What makes a successful SaaS SEO growth campaign?
What is SaaS SEO?
SaaS SEO involves raising a software as a service (SaaS) website’s technical quality, organic traffic, and organic revenue. The objective is to enhance organic rankings and improve organic goal conversations.
While SEO can play a significant role in any business’ brand and non-brand exposure, enterprise SaaS companies should understand the value SEO can bring through successful target audience acquisition and consider approaches for both products and services.
Importance of SEO for SaaS
The SaaS industry has seen significant growth in recent years and is on the rise from a brief dip during Covid-19. With demand increasing, partially due to the transition of remote working, now is a great opportunity for SaaS companies to embrace the value of SEO to drive their business further.
For SaaS businesses, the aim is to become a strong contender in a competitive industry or a leader in a small niche. SEO must be considered in the early stages so that the correct approach is made from the start.
With many SaaS companies, paid advertising or social brand awareness activities are a helpful start for promoting products and services. However, the long-term value of SEO is much greater through higher quality converting traffic, customer trust, and loyalty.
There are SEO fundamentals that carry across all industries. Still, additional research and consideration should be taken with SaaS SEO campaigns, particularly around audiences and product understanding to see the most significant ROI.
Planning an SEO strategy for a SaaS business
When planning a SaaS SEO Campaign, it is essential to set reasonable expectations and realistic targets.
Setting realistic goals
Honesty and transparency are required during a SaaS SEO campaign, and the business needs to understand what goals are achievable. On the other hand, SEO agencies should gather as much information as possible about customer audiences and product information.
Engaging in frequent discussions early on is encouraged so the research conducted in the following stages can help make better-informed decisions.
Understanding a business’s existing organic audience is key to setting traffic goals. Reviewing what the current obtention is and agreeing targets can be healthy for understanding expectations and planning the campaign.
Another critical aspect of setting realistic targets is calculating your total addressable market (TAM). Understanding your TAM can help lead to more accurate goals and prevents setting unachievable targets as you understand your potential market.
To improve SEO for a SaaS company, you need to understand what the rest of the industry is currently doing and, more importantly, not doing.
You can look at competitors in a few ways:
- Business competitors (direct competitors)
- Product competitors (indirect competitors)
Business competitors are companies who use the same model, similar products/services, and who you will be directly comparing against throughout the campaign. These businesses should be internally known and shared with the SEO agency so the campaign can work towards obtaining market share.
Product competitors are other companies that do not run the same business model but offer similar products that could compete for specific search queries. Businesses frequently forget about indirect competitors, but it is necessary to consider them if they rank for relevant traffic-driving positions.
For both competitor types, it’s valuable to assess their unique selling propositions against search queries as this is what search engines will be looking at.
Prioritising focus areas in your SaaS strategy
When planning an SEO strategy for a SaaS business, you should consider what focus areas to prioritise over six to 12 months to return the most value.
You should carry out fundamental activities across all standard SEO strategies. But first, you should break down key SaaS focus areas and prioritise them, including:
- Marketing sales funnels
- Website quality (technical)
- Commercial product condition
- Current conversion rate
- Non-commercial content quality & intent
- Offsite links obtained
Spend some time assessing the standard of each of these areas to obtain some direction for what areas you should focus on initially. However, it is also essential to consider the business goals and co-ordinate them with your SEO strategy.
Understanding your SEO sales funnel and personas for SaaS
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a business strategy that visualises the key stages of a user’s journey before they convert and become a customer.
There are variations of the funnel, but it is fundamentally broken down into:
- Top of the funnel = awareness
- Middle of the funnel = research
- Bottom of the funnel = conversion
Understanding your sales funnel is significant for SaaS SEO compared to other industries. You need to understand what different customers could search when looking for a service/product like yours.
It is beneficial to analyse customer personas to understand the customer base you are trying to reach.
Top of the funnel
The top of the sales funnel (TOFU) is based on customer awareness of a general field, industry, or need.
For SEO, this first stage of the funnel is important to consider as it will influence the type of content you produce and will assist with developing a successful user journey from the start of a search.
At this point in the journey, a user could be researching a topic or facing an issue. They will likely be unaware that your company offers information or a solution to help them.
Research what people could be searching for and where it would be appropriate for you to lead them to a product or service that suits their needs. Then you can decide the type of content that would suit the user’s search.
Middle of the funnel
The middle of the funnel (MOFU), also known as the research stage, is where the user is aware that your product/solution exists, but they may want to know more information about it or potentially compare it against other products in the market.
At this stage, the focus of your SaaS SEO strategy is to provide customers with information about your product that would convince them it is the best solution. To do this, you need to review both on-site and offsite features.
Your offsite research could involve reviewing competitor products, as this is what customers will also be doing. You should consider key product features, pricing points, supporting information, and USPs.
On your site, you should be providing useful information about your products/services and the best user experience for the customer. Highlight your product’s USP and inform the customer why they should be purchasing your solution.
Bottom of the funnel
The final stage of the funnel is centered on customer conversion. From an SEO perspective, you should consider additional features that could push a customer to buy.
Some examples include providing case studies, testimonials, or reviews that may convince users that your product suits them.
In addition to these commercial features, you should also consider the conversion process customers must go through by testing it yourself. Ultimately you want to discover if it is easy to purchase the product.
Optimising technical SEO for SaaS companies
Technical SEO is foundational to achieving successful organic growth. Search engines look to provide users with a good quality user experience and, as a result, expect this from websites looking to acquire users from search engine result pages.
Technical SEO for SaaS is no different from any other industry, as site’s must uphold the same standard of providing users with great experiences while they navigate.
Before starting your SEO campaign, it’s important to recognise significant technical SEO issues the site could face that, if fixed, could offer a valuable return on investment. This can also help recognise whether more extensive activities (e.g., technical audits) are required so you can reasonably allocate resources.
It is common practice across many SaaS businesses to produce sub-domains for specific business areas or content types, such as product documentation. These should also be considered part of a broader strategy to ensure an interconnected website architecture.
Focusing on technical aspects such as Core Web Vitals should play a vital part in the SaaS technical strategy to ensure high-quality standards and a strong Page Experience ranking factor performance.
Specific items to consider for SaaS include:
- Duplicate content
- Call to Actions
- Internal linking
- Indexation + sitemaps
- Structure data (schema)
User devices should also be considered for any SaaS website. While the share of searching has shifted to mobile in the past decade, many SaaS businesses often receive most of their traffic from desktop-based users.
This is important to identify because if your technical SEO focuses on mobile performance with a majority desktop userbase, you won’t be providing the great user experiences that search engines recommend.
Carrying out keyword research for SaaS
As part of your SEO campaign, SaaS keyword research is an essential process to identify the keywords your website is currently ranking for and what you should target in the future.
As well as taking the top of the sales funnel and user personas into consideration, there are specific activities you can carry out to make your keyword research as effective as possible.
As part of your keyword research, you need to use successful categorisation to filter keyword groups relevant to a specific page, product, or topic.
The website’s architecture is a logical structure for categorisation. However, it’s best to tailor it to what is most logical and works best for the SaaS website.
Additional categorisation could be included for branded/non-branded queries to allow for better filtering and long-term performance reporting.
Preferred landing page
Setting a preferred landing page for each tracked query can also be a valuable activity to help understand on which page each query should be targeted.
This tactic is extremely useful with SaaS businesses due to cannibalisation risks.
With many topics relating to SaaS businesses, search intent can differentiate between how a user searches a query.
For example, the query ‘rotating proxy’ can be perceived as commercial (someone looking for a product) while it can also be informational (someone trying to find out what a rotating proxy is).
For this reason, tracking the search intent for each query can be helpful as you ensure commercial and non-commercial queries target pages relevant to their intent.
The best practice method for this is to review the intent for each query in search engine result pages and mark the query as one of the following:
Like the rotating proxy example, some SERPs return both commercial and non-commercial results to achieve both intents for all users. Therefore, we suggest including mixed category options.
On-page optimisations for SaaS businesses
SaaS On-page SEO encompasses a range of activities to improve web page quality and ensure successful rankings can be applied by search engines.
Specific areas on on-page SEO include:
- Meta titles
- Internal linking
Use the keywords identified from your keyword research to map them to specific landing pages and include them within meta titles and headings to show search engines the subject and intent of the page.
Identify internal linking opportunities between commercial and non-commercial pages to create a successful sales funnel and allow users to navigate through the site easily.
Some technical features should be considered on each page, such as CTAs, to ensure maximum potential conversations throughout the site. You should also consider structure data, which should be implemented when appropriate to achieve SERP features and improve the page’s organic visibility.
SaaS SEO Content Strategy
A successful SaaS SEO content strategy is key to achieving valuable organic growth and producing a successful user journey to capitalise on conversions.
Before starting any content production, you should consider the sales funnel, customer personas, and your keyword research, specifically the search intent categorisation. The best SaaS content optimization approaches will always involve pre-planning to create a clear vision of what you want to achieve.
With SaaS being a dynamic industry with frequent changes, it’s imperative to keep in line with these and produce frequently relevant content for your audience.
A frequent mistake by SaaS companies is to target the top of the funnel audience and produce as much content as “how to” guides and similar informational content. The issue with this structure is commercial (middle of the funnel) content hasn’t been considered and optimised, resulting in users not converting.
The best practice way to prioritise SaaS SEO content is to begin with the bottom of the funnel and work your way up, allowing you to convert additional leads later in the campaign. Still, it will also result in acquiring users with a high buy intent who know what they are looking for when they discover your product or service.
SaaS SEO Offsite backlink analysis
Carrying out a backlink analysis can be advantageous to understanding what links a SaaS business should be aiming to acquire for both commercial and non-commercial landing pages.
A great place to start is by reviewing competitor backlink profiles to understand what kind of links they receive and specific companies, magazines, and online publications to contact.
For commercial product and service pages, targeted approaches will be required to obtain links from pages such as:
- Product reviews
- Product comparison articles
- Guest posting
- Podcasts or industry discussions
Links on non-commercial pages, such as guides, should be obtained organically by producing good-quality long-form content. This media should discuss a subject in detail and directly answers popular questions.