Competitors
Nobody likes a copycat. Search engines especially don’t favor them. In order to stand out in a sea of competitors and truly differentiate yourself, your content needs to be both uniquely valuable, worth revisiting, and shareable.
Map Out New Pages, Blog Content, and Resources
Growing your core pages to speak to your ICPs is mid-funnel gold for your users. Whether your site is new or evolving, the website needs to reflect what is changing. Each new core page needs to serve a purpose in the potential customer’s journey in understanding how your product is a perfect fit for their organization.
New resources are any gated or ungated content pieces that visitors can download for later use. These include case studies, industry reports, or free assessments. When planning your new resources, you need to doubly consider your ICPs and at what point in the funnel they would need these takeaways.
Finally, your blog posts. Your blogs will mainly speak to the top of the funnel so in planning these, you need to consider the language to use when your ICPs are in the rudimentary stages of solving their problems. Don’t get too technical or product-specific. Instead consider what these people might need to know or find valuable at this stage of the buyer’s journey.
Identify SEO Opportunities and Low-Hanging Fruit
If you’re using an SEO tool to help plan your content based on rankability and searchability, you’re already ahead of the game. The key thing to keep in mind is that going after the top of the funnel, high volume, high difficulty keywords is not the best approach. These keywords take significantly more time and effort to rank for. Ideally, you want to do our research to find the right mix of low difficulty and high-volume keywords. This ensures that you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket.
The next thing to be aware of is how you plan to implement your keyword research. If you “over-optimize” or place too many keywords onto one page or the same one across multiple pages Google will see this as muddied. Make sure your pages and resources stay specific.
Why Do Backlinks Matter in SEO?
What is a backlink? Boiled down, it’s a vote of confidence from one website to another. A backlink indicates that the hosting site believes that this is the best possible outside reference to supplement the topic. Search engines, namely Google, detect this “link juice” as a quality signal and will in time rank your highly-linked content higher and higher in the SERPs.
How do you get backlinks? Write content that is better than your competitors. It needs to be user-centric, valuable, and more robust than existing pieces on the same topic. Successfully asking and answering “What’s missing?” will help you achieve organic backlinking success.
Described above is white hat backlinking. Purchasing backlinks and deliberate ancillary site backlinking might work in the very short term but will get your site penalized.
Checking in on Your SEO Goals
How do you measure the success of your SEO for b2b SaaS? Don’t let increased organic traffic be your number one indicator. Higher traffic, while a fantastic indicator of success, does not signal that you’ve attracted high-intent users to the site.
Successful SaaS SEO strategies also encompass conversions. Ultimately, you want your visitors to book a demo or trial with you over the competition. After reaching your goals, it’s not a time to pause. Keep building on what initially made your site successful. Was it a particular set of case studies? Look for ways to expand on them via architectural additions to the page, ungated assets, or pillar pieces.
If you’re looking for more SaaS expertise on SEO strategies (or any other customer-led ideas), be sure to join Society for access to industry experts 24/7!