B2B SaaS SEO: Best Practices for 2023
B2B SaaS companies rely on recurring revenue and a steady source of leads to grow ARR. Their main vulnerability outside of direct competition is the volatility of their subscriber base, which can surge or subside based on seasonality, industry trends, and macroeconomic factors. Thus, their marketing strategy must revolve around organic channels that reliably produce leads without a substantial rise in cost year over year.
While some budget should go to paid advertising to kickstart lead generation and give prospects additional brand touchpoints, the majority of the budget should go towards content-based activities. Used properly, content can both generate and nurture leads.
A mixture of thought leadership marketing and SEO is the ideal fit for B2B SaaS as it accomplishes both lead generation and lead nurturing and produces an exceptional long-term ROI. We’ve created this guide to help B2B SaaS teams find their footing in the complex landscape of thought leadership-based SEO.
How To Create a B2B SaaS SEO Strategy
Most B2B SaaS companies fall into two categories: (1) platforms that are tightly integrated with their clients’ operations, with long contracts and correspondingly long sales cycles; or (2) subscription-based tools with fickle userbases that switch tools with some frequency. By consistently publishing excellent content that is designed to rank highly in Google’s search results, B2B SaaS companies can create a steady flow of warm leads to their website. This process is the core of B2B SaaS SEO strategy, and its 5 elements and corresponding best practices are shown in the image below:
Following each of the above best practices is necessary to not only rank highly on Google, but also convert organic traffic into actual leads for your sales team.
Best Practice 1: Develop B2B SaaS Customer Personas
SEO begins with deeply understanding your audience. Customer personas, which take the form of an in-depth summary of a fictional individual personifying a single member of your target audience, help you not only identify who that audience is but also what types of keywords they search and what content will speak to them.
An effective B2B SaaS customer persona will answer the following questions:
- What kind of company does the audience member work for?
- What is their job title and what are their responsibilities?
- Are they the key decision maker, and if not, how close are they?
- How can they benefit from your software?
Personas can then be prioritized based on their expected customer lifetime value to ensure keywords with the highest possible return are targeted first. Consider the example persona below:
|George is a COO of an eCommerce firm that has recently evolved into a mid-size operation. It is his job to ensure that the company’s operations scale properly to meet its growing customer base. His level of success is determined by how equipped every department is to perform its day-to-day operations. He is looking for software solutions to equip his customer support, sales, and IT associates with the tools they need to keep up with the increased demand.
He would benefit from an all-in-one customer service management software that can automate the logistics of his customer support department, provide holistic customer profiles for his sales team, and give IT professionals a simpler way to analyze and maintain his company’s network. He also has the power to make the final purchasing decision for this tool.
As you can see, the persona incorporates answers to all of the four questions listed above. The additional details included also help paint a more precise picture of who the audience member is, and by extension, what keywords they search on Google.
Best Practice 2: Identify High-Volume, Transactional Keywords
Once you know your target audience, you can begin identifying keywords and phrases they would likely search on Google when they’re encountering problems or pain points. These keywords—ones that indicate a searcher is in the market for your software—are transactional. Examples of keywords wish varying levels of transactionality are shown in the table below.
|Topic: “Customer Service Management”|
|Highly Transactional Keywords||Research-Oriented Keywords||Non-Transactional Keywords|
|customer service management software||customer service management strategy||how to write a customer service management proposal|
|customer service management companies||customer service management methods||customer service management key terms|
|customer service management solutions||customer service management best practices||customer service management news|
Highly transactional keywords in B2B SaaS industries typically specify searches for software, solutions, or providers. Your SEO campaign should target these keywords first, as they are the most likely to generate warmer leads. Research-oriented keywords are still somewhat transactional, as some of your target audience may be doing research to prepare themselves to make a purchase. These are a lower priority: although they are not highly transactional and will not generate as many leads, they will build brand recognition and trust.
Non-transactional keywords are those that are searched purely for research purposes. While your target audience could search for them, most searchers of these keywords aren’t ready to make a purchase in the near future. As such, these are not worth targeting in most B2B SEO campaigns.
Determining Keyword Search Volume
In addition to being transactional, the keywords your campaign targets must have high search volume. The simplest way to determine if a keyword has enough search volume to be included in your SEO strategy is to begin typing it in the Google search bar and see if the keyword appears in a list of 10 in the autofill, as shown below:
More in-depth options for researching keyword search volume include SEO tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and Moz. These tools provide comprehensive analytics on keywords that include search volume, competition from other websites, and many other metrics that can help inform your SEO strategy.
Best Practice 3: Utilize the Hub & Spoke Model for Content Strategy
Most B2B SaaS companies have many potential transactional keywords with high search volume they can target. The best way to organize these keywords into a comprehensive SEO strategy is to use the Hub & Spoke Model. This model divides pages into those that target broad “hub” keywords, and those that target narrow “spoke” keywords which contain a hub keyword in its entirety. Ranking for the hub gives your business more authority in your industry niche, building brand awareness and customer trust. Ranking for the more specific spokes directly generates leads.
Take our example keywords from the table above. The hub for each of these keywords would consist of a page targeting “customer service management” with each other keyword in the table serving as a spoke. This hub page would link to each spoke, not only serving as a table of contents for searchers, but also signaling to Google that your site is a niche expert on the topic. A typical B2B SaaS website should target 3-5 hubs in total.
CHOOSING HUB KEYWORDS
Hub keywords must meet 2 criteria:
Choosing a hub keywords that does not meet both of these criteria makes your SEO campaign much less likely to generate a significant number of new leads, and will greatly hinder your eventual ROI.
Best Practice 4: Create Content That Satisfies Search Intent
Google’s algorithm prioritizes content that answers the intent behind each search query, or in other words, a keyword’s search intent. Search intent should inform not just the content of your pages, but also its page type. The following table outlines 7 types of search intent, and the best page type for each:
For example, searchers researching “top customer service management companies” are likely looking to evaluate different options in the industry and would appreciate a comparison blog that covers the major players. Searchers typing “customer service management software” are likely looking for an individual option to buy, so they would be better served by a landing page that provides a quick, comprehensive summary of business USPs.
The content on a page must also match the search intent of the targeted keyword. It must be precise, answering the exact question that brought the searcher to Google; be personalized, using the language of their industry and examples that are relevant to their day-to-day problems; and be the right portion size, providing an answer that is of an appropriate length and detail. Meeting all three of these criteria is necessary for a page to be considered excellent SEO content, and only by doing so is it possible to rank on the first page of Google.
CONTENT PUBLISHING FREQUENCY
According to our research, B2B SaaS companies should publish at least two pieces of content per week to see significant ROI from SEO. A regular publication cadence will ensure consistent lead flow, increase domain authority, and expand keyword coverage. More frequent publishing tends to increase ROI, but is often difficult for internal teams to maintain without jeopardizing content quality.
Best Practice 5: Track KPIs and Adjust Strategy Accordingly
SEO is a long-term strategy that takes 4-6 months to begin showing results. Mistakes are costly, and tracking the right KPIs is essential to effectively adjusting your strategy as needed. The table below outlines important SEO KPIs to track and provides benchmarks to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy:
Campaigns that fall short of the above benchmarks will need to adjust their keyword targeting, increase content quality, or a combination of both. For example, low conversion rates are often the result of poor UX and unclear CTAs, but are exacerbated by targeting insufficiently transactional keywords. Similarly, high bounce rates often indicate that your content is not well-matched to search intent, and does not provide adequate skimmability through infographics, tables, or charts.
REPURPOSING SEO CONTENT FOR OTHER CHANNELS
A single piece of high-quality content can be repurposed for multiple channels, greatly increasing the efficiency of your marketing budget. A single blog article can be reshared on LinkedIn, form the basis for a webinar, or be expanded into a gated white paper. Using content in this way increases its reach, which translates into increased conversions, leads, and ROI resulting from your SEO campaign.
Getting Help With B2B SaaS SEO
Developing and implementing a successful B2B SaaS SEO strategy requires knowledge, experience, and a palette of resources and tools to help ensure your strategy is continually optimized for Google’s evolving search algorithms. Many companies find it more streamlined and cost-effective to partner with an experienced agency. We have over 14 years of experience using SEO to generate leads, resulting in exceptional ROI for our clients. If you’re interested in partnering with us to generate high-quality leads for your B2B SaaS company, feel free to contact us.
Evan Bailyn is a bestselling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.