What are some of the questions that keep SaaS startup founders up at night? Having gone through this list of 69 marketing questions that all SaaS companies should ponder, we decided to try to answer a few that are usually very important for early-stage startups. The answers should help your SaaS startup with a few of the fundamentals to establish a solid base for future growth and profitability.
We begin with one of the main pillars of digital marketing for any business – search engine optimization:
“How do we get our product page to rank in search results? Nobody is dying to link to a page promoting our product but it’s the shortest path to conversion.”
The good news is that backlinks to pages promoting your product are not the only determining factors for your pages’ ranking in search results. The less exciting news is that it can take anywhere from three to six months for a brand new page to start to be ranked by Google, and much longer than that to get to the top 10 search results – the average Top10 ranking page is 2+ years old.
Yet, that’s no reason to despair. If you play all your cards right regarding search engine optimization (SEO), you can reach your target customers and get significant leads and conversions from search engine traffic. Here are the basics:
1. Understand Google’s ranking factors
To know what influences the search engine ranking of your SaaS product page and website in general, have a look at this comprehensive list of what Google takes into account to rank a page. Whether it’s domain, page or site level factors, backlinks or user interaction, you need to know what to look for when planning or optimizing your pages and measure appropriately. You can then start to optimize those elements with the greatest impact on your page’s search ranking.
2. Get your website and URL structure right
Your website should be easy to understand and navigate by both human visitors and the Googlebots that will crawl it, so plan the architecture of your website to be as simple and logical as possible. URLs should be descriptive enough to give a good understanding of their contents and you should avoid having multiple versions of the same page, as Google’s algorithm will penalize duplicate content.
3. Keyword research & optimization
What words and phrases is your target audience searching for online when looking for solutions to their problems? Think about what your SaaS startup is trying to solve for people and then see how your solutions match up to what they are looking for – you can use keyword research tools like Moz Keyword Explorer, SEMrush, Google Trends or Answer the Public.
You can then use the results of your research to define what keywords to optimize each page on your website for – but avoid keyword stuffing!
If you have already created your website, use the Google Search Console to see what existing keywords you already rank for – and how. Here, the impressions count for a particular keyword is a reasonably accurate estimate of search volume, so you can see which keywords you might need to boost rankings for and which of them are not really doing anything for your traffic.
When planning keyword optimizations, don’t overlook commercial keywords – whereas visitors searching for informational keywords (e.g. “how to…” / “free resources” / “where to find…” etc.) may get you traffic, those that search for commercial keywords (i.e. “best software products” / “top 10 providers…” / “review” / “buy” / “discount” / etc.) are much more likely to get you conversions.
4. Optimize your pages for mobile and speed
Is your product page optimized for mobile use? With 52.4% of worldwide Internet traffic now originating on mobile devices, Google has rolled out its mobile-first indexing which produces different rankings in mobile versus desktop searches. Don’t miss out on that share of mobile traffic by having a page that is not mobile-optimized.
Furthermore, since mid-2018, a page’s loading speed has become a ranking factor in mobile search. Thus, you should adjust the sizes of the image files used on your pages, use browser caching, script handling, and minification to make sure your page loads as fast as possible for visitors.
5. Create relevant content for your audience and make it easily discoverable by Google
Publishing quality, relevant content for your target audiences, is the best way to attract traffic, backlinks, social sharing, and to increase your authority in your area of business. You can publish informative content consistently (constant activity is key), publish case studies or other types of content elsewhere on your website, and update your existing content regularly to signal search engines that your site is active and relevant.
If your content is good, it will be shared by visitors on social media and it will also pick up backlinks organically. Try to facilitate that by implementing sharing tools on your pages (which will also help you to track and measure their impact).
To make your content assets surface in search results, make sure you use proper metadata and schema markup to “explain” the content to Google. This goes for all the pages on your website – implement brief but descriptive titles, clear and appealing meta descriptions, and relevant alt tags for images/ videos, to raise their prominence in search results.
6. Invest some time in genuine link building
Buying inbound links will not help your product page – it will only get it penalized. Therefore, even if genuine link building takes a lot of manual, time-consuming work, it can pay off.
Also, don’t forget to link your PR efforts to your SEO strategy; make sure your brand coverage receives a lot of links!
Use a tool like Ahrefs’ Link Intersect to identify the best pages to approach with requests for links. Monitor your brand mentions with Google Alerts, Mention or BuzzSumo, and ask the websites that mention your brand to also include backlinks if they haven’t done so already. Here are some more ideas that could help you with link building.
Here are some more useful SEO tools you might use to optimize your website and improve your ranking.
We hope these tips will help you kickstart your startup’s digital marketing strategy. However, they cover only a small part of what you need to plan and calculate in order to grow your SaaS company. You can easily get bogged down in the marketing complexities of balancing growth, CAC, MRR, churn, CX, and so on, which will take away from your focus on the actual product. We will cover more SaaS startup marketing tactics and strategy in future blog posts, but in the meantime, you should not be afraid to ask for marketing advice from established experts in the field who can help you make fewer mistakes and grow faster.
You can also leverage a dedicated marketing mentorship platform such as MonkHD, which can put you in touch with marketing experts from Hubspot, Drift, Zendesk and more. They can help you with actionable advice tailored to your specific business model and circumstances, so don’t hesitate to contact them.
For more useful tips and ideas for digital business, don’t forget to also subscribe to our blog!