There are two very different types of SaaS companies, each with its own unique SEO concerns.
On the one hand, you have your Salesforce’s and SugarCRM’s that compete to be category-defining companies that acquire customers organically through thought leadership marketing. Their main concern is ensuring they’re clearly defining the market perception of their brand and building out a site that allows them to rank for as many relevant long-tail keywords as possible.
On the other hand, you have your QuickBooks’ and AWeber’s — companies with highly competitive keywords. These companies often depend on huge ad budgets to acquire customers and must find ways of ensuring top rankings without blowing their entire PPC budget on SEO.
It’s important to recognize which type of SaaS Company you are. If you don’t, it will be difficult to know what SEO tactics you should focus on and what has the potential to help or hurt your rankings.
One quick question that can usually separate the two is: “How much revenue do you make per customer?”
If the number is less than $500 there’s a good chance the company isn’t in the top 3 for any of their main keywords and instead needs to focus on building out complex content that helps them rank for more lucrative, long-tail search terms. However, if they’re making over $500 per customer they should be focusing at least 50% of their time on acquiring customers through direct B2B SaaS SEO.
Push vs Pull: The Two Approaches to B2B SaaS SEO
Let’s start with the first type of company — those that ensure their brand and content help them rank for as many relevant long-tail search terms as possible.
These companies usually don’t have direct competitors but instead, depend on customers finding them through Google searches for relevant keywords. Their main concern is ensuring they’re setting the standard in their industry and competing purely on the brand name. Additionally, they need to ensure that once potential customers find their site, they’re able to quickly understand what differentiates their product and why they should buy.
Here’s how they can use B2B Saas SEO to help them acquire customers:
1. Brand Keywords vs Product Keywords.
The main difference between our Salesforce/SugarCRM example and companies like QuickBooks or AWeber is that when people search for Sugar, there isn’t a direct competitor that they’re looking to exclude.
That’s not the case with companies like QuickBooks, who depend on people searching for “accounting software” and being taken to a page where they can immediately identify Intuit as a viable option. These brand searches are incredibly valuable because it signals intent — users know what they want and have a strong incentive to acquire it.
However, because there’s no one else in the market for Quickbooks (or AWeber) to compete with organically, these companies depend much more on product keywords, like “email marketing tools”. This is a strong indicator that the searcher isn’t aware of existing options or their benefits. But instead is simply looking for a solution and doesn’t care about which company presents it to them.
In these cases, it’s vital that you’re able to acquire dozens of highly relevant keywords in the product space. You want to find as many search terms that don’t have strong existing brands competing for them. In this article, we’ll be focusing on how to uncover low-competition keywords for this type of SaaS business.
2. Establishing early authority.
Once you’ve acquired a handful of long-tail product keywords, it’s important that you establish early authority by creating thorough content around each term. You want to ensure that there are at least 100 competing pages for each keyword.
This strategy is especially effective because it allows you to go past the top-ranking pages in Google by directly targeting the “low-hanging fruit” that appears on page two or three of search results. This will allow you to get in front of searchers who are much closer to converting, which will boost your acquisition rate over time.
The reason establishing authority is so effective is that you’ll often rank without building links since the top results already have a strong domain authority and it’s more difficult for new web pages to compete at the same level. Instead, we want to focus on acquiring links from sites that are closer to pages 10 and 20 of search results, which are much easier to outrank.
3. Using content hubs to acquire links.
Once you’ve created thorough, high-quality content covering low competition keywords, it’s time to start building links to your site with the goal of getting into Google’s top rankings for all of your target terms.
You can do this by building a series of “content hubs” that each contains 3-5 pages of content, and one link pointing back to your homepage (which will usually be your landing page and/or blog). You can then outreach to bloggers and popular sites in your industry with the goal of getting them to use one of these assets as a source for their article.
The approach we recommend is to create a blog post, infographic, press release, or another content asset that you think would be valuable to your industry. You then want to research popular websites in your space and find the ones where you have friends/colleagues who might reach out with an email introduction (this should account for around 5-15% of the sites your target).
Once you have your list of sites, go to each one and run their homepage through SEOQuake to get an idea of the keywords they are currently ranking for. Then using OSE, sort by domain authority so you can prioritize outreach to high-priority sites that already rank well in Google. By doing this process manually with only a few sites, it should take around an hour and will save you hours of time in outreach.
4. Creating valuable content assets and promoting them via infographics/press releases.
Now that you’ve identified the websites where you want to publish your content assets, how do you actually get them published?
This phase is about creating compelling assets that you can then promote via infographics/press releases to high-value sites. You want to avoid any type of “spammy” outreach that might get your content asset banned, and instead focus on creating super valuable assets that will be distributed across the web.
The goal is to build a list of popular websites in your space that each contains your content asset. You then want to identify the top 10-20 sites on that list and promote it via an infographic or press release. If you think about this strategy as a pyramid, it should look something like this:
5. Link Building.
The final phase is all about link building directly to low competition keywords/landing pages. This phase focuses on building a backlink portfolio consisting of high-value links from reputable sites but doesn’t rely on anyone tactic to get them.
The first type of link you want to build is a resource page that includes 1-3 very specific guides or other content assets that you can then promote to bloggers and journalists that cover that topic. Once you have your list of sites, go to each one. And run their homepage through SEOQuake to get an idea of the keywords they are currently ranking for. Then sort by Domain Authority so you can prioritize outreach to high-priority sites that already rank well in Google.
Next, you want to promote these assets via infographics and press releases to sites that already rank in Google. You can find these websites by running your target keyword through OSE. Sorting by ranking position, and looking for relevant authority sites:
Finally, you want to build links directly to pages on your site that naturally rank in Google’s top 10-20 results (e.g., landing pages, blog posts). The best way to do this is through guest posting on relevant blogs that have high domain authority. You can find sites that allow you to post an author bio link back to your site simply by sorting the results by DA:
Building links manually with each of these strategies will give you great results when combined into a full-scale Saas SEO plan, and will give you the best chance of ranking for your target keywords.