Some startups put more emphasis on social media marketing than on SEO.
68% of online experiences still begin with a search engine, and small tech companies rank for high-volume search terms all the time.
So if you’re the founder of a SaaS company or have been tasked with marketing one, keep reading.
Here’s what we’ll walk through:
- An overview of how SEO works
- What’s behind high-quality content
- Using broad strokes and your own expertise to build site authority
- Creating competitive content
- How links from other sites affect your position in SERPs
- Technical SEO
Should you hire an SEO agency or work in-house to accelerate your technology company’s online presence and lead generation?
Let’s take a look.
SEO Framework Breakdown
Search engine optimization is a craft that uses various strategies to rank a website at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) — primarily Google.
Other search engines are important, of course, but Google owns around 87% of the market share.
There are three primary things we do at Intergrowth to increase organic search traffic:
- Create website content so valuable that other websites link to it.
- Make sure that Google knows what our site is about so that it’s properly indexed.
- Promote content to the right audience so they link back to that content.
Of course, these are easier said than done. They involve dozens of sub-tasks and lots of testing, but those are always our overarching goals.
Keep that in mind as you read this guide.
Defining High-Quality Content
Each article on your company blog should be well written, of course. But they should also meet other factors to rank well and draw traffic.
“High-quality content” isn’t just well-written content. It must be visually comfortable and include semantically related keywords and industry language. Every page on your site needs a clear page title that tells search engines what it is about so that they can index it accordingly.
Your SEO strategy should involve building site structure over time. A well-structured website is easier for search engines to crawl, and its reputation will benefit.
Site reputation boosts each blog piece and web page, helping them rank higher in the SERPs.
Let’s take a look at the elements to include in your strategy.
The first thing you want to do is create website content that reaches as many people interested in your industry as possible. Your site’s blog needs at least a few (hopefully more) long-form articles about popular themes broadly related to your niche.
We call this Awareness Content because it reaches a wide range of people and gets your brand in front of new audiences. It’s a good tactic for getting traffic into the top of the marketing funnel.
Some visitors will turn into leads upon learning about your service.
Awareness Content, or top-of-funnel (ToF) content, is valuable from an SEO perspective because it drives organic traffic to your site in larger numbers. This broad (but industry-related) traffic shows Google and other search engines that your site is a good resource for searchers seeking information about your industry.
Thought Leadership Content
Whereas Awareness Content will bring people to your site, Thought Leadership Content will keep them coming back.
This type of content establishes your brand as a go-to source of information about your niche. It’s also an opportunity to share your seasoned tech industry knowledge.
And it’s directly related to the service you provide.
Here are a couple of examples created by members of our team:
- Your Keyword Research Process Is Failing You
- Your Step-by-Step Guide to Hiring a Top-Tier Content Marketing Writer
- Dual Purpose Content: The Content Framework that You’re Missing
As you can see, these articles are written specifically for other digital marketing professionals. Whether the reader is interested in our services or not, we want to provide a unique opinion or instruction guide that they’re unlikely to find elsewhere.
The goal here is to encourage them to bookmark the site, sign up for our mailing list, and/or share the article with friends and family.
Why Is Thought Leadership Content Helpful for SEO?
Thought Leadership Content — especially highly linked pages — verify that you’re a subject matter expert in your field.
When ranking websites, Google’s Quality Raters (real people, not Google’s algorithm) look for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T). Thought leadership content can help you demonstrate those traits.
This type of content isn’t always keyword-optimized the same way Awareness Content is.
Getting on the first page of results isn’t the main concern here (but we still optimize around a KW to maximize traffic) — this is about creating great content that reflects your expertise.
You will get to that first page and even rank higher than your competitors — this is just the long game to hit that sweet spot in your demographics.
So, to recap:
- Awareness Content builds the site’s reputation.
- Thought Leadership Content gives it authority.
- Your sales-qualified leads find your content and convert.
Competitive Topic Ideation
The best way to come up with blog topic ideas is to answer these two questions
- What terms are your potential customers searching on Google (or Reddit/Quora/other forums)?
- What types of articles are they already reading?
If you can come up with a list of ten or twenty specific answers to each of those questions, you’ll have enough blog topics to keep you busy for the next year.
Here are a few ways to approach this problem:
Understanding why people go to your competitors’ websites (aside from their products) can teach you how to drive them to your site.
Tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush (two of our agency’s favorite SaaS products, coincidentally) will show you which pages on your competitors’ sites are bringing them the most traffic.
For example, let’s look at the Ahrefs data of a successful SaaS company that’s known for having a popular blog:
This screenshot shows the top pages on this company’s website in terms of search traffic generation. Eight out of nine pages shown here are blog articles (the fully redacted URL in the left column is the homepage), and they each generate significant amounts of traffic for the website.
Why is this information useful?
Because if those articles are driving that much traffic to this company’s site, we might want to create an article about the same topic.
There’s clearly a desire for information about affordable hosting services. If we can create an article that adds to the conversation and offers new information or opinions, we can probably start to generate some traffic.
Even better, you can click the blue number in that Keywords column to get more keywords that you might be able to rank for:
One thing to keep in mind here is that some keywords have far more competition than others. Ahrefs uses keyword difficulty ratings (listed in the KD column) to let you know how easy or hard it’s going to be to rank for a given keyword.
Luckily, you can re-sort this chart to show keywords with the lowest difficulty first. All you have to do is click KD:
Not all of these “long-tail” keywords will be useful to you. Some of them don’t have high enough search volume (SV) to warrant a full article, and some of them might seem like jumbled word combinations.
However, spend some time scrolling and you’ll find keywords with relatively low competition and enough monthly search volume to make it worth your time.
The term “bluehost alternatives” could be a good keyword for you to create a blog about, as long as it’s loosely related to your business.
With a KD of 2 and a monthly search volume of 150, you may have a chance at ranking for this keyword, even if your site is brand new and gets very little traffic.
More on our competitor analysis process here
This is an easier and less technical way to come up with blog ideas:
Go to Reddit or Quora, find the place where members are discussing topics related to your industry, and look at the types of questions people are asking.
Those questions are the pain points you want to address on your blog.
If they’re asking questions on those platforms, it means that there’s probably not a good answer elsewhere on the internet. Your blog could be the place that people go for that answer instead of having to go to Reddit or Quora in the future.
Oh, and if you want to take a more technical, data-driven approach here to increase your article’s chances of ranking, make a list of questions you find and plug them into the Keyword Explorer bar on Ahrefs. It’ll show you how many people are searching for that question each month, how difficult it will be to rank for, etc.
Promote Your Brand Through Guest Blogging and HARO Outreach
All of the tasks we discussed above are considered “on-page SEO,” as they deal with the content you publish on your own website.
But publishing on other sites is also an important part of any SEO campaign, as it can help you earn backlinks.
There are a bunch of different ways to do this, but here are two of the most common:
Writing Guests Posts
A lot of blogs (Hubspot, for one) accept posts from guest writers, and a lot of them include a link to the writer’s site in the body or byline of the article.
Guest posting for an authoritative site in your niche will show Google that you’re a trusted source of information. This could increase your site’s domain authority and help it rank higher.
Thought Leadership Content is also good for link building. More than any other content on your site, these are the pieces that people will link back to, as they offer unique opinions directly related to your industry.
To search engines, backlinks signal that your article is a good resource. They also signal that the web pages you link to in that article are good resources, as well.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a resource that journalists and other writers use to find expert quotes and insight for their own writing. Oftentimes, they’ll include a backlink to your site in the published version of their article.
Anyone can sign up for HARO. Scour it every day for questions related to your skill set and respond as often as possible to increase your chances of landing quotes.
Technical SEO for SaaS: Optimize Your Site’s Back End
So far, we’ve talked mostly about optimizing the front end of your website. But there’s a whole other part of SEO concerned with optimizing the back end.
It’s called “technical SEO,” and it’s important because the back end is that part of your site the Google search algorithm interacts with. Even if your website is filled with valuable content, Google won’t index anything if it doesn’t know what your site is about.
And if it doesn’t index anything, your tech site won’t show up in the SERPs.
Technical SEO involves a whole range of tasks, including:
- Compressing images: Page load speed is an often-underestimated ranking factor.
- Creating an XML sitemap: This helps Google understand what’s on each page.
- Deleting or “noindex”-ing useless pages: Your whole site isn’t indexed at once, so this ensures the most important ones are crawled first.
- Embedding canonical links on duplicate pages: Duplicate content (test pages, URL variations, etc.) can confuse the index crawler, so you should indicate which is the “right” page.
- Optimizing your site for mobile use: 50% of web traffic comes from mobile devices, so Google wants every site to have a mobile-friendly user experience.
If you’re doing your own SEO, Moz has a bunch of great guides to help you with the technical aspects of your content marketing strategy.
Whether your SaaS website isn’t getting the traffic you think it should, or you’re the founder of a new software company looking for SEO services, we want to talk.
We turn SaaS businesses into industry leaders. Let’s see if we’re the right team to help you scale.