General SEO

SEO for SaaS vs. traditional software: what’s the difference?

Before we plunge into the world of SaaS SEO, let’s look at the difference between Software as a Service (SaaS) and traditional software applications. Unlike the traditional software model, in which the app is downloaded to the computer to run locally, SaaS products are cloud-based. And because all operations including patches, updates, server usage, data security, and maintenance are handled remotely, your software is positioned as a service rather than a product.

This distinction has a significant impact on your technology marketing and SEO strategy. Let’s examine why.

Why B2B SaaS SEO requires a different approach

A SaaS service is (with exceptions) generally tailored to a particular service niche and target market. It’s a fundamentally different software business model than those for locally-run applications since it’s generally positioned as an all-in-one service rather than a one-time sale.

For example, you could buy a car from a dealership, drive away, and end your relationship on the spot. Or, you could instead purchase a car subscription service, in which the vehicle, maintenance, and insurance are all provided for a fixed recurring cost. While both scenarios involve acquiring a new car, the former is a sales model while the latter is more of a service model.

That’s why SaaS needs a different marketing strategy. You need to find and attract those customers who want both access to the product itself and the convenience of having all other considerations taken off their hands.

Of course, SEO is the cornerstone of any B2B marketing strategy. Shifting your mindset away from product-based to service-based will have to be reflected in your SEO strategy if you want to boost conversions and increase your customer base.

The SaaS SEO strategy guide to better conversions

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SaaS SEO: Market & competitive research

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    Define your target market

    Who is your target market? As with any marketing strategy, you need to have a clear understanding of the precise demographics of your potential customer base before you begin. This type of target audience research is critical because the insight gleaned will be used to generate content and marketing materials, as well as driving your keyword research.

    For example, if you are offering a marketing automation dashboard that allows customers to analyze data from a variety of sources, there’s no point optimizing your SEO strategy for small businesses if the cost is one only enterprise-level organizations can afford. Also, marketing towards large businesses – with varying layers of departments and management structures – is a completely different ballgame versus a strategy aimed at SMBs.

    How does your service solve their problems? Who will be signing the purchase order – someone in IT? The CIO? At the end of the day, targeting the right buyer means you have to have a laser-focused SaaS SEO strategy in place.

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    Understand your competition

    It’s impossible to overstate the importance of understanding your competition. Conducting thorough competitive research and analysis is a critical part of your SaaS SEO strategy. Without it, your efforts will be significantly less effective.

    Your competitive analysis should look at:

    • Backlink profiles for competing websites
    • Target market analysis
    • The quality of their content profile
    • Which types of content and marketing strategies they use


    Ultimately, you need to get a handle on their unique selling propositions (USPs), and to identify the overlapping service areas where they offer services you don’t. This will bring to light areas of opportunity that you can capitalize on.

Conduct keyword research tailored for SaaS

Keywords are the cornerstone of both your content and your website structure. Before you can begin to create and share marketing content to capture visitors and generate sales, you’ll need to have a list of buyer-focused keywords that will drive your campaign.

For your SaaS website, you’ll have to research and distill a list of keywords that answer these questions:

  • What are your potential customers searching for?
  • What is the estimated size of people interested in your SaaS offering?
  • How can you best reach them?
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    Separate your keywords into clusters

    Even though your SaaS product is probably laser-focused in a specific niche, chances are it will appeal to a cross-section of businesses across a variety of sectors as well. That’s why it’s a good idea to separate and group your keywords into clusters, using these silos to develop content that will both address the core pain points while appealing to other interested parties as well.

    For example, the keyword “marketing automation” can be separated into groups to anchor various industries, like “marketing automation for real estate”, “marketing automation for manufacturing,” etc.

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    Separate keywords with commercial intent from the keywords with informational intent.

    When doing keyword research, it’s important to separate the “tire kickers” from the buyer-focused users. Bear in mind that some search terms – while they may be relevant and have a high search volume, they may not represent people who are motivated to buy. Keeping an eye on the search term competition can often be a good indicator. It is important to consider keywords located on the different levels of the sales funnel – BoFu (Bottom of the Funnel – keywords with clear commercial intent), MoFu and ToFu (Middle of the Funnel and Top of the Funnel). Read more about these groups of keywords in our blog post.

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    Don’t ignore low search volume keywords

    Don’t be too quick to discount relevant, buyer-focused keywords with low search volumes. Combining these with other search terms (for example, adding sections within longer content pieces) can add up to more traffic over time. Even a few leads per month from these keywords can be worthwhile.

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    Let keywords guide your site structure

    Your keywords will also guide your site structure. A basic SEO principle is to think of your website wireframe as a structural foundation, with your keywords serving as the anchors. That’s why you need to have a solid keyword list at the start, so your site can be optimized for your desired keywords from the ground up.

    It will also change over time, as your business evolves. However, your keyword clusters can serve as content silos, with everything flowing outwards from the general, high-competition keywords to the more focused but lower-competition keywords on the periphery.

    For example, if you group your keywords by industry, you can have one silo for “marketing automation” by industry as a parent category, with “marketing automation for real estate,” and “marketing automation for manufacturing” as child pages. This represents a highly-optimized SEO structure, and will not only help your customers find you easier but will also help your search engine rankings.

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Content strategy for SaaS Companies to get more traffic from Search Engines

The goal of your content strategy should be to increase your authority in the field and while simultaneously increasing your search rankings.

An effective content strategy means creating a mix of both informational content and sales copy. Getting this right means having a thorough understanding of the sales funnel. Many marketers make the mistake of trying to get people to hit “subscribe” too quickly, and inundate visitors with the hard sell instead of priming their interests.

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    Create engaging and informative website content

    For your SaaS offering, use your keyword clusters to create blogs, articles, and infographics that use informational content that appeals to a wider audience (the top level of the funnel). Because potential buyers usually want to know more about how your service can help them, you can use these to gently guide them to the bottom of the funnel – where they’re ready to buy.

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    Outreach content for reviewers, influencers, and journalists

    Reaching out to reviewers, influencers, journalists, and other people of note in your niche can do wonders for your SEO. You’ll not only gain credibility and visibility through social media shares and blog posts, you’ll help to build a highly-relevant backlink profile — which the search engines love.

    When creating your informational content, write with these influencers in mind. You can create exclusive content designed for guest blogging opportunities, for example. Writing long-form, “how-to” guides are especially attractive for outreach, as niche influencers are always looking for exclusive content that they can share with their own followers.

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    Conversion rate optimization (CRO)

    There’s both an art and a science to creating content that converts visitors into buyers. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of doing just that — using time-tested techniques to present text in such a way that it promotes conversion.

    Some CRO best practices include:

    • Ensuring your pages are easy to read, with short paragraphs, and avoid using large “wall of text” sections
    • You use frequent calls-to-action (CTAs). Providing multiple opportunities to get readers to click to learn more can significantly boost conversions
    • Insert keyword-rich headings within the body (using H2, H3, and H4 tags). This both catches the eye and encourages more in-depth reading
    • Summarize your text into bullet-point highlights at the top of the page, below an eye-catching headline
    • Placing a final CTA at the bottom, demonstrating why the reader should want to know more


    Finally, keeping track of your conversions with pre-determined metrics and KPIs can help you track your sales and determine which pieces of content drive higher conversions than others. From that point, you can go back and do more extensive CRO on pages that are underperforming.

Onsite SEO for SaaS websites

As we mentioned above, a best practice for on-page SEO involves careful keyword placement in heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc). Your keywords must also be present in your page title, meta descriptions, with sub-keywords and semantically-related keywords peppered throughout the page.

A word of caution: don’t over-optimize your page (i.e. “keyword stuffing” your content). Google will penalize your site if it feels you’re trying to push spammy and inferior content. Write naturally, and try to ensure a minimum page length of at least 750-1000 words.

Link building and off-site SEO for SaaS

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    Build a healthy backlink profile

    Content outreach is one way to build a backlink profile. Backlinks are a key metric Google uses to determine a page’s quality, relevance, and authority, and healthy backlinks are essential for your page to rank well.

    The best way to gain backlinks? Make your B2B SaaS content as shareable as possible. The more people (from trusted, diverse, non-commercial, and high-authority domains) who point to your page, the higher your ranking score will be.

    On the other hand, poor-quality backlinks can hurt your rankings. It’s good practice to monitor your backlink profile in Google Search Console, where you can analyze backlink quality and, if necessary, disavow any undesirable links.

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    Link to relevant sites and internal linking

    While having a diverse and healthy backlink profile is essential, don’t neglect your outbound links. Since Google is 100% focused on user experience, your page should not only be easy for readers to “flow in”, you should also provide relevant ways to “flow out”.

    This may be counter-intuitive, but it’s not. After all, why would you make it easier for readers to leave your site? The answer: because the web was meant to be “surfed”, and Google views facilitating that as the sign of a high-quality site. Conversely, if you “trap” visitors on your site, then Google sees you as offering a lower-quality experience, and they will penalize you accordingly.

    When creating outbound links, try to use relevant anchor text and link to high-quality sites. And the same goes for interlinking, as well; creating links to other relevant pages on your own site also helps your rankings.

    Ultimately, you need to get a handle on their unique selling propositions (USPs), and to identify the overlapping service areas where they offer services you don’t. This will bring to light areas of opportunity that you can capitalize on.

Choose a SaaS SEO agency

Converting visitors and boosting sales to your SaaS website begins with a thoroughly-researched and executed SaaS SEO strategy. Miromind SaaS SEO Agency has 12-years of experience providing industry-leading analysis and SEO optimization for SaaS innovators around the world can accelerate you on your way towards meeting your business goals — quickly and affordably. Contact us today to learn how we can get you started.

Get More Subscribers and Boost Profits with SaaS SEO!

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General, SEO
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