SEO for SaaS in 2021: 13 Proven Tips & Strategies

SaaS companies are facing several challenges in 2021, between longer sales cycles, increased competition, and clients with shrinking profit margins due to COVID-19. Investing in SEO for SaaS is a strategy that will help you stand out online and generate more qualified leads.

Here are the top SEO tips and strategies to implement in 2021.

#1 – Understand How the SaaS Model Creates Unique SEO Needs

A SaaS business offers software subscriptions and additional services, like support, configuration, and ongoing customer success efforts. B2B buyers typically go through a cycle before they decide to purchase a software subscription, and it’s important to understand this user journey when you develop SEO strategies.

Users will go through an initial research phase where your priority should be to increase awareness of the solutions you offer. They might compare different software companies, consider the SaaS model and licenses with a one-time purchase fee, and ensure that your SaaS solution meets their requirements.

This journey or lifecycle doesn’t end when a user purchases a subscription. They will want to keep learning about benefits, look for ways to get more out of their subscription, and go back to doing research when the time to renew the subscription comes.

Users will perform different searches with different intents throughout the different stages of this lifecycle, and keeping them engaged by providing quality content should be a priority.

#2 – Perform an SEO Assessment

Assessing your current efforts will help you prioritize the SEO for SaaS tips you want to implement. Here are some things to consider during your SEO assessment:

  • Track user engagement metrics like views, clicks, and conversions.
  • Focus on links. Identify the links that bring the most traffic to your site, and which internal links visitors are likely to click on.
  • Is your content properly optimized? What is your average keyword density?
  • Which keywords do you currently rank first for? Are there any keywords where you have been losing ground in search engine results?
  • Create a traffic map to get a better idea of what visitors do on your site. You can use the custom dimensions feature in Google Analytics to study new visitors independently from clients who visit your site to use the login link.
  • Is your website easy to use on mobile?
  • What is your average loading speed? Is there a device or platform where you could improve loading speed?
  • What is your bounce rate? Which pages have the highest bounce rate?
  • Do you have any broken links or lengthy redirects that require attention?

#3 – Target Different Types of Keywords

On average, B2B buyers will complete 70% of their journey before they interact with a salesperson. You need to target a wide range of keywords to reflect the different stages of the buyer journey users go through independently.

Here are a few examples of keyword categories your SEO strategy should focus on:

  • Straightforward searches that refer to software. Terms like ‘CRM,’ ‘ERP,’ or ‘marketing automation’ fall in this category.
  • Incorporate solution-oriented searches. Some users experience issues and look for products that can resolve it without knowing what to call it. Examples include searches like ‘automate mailing list.’
  • Some users will issue keywords that refer to specific features. They’re aware the benefit exists but might not know which products deliver these benefits. Examples include ‘cloud backup’ or searches about ‘integration’ and different popular SaaS products like Hubspot.
  • A user who is already aware of your SaaS products will research specific characteristics to check your offering against their requirements. Search terms might include your product name, followed by ‘pricing.’
  • Don’t neglect broader topics with educational intent. Some potential customers will start their journey by researching new trends for their industry with keywords like ‘new tech for restaurants.’
  • Potential buyers might want to compare different SaaS solutions. Keywords like ‘alternative’ preceded by the name of your top competitors make great additions to your SEO campaign.

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#4 – Consider User Intent

Keywords often reflect the intent of the user and their degree of awareness. Assess intent for each keyword you optimize your content for and make sure the purpose of your content matches the user intent.

Spending more time and resources on developing educational content that potential buyers will consume early in their journey is a winning SEO strategy for 2021. Among B2B buyers, 61% see their sales cycle become longer, which means the average buyer is spending more time researching purchase decisions and will consume more educational content.

Consider all the possible intents at different stages of the B2B buyer journey. The educational intent is important, but don’t neglect searches for content on how to switch from one SaaS provider to another, comparing two SaaS products, or renewing an existing subscription.

Use long-tail keywords and unique keywords in your content. Unique queries make up 15% of all searches and often express specific intent.

#5 – Prioritize the Right Keywords

Google Keyword Planner is a great place to start your keyword research. You can use this tool to compare search volumes and identify the most valuable keywords you should focus on.

Pay attention to the keywords your main competitors use in their content. A popular keyword with a lot of competition might not be worth your time.

Keep track of your current rank for different important keywords. Keywords where you rank second or just below the fold are worth prioritizing since getting your rank up would significantly increase traffic in these two scenarios.

#6 – Optimize Content for Rich Snippet Results and People Also Ask Questions

Over the years, Google has introduced a multitude of formats on SERPs. There is a current emphasis on results that provide users with quick answers to their questions, both with rich snippet results and interactive ‘people also ask’ result blocks where users can explore different common questions related to their search.

Here’s how you can optimize relevant content to get your answers featured in these results and stand out on a search result page:

  • Rich snippet results can feature short paragraphs, lists, or tables. Pick the most relevant format for the question you’re targeting.
  •  Ask questions in your content and provide the answer right away. Subheadings are a great way to introduce questions in your content.
  • Think of how you structure your content. A page that asks and answers multiple questions is more likely to appear in a rich snippet result.
  • Check the ‘people also ask’ questions for different searches and develop content based on these questions.
  • Users will click on a rich snippet result, or ‘people also ask’ question if you use a descriptive title and relevant image.

#7 – Optimize for Voice Search

Voice search is becoming more common, with 31% of smartphone owners using this feature at least once a week.

Spoken answers are often content featured in rich snippet results. You can optimize for these results and voice search at the same time by optimizing for longer search terms, writing copy that sounds more conversational, and using a question and answer format. Keep your sentences short to improve content readability.

#8 – Invest in Video Content for Lead Generation

As B2B buyer journeys get more complex, these users are more likely to consume content from multiple marketing channels.

Investing in video content can help you rank for highly-competitive keywords since Google often features video carousels on search result pages. The thumbnails can make your content stand out, and videos are a convenient way of consuming content for users who might not have time to read an article.

Publish new videos regularly, and don’t hesitate to use a question and answer format. Google sometimes uses bookmarks to take users to a relevant section of a video and provide an immediate answer to a question.

Don’t forget to optimize the title and description of your videos. An attention-grabbing thumbnail can also help your content stand out.

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#9 – Get More Traffic with News Searches and Social Media

Blog posts and guest posts can bring more traffic to your site, thanks to the Google News search option. Potential B2B buyers might use this feature to catch up on the latest trends for their industry.

Social media is another channel you should focus on to boost your traffic. Google often features social media posts in carousel results.

Here is how you can optimize your content on social media:

  • Fill out your profile with information about your SaaS company, include a link to your site, and write a short description with your main keywords.
  • If you share links on social media, optimize the title, and use an attention-grabbing thumbnail image.
  • Use hashtags on relevant social media platforms.
  • Stick to a schedule to post new content regularly.
  • Focus on LinkedIn. Forty-six percent of social media traffic to company websites comes from LinkedIn.

#10 – Improve Your Site Structure and Internal Linking Strategy

Decluttering your website can deliver a better user experience and support your SEO efforts. You also need to create a hierarchy that makes sense for your SaaS website:

  • Identify five to seven main categories to organize your content. Feature links to the main category in your header menu and footer.
  • Create a balanced structure with a similar number of subcategories for each main category.
  • Your URL paths need to reflect this hierarchy.
  • Make subcategories easy to find with subnavigation options, like breadcrumb navigation.
  • Avoid complexity. Every page should be within three clicks of your homepage.
  • Use a mix of menu links, subnavigation options, and relevant text links to facilitate navigation and crawling.

#11 – Content Is More Important Than Ever

The purpose of a search engine is to return content that is relevant and valuable. Your SaaS SEO efforts are pointless if you don’t have a strong digital marketing strategy that prioritizes high-quality content.

From awareness to education and industry trends, there are plenty of avenues to explore for content marketing. Customer success content is an important trend for the SaaS industry in 2021.

A lot of SaaS companies have a members-only section of their site where they share exclusive content but consider repurposing some of this exclusive content to brand your company as an industry expert and customer success partner.

Use keywords naturally in your content. Google has been focusing on organic traffic for years and has taken measures to detect keyword stuffing and low-quality content. Focus on one or two target keywords for each piece of content, and use Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI keywords naturally.

A good content strategy is to have longer, in-depth content for your main keywords and use text links to help users explore shorter content pieces that branch out to cover secondary topics.

#12 – Check Offsite Links

Backlinks can affect search result rankings positively. Keep in mind that quality is more important than quantity. Guest posts have been the best way to get quality backlinks in the SaaS industry for years, but there are some new opportunities to explore with B2B podcasts in 2021 if you want to do some link building.

If you use outbound links on your site, make sure you add a ‘nofollow’ tag to your ahrefs. Outbound links can be useful, but avoid placing them at the beginning of a blog post or article to keep users on your site as long as possible.

#13 – Technical SEO Factors

Even though Google focuses on organic traffic, there are some technical SEO strategies that matter:

  • HTTPS certificates. Google started using this signal in 2014. It’s not as strong as other SEO signals, but a page with a valid HTTPS certificate could rank higher than a result that doesn’t have a security certificate if the content is similar.
  • URL syntax. Keep your URL simple, and use hyphens to separate words if needed. Make sure you use keywords in your URLs and create links that reflect your site structure.
  • Metadata. Optimize your meta description with strong keywords and copy that makes users want to visit a search result. Add keywords to your meta titles, use keyword fields sparingly, and add the ‘noindex’ tag if you don’t want Google bots to crawl a page.
  • Image optimization. Don’t forget to optimize images with relevant file names, alt text, and captions.
  • Load speed. You can increase your loading speed by avoiding redirects and using a CDN or browser caching. Optimizing image file sizes can help.

Final Thoughts

These search engine optimization and SaaS marketing tips should help you get ahead in 2021. There are many SEO for SaaS techniques to explore, but you can identify the most relevant ones by conducting a thorough SEO assessment and tracking results as you implement new strategies.

Most SaaS Companies Struggle with Generating New Business...We Fix That!

Since 2009, we have helped many SaaS businesses grow strategically. Let us do it for you!

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