Evolution of SaaS SEO: Comprehensive Journey of SaaS Companies

Updated on April 28 2024
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SaaS organizations, in the early days i.e. in the mid 2000s, were unaware of SEO as a tool of content marketing. Online market for SaaS companies is competitive, imposing numerous challenges in terms of its presence within the marketplace. With the evolution of online marketing tools, SaaS SEO as a medium of content marketing was adapted. SaaS SEO is quite different from niche blog SEO and it is an approach that helps SaaS organizations to overcome challenges in terms of online marketing. With number of SaaS tools growing rapidly, the intensity of competition has increased which requires you to have outstanding SEO strategies to dominate the market. As per Statista, SaaS services are projected to increase at a rate of $232.3 billion by the end of 2024.

Thus, it is necessary to focus upon building a SaaS business model to optimize your search engine presence. The article proceeds to highlight the trends and explore how SaaS companies adapted to lead the online space.

Early Days of SaaS Industry 

SaaS is an industry that thrives for innovation and disruption constantly. Prior to the introduction of SEO for SaaS, companies like Salesforce, Concur, Workday, etc. focused on strategies like: 

  • Direct Sales
  • Potential Partnerships
  • Traditional Marketing channels like Newspaper advertisements
Salesforce using free webinar for marketing
Wayback Machine Screenshot showing Salesforce using free webinar for marketing in 2003

These strategies majorly included targeting consumers directly, which involved webinars, educational sessions, sales pitch, and other relevant approaches. SEO was yet to be understood and considered. The search engines were at their early stage of development, and algorithms that aided websites in ranking were comparatively less complex. SaaS SEO strategy was not an effective tool in the early stages of the industry because: 

  • Search engines were not advanced in comparison to current algorithms 
  • Software as a service was a new concept that was yet to be understood by tech giants
  • Traditional marketing channels were preferred 
  • Lack of Internet access to the general public and demand for offline software

Challenges you will face in SaaS SEO today

As the digital landscapes evolve, challenges in terms of online market growth and SEO keep escalating. Mentioned below are the challenges faced by SaaS companies in terms of growing online market and SEO:

  • Highly Competitive Nature of Keywords: SaaS SEO experts are always seeking for competitive keywords that will help their content rank well on search engine results pages (SERPs) as well as get more views and conversions. Finding the accurate keywords takes a lot of time, effort, and resources and is never easy. Given the fierce market competition, it is even more challenging for SaaS enterprises. It may be challenging for younger or smaller firms to stand out when established rivals with bigger resources and a stronger web presence frequently dominate terms.
  • Defined and Limited Niche Market: SaaS solutions frequently serve specialized markets or sectors. As a result, it’s critical for startups to focus their SEO strategy on the appropriate target market and keywords. It might be difficult to choose the appropriate keywords and develop content that is pertinent to a certain niche. Finding content writers with the required experience and subject-matter knowledge to produce pertinent specialty content for them is another challenge faced by many SaaS businesses.
  • Specialized Services: SaaS agencies offer complex services at times. To comprehend such services, it is necessary for the consumer to have technical expertise. This is a major challenge in terms of providing content that is user-friendly, SEO-friendly, and properly explains the company’s value proposition. 
  • Lack of an Appropriate SEO Model: SaaS companies lack incorporation of an appropriate SEO model that prioritizes the needs of the target audience. This results in lost chances to increase visitors and conversions. To ensure that your company’s content marketing is off to a stronger start, it’s crucial to incorporate SEO into your content processes from the very beginning.
SaaS SEO - Challenges in SaaS Industry
SEO Challenges in SaaS Industry

SaaS Companies That Best Adapted SEO in Early Stage

Leading SaaS companies established their presence in the Market with the help of effective SEO strategies. With adaptation of modern techniques and potential models, below-mentioned SaaS organizations transformed their online presence: 

HubSpot: HubSpot is regarded as the leader in terms of marketing and sales. With popularity in the SaaS industry, HubSpot’s business model primarily focuses on SEO optimization. HubSpot produces SEO content varying from blogs to case studies and webinars. HubSpot started implementing SEO strategies from the year 2007. According to the book – “The Marketing Agency Blueprint” by Paul Roetzer, HubSpot was the first agency to implement SEO strategies in the year 2007. HubSpot’s approach in the year 2007 was oriented towards both on-page and off-page optimization.

SaaS SEO - Infographic on Hubspot SEO Strategies
Hubspot’s SEO Strategies

Salesforce: Salesforce is currently the leading SaaS organization in  customer relationship management (CRM). With its effective SEO model, Salesforce offered its target audience with informative and valuable content that enhanced its online visibility. Salesforce offered its customers with creating a user-friendly website and optimizing it for mobile devices helped it rank higher and become a major player in the SaaS sector. Salesforce initially started investing heavily in SEO optimization strategies from the year 2010. With the use of appropriate keywords in SEO strategies, Salesforce was able to acquire the attention of visitors and experienced an increase in organic traffic.

Shopify Revenue Growth
Salesforce Revenue Growth

It majorly focused upon the implementation of keywords that were having high buying intent for its B2B audience which also had decision making power in their comapnies. 

Moz: Moz, a business well-known for its SEO tools and resources, is an excellent example of how a SaaS business may succeed by concentrating on its specialty within the SEO ecosystem. In addition to offering helpful SEO tools, Moz also puts its advice into reality by using effective SEO techniques for its own content. The business has improved its standing in the SEO community by committing to openness and education through its blog and guidelines. Moz itself being a SEO tool and resource company, offered its customers with strategies that helped grow their own business. Moz implemented the below mentioned idea: 

Shopify: In order to serve companies looking for an online presence, Shopify, an e-commerce platform, strategically utilize SEO. Shopify made an investment in producing content that catered to the demands of its target market because it understood the significance of keyword optimization. In the cutthroat e-commerce market, the company’s emphasis on user experience and mobile optimization helped it succeed. Shopify has experienced a revenue growth by 25.99% with its SEO strategies with a market cap of USD 67.45B.

Shopify Revenue Growth
Shopify Revenue Growth

Canva: A platform for graphic development called Canva systematically included SEO into their expansion plan. Canva garnered a sizable user base by providing aesthetically engaging material and optimizing its website for pertinent keywords. A key factor in the company’s quick rise in the design software sector was its SEO initiatives, which were paired with a user experience emphasis. Canva has potentially utilized the keyword “create” and created pages for its site offering several different types of services as shown in the image below:

Canva SEO Case Study - keyword strategy
Canva’s Keyword Strategy

With a number of services offered, Canva has implemented the keyword strategies effectively. For example, analyzing the keyword “birthday” and its subsidiaries, we can understand the search volume it has: 

Canva Case Study - Birthday keyword focus
Semrush report showing Canva’s focus on “Birthday” Keyword

Keywords as a Primary SaaS Marketing Tool

As we saw in the SaaS SEO case studies above, Keywords play a crucial role in determining brand image and SERP rankings. SaaS companies which have recognized the importance of keywords have considered strategic implementation of SEO strategies. Mentioned below are the key importance of SEO keywords for the success of SaaS companies in the digital realm. These strategies are potentially implemented and incorporated B2B SaaS SEO agency: 

Keywords are a Bridge to SERP Rankings: Keywords are a crucial link between the services offered by SaaS companies and the needs of consumers. SaaS SEO tools required for SEO strategies indulge the use of keywords that match user searches and market trends.

SEO Vs Other Marketing Channels
SEO Vs Other Marketing Channels

Use of Keyword Research Tools and Data Insights: Producing content that reaches the masses requires you to have quality and answers to the questions that users ask. Appropriate keyword research will help with incorporating the necessities of the content and data driven insights helps with users query. Thus, ensuring that the content has quality and comprises necessary data that addresses the needs of users.

SaaS Tools used by SaaS companies
SaaS Tools used by SaaS companies

Use of Long- Tail Keywords and Targeting the Niche: Long-tail keywords justify user’s search intent towards a defined content or necessity. SaaS organizations have realized the effectiveness of long-tail keywords in attracting a more niche clientele. Despite being less competitive individually, long-tail keywords collectively represent a sizable share of search traffic, according to a research by Ahrefs. Long-tail keyword use helps SaaS companies become more visible in their specialty markets, which generates more quality leads. Image below highlights the the difference between search intent of users with long tail keywords vs short tail keywords:

Long Tail Keyword Impact on Engagement
Source: https://www.wordstream.com/long-tail-keywords

Optimization of Content and Engagement of Users: Beyond only increasing exposure, keyword integration has a significant impact on the development of content. SaaS providers optimize their content by carefully arranging their keywords to match user intent. According to a HubSpot study, content that is optimized for relevant keywords increases user engagement and organic traffic in addition to increasing conversion rates.

Content and User engagement optimisation
Content and User engagement optimisation

Adapting to the Evolving Keyword Trend and Industry Dynamics: Use of keywords must be optimized as per industry requirements and consumer behavior. SaaS organizations are required to keep a track of the shifts in keyword trends to stay on top of things. According to Search Engine Journal, organizations may stay relevant and take advantage of new market possibilities by adjusting to new keywords and user inquiries.

Role of Backlink Strategies for SaaS SEO

The following are some ways that backlinks have benefited SaaS companies in strengthening their SEO tactics:

  • Enhance rankings: One of the key ranking elements for search engines like Google is the number of quality backlinks. Search engines understand that your SaaS website is credible and authoritative if other websites links to it. By doing this, you may raise the position of your website on search engine results pages (SERPs) for pertinent keywords.
  • Improve organic traffic: More organic traffic to your SaaS website is a result of higher search engine rankings. As a result, more people will be able to discover your website and learn more about your goods and services.
  • Increase brand recognition and credibility: Backlinks from reputable websites may also aid in increasing brand recognition and credibility for your SaaS company. People are more likely to trust your brand and the caliber of your goods or services when they notice that other trustworthy websites are linked to your website.
Correlation between backlinks and rankings
Correlation between backlinks and rankings

Backlinks, usually referred to as inbound links, are connections pointing to your website from other websites. They play a crucial role in improving search engine results, generating organic traffic, and raising brand recognition. They are the foundation of a strong SaaS SEO strategy.

Backlinks inform search engines that your website is reliable and authoritative. Your website will rank better in search engine results pages (SERPs) the more high-quality backlinks it has. Increased organic traffic might result from this since it comes from users who are already interested in what you have to offer. Organic traffic is the most valuable sort of traffic. Mentioned below are few of the examples of how backlink strategies have helped SaaS organizations:

SaaS Company Backlink Output 
HubSpot Operating as one of the leading providers of marketing, sales, and customer service software, HubSpot has invested heavily on Backlink strategies. They benefit from excellent rankings in SERPs for a variety of keywords, which significantly increases organic traffic to their website.
Salesforce This concerned SaaS company is currently operating as one of the most trusted brands in customer relationship management (CRM). It has successfully achieved building backlinks from high-quality websites. 

Backlinks are the most significant ranking element for organic search traffic, according to a recent SEMrush analysis. Furthermore, websites with more backlinks typically appear higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) than those with less backlinks. Backlinks are crucial for increased search volume.

Impact of Technical SEO 

The Technical SEO must be ensured by SaaS sites in order to acquire customers and gain organic traffic. Mentioned below are the are aspects related to SaaS Technical SEO: 

  • Site Speed: Site performance is crucial in the fast-paced digital age where customers demand rapid satisfaction. Google has said clearly that a ranking element is site speed. Ensuring quick load times benefits SaaS systems, especially those that offer cloud-based solutions, by improving both SEO and user experience. Mentioned image below portrays a hierarchy of how site speed impacts user experience: 
Hierarchy of User Experience for SaaS site
Hierarchy of User Experience for SaaS site

Increased bounce rates from slow-loading sites can have an effect on both user happiness and search engine results.

Pagespeed importance for Site's SEO
Pagespeed importance for Site’s SEO
  • Index and Crawlability: Web crawlers are used by search engines to explore and index the published content. A SaaS website’s technological architecture is essential for enabling search engine bots to efficiently crawl and index all pertinent pages. There may be missed possibilities for user acquisition if particular pages are not correctly indexed or are not accessible.
  • Mobile Optimization: Google has switched to a mobile-first indexing strategy as the number of mobile users surpasses that of conventional desktop users. In other words, indexing and ranking of a website give preference to the mobile version. SaaS companies must make their websites mobile-friendly in order to provide a consistent user experience across various screen sizes. Mobile optimization is essential for preserving and enhancing search rankings and is more than simply a technical nicety.
  • Site Accessibility and Design Experience: Beyond the obvious, technical SEO works to make sure that users with impairments can access websites. SaaS systems must put an emphasis on inclusive design principles and offer keyboard accessibility, alternate text for pictures, and logical document layout. In addition to the ethical issues, this inclusion improves search engine results.
  • Site Security and HTTPs: Both consumers and search engines have serious concerns about website security. Google favors websites that use HTTPS encryption for security. An HTTPS protocol is not merely a security precaution for SaaS platforms dealing with sensitive customer data; it is also a need for upholding credibility. Search engine results are more likely to place secure websites higher.

Role of SEO in Customer Building and Retention

SEO has played a crucial role in customer building and retention for SaaS organizations. In the long-run, it has helped SaaS companies to build their consumer base, engage existing customers, and improve the customer experience overall. Highlighted below are the benefits of integrating SEO in regards to consumer building and retention: 

  • Traffic growth: SEO works to make your website more visible in search engine results pages (SERPs), which might increase traffic. This is crucial since it increases your possibilities to advertise your SaaS service or product and attract new clients.
  • Enhanced brand awareness: By making your website more visible in SERPs, SEO may aid in enhancing brand recognition. People are more likely to learn about your brand and what you have to offer when they find your website at the top of the search results for relevant keywords.
  • Superior leads: Leads from SEO are often of greater quality than leads from other sources, including paid advertising. This is due to the fact that SEO leads are people who are actively looking for information about your SaaS product or service.
  • Increased customer engagement: By supplying customers with useful material and tools, SEO may assist to enhance customer engagement. Customers are more likely to come back to your website and do business again when they believe your content to be educational and helpful.
  • Better customer experience: By making it simpler for users to discover the information they want on your website, SEO may assist to improve the customer experience.

More Tips on SaaS SEO

For a SaaS company, ensuring a symbiotic relation between content production and Search Engine optimization is crucial. Adapting to a systematic approach to content creation and optimization in line with search engine algorithms is a key component in the online exposure and expansion of these businesses. In the recent digital trends, SaaS companies like Salesforce, HubSpot and others have stressed upon certain principles to acquire organic traffic. These principles have been listed below: 

  • Studying and Understanding Target Audience: People always overlook Target Audience Study. Functioning and revenue generation of SaaS companies is based on how they fulfill the needs of their target audiences and understand their search intent. Leading giants in the SaaS industry have invested in researching the market and gaining insights on user behavior. 
  • Models of Keyword Research: Comprehensive keyword research is a priority when creating content that is SEO-optimized. SaaS companies use keyword research tools to find long-tail keywords, related terms, and search phrases that complement their products. This data-driven strategy guarantees that the material is both strategically aligned with search engine algorithms and attractive to the audience.
  • Use of Multimedia Elements: The goal is to enhance user experience which can be potentially achieved through incorporating multimedia elements in the content. SaaS businesses employ multimedia features like infographics, movies, and photos to improve user experience and SEO. Pages featuring multimedia components typically score higher in search engine results, according to a Backlinko research. This strategy not only takes into account the different audience tastes, but it also tells search engines that the material is interesting and rich. The graph below depicts a difference between bounce rate with and without video embedded on their website:
  • Adapting to Link Building Strategies: SaaS firms systematically include link building into their content creation since it is a crucial component of SEO. Reputable backlinks of high quality increase the content’s authority and reliability. SaaS firms frequently use outreach campaigns, guest posting, and engagement with industry influencers as part of their backlink building tactics.
  • Use of Analytical Tools: Analytics tools are used by SaaS companies to monitor the effectiveness of their content. Iterative changes are guided by data on user engagement, bounce rates, and conversion rates. By employing an iterative process, content strategies are made flexible, sensitive to user behavior, and compatible with changing search engine ranking factors.

Also read: How to monetize your SaaS App?

Conclusion

SEO has played a major role in the development of SaaS company’s website. It has helped them gain organic traffic and increase customer base. Several different SEO strategies and techniques have been opted by these organizations to excel in their sector. Progressively, these strategies are now used by these organizations to improve the traffic of clientele and their website outcomes.

If you are a SaaS company, you should focus on your SEO. And to promote it even more, get in touch with us to feature your app on our platform. We will guide you on how you can reach more people and covert them into your customers.

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