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A Four-Step Strategy For Growth

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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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Google Clarifies Organization Merchant Returns Structured Data

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Google updates organization structured data for merchant returns

Google quietly updated their organization structured data documentation in order to clarify two points about merchant returns in response to feedback about an ambiguity in the previous version.

Organization Structured Data and Merchant Returns

Google recently expanded their Organization structured data so that it could now accommodate a merchant return policy. The change added support for adding a sitewide merchant return policy.

The original reason for adding this support:

“Adding support for Organization-level return policies

What: Added documentation on how to specify a general return policy for an Organization as a whole.

Why: This makes it easier to define and maintain general return policies for an entire site.”

However that change left unanswered about what will happen if a site has a sitewide return policy but also has a different policy for individual products.

The clarification applies for the specific scenario of when a site uses both a sitewide return policy in their structured data and another one for specific products.

What Takes Precedence?

What happens if a merchant uses both a sitewide and product return structured data? Google’s new documentation states that Google will ignore the sitewide product return policy in favor of a more granular product-level policy in the structured data.

The clarification states:

“If you choose to provide both organization-level and product-level return policy markup, Google defaults to the product-level return policy markup.”

Change Reflected Elsewhere

Google also updated the documentation to reflect the scenario of the use of two levels of merchant return policies in another section that discusses whether structured data or merchant feed data takes precedence. There is no change to the policy, merchant center data still takes precedence.

This is the old documentation:

“If you choose to use both markup and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

This is the same section but updated with additional wording:

“If you choose to use both markup (whether at the organization-level or product-level, or both) and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

Read the newly updated Organization structured data documentation:

Organization (Organization) structured data – MerchantReturnPolicy

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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

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Google Dials Back AI Overviews In Search Results, Study Finds

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Photo of a mobile device in mans hand with generative google AI Overview on the screen.

According to new research, Google’s AI-generated overviews have undergone significant adjustments since the initial rollout.

The study from SE Ranking analyzed 100,000 keywords and found Google has greatly reduced the frequency of AI overviews.

However, when they appear, they’re more detailed than they were previously.

The study digs into which topics and industries are more likely to get an AI overview. It also looks at how the AI snippets interact with other search features like featured snippets and ads.

Here’s an overview of the findings and what they mean for your SEO efforts.

Declining Frequency Of AI Overviews

In contrast to pre-rollout figures, 8% of the examined searches now trigger an AI Overview.

This represents a 52% drop compared to January levels.

Yevheniia Khromova, the study’s author, believes this means Google is taking a more measured approach, stating:

“The sharp decrease in AI Overview presence likely reflects Google’s efforts to boost the accuracy and trustworthiness of AI-generated answers.”

Longer AI Overviews

Although the frequency of AI overviews has decreased, the ones that do appear provide more detailed information.

The average length of the text has grown by nearly 25% to around 4,342 characters.

In another notable change, AI overviews now link to fewer sources on average – usually just four links after expanding the snippet.

However, 84% still include at least one domain from that query’s top 10 organic search results.

Niche Dynamics & Ranking Factors

The chances of getting an AI overview vary across different industries.

Searches related to relationships, food and beverages, and technology were most likely to trigger AI overviews.

Sensitive areas like healthcare, legal, and news had a low rate of showing AI summaries, less than 1%.

Longer search queries with ten words were more likely to generate an AI overview, with a 19% rate indicating that AI summaries are more useful for complex information needs.

Search terms with lower search volumes and lower cost-per-click were more likely to display AI summaries.

Other Characteristics Of AI Overviews

The research reveals that 45% of AI overviews appear alongside featured snippets, often sourced from the exact domains.

Around 87% of AI overviews now coexist with ads, compared to 73% previously, a statistic that could increase competition for advertising space.

What Does This Mean?

SE Ranking’s research on AI overviews has several implications:

  1. Reduced Risk Of Traffic Losses: Fewer searches trigger AI Overviews that directly answer queries, making organic listings less likely to be demoted or receive less traffic.
  2. Most Impacted Niches: AI overviews appear more in relationships, food, and technology niches. Publishers in these sectors should pay closer attention to Google’s AI overview strategy.
  3. Long-form & In-Depth Content Essential: As AI snippets become longer, companies may need to create more comprehensive content beyond what the overviews cover.

Looking Ahead

While the number of AI overviews has decreased recently, we can’t assume this trend will continue.

AI overviews will undoubtedly continue to transform over time.

It’s crucial to monitor developments closely, try different methods of dealing with them, and adjust game plans as needed.


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