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SaaS SEO Strategy that Drives Results

Natalia PiskorovskaJul 08, 2024
SaaS SEO Strategy that Drives Results
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Search engine optimization is an important part of any SaaS marketing strategy. Even though its results aren’t instant, SEO can bring long-term results and serve as the first touchpoint with a SaaS company and as a way to nurture leads.

The details of SaaS SEO can differ from one company to another and even from one specialist to another. However, the strategic view of SEO is pretty consistent for many SaaS companies.

In this article, you’ll learn about the peculiarities of SEO for SaaS companies, and learn the six best tips to create one.

Importance of SaaS SEO

SEO or search engine optimization is a set of practices that aim to optimize a website to fit the guidelines of search engines (most notably Google) and receive more organic search traffic. SEO is a complex process that involves a lot of on-page and off-page jobs, and it only pays off in several months as the results of your optimization efforts aren’t as instant as with other forms of marketing.

Even with this drawback, investing in SEO for your SaaS company is worth it. On average, 53% of trackable website traffic is organic search traffic. So, not having an SEO strategy means passing up more than half of the traffic potential.

A pie chart showing the share of organic SEO traffic in an average website

SEO also has one of the highest conversion rates in the SaaS industry. According to this 2021 study, organic search has an average conversion rate of 3.4% for SaaS companies. That’s one of the highest conversion rates among all industries.

A graph showing the average conversion rate from organic search sorted by industry

The same study shows that organic search has the highest conversion rate for B2B tech among all traffic sources studied.

To achieve these for your business, you’ll have to work on four key areas of SEO: keyword research, content creation, on-page optimization, and off-page optimization or link building. The best practices for these processes are pretty standard across all industries, but the SaaS industry does have a set of unique challenges.

The key driver of any effective SaaS SEO strategy is that it requires a lot of valuable educational content for a very specific niche audience. Most SaaS tools offer a solution to a specific business problem, and the best way to draw in more organic traffic is to have your educational content positioned high in SERP for the relevant keywords that resonate with your ideal customer.

Most SaaS companies have sales and marketing funnels that are more complicated than e-commerce sales, with customers going through a lot of research and education before making the decision to buy. This means SaaS SEO and sales work together, mostly through the media of content marketing.

Lastly, the sheer number of SaaS companies that work on their SEO means the SERP is highly competitive for many informational keywords, and your team will be constantly working towards making the content more informative and optimized.

How to Create a SaaS SEO Strategy that Drives Results?

To create a robust SaaS SEO strategy, you need to focus on four main areas of search optimization:

  • Keyword research
  • Content creation
  • On-page optimization
  • Off-page optimization

This guide will go through each of these key areas, breaking down on-page optimization into basic techniques available to most SEOs without specialist training and technical optimization. You will also receive a few best practices on tracking and analyzing SEO performance.

Keyword Research for SaaS

The first step towards building an SEO strategy for SaaS is finding the right keywords to focus on. Understanding what keywords your ideal customers would type into the Google search bar allows you to strategically position your SaaS website in places where potential leads can discover it.

Even though the bulk of SEO SaaS strategy has a focus on creating educational content for informational keywords, you should cover all four types in your keyword strategy.

  • Navigational keywords. Used to search a specific website or page. Typically, they are the names of a SaaS brand or a branded SaaS product.
  • Transactional keywords. Used to make a purchase. Include the name of the service or product and words like “trial,” “pricing,” and “subscribe.”
  • Commercial keywords. Used to find commercial information prior to purchase. Include the name of the service or product and words like “best,” “alternatives,” and “reviews.”
  • Informational keywords. Used to find information related to problems your company solves. Typically, they are long and very specific.

One key difference between general SEO and SEO for SaaS companies is that the sales cycle is quite long, and few B2B buyers make impulsive purchases. This means the line between transactional and commercial keywords is somewhat blurred.

People who look for general keywords like “email marketing software” are likely to search with commercial, not transactional intent. That’s different from B2C where a search for “black shoes” indicates the user is likely to make a purchase, not looking for reviews or other information.

To do keyword research for any of these keywords, you have to go through three stages: 

  • Keyword ideation
  • Finding similar keywords and judging their metrics
  • Keyword clustering

The first step requires you to brainstorm for core keywords and general keyword ideas. Typically, these are going to be your brand name, variations of product or service names, and popular questions that users might have about your industry. For instance, for an email marketing software company, those core keywords would be:

  • Email marketing software
  • Email marketing tools
  • Email tracking platform

With these core keywords, you can start expanding the list by finding similar keywords. Use free tools like Google Keyword Planner or paid SEO tools to find more keywords that revolve around your set of core keywords.

An important limitation of simply running your keyword list through tools like these is that it sometimes results in a list of keywords similar by name, not by context. These are great for all types of keywords apart from informational.

To find more informational keyword ideas, you can either do another brainstorm for different topics you could cover or look up what keywords your competitors rank for. The latter will give you a quicker start as you can view multiple adjacent keywords that don’t directly come from your core keywords.

For this imaginary email marketing tool, these keywords could be “email CRO,” “scaling email marketing,” or others that focus on the pains and needs of your ideal potential customers.

At this stage, you can also access keyword metrics like search volume and keyword difficulty. Based on these, you can prioritize your SEO efforts.

The last thing you should do is group the keywords together. A single page may fit multiple keywords, and it’s best to optimize it for several keywords and receive more traffic to a single page than to create separate pages optimized for similar concepts like “email marketing software” and “email marketing tools.”

To do this, you can use SE Ranking’s keyword clustering tool. This tool can take the huge list of keywords that you’ve compiled during research and group it into semantic clusters. This leaves you with a set of keyword groups that can be assigned to a single page each.

You can also access metrics that assess the potential of these keyword groups so you can build a content strategy that matches your sales funnel.

Typically, you’ll have hundreds of keyword clusters, and you’ll have to prioritize. The best way to go about it is to optimize your homepage and product pages first and then start producing content for commercial and informational keywords.

Prioritize keywords that have a low keyword difficulty and high search volume. These will be easier to rank for and will provide the most benefit for your efforts by driving more traffic.

On-page optimization

There are multiple things you could do on your website to improve its optimization. For the purposes of this article, we’ll break them down into two larger categories: on-page optimization, which can be done without specialized skills, and technical optimization, which requires more than access to the site’s admin panel.

On-page optimization includes optimizing key areas of your website’s pages for the right keywords and optimizing images for performance. Here are the most important areas to optimize with keywords:

  • Meta title
  • Meta description
  • URLs
  • Image names
  • Image alt tags
  • Headings & subheadings
  • Content of the page

The first five of these should contain the core keywords of the keyword cluster assigned to the page that you’re optimizing. Headings and subheadings should include secondary supporting keywords. The rest of the keywords should be added to the contents of the page without spamming them.

When you’re writing meta description tags, focus on the main keyword only. The thing is, Google can change it in many cases. When your page appears for any of the supporting keywords, Google will take a snippet of the text on the page that answers the search query the most.

For instance, here’s a page with the meta description tag

Here are two occasions where Google decided to change the snippet to a part of the text from this page.

Apart from adding keywords to key parts of your website, you have to optimize images for search. This mostly means compressing them or putting them in .webp format. Compressing the images without losing too much quality ensures faster loading time, which is a ranking factor.

SaaS Content Creation

As most of the traffic your website will receive is going to be informational, a huge part of SEO for SaaS companies is producing content.

The three main things that matter in SEO content are keyword optimization, quality of writing, and matching search intent.

Depending on the type of keyword, you will need different types of content. Here are the most popular and useful forms of SEO content.

  • Explainer articles for basic industry terms
  • Ultimate guides
  • Reviews and comparisons with other brands
  • How-to’s on topics related to the industry
  • Thought leadership content
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Original research
  • Webinars

These content types should be matched to the stage of the marketing funnel and the ideal customer pain points at that stage.

Different stages of the sales and marketing funnels compared to each other

General informational articles fit the top of the funnel most, while comparisons, webinars, and case studies are likely to draw people to the middle and bottom of the funnel.

An important part of an SEO SaaS strategy is building topical authority with SaaS content. Topical authority simply means covering all or most themes around a single topic, for instance, writing a few dozen articles explaining the whole email marketing cycle.

Having all of the major themes in a topic covered signals to Google that your company has authority in that particular topic, and articles related to it might start ranking higher.

Finally, since your final goal with SaaS SEO campaigns is increasing sales, you should incorporate sales with SEO content. You can do it by linking to your products from the text or using website elements like these.

example of incorporating sales elements into your content

When incorporating sales messages into SEO content, focus on making them relevant to the content and providing a clear CTA.

Off-Page SEO for SaaS Websites

This comprehensive guide has covered the three key areas of an SEO campaign — on-page optimization, keyword research, and content creation. The last key area that makes it all work is off-page SEO or link building.

Links to your site act as voices of confidence in you, and the more authority a website that links to you has, the higher Google will perceive your website. Despite Google claiming that backlinks aren’t the main ranking factor anymore, it seems they are crucial to any successful SaaS SEO strategy as the top result in most search results usually has a larger number of backlinks than the other positions.

So, your goal with SaaS off-page SEO is procuring backlinks from authoritative websites. There are several techniques for doing this. 

  • Guest blogging. Finding websites that accept contributing authors and creating authoritative content for them.
  • Link insertions. Find pages that review the best software in your niche and having your company added to the list.
  • Resource pages. Creating pages that can be used as a resource, i.e., roundup posts with statistics, expert advice, or ultimate guides.
  • Podcasts and webinars. Appearing on podcasts as a guest or running your own podcasts to get backlinks.
  • News media links. Using platforms like HARO to get quoted by news sites as an expert.
  • Broken link building. Finding 404 pages of your competitors, reaching out to sites liking to them, and providing a link to your page that can replace it.
  • Widget link building. Creating a tool that can be embedded into other websites with a link to your site.
  • Linkable assets. Creating assets worth linking to, like white papers or ebooks.

For outreach marketing techniques like guest blogging and broken link building, you’ll need to find many websites you can reach out to. The easiest way of doing that is by looking at the sites that link to your competitors. You can find hundreds of websites by running a few high-ranking competitor sites through an SEO tool.

For the link-building strategies that require creating content that earns links, you need to consider a content distribution strategy. Most notably, you can either use that list of websites you’ve found for guest posting to send them interesting content, share it on LinkedIn, or even consider running a small paid ads campaign to get it in front of website editors.

SaaS Technical Optimization

The technical optimization of SaaS websites isn’t that different from general technical optimization tips. If anything, it’s even less complex than optimizing large ecommerce sites, as you don’t have to struggle to avoid duplicate content across thousands of product listings.

The easier, run-of-the-mill tasks in technical SEO are making sure your SSL certificate is valid, all pages can be crawled by Google’s bots, and the site is optimized for mobile. Apart from that, the main technical optimization tasks revolve around creating schema markup and upholding Core Web Vitals.

Core Web Vitals are Google’s standards for the web that act as minor ranking factors and can influence user experience. They include factors that contribute to how fast your website takes to load the largest asset and allow users to interact with the site and how visually stable it is.

The first two elements of CWV can be checked with a website audit tool. These tools typically provide a list of suggestions for improving website loading speed, like resolving Javascript loading errors. You can check the visual stability of the pages by going through your site manually. Fixing them typically requires figuring out issues with the website coding to avoid shifting elements.

Schema markup is a JSON file that provides details about your website and makes it easier for Google to understand what it’s about. It can also be used to display additional elements in SERP.

Navigation bar shown in SERP

You can use Google Structured Data Markup Helper to create these files, write them manually in a coding tool, or use AI tools like ChatGPT to create code snippets.

Develop KPIs, Adjust Your Strategy, and Don’t Expect Quick Results

The last tip for creating a solid SaaS SEO strategy is to keep analyzing your efforts and adjusting them accordingly. One thing you should keep in mind when analyzing SaaS SEO efforts is that you don’t see immediate results.

Google typically takes some time to register new changes on the website and adjust your ranking, and that period of time isn’t the same every time. You can assume that your optimization efforts will translate into changes in ranking within 4-8 weeks.

The main performance metrics you want to track for SEO are:

  • Organic search traffic volume
  • Search visibility
  • Keyword rankings 
  • Number of referring domains
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Ratio of new vs. existing visitors

Keep monitoring these consistently, and make necessary changes if you see any of these remain stagnant. If you see a sudden drop in keyword rankings or traffic volume, check for shady links being added to your site or competitor pages entering SERP.

Apart from monitoring your successes, you have to remain informed on the state of search. Read up on Google updates monthly to make sure you’re still sticking to best practices of search engine optimization and familiarize yourself with new SEO studies and novel techniques.

Summary

SEO is one of the most effective marketing strategies for SaaS businesses. With this guide, you’ve learned how to form an effective SEO strategy of your own across all key areas of search engine optimization.

When you’ve formed your strategy, prioritize actions that will produce results fast, track the changes, and help your strategy evolve.

Once you have established the major workflows, you can start integrating SEO with other areas of your business, like social media marketing, sales, and product marketing. A good growth strategy has to be holistic to keep your company ahead of the competition.

Natalia Piskorovska

Natalia Piskorovska

Natalia is an Outreach Specialist at SE Ranking, where she specializes in content promotion. She ensures that every piece SE Ranking creates reaches the right audience. Outside of work, she loves sharing insights and tips over a cup of coffee with fellow enthusiasts.

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