SaaS startups face a lot of competition in their field, making it difficult to stand out. However, if a company knows its unique value proposition, it can quickly build a growth-ready brand.
But, what does it take to build a brand that appeals to customers? A lot of work, marketing, and research, which involves everything from creating a buyer’s persona to valuable content.
While there are several ways to grow your SaaS startup, you’ll primarily focus on SEO to improve organic traffic from search engines. However, to utilize SEO correctly, you need to understand your market, use the right tools, and experiment with different pricing models.
What is SEO for Saas?
SaaS SEO is the process of a SaaS company increasing their organic website or social media traffic through SEO. For the most part, SaaS SEO isn’t that different from general SEO.
However, SaaS companies can’t rely on performance marketing once they scale. PPC, social ads, and affiliate marketing can rapidly grow a SaaS business, but their cost per acquisition will eventually become so high that they may be forced to reduce paid advertising spending.
Unfortunately, once a business stops paying for advertising, its traffic dips. That’s why SaaS SEO is so important: SaaS can’t compete solely with paid ads or regular SEO strategies.
For example, while link building does offer a competitive advantage by increasing your reach, it does much more than that for SaaS, and companies like Linkbuilder.io know this. Since SaaS relies heavily on organic search results for traffic, links can extend your reach further.
Most SEO companies will attract customers when they:
- Search based on their problem (“how can I automate my social media posts?”)
- Search based on software (“social media automation tools like Buffer”)
- Search for content in your niche (“how to make great social media posts”)
- Search for prices or features (“Buffer vs. Hootsuite for cost/features”)
While understanding how your prospects search for you is essential, it’s also crucial to focus on Google's ranking factors as they’re the same for all businesses and affect your entire funnel.
Why Should SaaS Companies Invest in SEO?
The main thing to understand about SaaS SEO is the “why.” Customers search for your product because they want you to solve their problems, but without SEO, you won’t be able to:
- Scale Your Growth: A lot of SEO exists within your content. The more content you make, the more traffic you’ll drive to your website. With the right strategy, complete with backlinks, keywords, data, and more, you’ll see consistent growth month-to-month.
- Convert Customers on All Channels: No SEO strategy can exist in a vacuum; it has to include every platform and website you own. A great SEO strategy won’t just bring traffic to your main website; it’ll also convert customers from all other marketing channels.
- Reduce Acquisition Costs: If you’ve noticed your marketing strategy is costing more than it used to, it's likely because your cost-per-acquisition has increased. You can get this number down by investing in SEO because organic traffic is cheaper to attract.
SaaS companies can’t stay competitive without a well-thought-out SEO strategy, but creating one from the ground up is no easy task. In our next section, we’ll look at the strategies your SaaS business needs to be successful. These will include tactics specific to your industry.
How Can I Use SEO to Grow my SaaS Startup?
SaaS startups can’t just slap keywords onto their website and hope for the best; they need to put a lot of effort into developing their SEO strategy around the following growth tactics.
Sell the Problem and Empower the Solution
All SaaS companies are in the “problem-solving” market, which hinges on the right keyword searches. For example, a person looking for software that automates the live-chat interactions will search something like: “how can I automate live-chat?” or “live-chat automation software.”
Unless they’re at the bottom end of your funnel, they won’t search your brand or product name. That’s why it’s essential to focus on problem-based keywords that direct your potential customers to a solution: you! But to do that, your product actually has to be helpful or useful.
Ask yourself what makes your product stand out from your competition and what pain points it solves. Otherwise, you may be providing another software solution for something no one needs.
Research Your Customer Persona
When you spend a lot of time and effort on your business and nothing sticks, look at how you’re marketing your product. Are you casting a wide net, or are you focusing on one audience?
There’s a common misconception that expanding your reach means you have to market to everyone, but the opposite is true. You need to identify your target market and your customer persona to achieve growth. Here are a few ways to find customers that value your product:
- Ask yourself where your users live, look like, and act.
- Research your competition to discover their keywords
- Understand who you’re targeting and why
- Organize surveys and polls to narrow down your focus
- Use analytics tools to understand what your users care about
Once you have an audience in mind, you’ll be able to market your product more efficiently.
Make a Fully Optimized Website
Every SaaS company should have a website, but do you know if it’s fully optimized for SEO? If you haven’t run an SEO audit in the last few months, we recommend doing one right away.
An SEO audit will check for several search engine ranking factors, such as:
- Relevancy: Are your keywords relevant to your content?
- Content Quality: Do your customers find your content valuable?
- User Experience: Can your customers navigate your website?
- Mobile Compatibility: Does your website run on a mobile device?
- Site Speed: How long does it take for your website to load?
- Internal Linking: Does your site link to other high DR websites?
- Authority: Does your site have a high DR thanks to backlinks?
- Meta-Descriptions: Do your meta-descriptions, and title tags make sense?
Search engines will also look for image tags, schema markups, domain names, headlines, comments, and consistency when ranking. Keep in mind that you can’t use tricks to improve your rank, meaning keyword stuffing, duplicate content, and hidden text/links are off the table.
Make Actionable and Valuable Content
In SaaS, the competition can be a little fierce. Because of this, you need to gain more exposure, increase your SEO results, drive traffic to your website, and get more leads. Your blog can do all of that and more. However, you have to develop an incredible content marketing strategy first.
The best SaaS blogs have 5 things in common:
- They post frequently (3-5 times a week)
- They show their personality through writing
- They tackle complex topics in-depth
- Their content covers all stages of the buyer's journey
- They put a lot of effort into SEO and optimization
While not all brands use the EAT acronym (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) to create content, SaaS companies definitely should because it establishes them as a leader.
Content is vital on all platforms, but on LinkedIn especially. LinkedIn is filled with business owners and professionals who purchase products for companies. You’re literally in a lead generation gold mind, so you should start sharing your posts on LinkedIn immediately.
LinkedIn also allows you to build connections via connection requests, InMail messages, Groups, and post shares. When used correctly, you can use social media to get your content out to a bigger audience, which increases your chances of finding niche-specific, loyal customers.
Use Free Trials (But Charge Really Early)
Free trials are the bread and butter of the SaaS industry, so I probably don’t have to tell you to use them. However, you can’t be afraid to charge them after the free-trial period has ended.
It’s really common for SaaS companies to offer an infinite free trial in the hopes that they’ll attract some loyal customers who will graciously pay for their software. But building a product should imply increasing revenue, so don’t hesitate to set an end date on your free trials.
If you want to offer a deal to your early opt-ins, that’s fine, but make sure they know the product will become full price by a specific date. Plus, you’ll drive away freebie collectors immediately.
Run a Few A/B Pricing Experiments
Finding the right price for your software is difficult, but an optimal price point should include:
- A small percentage of people who don’t mind paying the cost
- An equally small percentage of people who complain it’s too expensive
- A large percentage of people who know you’re expensive but buy anyway
Your customers are aware that anything that’s too cheap probably won’t work as advertised, but you also can’t charge too much. You’ll need to perform A/B split testing to find the right price.
When considering your easy-to-scale pricing model, make sure you include content that breaks down each feature and its relative costs on your landing pages and pricing pages.
It also pays to be transparent with your features and pricing tiers. Remember, most of your customers are business owners, so it’ll be difficult to hide your “fine print.” Never hide your features or pricing tiers behind a salesperson (meeting call). It wastes the customer’s time.