Ensure your SaaS SEO strategy is on par for long-term success with these expert tips and insights.
Here you’ll find:
- What defines SaaS SEO
- The importance of SEO for SaaS companies
- Proven SaaS SEO strategies for success
- Common SaaS SEO mistakes to avoid
Most people are familiar with companies like Google, Slack, Shopify, Zoom, and Square.
That means they’re familiar with the software-as-a-service industry, or SaaS.
Knowing the growth rate for SaaS brands has continued to improve over the last few years, it’s easy to see why these companies have become (and remain) one of the fastest-growing business models.
Goals and strategies often evolve quickly in the SaaS world, due in large part to how quickly technology changes. (Chatbots, am I right?)
That’s why having a strong SEO strategy as part of your digital marketing plan is essential to stand out from the competition.
What is SaaS SEO?
SaaS SEO is a digital marketing method that aims to increase your organic website traffic by securing top spots on Google. It helps your brand target a list of relevant keywords people might use when searching for something that matches or is similar to what you offer.
With SaaS being the competitive space that it is, an effective SEO strategy is imperative if you want to stand out.
Of course, SEO is important for all businesses with an online presence. It helps your website and content have the best chance of ranking in a potential consumer’s organic search results. It’s also a cost-effective way to position your brand as a thought leader and grow your reach.
PPC, social ads, and affiliate marketing are often used by SaaS companies to grow their customer base rapidly, but it can sometimes result in higher acquisition costs.
This is due to more competitors entering the market and targeting the same audience as your brand. A strong SaaS SEO strategy is a proven way to drive consistent traffic, which results in organic growth and lower cost-per-acquisitions (CPAs).
The importance of SEO for SaaS companies
SaaS market revenue is projected to reach more than $253 billion in 2023. With so many players vying for leads and attention across a variety of markets, it’s more important than ever to be sure that your SEO is where it needs to be.
More than just helping your organic rankings, here are some other ways a strong SEO strategy can help you.
- Scale your growth: When you focus on evergreen content creation, you can reap exponential growth that will benefit your brand for years to come.
- Reduce CPA: With paid media, such as all types of advertising or sponsorships, your CPA usually increases over time as most likely to convert audiences are exhausted. While SEO requires ongoing investment, the costs rarely increase with each click. This results in reduced CPA over time.
- Bring customers from other marketing channels: The SaaS content created for SEO campaign purposes can also be used as part of other marketing strategies such as social media and email. Work smarter, not harder, by repurposing this content for a multi-channel approach that helps drive and convert consumers.
7 Proven SaaS SEO strategies for success
1. Leverage knowledge centers
Along with a consistent (whatever that means for your team’s bandwidth) blog schedule, it’s wise to consider having a knowledge center on your website. Similar to blogs, these centers often feature granular, in-depth content about your SaaS platform’s functions and features.
It’s a great place for tutorials, how-to videos, and screenshot-heavy walkthrough posts.
2. Make sure your SEO plan is thorough
This probably isn’t news to you, but a search engine optimization strategy that covers all the bases includes three types of SEO:
- On-page SEO (also called onsite)
- Off-page SEO (aka offsite)
- Technical SEO
On-page refers to maintaining the content on your own website — pretty straightforward. Off-page is all about ensuring your external content is up to par — like your Google Business Profile (if you have one), your profile on directories and review sites, and social media pages.
Technical SEO is the behind-the-scenes elements that ensure your content and pages are crawled accurately. Think: meta descriptions, title tags, site architecture, Schema markup, mobile optimization, and site security.
3. Prioritize keyword research
If you want the maximum organic traffic coming to your site (and of course you do), proper keyword research is imperative.
Keywords are the cornerstone of SaaS content marketing (and content marketing strategies in general). They help drive the messaging for blogs, landing pages, ad copy, and other pieces of content so you can reach your target audience.
When conducting your research, you’re looking for target keywords, aka the search terms people might type into Google and other search engines to find your SaaS product and business.
You can streamline this process by using SEO tools that can help you identify competition, search volume, and other helpful factors.
Some of the most popular keyword research tools include:
- Google Keyword Planner
Pro tip: A thorough list of keywords includes both short and long-tail keywords. Shorter keywords often get more search volume and are at the top of the funnel. Long-tail terms, while more specific, can target those closer to the purchasing stage of the buyer’s journey.
4. Promote your content
While creating engaging types of content is crucial, your posts shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. Don’t forget to prioritize backlinks (or link building) as part of your content strategy. The reason: this can help improve search rankings through other web pages and online sources.
This tactic illustrates that others trust your brand, which can lead to more conversions. You should also have a consistent practice of content promotion, whether through paid channels, on social media, via your newsletter, or all of the above.
Pro tip: SaaS companies are less afraid than other industries when it comes to thinking outside the box. Consider doing outreach to explore less traditional promotion and brand awareness methods through avenues like influencers or guest posting on another company’s site.
5. Include tools on your website
Having linkable assets and helpful integration tools on your SaaS business website is another proven way to improve SEO.
Tools can include calculators, downloadable checklists, product comparisons, or other features that provide value to visitors and make sense for your niche.
This is a tangible way to provide value to visitors while they actionably engage with your site.
6. Ensure your site is optimized for mobile
Mobile-friendly SaaS websites are no longer “nice to have.” They’re a must. Having a responsive web design ensures your website will render and work properly, regardless of the device your potential customers use to view it.
Not only that, but Google’s mobile-first indexing has made a mobile-optimized website a top ranking factor on the search engine results page (SERP).
7. Plan for recurring SEO audits
We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: If you want to remain competitive, you can’t view SEO as a one-and-done task. Rather, proper SEO requires regular maintenance to be successful.
One of the most effective ways to connect with searchers and keep your SEO top-notch is through regular reviews and audits.
While you don’t need to scroll through Google Search Console and Google Analytics all day long, it’s wise to keep tabs on your site’s performance metrics. This is also where audits come into play.
An SEO audit is a way to get a bird’s-eye view of your current optimization efforts, including what’s working and what isn’t. Get the full run-down (and a free checklist) of all things SEO audits here.
Common SaaS SEO mistakes to avoid
To paraphrase Spider-Man, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. Most SaaS companies have robust tools at their disposal (not to mention unparalleled access to their customers).
But working so closely with a tech product isn’t without its challenges, from outages to data breaches and plenty of unexpected setbacks in between.
The same goes for SEO efforts. Here are some common SEO mistakes we’ve seen SaaS brands make throughout our years of industry experience (and how you can resist falling into the same traps).
1. Publishing sub-par content
One common SEO challenge SaaS companies face is consistently creating and optimizing high-quality content. Creating better content that provides consumers with more benefits is key to outranking competitors in the SaaS world.
Taking the time to create engaging blog content, case studies, email marketing, and product pages that position you as the expert will differentiate your SaaS brand from others. More expert tips for creating strong SEO content include:
- Leveraging the right keywords
- Prioritizing the user experience
- Keeping search intent in mind
- Ensuring your pieces are formatted thoroughly and consistently
- Only publishing accurate, up-to-date content
- Including engaging images or videos with your posts
- Styling content in an easy-to-read way (with section headers, bulleted lists, and concise copy)
- Including internal links along with external links to relevant, credible sites
2. Not repurposing content
Speaking of working smarter vs. harder, repurposing content is one of the most effective ways to do just that.
For example, let’s say you have a particular blog post or podcast episode seeing better-than-average engagement, traffic, or downloads. Rather than keeping that content as is, see how you can repurpose bits and pieces for other channels.
You can easily embed an audio clip into a blog post, or create a social-ready infographic from data gathered for a white paper or case study. It’s all about reusing what you’ve got and seeing how it resonates in other forms or on other platforms.
3. Expecting immediate results
If you’re looking for lightning-fast results, we’re going to be honest: SEO probably won’t get you there. Does that mean this digital marketing tactic isn’t worth your team’s time and energy? Of course not.
SEO is vital to a well-rounded strategy. But it’s important for transparency (and the higher-ups you might report to) to manage expectations around SEO tactics.
While paid search might be beloved for the quick wins and successes it can bring, SEO is a long game. Setting yourself up with strong SEO can keep your business growing and beating competitors for months and years down the line.
4. Not leaving room for flexibility
If you’ve worked in SaaS for any amount of time, then you know pivoting is the name of the game. Software technology, competition, and industry landscapes change fast. To keep up, you have to leave room in your plan to change with it.
If it’s been a while since you revisited your core SEO strategy, now’s a great time to zoom out and identify what’s working and what’s not. (Hint: an SEO audit is a great resource for this.)
If an SEO pro is stuck in their ways and not open to making adjustments or modifications as necessary, then the business they’re working with is more likely to get left behind – by competitors and prospects alike.
5. Misunderstanding your audience
Along with an ever-changing landscape, SaaS companies can also expect quick pivots when it comes to their customers’ wants, needs, and demographics.
Want to get to know your audience better? A good place to start is by sending brief surveys to current happy clients. You can also include survey questions at the end of calls with customer service managers (CSMs) or account managers.
Or, you can do your own customer research by digging into your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, like HubSpot, to gather helpful info. Armed with all of this knowledge, you can build out a few different ideal client personas.
Be as thorough as possible, so you can reference these personas to create content and other messaging that speaks directly to your audience in a way that’s targeted and authentic.
The more time you spend on digital marketing for your SaaS brand, the more you realize things never stay stagnant for long. Goals evolve, rules change, and new competitors crop up all the time.
Luckily, building a strong SEO foundation can set your brand up for long-term success, without the fear of having to scrap everything and start from scratch because of a new, unexpected industry development.
The idea behind the SaaS industry is to make it easier for people to solve problems. By maintaining your SaaS brand’s SEO, you can be sure that the solution you’re providing connects with as many members of your audience as possible.
And if you’re interested in partnering with an SEO agency to help make that happen, we know just the place.
This article has been updated and was originally published in January 2021.