If you’re a SaaS company looking to generate quality traffic that leads to more software sign-ups - look no further. This guide will help you understand how to approach your SEO and content marketing to get real results. For your convenience, we've broken it up into a table of contents.
Let’s set the stage for this guide. We want to establish why SEO is so important to SaaS companies and of course, we’d like to establish our credibility as an SEO agency that offers the SaaS SEO services.
We’re going to look at the search term: invoice template
We searched that term in Google and here are the top organic results as of August 2020:
Before all the images, there were some ads, but below all the ads are images of different invoice templates and then the first two organic links, Microsoft and Freshbooks. Both software companies that offer SaaS products.
For these two companies, this is a fantastic content strategy that is bringing in a ton of valuable, organic traffic.
Consider the type of person that would search for an invoice template:
They likely own a business and/or are just starting one. If they don’t currently have an invoice template, they likely don’t have invoicing software or much business software for that matter.
They are looking for a simple solution to a common problem that someone in business might have – they need to collect payments.
This is the type of person that FreshBooks (cloud accounting software) and Microsoft (business software) want to get in front of.
By offering a great, free resource in a landing page that has links and tools to create your own invoice template, they are attracting their ideal customer to their site.
If you take a look at the Freshbooks page, they offer all different kinds of file types and invoice styles made for different types of businesses. This is crucial.
Google understands that people are unique and therefore they want to offer a resource that can best match who they are, what they need, and fulfill the searcher’s intent.
What is user intent or search intent?
User intent is what a user online intended or wanted to find online when they typed their search term into an online search engine.
The intent of someone searching “invoice template” is pretty clear. What makes working hard to get a page to rank for that term so powerful is that the person(s) most likely to be looking for an invoice template are highly likely to need what either Freshbooks or Microsoft has to offer.
This is a great example of a great SaaS SEO and content strategy executed for a SaaS company.
If you can understand and empathize with your target audience you’ll be able to perform better keyword research, which will lead to more opportunities to create great content for your audience.
Continue reading to find out how your SaaS product can bring in valuable traffic to your website through evidence-based SaaS SEO.
Why SEO for SaaS Companies?
In short, it works. SaaS companies can generate more sign-ups, demos, trials, and revenue by taking advantage of organic search. All SaaS products solve some kind of problem. People go to search engines to solve their problems.
The better that Google and other search engines get at helping people solve their problems by suggesting solutions like your product, the more valuable SEO becomes.
People trust in search engines more and more as they interact with them and become more comfortable relying on them to identify solutions.
According to a Search Engine Land article, 53% of all site traffic on the internet is organic. For technology, it is closer to 59% and for B2B it’s 64%.
If you aren’t investing in your search engine real estate, you’re missing out on traffic that can convert and grow your SaaS business.
How to Market a SaaS Product
The key to marketing success for your SaaS business is in identifying the problem your solution solves and educating the market on how exactly it solves their problem.
Use Customer Empathy to Market Your Business
We always tell SaaS companies that we work with to focus on their customers first. In order to successfully execute digital marketing, you need to know more and care more for your customer than your competition.
That may mean you invest in SEO and content marketing. Invest in content that will help your customer before they’ve made a buying decision.
Online content isn’t just a blog post anymore. It’s images, video, slideshows, web applications, and more. All of this content can help establish your brand as a leader in your space and make your software solution more desirable.
Imagine being able to solve a problem for your customer before you’ve talked to them. Great blog posts or online tools can do that. Helping them first doesn’t just create an opportunity for a new customer, it creates a brand advocate.
The strategy, tactics, marketing channels you choose, time and capital investments you make all need to hinge on your customer. Find out information about your customer like:
What is their day-to-day job like?
What does success look like in their job?
What words and phrases do they use in their particular industry?
What else do they search for at work?
What are they going to experience before they need your solution?
By listening to your customer and gaining empathy for your customer, you’ll start to get a clearer picture of how they might use search engines to find your solution and what type of content might attract them to your website.
In order to execute effective marketing for your SaaS business, you need to have good operations and sound strategy built upon an evidence-based plan. Do your research and plan the work before you work the plan. You can’t campaign yourself out of a bad strategy.
SEO Strategies and Tactics for SaaS Companies
What is SaaS SEO?
SEO or search engine optimization for SaaS companies is the process of getting quality, organic traffic to your site with the intent of converting that traffic into a new user, trial, or lead. The tactics behind SEO for SaaS don’t look all that different than any other industry. However, there are a few nuances.
If your SaaS product is essentially a new product category, you’ve got a lot of education to do.
Take SparkToro for example; their SaaS product, SparkToro, helps marketers understand what their audience reads, listens to, and watches.
Before Rand Fishkin built this tool he conducted market research. He asked marketers what they would call an understanding of what their audience reads, listens to, and watches.
He said that 95 out 100 marketers had no word or phrase for that (source: Indie Hackers).
Rand ended up calling it “audience intelligence.” This is, more or less, a great example of creating a new product category.
There is undoubtedly a need for audience intelligence as a marketer, but most marketers didn’t have a word or phrase that would describe it.
This creates a great opportunity for educating a market on a new subject and helping them solve their problems.
Marketers have a problem with trying to understand their audience better, but no word to describe it. This means that SEO is vital to SparkToro’s inbound marketing strategy. If SparkToro can do a great job of empathizing with their audience, they’ll know the questions and search queries they use to describe their pain points, which SparkToro can use to create helpful content around.
By researching keywords, a vital component of SEO, Rand and other marketers can begin to identify ways to help their audience and educate them on a whole new category and/or product.
An SEO strategy with comprehensive blog posts on topics that your target audience cares about will bring all kinds of organic traffic to your site.
On-Page, Off-Page, & Technical SEO
SEO can be broken down into three general categories; on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
On-page SEO is mainly the content on your page. Keywords, titles, headings, meta descriptions are all SEO signals that are on a page of your website. Search engines want to make sure the content is relevant to the search term or keyword. Relevancy plays a big role in on-page SEO.
Off-page SEO is everything from other web pages that help a particular page on your site rank. There are several factors, but the biggest are backlinks or links from other sites to your site. It’s crucial to have a good volume and good quality or relevant backlinks to validate your trust and authority.
Technical SEO is, for the most part, all under the hood of your website. It’s making sure your website is developed so that it is crawler friendly, has an SSL certificate, loads fast, etc.
Meta Titles and Descriptions
Meta titles or page titles are the titles of each individual page or post on your website. These are not necessarily visible on the page, but they are visible to the search engines. You have control over this title and what it says so it is imperative that you optimize these titles to stand out.
Meta descriptions or page descriptions are another HTML attribute that provides a summary of a page or posts content. These can also be optimized for the search engine results page, but Google will often manipulate them for certain search terms.
Keyword research is a crucial part of search engine optimization. A keyword research tool is imperative to identifying quality keywords, identifying user intent, and determining your overall content strategy.
Using a keyword research tool, you can shortlist your keywords. We use SEMRush to do keyword research.
In the screenshot below you’ll see the SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool. This allows us to enter a keyword (in this case “invoice template”) to start our keyword research process.
This is where you enter your keyword. We tend to start with a short-tail keyword (a few words) and a broad match to get ideas.
You can toggle keywords to just those in the phrase of a question, which is great for content ideas and making sure to fulfill searcher intentions.
You can see a list of other words that are commonly included when the words invoice and template are used.
You can also see data on the competitive nature of the term and trends.
These are some of the most common features we use for keyword research, but there are several others to help you drill down on your strategy.
Keyword research can and should help your SaaS company get an idea of how big your market is and plays a crucial role in determining if it’s an investment worth making for your business.
Once you’ve done thorough keyword research, you’ll need to determine how to use keywords for SEO (read this guide for more on how to do that). Keep in mind the importance of search volume for your SaaS product. Low-volume keywords can be great if there are a lot of them, but if there is not a lot of low volume keywords, you’ll
Page Load and Mobile-friendliness
Your page load time is crucial not only to SEO but your potential customer’s experience. Google will promote sites with a faster page load speed if it enhances the user’s experience. This is especially important when loading over mobile devices, which are often being used on 3G and 4G connections with slower download speed.
Keep the size of your images and other large media minimal and work with an experienced web developer to optimize your site for speed.
Your website needs to be mobile-friendly. Your target audience is searching for you on mobile devices and with Google’s mobile-first indexing, you can’t ignore the importance of a mobile-friendly website. Mobile-first indexing is essentially Google stating that they are prioritizing mobile-friendly sites when people search on their mobile devices.
Your website design is important to the user’s experience. If your potential customer can’t easily find what they are looking for, you may miss out on lead generation. It’s important to consider internally linking between pages to add context and help the user navigate.
When it comes to web design for SaaS companies, it can be challenging to use thoughtful architecture. Make sure to plan your website content carefully and group topics together. Thorough keyword research can help.
Link building is the process of acquiring backlinks or links from other sites to your website. This is really important to build your expertise, authoritativeness, and trust. Generating links back to your site is important when the market competition demands it. Oftentimes, great content alone can win out and get you the visibility you need in the search results.
Utilizing your social media channels, you should be promoting the content you publish on your website. Creating useful content on your website for the purpose of attracting people organically via the search engines is great, but you should also push it out to your audience via social media channels.
When executing SEO, be sure to use available free tools like Google Search Console. Search Console allows you to manage your website to ensure it is being crawled and indexed. You can also see what keywords your site is getting impressions and clicks on.
Content Marketing for SaaS Companies
Why do we bring up content marketing on a guide about SEO? Because an effective SEO strategy is incredibly reliant on great content. SEO and content go together like peanut butter and jelly.
The beginning of any effective content marketing strategy for SaaS businesses begins on a foundation of a thorough keyword research process, which is also the foundation of great SEO.
Our keyword research process for SaaS companies is below.
How to Identify Content Marketing Ideas
Talk to Your Customer
While it’s true that you probably understand your product really well and can talk about it all day with a bunch of industry jargon, that most likely is not true of your customer. You probably know less about your customer and don’t know what words they use to describe what they need.
The best way to start to get ideas for content marketing is by asking your ideal customer the right questions. Start by surveying your current customers to get some more information about who they are, what they do, and how they think.
Your goal is to identify quality content that is attractive to your ideal customer that you could create. In the Venn diagram above you’ll see what we’re referring to.
Take the keyword “appointment reminder text” as an example.
Who is searching for this? Is it a business that wants a solution for sending appointment reminder texts to customers or is the customer trying to schedule their own reminder? Or is it neither? Perhaps it is a service provider that already has a solution, but is looking for example text message reminders to send to customers.
The point is, you need to investigate keywords in order to come up with great content for them. Google and other search engines may not know their intentions either, so they are going to provide a mix of helpful options.
If you were to create a resource page that had something to cover all intentions, you’re more likely to rank because you’ll be providing quality content that solves a problem for the searcher.
Do Keyword Research
By using a keyword research tool you can start to gather great content marketing ideas to attract SaaS leads.
In the screenshot above you can see on the left that you can drill down into subtopics of “invoice template.” People look for Google Doc, PDF, Word Doc, and Excel templates.
If you want to start to dominate all that “invoice template” traffic, you’ll need to make sure to cover the topic well and include links and information on all the different types of invoice templates.
When you write great content that is related to what SaaS product does, you are supporting your domain authority online. By focusing on writing quality content on all the questions, topics, and subtopics people search for that are related to your subject matter, you’ll begin to dominate the search engines.
Create a Shortlist
As you use your keyword research tool, add keywords to a shortlist. These can be high-intent, low-intent, short-tail, and long-tail. Add any that seem relevant for now. You can chisel them down later. The point of creating a big list is to get a good overview of your entire potential and you can create a content plan based around all of your keywords.
Look at Content Types in SERPs
Content is not just written copy and your target customer doesn’t want to just read an article. It often makes sense to support your content with images and video and interactive tools like calculators and quizzes. But, don’t just take our word for it.
With a tool like SEMRush, you can determine which SERP features show up on each of your keywords. In the screenshot below, we have filtered our keywords by those that include a video in the search engine results page. If we search any of these terms a video will show up in Google.
This is important to note because what the search engines provide in search results should guide what you include on your web pages.
You need to have great content for your target keyword and using available keyword data can help you determine what that high-quality content should look like.
Our SEO Services: Websites That Increase Traffic & Conversions
We create and execute SaaS SEO & content marketing plans for SaaS companies.
Attracting traffic to your SaaS website can be a challenging and daunting task. There are a lot of moving parts to your website. It’s a living organism that requires constant attention and maintenance. And then you have to think about quality, fresh content that you can contribute. Writing great, authoritative content takes time.
But, it can be worth the investment to your SaaS company with the right SEO strategy and content marketing strategy.
Evidence-based SaaS Marketing
At Avalanche Creative, we create evidence-based, highly executable search engine and content marketing plans for SaaS companies. Our process takes the mystery out of the question, “should I invest long term in SaaS SEO and content marketing?” and provides a bullet-proof plan for how to execute SaaS SEO and content strategy that drives more traffic, more qualified leads, and builds your brands authority.
Our SEO services mitigate the risk of a bad investment in search engine optimization. We do this by researching and planning more thoroughly than anyone else. We make sure your SEO and content marketing plan is truly investable for your SaaS business.
The Avalanche Email: Fun. Simple. Educational. No Selling.
The Marketer's Secret Weapon to Learning SEO & Content Strategy
Join over 1,000 others who get one email every Wednesday with simple instructions on how to get more website traffic and leads through SEO and content marketing. (Learn more about the email)