Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, has been blowing up in recent years. There are over 22,000 SaaS companies listed on Crunchbase, operating out of over 100 different countries.
It doesn’t show any signs of slowing, either. SaaS spending is projected to double by the end of 2020. SaaS is becoming the standard in a wide swathe of industries. 73% of businesses are planning on migrating the bulk of their systems onto SaaS by 2020.
This proliferation of businesses creates a unique challenge for SaaS developers and providers. How do you make your SaaS solution stand out from the rest? How will potential customers find your SaaS in the first place?
A SaaS SEO strategy needs to be part of your digital marketing strategy. It’s the most surefire way to ensure consistent organic traffic. After all, 73% of all business traffic begins with organic search.
So how should you construct your SaaS SEO strategy? We’re going to show you how to configure your own SaaS strategy to help your business or product get found by the people who need it!
How To Set Up A SaaS SEO Strategy
To start our guide to setting up a SaaS SEO Strategy, let’s start with SEO itself. SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s how a website or digital asset gets found by the search engines.
Website owners can polish their digital content to get noticed by the search engines. This is part of an SEO strategy.
There are some aspects of setting up an SEO strategy that are particular for SaaS providers, however. A SaaS strategy requires optimizing your content for standard SEO considerations as well as taking these special considerations into mind.
Some common SaaS SEO strategies include:
- Creating landing pages
- Integrating rich content
- Finding guest posting opportunities
SaaS SEO strategies have some of their own unique considerations as well. There are often a rather limited number of users looking up SaaS applications directly, for one thing. Many of the top search engine result page (SERP) listings will automatically be taken up by huge content aggregation sites, for another.
Luckily, you can configure your SaaS strategy to be more competitive by using particular keywords. You can also hone your strategy to increase actual conversions, which is the main point of SEO anyway.
SaaS SEO Special Considerations
Let’s start our SaaS SEO guide with some of the things that are unique about SEO for SaaS. Then we’ll delve into some general SEO best practices that are particularly effective for SaaS providers.
Competition From Content Aggregators
Keyword density is inherent to the way that websites are sorted by search engines. That makes it difficult for smaller websites to compete against larger ones, especially if they’ve been around for awhile. There are numerous enormous sites with extensive listings of every kind of software or website.
Capterra is a particularly popular aggregator site for software. They have over 750 different software categories, alone. This is very difficult if not impossible for a newer or more independent website to rank against.
This also becomes a “chicken and the egg” scenario due to the other ways that SEO is assessed by search engines. With Capterra being the go-to expert for all things software, that means that other websites are going to be linking back to them far more frequently than an independent website would. Backlinks are just as important to SERP rankings as keyword density, if not more so. That means that huge content aggregation sites like Capterra will continually pull further ahead while smaller websites lag further behind.
You can look at some of Capterra’s strategies to get an idea of how you can conduct your own SaaS strategies, however. You’ll notice they don’t just rank for keywords but also for many related search phrases, as well. This is predominantly handled via the thoughtful use of landing pages.
Someone looking up ‘productivity software’ most likely doesn’t want to be led to just one product page. They probably want to see an assortment of options to choose from. That page should also include information that decision makers, such as customer reviews and pricing information.
You can use those insights as part of your SaaS strategy in a variety of clever ways.
Getting Everyone On The Same Page
Digital businesses are often large, complex systems. It can be difficult to get everybody on the same page. It’s imperative that you do so, however, if you want your SaaS product to be competitive. This means getting your design and development team working together with your SEO strategists.
Developers and designers are usually focused exclusively on creating a great, well-functioning product efficiently and under budget. SEO is often an afterthought, which can put these two teams at odds against one another.
Consider the simple metric of page load time, for instance. Developers often want to include everything and the kitchen sink into their application. This can lead to unwieldy applications that are slow to load, however. SEO strategists, on the other hand, know that every millisecond counts when it comes to page load time.
40% of web users will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, after all.
To help avoid these disagreements, your development and marketing teams should get together semi-regularly. You should create a master list of the main key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most relevant for your SaaS product. You should also agree upon the terminology that you want your software to rank for. This will help get the development and marketing teams on the same page for when it comes to begin your SEO campaign in earnest.
SaaS Has Longer Buyer’s Cycles
One final special consideration to keep in mind when promoting SaaS products is they feature a longer buyer’s cycle than other products. A study from HubSpot indicates that the average buyer cycle for a SaaS solution is 84.3 days. This means that a decision maker will likely have to encounter a SaaS application several times before they’re ready to buy.
These insights can be worked into your SaaS SEO strategy. You’ll want to create content for each individual stage of the buyer’s cycle. You’ll want to think about keywords and phrases for different stages of the cycle, such as awareness or the consideration phase.
Don’t rely solely on landing pages, either. Blog posts and premium content can be optimized for specific stages of the buyer’s cycle as well.
General SEO Strategies For SaaS
Now that the particulars are out of the way, let’s take a look at some standard best practices for running an SEO campaign for a SaaS solution.
Every SEO campaign should begin with keyword research. Otherwise, you’re simply guessing, rather than using your time, energy, and resources most efficiently. The problem is that many SaaS providers don’t have a simple, straightforward keyword for their product or service.
Many SaaS providers feature extremely niche products. They tend to think in terms of copywriting rather than keywords, “empowering end users by freeing data from its siloes,” which sounds nice but doesn’t feature one definitive keyword or phrase.
This is where competitor research comes in. Even if your SaaS product is entirely new and innovative, there’s bound to be some sort of application that does something similar.
Think about some of the applications that inspired you to create your SaaS application in the first place. Also think about any others that you might have learned from during development. As it gets closer to implementing your SaaS strategy in earnest, use some of those sites to conduct competitor research.
You should also spend some time on some of the leading software directories like Capterra. You might come to find that other software solutions aren’t really optimizing their content for SEO, whereas Capterra is always clean, clear, and well organized. This could yield potential opportunities to pull ahead in SERP rankings.
Software listings on Capterra have a section where they show where they’re listed. Like with Google Drive, for instance, which is listed as ‘file sharing software,’ ‘remote work software,’ or ‘document management software.’ These listings will give you further ideas for additional keywords to optimize your content for.
You can do the same for other software in those categories, as well. You’ll have a full list of keywords to create content around before you know it!
Conduct Further Competitor Research
After you’ve spent some time on Capterra gathering your seed list of keywords and phrases, the next step is to go back to Google. Start looking through the SERPs to find additional webpages not listed on Capterra. You’re going to do competitor research on those sites, as well.
Next you’ll want to go to some sort of keyword research tool like Ahrefs or Moz. On Ahrefs, you can investigate a domain by Prefix. This returns a list of all of the keywords a website ranks for.
You’ll also get a listing of posts that are performing particularly well for particular keywords. You can browse those keywords, as well, and with any luck you won’t see Capterra among those listings.
This will give you an idea of keyword alternatives that you can rank for that aren’t already dominated by the content aggregation sites. That’s the bright side of SaaS SEO, which focuses more on long-tail keywords than immediate results.
Landing Pages For SaaS
Once you’ve got a list of the keywords you’re hoping to rank in, you’ll want to begin creating landing pages integrating those insights. Landing pages are of particular importance for the SaaS SEO strategy, as you have complete control over what’s included. They also allow you to optimize content for different stages of the buyer’s cycle as we discussed earlier.
Thera are a few types of landing pages that are of particular importance for SaaS application.
Product pages are the heart of a SaaS website. They’re where you dictate, in as great of detail as possible, what your SaaS product is and does. Product pages are where you want to focus on the main keywords you’re wanting to rank for.
This also means that those keywords are also going to be some of the most competitive. It’s going to be difficult to stand out against the content aggregation sites. The ones that do often focus on page design and the amount of content on the page.
To help your product pages perform competitively, you should include one or two instances of the main keywords before the first call-to-action. Rich content, such as a product demonstration video, will also make your product page more SEO-friendly.
You’ll want to include some graphics on your product landing pages, as well. High-quality screenshots are an easy way to integrate graphics. So are logos and graphic design.
Remember to include the keywords you’re hoping to rank for among the alt. title and meta description of the images you upload. That’s one of the main keys of a successful SEO strategy – taking advantage of every opportunity.
Features pages are very common on SaaS sites, as well. These fulfill multiple functions. First and foremost, they tell your customers what your SaaS application can do. They also help optimize your site for SEO.
Feature pages can be stacked, as well. You can have an overview page, which is similar to a category page. Then you can have each individual feature lead to its own landing page. This gives you even more opportunities to integrate the keywords to help your site get found via the search engines.
SaaS SEO strategy isn’t that dissimilar from traditional SEO, but it has some unique challenges. Following this guide will get you thinking like an SEO strategist, helping you to construct methodical SEO and content creation campaigns that will have you ranking competitively as quickly and easily as possible.
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Whether you’re looking for help with your SaaS SEO strategy or conducting a content marketing campaign, we’ve got everything you need to help your digital business flourish. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or let us know how we can help!