Use these 5 proven SEO strategies from the experts to improve SaaS companies’ rankings and revenue in 2018.
Software as a Service (SaaS) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be described as two of the fastest-paced industries today. Keeping up with trends and techniques in these specialisms (those actually confirmed to reap rewards!) can be extremely challenging.
For this very reason, I’ve gathered five inspiring SaaS founders, CEOs, and marketing professionals at the very top of their game — and their colossal, incredibly-useful insights to help your brand gain sustainable organic traction in 2018.
In summary: SEO strategies for SaaS companies that really work. In real life. Right now. For brands of all sizes.
You will soon be presented with five robust, actionable SEO strategies (+ evidence of results) to soar your visibility and acquire more customers!
More on this in a moment…
We are evermore amidst a whirlwind of data, content and technology — while opportunity grows, and competition relentlessly intensifies:
“There are currently 64,000+ Google searches per second.”
(Source: Internet Live Stats)
“The SaaS space is growing 6.5x as fast as the world economy.”
(Source: Cardin Partners)
So, how exactly do you get noticed as a modern SaaS company? How do you escalate steadfast revenue this year and onward?
Google is a great place to start!
Of course, this is often common knowledge. What isn’t so common is understanding and utilizing the intricate mechanics of Google to your advantage.
And I’m not talking about merely relying on pay-per-click (PPC) to rapidly gain sales. SEO and paid search work great together.
SEO should still be your main focus.
The above graph needs no further elaboration — in many cases, it shouldn’t be on the CMOs agenda to constantly shovel a majority of marketing budget into temporary Google real estate that attracts only a small fraction of clicks.
Brace yourself for the following material. It contains step-by-step SEO advice, revenue-boosting substance — along with heaps of evidence (plus some handsome headshots).
Get ready to feed your SaaS business some organic rocket fuel to shoot up the Google SERPs (and remain there) faster than you can say pay-per-click…
Andrea has 20+ years of world-class experience in online strategies and web publishing. He is a visionary entrepreneur, now focusing on artificial intelligence and surrounding specialties in search.
Andrea’s creation, WordLift, is a semantic editor for online content that cleverly merges semantic technology, natural language processing, and SEO.
“The traditional SEO techniques, such as keywords and backlinks, still work pretty well.
However, for a SaaS, business speed and agility is critical. For this reason, SEO is usually an overlooked channel for SaaS because it takes time for Google to adjust the way it perceives your website.
With the team at WordLift, I experimented by using a couple of strategies to ignite the growth of organic traffic.”
From Traditional SEO, to AI SEO
“Google is becoming smarter. If you need confirmation, try now and search, ‘What is RankBrain?’
Since Google started to use AI to read human language, keywords and backlinks are losing a degree of relevance. Although they are still the basis for traditional SEO strategies; if you want to speed up the process, you have to produce content that can be transformed into data that Google can read, process, and interpret quickly. (Also, reliably.)
In short, you have to speak Google’s language. That is why instead of using only keywords for our on-page SEO strategy, we automate the work by using Natural Language Processing (NLP).
Therefore, we let the machine do the hard work, while we sit back and set up the overall plan!
For instance, at WordLift, we enhance our content marketing efforts by letting our software come up with a set of suggestions. Among those recommendations, we pick up those that make more sense for us and let them become entities — which, in the context of semantic technologies, are pages that can be quickly processed and understood by search engines.
We transformed this piece — by using the NLP of WordLift — into a knowledge graph:
Using this approach, we feed contextual information to Google that helps its crawlers index the page faster, better — and smarter. It’s why such pages end up ranking quite well on Google:
As you can see, taking into account the very high keyword search volume of ”DuckDuckGo” (which also usually means strong rivalry), fourweekmba.com still scaled up the SERPs in less than two months.
This ranking was achieved in a relatively short space of time, considering duckduckgo.com itself is very prominent (with a domain authority score of 89) while fourweekmba.com had a low DA (only 18 when first published) — and many other competing pages belonging to other larger, more organically established websites are evermore present.
It’s a perfect growth hack for on-page SEO — and much needed. Before Google ranks your site higher in the SERPs, it’s a process that can take months, or even years! That is, unless you help its crawlers get the job done; by pushing information out of your web page, in the form of rich data.
NOTE: Quality content and thoughtful dissemination is always the baseline (and one of the reasons for the above outlined success. However, using AI in your SEO is a critical step to boost its reach through search engines.
If that is still not enough, you can also enhance your content marketing efforts by ‘making your website talk.’
Make Your Website Talk, Using Structured Data
Rather than making predictions about voice search, let’s dive into actual data.
“Twenty percent of mobile searches on Google are made via voice, which means over 60 million people in the U.S. alone use digital assistants.
‘Making your website talk’ can be great for brand awareness, which eventually turns into a powerful weapon to convert simple digital assistant users into loyal customers.
So, how exactly do you make a website talk? At WordLift, we’ve carried out quite a few experiments with PASO (Personal Assistant Search Optimization) — but before we move forward, let Google Home explain PASO!
How did we do that? How did we convert a simple WordPress page into talking content that Google actually uses for voice queries?
We identified three methods to speed up the process:
- Optimize for long-tail, conversational keywords
- Use Schema markup
- Set up an internal glossary
For instance, if you look at the page where Google Home is finding our answer to the question, you will notice specific features.
Firstly, we targeted a long-tail, conversational keyword (e.g., What is PASO?).
Secondly, we set up an internal glossary with pages that are strategic to our commercial strategy. For instance, since WordLift is an SEO tool, including a PASO page in our glossary is crucial.
Thirdly, we used a vocabulary called Schema — allowing us to specify properties of the page so that search engines can easily understand what the page is about. We automate this process using WordLift:
The WordLift editor on the right-hand-side of the page allows us to specify details of the content. Our software injects a JSON-LD (structured data) language that transforms these details into a type of information that can be quickly processed by Google.
In addition: We made the very first paragraph of the page conversational and prone to provide a short (50 to 70 words), straightforward answer.
This is how to make your website talk!”
Mike has been a successful entrepreneur since 2001 — his last three businesses each hit seven figures in under three years, one of them recognized as the 144th fastest growing company by Inc Magazine in 2012.
He’s also an author who has been featured on CNN, interviewed by Anthony Robbins and mentioned in over 100 publications to date.
“At Social Quant, we keep a close eye on SEO opportunities and learned a valuable lesson earlier this year when considering user intent, in searches for keywords.
We knew we were on the bottom half of Page 1 on Google for the term ‘Twitter Advanced Search’ which has over 27,000 monthly searches, according to SEMrush. So, we spent a lot of time and effort building links to move up the rankings — but still didn’t see much organic traffic to that post.
After some discussion, we believe the reason was the intent of the vast majority of those 27,000 searches was to find the actual Advanced Search tool on Twitter, not posts with advice on how to use it…
So instead, we limited our focus to keywords that we were ranking on (or close to) Page 1 for good volume keywords that do hold the user intent of our target market.
For instance, we noticed we were ranking somewhat highly for the term ‘Twitter bio ideas’ and therefore updated the post to make it even more current, while directing link building efforts towards it throughout September of 2017.
Since we updated the content and focused links in this way, we’re now sitting in the number-five spot for the same term:
And in November, we reached over 1,000 visitors to that post from Google alone:
Even though the search volume for this particular keyword is much less, we’re seeing significantly more traffic by ranking for it — versus the keyword ‘Twitter Advanced Search.’
And we can safely assume people interested in tweaking their Twitter bio are most likely going to also be interested in growing their following, so this is highly qualified traffic for Social Quant.
Additionally: This post also has a welcome mat opt-in, driving people into our funnel and ‘14-Day Twitter Marketing That Sells’ challenge — presently converting at a rate of 7 percent+:
So, each month we’re attracting 75 new people into our funnel from organic traffic — via this one post alone.
Over the years, he has worked closely with multiple platform developers, growing their businesses from scratch.
Cloudways has been recognized by Forbes, VentureBeat, and PCMag — to name just a few giants!
“The organic channel is one of the highest converting sources of traffic for Cloudways. We have progressively improved the way we strategize SEO, now using it to acquire frequent leads for our business…
The Cloudways platform has multiple features, and every new feature that we launch is an opportunity for our marketing team to combine keywords with the needs of the market.
We identify the areas of concerns that our target market is facing, and combine them with commonly searched queries. Next, we produce educational content around our product, addressing the queries of our target persona.
One lesson we have learned over the years: Don’t let higher search volume keywords dictate your SEO strategy. Instead, focus intensely on the keywords that relate to your specific offering and target persona.
Here’s how we do it:
We have set up several channels including our customer support, social presence, web mentions, and personal connections of our community managers.
These channels are constantly monitored by our team to discover the pain points and difficulties of our target audience.
Once we have identified the problems our target audience face, our content production and marketing activities are planned to offer targeted solutions and workarounds to solve these issues:
The end result of this ‘Customer Focused SEO Funnel’ is a significantly improved search engine presence; we have improved our standing, both in search engines and customer related metrics (retention, acquisitions, and loyalty).
An indication of this is the inclusion of official Cloudways’ blog articles and tutorials in the Google Answer Box for a number of industry leading keywords. In addition — due to our emphasis on targeted traffic — we have also seen steady growth in conversion rates.
As you can see from the diagram above, the whole process starts from one of the many customer-facing channels. Once an issue has been identified, the content production and marketing operations take over. Content is produced and forwarded to multiple marketing and distribution channels.
The result is a gradual but steady increase in brand awareness, reach — and impact on customer loyalty.”
As a SaaS maverick, Mór enjoys trialing a wide range of SEO and content techniques to further the visibility of Automizy.
Here is a slice of their brand intro, which absolutely deserves a mention!
“We are a SaaS startup, so we face the same challenges as you. We know it can be difficult, especially when we are talking about client acquisition, retention, and up-sells. This is why we want to assist your brand, by providing only the best marketing solutions to help you win against the two big business monsters (great uncertainty + fast-changing markets).
Your success is our success.”
“Just a month ago, we moved our blog from a subdomain to a subfolder on our main site.
There’s an ongoing debate about this topic among SEOs — I still see lots of companies using a subdomain to house their blog.
Subdomains are viewed by Google as separate sites, and because of that, you lose some serious SEO juice…
External links and social shares on subdomain blog posts don’t have an effect on your main sites’ authority.
On top of this — internal linking is another big issue. Since your main site and subdomain blog are viewed as two separate sites, all the links between them are considered external links.
This is notable!
By not allowing your blog and website to work together as one, you decrease the SEO value of your main site and potentially lose traffic as a result.
However, by using a blog subfolder on your main site, greater ranking strength is the result — equating to higher rankings, more impressions…and clicks.
If your blog is situated in a subfolder on your main site, all the shares and links help the pages on the main site rank higher.
We realized the opportunity, so made the decision to move our blog from a subdomain to a subfolder on our main site. This migration was deployed on the 17th of November 2017 — and already, we have witnessed positive results.
In just three weeks, we improved our Google search impressions by 500 percent:
And as the impressions grew significantly, so did the clicks…
We also experienced a 260 percent click increase on our search results:
Besides the subdomain drawbacks I’ve already mentioned, there’s another huge one…
It can even hurt your conversions if there isn’t a clear funnel between your main site and your blog.
Don’t make the mistake we did. Use subfolders instead of subdomains.
It just makes sense!”
Konstantine Gegeshidze is a dedicated growth marketer, specializing in SEO and data-driven content strategy.
He currently heads up the growth team at Chamaileon — an innovative email builder and content management platform catering for businesses of all sizes, right up to enterprise level.
Konstantine loves to experiment. He has tried and tested many techniques to shoot up the Google SERPs!
“We invested tons of effort into content creation and promotion.
Then we would finger cross, hoping it would pay off.
It occasionally worked. Sometimes not.
We realized we were missing something in our content creation process. SEO was not a hot topic in our team…
I discovered the best way to actually learn something is to test it out yourself, and see how it works for you.
Theory + Testing = Actual Learning
I started to run some SEO experiments. After a month, I achieved promising data. 67.5 percent growth in organic traffic, from 551 to 990.
So, I set a goal to hit 10K relevant, monthly organic visits by the end of this year.
After just four months, we already hit my goal.
1,010 percent+ growth — from 990 to 10K+ monthly visits, averaging 76.4 percent growth — every 30 days.
How did we get there?
- Extracting valuable data from Google Search Console (GSC)
- Identifying traffic-driving content topics
- Optimizing all content (on-page)
- Publishing comprehensive, bi-weekly posts on specific topics
Firstly, if you are new to Google Search Console (GSC), you will need to add and verify your site before you can do anything else.
NOTE: If you have a blog on your subdomain, you will need to add and verify your domain, plus its XML sitemap, separately.”
1. Access the Search Analytics Report in GSC
“You will gain insights regarding Google search queries that return results from your website.
For data analysis in Excel, use the download option given on the bottom left-hand-side of the page.”
2. Retrieve Data on Clicks, Impressions, CTR, and the Position of Pages by Ticking the Available Boxes
“By installing Keywords Everywhere, you can see additional metrics such as Monthly Volume, CPC, and Competition. (It’s a free tool and has multiple benefits).”
3. Select ‘Pages’ to Access all Urls Receiving Impressions and/or Clicks
“Filter pages by clicks and you will see top pages that attract the most organic traffic to your website.
Click on the top page, then select ‘Queries’.
You will see a list of search queries which drive organic traffic to the specific page.
Filter and compare data by selecting the various options:
- Search Type
- Search Appearance
4. Identify Keywords and Pages to Optimize
“A time comes to apply Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule). SEO is no exception.
- Sort data by impressions and position
- If the keyword in question gains 100+ impressions and has attracted some clicks on the second page of Google, there lies a big opportunity to focus your resources
This is how it worked in our case.
Right now, our article offering a collection of free responsive email templates ranks in third position on Google for the keyword ‘free responsive email templates.’
A couple of months ago, this post gained only 150 organic visits per month.
Now, it drives around 2,400+ monthly visits.
I’ll explain how this was achieved in just a moment.
The keyword ‘free responsive email templates’ acquired roughly 110 impressions on the second page, where it previously attracted just a couple of clicks.
At the same time, other semantically related keywords (on the second and third pages of Google) were also achieving some impressions and clicks.
This data was enough to identify an opportunity.
Even better: The same post now ranks for 972 other semantically related keywords.
Firstly, pick a couple of long and short tail keywords like ours.
Get additional search volume data from other tools like GSC and compare results — use SEMrush, Ahrefs, KWFinder and Keyword Everywhere. Obtain keyword difficulty score using tools such as Rank Tracker and KWFinder.
Secondly, intersect the data by running analysis in Excel. (You can write a logic that filters out data via combined use of IF, AND, OR functions.)
This provides a helpful perspective of the current organic market. Be sure to initially focus on [fewer] competitive keywords that still hold adequate search volume, then work your way up.
[Ranking in higher positions for competitive and highly searched volume keywords will result in rankings for other keywords which are semantically related.]
There is also opportunity to continually optimize the content of your existing pages to cater for related keywords.
You can see below, the same example article ranks third on Google for the query ’email template HTML code free’ (another keyword), receiving 50 monthly clicks and 122 impressions.
However, the post itself doesn’t contain material that is completely relevant to the search query.
So, thirdly: Update such content so every piece addresses visitors’ needs, or write fresh new content and interlink the related pieces with strong, relevant CTA-based anchor text.
From our experiences, the key actions when conducting on-page SEO are:
- Topical / keyword research
- Data analysis (Measuring ranking ability + The potential for qualified traffic)
- Creating abundant, long-form content on targeted topics that answer related questions
- Including relevant LSI keywords in all material (+ internal links)
- Structuring headings of how-to articles in the optimal sequence
Finally, guest posting on topical, authority blogs with targeted anchor text (referring to the specific page for optimization), will improve keyword rankings.
What we find works well is gaining links from lower domain authority (DA) pages (MOZ metrics) that are highly relevant, rather than gaining links from high authority pages that don’t perfectly align with our topics.
Targeted anchor text variations could be:
Exact Match — The anchor text is the exact keyword phrase
(We found that exact match anchor text of the keyword phrase is actually what moves the needle on rankings.)
Partial Match / Phrase Match — The anchor text contains the keyword phrase, plus other words
Generic — The anchor text is not specific and doesn’t include the target keyword
(Although it does fit surrounding content.)
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) — The anchor text is a synonym, or closely related to the target keyword
You can also apply the same principles to internal anchor text by interlinking your own pages. I’ve found that internally linking from high PA pages (to the targeted page) brings optimal results.
You can retrieve page + domain authority metrics of 50 pages in bulk using this tool.
We generally maintain a ratio of 1:5 — using one targeted keyword along with four related LSI keywords in the content.
In our example piece, the main long tail target keyword is ‘free responsive email templates,’ and the LSI keywords are:
- ‘free email marketing templates’
- ‘free html email templates’
- ‘free email campaign templates’
- ‘free responsive newsletter templates’
- ‘responsive email templates’
These phrases are all targeted keywords, applicable to the content. When possible, we try to gain links using the same anchor text:
All above actions have resulted in the example article ranking well for (long and short tail) semantically related keywords.
The graph below illustrates our organic growth curve, since beginning our SEO experiments…”
There you have it — an array of proven SEO techniques that any SaaS brand can begin implementing for boosted revenue, today.
These professionals have unveiled some top-notch, lesser-known Google ranking strategies you likely won’t see anywhere else.
Massive kudos + thanks to them!
This year is set to be another roller-coaster ride as Google advances yet further into the realms of AI, voice search, and semantics…
Use the experts’ collective experience and results to cut through any hype. When it comes to bullet-proof SEO strategies for SaaS companies in 2018 — hard-earned knowledge is (by far) the richest source of information!
If you need an SEO strategy for your SaaS company, contact the experts at Digital Current. We design innovative SEO strategies for SaaS companies to help them improve their rankings and revenue. Contact us today!