As you may know, SEO for SaaS companies is different from traditional SEO, but you may be wondering what are the best strategies and tactics that are going to help your business in 2020 and get you to the top of search engines.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at step-by-step approaches that will help you understand how to improve your SaaS SEO but also why these methods work. Also, if you’re considering outsourcing this channel to a SaaS SEO agency, this guide will help you to ask the right questions during the selection process.
1 – Content marketing + SEO for SaaS business
1.1 – Know your ideal customer (User research)
User research is often overlooked in many aspects of business, but is one of the most important foundations you need to work on – and that’s no different when it comes to SEO.
Without knowing who is buying your products or services (whether they’re old, young, male, female, living in the EU or China) you may as well not bother with your SaaS SEO strategy.
One of the best ways to understand how your customers perceive your product, is to use the Jobs to be done methodology.
The JTBD approach helps explain the various factors that influence why customers make the choice they do. It helps you uncover the social, emotional and functional dimensions that play a part in people’s decision-making process.
In simple terms, JTBD is an approach to developing products based on understanding both the customer’s specific goal, ( “job”)and the thought processes that would lead that customer to “hire” a product to complete the job.
By sticking to this framework a product team hopes to understand what a user wants to achieve when they buy a particular service or product.
There are numerous ways in which you can conduct user (or market) research which will allow you to look beyond product specs and attributes and focus on understanding how potential buyers engage with your SaaS business.
Best user research practices
The first step of most user research can be done by using the resources you have to hand – i.e the people within your company. Ensure you get together a group of employees from across the board who deal directly with your customers. Make sure you’re involving all the departments (sales, tech, design, etc) to help create a clear understanding of your users’ needs.
The first step in any good user research will be to understand the problems or pain-points your customers are facing. You can achieve this in a number of ways:
- Using Personas
- Face to face interviews
- Phone interviews
- Competitive analysis (checking the competition’s reviews).
Offer incentives if you’re able to do so, such as discounted access to your services or a percentage off the price of your product, or vouchers/gift certificates as a ‘thank you’.
Questions you should be asking are:
- What was the problem needing to be solved?
- Were these problems resolved (and how) when we communicated with you?
- How would you research/find our company?
You can also conduct video call interviews with potential or current users where you share their screen so you can see exactly how they’re using your service and where any stumbling blocks might be.
User research isn’t just about asking the right questions, it’s also about avoiding asking the wrong questions.
Once you’ve collected all your data from as many avenues as possible, you should be in a position to fully understand your customers’ pain points and work on mapping out your content and SEO strategy so it’s of value to your end-users.
1.2 – Mapping your SEO Strategy to the SaaS Marketing Funnel
Once any user visits your site, whether it’s from a Google search, an email, social media or a recommendation, they begin what is called a buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey is the process a user goes through from recognizing a need, researching potential solutions, evaluating these solutions and finally making a purchase.
By mapping a buyer’s journey you can tailor your content to their requirements and ensure your SaaS SEO is really targeted to create the desired outcome….which is to buy what you’re selling!
There are three main stages when it comes down to buyers’ journeys, which are: Awareness, consideration and decision. When dealing with a SaaS company, the journeys are slightly different to a traditional B2C company where the end goal is to click on ‘buy’.
Once a customer has bought into your solution, it’s really important that they keep engaged with your platform (or create ‘stickiness’ as it’s often known) . Creating a solid SEO SaaS strategy is therefore really crucial to getting these customers coming back time and time again.
So how do you work on these three stages?
1 – Awareness
In the awareness stage of the journey, the buyer is working out what problems they’re experiencing and trying to label them. At this stage of the process, they’re most likely unaware that your business even exists. To get yourself onto their radar, and to understand what content you need to create, consider the following questions:
- How would they describe their goals and issues?
- How do the buyers begin to educate themselves about their goals and challenges?
- What are the misconceptions they might be facing when facing these challenges and goals?
- How do they prioritize a particular goal or problem? And finally
- What will happen if they don’t take any action?
By understanding your users’ process they’re going through when considering solutions, you can create clear and targeted content to match their priorities.
2 – Consideration
At the consideration stage, the buyer has addressed the goal or problem and has started researching potential solutions. Again, there are a few key questions you want to be asking at this stage including:
- How are they researching different solutions?
- What different types of solutions are they investigating?
- What factors of each solution are they prioritizing? And finally…
- How do they decide which solution best fits their problems or goals?
3 – Decision
It’s decision time and you want that decision to be your solution! SEO for Saas at the decision time is all about marketing your business! Now is the time to pitch yourselves, illustrate your USP whether that’s by offering a live demo, a pitch deck, brilliant graphics, case studies, infographics – anything that will sit you head and shoulders above your competitors.
Make sure you’re answering questions such as:
- What they like most about you as compared to other alternatives?
- Are they concerned about any aspect of your offering?
- Who makes the financial decisions when it comes to purchasing?
- If a trial would help seal the deal?
1.3 – Keyword research for Saas SEO
After undertaking proper user research, competitor analysis and mapping your SEO strategy, you should now have a substantial list of keywords to use to hook your users.
Keyword research for Saas SEO should be at the heart of your marketing and content strategy.
A lot of Saas companies have very few pages (home page, about us, blog and pricing/features) which is good for ranking for those specific pages, but bad when it comes to being able to direct people to things they’re searching for.
When it comes to Saas SEO you want to be finding topics rather than transactional keywords. These topics are likely to be the same phrases and questions that cropped up in your user research – focused on goals or pain-points.
How to do this?
Start collecting keywords
You can use the Keywords Everywhere tool – a free Chrome extension that shows you the Google keyword search volume and cost-per-click (CPC) data on any websites or on the search engine’s page. You could alternatively use the Google Ads keyword planner but it’s fiddly, you’ll be presented with the option to create ads and campaigns and it’s a lot slower.
Search using the tool for the phrases of complaints and pain-points that you’ve established in your research. By doing this you’ll find keywords and phrases that are directly targeting the people who need to find a solution.
SEMrushis a great tool for discovering your competitors’ keywords. Simply enter their company name/URL to see their organic search positions within ranking and traffic driven to their website for each keyword.
Talk to your customers again!
It’s one thing to think you’ve got your Saas SEO strategy right but never assume this. Ask your customers for more feedback to see that your keyword list matches their intent. You can do this face to face, via a video call or asking them to fill in a survey. You might also find some keywords that aren’t being mentioned doing this simple process.
1.4 – Creating an SEO Content framework with topic clusters
The way people search for things in 2020 is vastly different from 10 years ago when we used to use quotation marks to pinpoint a specific product or offer. Now, people tend to search using phraseology (partly due to advancement in technology such as voice search).
So when considering your Saas SEO overall strategy you need to think not just about what content you’re publishing but how you’re optimizing it. Enter….”topic clusters” (first identified by HubSpot in 2017).
In short, the Topic Cluster model is an intent-based SEO strategy that focuses on topics rather than keywords.
Topic clusters are a collection of interlinked articles or pages around one umbrella topic. A topic cluster starts with the main topic (“pillar” page) and they focus on different keywords related to the content on your Pillar page.
Your pillar pages need to broadly cover the topic you’re focusing on so that it makes sense with links to all the topic cluster pages. The pillar page also needs to link to your homepage or main landing page in the first paragraph. The topic cluster pages will go into the topic in greater detail.
Topic cluster pages need to link back to your pillar page and all of the cluster pages that you’ve listed on that pillar page.
The topic clusters model is in short, a great way to organize your content while helping users and search engines to navigate easily through your site’s content.
2 – On-page optimization
On-page SEO to the practice of ‘optimizing’ web pages to help them rank higher in the search engines. The end goal of this is to increase organic traffic to your site.
Even though content is still king for any Saas SEO strategy in 2020, without on-page optimization the chances of ranking highly on search engines will be pretty low.
The basics you need to do are:
- Optimized, unique titles for each page
- One H1 tag on every page, optimized for the target keyword on that page
- Obvious page hierarchy, making use of H2, H3, etc tags where it makes sense for the reader
- Clean HTML and markups that make it clear which elements on your site are most important
- Intuitive site architecture that’s easy for humans to navigate and search bots to crawl and index (don’t forget your site map!)
- No hidden content, keyword stuffing, or cloaking
3 – Linkbuilding for SaaS
Last but not least – it’s time to build your links; content without any links won’t rank! Again, years ago link building on sites often meant a page or pages full of links to other complementary sites, but in 2020 it’s a bit more subtle.
Ensure your internal links are all working and link to other relevant websites or publications. You can also get guest bloggers to write for you (and link to their companies or businesses)
If you’re a new company, get listed on startups websites such as Crunchbase and web directories. Write articles for SaaS publications, appear on a Podcast or Webinars. If you’ve built any integrations – whether directly with other platforms or through a service such as Zapier – make sure your company info is listed and a backlink to your site is included.
On-page optimization, linkbuilding and organic content creation all need to be present for your SaaS SEO strategy to be a success, but by planning ahead and following all these points, you should reach your goal of being at the top (or at least the front page!) of Google.
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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