There’s no denying it, startups are a hot topic right now.
Thanks to the success of the big boys like Salesforce, HubSpot, Shopify, and many others, everyone wants to build a business around software that can provide that coveted and beautiful MRR (monthly recurring revenue).
But just like any other business, the only way that a SaaS startup can thrive is by getting more users, ideally, paying users. A big user base can bring in more revenue, and even external funding.
Whatever the case may be, if you own a SaaS startup, you need to put your software solution in front of more people.
Yes, this is an SEO blog, so of course, I’m going to tell you that SEO for SaaS startups is one of the best ways to grow your SaaS business, but let me be more specific and tell you why and how.
Unlike a local business, you can’t list your software tool on Google Maps, and unless you are a multi-million dollar SaaS company, billboards won’t work.
So the best option to get more users at a reasonable cost of acquisition is by making sure that the people who need a software tool like yours find you when they are searching on Google.
But how can you do it?
SEO is SEO, regardless of what your business is about, but there are some important things you need to consider when doing SEO for a SaaS startup, which this 5-step strategy will cover.
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SEO for SaaS Startups: 5-Step Strategy
Usually, when working on your SEO, it’s a good idea to use an SEO tool. It can help you with some of the research and SEO audits.
For some of the examples in this SEO for SaaS startups guide, I will be using KatLinks which I created especially for SaaS founders and their teams to make search engine optimization easy to understand and do for their website.
1. Make Sure Your SaaS Website Has Good Technical SEO
Of course, this step applies to every single website, not just for SaaS startups.
I’ve been running an SEO agency for the last 15 years or so, and I’ve seen time and time again beautiful websites with great content that have been stuck on page 5 or lower on Google for ages just because of poor technical optimization.
So what things should you look for when doing a technical SEO audit?
The list of possible issues is long, but don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it may seem.
Here are some of the technical optimizations you need to look out for:
- Make sure your website is loading fast by checking your Core Web Vital assessment.
- Check for proper usage of your keywords. They should be in your page title, H1 tag, and the body of your content.
- Stick to the recommended keyword density so you don’t over or under-optimize your content.
- Make sure you don’t have broken internal links.
- Use SEO-friendly URLs and create a sitemap file to improve indexing.
I could go on and on, but I highly recommend you use an on-page audit tool in KatLinks that will help you identify any technical SEO issues without any effort on your part and even guide you on how to fix them.
2. Find Your Best SaaS SEO Keywords
Before you set out to create content, you need to figure out what you are going to write about.
Otherwise, you may spend countless hours writing a new web page or blog post for your SaaS website that doesn’t bring much search traffic from Google.
This is where a keyword research tool can come in handy.
But wait, before you run to your trusted keyword research tool, we need to do some groundwork.
In order to find the best SEO keywords for your SaaS startup, you first need to understand your products and your target audience.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Who is your target audience?
- What problems or challenges do they have?
- How will your SaaS software solve the problems or challenges?
- How would your audience search for a solution?
Once you are clear on the above questions, you are then ready to fire up your keyword research tool and start looking for the best keywords to use for your SaaS startup.
If you are starting out, try to focus on high-intent/low competition keywords. This will help you get some quick wins and kickstart your rankings.
Also, don’t be afraid of targeting keywords with low search volume. If they are specific to your audience and the searcher’s intent, they can still be very profitable, which is one of the top advantages of long-tail keywords for SEO.
Now you may be wondering, “Is keyword research different for a SaaS startup website?”
Yes, kind of.
Most websites focus on keywords related to products and services. But SaaS websites focus on features and benefits for the user.
A great approach for SaaS SEO content is to go after “comparison” and “alternative to” keywords. When it comes to software, people tend to compare options and look for alternatives.
So creating content on your website that compares your SaaS product to other popular tools and apps can allow you to gain qualified search engine traffic that’s doing this comparison shopping.
Below is a screenshot of the keyword research tool in KatLinks. This SEO tool will find keywords you may not know your SaaS website is ranking for. It will also give you keyword suggestions with additional data like search volume, keyword position, average CPC, and competition level and show you the keywords with which your competitors are ranking.
3. Do a Content Audit
You need to make sure that your content is good enough to compete for a spot on page 1 of Google.
I’m not going to tell you that you need quality content because you should already know that, so let’s focus more on the strategic part.
Here is a good content audit approach you could try:
Make Sure You’re Covering All Your Bases
When you did your keyword research, you most likely came up with a long list of good SEO keywords.
But you need to make sure you have enough content on your SaaS website to start ranking for all of them.
It is important to know that having 100 keywords on your list does not mean that you need 100 blog posts. By categorizing and grouping your keywords together, you can plan your SaaS startup content strategy.
It’s possible that 10 or 15 articles are enough to cover those 100 keywords if many of those SEO keywords are similar to each other or have the same user search intent.
You can also look for uncommon types of content that can help you attract more SEO traffic for your SaaS startup.
We already mentioned how content around “comparison” and “alternative to” topics are really good for SaaS websites, but look for other options based on your product.
For example, if your software can do API integrations with other software tools, think of creating individual pages for all available integrations. That can attract top-of-funnel traffic from people searching for other non-competing, but related software solutions.
Clean Up Your Content
If in the past you did not follow a strategic content creation plan for your Saas startup, you may discover that you have a lot of content that is not helping you rank or driving any SEO traffic from Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
The best thing to do is clean up your content.
Here are some ways to do it:
- Rewrite: Old articles may start ranking if you rewrite and update them. This is especially important in the SaaS software industry because technology changes so fast that articles written just a couple of years ago may not be so relevant today.
- Merge: It doesn’t make sense to have many individual articles that talk about a common topic. The ideal approach is to merge them into one long-form article, then redirect the original articles to the new one. This will also allow you to target related keywords (i.e., clustering) in one piece of content to improve the overall SEO value.
- Delete: Every content on your SaaS website needs to have a purpose. If you find articles that have no clear purpose or can’t be logically rewritten or merged, then the best course of action is to delete them. The fact is if these web pages are not getting any traffic or bringing in qualified leads for your SaaS product, then there is no harm at all in removing them. Plus, it frees up extra space in your Google crawl budget.
4. Do SEO SaaS Competitor Analysis
An important part of your SaaS SEO strategy is analyzing how your content holds up against the content that is currently ranking in the top 10 positions on Google for your desired search terms.
You could have the best content in the world, according to your own standards, but that means nothing if it’s not serving the needs of Google’s algorithm or the user.
Here are a couple of things to look out for:
- Word count: Yes, word count is not an SEO ranking factor, but good quality content with a high word count has better chances of ranking than a short article for the simple reason that it’s giving search engines more content to crawl and index. So make sure you are at least matching the word count of your competitors.
- Keyword usage: Make sure you are using keywords correctly. Start by comparing your keyword density to that of your competitors and be smarter than them about it. Could you include more related or long-tail keywords, thus improving your topical relevancy? Also make sure you are placing your keywords in key places for on-page SEO optimization like your title and heading tags, especially in your H1.
- Quality content: None of the above matters if you are not creating quality content. You can write a 5,000 word article with good keyword usage, but if the content is bad, you will never rank for it. So focus 100% on creating quality content that fully meets the needs of the searcher and answers all of their questions about the topic in an expert way.
- Look for weak spots: When we set out to analyze our competitor’s websites it is easy to focus on what they are doing better than us, but if you look closely, I’m sure you can find areas where they are lacking. Maybe there are some topics they are not covering on the website or inside a SaaS-related article, or certain on-page SEo strategies they are not implementing. Use those weak spots to your advantage!
Here’s another idea for you to think about for your SaaS content: don’t focus only on your direct competitors.
Are there any players in a different vertical that are doing great things that you could emulate and bring into your industry? Perhaps there is a website that is ranking at the top of Google for every keyword they want. Analyze and inspect it for search engine optimization clues.
Thinking outside of the box when doing a competitor analysis for your SaaS startup will help you stand out from the crowd and add to your long-term growth.
5. Get Quality Backlinks
For some keywords, you can rank content without backlinks provided that the on-page SEO is done well and the content is high quality.
You can also find low competition keywords and rank immediately in Google without a lot of effort.
But when you are going after competitive keywords or niches, backlinks are often required to push your content into the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
When you set out to create backlinks, focus on quality over quantity. A couple of powerful backlinks may be all you need to get into the top 10 positions on Google.
One of the best ways to get the backlinking ball rolling is to look for guest post opportunities on other SaaS websites. Twitter is a great place to connect with other SaaS makers.
Here is an example I posted on Twitter:
Also, look for reputable SaaS and startup directories. Those types of links may not be super powerful, but they are extremely relevant to your topic and they can help improve your indexing as well as drive qualified traffic.
Avoid shady backlinking tactics, and unless you know what you are doing, do not buy links. Not only is it against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines but typically the links you can purchase do not have much SEO value at all.
SEO for SaaS Startups Summary
It can be easy to push SEO to the side for your Saas startup because it may not seem like it’s working or providing the fast results you are looking for.
Startup founders have a thing for speed, and we like to grow our businesses quickly, so we may look down on a strategy that won’t bring in immediate results.
But if you are serious about your business and see the future potential, why not invest today in tomorrow’s growth?
Remember that the key in SEO for SaaS startups is to be consistent and not to look for just the quick wins. Every day hundreds, if not thousands, of people are on Google searching for a solution like yours.
But are they going to find you? It’s all up to you!
Roberto is the founder of KatLinks and has been running his own SEO agency for over a decade. He also publishes a weekly SEO + SaaS newsletter at roberto.digital.