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The Truth about SEO for SaaS Startups

Published on

December 9, 2022

The Truth about SEO for SaaS Startups

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When you're just starting in the SaaS industry, your customers don't know you exist. They're not yet aware of your brand and how amazing your service is. Therefore, they cannot turn to you as the solution to their problem. 

Instead, they'll turn to Google and end up signing up for your competitor's product. So, what can you do to get noticed by your potential customers? 

This is where SEO should come into play.

💡 SaaS startups have a lot of things to consider when it comes to deciding where to invest their limited resources. Unfortunately for them, few realize that the most valuable thing they can do is invest in SEO from the start. 

So, in this article, we’ll share the truth behind SEO for SaaS startups that no one talks about. 

We’ll cover why it’s important to invest in SEO as early as possible, the biggest mistake that SaaS startups make when it comes to SEO, and what to do instead. 

For SaaS Startups, The Earlier You Invest In SEO, The Better

One of the biggest mistakes SaaS startups can make is not prioritizing SEO early on. It’s often low on the “to-do list” of ways to grow their brand awareness and attract more leads.

While many expert marketers say that SEO shouldn't be the main focus for new companies, it's far from the truth. Why? Because SEO is one of the most effective ways to raise brand awareness and get traction as quickly as possible. Plus, it takes time to yield results. So, the sooner you start, the faster you’ll start getting leads from Google. 

If you're a SaaS startup and want to spread the word about your brand and acquire more potential customers, here are 3 reasons why you should invest in SEO from the start.

seo for saas startups
SaaS startups should invest in SEO for 3 reasons

Reason 1: Your competitors are already doing it

If you're a SaaS startup, chances are you're entering a battlefield where other companies have already been fighting for years. If your competitors have been around for a while and are doing well, chances are they’ve already optimized their websites for search engines. 

That's because they know that most people find their products through search engines. In fact, according to Google's product discovery statistics, over 50% of people use Google to discover new brands.

This means that if you don't do anything about it now, your competitors will gain an advantage over you by showing up higher than you in search engine results pages.

🦉 Remember: the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.

Reason 2: SEO creates long-term value for your company

With SEO, it's all about creating long-term value for your company instead of short-term gains. 

saas startup seo
We can see here that investing in SEO greatly improves customer acquisition on the long term.

With paid ads like Google Ads, display ads, or social media ads, you can see great results in the short run, but they can also be expensive and volatile due to fluctuating prices or audience trends.

❌ Most SaaS startups decide to invest their budget into paid ads. And while this may be an effective short-term strategy, once you stop running the ads, you've got no more incoming traffic.  

With SEO, it's the opposite — your efforts take time to show results, but they compound over time into a steady flow of traffic. 

Let’s take a look at Salesforce, which is currently the biggest SaaS company in the US. Even though some articles were published more than 10 years ago, they still get a mind-blowing amount of traffic and backlinks every month. 

seo for saas startup
Salesforce has incredible domain authority thanks to their longstanding SEO content.

Source: Ubersuggest

Reason 3: SEO is a low-cost investment with high returns

Gone are the days when only big companies with huge budgets could afford to invest in SEO solutions. Nowadays, SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to get more traffic to your website. 

SEO can be an effective profit lever that a company can pull because it’s not just about getting more organic traffic from search engines. It’s also about increasing your conversion rates and sales. 

If done correctly, organic search will bring more qualified leads to your website than any other type of marketing campaigns, such as paying for ads or influencers.

The biggest SEO mistake SaaS startups make

Once SaaS startups decide to invest in SEO, they often start by making a cardinal mistake that discourages them from continuing their SEO efforts: they focus on big keywords that are hard to rank for. 

❌ Instead of focusing on smaller and more specific keywords that aren’t saturated and can have a real impact on their revenues, most SaaS companies aim for the same keywords their biggest competitors are already ranking for.  

When you are just starting out, it's easy to get lost in the numbers game. You want to rank for the biggest keywords because you believe this is the right way to grow your traffic and increase your sales. 

The reality is that most of these big keywords are oversaturated and extremely hard to rank for. Before you can see any results, you’ll have to invest a huge amount of effort, money, and time.

✅ The key to SaaS SEO success is focusing on getting traffic that converts into paying customers, not just any traffic. This can be achieved only by finding and focusing on low-volume but profitable keywords. 

When doing your SaaS keyword research, focus on low-competition keywords with high conversion rates. To find them, use specialized SEO tools like SEMRush or Ubersuggest. These tools will help you find long-tail keywords that are less competitive and have a higher ROI potential.

SaaS startups often make these 2 mistakes when it comes to SaaS SEO.

When You Start Your SaaS Business, Focus on Middle or Bottom-of-The Funnel Keywords

As a SaaS startup, your budget is often limited. This is why you should spend your resources on what truly moves the needle in your business and brings you the biggest amount of conversions. 

Why top-of-the-funnel (Tofu) keywords should not be your priority

We’ve already agreed that SEO is where you should be putting your resources from day one. However, if you want to see results quickly, you need an effective SaaS content marketing strategy that’s focused mainly on middle-of-the-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel content. 

🖋️ The bottom of the funnel is where most of your sales will come from, and that’s where you should be focusing your SEO efforts.

Many companies mistakenly focus on top-of-the-funnel keywords while neglecting bottom-of-the-funnel keywords. This is because they want more people who aren’t yet ready to sign up for their product. 

But if you only focus on Tofu keywords, you won’t get as much value out of your PPC spend, and you won’t see as many conversions either.

It can be tempting to spend all of your time on top-of-funnel keywords like "email marketing software" or "CRM software." 

💡 If you want to get more leads, you need to focus on the people who are already in the buying process and that means paying attention to keywords with lower search volume. 

In general, the middle-of-the-funnel (Mofu) and bottom-of-the-funnel (Bofu) keywords have less competition and more intent. This means they convert better than top-of-the-funnel (Tofu) searches because they're more likely to indicate that someone's ready to buy right now. They also convert way better because there's less competition.

So, what exactly are the middle and bottom-of-the-funnel keywords?

Middle-of-the-funnel keywords are used by people who are ready to buy and considering different options. In contrast, bottom-of-the-funnel keywords are used by customers who are ready to purchase from a specific brand. 

These keywords are typically easier to rank for because they're usually specific long-tail keywords. 

Targeting these keywords gives an advantage over your biggest competitors, whose efforts are focused on general, oversaturated, top-of-the-funnel keywords.

Here are some middle-of-the-funnel keywords someone ready to buy CRM software could type into Google:

  • "Which CRM software should I buy?"
  • "Best CRM software for real estate"
  • “Best CRM software in the usa” 
startup saas seo
Middle-of-the-funnel search terms proposed by Google

And here are some examples of bottom-of-the-funnel keywords that someone who has already chosen their preferred solution (let’s assume they want to invest in Salesforce) would use:

  • "Salesforce reviews"
  • "Salesforce pricing"
  • “Is Salesforce worth the money?” 
saas startup seo
Bottom of the funnel search terms

Conclusion: Invest in SEO from day one!

SEO can help you increase brand awareness, drive leads and sales, and compete more effectively against other brands. While SEO is the most effective profit lever that a company can pull, it’s not a magical silver bullet. However, it is something you should be thinking about from the very beginning. 

💡 SEO done right is a process that requires time, practice, and expertise. It's a long-term investment that will have great influence on your company's bottom line in a few years. 

And the longer you keep on waiting, the harder it will be for you to establish yourself as a leader in your industry. 

What all of this means is that SaaS startups need to start investing in SEO earlier rather than later. If you’re embarking on your SaaS startup marketing journey, it's best to begin establishing your brand in Google as early as possible. 

Vince Moreau

I'm the CEO & founder of ScaleCrush. You can often find me ranting way too much about BS marketing advice, fluffy and regurgitated content, and calling out gurus. I also happen to have my very own unoriginal thoughts about the stuff we're going through.

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