SEO isn’t dead.
Detractors might say that Google results are saturated by high-traffic corporate websites, making it impossible for small startups to get any attention, or that social media marketing has overtaken SEO as the most valuable marketing investment.
But they’re wrong.
68% of online experiences still begin with a search engine.
And small websites 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.
Before We Start: How Do You “Do” SEO, Anyway?
In basic terms, search engine optimization is the practice of bringing more people to your website through Google. Other search engines are important, of course, but Google owns around 92% of the market share, so we focus most of our energy there.
There are three primary things we do 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.
Start With Top-of-Funnel Content
The first thing you want to do is create some high-quality blog 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 themes related to your niche.
We call this “top-of-funnel” content because it’s a good tactic for getting leads into the marketing funnel. It reaches a wide range of people and gets your brand in front of new audiences, some of whom might become leads upon learning about your service.
Top-of-funnel (ToF) content is valuable from an SEO perspective because it drives organic traffic to your site.
Along with backlinks, that traffic shows Google and other search engines that your site is a good resource for searchers seeking information about your industry. This will help not only the blog in question to rank higher in the SERPs but also the other blogs and your homepage, as well.
How to Come Up With Blog Topics for a SaaS Marketing Strategy
The best way to come up with blog topic ideas is to figure out:
- What types of terms your potential customers are searching for on Google (or Reddit/Quora/other forums)
- What type of articles they’re 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.
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.
Introduce Some Thought Leadership Content
Whereas ToF content is going to bring people to your site, thought leadership content will keep them coming back.
This type of content helps you establish your brand as a go-to source of information about your niche. It gives you an opportunity to share the industry-specific knowledge you’ve gained throughout your years in the field.
And unlike ToF content, 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
- 8 Steps to Better Manage Freelancers
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 Helpful for SEO?
Thought leadership content is 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 signals that the pages you link to in that article are good resources, as well.
Thought leadership content — especially highly linked pages — also verify that you’re a subject matter expert. Google’s Quality Raters look for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) when ranking websites, and thought leadership can help you demonstrate those traits.
This type of content isn’t always keyword-optimized the same way ToF content is. Search volumes and target keywords aren’t the main concern here (although we personally always optimize around a KW to maximize traffic); this is about creating great content that reflects your expertise and getting it out into the world.
Plus, if you want to broaden your audience, you can promote this content through PPC ads or on forums. You can also link to it from some of your higher-traffic articles with more backlinks. These internal links will give your new thought leadership piece more authority in Google’s eyes.
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 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.
Writing a post 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.
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.
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 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.
But if you want to make sure your site is in tip-top shape for Google’s crawler, contact us today. We’ll do a full SEO audit and figure out how to get your site into the SERPs.
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 help with your SEO efforts, we want to talk.
We specialize in content creation for small businesses like yours, and we can help you start spreading the word about your brand. Learn more about our content marketing services and reach out if you think we can help!