You’ve got a killer SaaS product, a beautifully designed website complete with informative and noteworthy content, so why is your website traffic stagnant?
With weekly frustrations around endless algorithm changes, sudden drops or fluctuations in ranking status (how did it go from page 1 to page 5?) plus the need to keep up with competitors. SEO can feel like a mysterious form of marketing wizardry.
Today, we’ll be sharing the tools and strategy to drive more traffic to your website and turn you into a SaaS SEO expert.
Why does SEO matter for SaaS companies?
There are a few key factors that make SEO a much needed channel for the SaaS industry. It is by no surprise a very competitive market, a space where the vast majority of buyers are searching online to find a solution. On top of the fact that SaaS products tend to have a lot of features that need further explanation, and a general need to be found.
It’s all about increasing your platform’s visibility to customers when they conduct a search for any of the below:
Your brand and product - the user knows your company or app and would like to find out more about you.
Finding a solution to a problem that your product solves - the user has a specific problem (e.g. the need for a project management tool) that your product solves. You want to rank at the top of their search.
Ready to make a switch from one product to another software (your product) - the user is doing competitive research pricing, promotions or deals.
Consume content related to your software - the user isn’t looking for a product at the moment, but is researching for the future.
You will find there are nuances between SaaS SEO and other industries, but it’s also important to remember that the core ranking factors of Google (or your preferred search engine) remain the same no matter the industry.
SaaS SEO in a PLG model
A recent report from Gainsight revealed that product-led growth is the go-to-market strategy for SaaS companies to drive product adoption and expansion. In a product-led growth strategy, the product itself is the main vehicle for growth and retention with a bigger skew towards leads, and customers embracing a self-education mindset. If your SaaS has a PLG function, it’s integral to have a SEO plan that compliments it.
Typically speaking most SaaS products need a bit more explanation, compared to selling in a retail ecommerce environment, especially when the product itself is expected to do the selling. Ensure your top of funnel efforts, including SEO, are focused on educating your audience about your SaaS product, not to mention the need to highlight the products numerous features and benefits.
With a PLG product you want to do as much organic selling as possible, and you want to educate users, customers, leads on your product right from the get go. Help your audience see the value of your product sooner by creating content truly focussing on the user, and not just using recommendations from a keyword research tool. This will ensure you are gaining quality traffic to your site.
If you’re a SaaS startup, or using a PLG strategy it's likely you will have a smaller sales team if not one at all. If this is the case then your growth is very dependent on performance marketing and having a strong organic presence. A strong SaaS SEO strategy can really support your performance marketing and help drive the latter.
Why do you need to invest in a SaaS SEO strategy?
Before we start, when we say invest in a SaaS SEO strategy we don’t simply mean just a dollar value. Invest in time, and resources and yes, there may be a splash of money to be spent as well. But we assure you it will be well worth it.
Ortto’s very own Head of SEO, Javier Dominguez shared that, “SEO is a long term investment, it has compounding effects over time. I see many startups implement SEO strategies then when they don’t see immediate results they quit. They waste so much time and money, where if they stick to it the rewards will be more than worth it.”
Here are a few core reasons why SaaS SEO is important to the sustainability for your company:
Help scale growth exponentially
A strong SaaS SEO strategy (predominantly content-led) will lead to a compounding effect and you can expect to see a constant month-to-month growth path.
Bear in mind the cost-per-acquisition can start off high, however once growth compounds the effect on the CAC happens quite quickly.
Collaborative with other channels
For SEO to really shine, there does need to be a range of evergreen content creation. This content can then be re-distributed across multiple channels - social, email, paid.
Improve customer relationships
SEO means you are constantly optimizing your website’s content to rank. By doing this you are also auditing your customers' experience, where you can constantly refine your website’s content.
These are just some of the benefits experienced by companies that have implemented a SaaS SEO strategy, Dominguez also adds, “depending on the SaaS SEO strategy you have in place, you should start seeing results between 6-12 months.”
Building the ultimate game-changing SaaS SEO strategy to drive results
There are three core SaaS SEO goals - generate more organic leads, drive more traffic and improve keyword rankings. While these may not seem too different from your typical SEO goals the way in which you achieve them can differ slightly.
By investing your resources and efforts into building a tailored SaaS SEO strategy, you will be able to experience this ultimate game-changer for your company and truly drive results.
Let’s start with the building blocks of this strategy with the following seven step process.
This step is not exclusively for SaaS SEO. It’s an important step with any marketing channel campaigns, SEO or otherwise.
Take time to really understand what you want to achieve and if it is attainable. This starting point ensures you’re not working blindly and gives you visibility on the success of your growth.
Following the S.M.A.R.T goal making process, a common SEO goal for SaaS companies could look like - increase website traffic by 20% in 3 months. Then a secondary goal could be around bringing high-quality traffic to your site, for example, qualified leads will increase by 5% by the end of the third quarter.
Define customer persona
Your SaaS buyer personas help bring your audience segment to life so you know exactly who you are selling to. Creating a robust and impactful buyer persona is indicative of having access to compex, rich data from demographic, behavioral, and firmographic customer data, to customer surveys and market research.
The more information you can gain from your target audience the more you are able to understand them and what they’re likely to search (more on that later). Gain these insights by using a CDP like Ortto, where all your data sources are funneled into a central point providing you with a single view of your customers. Here’s a step-by-step guide into creating SaaS buyer personas.
Keep an eye on what your direct and indirect competitors are doing. Monitoring their search activity will give you a starting point for your own search strategy. While you’ll never get exact figures, you will get valuable insights into the market and new content opportunities.
We will touch on SEO tools later on in the article, however by utilizing a digital tool like SEMrush, you will be able to estimate your competitors’ search performance. This will give you an idea of how much traffic your competitors are generating on particular keywords, as well as that traffic’s financial value.
Develop a keyword strategy
This is where you really hone in on problems you SaaS personas face, common questions that are asked, the features your platform provides and any related industry topics that share an audience.
Don’t be overwhelmed when this list starts to grow and grow - it will be a work in progress to build out all these content pieces. Just make sure you are prioritizing the keywords that are important to your business, and set you apart from competitors.
Once you have your list then it’s time to identify what keywords are being searched for the most, along with the difficulty to rank for them. You want to find the keywords with a high to medium search volume, and medium to low difficulty. The more specific and long-tail your keywords are, the more likely search volume will decrease along with difficulty. When looking at a keyword, most SEO tools will also provide recommendations for related words that you could create content around or use in your headings or body copy.
There will be plenty of business critical keywords that may seem unattainable to rank for. It's still worth creating content for these if they are aligned with your personas and help you educate leads on your unique selling point. This is where knowing your audience is vital so you can then target keywords that align with their pain points.
Map keywords to the SaaS customer journey
This step helps you gain a better idea of how and where your content fits together. Do you have enough content for each stage of the customer journey? Is the type of content best suited?
Take your long list of keywords and map each keyword into awareness, consideration or decision.
Let’s break down the type of content featured in each stage:
Awareness stage (top of funnel) - Your potential customers are learning about your brand and the specific problems that you solve. Search terms should be question based, focus on broad topics and definitions. For example:
What is a customer data platform?
Data storage plus marketing automation
Consideration stage (middle of funnel) - The customer has identified their problem and is looking for a solution. Search terms should be focussing on USP’s and problem plus solution words. For example:
Benefits of CDP
Case studies CDP
Decision stage (bottom of funnel) - Potential customers are usually ready to convert or may need the final push to convert. Search terms should focus on competitor comparison pages and words with buying intent. For example:
Best CDP for B2B
Reviews of best CDP
Ortto vs other CDP companies
Develop a comparison keyword strategy
Don’t be naive in thinking that you’re the only platform a customer is researching. Chances are there will be at least two or three options on the table as your prospect gets closer to the bottom of the sales funnel.
Having comparison queries as part of your keyword strategy will be very beneficial and help you control the narrative when you are in the final two. Even if they have a low search volume, dedicate time into building these out as these lower funnel searches are more likely to convert.
By embracing this ‘us versus them’ keyword strategy, you open up a gateway to list all your USP’s and benefits, and compare yourself to all direct competitors. Hopefully, you can get in there first before your competitor, but if not, just ensure your page is better.
“It’s about finding the perfect balance between creating good content and optimizing it seamlessly,” adds Dominguez. “The content team and myself work very closely together, and this has been part of the success in outranking some of our bigger competitors.”
In terms of creating great content, or content better than your competitors there are a few things to think about:
Is this content serving value, purpose or answering a pain point?
Quality, original content is preferred using easy to read language.
The type of content - video, images, copy - your customers will all learn differently so it’s best practice to cater for everyone.
How is this piece of content different from your competitors?
Top 4 tools for SEO SaaS
Now the basics have been covered, here are our top five SaaS SEO tools that will help you in building a powerful SaaS SEO strategy, track the progress made and boost website traffic.
SEMRush is a crowd favorite when it comes to SEO. This all in one digital marketing platform helps companies manage SEO, pay-per-click, social media and content marketing campaigns. We’ve mentioned it previously for its most well known functions of keyword research and competitor analysis, but SEMRUsh can also provide traffic analysis, back-links, and domain analysis.
This SEO tool is an industry leading website crawler, meaning it will help you in improving your onsite SEO, by extracting data and performing audits on common SEO issues. This amazing software can analyze results in real time, helping you make better informed SEO decisions.
Free to use by Google, this SEO tool will provide you with insight around your site’s search traffic and performance. It will highlight issues that need to be fixed plus boasts that it will “make your site shine in Google Search results.”
Botify is a very powerful SEO tool, but not necessarily needed by all companies as it is an enterprise-level solution. That being said, the functionality and tech behind it is beyond impressive. Botify will help you find missed opportunities, prioritize and manage these to drive profit and achieve sustainable business outcomes faster.
What to look for in a SaaS SEO content creator
A dedicated copywriter might seem like a luxury when building your SaaS marketing team but the following attributes will also work for your content marketer or t-shaped marketers.
Good SEO knowledge - while this skill can be taught, it does make life easier when the copywriter has a strong understanding of SEO best practices.
Meets deadlines - life in the SaaS world is fast paced, having someone who works fast, produces strong work consistently plus hits the deadlines will be the unstoppable combination.
Has a background in SaaS - this one is added at the end, purely because it would be beneficial but certainly not critical. If your SaaS copywriter has a strong knowledge of the SaaS industry it will be a great head start. We all know there are a LOT of acronyms to learn.
The final word
Most successful SaaS business models will have a strong search engine presence. Dedicate time and effort into understanding SaaS SEO and building a solid strategy. As mentioned, your results will not occur overnight however with a robust strategy and a constant feed of original informative content you will experience its compound growth effect in no time.
Give your website and platform the attention it deserves and develop your SaaS SEO strategy today.