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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:

  • 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.)

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.

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.

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.

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:

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!


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Gen Z Ditches Google, Turns To Reddit For Product Searches

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In this photo illustration, the Reddit logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.

A new report from Reddit, in collaboration with GWI and AmbassCo, sheds light on the evolving search behaviors of Generation Z consumers.

The study surveyed over 3,000 internet users across the UK, US, and Germany, highlighting significant changes in how young people discover and research products online.

Here’s an overview of key findings and the implications for marketers.

Decline In Traditional Search

The study found that Gen Z uses search engines to find new brands and products less often.

That’s because they shop online differently. They’re less interested in looking for expert reviews or spending much time searching for products.

There are also frustrations with mobile-friendliness and complex interfaces on traditional search platforms.

Because of this, traditional SEO strategies might not work well for reaching younger customers.

Takeaway

Companies trying to reach Gen Z might need to try new methods instead of just focusing on being visible on Google and other search engines.

Rise Of Social Media Discovery

Screenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Gen Z is increasingly using social media to find new brands and products.

The study shows that Gen Z has used social media for product discovery 36% more frequently since 2018.

This change is affecting how young people shop online. Instead of searching for products, they expect brands to appear in their social media feeds.

1719123963 547 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Because of this, companies trying to reach young customers need to pay more attention to how they present themselves on social media.

Takeaway

To succeed at marketing to Gen Z, businesses will likely need to focus on two main things:

  1. Ensure that your content appears more often in social media feeds.
  2. Create posts people want to share and interact with.

Trust Issues With Influencer Marketing

Even though more people are finding products through social media, the report shows that Gen Z is less likely to trust what social media influencers recommend.

These young shoppers often don’t believe in posts that influencers are paid to make or products they promote.

Instead, they prefer to get information from sources that feel more real and are driven by regular people in online communities.

Takeaway

Because of this lack of trust, companies must focus on being genuine and building trust when they try to get their websites to appear in search results or create ads.

Some good ways to connect with these young consumers might be to use content created by regular users, encourage honest product reviews, and create authentic conversations within online communities.

Challenges With Current Search Experiences

The research shows that many people are unhappy with how search engines work right now.

More than 60% of those surveyed want search results to be more trustworthy. Almost half of users don’t like looking through many search result pages.

Gen Z is particularly bothered by inaccurate information and unreliable reviews.

1719123963 785 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Takeaway

Given the frustration with search quality, marketers should prioritize creating accurate, trustworthy content.

This can help build brand credibility, leading to more direct visits.

Reddit: A Trusted Alternative

The report suggests that Gen Z trusts Reddit when looking up products—it’s their third most trusted source, after friends and family and review websites.

1719123963 403 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Young users like Reddit because it’s community-based and provides specific answers to users’ questions, making it feel more real.

It’s worth noting that this report comes from Reddit itself, which probably influenced why it’s suggesting its own platform.

Takeaway

Companies should focus more on being part of smaller, specific online groups frequented by Gen Z.

That could include Reddit or any other forum.

Why SEJ Cares

As young people change how they look for information online, this study gives businesses important clues about connecting with future customers.

Here’s what to remember:

  • Traditional search engine use is declining among Gen Z.
  • Social media is increasingly vital for product discovery.
  • There’s growing skepticism towards influencer marketing.
  • Current search experiences often fail to meet user expectations.
  • Community-based platforms like Reddit are gaining trust.

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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.

More resources: 


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