SaaS SEO

SaaS SEO Guide: Create a Data-Driven Strategy for Explosive Growth in 2023

We've transformed SEO to be a top-performing customer acquisition channel for so many SaaS, and there's no stopping you from doing the same.
SaaS SEO Guide: Create a Data-Driven Strategy for Explosive Growth in 2023
Jake Stainer
by Jake Stainer

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SEO is one of the most effective channels to invest in for your SaaS. With SEO leads having a closure rate of 14.6% compared to 1.7% for outbound leads, you know it’s a good investment to make. It’s highly scalable and in the long-term beats payback periods of other channels, such as PPC or outbound marketing.

In fact, 70% of online marketers say that, for generating sales, SEO is better than PPC. As SaaS businesses move from growth at all costs to sustainable growth, SEO is a must for driving new biz MRR.

Search Engine Optimisation isn’t just about reaching #1 or seeing a huge increase in website traffic—it’s also about the real-world impact on your business. We see this every day with results for the SaaS brands we work with, like:

If you’re looking for a scalable way to increase SQLs, activations, and long-term SaaS growth, SEO is the way to go. That’s why we created this SaaS SEO guide, complete with actionable techniques you can use right away, like:

  1. Set your SEO goals & KPIs in alignment with your go-to-market motion
  2. Map out your buyer personas, product, use cases and jobs to be done (JTBD)
  3. Use the customer awareness framework
  4. Perform in-depth SaaS keyword research
  5. Create content clusters based on your topics & ideas
  6. Build an SEO model in Google Sheets
  7. Conduct competitor research to reverse engineer each page you’re creating
  8. Create E-E-A-T worthy SaaS SEO content
  9. Select pages you can optimize for quick wins
  10. Kickstart an always-on strategic SaaS link building program
  11. Ensure your website is sound from a technical SEO perspective
  12. Effectively measure SaaS SEO ROI

But before we go into detail about those, let’s cover the basics:

What is SaaS SEO?

SaaS SEO is aimed at helping Software as a Service brands create a recognized customer growth engine. It combines various techniques such as the four customer awareness stages, growth loops, jobs-to-be-done framework, switch moments, and more.

There are also different types of content when it comes to SaaS SEO. For example, depending on the stage of the funnel, there will be different needs and different styles of content to better deliver what the potential customers are looking for. 

Four Customer Awareness Stages

So, for the Top of the Funnel, content like:

  • Blog articles
  • Infographics
  • Branded ads
  • Social media posts
  • How-to guides

will be exactly what the users will be looking for in this awareness and discovery stage. 

For the Middle of the Funnel, landing pages, webinars, and product videos will be more useful. 

Finally, to effectively guide users toward making a final purchase decision, you’ll need SaaS SEO content specifically designed for the Bottom of the Funnel. This content should be persuasive and compelling, helping users to take the desired action: purchase. So, case studies, demos, and free trials are great examples of content for this stage. 

Last but not least, when it comes to SaaS SEO there are some key SaaS SEO metrics SaaS businesses should consider: 

  • Organic traffic: This refers to the number of visitors who reach a website through unpaid search engine results, indicating the effectiveness of SEO efforts in attracting users.
  • Keyword ranking: This indicates the position of a website or webpage in search engine results for a specific keyword or phrase, helping assess visibility and competition.
  • Conversion rate: This measures the percentage of website visitors who complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form, reflecting the effectiveness of a website in generating conversions.
  • Return on investment (ROI): This quantifies the profitability of an investment by comparing the gains or benefits achieved with the costs incurred, providing insights into the financial performance of a marketing campaign or initiative.
  • Backlinks: These are links from external websites that point to a specific website, influencing search engine rankings and indicating the authority and credibility of a website.
  • Click-through rate: Also called CTR, click-through rate measures the percentage of users who click on a specific link or ad out of the total number of impressions, indicating the effectiveness of a marketing campaign or the relevance of a particular piece of content.
  • Bounce rate: It represents the percentage of website visitors who leave a webpage without interacting or navigating to other pages, suggesting a sub-par level of engagement or relevance of the content.
  • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR): It indicates the total revenue generated by a subscription-based business model on a monthly basis, providing insights into the recurring revenue stream and stability of the business.
  • Churn rate: It measures the rate at which customers or subscribers cancel or discontinue their subscriptions or services, reflecting customer retention and the health of a business.

Why invest in a SaaS SEO strategy? 

You want to drive new MRR through SEO, not just vanity metrics like clicks or rankings. SEO is probably the best channel you can invest in for long-term ARR growth for your SaaS, for a multitude of different reasons.

SEO Compounds over time

The efforts you put in today will continue way into the future. This is different from investing in paid ads because once you stop investing, you stop getting the benefit. 

Take a look at the graph below. SEO starts slow but exponentially gets better, both in terms of more customers and a lower Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), whilst PPC ramps up faster but has a CAC and number of customers glass ceiling—it’s finite.

Long-term “investors” are those who win the market they are operating in over time.

Customer Acquisition Over Time

SEO doesn’t require a huge capital investment

You don’t need a huge amount of capital investment to start your SaaS SEO channel compared to other activities—like investing in paid ads. 

For example, one SaaS we work with is investing over $400,000 per month in Google Ads, and they achieve the same results for less than 5% of this cost through SEO. As a result, SEO has the lowest payback period.

Your SEO content is recyclable

The content you create to build an SEO growth engine can be repurposed for other channels. 

For example, you can share the same content on social media, via email marketing to your user base, on online communities, repurposed into other types of content like YouTube videos and infographics. 

The biggest benefit of investing in SEO is that it compounds over time, and outweighs the possibility of spending millions on paid advertising. 

How to kickstart your SaaS SEO Growth in 12 steps

Hopefully you’re now convinced that investing in SEO for your SaaS is an important pillar of your go-to-market strategy. 

Where do you get started? 

Here are a few basic steps you can take in order to kick-start building your SaaS SEO growth channel.

1. Set your SEO goals & KPIs in alignment with your go-to-market motion

Align internally on which go-to-market motion you are primarily focusing on: self-serve, SMB, or Enterprise. It will directly correlate with your ACV. This changes your whole approach so you need to align on this first. Let’s look at each of these go-to-market motions:

Self-Serve: This focuses on providing a streamlined, user-friendly experience for customers to discover, sign up, and start using a SaaS product without requiring much (or any!) human interaction. It often involves a low-touch sales approach and aims to capture a large number of customers through self-service platforms.

SMB (Small and Medium-sized Businesses): Tailored towards serving small and medium-sized businesses. It typically involves a mix of self-serve options and some level of human touch, such as customer support or account management. The goal is to cater to the unique needs of SMBs while maintaining a balance between automation and personalized support.

Enterprise: Focused on selling to large enterprises and corporations. It involves a high-touch sales approach with dedicated account executives, customized solutions, and extensive relationship-building. The sales cycle is often longer and requires more personalized engagement to address complex needs and decision-making processes.

Depending on which go-to-market motion you choose it will indicate which SEO metrics you should focus on. However, here are a few more questions that will help you set the correct goals for your approach.

When setting your SaaS SEO goals, here are some questions to consider:

  • Who is the target audience for the SaaS product?
  • Which go-to-market motion (self-serve, SMB, or Enterprise) aligns with your target audience?
  • What are the specific business objectives or desired outcomes for the SaaS product?
  • Are you aiming for qualified signups and activations, or qualified pipeline and closed won deals?
  • What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will reflect the success of your SaaS product?
  • What are the current SEO performance metrics and how can they be improved?
  • What are the relevant keywords and search terms that your target audience is likely to use?
  • How competitive is the SaaS market niche in terms of SEO, and what strategies can you implement to stand out?
  • What is the desired level of brand visibility and online presence through SEO efforts?
  • How can SEO be integrated with other marketing channels and initiatives to maximize results?

By considering these questions, you can set meaningful and actionable SaaS SEO goals that align with your business objectives and target audience.

2. Map out your buyer personas, product, use cases and jobs to be done (JTBD)

The most important thing in this step is to truly understand who your target audience is. And to do that, buyer personas are what you need to create. 

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on market research and data. These personas provide deep insights into the needs, preferences, and behaviors of the people who buy your product. By understanding your audience on a personal level, you can tailor your SEO efforts to resonate with them and drive meaningful engagement while attracting new customers. 

Buyer personas will help you identify the keywords, search terms, and topics that are most relevant to your audience. By aligning your content with their interests and pain points, you can create valuable and targeted content that ranks higher in search results. 

Additionally, understanding your personas’ demographics, interests, and online behavior can guide your decisions on website design, user experience, and content distribution channels. 

Ultimately, this deeper understanding of your customers allows you to deliver a more personalized and engaging experience that resonates with their needs, resulting in better SEO performance and business growth.

Interview customers to understand how they are currently using your product. Gather as much data as possible. Work with your product team, PMM, sales, and data teams to establish the most important use cases.

💡 Pro tip: check out yours and your competitors’ G2 profiles and read customer reviews. More often than not, they’ll tell you what jobs they are trying to get done, and the different use cases that they value.

💡🔥 Pro, pro tip: analyze product metrics for each use case and track the E2E funnel so you can analyze ARPA, MRR Churn, and ultimately LTV by use case/job to be done. 

💡🔥🚒 Pro, pro, pro tip: Take it even further and track sales velocity to create exponential revenue growth by focusing on the right topics.

3. Use the customer awareness framework

Map out content ideas based on your research using the customer awareness framework. Product aware, solution aware, problem aware, and problem unaware (ICP content).

The 5 Stages of Customer Awareness

4. Perform in-depth SaaS keyword research

This keyword research will form the basis of your SEO strategy and content roadmap. 

You can do this in a multitude of different ways, such as:

  • Focusing on switch moments: what is your ICP currently using to solve their job to be done? Paper? Excel? Another SaaS solution?
  • Sales call n-gram analysis: get all your successful sales call audios and transcribe them. Now run them through an n-gram analysis and understand what common words they are using to mine for keyword ideas.
  • Customer support tickets: similar to the above tactic, but with customer support tickets.
  • Software review websites: check your own reviews and your competitor’s reviews on G2. Analyse both positive and negative and understand jobs to be done, pain points, motivations, etc. 
  • Competitor PPC data: use a tool like Ahrefs to see what keywords your competition is bidding on in PPC, and consider if they are interesting to form part of your SEO for SaaS strategy.

💡 You can check out different SaaS keyword research methods in our free guide.

Additionally, it’s always good to understand that each stage of the funnel will have different keywords. 

TOFU keywords (problem-unaware):

  • Focus on broad, informational topics
  • Aim to attract a wide audience and generate awareness
  • Typically used by users who are in the early stages of the buying process
  • Examples: “how to increase organic traffic,” “what is SEO”

MOFU keywords (problem aware):

  • More specific than TOFU keywords, targeting users who are in the consideration phase
  • Intended to provide more detailed information and comparisons
  • Can help users evaluate options and make informed decisions
  • Examples: “best SEO agencies in London,” “top-rated SEO agencies”

BOFU keywords (solution aware):

  • Highly specific and transactional in nature
  • Target users who are ready to make a purchase or take a specific action
  • Focus on product names, brand-specific terms, and phrases related to buying intent
  • Examples: “case study Skale,” “Skale vs competitor”

Understanding the differences between these keyword types helps optimize your keyword research by tailoring keywords to meet the needs and intent of users at different stages of the buying journey.

5. Create content clusters based on your topics & ideas

Based on our experience here at Skale, Google ranks topics and not keywords. This is key to driving sure-fire growth through SEO because you can’t easily rank singular keywords. Figure out which topic makes the most sense in relation to product-market fit, ease, and KPI potential.

Content Clusters by Topic

6. Build an SEO model in Google Sheets

Here you’ll want to outline all the possible pages that can be made, their traffic potential, awareness stage, map potential conversion to demo rates, and referring domains needed to rank each topic. 

Now augment with ICE prioritization by topic in order to prioritize where you first put efforts for the biggest MRR upside.

7. Conduct competitor research to reverse engineer each page you’re creating

Part of your content marketing strategy should include digging into the top results in Google. Spend at least 2 hours on each page understanding concepts such as search intent, content structure patterns, NLP keywords, featured snippet & schema opportunities, etc. 

8. Create E-E-A-T worthy SaaS SEO content

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It is a set of criteria used by Google’s search algorithms to evaluate the quality and credibility of web content. 

In order words, it’s what Google looks at when deciding which content to rank. In other words, something you should really be paying attention to.

The most recent addition to Google’s E-E-A-T is the last E, which stands for Expertise. So, how can you add this to your content? 

You can do this by interviewing experts (subject matter experts, or SMEs) in your niche and working with top-league SaaS-experienced content writers. 

Additionally, building trust with your audience is essential. This can be done by having clear and transparent communication, displaying customer testimonials or reviews, and ensuring the security and privacy of user data.

By focusing on building E-E-A-T in your SaaS SEO content, you increase the likelihood of attracting organic traffic, establishing credibility in your industry, and ultimately driving conversions.

Don’t cut costs on content creation at all—it’s a core part of growing a long-term SaaS SEO channel. 

9. Select pages you can optimize for quick wins

By focusing on specific pages that have the potential to generate quick improvements in search rankings and organic traffic, you can achieve early successes and build momentum for your overall SEO strategy.

How do you know which pages will give you quick wins? Consider the following factors:

Current ranking and traffic: Identify pages that are already ranking well in search results but have the potential to climb higher with some targeted optimization––remember, the first spot is always the goal. These pages may already be attracting organic traffic, and optimizing them further can help drive even more visibility and engagement.

Low-hanging fruit opportunities: Look for pages that have the potential to quickly improve their rankings with minimal effort. This could include optimizing meta tags, improving keyword targeting, enhancing on-page content, or fixing technical issues that may be holding them back.

Once you’ve identified these pages, focus on optimizing them by implementing SEO best practices, such as:

  • Optimizing title tags and meta descriptions
  • Improving keyword density and relevance
  • Enhancing user experience
  • Ensuring mobile-friendliness
  • Ensuring fast page loading times

These early successes can provide valuable insights and serve as a foundation for further SEO efforts and long-term optimization strategies.

You need to build authority to the content you’ve published, by having other websites link back to yours. Without links, you will not be able to build a scalable SEO growth engine. 

We’ve proved this a multitude of times at Skale by securing 1000s of links to a myriad of different SaaS brands. Check out how we managed to get a €1 cost per signup for HappyScribe through strategic SaaS link building. 

Here are some SaaS link building tactics to get you started: 

  1. Unlinked brand mentions. Research websites that have mentioned your SaaS but they didn’t add a link back to you. Outreach to them and ask if they can include a link back to your SaaS website.
  2. Guest posting. This involves researching high-quality websites in your niche and pitching topic ideas for their blog. You create high-quality content for them for free, in exchange for adding a relevant link back to your website which helps boost your search engine results position. 
  3. Conferences & podcasts. Get active speaking at conferences and podcasts, and more often than not when you’re published online as a speaker, you’ll get a link back to your website.
  4. Product reviews. Reach out to experts & influencers in your niche and offer them 3 months of your SaaS product for free in exchange for a review, and a link back! 

💡 Want the full list? Check out our SaaS link building guide here. 

11. Ensure your website is sound from a technical SEO perspective

This step is critical, because if you don’t have a strong foundation to build upon, then you won’t be able to scale your SaaS SEO channel. Alongside improving on-page SEO and off-page SEO, you need to work with a Technical SEO expert and get your website into serious shape.

A few things you can do are:

  • Perform an in-depth technical SEO audit, and fix all the key things. Do not use an online tool to do this like Ahrefs or SEMrush as they won’t find all the issues. Instead, work with an expert who can dig deep manually and with custom tooling.
  • Perform an internal linking audit in order to improve the overall architecture of your website and internal linking structure. This will seriously improve your search engine optimization because internal links count but are often overlooked. 
  • Perform a cannibalization audit to find what content is competing with each other with the same search intent and thus hindering their ability to effectively rank in top positions. 

💡 Lucky for you we’ve put together a technical SEO guide for you to get this job done. Take a look at it here.

12. Effectively measure SaaS SEO ROI

This is important because your marketing budget is being scrutinized and it’s finite. You need to prove to your CEO or the Board that not only can you drive positive results, but that the payback period or CAC:LTV ratio is within an acceptable range.

This said, do understand that on average with every SEO action, there is a 3-month lag to it impacting—so keep this in mind when measuring your SaaS SEO channel’s ROI

💡 You can learn more in our guide here.

Well, there are a few steps to get started—but in reality, there are many more things that you need to do. So below we’ve put together 7 SaaS Growth Tactics you can start considering today.

7 SaaS SEO growth tactics to guide your long-term strategy

We’re working with some of the biggest names in SaaS to drive serious growth through SEO, and we’re going to let some secrets out of the bag.

Here are 7 things to keep in mind if you’re serious about using SEO as a business growth tactic. 

Psst, keep them a secret! 🤫 

1) Don’t forget BOFU keywords

Don’t simply spend all of your time creating content for problem-aware and problem-unaware audiences. Ensure you’re also building out content for solution-aware audiences who have an almost-immediate need to use your SaaS product. 

These pages will not just have high signup rates, but the signup-> customer conversion rate will be higher both in terms of rate and velocity. 

Examples of types of keywords you can include:

Keyword typesExamples
Maker/Creator/BuilderSurvey maker Form builder Presentation maker
TemplatesSocial media templates Sign up form template Email templates 
Software/ToolsGenerative design software Email marketing tools OKR software 

2) Build a SaaS SEO growth model

As mentioned before, the only way to seriously grow a customer acquisition channel is to design a growth model. So you need to do the same for SEO. 

How? Here’s the simple version:

  1. Map out all existing pages with an SEO value. Identify the head term for each page. Ensure pages aren’t cannibalizing each other.
  2. Add on your keyword research ensuring each keyword is a page (this is a page-level model). Keyword research can come in many flavors such as customer interviews, PPC data, spending hours going through your sales CRM, etc. 

🏹 See how to conduct a full SaaS Keyword Research here.

  1. Augment this with the following data:
    • Clicks past 30 days
    • Traffic potential 
    • Topic cluster
    • Current RDs
    • RDs needed
    • Intent (low-mid-high)
    • Signup->Paying CVR % 
  2. Include the following calculations:
    • Click uplift
    • Visit -> Signup CVR (based on intent) 
    • Signups
    • Customers
    • RDs Needed

Now you have the growth model built, you can find where the growth opportunities lie by selecting which topic is the easiest to rank, has the biggest upside, and is most closely related to your product (ensure high signup and signup->customer conversion rates). You can use some basic statistics on the data set you just created. 

Pro tip: you can automate the model so it’s up to date through different Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Ahrefs data connectors. 

3) Conduct a SaaS competitor analysis to reverse engineer effective SEO tactics

There’s no point reinventing the wheel or failing for the sake of failing. Get a head start by digging into competitor strategies through tools like Ahefs, SEMRush, and Google itself. 

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself: 

  • Who are my direct and indirect competitors?
  • What solutions were my customers using before signing up to my SaaS solution?
    • E.g. paper, google sheets, a competitor, etc. 
  • Who’s an SEO authority on the subject at hand, but necessarily not another SaaS or product? 
  • How are these websites acquiring links, and at what speed?
    • Are they creating content collaborations, doing digital PR, being mentioned in roundups, speaking at conferences, or did they create a link building growth loop?
  • How have they architected their website to scale SEO?
    •  What are the key sections on their website which have the most traffic? (Remember traffic and revenue aren’t correlated!) 
  • What key SaaS content tactics are they leveraging?
    • Guides, alternative to pages, software listicles, glossaries, free tools, maker pages, integrations, etc. 
  • What CRO techniques are they hiring to push people through their customer journey all the way from the top of the funnel content, to the bottom of the funnel content aimed at getting people to get a demo? 
  • Are they focusing on specific industries within their total addressable market?
    • What personas are they speaking to, exactly?

Remember, what you find should be insights and used as inspiration. You cannot assume all these websites have it figured out—and traffic doesn’t correlate with revenue! It’s a quality game at the end of the day. 

💡Oh, and we wrote a guide on it here. Check it out! 

4) Rank for key switch moments

Think about where people are switching from before using your SaaS solution for the job to be done. 

We can look at two main categories of switch moments:

A) Switching from other competitors

These are customers unhappy with their current SaaS solution so they begin searching for alternatives. For example, if someone is unhappy with Mailchimp, then they’ll search in Google for “Mailchimp alternatives”. This keyword has a search volume of 9,100 globally per month! 🤯

💡 Pro tip: you can even rank for “your SaaS brand alternatives”, to dissuade your own customers from churning. Take a look at what Zendesk did – they created a band called “Zendesk Alternative” and ranked it for this search term!

Zendesk Alternative Home Page

B) Switching from a non-software solution

There are still prospects using a pre-cloud solution to solve their current job to be done. For example, they might still be doing everything in Excel, so “job + excel templates” would be an interesting angle to look into in order to capture these people and educate them there is a better way. 

How to find these switch moments? 

Spend time interviewing your customers and asking them how they used to do their job before using your SaaS solution. You can also take a peek at your own and competitor G2 reviews. 

5) Build a link building loop into your product

Links are really hard to earn nowadays, and there are a couple of ways you can do this, apart from forming content collaborations, with your SaaS by building in growth loops. 

Here are a few examples of what other SaaS brands are doing with their link building strategies:

First, Mixpanel is giving away free usage of their product if you embed a Mixpanel badge somewhere on your website. Not only are they getting a link back to increase their DR, but they are also getting a tonne of brand exposure for their product. It’s not just a link growth loop, it’s also a brand marketing growth loop. 

Mixpanel Badge

Source

Second, Typeform is adding a link outside of their form embed code. So as people embed a Typeform on their website (e.g. a contact us form), they are automatically getting a link back. 

Not only are they getting links to their website, but they are also personalizing the link so it relates to a core use case: forms, surveys, quizzes, or polls. 

Typeform Link

Third, Oliva, a mental health SaaS, is asking customers to mention them on their careers page when they’ve signed up as a customer. They promote Oliva as a benefit to their current and future employees.

If your SaaS has a direct benefit to another company’s employees, then you could leverage this tactic in partnership with your Customer Success team. 

Oliva Health

💡 Itching for more SaaS link building tactics? Check out 22 of them here. 

6) Leverage your user base (AKA community)

Here’s an underutilized tactic, which when you read seems pretty obvious. 

Everyone who’s signed up for your product or newsletter could be your community—but they need nurturing. Perhaps you’ve heard the new “community-driven growth” buzzword, it’s got something to do with this. 

You can leverage your community to create content in different ways. 

Here are a few of our favorite examples:

1. Maze leveraged their community to create 100s of templates to help people activate their product. They also rank in Google for longtail keywords and capture people with a high motivation to sign up and pay for their product. 

Maze Templates

Other examples can be seen with Miroverse and Airtable Universe

2. Pitch are working with their community to create presentations on different topics. These presentations don’t just create brand awareness through social sharing, but they also rank in Google for a range of different topics. 

Not only are they leveraging their user base to create content, but they are also doing co-marketing with other brands in the space where they have an ICP overlap, where they create presentations and Pitch promotes. 

Pitch Website

3. Maze are also working with their community to gather expert quotes. Not only does this improve the quality of the content they are producing, but it also helps with E-A-T metrics so that Google sees them as an expert and authority on the subject they are publishing content on. 

Gone are the days when you can simply outsource a piece of content to a freelance writer who has zero subject matter expertise. You need to speak to and include experts in all content you create. The best and easiest way to do this is through your community. 

Maze Customer Testimonial Quote

7) Measure the ROI of your SaaS SEO correctly

If you’re investing in building an SEO customer acquisition engine, you need to be able to measure ROI correctly. 

Here’s a brief explanation of how you can measure SaaS SEO ROI and some tools that can help (or you can try our SEO ROI tracker):

  • Set clear goals: Define specific SEO goals aligned with your business objectives, such as increased organic traffic, higher conversion rates, or improved keyword rankings.
  • Track organic traffic and conversions: Use website analytics tools like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics to monitor organic traffic trends, referral sources, and user behavior on your site. Track conversions or goal completions, such as sign-ups, downloads, or purchases, to determine the impact of SEO efforts on driving valuable actions.
  • Calculate revenue attribution: Implement conversion tracking and assign a monetary value to each conversion. By analyzing the revenue generated from conversions attributed to SEO, you can estimate the ROI.
  • Monitor keyword rankings: Utilize SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz to track keyword rankings. Measure improvements in organic rankings for target keywords and assess their impact on organic traffic and conversions.
  • Analyze cost and investment: Evaluate the costs associated with SEO activities, including tools, content creation, and any external SEO services. Compare the investment against the revenue generated to calculate ROI.
  • Use ROI calculators: Some SEO platforms provide ROI calculators that help estimate the return on investment based on various factors like traffic, conversions, and revenue. Examples include HubSpot’s Marketing ROI Calculator and Neil Patel’s ROI Calculator.
  • Compare before and after performance: Compare SEO performance metrics before and after implementing optimization strategies to gauge the impact on key metrics like organic traffic, conversion rates, and revenue.

💡 Remember that SEO ROI is not solely about immediate revenue. It can also encompass long-term benefits such as brand visibility, customer acquisition, and customer lifetime value.

Why measure SEO ROI?

Because sooner or later your finance team will come knocking on your door asking you to defend your SEO investment budget and understand the results you are bringing to the table.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when effectively measuring your SaaS SEO channel’s efficacy: 

1. SEO itself has a lag.

When you do something (secure a link, publish a piece of content, optimize an existing page, etc), it takes on average 3 months to see an impact. So you need to factor in a 3-month lag from action -> result.

For example, if you’re a SaaS company looking to increase organic traffic—you’re unlikely to bag the top spot on search engine results pages in the first month of your SEO campaign. 

2. B2B sales cycles are long. 

You cannot look at a snapshot data view of customers in the same month of SEO investment. Instead, you need to start doing a cohort analysis looking at how signups or leads convert over a period of time of up to 12 months from the signup creation date. 

The easiest way to model this is to predict the number of customers each month, having gathered data from an organic search cohort from > 12 months ago.

3. SEO is compounding. 

It’s not like PPC where you cut your spend and the whole channel collapses. You need to be able to articulate this in your model and tell the story to your senior leadership team, that the effort you invest into day compound and stick around in the long run. 

💡 Want a template to measure ROI? Swipe the one we made here.

How is SaaS SEO different from other types of SEO?

SaaS SEO is different from other types of SEO for many reasons. Here are a few that stand out in my experience.

First, SaaS has 3 different key go-to-market motions: 

  • Self-serve
  • SMB
  • Enterprise 

You need to prioritize one and build your SaaS SEO strategy based on your go-to-market strategy. If not, you risk creating a Frankenstein content strategy with ambiguous leading success indicators

For example, going after Enterprise deals is not the same as going after freelancers.

3 SaaS go-to-market Motions

Second, compared to other industries like e-commerce, there are longer sales cycles, so the way you attribute success is different—and the type of content your produce needs to support the entire sales cycle, from lead generation to influencing opportunities in the sales pipeline.  

Normally, there is also a larger top of the funnel that can be opened, vs. content just focusing on transactional search intents, so you can focus on the key pain points of your target audience. 

Depending on your go-to-market strategy, generally, there are two funnels: an AARRR funnel (pirate), and a sales GTM funnel. Each one has different lagging and leading indicators of success. 

💡 Learn more about the different SaaS funnel types in our comprehensive guide here

Third, people are using your software with a job to be done. You really need to map your product features and benefits to the JTBD framework to understand the jobs people have (AKA use cases), and which of these jobs correlate to higher ARPA and lower MRR churn rates, and thus higher LTVs. This will enable you to focus on jobs where you have better PMF and can therefore grow faster and more efficiently.

Check out the jobs to be done canvas:

Jobs To Be Done Framework

Fourth, people buying SaaS are often switching from one solution to another. It can be from a cloud or non-cloud-based solution. 

For example, a cloud-based solution could be Google Sheets, or it could be another SaaS software they are looking to migrate away from. A non-cloud-based solution could be using paper, and we want to convince people they should instead be doing this in their computer browser.

Cloud Based Solutions

Want to learn more about switch moments? Jump right to the relevant section here

Ultimately, SaaS SEO is a special kind of breed but, when roadmapped properly, it will give you long-term results that no Google Ads, Affiliate Marketing, or other PPC campaign will give you. 

Long-term benefits of SEO for SaaS companies:

  • SEO offers a higher ROI compared to PPC advertising, as it generates continuous organic traffic without ongoing costs per click:
SERP showing organic traffic of PPC advertizing pages and SEO ranking pages

CTR by SERP position: source

  • SEO provides independence from ads, which is crucial for SaaS companies with limited investment funds.
  • It delivers long-term rewards and cost-efficiency by generating organic traffic and leads over time.
  • SEO ensures a steady stream of qualified leads from prospects actively searching for specific solutions.
  • It creates touchpoints at all stages of the buying cycle, maximizing conversion opportunities.
  • SEO cultivates brand awareness, establishing a strong online presence in a competitive industry.
  • It builds confidence and trust in the brand by appearing in organic search results.
  • Measuring SEO results provides valuable insights into the brand’s audience, enhancing targeted marketing strategies.
  • Technical SEO improves user experience through optimized navigation, faster loading times, and mobile responsiveness.

Prioritizing SEO allows SaaS companies to achieve sustainable and long-term growth that other marketing strategies can’t guarantee. 

The real secret to a good SaaS SEO strategy: time and expertise

​​SaaS SEO is a great channel, but it combines a myriad of disciplines to make it work effectively. You need a team of tech, content, growth, and outreach experts to truly make it work. 

In order to reap the full rewards of SaaS SEO, you must remember:

  • It can take time to see the full results of your efforts
  • Without a team of experts, you’re unlikely to achieve the best results

However, if you follow the tactics we’ve given you, SEO can be an incredible way to power growth and generate leads for your SaaS. Creating content your users love is also a great way to connect with them and encourage further engagement with your business.

And if you need help getting started, you can always enlist the help of a SaaS SEO agency along the way.

SaaS SEO FAQs

How can you calculate the value of SaaS SEO?

There are several key SaaS SEO metrics you can track to stay on top of your KPIs. The top four are revenue (for overall performance), organic ROI (for measuring returns), visibility & search engine rankings (for measuring keyword strategy effectiveness), and conversions (for measuring strengths and weaknesses). By tracking all four, you can be sure you’re getting the most value from your SaaS SEO roadmap.

How important is SEO in a SaaS business?

SEO can be the number one demand gen channel for most SaaS brands where there is already demand to be captured. It’s a compounding growth channel, so the investment today still impacts the bottom line years into the future. The ROI is, therefore, much better than investing in other growth channels such as paid acquisition (PPC).

How does SEO content marketing benefit SaaS companies?

Content marketing is a great way to build a connection with users, even before they officially sign up to use your product. SEO content is simply content that is optimized to connect with the right audience in the right way, by offering them information they were already looking for. By answering FAQs and providing users with informative posts related to your product offering, you can build brand awareness and showcase your product in an organic way.

How can I save time creating a SaaS SEO strategy?

To save time creating a SaaS SEO strategy, consider working with a specialized SaaS SEO agency that can provide predictable results and industry-specific knowledge, like Skale. They can help streamline your SaaS SEO roadmap by leveraging their experience in optimizing SaaS websites and understanding the unique challenges and opportunities in the SaaS market. 

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