For three years, our Boosta team increased the total traffic for three SaaS products to 520k unique visitors per month. 90% of visitors come to us from organic Google search. In this article, I will tell you what SaaS SEO strategy has helped us achieve these results.
For all three products (Sitechecker, Copywritely, Kparser) we used a similar search engine optimization methodology. Therefore, I think that the methods described here will be valuable for any SaaS product.
Methodology basics for SaaS SEO strategy
The methodology is based on two axioms:
- your product will change and you do not know where you will come with it over the years;
- you don’t know which pages of your site and external sites will bring the most traffic, backlinks, and sales.
Based on these axioms, we formulate the key task of SEO strategy in the first year or two.
To the maximum, cover pages with semantics in a niche and test as many ways as possible to attract traffic and backlinks.
If you had accurate answers to these questions, then your approach would be seriously different. But you hardly have them. Therefore, you need to build a system for selecting the most valuable pages and external sites as early as possible. Here’s how to build such a system.
1. Draw a map of the needs of your audience
Your product is always inside some value chain among other products. Think about what other tasks your user solves before coming to you and after he started using your product. So you get even more ideas for creating pages and monetizing your existing audience.
An example of user needs flow
2. Create pages as early as possible
You need to create all the necessary pages and content for them as soon as possible:
there was much to attract traffic;
- users had something to share;
- there was something to select pages for improvements;
- as soon as possible, internal linking began to work, the age of URL accumulated.
Creating pages as early as possible means approaching them like MVP. Do not bring them to the ideal at first, but do them well enough, but as many pages as possible.
3. Look for how to use the same content on different sites
Creating high-quality content is expensive and time-consuming. Create such content for your site, and then think about how to submit the same content in a different form on external sites. We drew pictures for the blog and promoted them on Pinterest, wrote articles for the blog, and used their content to respond to Quora.
4. Set up web analytics as early as possible
Publish your pricing as early as possible, set up goals, and/or e-commerce in Google Analytics. This will help you start selecting pages by potential revenue as soon as possible.
Now let’s move on to the key points of the strategy.
Ideas for creating pages
1. Take ideas of pages from competitors
In this case, the competitor is any site that is ranked by your keywords. This will not necessarily be a product similar to yours.
Your competitors may have a different site structure, a different type of content, but the keywords that they cover will be similar.
It is best to research keywords from market leaders. From the very beginning, we’ve been collecting ideas from the Moz pages.
Top pages report by moz.com in Ahrefs
But remember that the keywords of market leaders will not necessarily be exhaustive. For two reasons:
- There are always valuable keywords that Ahrefs, Semrush, Similarweb services do not show.
- There are always valuable keywords by which your competitors are not ranked.
2. Divide the product into mini-products
We did it too late. And it was necessary to start from this. For the first year, our main product was the On-Page SEO Checker.
This tool consists of many checks. Each of them represents a separate value for users. And users search on Google every single check (aka h1 checker, title tag checker, etc.).
The value of such pages consists of four parameters:
- you don’t need a lot of content to start ranking;
- lower keyword competitiveness;
- easy to make the same pages in other languages;
- high conversion to the next step.
An example of our mini product that is a part of the core product
3. Create related mini products
These should be mini products:
- by which there is semantics;
- take little time to create for your developers;
- similar in theme to your core product.
4. Create mini products based on the API of other products
This item is similar to the previous one. But here you need more investment in product manager and designer than developers.
It is important to realize that there are many ways to use and visualize the same data. And the market leader with the best data in any niche does not always present them in the best possible way.
5. Find other ways to use the product
At some point, we noticed that a cluster of pages on YouTube worked well on kparser.com. I looked for other YouTube pages for competitors who are not related to our product at all.
The youtube name generator query cluster was very frequent and uncompetitive. Having thought about how to connect our product and the solution to this user need, I created this page.
Now this page is our first in terms of traffic and the top three in terms of backlinks.
The instruction is simple:
- compile a list of the most impossible ideas, how else can the product be useful;
- explore the content of other products that are not yet your competitors;
- make a couple of experimental pages;
- if something worked, maybe you have opened another big niche for your product.
6. Create pages of comparison with competitors
The value of such pages is that the most targeted customers come for such queries. Most likely, they have already tried the product of competitors and they did not like something.
Your task is to convey on the page by what parameters you are better than a specific competitor.
Create pages, including for small, but growing competitors. They are growing, traffic to your pages is growing too.
7. Translate pages into other popular languages
We decided not to translate the product itself, but to create product landing pages in other languages. This solution helps to get:
- users who are looking for your product in their language, but know English and are ready to use the product in English;
- users who can satisfy their need for an English-language product without even knowing English.
According to our data, a very large number of non-English-speaking users use Google’s auto-translator inside our product and that’s enough for them.
8. Create unique pictures and infographics
Such pictures are needed to get links and recognition. The most difficult choice you have to make first is to brand them or not.
We decided not to brand. Such pictures are more often taken over the Internet. And accordingly, they often put links. Besides, upon reaching the popularity of your product and blog, your brand will be recognized simply by the style of the pictures, wherever they are seen.
It is important here that:
- there was a single design concept;
- the pictures were not only beautiful but also substantial;
- you had a designer who can quickly grasp the main idea of the article and convey it with a picture.
Ideas on how to get backlinks and traffic
From external sites you need: sales, traffic, trackbacks, brand mentions. In that order.
1. Blog comments
These are the very first links that we started to build. The conversion to approving comments was small. But the links that were approved for were mostly from good blogs, with an active audience.
How to do:
- go to all articles from the top 50 for search queries related to your product;
- on good sites, you can leave comments even without a link, only with a domain name;
- ideal commentary – detailed, supplements the material of the article, and demonstrates that you carefully read the article.
In some collections, there is a form for adding a new tool, but most often you need to write to the site owner with a request for placement.
These are natural links that are valuable both to you and to the owner of the collection, as they make the list more complete.
One of the most valuable toolkit sites for us was tools.robingood.com. Its author, Italian, after the publication of the instrument, shared it in all his social networks and launched a wave of shares and likes among Italians.
If you need a list of similar sites, write in the comments – I’ll publish it there.
3. Business listings and review sites
Registration in toolboxes and business listings is even more relevant with the latest Google May Core update. Now the value of such links lies not only in Page Weight but also in demonstrating your reputation on external sites.
We went over a lot of sites. The most valuable of them are the following – g2.com, capterra.com, crosdesk.com, trustpilot.com, betalist.com. This also includes Product Hunt, but we still didn’t run on it.
How to work with such sites:
- fill your product profile to the maximum;
- use your customer base for feedback;
- use the reviews on your site.
4. Plugins for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox
Here the logic works similar to the creation of mini products.
How to do:
- choose a small but valuable function with good retention in the product;
- make a plugin that performs this function;
- carefully create the title, description, and icon;
- translate the plugin into other languages;
- start to acquire traffic from the site and email newsletters to the plugin;
- in addition to satisfied users, you get another page in the search engine results.
We now have 25k Google Chrome plugin installations. Also, we did not expect that the search traffic that goes to the plugin, and then from the plugin to our site, will be so high. As you can see in the screenshot, almost all language versions of the plugin are at the top for relevant queries.
5. Interviews with specialists
What such an interview gave us that probably will work for you:
- traffic from Google Discover to interviews;
- backlinks from blogs of interviewees;
- traffic on brand queries of a surname, a name of specialists and their companies;
- traffic from social networks of interviewees.
How to do:
- come up with interesting questions;
- write down the offer;
- gather a database of specialists;
- start with those who know you well and middle-level experts;
- when you interview famous guests, use their interview as social proof when submitting the following offers.
6. Help Center pages
Another dark horse. We rank particularly well when the Help Center was hosted on the Zendesk subdomain. For some reason, we moved to HelpScout. Search visibility has fallen, but still, we view these pages as a separate kind of traffic that needs to be worked on.
You will still write instructions for your customers on the most common questions and elements of your product. So why not immediately optimize these pages.
How to do:
- write unique useful content;
- lead users to guides from the site and newsletters;
- track which pages ranked at the top of SERP and pump them with links and content extension.
7. Product reviews from bloggers and experts
It’s good if you manage to find a blogger who writes not only on his website but also on external sites. So, if he likes your product, then with a high probability he will include it in his future articles.
I suggest doing so:
- quality is better than quantity;
- evaluate sites not only by backlink profile and traffic but also by the activity of blog readers (whether they comment), the quality of design, navigation;
- ask to make an objective review of the product;
- budget for review: from $100 to $600.
8. Freelance marketplaces
We began to receive backlinks from freelance sites spontaneously, without any investments other than the product itself. But this is our omission. It’s better to think in advance where and how users will post such links and simplify the process for them to the maximum.
What should be done:
- create a tool whose data acts as a reference point for customers and contractors;
- inform customers that they can delegate work to freelancers;
- to test how your product will be appreciated by freelance website participants, you can create some tasks as a customer and place a link to your product.
People are looking for answers to the same questions inside Quora. And many questions with answers from Quora are in the top Google. Therefore, you can receive traffic from it regularly, unlike most other external sites.
What is important to remember:
- not all topics are equally important;
- use the content from the blog, but be sure to add new thoughts and show that you delved into the user’s question;
- measure the effectiveness of responses not only by statistics inside Quora but also in Google Analytics.
My most effective answer was this one.
In the niche of SEO, digital marketing, and product management on Facebook, there are many valuable pages and groups with an active audience. I in such groups periodically find detailed answers to my questions that are not on Google.
How to do:
- enter into all thematic public pages and groups;
- regularly in detail answer user questions related to your product;
- do not skimp on the words and careful study of the problems of users.
A similar technology works, as on Facebook. It is also important to find relevant subreddits, subscribe to them, and actively help users.
Remember that some topics with Reddit also make it to the Google top for your search queries. Therefore, it is advisable to invest time in detailed answers and participation in discussions.
We have been actively working with Pinterest for several months. We did not like the results. But here a lot depends on your niche and the amount of effort.
You can also track the effectiveness of pins in Google Analytics.
13. LTD sites
Lifetime Deal (LTD) sites – resources on which you sell a lifetime subscription to your packages.
Six months ago, I already talked about our experience of launching on AppSumo. In addition to sales, this campaign has helped us a lot in SEO. Due to the 4x increase in brand queries, receiving a wave of reviews, references, and backlinks.
In addition to AppSumo, there are also Stacksocial, Lifetime Tech Deal Fans, and other lesser-known or narrow-minded sites.
Unverified but valuable ideas
There are still ideas that I have not tested in my skin, but which, according to competitors and personal feelings, will give a good result.
1. Product Hunt
In the articles that I studied on Product Hunt, the low effectiveness of this site in terms of sales is striking. But if you can get a good backlink and low-cost traffic, why not. Moreover, the preparation of checklists is already complete.
So, we plan to soon launch a campaign on Product Hunt. Add to friends and write to me if you need to vote for your product.
Here I like the example of Tim Soulo’s blog and the idea of publishing valuable and interesting articles that make it difficult to find good keywords and therefore it is better not to publish them on the site’s blog.
As far as I know, the secret of coverage is not only cool content but also the ability to get approval for the material in The Startup community, which includes more than 600k subscribers. If anyone has interesting experiences and recommendations on Medium, please share in the comments.
As a user, I don’t like Twitter. But when you start to seriously work with English-language sites and communicate with foreign experts, you see that this is a huge part of life. The activity of both a person and a company on Twitter looks like good manners.
Being able to optimize your video for YouTube and turn it into a constant source of traffic is far from the same thing. Yes, you can transform some of your text materials into a video plot.
But regular shooting, editing, design, and distribution of the video will take so much time that for noticeable results you will need to allocate for this individual. And still, it is necessary to go there.
Video content simplifies the perception of information for the user, demonstrates your face, and thus causes more confidence in the product.
Tom Hunt, a marketer who builds content marketing for a business based only on podcasts, once wrote me on Facebook. Having examined this issue, I found out that this is a separate large channel of traffic, which also requires a lot of time and money to build up. We have not tested it yet, but if we try, then I will share my experience.
All of the above ideas and instructions are not an exhaustive list. We are constantly testing new platforms and ideas for content, but we are not continuing to work on each of them.
If I had such an instruction at the beginning of the path, I would have achieved results 2 times faster. But there is one more nuance.
You need money to constantly grow organic traffic. If you do not have external investments, then you can get them only by successfully converting the users that you attracted with your first efforts. Therefore, you cannot be successful in SEO for a long period without success in marketing and product management.