A Comprehensive SEO Guide for SaaS Startups

Jayakumar Muthusamy
|
January 25, 2023
A Comprehensive SEO Guide for SaaS Startups

Contents

Growing a SaaS startup can be quite an anxious phase. Analyzing various growth strategies and picking the right one can help you tide over this phase. 

Most well-established SaaS businesses vouch for SEO as the best strategy for their business growth. SEO is reigning as a time-tested tool that assists SaaS businesses in scaling.

Within a span of three years SaaS companies like Canva and Ahref witnessed a tremendous growth by adopting SEO for SaaS. While the search growth was over 282%  for Canva between 2020 and 2022, it was 122% for Ahref within 2022. This explains the importance of SEO for SaaS companies.

What is SaaS SEO?

SaaS SEO is the process of optimizing the SaaS websites by implementing strategies that helps increase the visibility and rankings on search en gines like Google and Bing. This is done by increasing organic traffic to the site by adopting strategies so as to make it a top-ranked website in search results.

Adopting SEO tactics can help drive consistent, organic traffic which ultimately leads to overall growth of the business.  

The most common strategies are on-page SEO, keyword research, link building, content structure, etc. When a combination of these strategies are used it is possible to rank top on Google SERPs. 

SEO for SaaS startups thus increases the brand’s visibility, leading to improved traffic and high conversion of potential customers to long-standing customers. 

Going forward, you will learn the importance of SEO and how to strategize it to improve your SaaS business.

Why should SaaS startups use SEO strategies?

Did you know that 75% of marketers feel SEO tactics are extremely effective for achieving their marketing goals? (HubSpot)

People are searching for software services you offer, but you need a place in their search results. Have you tried to understand the reasons for this?

You may have yet to explore how SEO could increase your visibility. The audience will not know about your brand when you are not featured in the top search results.

Even though you have created a site with an excellent user experience and relevant content, you still need to reach them. 

The following are some key pointers that indicate why SaaS startups should use SEO. 

1. Increases organic traffic to your site

If you want your site to rank #1 in Google search results, SEO is the best resort. More organic visitors increase when your site appears at the top of the list. 

SaaS companies like PDF Pro and Maptive leveraged SEO to increase organic traffic. For example, Maptive witnessed a 51% increase in demo sign-ups post SEO strategies. PDF Pro saw a massive increase in organic search traffic from just 141 to 150K visitors per month. 

Source 

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SEO is the most practical way to boost traffic to your site. As a startup, your presence is not widely known, and SEO for SaaS startups has the power to improve your visibility. 

The number one organic search result is 10 times more likely to be clicked by the visitor. This indicates the volume of traffic you can invite to your site if you scale SEO.

2. Creates awareness about your brand

As a startup, creating brand awareness would be your top priority. But with intense competition among SaaS brands, this is easier said than done.

Your product may have better features than your competitors’, but your purpose is not solved unless it reaches the target audience. 

SaaS-specific SEO strategies can be of great assistance in creating brand awareness.

Along with an exceptional product/service, investing in SEO can help you rank at the top Google searches.

For example, the brand awareness campaign by Pitch to introduce new product features was created as a video campaign featuring the brand’s CEO, Christian Reber. This humanistic approach evoked an emotional response, as more than 125,000 workspaces were created after this campaign. 

3. A cost-effective channel for business development 

SEO is considered the cost-effective means to bring more traffic to your site.

The ROI from SEO pays off in the long term, and the impact increases in geometric progression. As per survey reports from the business analytics platform Databox, almost 70% of marketers regard SEO as more effective than PPC. 

The same is not true with paid ads, as the cost per acquisition in the case of paid media increases in the long term.

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4. Helps handle competition 

It is very likely that your competitors are using SEO strategies to rank better. Following the traditional methods may keep you out of the competition.

Optimizing SEO tactics can help your SaaS businesses handle competition by staying on top of organic search. Audiences are drawn to the site that appears first in the search results. Keeping a tab on the competitor’s SEO strategy may offer insights into overcoming them. Competitor analysis tools help you do this.

5. The entire marketing funnel gets focused

SEO is not a one-shot strategy. It focuses on every marketing stage to build content and promote the business. 

A potential customer faces unique challenges at each step of the marketing funnel. SEO is a full-fledged technique that recognizes this aspect.

A prospect is at the decision-making stage at the bottom of the funnel. The keywords used at this point are case studies, customer experiences, etc. 

This stage is brought to the customer’s notice with the help of SEO and by showing them appropriate content on your site. 

6. SEO helps achieve the highest ROI

On average; businesses invest about $750 to $2000 per month in SEO. Due to high footfall, there are chances of more conversions. 

With more conversions, it is easy to achieve the highest ROI. People visit your site to share the site’s content, subscribe to newsletters, and purchase products/services. 

SEO, when targeted right, can give you long-term benefits. Your page can rank well in SERP, bringing more visitors to your site. The link-building exercise again brings more traffic when your page is popular for quality content. 

The pie chart here compares different marketing channels to establish that with a 49% share, SEO is the most important for higher ROI.

Source

7. Boosts your site’s domain authority

Domain authority of a site indicates its relevance for a particular niche. If Google considers your website to have the highest domain authority, it will rank your site better than the others. 

Domain authority = higher ranking website = increased traffic

For a keyword that relates to your industry, there may be too much content available online. But to rank well in SERP, your content must have great relevance to the subject matter and be optimized for search engines. 

With good authority in your niche, your ranking may be poor if you fail to recognize the importance of startup SaaS SEO tactics.

An increase in domain authority increases

  • Organic traffic
  • Referral traffic
  • Ranking
  • Brand awareness
  • Industry authority

This chart shows that of all the factors that determine Google ranking, domain authority takes the highest share.

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8. Customer retention rate increases

SEO can assist in customer retention. The biggest reason why you should make SEO a priority! 

Customer retention is a humongous task with heavy competition around. It is also important since it is even more difficult to start the cycle over again to identify new customers. 

When your site ranks higher with good SEO strategies, you have more visitors. If the visitor thinks your site satisfies their needs, they continue their journey with you. 

Also, offering relevant content to existing customers frequently keeps them engaged with your brand so that there is no looking back.

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Most common SEO mistakes of SaaS startups

Many SaaS startups have been contemplating using SEO strategies as they think it takes a long time to see the results. Also, competing with established brands who have leveraged SEO already seems an insurmountable task. 

So when they fail, they attribute the above as reasons. 

But wait, did you analyze your strategies? You may have failed to hit the right chord only because of your techniques. 

Experts feel that adopting SEO tactics the wrong way could be the reason for your site’s poor performance.

We have listed some common SEO mistakes that SaaS startups make. Reading through them, you can identify your mistakes and find the way out. It is very important to know your mistakes otherwise. You will be continuing with unproductive techniques that will hamper your business growth. 

Choice of keywords without research

Research is the basis for getting to know your customers better. Who are you selling to? Is your content addressing their concerns? You should ask yourself these questions before deciding on the content and keywords.

Search engines capture your site from among millions of similar sites through keywords. This indicates the depth of research that should go into identifying the right keywords for SEO optimization. 

Competition plays a great role in the choice of keywords. According Long Tail Pro, which offers one of the best keyword research tools, a keyword with a score of up to 30 (scale of 0-100) can be considered low competition.

A lack of research will mean your chances of appearing in the search results is faint.

Overload of content

The anxiety is real! 

In an effort to create awareness quickly, many SaaS startups end up providing a lot of content. Overloading your site with too much content that offers no real value to the readers is a strategy you should ditch. 

Every content should offer some value to the visitor to convince them about your brand. Quality takes priority over quantity. 

As a startup, try to offer the most relevant information to the visitor. This can create the necessary impact rather than a page full of repetitive posts. 

Not using long-tail keywords

You are a startup competing with many established brands. You might still lag if you thought keyword research was a popular SEO tactic and resorted to adopting top-ranking keywords.

If you are wondering why these are the keywords that the popular SaaS brands have already picked up. These sites have optimized the keywords you chose and will appear as top results in the search engine. 

Your chances of ranking could have improved with the use of long-tail keywords. These phrases or sentences you add, along with the keywords can bring more traffic to your site by ranking you on the top. 

Consider an example where the search term is ‘unicorn’. This short-tail keyword has high volume of search and therefore heavy competition leading to low conversion. 

The long tail keyword ‘unicorn companies in India’ or ‘unicorn SaaS business’ has low search volume and so high conversion.

The below is the graphical representation which shows heavy competition for a short-tail keyword and high conversion for a long-tail keyword.

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Using only third-party sites 

Many SaaS startups use third-party sites to host their blog content until they are ready with their own. Even though this is a common practice, it should not be resorted to for long. 

More than your content, the host gets to improve their ranking. As audiences find more content here, they stick to the site even if you have moved out to your own address. This can be detrimental to the growth of your site.

Not using link building

Linkbuilding is one of the effective SEO strategies, but many SaaS companies miss this out. 

Backlinks are links from one domain to another. Visitors who visit an external site are redirected back to your site through backlinks. Internal links can also be provided in the content you offer on your site. 

As per a survey by Aira, nearly 51% of marketers say they witness positive effects of link-building strategies within one to two months of executing them. This indicates its importance in SEO.

Not focusing on the user

A common mistake that SaaS companies repeat unknowingly is not focusing on the ultimate user. Most of their content is generated to rank better in search engines. They stuff content with keywords without understanding that it may be of no value to the user.

Your content should provide solutions to the challenges faced by the user. Search engines have also been modified to rank sites based on quality content and not just high-ranking keywords. 

Remember that your content should be the primary focus, and SEO is only a means to make it popular. 

No dedicated content strategy

Blogging just for the sake of it cannot help your SEO improve. We know ranking takes time with SEO, but the results stay for a long time. 

There should be a content strategy that identifies the use of meta descriptions, alt tags, images, etc., in your content. Content that has not been updated may be irrelevant to the visitor in the present circumstances. 

There should be internal linkings that help boost the reach of other content on the site. You cannot achieve noticeable SEO results when your blog post has only paragraph after paragraph. 

A proper content management system can help you overcome this issue. Put all your strategies in one place and analyze how they should be presented.

Using outdated SEO metrics

SEO has evolved. 

Following SEO techniques that are a decade old will do no good to your site. Semantic SEO has more relevance today. It involves creating and delivering content that has more depth and is not just focused on keywords.

The below image explains how metrics have changed over time (1995-2022). Here, we find that Google’s algorithms are evolving to deliver more appropriate content to the user.

Searches have been refined. While in 1996, it was automatic indexing of the internet, in 2011, Google prioritized fresh and relevant content. By 2019, search intent and long-form keywords were the priority. By 2022, the priority was more toward semantic SEO. Keeping tab of these updates is crucial for businesses.

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Many SaaS startups do not understand this and practice outdated tactics. They think they haven’t achieved the desired reach even after following SEO hacks. But they should know they have been doing it the wrong way.

Not fixing the broken links

A broken link is a webpage that cannot be accessed; there are so many reasons for this. Haven't we encountered the “404 Page not found” error many times ourselves? While searching for an important link, the broken links can leave the visitor annoyed.

Broken links can affect your SEO indirectly by affecting the user experience, authority, and bounce rates. According to SWEOR 88% of site visitors are less likely to revisit a site after a poor experience.

This implies it is imperative to stay watchful and fix broken links when notified by Google, otherwise, your chances of scaling higher will remain a distant dream. 

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SEO tips for SaaS startups

SEO hacks mentioned in this section can be of immense help for SaaS startups. Examine each one of them and find the right one your business needs now.

Choosing the right keywords

While it may not be possible to rank better with the same keywords that popular SaaS brands have tasted success with already, it is still not impossible.

With a keyword research tool, like Google Keyword Planner, you can identify popular keywords other than the ones used by competitors. These keywords may be ranked second but are very important for your startup to scale. Prioritizing these keywords can help increase traffic to your site by ranking them better.  

Ahrefs's study explains that the top keyword search result attracts more traffic 49%  of the time. The second results get 22% of the traffic.

Convert text to video content

Visuals carry more impact than text. You can capitalize on this by repurposing popular blog posts, articles, etc., from your site. 

Most popularly converted are the ‘How to?’ content that can be represented as step-by-step videos. Many tools help convert text to captivating videos.

Repurposing saves time that is otherwise used for creating new content. Some blog posts or manuals may not have achieved the expected reach. Converting them into videos may improve their reach.

Optimize content for voice search

Voice search is increasingly being used at present. Your content should be optimized to recognize the voice and provide results.

Voice search results load in just 4.6 seconds, which is said to be 52% faster than the load time of an average page (Backlinko)

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The above statistics indicate that there is more than one reason people are inclined to voice search. To capitalize voice search, you should use long tail search words, offer content that is more conversational, etc.

Perform SEO assessment

Assess your SEO to identify the lapses and locate the errors. You can get answers to why your site is not performing well. 

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The above is the list of errors that are hindering your site’s ranking. It also indicates the impact of these errors on SEO. Locating errors helps in the identification of solutions.

For example, this list indicates that 26 pages have a low word count. You can fix this by increasing the word count with relevant information so that it is picked in Google search easily.

Follow Google’s E-A-T guidelines

Google uses the E-A-T guideline to rank websites based on their content. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

It is important to create SEO content that satisfies E-A-T guidelines. You should have the expertise to create content and not venture into something you are unsure of. Niche content ensures that you provide information on matters you have good expertise. 

Your content should be authoritative. This means that it should be backed by sufficient research, case studies, statistics, etc. 

Your content should also be trustworthy enough to be picked by Google. Avoid adding spammy links so as to prove you are a trusted source. 

Use ideas from competitors

You are not going to duplicate every content of your competitor. This may pull down your chances of scaling.

Use relevant information, like: 

  • Type of content (blog posts, technical guides, or videos) that is faring well. ).
  • How frequently do they publish?
  • Popular keywords used.
  • How do viewers show engagement, in the form of comments or shares? 

Choose some of the best-performing competitor brands and analyze your strategies with the results you identify. This can help improve your SEO. 

Avoiding identical keywords in your content

Using too many similar keywords that rank for the same search query is called keyword cannibalization. It can pull down your site’s reputation since search engines may consider it a case of duplication.

When your site competes with itself, the same keyword used in irrelevant blog content may be picked up in search. There are also chances of completely omitting your site since the search engine would be confused about which to choose.

In this example, you can see that the same site has ranked for the keyword ‘link building’. This kind of strategy confuses the search engines and the readers and it becomes difficult for your site to rank. This results in inadequate site visits.

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Focus on the interest of the user

Users search the web using some terms, and these are the keywords you should target. Analyze the intention behind using the keyword. What stage of the life cycle is the customer in at present?

Before making a purchase decision, a prospect gathers information from a lot of content. Create content that can educate the buyer in the journey. Content searched at various stages of the life cycle is different.

For example, a prospective customer may initially search How to attract more leads to my website? 

Here, your content should be able to answer the query by offering various options as solutions.

In the next stage of the funnel, the buyer’s search would be based on solutions received in the first stage. 

Later comes the decision-making stage, when the buyer compares products based on the content offered. The search query may be Babylon Traffic vs. SERP Empire.

Tailor content based on the interests of the buyers expressed through search terms. 

Provide comparison posts

When prospects are searching for a product and are confused about deciding between two brands, they prefer a comparison of the best features.

Your SEO can improve with a comparison post. Compare your product with that of your competitor. With this, you can present how your features are unique and can help the prospect in their business. 

Some examples of comparison keywords are:

  • HubSpot vs. Marketo (480 searches/month)
  • Apple vs. Roku (9900 searches/month)
  • SEO vs PPC (over 390 searches per month)

Similar companies focus on similar buyer personas. A comparison with the competitor will increase your chances of ranking. 

Offer posts that mention alternatives

You can rank high in search engines with the use of ‘alternatives.’ People look for alternative options and type this as a search query. 

Most established brands do not use the ‘alternatives’ keyword, and thus there are more chances that you will emerge at the top.

For example, if you search “Mailchimp alternative,” your result would be as follows:

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Using words like alternatives as keywords, you can optimize your page content. This strategy has great chances since people search for alternative options when they want to shift brands in the same industry.

Saas SEO startup strategies to drive business

SEO as a performance strategy are destined to stay for the long term. SaaS startups should adopt suitable SEO techniques to help their site perform better. 

Some experts opt for the 80-20 rule or the Pareto principle to optimize SEO. The principle states that 20% of your input is the reason for 80% of your output. Quite an achievable feat, isn’t it? You only have to concentrate on the 20% since it drives 80% of the results. 

As a startup, aiming for exponential growth instantly will shadow the right path to be taken. Choose an SEO agency that can help achieve long-term growth consistently through various tools. 

TripleDart has been helping SaaS startups generate consistent traffic and long-term growth. We cater to several niches and assist you in your journey to rank at the top. 

Connect with us today to know more!

Jayakumar Muthusamy
Head of Content and Analytics at TripleDart Digital

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