SaaS companies know the score. It’s a competitive world out there, and it takes effort to stay at the top of your game.
Staying at the top in a Google search context requires ticking all the right SEO boxes. And good visibility isn’t set in stone because the internet is constantly expanding and changing. New, keen, SEO-aware players arrive, tired businesses fall off the top search results pages, and the whole thing is incredibly fluid. You’ll want to do everything possible to avoid common SaaS SEO mistakes.
Being thorough means you stand a better chance of ranking well. When you do a better SEO job than the competition, you win in search. But there’s more.
Perfecting SEO isn’t just about search engine algorithms, it’s also about keeping humans happy. Satisfied users mean more sales, more loyalty, and a better bottom line. This is your guide to what to avoid when doing SEO for SaaS.
Why SEO is important for SaaS Businesses?
SaaS providers need to tackle SEO for some very good business reasons. For a start, SEO boosts organic search traffic. The better your visibility, the more people see your link in the search results and the more will click on it. A place on page 10 of Google SERPs isn’t going to get you anywhere near as many organic search-generated visitors as a position on page one if any at all.
For the same reason, SEO also drives great lead generation. More eyes mean more clicks.
SEO increases brand awareness because harnessing a powerful combination of all your best short and long-tail keywords puts your pages in front of people in a multitude of search contexts. Whatever their intent there’s content from you. The more people see your brand and keep seeing it, the more memorable and trustworthy your business will feel.
SEO can reduce paid advertising expenses by creating natural visibility for a bunch of desirable keywords you’d otherwise pay to rank for. SEO also improves conversion rates!
Because you’ve targeted your pages so perfectly, more of the people who visit are predisposed to find exactly what they’re looking for there. All this means SEO boosts sales and revenue by being more visible to more of the right people, for more of the most popular search terms, supporting great response conversion rates.
You can see how getting it wrong can be expensive thanks to losing potential revenue, spending too much on marketing, or both. Here are ten of the most common SaaS SEO mistakes and their solutions.
Mistake #1: Failing to Understand the Customer
First of all, you’ll need to understand your customer to know how to attract them – a core requirement of effective SEO.
It’s basically impossible to create appealing, engaging content when you have no idea who you’re creating it for, or what they want from the product and service. The user experience is just as influential. We all love a fast, smooth and efficient experience, and it’s easier to make it happen by using customer query-led keywords in the right way.
You’ll want to understand the intent behind people’s search queries, too. Someone who types ‘about business support software’ into the search box is after something very different from the person who searches for ‘buy business support software for SMEs’. One is at the discovery stage, the other is ready to use their credit card. Can you see how sending both people to the same content would be a failure of logic, never mind a serious marketing mistake?
The wise money is on clearly researching, defining, and describing the target audience – and continuously updating the information so you stay on track in our fluid digital landscape.
Mistake #2: Poor Keyword Targeting
Keywords are SEO-fuel, which makes choosing and targeting the wrong keywords a really big mistake. Imagine you’ve chosen and targeted the most popular ‘head term’ keywords, but they’re already dominated by established businesses. It’ll take you an enormous effort to steal that kind of visibility from under a big brand.
On the other hand, do you really want to rank for broad-level, high-volume head terms like ‘SaaS’ or ‘SaaS for B2B?’ They might attract a vast number of visitors but they’re not targeted. Intelligent keyword targeting is a search intent thing, driven by what users hope to find in response to their query. They’ll perform so much better than popular head terms you’ll struggle to rank for.
You’ll avoid this mistake by carrying out thorough, detailed keyword research and identifying niche, long-tail keywords, still highly relevant but less competitive.
Mistake #3: Not Updating Keyword Research
Keyword research isn’t a destination. It’s a journey, an ongoing process for many reasons. The internet changes by the second, more sites come online, businesses in your search space come and go, regulations and rules change, and countries start and stop cooperating across borders. The Google algorithm itself changes constantly. And the way your customers behave doesn’t stay the same.
SEO isn’t something you do once and then forget. You’ll avoid this mistake by monitoring and updating your keyword research and insights into user behaviour, reviewing targeting, and adding relevant new content. Obviously, it’s also sensible to keep an eye on what your competitors are up to. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. If they’ve just done something brilliant, can you do the same thing even better?
Mistake #4: Ignoring SEO Best Practices
You’re wasting time and effort if you create site content without all the basic on-site SEO best practices. They might seem like little things but together they give Google exactly what it needs to give users the best possible experience. You don’t want to overlook essentials like page title optimisation, page speed optimisation, image optimisation, metadata, content quality, layout and readability, and more.
The solution to this mistake? Get a professional on the case, an experienced, professional SEO expert who will make sure everything is optimised perfectly. If you’re going to be adding content yourself, learn how to get on-site SEO right and carry on the good work.
Mistake #5: Inadequate Content Marketing
If you’re keen to dive right into the content strategy side of life because it’s exciting, hold your horses. You need to think strategically to figure out the right content tactics to hit your goals.
Content marketing is another thing you never finish, an ongoing task. Keep your blog and site up to date with great stuff people want to see, share it on social media, it gets shared, and you get backlinks… None of this happens unless you keep the momentum going. When your competitors are on the ball, generating fabulous new content all the time, and you’re not, you’ll soon fall behind.
There are more mistakes to avoid around poor-quality content marketing. You don’t want to create content that can’t be indexed by search engines. While images and video are very engaging, search engines still need indexable text – actual words – to figure out what a page is about and who’ll want to see it.
You don’t want content that doesn’t resonate with your target audience. Remember, content marketing isn’t about what you want to say, it’s about what your audience wants to hear. All this means understanding the target audience, what they’re looking for, what their pain points are, and the content formats they’ll like best is really important.
How to avoid inadequate content marketing? Devise effective campaigns based on target audience research, keyword research, and defined objectives. Then use up-to-date insights into your audience and keywords to continuously publish fresh, appealing, engaging, authoritative content.
Mistake #6: Ignoring the Competition
No SaaS business operates in a vacuum. Like every other sector, you swim in crowded seas, and the things your competitors do really matter. You need competitor research and monitoring to understand exactly who key competitors are at any one time. In an SEO context, it means businesses with high search rankings. If they’re above you in the SERPs they’re doing something better than you. Why is that? Can you do the same to catch up or overtake them?
Competitor research and analysis gives you valuable insight into competitor marketing campaigns, for example, what they’re doing with Google Adwords. It reveals the keywords they’re ranking for, giving you crucial keyword insight. You can figure out how well their content performs and which pieces of content are doing the best in search. You can even figure out where they’re getting backlinks from.
To avoid this mistake, build competitor research, analysis, and monitoring into your SaaS SEO strategy and keep on doing it, frequently refreshing your knowledge about competitor performance so it stays current.
Mistake #7: Not Gaining High-Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are simply links to your pages from other websites. When you get backlinks from reputable, relevant, authoritative sources it’s great for SEO. Search engines assume they can trust your site because trustworthy sites with good authority have been linked to it. Content is a reliable way to attract natural links, but only when it’s exceptional.
If you’ve attracted a bunch of low-quality, even potentially harmful links to your site it’ll act like a warning call to Google, while links from reputable SaaS sector sources will help you shine. Algorithms can usually tell when a link is unnatural or suspicious in some way, and irrelevant links are just as bad.
Avoid backlinks from low-quality directories or forums, spun or other bad-quality content, link exchanges, and toxic links via 301 redirects. Lots of links with exact match keyword anchor text are a bad idea, as are those from sites outside the Google index. Links in site-wide footers or sidebars of other sites are frowned upon, as are paid-for links not labeled as sponsored or ‘nofollow’. Links hidden in the text, HTML code, or images are also treated as link spam.
The solution to this mistake is to include link-building in your ongoing SaaS SEO strategy and make sure everyone involved understands the difference between a link worth having and one that might actually damage search visibility. You might want to think about Outreach to generate great quality links.
Mistake #8: Not Defining Objectives
It’s a business thing, and it’s common sense. You should always define exactly what you want to achieve from SEO before you start, and do it in measurable terms at every level, from the overall macro level upwards, for every piece of content.
Avoid forgetting to define objectives by always creating Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound objectives – also called SMART objectives.
Mistake #9: Not Using Analytics
You can’t know how well – or not – you’re performing without stats. Not using analytics means the past is a mystery and you don’t know how to go forwards, either. Website analytics are stacked with incredibly valuable insight but they’re often overlooked or under-used. Web analytics are essential for monitoring SEO campaign performance, giving you exciting insights into keyword performance, content performance, user behaviour, and much more.
To avoid falling into the no-analytics trap, take full advantage of the analysis and reporting capabilities in Google and add them to your list of things to check frequently. If something changes, analytics can reveal what’s happened and why, so you can act fast to take advantage or put things right.
Mistake #10: Poor Site Maintenance
Your site deserves the best maintenance: the most up-to-date version of the platform it sits on, a constant eye on on-site SEO together, plus instant action when things need seeing to. You’ll want the site to operate exactly as it should, all the time, with fast-loading pages and no user experience problems. You should take out broken internal and external links, keep all the plugins and extensions up to date, and maintain great site security. It all contributes to excellence.
You don’t want all this and more to build up over time and make your site less than ideal, even leaving it vulnerable to hackers. The solution is to maintain your site beautifully, with routine technical audits to ensure everything is working properly.
Why not get the experts to help
So that was the ten most common SaaS mistakes to avoid. As you can tell, avoiding mistakes takes work. There’s a lot of updating, checking, and ongoing work to do. Get it right and you’ll enjoy more visitors, better-qualified leads, better conversion rates, a great reputation, the trust of your customers and the respect of your fellow SaaS providers. If you don’t have the time, inclination or skills, get in touch with the Common Ground team. We can handle it all for you, so you can focus on growing the business.