In these recent ‘new normal’ times, many SaaS companies have begun to shift their focus away from costly performance marketing strategies, and concentrate more on organic SEO strategies. By doing so, companies can spend more on assets that are going to last.
One of the key things to remember here is that SEO for Saas companies is not going to be wildly different than for any other companies. However, as a CEO you might want to think about hiring an SEO consultant or a SaaS SEO agency who can focus on marketing your Saas business while you prioritize scaling the company.
1 – How SaaS SEO is different from traditional SEO
Although it’s much quicker (and easier) to set up Google and social media ads, content marketing is still king when it comes to SEO. This and SEO are the foundation blocks in building a successful, scalable, and predictable growth strategy. When it comes to SEO, it’s really important to organize your SEO strategy so that it meets your company profile, whether it’s SaaS SEO or traditional SEO.
If you look at any of the most successful SaaS companies in the world like Hubspot, Mailchimp,
Survey Monkey, they’ve all become front runners because they’ve invested in content-driven
growth and SEO.
Let’s take a look at a few key differences between SaaS SEO and traditional SEO:
1.1 – Marketing Goals: Leads vs. Sales
The main difference here is time. If you’re investing in traditional SEO, the focus is on driving
new leads and sales within a certain time-frame. I.e. getting the customer to engage>visit a
website> make a purchase in the quickest time possible.
However, when it comes to SaaS SEO, the focus is on creating content and building long-term relationships with other businesses. The more you create content about your brand or service,
the more you create trust about how useful the service will be in the long term for your business.
Think of SaaS SEO as more of ‘telling the story’ marketing and traditional SaaS SEO as selling
a product or a service.
1.2 – Keyword Selection: Industry-specific vs. Generic
Again, when it comes to keyword selection, this is somewhat different for SaaS SEO
campaigns. Traditional SEO keyword selection centers around technical keywords targeted
towards a specific audience, whereas SaaS SEO keyword selection focuses on long-tail
keyword and phrase selection. For example, keywords for a SaaS company such as Mailchimp
would more likely be phrases such as ‘best mailing list software’.
1.3 – Content: Simple vs. Technical
With SaaS SEO, the end goal is talking or engaging with other businesses that ultimately understand your product or service. Therefore the content you create can be slightly more technical and include detailed descriptions of videos, services and defining your USP.
As opposed to traditional SEO where you might want to concentrate your efforts on creating engaging content or a ‘sticky’ website to ensure customers return and keep buying your product. Again, the major difference between SaaS SEO and traditional SEO here is longevity and ensuring SaaS SEO develops your brand’s story over time.
1.4 – Building Relationships: Long Term vs. Short Term
As mentioned before, there’s a huge difference in SaaS SEO and traditional SEO when it
comes to timing.
Some of the tools you might be using for traditional SEO like ‘enter a competition on Facebook to win 10 tickets!’ isn’t going to work as part of a SaaS SEO strategy.
With SaaS SEO, the real goal has to be about how your company or brand with benefit a business. For example, how ZenDesk will help free up time for your technical department building services or how it will help your customer service department resolve customer complaints more efficiently. Building a relationship and telling a story are the real backbones of SaaS SEO.
2 – Key Questions to Ask a Potential SaaS SEO Consultant
First up, money doesn’t talk when it comes to hiring a SaaS SEO Consultant. Just because they’re charging a premium rate doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be the best. Have a think about what your company does and what results you’d like to achieve.
2.1 – Do You Have Experience With My Business Type?
Ask to see examples of their past work to check they have experience with SaaS SEO and not just traditional SEO . A good SEO consultant should be able to show you a portfolio of previous SaaS clients and the results from their SaaS SEO techniques.
2.2 – Do You Have Experience with My Market and/or Market Segment?
If your B2B company is a Fintech product, you might be more comfortable working with a SaaS SEO consultant who has experience in this field. SaaS SEO and marketing should complement one another and as such, it might be best to hire a SaaS SEO consultant who understands your business, competitors or sector.
2.3 – Do You Have Familiarity with My Platform/Site Technology?
Understanding the platform on which your site is built is of real importance when hiring a SaaS SEO consultant. There are huge differences between WordPress and Wix with regards to SEO tactics, so even if it’s just a general understanding, try and hire a consultant who’s worked with the same technology.
2.4 – Do you have case studies or client examples?
If you were hiring a builder to undertake work on your house, you’d want to see reviews and
photos of previous work they’d completed. The same goes for SaaS SEO consultants. A good
SaaS SEO consultant should be willing to show previous successful SEO results and able to
offer client testimonials that are specific about how they or their consultancy has helped grow
their business using SaaS SEO.
If you come across a SaaS SEO consultant who’s very vague about who they’ve worked with in
the past, or if their previous clients are totally unheard of (or worst, disrespected in your
industry) treat that as a red flag and walk away.
3 – Mistakes to avoid when choosing a Saas SEO consultant
As with hiring anyone, individual or SaaS SEO consultant, there are key red flags to look out for.
Let’s take a look at what not to do so you can save yourself money and heartache down the
3.1 – Mistake #1: Using Google as your filter
This might seem like an unusual warning, BUT SaaS SEO consultants who are at the top of their game are there because of client referrals rather than SEO optimization. Think about it – if a SaaS SEO expert has been working for you for several months and you think they’re great, you’ll tell people about them and they’ll gain new clients this way. Because their services are ongoing, they will tend to work for clients over an ongoing period with a high retention rate, swamping them with work so they don’t have a lot of time to spend optimizing their website for Google.
The SaaS SEO consultants at the top of Google when you search, are often ones who might not have a long client list so they’re able to spend more time tweaking their website to get to the top of Google.
However, if you’re searching for a SaaS SEO consultant in a specific region, take a look at the local ones to you who have good Google reviews
3.2 – Mistake #2: Trusting “Top SEO” lists
Much like looking for the ‘top restaurants in the world’, remember that a LOT of these Saas SEO gurus have paid to be there! Whether it’s paying to be part of a ‘top SEO’ website or paying to advertise on SEO specific articles. Most people nowadays aren’t going to trust a ‘best of’ list when it comes to finding someone that’s really good.
Don’t be fooled into thinking a ‘best SEO consultants’ list is the creme de la creme of SEO consultants. There are a few trustworthy sites you might want to take a look at such as Moz’s recommended SEO consultants, but steer clear of lists on sites such as SEO blog; instead trust reviews, look out for recommendations or even look for a SaaS SEO expert who’s won awards and accolades for being really good at what they do!
3.3 – Mistake #3: Believing there’s a “secret sauce”
As in every good business practice in 2020, transparency is what you should be aiming for. With the advent and rise of open-source data, SEO and consultants are moving towards the same end goal – to be open.
If you’ve shortlisted 3 SaaS SEO consultants who look equally good, but one of them is saying ‘ahh I can’t tell you how to best optimize your site’ or ‘it’s all to do with Google’s ever-changing algorithms that you need to study to understand’ or ‘ I could tell you how to do it but I’d have to kill you!’; then it would be a wise idea to pick one of the other two.
There are no special sauces or techniques when it comes to SaaS SEO, just understanding your business, understanding your market and mostly, understanding what it is that other businesses using your service want. Don’t be tricked by cryptic jargon! You want to understand all aspects of your business and SaaS SEO shouldn’t be an area that’s shrouded in mystery to you.
3.4 – Mistake #4: Not understanding results
If your sales team were to return from a conference with all their leads scribbled on a sheet of paper in illegible writing or wrote down illegible monthly sales results, you wouldn’t stand for this.
The same should apply for SaaS SEO reporting. You should be able to understand what metrics they’re going to report, how often, what tools/platforms they’ll be using to produce any reports and how any metrics match up to goals set out by you or your business.
If they’re unable or unwilling to show you previous reports, question this and move on to find a SaaS SEO freelance who’s able to produce detailed and helpful regular reporting.
There are many, many ways of choosing the right SaaS SEO expert for your business, and only you really know who’s right for your company. If in doubt, ask! If you’ve seen a competitor who you think is performing really well and getting great results, see if they have an in-house team or if they outsource. They may list the agency or SaaS SEO consultant on their website or Linkedin page, but if not, there’s no harm in asking (perhaps from a personal email account rather than your competitive contact address).
Ensure you’ve done your homework and research before deciding which SaaS SEO consultant is best for you. Check their reviews or recommendations, check their previous work and check that they can deliver what they promise!
Don’t be tempted to hire someone because they cost a lot – there’s a lot to be said for The Emperor’s New Clothes approach when it comes to picking the right SaaS SEO consultant – what you get isn’t necessarily what you pay for. Listen to businesses like yours; use your networks wisely and see who has been producing the best results for your competitors or others in your market.
If you’d like to learn more about how we help B2B SaaS companies grow their MRR through SEO, schedule a free SaaS SEO session to speak with us.
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