Are you trying to market a software as a service (SaaS) product but missing the target when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO)? There are a few reasons why this can happen. In this article, we go through the main differences between traditional SEO and SEO for SaaS products.
1. Marketing Objectives: Sales or Lead Generation?
When it comes to goals, you can already see a difference between traditional SEO and SEO for SaaS companies.
The average product has a straightforward sales lifecycle. The goal for SEO is simply to bring users to your website and make sure they convert as soon as possible, bringing you sales and revenue. This is traditional SEO.
However, when it comes to SEO for SaaS companies, there is a much longer sales cycle. First of all, SEO for SaaS generates and nurtures leads. Since these products are usually subscription-based, you need to develop a strong relationship with your customers.
And how do you develop this relationship? Well, to start, traditional SEO is all about your website with a little bit of social media – usually, content that is meant to be consumed fast.
With SaaS, you need to create educational content that will not only show your prospects that you’re the right choice but will also nourish that relationship with them further down the line. This means creating eBooks, whitepapers and tutorials, and maintaining an active presence online using long-form content and support on every channel. If a user has an issue with your product, it can’t wait. SEO for SaaS tries to prevent those issues by developing content that keeps users close and up to date with your product features.
2. Keyword Research: Specific or Broad
With a different sales cycle comes a different way of doing keyword research. Traditional SEO for products tries to be as general as possible to catch all the potentially relevant searches.
However, when it comes to SEO for SaaS, keyword research focuses on being specific. This makes it necessary to aim for keywords that are as specific as possible, using different search intents to grab prospects at different points of the product research.
Let’s say you have an article that compares your email marketing product with similar SaaS products. The target keyword, to fit the search intent and the specificity necessary, should be something like “best email marketing software” or “best mailing list software.”
It’s important to match your keyword to the search intent you’re after. Along the sales cycle of a SaaS product, you get prospects who are just after information, users that want to compare products, users who don’t yet know they want your product and users that are ready to buy. You need to fulfill the needs of all these different prospects.
3. Content Strategy: Simple or Technical
The differences in the sales cycles also mean there is a need for different content when it comes to SaaS SEO. Whereas common products use content that is simplified in order to reach out to any possible customer, SaaS content needs to be technical and thorough.
With traditional SEO you produce content for a low reading level and simple landing pages that take you to the purchase as soon as possible. With SEO for SaaS you need to go deep: Create content that explains how to use your product for the best results, create content about your industry and where you stand in it and share information about anything you know your users need. Your SaaS SEO consultant should be able to do market research in order to create this content. You need to know where your competition is and beat them at their own game. We recommend hiring an SEO consultant who specializes in SaaS. Although it might be expensive, it is an investment in your business you will not regret.
The need for technical content requires your whole team and your consultant to be on the same page. Otherwise, you might get lost in all the content you need to create to cover your users’ and prospects’ needs. Make sure your customer support team knows the ins and outs of your product, as well as your marketing team – a strong team is essential to make your content marketing work for you and not against you.
4. Building Relationships: Long Term vs. Short Term
We mentioned this previously, but it requires its own section. Common products create a short-term relationship with the brand and the company: The customer is looking for a product, the content shows what the product is about, boom – done. The customer buys it and that’s all. No need to go any deeper, because the product is what it is.
When it comes to SaaS, you need to make sure users are satisfied even after they bought your product. It’s a long-term commitment and a long-term relationship that you need to develop in order to make sure you don’t lose subscribers. It’s as important to keep your users as it is to get new customers – maybe even more important. It is often said that it is easier to get your customers to stay than it is to get new customers in this kind of business, and we agree.
This is why SaaS SEO has a lot of specificities when compared to SEO for other businesses. When you need to build relationships, the content you create is different from the content you’d produce for a short sales lifecycle.
There are many differences between traditional SEO and SEO for SaaS. It requires a different sales cycle and a different relationship between the company and the consumer. However, if you hire a consultant, you should be able to overcome any challenges that your SaaS product is facing by getting a new perspective of your product from someone who wasn’t involved in its development.
Understanding why SaaS for SEO is different from traditional SEO will vastly improve your content production, keyword research and even your customer service. In order to develop and nurture the long-term relationships that SaaS requires, you need to change your approach to SEO.