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A Four-Step Strategy For Growth



A Four-Step Strategy For Growth

If you run a SaaS company and are looking to get into SEO as a growth strategy, it may seem on the surface that SaaS SEO is no different than an SEO strategy for any other business type; You’ll want to be mindful of everything from content to technical SEO to backlinks.

But SaaS business models are also subscription-based, which differentiates this market niche from other, more traditional business types.

It means that your ideal customers are with you for the long haul, staying subscribed to your service for many months or years.

With that in mind, you really have to put special effort into the buyer’s journey here, and what your perfect customer wants from you over time.

For this reason, your SaaS strategy has to make room for a laser-focused content strategy that will support customers at every turn, particularly as you improve and make other changes to your product.

In this guide, I’ll explain what SaaS SEO is and what you need in your strategy. Then, I’ll present a four-step strategy for using SEO to grow your SaaS business.

What Is SaaS SEO?

SaaS SEO uses online marketing to boost the visibility of software-as-a-service (SaaS) company websites, so more users will find them and ultimately become customers.

As you’d expect, SaaS SEO relies on organic search for its attention.

By optimizing the pages of a SaaS website for relevant keywords, those pages will ideally be found on Google’s SERPs when someone searches those keywords.

If the keyword targeting was accurate, then the people who eventually find their way to your website will be primed to consume your content and maybe even check out a free trial, and become clients.

As with SEO for any type of business, a SaaS company’s SEO strategy will rely heavily on setting the business apart from all its competitors in the field.

Chances are, if you’re offering software as a service and want people to find you organically on Google, then your competitors are doing the exact same thing.

Surpassing the competition in Google’s SERPs comes down to a few things, including:

  • Being more relevant for your target keywords than anyone else.
  • Creating more useful and authoritative content than other websites.
  • Earning more natural backlinks from relevant websites to your most important webpages.

Why SaaS SEO Is Different

I mentioned above that SEO for SaaS businesses is quite similar to SEO for any other industry, and that’s true for probably 90% of your SaaS SEO strategy.

The other 10% of your strategy has to be about selling the one unique quality about SaaS businesses: the fact that you’re actually offering both a product and an ongoing service – and to users who are going to be at many stages of the sales funnel.

That’s the business model of SaaS – once you get someone to sign up and start paying to use your product, you also have to manage that account indefinitely with software support and customer service.

This means your audiences include new users just entering the funnel at the informational phase, commercial-minded users looking to compare your product and service to your competitors, and existing customers who rely on you to provide ongoing product excellence and stellar technical support.

This is why SaaS SEO is different. It’s down to you to be in a constant state of attracting new customers to convert and keeping current subscribers happy indefinitely.

The Importance Of SEO For SaaS

To split your SEO efforts in this way, you have to focus first on the traditional SEO approach of nurturing leads all the way down the funnel.

You then have to focus your content strategy on a mixture of evergreen content about your product, service, and industry, and timely updates and support.

Basically, create whatever content will be valuable to the leads you’re looking to capture and those already paying for your service.

Evergreen content is an investment you make now for your future, since, when it’s truly timeless, it will continue to perform for you.

Meanwhile, the more timely and updated content will serve your current subscriber base, who will look to you as their main source of knowledge about the service.

Putting in all these efforts as a SaaS company is a real investment; all SEO strategies are, and that never really stops.

Like all good investments, though, they pay compounding returns over time.

Eventually, you’ll have a formidable stockpile of evergreen content, a massive portfolio of authoritative backlinks, and a loyal customer base nourished by your ongoing content resources.

That’s the importance of SaaS SEO.

By the way, while your SEO strategy will be driven primarily by website content, you may also want to expand into marketing that content on social media and through email.

You can call this content stacking or content repurposing, but it helps to get yourself out there on as many platforms as possible if you really want to find leads and current subscribers in the places where they are spending time.

A Four-Step SaaS SEO Strategy

If you want to use the most cost-effective method of SEO to grow your SaaS business over time, you’re going to need an approach that works – one that takes into account your own goals, and what your competition is currently doing better than you.

Here’s a four-step SaaS SEO growth strategy.

1. Know What You Want

Any SEO strategy worth its salt, in any market niche, really should start with you knowing your whys.

You can’t direct a strategy of any kind without knowing specifically what you hope to achieve with it.

SaaS companies are typically after the same general goals, which could include growing subscriber bases, increasing revenues, and securing more mentions on social media. But those are big-picture goals.

You may be constantly working toward new subscribers, but set a goal just for the year of increasing your monthly revenue by a specific number. In that case, you have something to focus on for the year, and a specific sense of direction for your SEO strategy.

Try to avoid going into these efforts with nothing more than a vague notion of what you want.

For example, “increasing website visibility” may sound specific, but what does it mean? To increase its visibility how, and by what metric?

It would be better to say that you want to increase the clickthrough rate (CTR) of each of your main software sales pages by 5% this year.

You would then be able to focus on the things that are known to increase CTR on webpages.

2. Perform Keyword Research While Mining The SERPs

The next building block of any good SEO strategy is to research the keywords that you’ll need to target on all of your most important pages.

Much has been written on how to perform keyword research the right way, but let’s get into some specifics about how to do it for your SaaS website.

Keyword research must also take intent into account the intent of the keywords and your target audiences.

Whether you’re working on your product pages or customer support pages, know that the slant of such pages should be to sell things to people.

You, therefore, need commercial-intent keywords to target those main pages.

You’ll want to gather a list of key phrases that are important to you, and then test them out by searching them in Google to see what turns up. That’s called mining the SERPs.

Make sure the intent of your keyword and the SERP results match what you want to accomplish on your page.

If you’re selling project-management software and want to target that phrase as a keyword, but find that most of your competitors are targeting “project management platform” instead, you’ll have to weigh whether it makes sense for you to do the same on your page.

Take into account the search volume of the keyword, how your competitors are using the keyword, and what would be the most logical for the customers you want to capture.

If your competitors are using your target keyword, but the content on their pages is severely lacking in quality, then you know you stand a chance of ranking higher by outperforming them in the content game.

That’s a keyword strategy that will work for your commercial sales pages and your more informational, top-funnel posts meant to draw users into the funnel.

In the case of keyword research for blog topics, remember that your intent is to build a reservoir of evergreen content, so you’ll want to target higher-level terms that are relevant to your industry so you can create useful content around them.

The same methodology applies here as on your sales pages: Build a blog topic keyword list, compare metrics such as search volume and difficulty, and then mine the SERPs to see how your competitors are employing the terms.

If you feel you can do better, then it would make a good keyword target.

Remember that in the SaaS space, you’ll have to do all this for every part of your business, including for the product itself, and the customer and technical support you offer.

Understanding the sales funnels and customer journeys associated with these niches will inform the keyword research you perform.

3. Create Better Content Targeted To Specific Audience Segments

Once you’ve done your keyword research and know what type of audience each keyword should be targeting, it’s time to create the actual content that will get your SaaS webpages the rest of the way.

As you’ll know from mining the SERPs earlier, you’re probably going to have heavy competition in the SaaS space, no matter what you offer specifically.

That means your competitors will be creating content, as well, and that’s partly to your advantage. Any content that’s ranking for your keyword targets on the SERPs was created by competitors who have already shot their shot.

If you’re looking to create new content or optimize what you already have, you can draw from your competition’s existing content to do so.

It’s always a good idea to examine existing content before beginning your own; that way, you know what user needs are already being met elsewhere.

The thing to remember is, just because your competitors have already created content around certain keywords doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the best content.

All you need to do is create content that more comprehensively addresses the intent of the target keyword. It could be difficult or relatively easy to do this based on what’s out there already.

For the sake of being serious about your SaaS SEO strategy, though, assume that your most formidable search competitors have their content game down pat.

Even when that is the case, it won’t be impossible to create amazing content around your keywords.

Examine competitor content pages to see where they might have skimped on information.

Or, maybe you’ve come across a handful of relevant keywords that they aren’t targeting that you can take advantage of.

In your content, focus also on user experience (a significant factor in Google’s rankings today). If your competitors aren’t creating content with images, graphics, jump links, or anything interactive, then this is your chance to be better than they are by leveraging those elements in your work.

You can silo off all the individual areas of your SaaS business when you plan your content. Maybe you create topic clusters around SaaS product details, customer support, and real-world applications for your software.

Each segment of your business would then get an ongoing series of posts focusing on that.

This is something you would have planned at the keyword research stage of your SEO strategy, but having these silos could be the major difference between your competitors’ SaaS content strategies and your own.

4. Pay Attention To On-Page And Off-Page SEO

Finally, the same principles of on-page and off-page SEO that apply to all websites also apply to SaaS websites.

No matter what type of website you’re running, technical SEO elements such as meta tags, H1s, sitemaps, image compression, and load times are all vital factors to consider when you’re optimizing your SEO.

Problems in any of these areas could pull down your ranking power and encourage Google to award higher rankings to your competitors, rather than to you.

You also can’t forget about your off-page SEO, which refers to your link-building efforts.

If content is the bread and butter of SaaS companies, then you’re going to need a solid link-building strategy to give that content the social proof it needs to surpass the competition on Google.

You want to focus on links from relevant and authoritative domains to your content, and the quality matters more than the quantity.

Full disclosure: You’re going to employ a lot of resources to build natural links to your content, but remember that backlinks have long been one of Google’s primary ranking factors, so don’t give up on this area.

Launch Your SaaS SEO Strategy Now

SaaS will remain a relevant market now and well into the future, and with so many companies out there looking to capitalize on their superior product and service, SEO is going to become even more important over time.

By following the four-step SaaS SEO strategy outlined above, you can get (and keep) a leg up on your competition and ultimately come out on top.

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Featured Image: Wright Studio/Shutterstock

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State Of Marketing Data Standards In The AI Era [Webinar]




State Of Marketing Data Standards In The AI Era [Webinar]

Claravine and Advertiser Perceptions surveyed 140 marketers and agencies to better understand the impact of data standards on marketing data, and they’re ready to present their findings.

Want to learn how you can mitigate privacy risks and boost ROI through data standards?

Watch this on-demand webinar and learn how companies are addressing new privacy laws, taking advantage of AI, and organizing their data to better capture the campaign data they need, as well as how you can implement these findings in your campaigns.

In this webinar, you will:

  • Gain a better understanding of how your marketing data management compares to enterprise advertisers.
  • Get an overview of the current state of data standards and analytics, and how marketers are managing risk while improving the ROI of their programs.
  • Walk away with tactics and best practices that you can use to improve your marketing data now.

Chris Comstock, Chief Growth Officer at Claravine, will show you the marketing data trends of top advertisers and the potential pitfalls that come with poor data standards.

Learn the key ways to level up your data strategy to pinpoint campaign success.

View the slides below or check out the full webinar for all the details.

Join Us For Our Next Webinar!

SaaS Marketing: Expert Paid Media Tips Backed By $150M In Ad Spend

Join us and learn a unique methodology for growth that has driven massive revenue at a lower cost for hundreds of SaaS brands. We’ll dive into case studies backed by real data from over $150 million in SaaS ad spend per year.

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GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After ‘Unexpected’ Delays




GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After 'Unexpected' Delays

OpenAI shares its plans for the GPT Store, enhancements to GPT Builder tools, privacy improvements, and updates coming to ChatGPT.

  • OpenAI has scheduled the launch of the GPT Store for early next year, aligning with its ongoing commitment to developing advanced AI technologies.
  • The GPT Builder tools have received substantial updates, including a more intuitive configuration interface and improved file handling capabilities.
  • Anticipation builds for upcoming updates to ChatGPT, highlighting OpenAI’s responsiveness to community feedback and dedication to AI innovation.

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96.55% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. Here’s How to Be in the Other 3.45% [New Research for 2023]



96.55% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. Here's How to Be in the Other 3.45% [New Research for 2023]

It’s no secret that the web is growing by millions, if not billions of pages per day.

Our Content Explorer tool discovers 10 million new pages every 24 hours while being very picky about the pages that qualify for inclusion. The “main” Ahrefs web crawler crawls that number of pages every two minutes. 

But how much of this content gets organic traffic from Google?

To find out, we took the entire database from our Content Explorer tool (around 14 billion pages) and studied how many pages get traffic from organic search and why.

How many web pages get organic search traffic?

96.55% of all pages in our index get zero traffic from Google, and 1.94% get between one and ten monthly visits.

Distribution of pages by traffic from Content Explorer

Before we move on to discussing why the vast majority of pages never get any search traffic from Google (and how to avoid being one of them), it’s important to address two discrepancies with the studied data:

  1. ~14 billion pages may seem like a huge number, but it’s not the most accurate representation of the entire web. Even compared to the size of Site Explorer’s index of 340.8 billion pages, our sample size for this study is quite small and somewhat biased towards the “quality side of the web.”
  2. Our search traffic numbers are estimates. Even though our database of ~651 million keywords in Site Explorer (where our estimates come from) is arguably the largest database of its kind, it doesn’t contain every possible thing people search for in Google. There’s a chance that some of these pages get search traffic from super long-tail keywords that are not popular enough to make it into our database.

That said, these two “inaccuracies” don’t change much in the grand scheme of things: the vast majority of published pages never rank in Google and never get any search traffic. 

But why is this, and how can you be a part of the minority that gets organic search traffic from Google?

Well, there are hundreds of SEO issues that may prevent your pages from ranking well in Google. But if we focus only on the most common scenarios, assuming the page is indexed, there are only three of them.

Reason 1: The topic has no search demand

If nobody is searching for your topic, you won’t get any search traffic—even if you rank #1.

For example, I recently Googled “pull sitemap into google sheets” and clicked the top-ranking page (which solved my problem in seconds, by the way). But if you plug that URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, you’ll see that it gets zero estimated organic search traffic:

The top-ranking page for this topic gets no traffic because there's no search demandThe top-ranking page for this topic gets no traffic because there's no search demand

This is because hardly anyone else is searching for this, as data from Keywords Explorer confirms:

Keyword data from Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer confirms that this topic has no search demandKeyword data from Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer confirms that this topic has no search demand

This is why it’s so important to do keyword research. You can’t just assume that people are searching for whatever you want to talk about. You need to check the data.

Our Traffic Potential (TP) metric in Keywords Explorer can help with this. It estimates how much organic search traffic the current top-ranking page for a keyword gets from all the queries it ranks for. This is a good indicator of the total search demand for a topic.

You’ll see this metric for every keyword in Keywords Explorer, and you can even filter for keywords that meet your minimum criteria (e.g., 500+ monthly traffic potential): 

Filtering for keywords with Traffic Potential (TP) in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFiltering for keywords with Traffic Potential (TP) in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Reason 2: The page has no backlinks

Backlinks are one of Google’s top three ranking factors, so it probably comes as no surprise that there’s a clear correlation between the number of websites linking to a page and its traffic.

Pages with more referring domains get more trafficPages with more referring domains get more traffic
Pages with more referring domains get more traffic

Same goes for the correlation between a page’s traffic and keyword rankings:

Pages with more referring domains rank for more keywordsPages with more referring domains rank for more keywords
Pages with more referring domains rank for more keywords

Does any of this data prove that backlinks help you rank higher in Google?

No, because correlation does not imply causation. However, most SEO professionals will tell you that it’s almost impossible to rank on the first page for competitive keywords without backlinks—an observation that aligns with the data above.

The key word there is “competitive.” Plenty of pages get organic traffic while having no backlinks…

Pages with more referring domains get more trafficPages with more referring domains get more traffic
How much traffic pages with no backlinks get

… but from what I can tell, almost all of them are about low-competition topics.

For example, this lyrics page for a Neil Young song gets an estimated 162 monthly visits with no backlinks: 

Example of a page with traffic but no backlinks, via Ahrefs' Content ExplorerExample of a page with traffic but no backlinks, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

But if we check the keywords it ranks for, they almost all have Keyword Difficulty (KD) scores in the single figures:

Some of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks forSome of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks for

It’s the same story for this page selling upholstered headboards:

Some of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks forSome of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks for

You might have noticed two other things about these pages:

  • Neither of them get that much traffic. This is pretty typical. Our index contains ~20 million pages with no referring domains, yet only 2,997 of them get more than 1K search visits per month. That’s roughly 1 in every 6,671 pages with no backlinks.
  • Both of the sites they’re on have high Domain Rating (DR) scores. This metric shows the relative strength of a website’s backlink profile. Stronger sites like these have more PageRank that they can pass to pages with internal links to help them rank. 

Bottom line? If you want your pages to get search traffic, you really only have two options:

  1. Target uncompetitive topics that you can rank for with few or no backlinks.
  2. Target competitive topics and build backlinks to rank.

If you want to find uncompetitive topics, try this:

  1. Enter a topic into Keywords Explorer
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. Set the Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter to max. 20
  4. Set the Lowest DR filter to your site’s DR (this will show you keywords with at least one of the same or lower DR ranking in the top 5)
Filtering for low-competition keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFiltering for low-competition keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

(Remember to keep an eye on the TP column to make sure they have traffic potential.)

To rank for more competitive topics, you’ll need to earn or build high-quality backlinks to your page. If you’re not sure how to do that, start with the guides below. Keep in mind that it’ll be practically impossible to get links unless your content adds something to the conversation. 

Reason 3. The page doesn’t match search intent

Google wants to give users the most relevant results for a query. That’s why the top organic results for “best yoga mat” are blog posts with recommendations, not product pages. 

It's obviously what searchers want when they search for "best yoga mats"It's obviously what searchers want when they search for "best yoga mats"

Basically, Google knows that searchers are in research mode, not buying mode.

It’s also why this page selling yoga mats doesn’t show up, despite it having backlinks from more than six times more websites than any of the top-ranking pages:

Page selling yoga mats that has lots of backlinksPage selling yoga mats that has lots of backlinks
Number of linking websites to the top-ranking pages for "best yoga mats"Number of linking websites to the top-ranking pages for "best yoga mats"

Luckily, the page ranks for thousands of other more relevant keywords and gets tens of thousands of monthly organic visits. So it’s not such a big deal that it doesn’t rank for “best yoga mats.”

Number of keyword rankings for the page selling yoga matsNumber of keyword rankings for the page selling yoga mats

However, if you have pages with lots of backlinks but no organic traffic—and they already target a keyword with traffic potential—another quick SEO win is to re-optimize them for search intent.

We did this in 2018 with our free backlink checker.

It was originally nothing but a boring landing page explaining the benefits of our product and offering a 7-day trial: 

Original landing page for our free backlink checkerOriginal landing page for our free backlink checker

After analyzing search intent, we soon realized the issue:

People weren’t looking for a landing page, but rather a free tool they could use right away. 

So, in September 2018, we created a free tool and published it under the same URL. It ranked #1 pretty much overnight, and has remained there ever since. 

Our rankings over time for the keyword "backlink checker." You can see when we changed the pageOur rankings over time for the keyword "backlink checker." You can see when we changed the page

Organic traffic went through the roof, too. From ~14K monthly organic visits pre-optimization to almost ~200K today. 

Estimated search traffic over time to our free backlink checkerEstimated search traffic over time to our free backlink checker


96.55% of pages get no organic traffic. 

Keep your pages in the other 3.45% by building backlinks, choosing topics with organic traffic potential, and matching search intent.

Ping me on Twitter if you have any questions. 🙂

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