Search engine optimization is the methodology of optimizing your SaaS website on and off-page to rank higher in Search Engines. Some people may think SEO is magic or some conspiracy but its actually a very fine science that can be broken down.
SEO can be one of the highest converting verticals in your marketing arsenal.
In this article, I am going to show you how to optimize your SaaS website so that you have a steady flow of new customers signing up to your SaaS.
What is SEO?
As a SaaS owner, SEO should be one of your main focuses as far as online marketing goes for your business.
With SEO, you can have traffic coming to your website in perpetuity. This can decrease your customer acquisition cost and increase profits.
But how do you go from 0 organic visitors to thousands a month?
By following all of these SEO ranking factors, your Software will be flooded with new business online.
The very first thing to do is Research.
It is highly likely that you have some sort of competitor in your niche so we are going to research their site to figure out what keywords are working for them.
There are plenty of great keyword tools out there, but we prefer to use Ahrefs which is the best in our opinion (and we are experts).
Simply enter in your competitors URLs and we will be able to see all of the keywords they are ranked for, how much traffic they get from them and what position they are in.
For example’s sake, let’s say you are building a CRM software. So lets put in hubspot.com and take a look at their traffic.
From here, we can see they get about 854,000 organic visitors a month from about 254,000 keywords.
So now, we can click on the organic keywords and see what keywords they are using to generate traffic and sales.
Now, we get a big list of keywords to add to our target keyword list. We can add filters to show only keywords in position 1-10, that don’t contain ‘HubSpot’ but do contain CRM.
Alternatively, we can look up certain keywords we think people may be searching for to find a service like yours.
Let’s say you created a software as a service that automates exporting from google sheets to excel.
We can start with a simple keyword search of ‘export google sheets’ to see if anyone searches for that term.
Here you can see that ‘how to export google sheets to excel’ gets 200 searches a month. We can also see a number of other questions and keywords that we can try and rank for.
Now that we know all of the keywords we want to try and rank for we will need to create relevant content to rank for those keywords (see content marketing).
Website Optimization (technical SEO)
In order to rank well in Google, your SaaS’s website will need to be optimized and provide an optimal user experience.
There are over 200 Google Ranking Factors. but here are some of the most important for software companies.
SaaS Website Auditing
Auditing your website should be the first step if you already have a pre-existing website. If you are starting from scratch then you should do the audit before you launch the public site.
An SEO website audit will crawl your site to make sure it is up to date with the latest SEO factors. It will make sure every page has a meta description, canonical tags, alts tags and a ton more.
There are a lot of different audit tools out there but here is a list of some good ones:
Audit your website regularly to make sure that your site is compliant with all of Google’s ranking factors.
How you structure your public facing website (and even your app) is important for search engine optimization.
Visitors should be able to sign up easy, find things fast and navigate the site with ease. The URLS and buckets that you use for your pages is important as well.
Your page structure should make sense to users and to search engines.
This makes it easier for Google to crawl and will give you sitelinks in the search engine results:
For Software as a service companies, meta titles are super important.
Meta titles are HTML code that goes in the <head> element of your pages. This is the link people see when they come across your listing in Google Search.
When your meta title is optimized and includes the main target keywords for the page, you will get a lot more clicks, increasing your click-through rate (CTR) and bumping you up in Google.
It’s also important to include your branded keyword on all of your pages after the main keywords. This will ensure that you not only capture any branded searches or direct references to your website.
Each page should also have a unique meta title that explains the page and topic.
<title>A Descriptive Title</title>
Like the Meta Title tag, the meta description tag should be on every single page and be unique on each one. It should explain the page in between 150 and 160 characters.
This is the text that Google will show for the specific page in their search engine results pages (SERPS).
You should include the pages main keywords in the meta description but make it natural. Don’t just stuff a bunch of keywords in there.
<meta name="description" content="A concise 150-160 character description on what this page is about.">
Heading tags are often only looked at in terms of CSS and design. h1 is the biggest and h6 is the smallest.
But search engines actually look at the headings on each page to figure out what’s the most important content.
Each page should have one <h1> tag and it should include the pages main keyword, topics or phrase.
When laying out your content, always think about the heading structure, whats most important and what keywords you are trying to rank for.
<h1>Main Phrase, Topic or Keyword of Page</h1> <h2>Secondary Topic</h2> <h3>Any Sub Topics of h2</h3>
Does your SaaS work on mobile? If not, you are probably not ranked very well in Google.
Having a mobile-friendly website is now a necessity for ranking well in Google. About half of all people browsing the internet are on mobile as of 2019.
For this reason, Google will prefer websites that are mobile-friendly over non-mobile ready websites.
To test if your website is mobile-friendly use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. It will show you if your page is mobile friendly in Google’s eyes.
You can also check out Google Search Console to see if Google’s requires any mobile usability enhancements. Just login to Google Search Console and click ‘mobile usability’ on the left column.
Here, Google will show you any mobile usability issues that your website may have.
Image SEO is another ranking factor that a lot of people look over. Google Images Search is about 25% of all Google searches. This will keep rising as they keep adding more snippet sections to Google. Currently, depending on your search, you could be shown an images section at the top of normal Google Search.
So how do you get your images to show up here?
Alt tags are simple HTML tags that go on your HTML image elements. Since Google can’t actually see images, it reads this text to decipher what an image is actually about.
Simply add keyword specific alt tags to your images and they will start geting index in Google and bringing you more traffic and better rankins.
<img src="/file/filepath.png" alt="really cool image"/>
Did you know that…'40% of people will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.'Click To Tweet
This statistic should inspire you to check out your websites load time to make sure that it’s not slow which can be detrimental to your business.
If your website is slow, you will not rank well in Google. Not only that, but you will lose a lot of sales because most people don’t want to wait around for pages to load. They will go to your competitor’s site that loads fast.
Use a website speed test like Pingdom to test your websites load time and see ways to increase its speed.
If your page loads in under 3-4 seconds, check out your server or website to make sure there are no bottlenecks causing your slow website.
One of the newest and coolest new on-page SEO factors is schema snippets.
Schema Snippets are small code snippets that you add to your website’s code. This allows you to give Google and other search engines specific data points about your website or business.
This could be reviews, prices, ratings, images and a whole lot more.
But how in the heck do you add schema to your website?
There are actually a number of schema snippet generators that allow you to add your information and then spit out a code to add to your website.
If you are using WordPress, there are a ton of great plugins that allow you to easily add these schemes to your website.
Once you add your schema, you can use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to make sure that all of your implementations are correct.
Now that we have optimized our entire website, its time to start building backlinks to your site to get Google’s attention.
Accumulating backlinks to your website and pages is the most important SEO ranking factor. The more quality and relevant backlinks you have pointing to your SaaS website, the better you will rank for your keywords.
A backlink is simply an HTML link to your domain or pages.
But how in the hell do you get backlinks?
There are a ton of great methods to get quality backlinks pointing to your website. Here are a few of the best:
A guest post is simply writing an article on another person’s blog or website.
When you write guest posts, you can include links (or link) back to your website.
To find websites to submit guest posts to you can use google to find relevant sources.
Just use the search “Your Topic + Guest Post” or “Your Topic + Submit Guest Post”.
Let’s say that you run a finance SaaS. Make a search for ‘finance submit guest post’ and you will see a number of places to submit a guest post.
Now, just write a great article that gives good value and adheres to any of the submission guidelines. Reach out all of the sites you can and pitch your content idea.
A few may reject or approve your content and when they approve it, they will post your article on their site.
Boom. New Backlink.
Now just do this over and over and you will accumulate a ton of great backlinks.
If you want to get a lot of high-quality backlinks, create a resource page.
Pick a popular topic in your niche and create the ultimate resource page for your topic. Try and find every resource possible and build a large, organized list of the best resources.
This will create a lot of backlinks because people link to pages with great information.
You will also get people emailing you trying to add their websites to your resource list. This creates a good opportunity to get a link from them in return.
Want a good example? Check out this resource page by hatchbuck that features a ton of free content for marketers.
Directories / Citations
Like I mentioned before, adding your SasS to the directories listed above will help give you a good base of backlinks to start.
If you have a business address, you can get more backlinks from internet yellow page websites like Foursquare, Yelp, and YellowPages.com.
Simply add your location, address, website, and SaaS name and you will get a nice high-quality backlink from each citation.
There are plenty of resources to find the best citations to submit your SaaS to. Moz has a great citation building resource that can help find these sites.
Note that this will usually only work if you have an actual physical location. If you are a virtual business, its quite difficult to get approved at the directories.
These backlinks will help you rank in your local city or state for your business. But if you want to rank all around the world, you will need to build non geographical backlinks as well.
Evergreen content is basically what it sounds like. It’s content that stays relevant long past its publish date.
With Evergreen content, your SaaS will have incoming traffic for all of its life.
There are a number of different types of evergreen content you can create. Here are some examples of effective evergreen content.
- 10 Ways to Control Your Finances
- Frequently Asked Questions about Digital Marketing
- How to Buy a New Computer
These topics are not news or recent topics but topics that can live on forever and be useful as long as it’s relevant.
Another great type of evergreen content is statistics posts.
I published a web design statistics guide back in 2016 that has generated over 300 backlinks, 6,310 shares and has been featured on some of the top digital marketing sites like Buzzsomo, Neil Patel and G2Crowd.
This is the perfect example of evergreen content and how it can generate a ton of shares and backlinks for your software as a service.
Having active social media pages can actually help you rank better in search engines.
Google recently announces that it does not use social media as a ranking factor, but it can have an indirect effect on your rankings.
One reason is that you can take over the whole first page when someone searches for your branded keyword.
That way, if someone searches for your saas, not only will your website show up, but your Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, etc. This will increase authority and trust for potential customers as well as ensuring that all traffic ends up at your website.
Implementing all of the SEO techniques above will ensure that your SaaS ranks well for a long time, bringing in more traffic and sales to your software. If you are interested in reading more about digital marketing for saas companies, check out our blog and subscribe to our newsletter.