Some industries are simply more competitive than others — SaaS is one of them. To have a leg up on the competition, a comprehensive SEO strategy might be exactly what you need.
We get it. Investing resources into SEO can be daunting, but beware of cutting corners.
Some SaaS companies will acquire customers through paid advertising. Although some businesses may find short-term success, it’s costly — and if you turn it off, it stops new customers from coming into the pipeline.
On the other hand, SEO for SaaS companies is key to reducing cost per acquisition due to its organic impact and, ultimately, helps convert from other channels. This is why setting a solid SaaS SEO strategy is more sustainable long-term.
Take CleverTap, a mobile marketing SaaS company, as an example.
Through our comprehensive content marketing and SEO strategy, Siege Media helped CleverTap grow their organic traffic 364%, earn over 200 quality backlinks to their blog and website, and increased traffic value to the blog by 262%.
Yes, getting those results may seem intimidating at first, but luckily, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we’ll cover what SEO is for SaaS companies, why it’s important, and the steps to implement a solid strategy or optimize on an existing one that you may already have in place.
Table of contents:
- What Is SaaS SEO?
- Why Is SaaS SEO Important?
- Keywords and the Buyers Funnel
- Setting up a SaaS SEO Strategy: 7 Steps
What Is SaaS SEO?
First things first. SaaS is not your typical SEO and to understand why it’s important you first need to know what it actually is.
In a nutshell, SaaS SEO is the process of increasing organic traffic for software as a service (SaaS) companies.
It differs from industries like e-commerce and fintech because SaaS businesses rely heavily on organic search. This means it’s paramount to earn top rankings on search engines for relevant keywords within their niche or industry.
SaaS SEO is considered a long term and holistic SEO approach that can continue to drive organic traffic long after content has been published.
Other strategies like pay-per-click marketing (PPC) can immediately place a company at the top of the SERP. However, if turned off, that visibility can quickly drop along with any traffic and revenue it was bringing in.
The bulk of SEO for SaaS companies typically involves posts that target prospects who are not at the bottom funnel of the buying stage, but instead are:
- Individuals who know the software exists and are searching for more information: They may be aware a company like yours exists but are simply searching to see if it fits their needs.
- Searching specifically for your software: The searcher is familiar with your company and wants to learn more about what you offer.
- Nearing the purchase funnel: The searcher isn’t quite yet ready to pull the trigger but they’re researching pricing and/or who can give them the best deal.
- Top funnel and simply looking for content related to your software: These searches are not ready and aren’t looking for software like yours right now. However, they may be in your target audience in the future as they’re searching for content that aligns with your software/services.
SaaS SEO helps position your website in front of these searchers at various points in the buyer’s funnel through great content that will answer a user’s query and can naturally gain backlinks, improve rankings, and increase traffic — ultimately generating leads and customer conversions.
Why Is SaaS SEO Important?
We’ve touched on how many SaaS companies lean heavily into performance marketing and paid media. There’s no doubt that harnessing the power of paid search has its benefits for SEO.
However, we can’t stress enough that PPC is expensive and a quick short-term solution with no actual value when results are deviated by the touch of a button, which is a common occurrence.
Developing a solid SEO strategy isn’t just about diversifying your customer acquisition methods.
There are a number of reasons SaaS companies need to invest in a solid SaaS content marketing strategy.
Keep on reading as we break it down.
Scale Website Growth (Exponentially)
Well-performing and optimized SEO content can exponentially increase website traffic and can have a compounding effect when SaaS companies build up a robust content library.
For example, HubSpot and Pipedrive are two SaaS giants.
Both companies have a wealth of best-in-class content that not only ranks and drives significant traffic but targets various stages of the buyer’s funnel — this is key.
The more top-ranking content you create, the more traffic you’ll naturally drive month over month and year over year.
This allows you to create topic clusters without emptying your pockets (or topically related content based on a valuable set of keywords).
Reduce Your Cost Per Acquisition
Acquiring customers through paid media like PPC means that you’re paying for every click to your website.
Over time, as you run an optimized campaign, your cost per acquisition will only go up because you exhaust the audiences that are most likely to convert.
Content-driven SEO does just the opposite and can actually help reduce your cost per acquisition over time.
If it sounds too good to be true, don’t worry — there’s only one caveat.
Content-driven SEO takes time. SaaS companies looking for a quick strategy or quick results might find methods like PPC appealing as this can certainly help create those quick wins marketing teams are looking for.
Just be aware that paid search strategies are not known for holding up long term and don’t have quite the ROI that content marketing can offer.
Convert Customers From Other Channels
Because a good SaaS SEO strategy is no doubt a heavy investment in content creation, chances are you’ll want to use this content as part of your email marketing and social media strategies to get the most bang for your buck.
Not to mention that if you’re creating backlinks through content promotion, you’ll be driving referral traffic.
SaaS companies like HubSpot, Zoom, Slack, and Adobe are all great examples of companies that also invest in their social media presence, particularly on Twitter, and do it with flair.
This well known SaaS company connects workplaces and was founded years before the pandemic but ultimately capitalized on the work-from-home lifestyle via social media and creating a presence that felt relatable to so many users.
Adobe, most commonly known for its creative suite that encompasses Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and so much more, understands the importance of visual storytelling and catching the eye in today’s endless Twitter and Instagram scrolling.
We’ve mentioned HubSpot a few times already — and for good reason. As much as their team understands good content marketing, they also understand how to strike up an interesting conversation on social media.
Keywords and the Buyers Funnel
Before you implement your strategy, SaaS SEO means you need a good understanding of how to conduct keyword research and build content that finds readers on the correct stage of their buyers journey.
Without this in mind, you risk losing them to a competitor.
Top Funnel Keywords
Top funnel keywords are those where potential buyers are searching for a solution to a problem they have while not even knowing your software/solution exists.
These keywords make up the vast majority of blog content and rarely convert.
The idea here is simply to introduce the prospect to your service and put you on their radar as a potential solution down the road as they do more research.
Mid Funnel Keywords
Mid funnel keywords are those that target topics where your prospect now knows about you or your competitors and start doing in-depth research. There’s intent to purchase at this stage, but typically not right away.
Keywords that align themselves well at this stage are product and features landing pages.
Bottom Funnel Keywords
At this stage, the prospect is reaching a decision on choosing between your and your competitor, which is why it’s important to target keywords around:
- Competitor comparison (“YOU” vs. “THEM”)
The bottom funnel stage is your most important stage as it’s the last chance to convince prospects that you can help them solve the problems they’re facing instead of going with a competitor.
Setting up a SaaS SEO Strategy: 7 Steps
A SaaS SEO strategy doesn’t need to be complicated, but it is important to consider what your long-term strategy is, if you’ll be focusing on a content driven strategy or choosing between SEO and PPC.
There are some important steps that you’ll need to take if you plan to make it a successful one.
1. Define Your Audience and Their Problems
When it comes to SaaS SEO, identifying your target personas and their problems are where you need to start.
Remember, there are several stages of the buyer’s journey and SEO is a long game, which is why understanding your target persona(s) is key to creating a strategy that puts your service directly in front of them when they’re conducting a search, while also making sure you get people who move through the various stages of the buyer’s funnel without dropping off.
Follow these steps to identify you customer persona’s problems:
- Persona discovers a service while hunting to solve a problem they’re having.
- You identify these problems.
- Next, you build content around these problems that will help place your service in front of your target persona.
- In doing so, you direct your target persona to the solution (e.g. your service) to the problem they’re experiencing.
2. Build Out a Competitor Analysis
Analyzing your direct and indirect competitors’ SEO strategies is a key component of SaaS SEO as well. You should also be looking at how they’re driving their organic traffic to build out your strategy.
Chances are if your competitor(s) are driving solid organic traffic, they probably have a good SEO and content marketing strategy in place. Mirroring their strategy, while still finding ways to be unique, is a good starting point.
How to identify your competitors:
- Direct competitors: These are companies who do what you do. They may have different services or features but the overall premise of the business is the same and help potential customers solve the same problems.
- Indirect competitors: Those who help potential customers solve the same problem through a different approach. They don’t offer the same services or products.
Building out a comprehensive analysis (think content, analytics, brand awareness, etc.) of direct and indirect competitors’ SEO strategy and how they drive their site traffic will help you gather insights into their broader performance and what you should or shouldn’t focus on.
3. Run an SEO Site Audit
Although well-performing content is a huge component in any sound SEO strategy, technical SEO is still a factor. No matter how much stellar content you create, if your site is not optimized for SEO, it won’t matter and your site won’t rank.
A site audit helps with:
- Identifying duplicate content.
- How many pages your site has indexed or no-indexed.
- If your site is suffering from technical issues, or if it’s just not optimized for SEO.
Fortunately, most SaaS websites aren’t complicated from a technical SEO standpoint and an audit is relatively easy to complete.
4. Build a Strategy Around Keywords
Remember that list of problems you identified for your target personas?
Well, use that list to build out keyword opportunities.
Once you’ve created a solid list, turn to platforms like Ahrefs or SEMRush to identify which primary and long tail keywords are being searched the most.
At Siege this is where the Keyword Opposition to Benefit (KOB) analysis comes into play.
A KOB analysis is a strategic approach that compares keyword difficulty to what people are willing to spend on that content and it’s a key component of helping you build your content strategy and project plan.
In a nutshell, the KOB analysis helps you:
- Find and pick “low-hanging fruit” keywords.
- Prioritize topics where our clients can rank quickly at each stage of the buyer funnel.
- Achieve a sizable ROI.
This is your brainstorming session where you’ll want to build out a content strategy around various top, mid, and bottom funnel keywords (remembering the goal is to push readers through the sales funnel).
5. Build Out Comparison Keywords
Chances are many of the broad, informational keywords that you’ll have brainstormed around in the stage above will speak to readers in the top funnel stages.
However, when a buyer nears the bottom funnel of the sales channel, they’ll be comparing two products or solutions (ideally, one of them is yours).
Essentially, comparison queries look like this:
[YOU] vs. [COMPETITOR]
Comparison keywords are powerful because they give you a chance to position yourself directly in front of a potential customer as they’re about to decide between your service or another, and then make the case that your service is the one they need to choose.
6. Standout Amongst Your Competitors
The goal should always be to blow your competitors’ content out of the water whenever possible.
Whether it’s a blog post with an infographic (which is great for manually driving links and user experience) or an interactive post (which has great passive link value), what you create should always outdo your competitors.
Here are some ways to help level up your content:
- Shorter but more in depth or concise information for SEO
- More visually appealing with videos, illustrations, or other images
- Easy to scan
- Build trust with EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trust)
- Write with empathy
- Use internal links
- Don’t forget post structure and technical SEO
- Pique interest with APPB (Attention, Preview, Proof, Benefit)
APPB doesn’t have to follow any specific order but ultimately, it helps sell your readers on your content.
- Preview: Give your readers insight into the rest of the post. For example, hook your readers with something like, “In this post, we’ll cover…”
- Proof: You’re the experts, so explain why. This is a good time to highlight your expertise in the industry through case studies, testimonials, reviews, etc.
- Benefit: Answer the question of how you’ll help them solve their problem and why they should care.
All these little details to differentiate yourself add up, even though it may feel like you’re creating similar content.
7. Promote Your Content and Earn Backlinks
Unless you have a low competition keyword, chances are that your content will struggle to rank without backlinks.
This is why content promotion and earning backlinks through either a passive link building strategy or manual link building (or a combination of both) are all part of a comprehensive approach to SaaS SEO.
To gain backlinks to your new content, you’ll need to put together a link building strategy and start generating relevant links to your content though methods like:
- Digital PR
- Broken link building
- Resource pages
- Brand mentions
- Guest posting
Note: Make sure to avoid guest posting hubs, but rather look towards guest posts on topically relevant sites with rel=”dofollow” attribute added
Relevant, quality backlinks help you rank and position you as an authority in the space, all while putting you in front of your target audience.
This is why some of the most valuable backlinks come from relevant, high DA link placements.
TL;DR: SaaS Needs SEO
No SaaS company should be without a solid SEO content marketing strategy.
In fact, the sooner you implement SaaS SEO, the sooner you’re likely to start seeing cost per acquisition decrease — giving you more money in your pocket in the long run.
Not to mention traffic growth that makes a significant leap up and to the right.
If it feels a little overwhelming, no sweat. We’re happy to help get your SEO strategy started.