Your SaaS website is the entryway into your product, but to bring visitors inside, you first need to get them to the front door.
Out of all the marketing strategies you might employ to connect customers to your product, search engine optimization (SEO) has the potential to be one of the most powerful.
By optimizing your website for search, not only will you build the visitor volume you need to grow your business, you’ll also help the people who are already interested in the services you offer find your product. It’s a win for everyone.
What is SaaS SEO?
SaaS SEO is a strategy for acquiring traffic to your website by ranking for keywords that potential customers are searching for and by acquiring backlinks to your content. It is an effective marketing strategy because it connects your services directly to the needs that searchers are seeking solutions for. If you appear on the first page of search engine results, you can connect to many high-quality potential customers for your business.
Why should SaaS companies focus on SEO?
Ryan Law, VP of Marketing at Content Agency Animalz, has a lot of insight into how SEO can be used by SaaS companies. “Many SaaS businesses need huge numbers of new sign-ups each month because the average customer spends so little. Here, SEO is more important, because it allows companies to cost-effectively generate the huge volumes of traffic they need to fill their funnel,” he explains. In his analyses, he found that the SaaS companies he worked with generated 85.19% of their blog traffic from organic search.
There are a few things that make SEO one of the very best ways for a SaaS company to acquire new customers:
SaaS SEO grows exponentially
A page that is search-optimized will generally see more traffic each subsequent month after it is published. Publishing more pages over time compounds that effect. A successful SEO strategy can give your website exponential traffic growth, building on its own success. This famous graph illustrates the effect beautifully:
SaaS SEO cost decreases over time
While writing and publishing a search-optimized article has an associated monetary cost, once that article is published, it will continue to draw traffic and new business over time. Eventually, the cost of search optimization is far exceeded by the business it has brought in.
“Most acquisition channels have a linear relationship between input and output: to get more customers, you need to spend more, and often, the amount you need to spend to get the same results increases over time (paid advertising is the classic example),” says Ryan. “SEO is the opposite.”
SaaS SEO provides predictable traffic
Online customer acquisition channels can be unpredictable, and that can be a challenge to manage, especially for new businesses. SEO traffic and customer acquisition tend to grow steadily with continued investment. “Our research shows that SEO was the only traffic source to grow consistently last year, increasing by 3.19% each and every month,” says Ryan.
Best practices for SaaS SEO
Now that SEO is a widely embraced strategy, it takes more for a company to differentiate itself. There are some best practices that will help your company’s SEO approach.
Pay attention to technical SEO for SaaS websites
Quality content needs to be backed up by solid technical optimization so that search engines can effectively crawl and index your website. Make sure the platform you’re building your website on supports search optimization. Your site should also load quickly, have search-friendly slugs, and be built for accessibility. Stay up to date with Google algorithm changes and make sure you’re keeping up with the way they rank sites so your content can perform at its best to build traffic.
Use keyword research to target the right audience
You don’t want just any traffic — you want traffic that will result in conversions. When you research keywords to target, think about which keywords would bring the right kind of traffic to your blog. “Not all traffic is created equal. It’s possible to generate a million page views from search and $0 in new revenue if those visitors are wrong-fit and not interested in your product,” explains Ryan.
Conduct a SEO competitor analysis
Part of your SEO strategy should be researching the keywords your competitors are ranking for and how. You can use that research to gain more information about your potential audience and develop content that will push your website ahead of competing businesses. “There’s a game theory element to search,” says Ryan. “Search is great for generating new business, but it’s also great for taking business away from competitors.”
The best content for search optimization is content that is high quality and actively useful for the reader. Write articles that are relevant to your users and useful for potential customers. Google algorithm updates have also begun to assess time spent on pages, link click-throughs, and sharing metrics in their rankings. In its early days, SEO developed a reputation for being fluffy clickbait. Customers are increasingly sophisticated, so content now needs to meet a much higher bar to be effective.
SEO builds on itself. Be patient, and don’t abandon your SEO efforts when they don’t show immediate effects. Most SEO strategies will take months, even years, to reach their full potential. It’s worth the long-term investment. “Ask any established SaaS company, and they’ll tell you the same thing: SEO works,” emphasizes Ryan.
The goal of building a SaaS SEO strategy is to build your website’s domain authority. Domain authority is a website’s reputation and relevance for a specific topic or field. It takes time, but once you’ve built it up, your domain authority will give your website incredible visibility and make ranking for more competitive keywords easier.
The SEO landscape is drowning in copycat content and websites targeting the same keywords in the same ways, so you need to differentiate your content in a meaningful way to capture the attention of internet searchers.
The more unique and relevant your content is to your specific audience, the more page visits, time spent on your pages, and conversion you will see. “For every article or page you publish, ask yourself: how can we make this uniquely ours? What is one idea or piece of advice we can share that no one else has covered? What value can we add to the existing search results?” Ryan advises.
Develop content for different stages of the buyer journey
To pull in the broadest selection of potential customers, you want to develop content that targets customers at each stage of the buyer journey — the awareness, consideration, and decision stages. Don’t focus too much on product-specific content or driving immediate purchases.
Instead, publish content that will be broadly useful to the different types of people who could benefit from your product. At the beginning of the journey, this could be industry trends or inspiration, tips and advice, or broad informational articles. For those further down, you can provide practical guides and information on integrations or features and present your product as a solution for specific problems.
Use internal linking
Internal linking is useful on two fronts. It signals to search engines what your content is relevant to and also draws visitors in to spend more time exploring your site.
When users follow rabbit holes through your content, exploring a topic in more depth from article to article, they learn about your field and your product. They will also be presented with more calls to action that may spur them to finally click through and download your product.
Stay up to date as SaaS SEO evolves
Search engine optimization is a field that is constantly growing and changing as search algorithms become more sophisticated. You also face competitors whose content grows more robust and customers who have higher standards for content. As you establish your SEO strategy, make sure to continue researching keywords and competitors and keep monitoring your traffic and visitor behavior.
One thing that is here to stay is the value of high-quality content — so continue to write useful, entertaining, and educational articles for your audience, and your SEO will already be a step ahead of the game.