Nick Brown is the Founder and CEO of accelerate agency, a SaaS SEO & content agency. Working with enterprise and scale-up brands.
For SaaS companies, getting search engine optimization right is crucial. Done well, it can generate huge amounts of money for your company and provide a source of sustained growth that pay-per-click traffic probably can’t match. The honest truth is that without good specialist SaaS SEO, most B2B SaaS software companies aren’t likely to reach their full potential.
The good news is that a sound SEO strategy for your SaaS business doesn’t need to be complicated. Investing in a high-quality content marketing strategy can generate the right organic traffic to drive the sales conversions you need.
The first task is to figure out what level of SEO investment is right for your particular SaaS company.
SaaS SEO For Startups And Smaller Companies
When you’re small and just starting out, you need sales leads and you need them fast. This isn’t just to generate revenue — many startup SaaS companies are still testing their products’ user experience and user interface designs. There often aren’t any resources to invest in anything long term like backlinks and technical SEO.
An obvious marketing channel is paid search, also known as pay per click, or PPC. PPC allows you to quickly optimize the target audience for search intent, and you can turn it off and on whenever you want.
In fact, PPC can seem so good that it’s tempting to build your entire marketing strategy on PPC. It’s lead generation on demand — what could go wrong?
Plenty can go wrong with being overly reliant on PPC traffic, however. The most obvious problem is one we’re seeing play out right now in front of the SaaS marketing industry: The cost of PPC is skyrocketing. For many SaaS companies, the cost per lead is now too high to provide meaningful ROI.
When PPC prices spike, the typical response is to invest in keyword research and find cheaper, less competitive long-tail keywords. The problem is that these long-tail keywords are less competitive for a reason — there are fewer searchers. This makes it necessary to bid on more long-tail keywords to get the same traffic as more competitive keywords, undercutting the price advantage.
Even that strategy has limits. The reality is that if you rely only on PPC, you will likely have to bid for more and more expensive keywords over time to keep increasing inbound leads. Outreach costs may eventually increase to an unsustainable level.
If you don’t have a way to drive more leads efficiently, your SaaS company will eventually hit a growth ceiling.
The Importance Of Investing In SEO Optimization For The Long Term
When small businesses are growing, going for quick wins using PPC is an obvious choice. It’s just not a sustainable marketing strategy for growth.
Unlike PPC traffic, organic traffic from content marketing and link building is not something that can be quickly switched on. It takes time, investment and a lot of blog content before the metrics start to show results. But the benefits of a good SEO strategy are substantial, and it can keep paying dividends as your SaaS business grows.
Remember, a digital marketing campaign built on SEO takes time to develop, so it isn’t the right choice when you need instant traffic for your SaaS website. But once your site begins ranking on Google’s first page for major keywords, search volumes will likely grow. And once your business is gaining organic traffic from major search terms, the ongoing investment needed to maintain search engine results page positions is relatively low (and not subject to price hikes by Google).
Here’s an analogy: Think of PPC as renting houses. You can technically start and stop your leases whenever you want, and there are no maintenance costs. But your rent can go up, and a rented house is never an investment.
A good SEO campaign built on high-quality content marketing that’s rich with target keywords and backlinks pointing to landing pages with good page SEO is like buying a house. Investment is required upfront, but then your costs decrease, and it can turn into a substantial investment.
Put another way, the ROI for PPC traffic is flat: You pay money, and you get something in return. The ROI for organic search traffic is exponential. As the market for B2B SaaS grows, the number of search queries from potential customers will grow, but without any extra investment required.
When Should I Start Investing In B2B SaaS SEO?
I’m regularly asked when is the best time for SaaS companies to start preparing and implementing an organic search marketing strategy. My honest answer is always “now.”
A good SaaS SEO specialist can help you accelerate the process with good content marketing and good technical SEO skills, but the factor that can’t be accelerated is time. Every SEO campaign will require time to build authority for Google, and the sooner you start, the sooner you can get results.
Smaller software companies often can’t prioritize hiring a specialist SaaS agency, but it is still worth investing in SEO when you can. If you can’t stretch to an agency partner, hire a freelancer who can arrange guest posts with good inbound links from high-authority websites. These will be useful resources for SEO and can drive new customers to your SaaS product.
Once your team has grown to 30 or 40 people, make sure your marketing team has someone equipped to manage a SaaS SEO strategy, knows their way around Google Search Console keyword indexing reports, understands internal linking and can remove broken links. At about this size, you also may be ready to work with a SaaS SEO agency, and having someone on the team who understands technical SEO enough to read an SEO audit is extremely helpful.
In summary, it’s never too soon to get started on SEO. Go on then — what are you waiting for?