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SaaS Homepage SEO: Keywords, Linking & More

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SaaS Homepage SEO: Keywords, Linking & More

Start-up SaaS websites typically consist of the home page and maybe a handful of supporting pages – neither of which offer any SEO value.

A good SaaS homepage will drive conversions and improve your business on the whole. But how do you optimize yours?

In this article, you will learn about SaaS homepage SEO challenges, the role your homepage plays in SEO, and different keywords to consider when optimizing a SaaS homepage.

Why Is Homepage SEO So Challenging For SaaS Brands, Specifically?

Let’s face it, homepage SEO is confusing for almost everyone.

Whether it is a SaaS company, a local company, or another business type, you’ll find many in each vertical who struggle to make good use of this real estate from an SEO perspective.

At the same time, the homepage is also the one asset almost every business cares about the most.

It’s often the primary landing page, regardless of the traffic source. Because of that, it’s also that one asset that most often:

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  • Welcomes visitors.
  • Makes a first impression about the brand.
  • Describes what the company does (or at least hint at it and suggest where else someone could learn more about it).
  • Explains what value the company provides and what sets the company and its products apart in the market.
  • Points visitors to where they can find the information they’re looking for (both through the navigation and any internal links you place there).

As Yoast explained the typical approach to homepage SEO:

“One purpose that I feel a homepage doesn’t have, and that is ranking for keywords other than your business name or brand.”

That’s true for most brands. But I’d argue that the SaaS market (and what goes with it, SaaS marketing) is different from other industries.

What’s Different About SaaS?

Many early-stage brands don’t have any other commercial assets (or even the ability to create more, at that).

For many SaaS companies, the homepage plays a commercial role and might be their only commercial page.

Example:

 Screenshot by author, April 2021An example of a SaaS website where internal pages carry little commercial value.

Then, there’s the issue of brand recognition.

Everyone’s heard of Asana. Drift. HubSpot.

Those companies can use fancy taglines in their meta title tag and get away with it. They know that people are looking for their brand anyway.

As for other keywords, those companies have thousands of pages to target those phrases.

(Having said that, Hubspot still optimizes its homepage for product categories.)

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But, when you’re a relatively new SaaS company trying to carve a space for yourself in the industry – when you’re trying to beat more established competitors and focused on kick-starting growth –  counting on someone searching Google your name and getting to the homepage (remember, the only page on the site) isn’t going to get you far.

So, what are your options?

The Role Of A Homepage In SaaS SEO Strategy

The importance of your homepage goes far beyond the fact that you have no other pages to optimize (yet).

The clearer you are in explaining what your product does, what category it falls into, and what value users get from it, the easier it will be for the search engine to establish how to rank you in the search results.

When you’re just getting started in SaaS, the homepage will attract most if not all organic links.

Whatever mentions, media references or other PR your product acquires will likely link to your homepage.

Your initial link-building strategies – guest posting, digital PR, podcast appearances, or submitting the site to SaaS directories – will more than likely also target the homepage.

As other sites link to your homepage, they pass along PageRank which can then be distributed around your site to help specific pages get found by Google.

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Smart internal linking will help you pass the benefit of that PageRank you’ve gathered at the homepage onto new pages as you develop them.

What Keywords To Use To Optimize A SaaS Homepage, Then?

There are three types of keywords to focus on.

The first is obvious, but to find the right phrases for the others, you will need to do a bit of keyword research.

1. Your Brand

Despite the need to focus on other terms, it’s still a good idea to include brand-related terms on the homepage.

At a minimum, include the company or the product name in the homepage’s title tag, typically at the end of the tag.

This way, you ensure that the main focus of the tag is on your primary target keywords.

Example:

meta title on a SaaS homepage. Screenshot by author, April 2021meta title on a SaaS homepage.

In most cases, you’ll naturally sprinkle the brand across the page, too.

You’ll mention it in the meta description, perhaps include it in the main subheading, under the tagline, in alt text for an image or two, and elsewhere in the body copy (in reviews or testimonials, for example) as it naturally occurs.

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2. Product Category (If The Intent Is Right)

This is where you begin to position your homepage (and the brand) for phrases that can drive valuable commercial traffic.

Product category-related keywords describe the primary category that best defines your product.

These aren’t the keywords that might define the project’s attributes or functionality but more general seed phrases that tell a user what the product is and aren’t related to your brand in any way.

These are often the phrases you use to describe the product to clients, investors, or various stakeholders – Enterprise Resource Planning software, CMS and ecommerce, communications platform, etc.

These are the terms you’ll find salespeople referencing in their emails, sales materials, and so on.

Where To Include The Product Category-Related Keyword? 

As this is the primary keyword you’ll be targeting, use it on every page:

  • In meta tags.
  • In the page’s H1 tag.
  • In the page’s body content’s opening.
  • In alt tags, etc.

An Exception: When The Keyword Has A Different User Intent Than The Homepage

There might be situations where the user intent for a product category-related phrase is different than what you can target with the homepage.

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Even though the phrase might seem to have a commercial intent at first, upon inspection, you may realize it ranks for a whole variety of intents.

Take the keyword phrase [small business CRM]. The keyword seems ideal to use on a software product’s homepage.

But look at the SERP. Those listings include mostly informational content:

  • Most of the top-ranking pages are listicles presenting collections of CRM software solutions.
  • None of those pages are product homepages.
  • There is only one actual CRM software domain ranking, and even that’s not a commercial page.
SERP example.Screenshot by author, April 2021SERP example.

Ranking a homepage would be pretty difficult to impossible to achieve, especially for a lesser-known SaaS brand.

You have two options here:

  1. Compromise and identify a different product category-related keyword (or at least one that is close enough to the product category). Create a separate page to target the original keyword you intended with content relevant to its intent.
  2. Focus only on the brand. I personally believe that’s too much of a compromise for an early-stage startup.

3. Keywords Relating To The Product’s Core Offerings

We’ve covered positioning for your brand and the product category.

But, what about those other phrases that describe your product? What about keywords that relate to the product’s features or functionality?

These phrases aren’t your primary keywords but there is a way to weave them in.

What’s more, you can use the homepage to support specific pages you might create for those keywords.

Here’s how:

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Include a list of your product’s functionality. You most likely have it on the page already in some shape or form.

Homepage example. Screenshot by author, April 2021Homepage example.

Then, link each of those sections to a relevant landing page. 

Ideally, you will use the additional keyword in the link’s anchor text to increase relevance. You’ll achieve three objectives this way:

  • You’ll increase the topical relevance of the homepage. Google and other search engines will better understand what your product does and what phrases would be relevant to your domain.
  • You’ll be assisting visitors in finding any content that’s relevant to their needs.
  • And finally, you’ll be strengthening the page authority of those additional assets you’ve created to rank for keywords related to the product’s features or functionality.

Final Thoughts

The ultimate takeaway is that your homepage should include the most relevant keywords and keyword phrases related to your business.

Whether or not you plan to optimize for the organic channel, it is important for you to understand that search engines are going to be picking up on these keywords and the various ways consumers will try to find your product.

So, don’t neglect the basics!

More Resources:


Featured Image: Andrey Suslov/Shutterstock

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SEO

SEO Tips For Expanding Into German-Speaking Markets

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SEO Tips For Expanding Into German-Speaking Markets

So, you’re ready to expand into the land of wheat beer, sausage, and potatoes?

I’ve got good news for you!

With a large and affluent consumer base, Germany is an attractive market for many businesses.

But there’s one little catch: you need localization.

What’s localization, you ask?

Well, it has a lot to do with adapting your messaging to meet local cultural standards.

And while that first and foremost includes the language, it also covers traditions, humor, market expectations, and more.

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Regardless of whether you’re looking to expand into Germany or another country, you must understand your audience’s unique needs and how to reach them before you can successfully market your business to them.

So, before you go and start directly translating your English content strategy into German, you should know that adapting to German SEO is far more than just a translation job.

German consumers have different search habits, preferences, and intent than English speakers.

Simply translating your existing content strategy is only about 10% of a true German market expansion.

To succeed in German-speaking markets with SEO, you must create a German SEO strategy from scratch.

In this article, you’ll learn:

Why A German Market Expansion Is Worthwhile

Even though localization requires additional effort, Germany is one primary market that’s absolutely worth it to invest in. Here’s why:

  • The German-speaking DACH region (Germany, Switzerland, and Austria) is a thriving consumer market. Thanks to each country’s large GDP per capita, they enjoy a high standard of living – which means consumers have more money to spend on new products.
  • The DACH region has a 93% average internet penetration, which means there are 94 million internet users in the market. In a nutshell: comprehensive internet access + high standard of living = more money for your brand.
  • In Germany, 91% of internet users rely on Google for their search needs. This makes SEO in particular a powerful tool for reaching German consumers.

Important note: When expanding your business into the German market, it is essential to work with native speakers to build your SEO strategy, because that’s your direct line for understanding local messaging requirements.

Developing your SEO strategy based on your target market’s needs helps you create quality content that resonates with your audience.

It may even give you a first-mover advantage, especially if your business is in a new and niche industry.

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How To Craft A Winning German SEO Strategy In 6 Steps

Learning how to hang with the Germans at Oktoberfest may seem intimidating and challenging at first.

But with a few key steps, you can create a German SEO strategy that can immensely impact pipeline growth in this burgeoning market.

See also  12 Ways to Build a Winning SEO Strategy on a Small Budget

The 6 Steps For Building A Winning SEO Strategy In The German Market

Localize your business strategy Prep your site structure Find your German competitors
Do German keyword research Localize your keyword map Localize your content

1. Localize Your Business Strategy

Let me give you a concrete example of a real business that was recently looking for help expanding in the DACH region.

Due to the U.S. and U.K. being their primary markets, international markets come second place in terms of investment but are still required to bring in high levels of new business.

After looking through their website for about 30 seconds, I noticed a major problem:

Although their website is translated to German (emphasis on the translated, not localized), their chatbot was only offered in English.

I tried typing in German in the chatbot. No reply.

It kept trying to force me to book a call with a person in the U.S.

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I then wrote, “Does this person speak German?” in the German language, but again no reply.

Now imagine this scenario for the potential German customers of this business.

They’ve come to the website from Germany, read through the website in German, and now, do you think they feel comfortable booking a call with an English-speaking salesperson in the US?

I can most wholeheartedly tell you it’s a big “no.”

That’s why it’s not enough to just translate your existing content into German.

You also need German-speaking salespeople and customer service representatives who can interact with buyers in their language.

It’s crucial to localize your entire business strategy, otherwise, your target audience will continue choosing your competitors who do offer the buying experience they expect.

2. Prep Your Site Structure

Now that we’ve gotten the business stuff out of the way, let’s move on to SEO.

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Before creating any content, you first need to check that your website is set up for multiple languages, which is most often done with the URL structure.

There are two options for this:

  • Option 1: example.com/de (the subfolder approach).
  • Option 2: de.example.com (the subdomain approach).

Whenever you have the option within your CMS (content management system) and technical infrastructure, always opt for the subfolder approach.

This helps transfer DA (domain authority) from your main .com domain to your German website, which means you’ll be able to rank for German keywords faster.

Once your site structure is set up, it’s also crucial to use href lang tags on your pages.

This way, you can assign a page to each market. By doing this, you’re more likely to appear in search results for German users looking for content in their language.

3. Find Your German Competitors

When it comes to competitors, localization is a major factor yet again.

While you may already know which websites you’re competing with in your native market, it’s important to understand that they will likely not be your organic search traffic competitors when you enter the German market.

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Let’s say you’re a marketing automation software company that wants to expand into Germany.

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SEOquake is a helpful plugin for comparing SERPs (search engine results page) in different languages and countries.

The main keyword you’d want to rank for in English markets might be “marketing automation tool.”

Here’s what SEOquake shows me as the English SERPs for the U.S.:

Screenshot from search for [marketing automation tool], Google, June 2022

Now take a look at what I get when I search for [marketing automatisierung tool], the German equivalent for that English term, in Germany:

German SERPs for “marketing automatisierung tool” using SEOquakeScreenshot from search for [marketing automatisierung tool], Google, June 2022

This difference is precisely where your opportunity for German market expansion lies.

When you localize keywords and your content to compete against local SERPs, you position your SEO strategy to generate leads and sales with localized high purchase intent keywords.

Just rinse and repeat this strategy for your main keywords and you’ll start to see trends about who your top German search competitors are.

But make sure that you follow up with these readers by offering them a buying experience that’s entirely in German.

4. Do German Keyword Research

Once you have a list of your German competitors, it’s time to do keyword research.

Keywords are the heart of your expansion strategy because that’s where you connect content to the high purchase intent keywords I mentioned above.

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To help you do your keyword research, try the following steps:

Step 1: Set your keyword research tool (here shown with Semrush) to the German market.

Example of Semrush’s keyword overview tool for German keyword researchScreenshot from Semrush, June 2022

Step 2: Using Semrush’s keyword magic tool, type in a German keyword.

I always recommend starting with a vague head keyword, because then you can view the whole related keyword cluster in a list.

Example of Semrush’s keyword magic tool for German keyword researchScreenshot from Semrush, June 2022

Step 3: Then select longtail, search intent match keywords here that have search volume and could potentially fit into your strategy based on the content you’d like to create.

Step 4: The best way to determine where and how certain keywords fit into your content is to check their SERPs by using SEOquake as I showed in the previous section.

One caveat: Semrush can be a bit limited for German SERPs data, so if you’re planning to heavily expand into Germany using SEO, it might be worthwhile to purchase an SEO tool with a more robust German database, such as Sistrix.

The key thing to remember during the keyword localization process is that you shouldn’t just translate keywords from your brand’s first language to German.

While just translating content easily leads to content that’s never even read, the process I described ensures that your content production resources focus on localized keywords that have the opportunity to rank and impact your leads and sales in Germany.

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5. Localize Your Keyword Map

After the initial keyword research is done, it’s time to build your keyword map.

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This means crafting German keyword clusters by search intent and ensuring that your German keyword map reflects your target audience’s needs across the sales funnel.

Here’s an example of how my team and I typically lay this out in Google Sheets:

keyword map using google sheetsScreenshot from author, June 2022

 

Doing this also allows you to determine which content from the original English-language website can be transcreated (translated and localized with specific keywords), and which new pages should be created in German.

Some pages in English won’t even need to be transcreated to German if your keyword research shows it’s not relevant to the German market – which is a primary reason why localization is much more laser-focused than pure translation.

6. Localize Your Content

The final step to developing your German SEO strategy is to localize your content.

For each content piece you plan to develop for your German audience, do the following:

Do your research.

Understand what Germans are searching for online, what kinds of content they engage with, and the messaging style they’re used to. One quick example is that German is often much more formal than U.S. and U.K. English.

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Repurpose your top-performing existing content.

If you have existing English content that’s doing well, consider transcreating it into German if the topic is also relevant to the German market.

Make sure to optimize it for local German keywords that have search volume and match search intent to give it the best possible chance of generating leads and sales.

Write new German-specific content.

Creating new and original content is especially important if you’re targeting Germany as a foreign market because there will be elements in Germany that don’t exist in the U.S. and U.K. markets.

When you show the German audience that you understand them by investing in content that’s specifically relevant to them, that’s a significant trust builder that brings them much closer to purchase.

Track your progress.

Track your SEO strategy’s performance in the German-speaking markets using a tool like Semrush (shown in the image below).

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Use the data to find your top content opportunities in this market and continuously update and improve your content plan.

Example of Semrush’s keyword position tracking tool for German keywordsScreenshot from Semrush, June 2022

Efficiently Expand Into The German Market With SEO Using A Proven Process

Expanding your business into new markets can be a daunting task, but it’s also an incredibly rewarding one.

When you break through to new frontiers, you open up a world of opportunities for your business.

So, don’t be afraid to venture into German-speaking markets – with the right SEO strategy in place, you can see amazing success.

More resources:


Featured Image: Stanislaw Mikulski/Shutterstock

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