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How 3 Different Enterprise SaaS Content Strategies Work (With Examples)

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How 3 Different Enterprise SaaS Content Strategies Work (With Examples)

There’s a common misconception that a blog is the best content strategy for all SaaS companies.

While I love blogs, they’re only one piece of the puzzle – and one piece does not a comprehensive strategy make.

Having worked with a number of SaaS companies over the years, I’ve found that creating content repositories oftentimes makes more sense with how unique SaaS user journeys are.

In this article, you’ll learn how comparison content, educational content, and support content can engage users at essential touchpoints on the path to conversion.

Comparison Content Repositories

Consumers in the SaaS space, while searching with solution lead queries will also use “versus” and “alternative” queries to find service providers who may not necessarily rank highly for the marquee product phrases.

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This broadens the competitive landscape outside of just who is ranking page one for the typical target phrases.

These are worth using “business intelligence” combined with metrics like search volume to prioritize which comparison pages should be generated.

The focus here isn’t to generate high volumes of traffic, as anyone searching brand X versus brand Y will have some level of marketplace education and may likely be close to conversion.

Gitlab’s Comparison Repository

Gitlab has a large comparison repository that at the time of writing consists of 123 pages and ranks for 3,024 keywords, generating an estimated 11,000 sessions a month (Semrush U.S.).

This is a powerful content hub, as Gitlab has a product offering that has a large overlap with a number of other providers.

These comparison pages enable users researching specific product features to put Gitlab on their radar when on the face of it, a DevOps platform might not seem relevant (depending on the consumer’s market knowledge).

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Screenshot from About.gitlab.com, July 2021Gitlab Comparison Table (July 2021)

This also acts as a tool to move users to the next stage of the funnel with Gitlab, and links through to these pages are linked prominently from the homepage.

Notions’ Comparison Pages

Notion has taken a different approach to comparison content by singling out two of its main competitors – Evernote & Confluence – with specific comparison pages linked to the site footer.

These pages capitalize on the market knowledge, generated through general marketing and reputation, with the Evernote comparison page ranking for 208 keywords and the Confluence page ranking for 82 keywords.

Educational Content Repositories

Providing a single “value proposition” or looking at the search intent of keywords in a linear fashion can be difficult.

As-A-Service organizations tend to have varying customer bases with differing levels of need, buying power, and technical capabilities (and knowledge) around the product, as well as a narrow-view approach to optimizing for organic users.

This is why the content hub/SEO moat approach is so powerful in this niche.

In terms of a traditional SEO view, it creates a lot of good content including a number of target keywords and their variations.

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Taking a wider view, producing strong, non-commercial content covering a large number of topics (and search queries) within a well structured (and internally linked) area of the website creates a content repository with a large number of varying user value propositions that caters to users at different stages of their journey.

It also helps improve the topical relevancy of the domain as a whole.

When a SaaS client published the first section of what has become a large, comprehensive “learning center” in mid-2017,  Google began to crawl and see value in this content area.

The website also began to improve rankings across a number of commercially valuable phrases on more commercially focused landing pages.

This learning center, four years on, now ranks for an estimated 151,247 keywords (31,000 of which are on page one). It generates 1,378,281 organic sessions a month – around 25% of the domain’s total estimated organic traffic.

SaaS Learning Center Organic Traffic (Semrush Estimates)Screenshot from Semrush, October 2021SaaS Learning Center Organic Traffic (Semrush Estimates)

When building educational repositories like this, it’s essential to be as commercially agnostic as possible. The goal of this content is to improve domain topical relevancy and bring users to the site.

Including heavily commercial CTAs and sales language across these pages can dilute their value propositions and limit ranking potential.

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Google examples of these content hubs in the wild include:

  • Imperva’s learning center.
  • Atlassian university.
  • Asana academy.
  • Adobe learning center.
  • StackPath edge academy.

Educational repositories also create a really natural location within a website’s architecture to include large term glossaries that can internally link to both pages within the learning center and to commercial pages.

Support Content Repositories

When I start working with a SaaS (or tech) company, the support section is one area where there are oftentimes “quick wins” in terms of both increasing relevant traffic and content production.

The reason I say “quick” in terms of content production is that all the content needs to do is satisfy the user query.

For a large number of support articles and entries, these can be short two to three sentence pieces that link off to documentation or other articles/pages.

To find the questions that you need to be answering in your support documentation, there are a number of sources you should utilize and combine:

  • Google’s PAA (People Also Asked) feature.
  • Reddit, Quora, StackOverflow – anywhere where users may be posting questions relevant to your brand/product.
  • Third-party SEO tools that allow question filtering.

In this process, you may also find elements to include in your other repositories, but you want to be more focused on your brand/product here.

By focusing on the Support Center, you can massively increase the amount of value it’s bringing your site as a whole.

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For example, in the graph below, optimization, pruning, and consolidation started in mid-2016. Creating relevant support articles became a feature of new product GTMs (go-to-market strategies) to continuously add content to that area of the site.

Support Center Organic PerformanceScreenshot from Semrush, October 2021Support Center Organic Performance

Conclusion

While SaaS companies will have different content needs to fulfill their marketing objectives, the goal is always the same: Get a user into your business.

Any successful content strategy, then, will need to be customized to match takeaways for different types of users along their journey.

And as you’ve seen with the three examples above, different strategies can work very well in tandem.

*All data used is publicly accessible via third-party tools.

More Resources:


Featured Image: ArtemisDiana/Shutterstock

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Measuring Content Impact Across The Customer Journey

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Measuring Content Impact Across The Customer Journey

Understanding the impact of your content at every touchpoint of the customer journey is essential – but that’s easier said than done. From attracting potential leads to nurturing them into loyal customers, there are many touchpoints to look into.

So how do you identify and take advantage of these opportunities for growth?

Watch this on-demand webinar and learn a comprehensive approach for measuring the value of your content initiatives, so you can optimize resource allocation for maximum impact.

You’ll learn:

  • Fresh methods for measuring your content’s impact.
  • Fascinating insights using first-touch attribution, and how it differs from the usual last-touch perspective.
  • Ways to persuade decision-makers to invest in more content by showcasing its value convincingly.

With Bill Franklin and Oliver Tani of DAC Group, we unravel the nuances of attribution modeling, emphasizing the significance of layering first-touch and last-touch attribution within your measurement strategy. 

Check out these insights to help you craft compelling content tailored to each stage, using an approach rooted in first-hand experience to ensure your content resonates.

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Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or new to content measurement, this webinar promises valuable insights and actionable tactics to elevate your SEO game and optimize your content initiatives for success. 

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

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How to Find and Use Competitor Keywords

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How to Find and Use Competitor Keywords

Competitor keywords are the keywords your rivals rank for in Google’s search results. They may rank organically or pay for Google Ads to rank in the paid results.

Knowing your competitors’ keywords is the easiest form of keyword research. If your competitors rank for or target particular keywords, it might be worth it for you to target them, too.

There is no way to see your competitors’ keywords without a tool like Ahrefs, which has a database of keywords and the sites that rank for them. As far as we know, Ahrefs has the biggest database of these keywords.

How to find all the keywords your competitor ranks for

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Enter your competitor’s domain
  3. Go to the Organic keywords report

The report is sorted by traffic to show you the keywords sending your competitor the most visits. For example, Mailchimp gets most of its organic traffic from the keyword “mailchimp.”

Mailchimp gets most of its organic traffic from the keyword, “mailchimp”.Mailchimp gets most of its organic traffic from the keyword, “mailchimp”.

Since you’re unlikely to rank for your competitor’s brand, you might want to exclude branded keywords from the report. You can do this by adding a Keyword > Doesn’t contain filter. In this example, we’ll filter out keywords containing “mailchimp” or any potential misspellings:

Filtering out branded keywords in Organic keywords reportFiltering out branded keywords in Organic keywords report

If you’re a new brand competing with one that’s established, you might also want to look for popular low-difficulty keywords. You can do this by setting the Volume filter to a minimum of 500 and the KD filter to a maximum of 10.

Finding popular, low-difficulty keywords in Organic keywordsFinding popular, low-difficulty keywords in Organic keywords

How to find keywords your competitor ranks for, but you don’t

  1. Go to Competitive Analysis
  2. Enter your domain in the This target doesn’t rank for section
  3. Enter your competitor’s domain in the But these competitors do section
Competitive analysis reportCompetitive analysis report

Hit “Show keyword opportunities,” and you’ll see all the keywords your competitor ranks for, but you don’t.

Content gap reportContent gap report

You can also add a Volume and KD filter to find popular, low-difficulty keywords in this report.

Volume and KD filter in Content gapVolume and KD filter in Content gap

How to find keywords multiple competitors rank for, but you don’t

  1. Go to Competitive Analysis
  2. Enter your domain in the This target doesn’t rank for section
  3. Enter the domains of multiple competitors in the But these competitors do section
Competitive analysis report with multiple competitorsCompetitive analysis report with multiple competitors

You’ll see all the keywords that at least one of these competitors ranks for, but you don’t.

Content gap report with multiple competitorsContent gap report with multiple competitors

You can also narrow the list down to keywords that all competitors rank for. Click on the Competitors’ positions filter and choose All 3 competitors:

Selecting all 3 competitors to see keywords all 3 competitors rank forSelecting all 3 competitors to see keywords all 3 competitors rank for
  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Enter your competitor’s domain
  3. Go to the Paid keywords report
Paid keywords reportPaid keywords report

This report shows you the keywords your competitors are targeting via Google Ads.

Since your competitor is paying for traffic from these keywords, it may indicate that they’re profitable for them—and could be for you, too.

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You know what keywords your competitors are ranking for or bidding on. But what do you do with them? There are basically three options.

1. Create pages to target these keywords

You can only rank for keywords if you have content about them. So, the most straightforward thing you can do for competitors’ keywords you want to rank for is to create pages to target them.

However, before you do this, it’s worth clustering your competitor’s keywords by Parent Topic. This will group keywords that mean the same or similar things so you can target them all with one page.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Export your competitor’s keywords, either from the Organic Keywords or Content Gap report
  2. Paste them into Keywords Explorer
  3. Click the “Clusters by Parent Topic” tab
Clustering keywords by Parent TopicClustering keywords by Parent Topic

For example, MailChimp ranks for keywords like “what is digital marketing” and “digital marketing definition.” These and many others get clustered under the Parent Topic of “digital marketing” because people searching for them are all looking for the same thing: a definition of digital marketing. You only need to create one page to potentially rank for all these keywords.

Keywords under the cluster of "digital marketing"Keywords under the cluster of "digital marketing"

2. Optimize existing content by filling subtopics

You don’t always need to create new content to rank for competitors’ keywords. Sometimes, you can optimize the content you already have to rank for them.

How do you know which keywords you can do this for? Try this:

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  1. Export your competitor’s keywords
  2. Paste them into Keywords Explorer
  3. Click the “Clusters by Parent Topic” tab
  4. Look for Parent Topics you already have content about

For example, if we analyze our competitor, we can see that seven keywords they rank for fall under the Parent Topic of “press release template.”

Our competitor ranks for seven keywords that fall under the "press release template" clusterOur competitor ranks for seven keywords that fall under the "press release template" cluster

If we search our site, we see that we already have a page about this topic.

Site search finds that we already have a blog post on press release templatesSite search finds that we already have a blog post on press release templates

If we click the caret and check the keywords in the cluster, we see keywords like “press release example” and “press release format.”

Keywords under the cluster of "press release template"Keywords under the cluster of "press release template"

To rank for the keywords in the cluster, we can probably optimize the page we already have by adding sections about the subtopics of “press release examples” and “press release format.”

3. Target these keywords with Google Ads

Paid keywords are the simplest—look through the report and see if there are any relevant keywords you might want to target, too.

For example, Mailchimp is bidding for the keyword “how to create a newsletter.”

Mailchimp is bidding for the keyword “how to create a newsletter”Mailchimp is bidding for the keyword “how to create a newsletter”

If you’re ConvertKit, you may also want to target this keyword since it’s relevant.

If you decide to target the same keyword via Google Ads, you can hover over the magnifying glass to see the ads your competitor is using.

Mailchimp's Google Ad for the keyword “how to create a newsletter”Mailchimp's Google Ad for the keyword “how to create a newsletter”

You can also see the landing page your competitor directs ad traffic to under the URL column.

The landing page Mailchimp is directing traffic to for “how to create a newsletter”The landing page Mailchimp is directing traffic to for “how to create a newsletter”

Learn more

Check out more tutorials on how to do competitor keyword analysis:

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Google Confirms Links Are Not That Important

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Google confirms that links are not that important anymore

Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed at a recent search marketing conference that Google needs very few links, adding to the growing body of evidence that publishers need to focus on other factors. Gary tweeted confirmation that he indeed say those words.

Background Of Links For Ranking

Links were discovered in the late 1990’s to be a good signal for search engines to use for validating how authoritative a website is and then Google discovered soon after that anchor text could be used to provide semantic signals about what a webpage was about.

One of the most important research papers was Authoritative Sources in a Hyperlinked Environment by Jon M. Kleinberg, published around 1998 (link to research paper at the end of the article). The main discovery of this research paper is that there is too many web pages and there was no objective way to filter search results for quality in order to rank web pages for a subjective idea of relevance.

The author of the research paper discovered that links could be used as an objective filter for authoritativeness.

Kleinberg wrote:

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“To provide effective search methods under these conditions, one needs a way to filter, from among a huge collection of relevant pages, a small set of the most “authoritative” or ‘definitive’ ones.”

This is the most influential research paper on links because it kick-started more research on ways to use links beyond as an authority metric but as a subjective metric for relevance.

Objective is something factual. Subjective is something that’s closer to an opinion. The founders of Google discovered how to use the subjective opinions of the Internet as a relevance metric for what to rank in the search results.

What Larry Page and Sergey Brin discovered and shared in their research paper (The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine – link at end of this article) was that it was possible to harness the power of anchor text to determine the subjective opinion of relevance from actual humans. It was essentially crowdsourcing the opinions of millions of website expressed through the link structure between each webpage.

What Did Gary Illyes Say About Links In 2024?

At a recent search conference in Bulgaria, Google’s Gary Illyes made a comment about how Google doesn’t really need that many links and how Google has made links less important.

Patrick Stox tweeted about what he heard at the search conference:

” ‘We need very few links to rank pages… Over the years we’ve made links less important.’ @methode #serpconf2024″

Google’s Gary Illyes tweeted a confirmation of that statement:

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“I shouldn’t have said that… I definitely shouldn’t have said that”

Why Links Matter Less

The initial state of anchor text when Google first used links for ranking purposes was absolutely non-spammy, which is why it was so useful. Hyperlinks were primarily used as a way to send traffic from one website to another website.

But by 2004 or 2005 Google was using statistical analysis to detect manipulated links, then around 2004 “powered-by” links in website footers stopped passing anchor text value, and by 2006 links close to the words “advertising” stopped passing link value, links from directories stopped passing ranking value and by 2012 Google deployed a massive link algorithm called Penguin that destroyed the rankings of likely millions of websites, many of which were using guest posting.

The link signal eventually became so bad that Google decided in 2019 to selectively use nofollow links for ranking purposes. Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed that the change to nofollow was made because of the link signal.

Google Explicitly Confirms That Links Matter Less

In 2023 Google’s Gary Illyes shared at a PubCon Austin that links were not even in the top 3 of ranking factors. Then in March 2024, coinciding with the March 2024 Core Algorithm Update, Google updated their spam policies documentation to downplay the importance of links for ranking purposes.

Google March 2024 Core Update: 4 Changes To Link Signal

The documentation previously said:

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“Google uses links as an important factor in determining the relevancy of web pages.”

The update to the documentation that mentioned links was updated to remove the word important.

Links are not just listed as just another factor:

“Google uses links as a factor in determining the relevancy of web pages.”

At the beginning of April Google’s John Mueller advised that there are more useful SEO activities to engage on than links.

Mueller explained:

“There are more important things for websites nowadays, and over-focusing on links will often result in you wasting your time doing things that don’t make your website better overall”

Finally, Gary Illyes explicitly said that Google needs very few links to rank webpages and confirmed it.

Why Google Doesn’t Need Links

The reason why Google doesn’t need many links is likely because of the extent of AI and natural language undertanding that Google uses in their algorithms. Google must be highly confident in its algorithm to be able to explicitly say that they don’t need it.

Way back when Google implemented the nofollow into the algorithm there were many link builders who sold comment spam links who continued to lie that comment spam still worked. As someone who started link building at the very beginning of modern SEO (I was the moderator of the link building forum at the #1 SEO forum of that time), I can say with confidence that links have stopped playing much of a role in rankings beginning several years ago, which is why I stopped about five or six years ago.

Read the research papers

Authoritative Sources in a Hyperlinked Environment – Jon M. Kleinberg (PDF)

The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine

Featured Image by Shutterstock/RYO Alexandre

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