Unlocking Success with SaaS SEO: The Ultimate Guide To Maximizing Visibility and Growth
Unlocking Success with SaaS SEO: The Ultimate Guide To Maximizing Visibility and Growth of Your SaaS Business
In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses face fierce competition when it comes to capturing the attention of their target audience. To stand out from the crowd and drive consistent growth, SaaS companies need to harness the power of search engine optimization (SEO). In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of SaaS SEO, exploring its key principles, strategies, and best practices that can propel your SaaS business to new heights of visibility, authority, and success.
SaaS SEO Framework Overview
Understanding SaaS SEO:
Before diving into the intricacies of SaaS SEO, it’s crucial to grasp the fundamentals. SEO for SaaS revolves around optimizing a SaaS website’s online presence to increase its organic visibility on search engine result pages (SERPs). The ultimate goal is to rank higher in relevant search queries and attract quality traffic, leading to increased sign-ups, conversions, and revenue.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of our SaaS SEO framework, we can break it down and identify its various components.
These components work in harmony to deliver impactful and quantifiable outcomes for SaaS companies.
By the end of this guide, our aim is to optimize your team’s time and resources by implementing SEO best practices and strategies, enabling your SaaS company to thrive. Should you encounter any gaps or tasks beyond your capabilities, feel free to reach out to SimpleTiger for assistance with any SEO-related inquiries. We are here to help.
To fully grasp the concept of SEO and its relevance to SaaS companies, it is essential to define two key aspects:
- The business model of SaaS companies.
- A proven framework for SEO.
The SaaS Business Model
To put it briefly, a SaaS business model entails charging customers for utilizing a software product, tool, or a collection of tools designed for a particular objective.
SaaS companies distinguish themselves from other business models by offering intangible or limited-use products. These products can be adjusted, updated, enhanced, and adapted to cater to various industries and scenarios.
By incorporating new features, SaaS companies can generate fresh markets and categories, enabling them to effectively compete in the organic search realm through SEO. In essence, this approach presents a potent marketing strategy for achieving scalable and exponential growth.
The Proven SaaS SEO Framework
Although SEO can be complex, SimpleTiger prefers to simplify it. Hence, we have created a framework that we have successfully utilized for more than ten years, aiding SaaS companies in achieving significant growth through SEO. We dedicate ourselves to educating our clients about this framework, enabling them to comprehend the mechanics of SEO and leverage it for impactful outcomes.
SaaS SEO Ranking Factors
The SaaS business model can be summarized concisely, whereas the concept of SEO is comparatively more intricate. Numerous variables determine the ranking of a specific website on Google, and these variables continually evolve with the presence of an artificially intelligent search engine. Therefore, possessing industry knowledge becomes crucial for achieving desired outcomes. Presented below are the most significant factors that can shape your website’s Google ranking, listed in order of importance:
1. User Engagement Metrics – This encompasses the manner in which visitors interact with a website and is assessed through various indicators such as dwell time (the duration of a visitor’s stay on the site), clicks, interactions with content, page views (the number of pages viewed on the site), the last page visited by visitors, and their actions like hitting the back button or bouncing off the site prematurely. Google regards user engagement and content discovery as the most crucial measures. The higher the quality of engagement, the better the user experience. Consequently, it is essential to ensure well-written content that is easily discoverable through Google search. Since 2017, user engagement metrics have influenced site rankings in the search engine, resulting in increased ad revenue for Google.
2. Link Metrics –
For many years, SEO professionals have relied on these metrics as the most dependable means to boost rankings. The strategies involved in link metrics include:
- Establishing links from other domains to your own.
- Creating internal links within your site.
- Ensuring relevance and selecting appropriate anchor text that directs to your site.
- Understanding the domain authority of both the linked domain and page.
- Familiarizing yourself with the domain authority of your site and its various pages.
Additionally, it’s important to grasp the distinction between no-follow and followed links, their impact on your site, and the placement of the link on the source page. While there are other metrics that contribute to the success of a link-building strategy, these are the fundamental ones.
3. Onsite Content –
The following are some critical factors that can narrow down the broad category of ranking factors:
- Including the target keyword in your title tag.
- Optimizing pages for your target keywords within your site’s header navigation.
- Properly positioning keywords in your content, such as placing them in page headers and introductory paragraphs.
- Ensuring that your content effectively targets a specific term.
- Considering the length of the content.
- Cross-linking pages to other relevant pages on the site.
- Providing comprehensive coverage of the given topic and using relevant keywords.
- Incorporating interactive content features like tiles or cards that link to other features or pages.
Of course, there are other factors related to onsite content that can also influence a page’s ranking. Quality is crucial for readers, and it’s essential to provide them with helpful information about your product or the industry. This not only encourages traffic through other channels but also increases the likelihood of return visitors and shares. These are all positive aspects that Google recognizes.
4. Technical Structure and Usability –
These factors not only impact user engagement but also influence the crawling, indexing, and ranking speed of your site. When Google has fewer resources and less time to crawl and index a site, it tends to rank faster. The technical structure of your site, including page loading speed, is an important aspect to consider for user engagement. Google also assesses the construction of your site’s link architecture and the presence of HTTP status errors (such as 404s, 500s, 30Xs, etc.) during the crawling process. It also takes into account the configurations of robots.txt and sitemap.xml files, as well as how your site handles CSS and JS files. The speed at which your CNDs are rendered is also scrutinized. While these aspects may seem technical, they ultimately impact user engagement, search engine rankings, and website traffic. They form a solid foundation for a well-built site.
Once we have taken these SEO ranking factors into consideration, we can use SimpleTiger’s framework to organize our efforts and take actions that benefit a SaaS SEO project. Over time, as Google evolves and the SEO industry discovers new ranking strategies, tactics, and actions, we can employ them to achieve positive results. Our SEO framework has been developed with these changes in mind and will continue to provide value.
Conducting Thorough Keyword Research
Keyword research for SaaS companies involves identifying the specific keywords that users enter into search engines like Google to find the SaaS product or solution they need. Understanding how searchers utilize keywords on Google and grasping their intent is crucial when conducting keyword research and developing a strategy.
Searcher intent revolves around predicting the type of search results that users anticipate from a search engine. At SimpleTiger, we adopt a comprehensive approach to keyword research, examining the overall outcomes associated with a particular term. It is also essential to consider why a potential customer might be searching for a specific keyword, especially within a highly competitive niche. That’s why we personally conduct the same search and carefully analyze the initial results to understand the content that Google considers relevant for the chosen keyword. By doing so, we gain insights into the websites users engage with and the types of content that achieve high rankings.
Once we compile a list of keywords, we extract research data from various tools, which we will discuss in more detail later in this guide, including keyword volume and difficulty. Finally, we complete our framework by creating a targeted keyword list. This list can be refined and expanded upon, but even a basic version serves as a solid foundation as you embark on building your SEO strategy.
Keyword research plays a crucial role in the technical structure of SEO. The importance of technical structure lies in the fact that any flaws or weaknesses in the foundation of your website can have a negative impact on your future links and content. To ensure the creation of high-quality content assets and a stable platform for your site, we focus on addressing the technical areas.
Initially, we conduct a technical audit to analyze the technical structure of your site. This enables us to identify any SEO-related issues that may affect the user and Google’s access to your content. While we will provide more details about our technical audit process later in this guide, it’s important to note that we employ various tools based on the depth of analysis required. Once we identify the areas that require attention, we establish priorities for fixing them.
At SimpleTiger, we prioritize repairs based on several factors, such as the balance between time and impact, as well as cost and impact. If you are a mature SaaS company, you likely have a dedicated team managing different aspects of your website, including developers who can assess the feasibility and timeline for implementing these changes. On the other hand, other SaaS companies may outsource the implementation to contracted developers who charge per project. Our focus is on addressing the repairs that offer the greatest impact and value considering the time and resources invested. Subsequently, we address lower-priority items.
We continuously monitor the technical structure of your site because it’s common for pages to move or encounter issues. If such situations arise, we prefer to be notified promptly so that we can swiftly work on resolving them.
Crafting Compelling and SEO-Friendly Content:
Once we have covered the technical aspects of SEO, the more creative and people-centric elements begin to surface. This is also where we delve into more impactful SEO actions, assuming there are no remaining technical issues on your site. When it comes to content strategy, it involves understanding your target customers, their search intent, the specific keywords they use, and the available content that can provide them with information to facilitate a purchase. To build an effective content strategy, we need to objectively evaluate your website and determine the optimal placement of target keywords. In some cases, additional pages may need to be created to address keywords that currently lack corresponding content. Lastly, we should consider how to organize and structure the content to establish a relevant hierarchy that promotes user engagement.
A comprehensive content strategy goes beyond the existing pages on your site or the creation of new pages to enhance user engagement. It also encompasses a long-term content production cycle focusing on specific, niche topics. This approach ensures comprehensive coverage of keywords related to your industry and establishes your authority within that domain. Over time, this strategy will improve your site’s rankings for the targeted keywords. However, it’s important to note that achieving this goal can be time-consuming, and many content writers find themselves producing blog articles and site content without a clear objective, akin to wandering aimlessly in a desert.
Recognizing this common challenge, we have developed a content production strategy that delves deeper into the ongoing content requirements of our clients’ sites. By analyzing relevant data and market trends in your target audience, we create a plan to produce and add the necessary content to your site. In the subsequent sections of this guide, we will explore the components of a SaaS SEO project’s content strategy in greater detail.
In conclusion, we develop an offsite strategy to determine the necessary types of links to be constructed for your site. We assess which page(s) to link to, which sites to obtain links from, and the required authority to boost your site’s ranking. Many aspects of SEO have been plagued by unethical optimization tactics, and link-building remains a prevalent offender. This is because, for many years, page links were the primary factor in rankings, creating opportunities for exploiting Google’s algorithm. The true purpose of link building is to establish a robust and reputable link profile that demonstrates to Google and potential visitors that your site is an industry authority. Trust and authority are closely connected when it comes to Google’s evaluation of a site and should be carefully considered by anyone seeking SEO results.
While various link-building techniques and strategies have emerged and faded away, SimpleTiger adheres to an authentic and purposeful PR process when building links for our clients. Our team reaches out to contributors at diverse publications, both general and niche, relevant to our clients’ industries. We pitch content ideas based on a specific piece of content from our client’s site, often providing exclusive information or a captivating story exclusively crafted for that content. Interested contributors are usually delighted to link to our clients’ content as a valuable resource and reference for their own narratives. This approach creates a win-win situation: publications gain easy access to exclusive and engaging data and stories, while our clients receive high-quality backlinks to their sites.
Link building is exhilarating because it allows your company to invest in something more sustainable than ads, which are temporary and dependent on budget availability. Instead, a link becomes life and continues to accumulate value over time. Google values long-standing links that have been indexed for years, as they indicate a level of trust in the linked site. As you construct these links, they serve as valuable assets that grow in impact over time, benefiting your site. Not only will you experience improved rankings for your target keywords, but these rankings will also endure. Establishing a strong link profile is challenging, and your competitors will need to exert considerable effort to surpass your rankings.
We will delve deeper into our link-building process and how it applies to SaaS companies later in this guide. However, it’s worth noting that this aspect of the SEO framework often demands significant time and effort. Nonetheless, an exceptional link-building and content-production strategy will eventually yield the desired outcomes.
Wrapping up the Framework
Now that you have gained an understanding of how the different components of SEO work together to impact your site’s ranking on Google, let’s delve deeper into each category as we progress through this guide. We will explore how this framework complements specific SEO strategies and tactics that can be implemented to enhance the success of your SaaS company in SEO. It’s important to note that these strategies are tailored specifically for SaaS companies and should not be applied to other business models such as e-commerce, publishing, service companies, and more. Lastly, we will discuss tracking and reporting SEO results and provide a realistic timeline for when you can expect to see these outcomes.
With this foundational knowledge, we can now proceed!
Keyword Research for SaaS Companies
This guide primarily focuses on the SaaS business model and the effectiveness of our keyword research process in identifying high-performing, ranking, and converting terms in the search. It emphasizes the significance of research as the key element in SEO. To begin, it is crucial to define target customer personas, the keywords they employ in search queries, and the intentions behind their searches. Various tools, tips, and tactics exist for conducting thorough keyword research. You can also access the SaaS SEO Guide in PDF format by downloading it from here.
Gather & Brainstorm Keyword Ideas
To initiate the keyword research process, gather any available data on your target customers and commence brainstorming. It is advisable to involve your team in the brainstorming session since your target customers may use various search methods. Multiple perspectives will prove highly beneficial. Allocate an hour or two for the initial phase.
At SimpleTiger, we have developed a Keyword Research Template in Google Sheets to facilitate a productive and organized start to keyword research. We suggest either downloading our template or creating your own.
We will begin by identifying and creating several categories to group the different types of keywords we discover. Keep in mind that you can always modify the categories later. Here are examples of keyword categories specific to a SaaS business model:
- Product Type (general): Consider general terms such as software, system, solution, platform, tool, etc.
- Solutions: If your product offers multiple solutions, think of terms that relate to your product from a solution perspective. Examples include increasing traffic, reducing risk, website security, accounting automation, etc.
- Features: Your product likely has multiple features, so list them as keywords. Examples include accounting import, security portal, export data, API integration, etc.
- Industries & Clients: Unless your company exclusively serves one type of client, there are likely multiple client types or industries that dominate your product’s adoption. We recommend including these as keywords, as you can target them with content in your marketing strategy. Examples include Accounting, Aviation, Transportation, Manufacturing, Hospitality, Retail, Enterprise, etc.
- Integrations: Many SaaS products integrate with other platforms and tools. Considering that other companies have search volume for their brand names, which you can leverage for your SEO efforts, we recommend including all known integration partners. Examples include HubSpot, QuickBooks, Stripe, Slack, Facebook, Drift, SalesForce, Squarespace, etc.
- Competitor Alternatives: Often, there is a dominant competitor in your space. For instance, if you are building a CRM tool and Salesforce is your competitor, try using terms like “Salesforce alternative” or “competitors of Salesforce” to gather interesting keyword suggestions and content ideas.
We prefer organizing our Keyword Research Template with an “Ideas” tab for early-stage brainstorming. Then, create a column for each “Idea” corresponding to the above categories. Next, list all the keyword ideas under each category column. Eventually, combine these terms in different ways and develop entirely new categories to maintain a comprehensive organization throughout the process.
Let’s now gather keywords from various sources such as Google Search Console, previously targeted paid keywords, self-generated keyword ideas, and search tools, and compile them into a master list for later organizations. Experiment with different keyword orderings, as they can convey distinct search intent depending on the context. For example, “SaaS keyword research” may refer to a software tool for keyword research, while “keyword research for saas” likely indicates a user seeking guidance on keyword research for a SaaS company.
Another tip is to consider both plural and singular versions of keywords, as they often have different search volumes and search intent. We advise against including misspellings, as incorporating them naturally within your website content can be challenging. With the advancement of Google’s AI, it learns the correct spelling of terms and suggests results using the proper spelling instead.
Manually Research Search Intent
After compiling a comprehensive list of terms, it is recommended to search for these terms on Google using an encrypted browser. By doing so, you can ensure that your local and browser information doesn’t affect the search results. Examine the first 2-3 search results for each keyword to gain insight into what content Google believes users want to see. Take note of any new keyword ideas that emerge from this process and add them to your master list. This approach can provide valuable information about the type of content currently ranking for these terms, such as blog articles, product detail pages, or competitors’ websites. To facilitate the content creation process, consider adding a column in your “Ideas” tab to quickly note the types of results that are currently ranking.
It is crucial to include a column indicating the search intent associated with each keyword. Examples of search intent categories are as follows:
- Awareness: These keywords are used when searchers have recently become aware of a term but haven’t formed an opinion or are seeking education. Look for definitions presented in a rich snippet format for these terms.
- Research: These keywords are slightly more specific than awareness keywords, although there may be some overlap. Searchers have already grasped the meaning of the term but are now conducting research to learn more. They are looking for information about how the term may affect them, and strategies they can use to leverage the keyword’s subject or to gather general knowledge.
- Transactional: Targeting transactional keywords can often be beneficial because the search intent here typically revolves around making a purchase or acquiring a new product or service. Determining the search intent behind keywords can be challenging at times, but a good rule of thumb is to focus on longer-tail keywords for transactional purposes and more general terms for awareness. Examples of transactional keywords could include “best invoice automation software” or “Marketo CRM integration.” These terms indicate that the searcher has progressed beyond the awareness and research stages and is now considering options for taking action. Blog articles can still be effective in this phase as they can help users understand how your product works and guide them toward making a decision.
General & Long Tail Keywords
In this section, we have briefly discussed the concept of generic keywords and long-tail keywords. However, we would now like to provide a formal definition for each term and present a basic strategy for their implementation.
- Generic Keywords – Generic keywords typically consist of a few terms and have a broader range of possible interpretations. Examples of such keywords are invoicing software, sales automation, and CRM tool, among others.
- Long-Tail Keywords – Long-tail keywords generally include more terms and are more specific to the user’s search intent. Examples of long tail keywords include simple invoicing software for Stripe, sales automation for lawyers, and healthcare CRM tools, among others.
Generic vs Long Tail Keyword Strategy
To start a project, we recommend focusing primarily on ranking for longer tail keywords. These keywords tend to generate conversions, making it easier to justify a larger investment in SEO. On the other hand, targeting more generic terms requires a greater investment of time and effort. Another advantage of prioritizing a long-tail strategy is the opportunity to build a content library around a broader term.
Let’s illustrate this with an example. Suppose we want to address invoicing software in a general sense. However, the market for this topic is highly competitive, and our initial efforts haven’t produced significant results. Instead, we can create content centered around specific long tail keywords related to invoicing software, such as “invoicing software for stripe,” “invoicing software for small businesses,” and “contractor invoicing software.” Each of these blog articles can be categorized under the broader topic of Invoicing Software. The category page can feature a brief introduction highlighting the unique aspects of our solution and then suggest users explore additional articles. Over time, as Google sees the volume and structure of content on our site, it will recognize its relevance to the main topic of Invoicing Software.
In the future, by employing various strategies in conjunction, we will have a better chance of ranking for the generic term.
Research Keyword Data
At this point, you should have compiled a comprehensive list of keywords, understanding their intent, relevance to your company or product, and their categorization based on the process we discussed in the Gather & Brainstorm Keyword Ideas section. Now, it is time to analyze keyword data in detail in order to make informed decisions. Below, we outline the key data points we prioritize and the tools we utilize to gather this information.
- Search Volume: The search volume is a fundamental data point used to assess the value of a keyword. This metric indicates the approximate number of times a specific keyword is searched within a given timeframe, often expressed as monthly search volume (MSV). Tools like Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer provide monthly search volume based on a six-month average. Comparing the search volumes of different keywords can help in the decision-making process by facilitating the elimination of less favorable options.
- Difficulty: Tools such as Ahrefs and WordStream offer a Keyword Difficulty Score, which reflects the level of difficulty associated with ranking for a specific keyword. This score, ranging from 1 to 100, takes into account various factors that influence Google’s ranking algorithm. A higher score indicates greater difficulty.
- Ranking: Analyzing your current ranking for a given keyword reveals how Google perceives the relevance of your site to that particular topic. If a keyword has a high difficulty score, it suggests that your site is already competing against strong contenders. In such cases, you can target keywords with higher difficulty scores and expect to see progress. This analysis also serves as a valuable baseline before you embark on any optimization efforts. Over time, you can assess the impact of your actions on your rankings.
- Ranking URL: The ranking URL indicates the webpage that Google considers most relevant for a given keyword. Sometimes, the displayed URL may not align with your expectations, necessitating immediate adjustments. In other cases, the ranking URL highlights specific pages that can be further optimized for their respective keywords. These pages present opportunities for quick improvements through targeted optimization.
- Rich Snippet Results: Certain keywords trigger the display of rich snippets in Google’s search results. Rich snippets are additional information pulled directly from a webpage, providing quick answers to users without requiring them to click through to a specific result. While ranking for a rich snippet signifies authority for your domain, it can also lead to a decrease in clicks, as users find their answers directly within Google. However, there are instances where users seek more in-depth information and are more likely to click through to your site. Below is an example of a rich snippet:
Keyword Research Tools for SaaS SEO
There are numerous keyword research tools available, but only a few that we truly rely on. Here is a list of our favorite tools, ranked in order, along with their pros and cons.
- Ahrefs: Ahrefs offers both the Keyword Explorer and Rank Tracker. We primarily use the Rank Tracker for 90% of our keyword research because it efficiently provides all the necessary data in a clean spreadsheet. The Keyword Explorer tool is also useful for further keyword investigation.
Pros: Fast, comprehensive, easy to use, and provides highly accurate data (second only to Google).
Cons: Slightly less accurate than Google Keyword Planner, which may show significant volume fluctuations if you have an active and well-funded Google Ads account.
- Google Keyword Planner: It’s hard to overlook the horse’s mouth, especially when the data is reliable and quickly accessible. Although the keyword planner has evolved over time, obtaining accurate data now requires an active ad campaign with decent spending. However, it does not provide other data points like rankings, ranking URLs, difficulty, or rich snippet results. If you have a funded account, the keyword planner remains the most accurate option for determining search volume.
Pros: Accurate data and fast results.
Cons: Requires decent ad spend and lacks other data points needed for comprehensive research.
- Agency Analytics, Moz & WordStream: While these tools cater to different audiences and serve different purposes, they all excel at data retrieval and come close to Ahrefs in terms of accuracy. Agency Analytics provides all the mentioned data points, but it may not be as up-to-date as Ahrefs. Moz and WordStream have been in the industry since the early days of SEO and are highly experienced.
Pros: Agency Analytics includes all the required data points, although it may not be as timely as Ahrefs. Moz and WordStream are great for keyword research, but their offerings are slightly weaker compared to Ahrefs.
Cons: None of these tools offer a suite of tools as powerful and comprehensive as Ahrefs.
(Note: We are not affiliated with any of these tools; we simply appreciate their capabilities.)
Organizing Your Keyword Data
You probably possess a CSV or XLSX file containing keyword data sourced from Ahrefs, Google Ads Keyword Planner, another tool mentioned earlier, or an unspecified source. At this stage, it is crucial to categorize your keyword ideas within your primary Keyword Research Template. Let’s discover an efficient method to accomplish this.
To begin, generate a fresh tab within your Google Sheets Keyword Research Template for each downloaded spreadsheet from different tools. Then, navigate to your primary tab where you will organize the keyword data and commence using the VLOOKUP technique to extract each data point from the various other tabs. Be cautious to correctly implement the VLOOKUP method to prevent any errors. Once you are certain that all the data has been accurately retrieved, duplicate and paste it as values to secure the data and eliminate references to other tabs and cells.
Your list is now comprehensive, but there is more work ahead. We will conclude processing our keyword research to proceed to the subsequent step.
Target Keyword List & Mapping
Keyword Research Trimming & Finalizing
Once the data is loaded into the Keyword Research Template, we can proceed to review the keywords and decide which ones to retain and which ones to remove.
Deleting Bad Keywords Quickly
If you have been thorough throughout this process, it’s inevitable that you will come across keywords that are not suitable for targeting due to various reasons. Initially, these reasons could include mismatched search intent (also referred to as relevance), low search volume, or high difficulty. Another factor for removing certain terms is when you have an excess of keywords in a particular category, indicating oversaturation.
Typically, I begin by addressing the extreme outliers. For instance, keywords with excessively high search volume that clearly lack relevance should be eliminated. Similarly, keywords with extremely high difficulty and significantly low search volume should also be removed. These cuts are obvious, especially if you cannot identify their direct relevance upon reevaluation.
In one instance, a client of ours who sells AP Automation Software had “accounts payable” on their list of potential keywords. However, this keyword receives 47k searches per month, whereas the more relevant term “ap automation” only receives around 600 searches per month. At first glance, it may seem desirable to have an additional 47k monthly searchers on their site. However, a company that specifically focuses on AP Automation Software for large enterprise clients such as airlines and logistics companies would not want that traffic if it meant overwhelming their global sales team with untargeted visitors.
The value of the few individuals searching for ap automation surpasses the volume of those searching for accounts payable. Returning to the step in our process where we analyzed search intent, it’s likely that many people searching for the general term are seeking to understand its meaning or gather information about accounts payable in a universal sense. This is where considering the relevance and search intent can help in making swift decisions.
It is still possible to use the term “accounts payable” in the blogging process, so we do not recommend completely ruling it out. To incorporate it into your Keyword Research Template, create a new column called “Usage.” In this column, you can note where you intend to use the keyword on your website. By default, we suggest two areas of usage, but you can add more based on your site and industry. These two areas are quite straightforward:
- Structural page: This refers to any page on your site that can be accessed directly from the main menu or home page with just one click. These pages typically carry more significance in terms of Google rankings.
- Content page: This category serves as a general location for keywords that are loosely relevant to your company but may not warrant targeting with a structural page. Content pages typically include blog posts, guides, or case studies.
Structural pages usually focus on one or two keywords per page. For instance, the homepage almost always has one primary target keyword. Content pages, on the other hand, cover various topics within your industry to establish authority.
Categorize Your Keywords
By organizing your keywords into categories, you can effectively choose and discover valuable targets. Take, for instance, the category “Features,” which is particularly useful due to the potential variations. Within the “Features” category, our Keyword Research Template offers a subcategory option that enables you to select multiple keywords for each feature in your SaaS product. Consider the category as the desired name for the respective page. To maintain a balanced keyword distribution, focus on selecting one or two keywords for each page before proceeding to the next. This approach prevents an overwhelming number of keywords from being allocated to a single page.
Mapping Your Keywords
After completing the previous steps, it is time to finalize the Keyword Research process by mapping out the keywords for use on the website. We will examine Google’s perception of our site’s relevance and decide which pages need to be created or optimized. The following step-by-step process will help us move through the mapping phase quickly:
- Duplicate the Keyword Research tab and name it Keyword Mapping. This tab will be used to map keywords to the appropriate pages on the site and determine which keywords require new pages.
- Move all the keywords categorized as “Content Pages” under the “Usage” section to a separate tab called “Content Keywords.” This will allow us to focus specifically on the main pages of the site, which should be optimized first.
- Evaluate the rankings of your site for the different keywords in your list. Quickly assess the ranking pages and their associated keywords to determine if they are the best match. In some cases, you may find a single-page ranking for multiple keywords across various categories. This indicates that your site holds influence within your industry, but it may lack proper organization, structure, and optimization. If a page already ranks well for a keyword, consider making it the target page. If the keyword isn’t entirely relevant to that page, consider creating a new page specifically for that keyword. Create a column labeled “Page Exists?” and indicate “yes” or “no” for keywords that have corresponding pages or not.
- Create columns for Current Pages and New/Updated Pages. Under the Current Pages column, list the existing page on the site that should target the keyword. If a new page needs to be created, determine a new URL and place it under “New/Updated Pages.” If a page only requires optimization, list it under New/Updated Pages and select “yes” in the previous column to indicate if the page exists.
It’s time to optimize the menu on your website. Ensure that it is well-structured and optimized for your main target keywords. It’s helpful to plan this out on paper before implementing it. Let’s focus on the “Usage” column and review the keywords with a “Structural page” designation. Choose a user-friendly word for your main menu that instantly resonates with users. Prioritize usability by opting for terms like “solutions” instead of “AP automation.” Users are more likely to search for a solution, so when they hover over “solutions,” you can display links to pages such as AP Automation, Invoice Automation, Payment Processing, and more. Here’s a simplified menu layout we commonly use:
- AP Automation
- Invoice Automation
- Payment Processing
Next, let’s examine your structural pages and add their links. For instance, on the Payment Processing page under Solutions, we’ll include links to specific feature pages. Pages like “Online Payment Processing,” “3rd Party Payment Processing,” and “ACH Payment Processing” should all be linked from the Payment Processing page. This indicates to Google that it is a section of “pillar content.” Google appreciates well-organized menus like this, and it aligns nicely with other elements of pillar content.
Page Titles, META & Headings
At this stage, you have completely restructured the menu and navigation, but now we need to optimize these pages for their target keywords and create any remaining necessary pages.
Page titles are the most crucial factor for on-page ranking in SEO and require careful consideration and management. The page title refers to the blue text displayed in each Google search result. When determining the keywords to target for a specific page, it is recommended to include the keyword at the beginning of the title tag. It is generally advised not to use your brand name in the title tag unless your brand is highly recognizable. The aim is to capture attention through relevance. Once a user clicks on your listing, you can effectively establish your brand. Including excessive text on the page, the title can dilute the keyword, so it is best to focus on the target keyword. This directly impacts your site’s ranking on Google, unlike meta descriptions. The meta description is a better area to establish a logical connection between the keyword and your brand, providing a clear call to action that compels searchers to click on your search result. Currently, title tags should be around 55 characters long, while meta descriptions should be approximately 120 characters long.
We suggest adding columns to your Keyword Mapping tab to write down your titles, meta descriptions, and page headings. Page headings are important because they are typically the prominent text that users see and read immediately when a page loads. It’s a good idea to include your target keyword, but it’s important to do it naturally. Try incorporating the keyword into a concise tagline or sentence that summarizes the page. Think of newspaper headlines, as they inspire the concept of page headings. Use well-written headings that include your target keyword or a variation of it. It is acceptable to break the keyword into parts as long as it remains meaningful. Here are some examples of effective page headings:
What sets our AP automation solution apart?
Third-Party Payment Processing for Small Businesses
The Simplest ACH Payment Processing System You’ve Ever Used
Remember to write for your users and allow Google to follow. Ultimately, Google rewards sites that provide the best user engagement.
Wrapping Up & Maintaining Your Keyword Research
Congratulations on finishing your Keyword Research! This list will constantly develop as your business expands, the industry undergoes changes, and the search environment evolves. While there may be periods of minimal alteration, updates will likely be necessary at some point.
You have accomplished an outstanding task! Now, it’s time to switch focus to the fundamental aspects of SEO for your website in the Technical Audit section of this guide.
Technical Audits for SaaS Companies
Now that we have completed the abstract keyword research process, it is time to focus on the technical structure of your SaaS website.
You can also download the SaaS SEO Guide in PDF format from this link.
After finishing the abstract keyword research process, it is essential to examine and address the technical structure of your SaaS website. While our SaaS clients at SimpleTiger usually have fewer technical issues due to their expertise in building good software, it is rare to find a site completely free of such issues. Even when working with SaaS sites that have minimal critical technical problems, we always discover something that can be improved. In most cases, addressing these issues properly can lead to immediate improvements in rankings and traffic.
To begin, we need to crawl your site and gather data to identify any existing problems and determine the necessary actions. This process will be repeated throughout the journey of building your site’s organic search traffic, so be prepared to develop a new habit.
The Technical Structure process of SEO becomes much easier with the right tools. Although there are various crawling tools available for your SaaS website, we have been using and recommending a few favorites for years. Similar to the Keyword Research Tools we suggested earlier, here are my preferred crawling tools, along with explanations of why we love them and recommendations based on your site’s size and the intensity of your technical audits.
Firstly, it is crucial to have Google Search Console set up and configured correctly for your site. Ensure that you verify the appropriate version (www or non-www) and, if applicable, verify the HTTPS version as well.
Next, select one or more of the following tools to initiate a crawl of your site:
- Screaming Frog: While not our top choice, Screaming Frog is user-friendly and reliable, particularly for smaller sites.
- DeepCrawl: This is our go-to tool for crawling most of our SaaS client sites at SimpleTiger. DeepCrawl offers a comprehensive range of features and in-depth capabilities, allowing us to manage multiple client sites, handle crawl budgets, and utilize advanced settings such as password-protected pages and ignoring robots.txt. These features make it easier for an SEO agency like ours. DeepCrawl may be more advanced than what you require, but we can personally attest to its effectiveness in identifying actual problems, especially for those with less experience in SEO. At SimpleTiger, we work with various client sites, ranging from 200-page sites to 2.5 million-page sites, all with different technical issues. DeepCrawl consistently delivers excellent results in such scenarios.
- Ahrefs: While there are numerous other crawling tools we could recommend specifically for technical audits, we understand that you are likely seeking an all-in-one software solution that addresses multiple aspects of SEO. Since we have already strongly recommended Ahrefs in the Keyword Research Process (spoiler: we will suggest it again in the Offsite Strategy Process later in this guide), it would be beneficial for you to start using it now. This will save you both time and money by avoiding the need to learn and switch between different tools. While Ahrefs’ crawler may not be as thorough as DeepCrawl, it is an excellent alternative if the extreme depth and power-user benefits are not your primary concerns during technical audits.
High-Priority Technical Issues
Irrespective of the tool you utilize, it is essential to differentiate genuine concerns from those that can be addressed later. When implementing technical changes for SEO purposes, there is always a trade-off between cost and benefit. However, certain issues can be easily fixed and can have a significant impact if they are genuinely hindering performance. In the following list, I will outline the most critical technical issues we encounter during our technical audits of SaaS websites, prioritized accordingly:
- 404s – This represents the most detrimental technical issue for your site, commonly known as the “Page Not Found” error. If you encounter a problematic 404 page, it needs to be rectified. Sometimes, you may not even be aware that your server is generating a 404 error because the page appears to load fine and all the elements are visible as expected. To identify and analyze 404 errors, utilize a crawling tool and scrutinize them to ensure they are not pages that should be loading correctly. Google discourages the presence of 404 errors on your site since disappearing pages result in a poor user experience. The recommended solutions are either repairing the broken page or creating a 301 redirect to the most relevant location.
- Load Time – Pages with slow loading times (exceeding 2 seconds) will not rank on Google, according to a direct statement from Google itself. Although it is not mandatory for your site to load within two seconds, Google encourages faster loading times, so it is advisable to strive for it. Slow loading times not only affect your rankings but also impact conversions, as users are more inclined to engage with sites that load quickly and offer easy navigation. To identify factors contributing to slow loading speeds, regardless of your site’s current speed, utilize tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to conduct an analysis and optimize accordingly.
- Responsiveness – Although it may sound similar to load time, responsiveness refers to your site’s ability to adapt and load properly on various devices used by users. For instance, whether a user is accessing your site from a desktop or a phone, it should load flexibly, providing an excellent user experience regardless of the device. The URL should remain consistent across different devices. Google explicitly stated years ago that sites failing to render well on mobile devices would be outranked by those that do. Avoid having separate versions of your site for mobile and desktop; instead, opt for a single site that utilizes relative references in HTML and CSS, enabling it to load on any device and adapt to its requirements. You can assess your site’s mobile-friendliness using the tool provided directly by Google.
- Duplicate Content – Although Google has improved its handling of duplicate content, it remains an issue that should be taken seriously. Duplicate content refers to instances where two or more URLs on your site contain the same or similar content. This presents difficulties for Google in determining which page should target a specific keyword, and in some cases, Google may choose not to prioritize either page. Both outcomes are undesirable. To address this, Google recognizes the rel=canonical link tag located in the page’s section. This tag points to the original or preferred version of the page, instructing Google to attribute all credit and authority to that specific page. Duplicate content can apply to title tags, on-page content, and HTML code. Utilize tools like DeepCrawl to identify and address duplicate content issues accordingly.
- Thin Content – Pages with minimal content are at risk of not ranking well or even being indexed at all. Google defines thin content as content that offers little or no value to users and is typically represented by pages with minimal content. In many cases, these pages need to be expanded with additional content or combined with other pages to provide more comprehensive coverage of a subject matter.
- Missing Sitemap.xml File – Your site should include an XML sitemap file that serves as a feed to Google, providing information about the URLs on your site that you want to be crawled, their priority, and update frequency. This helps Google understand when to revisit your site, facilitating comprehensive indexing and ensuring prompt reflection of any updates. Without this file, you rely solely on Google to figure out your site’s structure, which is not ideal. Google encourages users to provide sitemap.xml files, and you can easily submit them through your Google Search Console account.
- Missing Robots.txt File – The robots.txt file serves as the initial point of contact for Google to determine which pages you do not want to be crawled or indexed. This assists Google in allocating its crawl budget more effectively, as there may be numerous pages you prefer not to be crawled due to duplicate content, session IDs, or pages that do not provide value to users but are generated by your server. Within this file, you can also direct Google to your XML sitemap file, enabling a smoother crawl. However, exercise caution when utilizing the robots.txt file, as it possesses significant power. A single misplaced “/” could unintentionally instruct Google to deindex your entire site. Before making any changes, it is crucial to understand how to use the robots.txt file properly.
Moving Content & Redesigning Sites
It is important to consider a significant caveat when it comes to content relocation or site redesign, even if the content and platform remain unchanged.
Google establishes distinct relationships with Top Level Domains (TLDs) on a per-domain basis. This means that each domain is perceived as a completely separate entity. If you attempt to transition from one domain to another by renaming or rebranding your company, you will need to start building the new domain from scratch. This process can be time-consuming and less than ideal if it can be avoided.
Similarly, if you decide to keep the same domain but rearrange the content within it, you may encounter certain issues that you should be aware of before making the move. This also applies to redesigns. On many Content Management Systems (CMSs), when you move a piece of content to a different menu item, dropdown, folder, or subdirectory on the site, the URL changes to a new one. For instance, moving content from “domain.com/about-us” to “domain.com/about” results in a URL change. The old URL “/about-us” becomes a 404 error page and requires redirection to the new location, “/about,” which is not ideal. While Google’s stance on whether redirects diminish link authority varies, over time, your site’s primary pages could accumulate multiple redirects, leading to a messy situation and making future redesigns or platform migrations a nightmare.
The most preferable course of action is to construct your site with a well-optimized URL structure that incorporates your target keywords in the appropriate places and avoids altering them thereafter. While this may be challenging to achieve, maintaining such a structure will greatly simplify SEO efforts in the long run.
In the previous section, we recommended moving content based on the menu and navigational structure, as well as for keyword targeting purposes. This recommendation still stands, and when doing so, it is important to implement redirects from the old URLs to the new ones. However, whenever possible, it is advisable to plan ahead for the long term and avoid content relocation altogether.
Recrawling & Maintaining Proper Technical Structure
Once you have implemented the recommended technical best practices from this guide and analyzed the results from your SEO tools, it is important to re-crawl your site. This step allows you to verify if your changes are live and to identify any new issues that may have arisen. Additionally, it is advisable to configure the chosen crawling tool to recrawl your site based on a schedule that suits your needs. If you are making significant changes and modifications to your site, a more frequent crawl cycle is recommended. However, if your site experiences minimal updates or content additions, a less frequent crawl cycle should suffice. It is important to note that issues will inevitably arise over time. The objective is not to achieve a flawless website, but rather to proactively address the most critical issues and manage them effectively, ensuring they do not hinder your performance as you continue to add content and build links.
While the aforementioned recommendations address important aspects of site optimization, there are numerous other strategies to enhance your site’s performance. It is crucial to avoid getting excessively focused on technical details and instead explore the realm of high-impact SEO efforts, such as producing valuable content and building quality backlinks.
Now, let’s switch gears and delve into the possibilities that arise when you build upon a strong technical foundation for your site.
Content Strategy for SaaS Companies
A well-defined content strategy serves as a roadmap for effectively communicating with your target audience.
Content plays a crucial role in meeting the needs of users who search on Google or other search engines. It acts as a bridge between users and the SaaS product or solution you offer, making it essential. A well-defined content strategy helps establish a roadmap for engaging with your target audience.
What type of content are users really seeking? Content can take two forms: direct and sales-oriented, where it explains the features and pricing of your SaaS product, or indirect, focusing on long-term brand loyalty through education and persuasion for potential customers. Both types of content are vital for successfully selling your product or solution. In this chapter, we will explore how content can enhance your overall SEO strategy.
Firstly, similar to the SEO framework I provided, I would like to present a functional framework for an effective and impactful content strategy. At SimpleTiger, we utilize a 3-part framework to help our SaaS clients cover all aspects of their content and guide them towards achieving effective SEO results. Here’s how you can get started:
- Content Organization: The structure and organization of content on your website are crucial for users. Users expect to find content organized into relevant clusters, similar to chapters in a reference book or products in a department store. Imagine the inconvenience if everything in a store was randomly scattered or information was scattered across different chapters of a book. It would not provide a good experience, right? Since 2017, Google’s algorithm heavily relies on user engagement as a ranking factor. Therefore, your site’s content organization is critical not only for users but also for search engine ranking.
- Content Production Strategy: Once your content is organized, you need to produce content consistently. It may seem overwhelming, and questions may arise, such as: “What type of content should we create?”, “What should the content be about?”, “How long should it be?”, “How in-depth should we go into a particular subject?”, “Who are our target readers?” and so on. Rest assured, there are ample opportunities to address your content. Your SaaS product or solution likely caters to multiple personas and has several use cases that should be well-addressed on your website. The Content Production Strategy combines various content production tactics from your arsenal that should be implemented over time to improve your site’s ranking and provide value to users through content.
- Content Production Plan: While the Content Production Strategy outlines a range of tactics to employ, the Content Production Plan sets these tactics in motion by identifying the upcoming pieces of content to be produced and establishing their priority order for production. This plan helps you initiate the creation of content systematically.
Now that we have covered a brief overview of these components, let’s delve deeper into each part of our content framework.
When working with SaaS companies, one of our initial tasks is to analyze the content structure of their website based on the target keywords and keyword mapping provided to us. Without proper keyword research and a mapping strategy, organizing the content can become chaotic. Therefore, as a first step, we refer back to the keywords provided earlier and utilize each category of keywords to establish content sections on the site, which are organized within the main navigation.
For SaaS company websites, we employ several content strategies, including:
- Features: We explore what your product offers and its functionalities, which can often be represented by keywords.
- Use Cases: We examine how your platform or SaaS product is used, providing common examples of its applications.
- Industries: We identify the industries that utilize your SaaS product or tools, listing three or more if possible.
- People: We define the types of individuals who may use your product or tools and their respective roles or functions.
- Benefits: We highlight the advantages that can be gained from using your tools.
Each of these categories can be incorporated into separate dropdown menus within your website’s main navigation, with each page optimized for both specific and general keyword opportunities.
Additionally, we ensure that each target keyword finds its appropriate place on your site. Whenever feasible, we recommend creating dedicated pages for individual keywords and structuring these pages into clusters that fall under the parent category page in your main menu. This approach helps Google recognize the interconnection between the various pages addressing a specific topic and the associated keywords.
Content Production Strategy
Producing new and valuable content consistently is crucial for a successful SEO strategy. The key element of content production is its value, which involves addressing concerns related to your product, answering customer questions, and educating them about the benefits of your solution.
When organizing your target keywords into different categories and developing your content structure, you may realize that there’s still a significant amount of content to be created to enhance the framework of your website. Therefore, it’s important to prioritize filling this content gap and gradually transition to ongoing content production that will consistently boost your site’s rankings for various long-tail keywords.
Many websites underutilize their blog section, often keeping it separate from the rest of the site’s content. This lack of integration prevents companies from fully leveraging their blog to enhance content production and improve search rankings. This presents a valuable opportunity where we can help our clients by implementing a SaaS content strategy that seamlessly integrates their blog throughout the main site structure, ensuring both components work together effectively.
You might be wondering how to incorporate blog content throughout your site. It’s a simple process that involves “connecting the dots.” For instance, suppose you’re writing a blog post about invoice automation and your website already has a dedicated page on this topic. In that case, you can easily include a hyperlink to the “invoice automation” page within your blog post, enabling users to access further information. Similarly, you can also link to the blog from the “invoice automation” page, providing users with additional relevant content after they’ve explored the featured page. By following this approach, you can effectively leverage your blog. For inspiration, we highly recommend checking out HubSpot’s blog, which seamlessly integrates blog content with landing pages and other sections of its site.
While blogs are an important component of your SaaS content production strategy, it’s also crucial to incorporate other types of assets such as webinars, videos, and gated downloads. Creating valuable content plays a vital role in converting strangers into qualified leads and filling your sales pipeline. Blog articles often excel at pulling strangers further into your sales funnel. Additionally, these other content formats can be repurposed into blog posts, making the information more accessible to users compared to being limited to webinars or white papers. Moreover, blog articles can include call-to-action (CTA) prompts for visitors to download the original content, enhancing engagement, boosting rankings and conversions, and ultimately generating leads.
Content Production Plan
After establishing your content organizational strategy and structuring your site accordingly, as well as defining your content production strategy, it is time to initiate the planning phase for the content that needs to be created. I highly recommend prioritizing content that targets long-tail keywords with easy rankings. This approach will enable you to achieve quick wins in search rankings and generate small increases in traffic. Ultimately, this will lead to significant improvements in rankings for more general, high-search volume keywords in the future. By consistently incorporating a general keyword like “invoice automation” across a series of articles addressing different aspects of the topic, you will demonstrate to Google the relevance of your content over time, resulting in improved rankings for your website.
Once you have successfully optimized for these quick-win keywords, you can delve into more generic search terms and ideas. It is crucial to remember the importance of organizing the content you produce under the same main theme or category on your site. This approach allows you to comprehensively explore key topics relevant to your product.
Another effective way to prioritize content production is to examine any active paid search campaigns you may be running. These campaigns provide valuable insights into which keywords are delivering better conversions compared to others. Consequently, you can give priority to content related to these high-performing keywords during the production phase. Typically, this type of content addresses the questions that arise during the sales process for our clients. Moreover, answering these questions not only educates users and resolves their concerns but also enhances your site’s rankings and attracts more qualified opportunities in the long run.
When discussing content production planning, it is essential to mention the significance of videos, as they can be time-consuming to create. If your company already produces videos, whether regularly or occasionally, it is highly recommended to transcribe the video content into a blog or other textual formats. The same can be done for podcasts. The reason behind this approach is that when people speak, they naturally cover numerous relevant terms and keywords. This provides significant opportunities to repurpose the already relevant content into different forms, such as infographics or blog posts.
Lastly, always monitor site analytics to understand the content that resonates with your users. If you have a well-covered pillar topic spanning multiple pages, consider repurposing this content for other digital channels, such as email campaigns. By establishing additional points of contact with your users and nurturing leads, you can drive traffic back to your website and strengthen engagement.
Creating New Pages
While building upon your existing pages provides a solid foundation, the addition of new pages serves to enhance your current content, fostering growth and driving increased traffic. The key lies in selecting appropriate keywords as the cornerstone for crafting fresh and targeted content. By utilizing your navigational structure, engaging in brainstorming sessions, and conducting keyword trend research, you can effectively determine the keywords to incorporate into your new pages.
Once you have identified relevant target keywords, it is crucial to develop corresponding content and strategically place the keywords in various on-page elements. These elements encompass titles, headings, body text, and meta descriptions.
Link Building for Commercial Pages vs. Content Pages
When embarking on link-building campaigns, it is essential to recognize the contrast between building links for commercial pages and content pages. In general, building links to commercial pages proves to be more challenging, which necessitates a strategic approach that emphasizes content pages. However, it is important not to completely disregard the promotion of commercial pages.
If your SaaS company lacks a well-developed keyword-oriented blog, it’s likely that your home page or feature pages directly promoting your software solutions are the ones ranking highest. These feature pages belong to the commercial category.
If your feature pages already have good rankings, it indicates that Google considers them relevant to your software product. In such cases, building links to these pages can help improve their natural rankings.
However, building links to these feature pages can pose a challenge. Since these links are promotional rather than informational, many websites may not be inclined to link back to them. This difficulty can make it challenging to surpass content pages targeting the same keyword. However, if your main competitors are other commercial pages, you may have a better chance of success.
Nevertheless, competing even against other commercial sites can be tough due to review sites that compare multiple software products. As a result, commercial pages should typically play a secondary role in link-building strategies.
Content marketing plays a crucial role in most link-building campaigns. A content page allows you to focus on a specific keyword and incorporate hyperlinks related to that keyword and its relevant phrases. When target keywords are combined with informative content that addresses your audience’s needs or provides solutions, it adds value and creates potential for high-quality backlinks.
Content pages can include comprehensive pillar content, offering in-depth guides on topics of interest to your target audience. They can also feature less extensive blogs, articles, or videos that cover narrower topics and long-tailed keywords in specific niches.
Having more content provides more opportunities to build links. However, it’s important to prioritize quality over quantity in link-building efforts. Certain content on your site, such as pillar posts, tends to attract more traffic and should be given priority in your link-building campaigns.
2. Choose Your Link Building Methods
When it comes to link building, there are two commonly used approaches: digital PR and tactical link building.
- Digital PR utilizes content that generates publicity to create excitement about your website, thus promoting the creation of links.
- Tactical link building involves obtaining backlinks from other websites to direct traffic back to your site.
These two overall strategies consist of multiple tactics, which will be discussed further below. It’s important to note that digital PR and tactical link building differ from branding PR efforts, which may not necessarily focus on link building. Branding campaigns often aim to generate social media likes, shares, and follows, which are crucial but don’t automatically result in backlinks. This is where digital PR and tactical link-building play their roles.
Methods of Digital PR
Digital PR methods encompass various strategies aimed at engaging your target market’s buyer persona to drive search and social traffic to your website. These tactics include:
- Establishing Thought Leadership
- Participating in Podcasts
- Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
- Press releases
- Paid social media campaigns
The distinctive feature of these methods lies in their emphasis on creating publicity that stimulates conversations and prompts others to share links to your site. This sets them apart from tactical link-building methods, which rely on obtaining backlinks from other websites. Generally, digital PR methods offer less control over the outcomes compared to tactical link building, but they can yield significant link juice. Now, let’s delve into a closer examination of each of these tactics.
1. Establishing Thought Leadership
Positioning yourself or your company as a trusted authority in your industry through content creation. This helps build your reputation, increase your brand’s authority, and generate backlinks.
To implement this tactic, you can form a “thought leadership committee” like Hubspot, where a professional or aspiring journalist works closely with high-level executives to create informative content for public posting. Alternatively, platforms like Contently allow you to recruit journalists specifically for this purpose. Another indirect approach is joining Forbes Councils and regularly contributing posts related to your niche, although these posts may not provide SEO value due to nofollow links.
2. Participating in Podcasts
Appearing as a guest on relevant podcasts offers an opportunity to gain contextual backlinks from shows that have an established audience. However, keep in mind that these backlinks usually point to your homepage rather than specific internal pages of your site.
Podcasts are often run by individuals, granting them editorial independence. Most hosts prefer discussions focused on topics interesting to their audience rather than direct promotions. It’s essential to obtain approval from the host regarding any promotional content beforehand.
3. Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
HARO is a valuable platform for becoming a quoted subject matter expert in specific areas, potentially resulting in backlinks. Journalists frequently post requests for experts, and responding to these queries and being selected for inclusion in an article can lead to backlinks. Similar to podcasts, the backlink obtained through HARO generally directs to your homepage.
Combining HARO with thought leadership creation and podcast appearances can further enhance your exposure and backlink opportunities. HARO can be an effective way to get your SaaS company featured in renowned publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Reuters. However, keep in mind that the competition is high, and journalists receive numerous queries, so expect to respond to a significant volume of HARO requests before being featured, even in niche publications.
4. Press Releases
Effectively leveraging press releases for backlinks can be challenging due to the limited coverage of the SaaS industry by journalists. To achieve results with press releases, it is important to carefully research your SaaS market and personally reach out to targeted publications that focus on your niche. Ensure that your press release tells a compelling and newsworthy story that is relevant to the audience of your target publication. It is crucial to follow the submission guidelines of your chosen publication meticulously.
5. Paid Social Media Campaigns
Paid social media is a cornerstone of content distribution on the internet. While it doesn’t directly affect SEO rankings, it does help in getting your content in front of people who may not have seen it otherwise. If these people are targeted correctly, they may even be inclined to share or discuss the content or your company itself on social media. This can lead to bloggers or journalists coming across your content and linking to it as a resource on their own websites. For example, you can use a LinkedIn retargeting campaign to generate buzz around a content piece.
Strategic Approaches to Link Building
While digital PR techniques depend on external sources to generate hype, strategic link-building methods focus on getting your content published on other websites that link back to your own. Some strategic link-building methods encompass:
- Editorial link building
- Guest posting
- Reciprocal guest posting or link exchange
- Authority link building
These methods offer greater control over your link-building campaigns compared to digital PR methods, but their deployment can be challenging. Below are some effective tips for using them:
1. Editorial Link Building
Editorial link building involves securing backlinks from other sites by leveraging your position as an editor or by influencing the site’s editor. It can also occur when the editor independently discovers your content and decides to link to it. Editorial link-building is the most effective tactic for strategically boosting the rankings of specific URLs. If you aim to improve your website’s ranking for particular keywords and already have a relevant and optimized page for link building, then editorial link building is the recommended approach.
Editorial link building establishes a connection between the linking site, your site, and the associated content. Typically, these links come from sites with moderate authority.
When focusing on editorial link building, it is essential to follow a predetermined link estimate to build the necessary number of links for ranking a webpage based on specific keywords. Several factors contribute to this estimate, including keyword difficulty, the composition of the search engine results page (SERP), the authority of competing ranking websites, and the authority of your own website. If your website matches or surpasses the authority of other sites or if you have a highly targeted content asset, editorial link-building can effectively influence rankings.
2. Guest Posting
Guest posting involves persuading another site’s editor to allow you to publish content on their site. In exchange for this opportunity, you provide value to the other business and receive a backlink to your website.
Guest posts are typically arranged by proposing a topic that aligns with the prospective host’s audience. Usually, guest posts include a link to your homepage through your author bio, rather than embedding contextual links within the content.
3. Guest Post or Link Exchanges
Guest posts and link exchanges involve arranging mutual backlinks. The distinction between these tactics is that guest post exchanges require creating new content, while link exchanges involve inserting links into existing content.
Google generally permits these tactics as long as both links are relevant. However, it is important to avoid irrelevant exchanges, as they may result in penalties. Additionally, ensure that the site you’re exchanging links with is of high quality.
4. Authority Link Building
Authority link building is a more challenging method for acquiring strategic links. It entails obtaining links from highly authoritative sources such as educational, government, and news sites. For instance, a news site might link to your website as an authority on a particular topic.
Such high-quality backlinks can enhance your domain rating and authority. However, they are less likely to generate immediate ranking boosts for target keywords. Authority sites have stricter editorial standards and are unlikely to heavily promote the content of your page. Moreover, they may provide you with nofollow links, which are useful but lack direct SEO benefits. It is advisable to avoid such links unless their PR (public relations) value outweighs this drawback.
Link Building Strategies Tailored for SaaS Companies
SaaS companies have alternative approaches for building links, apart from the traditional PR method. Here are a few strategies they can employ:
- Integration Partnerships: If your SaaS product integrates with other tools, establish connections with the companies whose tools you integrate with. Explore opportunities to be included in their integration directories. While resembling reciprocal link building from the early 2000s, this approach remains relevant and offers value to users of both products.
- Strategic Partnerships: Even if your platform doesn’t directly integrate with other tools, it can still complement them to enhance user outcomes. Create a blog post on your site discussing this collaboration tip, and then reach out to the mentioned companies. Inquire whether they would be willing to link to your article and share it on their social media platforms.
- Exclusive Data: Many SaaS products accumulate valuable data that can be structured and utilized to provide value to others. Organize this data into compelling topics that help you weave a story on your website.
Win SaaS SEO Results by Implementing Proper Link Building Techniques
The right approach to link building is crucial for achieving successful SaaS SEO outcomes. To begin with, it is essential to carefully choose the target pages. While you are in the process of developing pages that incorporate target keywords, you can simultaneously initiate link-building for your existing pages by conducting a site audit and identifying the top landing pages. It is worth noting that building links to commercial pages can be more challenging compared to content pages. Therefore, prioritizing content pages in your link-building strategy is recommended.
There are two primary strategies for effective link-building: digital PR methods, which aim to create a buzz about your website, and tactical link-building methods which involve promoting links to your content from other websites. Combining these two types of strategies can result in a comprehensive and successful link-building campaign.
At Simple Tiger, we specialize in assisting SaaS companies in developing link-building strategies and establishing links to enhance your content’s visibility on the first page of Google.
Measuring SEO Results for SaaS Companies
Measurement is crucial in any digital marketing approach, including SaaS SEO. Unfortunately, many people struggle when it comes to measuring SEO results for SaaS companies. In this section, I’ll clarify the concept of this inbound marketing channel and assist you in establishing an effective workflow for assessing your SEO success.
At SimpleTiger, we have developed a process for measuring success specifically for Google. I refer to this process as the “Trifecta of SEO Results,” which simplifies the targets and metrics we track.
We can categorize this Trifecta into the following groups:
- Rankings: Refers to the position of your site in Google for a specific set of keywords.
- Traffic: Represents the organic traffic that comes to your site.
- Conversions: Relates to the conversions generated by organic traffic on your site.
There’s no need to complicate matters beyond these categories, especially in the beginning. As your company grows and you desire more detailed control over your efforts, you can expand each of these groups and broaden the range of metrics you track. For most situations, these three measurements are sufficient as they provide a reliable indication of your SEO performance.
First, we’ll delve into each of these three categories and recommend some tools for monitoring and understanding their metrics. Then, I’ll explain why I consider these three metrics the ultimate measure of SEO performance and provide guidance on managing your expectations throughout your SEO campaign.
In the Keyword Research section, we discussed the importance of identifying target keywords as the initial crucial step toward achieving SEO success. Once you have compiled your list, it’s essential to evaluate your current performance by examining how your website ranks on Google for the selected keywords. Various rank-monitoring tools can provide insights into your baseline rankings.
- AgencyAnalytics – Our preferred tool for measuring rankings is AgencyAnalytics due to its accurate data and extensive range of features, which empower us to generate comprehensive reports for our clients.
- Ahrefs – As mentioned earlier, Ahrefs is highly valued for its accuracy and speed of data, and it proves useful even during the Keyword Research process. When it comes to overall SEO management, Ahrefs surpasses AgencyAnalytics in terms of viability.
- SEMrush – This tool is excellent for various SEO-focused research and analysis. We rely on SEMrush for competitive research, allowing us to gain insights into our competitors’ keyword targets, PPC budgets, and more.
The purpose of the ranking metric is to establish a baseline for your target keywords, enabling you to monitor monthly progress. While it is possible to track rankings more frequently, such as on a weekly or daily basis, it’s important to remember that search engine results pages (SERPs) exhibit volatile daily fluctuations, much like the stock market. Conversely, monitoring rankings over an extended period reveals patterns and trends that offer deeper insights into the effectiveness of your content and strategy.
It is advisable to set up a recurring monthly report to observe the progress of your rankings over time. With consistent effort in SEO, you will start to see improvements in your rankings. Many tools provide reports on the top 100 positions in Google, offering valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t. If your website begins to appear within the first 100 positions, even if it’s around the 87th, don’t be discouraged!
This indicates that Google has acknowledged your website’s relevance to the given keyword. However, climbing Google’s rankings is an ongoing process that requires further content marketing, technical optimization, and link building. You should aim to observe an upward trendline in your website’s rankings from the established baseline.
Organic Search Traffic
Organic search traffic, which represents the initial stage of the customer journey, has the highest probability of converting your website visitors. Essentially, the traffic generated through organic searches tends to convert more effectively compared to other channels, such as paid search, paid social, organic social, display advertising, signage, and referral traffic. While there may be rare instances where another channel performs slightly better than organic, organic traffic remains a close second in terms of generating conversions.
The effectiveness of organic traffic in converting visitors can be attributed to “searcher intent,” which refers to the underlying purpose behind an individual’s online search. When users conduct keyword queries, they have a specific goal in mind. Organic search traffic holds significant power because people actively seek out the products or services your business offers and are either ready to make a purchase or in the final stages of decision-making. Upon discovering your website, visitors usually require additional information to convince them that your product is the best choice. Once persuaded, they are more likely to convert into paying customers over time.
To measure organic search traffic for your SaaS company, we recommend utilizing the following tools:
- Google Analytics: As the default option in digital marketing analytics tools, Google Analytics is the go-to tool for measuring traffic channels and engagement on your website. It can be customized to provide various levels of insights within regional standards and privacy regulations.
- HubSpot: While HubSpot offers an excellent suite of marketing automation and CRM products, its analytics tools are particularly impressive. However, they tend to keep their data proprietary, limiting the extent to which it can be shared compared to Google Analytics. This approach aligns with their business model, which aims to retain customers through subscription fees.
- Mixpanel: Mentioning Mixpanel because many of our SaaS clients use it to gather user data from both their website and app interactions. Mixpanel excels in connecting searchers’ data from the moment they first visit your site until they develop a deep engagement history with your application. If you’re seeking a more advanced option with better controls than Google Analytics, Mixpanel is the ideal choice for you.
- KissMetrics: Developed by renowned SEO professional Neil Patel, KissMetrics has gained a positive reputation among its users. This tool provides a SaaS analytics solution similar to Mixpanel and Google Analytics, particularly for monitoring in-app activities.
Once you have selected and set up one of these tools, it is crucial to monitor your website’s organic search traffic on a monthly basis. As your rankings begin to reach the first page of search results, you should observe an increase in organic traffic data. Often, clients experience traffic improvements even before they start ranking for their primary keywords, as they begin to rank for longer-tail keywords. It is important to note that the traffic obtained from long-tail keywords may start off low and gradual in the beginning.
Tracking conversions accurately is often the most challenging task when it comes to monitoring SEO performance, making it the most crucial metric to focus on. Utilize the aforementioned tools to establish conversion metrics that gauge the key engagements necessary for the success of your SEO campaign. Now, let’s delve into the concept of conversions, determine what qualifies as a conversion, and explore methods for tracking more tangible outcomes resulting from your SEO endeavors.
What is a conversion?
In simple terms, conversion refers to a crucial action or engagement that contributes to the success of your SaaS business. Some examples of conversions include:
- Requesting a demo
- Contacting sales
- Downloading an ebook or guide
- Downloading your app
- Signing up for a free trial
- Registering for an account
- Paying for your product
The definition of conversion can vary depending on the priorities of your specific business, industry, and circumstances.
To monitor conversion metrics, we often assist our clients in utilizing Google Analytics’ Goals feature. Additionally, we frequently employ Event Tracking to monitor specific actions such as form submissions and button clicks.
How can you track conversions effectively?
With the availability of various conversion-tracking tools, optimizing your SEO efforts becomes essential. Depending on your business, industry, and the type of SaaS product you offer, it is often advisable to guide users through a series of engagements with your website and content before expecting them to become paying customers.
While it’s important to provide an easily accessible option for visitors to convert immediately, most people tend to go through a process of researching your product’s functionality, features, use cases, pricing, and more before making a purchasing decision. They might even compare your product with competitors’ offerings to find the best fit.
We recommend setting up a multi-level funnel with several conversion points throughout your site. Think of these levels as stages representing different levels of commitment in the buying process. Based on a visitor’s level of interest, you can segment them into different funnels to guide them toward making a purchase.
Here’s an example of a funnel:
- A user discovers your site through a blog article relevant to their search keyword.
- They read the initial article and navigate to another related article linked at the bottom to learn more.
- They encounter a popup or element offering to send similar content to their email, prompting them to sign up. This can be considered a form of conversion.
- Two weeks later, they click through an email marketing campaign and return to your site.
- They download a guide on how to choose SaaS tools like yours, providing additional information about themselves in exchange. This represents a higher level of conversion, as they are now a more serious lead in your system.
- At this point, they begin receiving a different type of email specifically designed for highly engaged leads in your marketing automation platform (such as HubSpot). This email invites them to a webinar or a product demo, indicating that they are nearing the end of the marketing funnel and are almost ready to convert into paying customers.
- A week after the demo, your sales team follows up with the leads who attended the webinar or product demo. The sales process involves further communication and providing additional information to prepare the lead for making a purchase.
It’s evident that solely tracking conversions based on product purchases is insufficient. Gaining insights into a lead’s decision-making process will enable you to create a well-planned inbound marketing funnel. This approach to lead nurturing has been utilized for over a decade to drive sales.
Now that you understand the different stages of conversions, you can see how your SEO efforts may not yield immediate sales. However, in the long run, this simple yet effective marketing funnel allows SEO to become the lifeblood of your business.
Why should you track all three metrics to understand SEO?
- Monitoring rankings provides initial insights into website optimization. The impact of incorporating targeted content and linking becomes evident through these rankings. Initially, rankings tend to improve gradually until they reach a threshold that generates organic traffic.
- Receiving traffic from the third or fourth page of Google SERPs is minimal, but once your website reaches the second or first page, traffic will start trickling in. Eventually, reaching the top half of the first page on Google, where the majority of users click, will significantly boost your traffic.
- When your rankings improve enough to attract SERP clicks, you’ll experience an influx of web traffic. The initial visitor count may be modest, gradually increasing, or it could spike when your site achieves a favorable position on Google. This trend is influenced by various ranking factors, primarily the quality and relevance of your content for specific keywords, as well as the number and quality of backlinks.
- Over time, as your site captures more quality traffic, its inherent conversion rate will come into play. For instance, if the website converts at 2%, it means that out of every 100 visitors, two of them are converted in some way. As you climb the rankings and witness growth in traffic numbers, conversions start to flow.
- Once your site ranks well for relevant keywords, attracts quality traffic, and builds trust through content, you’ll notice an improvement in conversion rates. As the results of your efforts accumulate into higher rankings and increased traffic, conversions will also rise. This compounding effect establishes SEO as the most successful top-of-the-funnel marketing channel, explaining its attractiveness as a marketing methodology.
I hope this section has provided you with a clear understanding of how to measure SEO results using a practical and easy-to-implement framework, allowing you to determine the success of your SEO campaign over time.
SaaS SEO Timeline for Results
Answering this question is extremely challenging and demands a comprehensive understanding of all the topics covered in this guide. To begin with, let’s focus on the factors that must be taken into account in order to create a timeline encompassing everything we’ve discussed.
“What is the expected timeframe for us to witness the outcomes?”
Undoubtedly, this is the most frequently asked question we receive concerning SEO projects. However, answering it is undeniably challenging and necessitates a comprehensive understanding of all the topics we have covered in this guide. To begin, let’s discuss the factors that must be taken into account in order to create a timeline encompassing all the aspects.
Do you currently have knowledge of your target keywords?
If not, it is crucial to determine them before proceeding with anything else. It is essential to allocate sufficient time, whether it be a day or a week, to accurately identify these keywords. Remember that, at SimpleTiger, we encourage our clients to validate keywords through paid search, which can sometimes require 3-6 months or longer depending on the industry. However, with access to paid search data, we typically take just one week to finalize a targeted keyword list for our clients, leveraging reliable data and maintaining a highly efficient feedback loop.
Therefore, the timeframe ranges from 3-6 months without paid search data to only 1 week with paid search data.
Does your website have a solid technical foundation for content creation?
A solid technical foundation ensures that Google can easily crawl your site and ensures that average users won’t encounter any technical issues while navigating your site. It’s crucial to strongly consider that the majority of searchers use mobile devices, so the mobile experience needs to be seamless for a successful SEO campaign. Typically, it takes anywhere from 3 months to a year to establish a stable technical foundation during the technical optimization process.
However, the most common timeline for completing this stage is 6 months.
Do you have sufficient content for each keyword you want to target?
As discussed in the Content Strategy section of this guide, it is important to have appropriate content on your website for every keyword in your SEO plan. This content should effectively represent the keyword. What does “sufficient content” mean? Essentially, it refers to content that is long enough (in terms of word count) to compete with existing content that ranks well on Google. In some cases, a single page may not be enough, and we may need to create multiple pillar pieces of content to form a content cluster for a specific keyword. Each pillar will address a smaller keyword within the cluster. This strategy is highly effective, but it requires time and resources. Generally, it takes around 2-3 months to produce an entire content cluster, depending on the number of pieces that need to be created.
Let’s estimate that it takes 3 months for each major keyword on your target list, and then multiply that by the number of major keywords you want to target.
The Example SEO Results Timeline
The Example SEO Results Timeline serves as a rough estimation based on various steps involved in the SEO process. It’s important to note that the timeline is influenced by multiple factors and operates as a dynamic system, rather than a direct path from action to results. Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario where a company has 10 major target keywords, significant paid search data, a weak technical foundation, and a need for content and links related to the target keywords. In such a case, it is estimated that it would take approximately 40 months and 1 week to achieve dominance on Google for those target keywords. However, several assumptions are made:
- All 10 target keywords are equally competitive and difficult to rank for (which is highly unlikely).
- No other competing domains are engaged in SEO efforts (which is also unlikely).
- The estimation does not account for variations in the conversion value of different keywords for your company.
You might be wondering why it would be worth waiting 40 months and 1 week to see these results. This is an excellent question that highlights the positive aspects of embarking on an SEO project like this. It’s important to remember that SEO is not a linear process, and neither are the results it produces.
The journey can sometimes feel like an uphill battle with different types of results along the way. As time progresses, your website and business will grow through your efforts. The timing of when you start seeing results will depend on your position in the growth timeline. Some clients have experienced transformative results within just 2 months, as demonstrated by the case studies of Segment and JotForm. For others, significant results may take 6-12 months to materialize. Additional information can be found in their respective case studies. Most clients observe the most remarkable outcomes after a year of working on a campaign, while satisfactory results tend to manifest earlier and compound exponentially over time.
Can SEO results be predicted?
Will your predictions be completely accurate?
Is it reasonable to attempt forecasting SEO results before initiating a campaign?
=> Not really, apart from exploring the organic search opportunities available for your company.
When should you consider investing in SEO for your SaaS business, given the difficulty of accurately predicting outcomes and determining when ROI will turn positive?
=> Ideally, you should have been indirectly investing all along by using a solid platform, creating content, and testing paid search ads. If you’re prepared to move forward with a project, I would expect to see a positive ROI in terms of monetary value within approximately one year. However, there should be satisfactory results before that, indicating a strong positive trend.
Choosing to invest in SEO through a reputable company like SimpleTiger means you’ll not only receive results from your initial investment but also acquire assets that will establish authority and act as entry points for future business opportunities for many years to come. It’s important to note that SEO operates in a distinct realm. Unlike advertising, where results cease when the budget runs out, the efforts and investments made in SEO are organic and contribute to ongoing growth and results. The key distinction lies in the fact that the output of SEO is exponential and continues to generate benefits long after the initial inputs.
I hope you found this guide on SEO for SaaS companies enjoyable and informative. If you’re ready to invest in SEO, please reach out to us to schedule a strategy session for your company. Feel free to share this guide if you found it helpful.
SaaS SEO is a powerful strategy that can unlock immense growth and visibility for your SaaS business. By understanding the core principles, conducting thorough keyword research, creating compelling content, building a strong backlink profile, optimizing on-page elements, and embracing local and technical SEO, you can position your SaaS business for long-term success. Stay vigilant, adapt to algorithm changes, monitor competitors, and leverage content marketing and social media to establish your brand’s authority in the SaaS industry. With a well-executed SaaS SEO strategy, you can enhance your online presence, attract quality leads, and drive sustained growth for your SaaS business.
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