10 Tips for Building a SEO Machine in SaaS

Search-engine optimization (SEO) is underrated in SaaS. We have found that 100% of SaaS companies that use SEO as a primary growth channel have strong growth and capital efficiency. It’s not easy, but the fruits of strong SEO are not just low-cost leads but refined product execution. We’re fortunate to have worked with some of the world’s leading SEO practitioners — from founders to marketers to consultants — so we wanted to share what we’ve learned. 

10 useful tips for your SEO strategy:

  1. SEO is not a black box. Google SEO algorithms are clearer than people realize. Type a keyword into Google and check out the top organic listings. What’s ranked highest? You can assume that whatever Google has ranked highly for a keyword is what the average person searching for that keyword wants, i.e. that’s the standard to strive for. 
  2. Think of SEO content as a single-player mode version of your product. If you’ve already got a free trial then great; if you don’t, then having high value SEO content is a great intermediate step to having a fully-baked free trial or tier. 
  3. Don’t be overly commercial. If your SEO content reads like an infomercial it will turn away prospects and you might miss a chance to garner good will with potential customers. Rather than outright selling, focus on trust-building.
  4. Create content targeting your product’s “Job-To-Be-Done”.  If you can create content that helps solve the key problems of your target customer, you will build trust and create a sense of reciprocity with them – this creates strong momentum for them to try your product.  
  5. Consider checklists and/or templates. Most B2B SaaS products can benefit from a checklist that discusses key considerations for a target user or a template that offers a sketch for potential solutions. Try searching “product-roadmap template” or “safety inspection checklist” in Google and the organic search results will have high-quality content made by SaaS players targeting those “jobs-to-be-done.” 
  6. Start narrow – and ship fast. Starting out, focus content on long tail keywords that aren’t highly competitive. With focused effort, getting onto the first page of Google’s organic results is achievable. Experienced SEO content authors know there is unpredictability in what content will resonate the most with users, so publish frequently and focus on measuring and learning with each iteration. 
  7. Be patient.  It will work, but not overnight — it typically takes a few months to see targeted traffic to a new piece of content. In the interim, focus on tweaks to your site to make sure it’s properly indexable by Google. If you continue to prioritize SEO, you can expect to see steady month over month growth in organic traffic — and benefit from the remarkable power of compounding.
  8. If your content is starting to resonate with users, consider white-hat link building. Plenty of third-party websites will benefit their users by including a link to your content. Don’t be bashful in reaching out to them. Think of link building as a potential sales motion that you can try to optimize. 
  9. Interns and grad students can be SEO geniuses. An unappreciated harbor of smart, talented, undervalued people is academia – particularly, grad students who frequently have strong writing skills and who occasionally are eager to dip a toe into the technology industry. 
  10. Nailing SEO inevitably benefits product-market fit. Ultimately we think the highest value of SEO is not marketing cost optimization, it’s becoming a wizard at efficiently building stuff on the Internet that users love. In an incredibly competitive SaaS landscape where usability standards are constantly rising, taking aim at SEO success will hone accuracy at building a product that’s truly beloved by users.

Horizon Partners is a boutique M&A advisory firm for bootstrapped technology businesses. To learn more, subscribe to the Horizon Partners blog or email us at contact@horizonpartners.com.

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