SEO for SaaS Companies: A Case Study

Cadence Design Systems Inc. (Cadence, NASDAQ: CDNS) is a leading electronics design automation (EDA) software provider serving the electronics industry. The company is best known for its suite of integrated circuit design and simulation software tools. Cadence is one of only three companies that produce enterprise-level EDA software solutions serving integrated circuit designers and manufacturers.

Although Cadence is an industry leader in integrated circuit design, simulation, and analysis— prior to partnering with our SEO agency—the company hadn’t seen the same type of dominance in the printed circuit board (PCB) market segment. The integrated circuit market is dominated by multinational component manufacturers, and Cadence historically dominated the market through its relationships and the deep feature set of its advanced EDA software. In contrast, the PCB market segment is composed of individual design engineers, a huge range of smaller electronics companies, design service providers, and multinational OEMs in a range of industries.

The Opportunity

Cadence has historically positioned itself to win in the PCB design software market with competitive solutions, but experienced slower growth than its smaller competitors. After carefully assessing its position in the market and the advantages of its software suite, Cadence took a new approach to engage with design engineers at all levels with a comprehensive SEO-driven content marketing strategy. Cadence engaged with us at First Page Sage (FPS)—a Bay Area-based SEO and thought leadership marketing company—to ghostwrite content on an ongoing basis in order to dominate this space.

Regarding Cadence’s target market, Product Marketing Director Darin ten Bruggencate remarked: “We know our target customer base is looking for answers to difficult design problems using search engines like Google every day. We wanted Cadence to be the first results they saw when they entered those searches and to provide the best answers to their questions.” 

Cadence hired First Page Sage to accomplish three goals as part of their SEO content campaign:

  1. Compose SEO-driven content written and vetted by electronics engineers to be published on the company’s PCB Resources page using the hub and spoke SEO content plan
  2. Provide content strategy and research to support internal social and email marketing efforts.
  3. Identify and vet target keywords that are informational, demonstrate industry leadership, and are relevant to design engineers’ pain points.

Through judicious keyword targeting and vetting, and by implementing B2B SEO best practices in all content, our team focused on creating content targeting the following market segments:

  • Front-end electronics engineers and circuit designers
  • PCB layout engineers
  • Signal integrity/power integrity engineers
  • RF engineers

The goal in targeting these segments is to help solve audience pain points, inform the audience of Cadence’s product lines for addressing engineering pain points, and ultimately drive signups.

The Solution

Before beginning the campaign, Cadence’s PCB Resources hub page only ranked for a handful of keywords. The Resources hub page generally consisted of articles that were authored by internal team members who didn’t specialize in SEO. 

Off the bat, our team members worked with Cadence to craft a comprehensive SEO-driven keyword strategy that targeted moderate volume, easily rankable keywords with a scalable process. In addition to intentional keyword targeting, we were also intentional about following Google’s EAT/YMYL guidelines on content quality. The writers we assigned to this campaign are electronics design, simulation, and analysis experts with decades of experience. This group of writers was able to execute an intentional keyword targeting strategy with focused, actionable engineering content. When paired with the SEO strategy expertise of other members of our team, we were able to consistently publish high-quality thought leadership content that resonates with electronics engineers.

Our strategy of targeting search terms that reflect electronics design and simulation pain points follows thought leadership best practices developed by our company over time. Our writers used their firsthand knowledge and experience of this technically complex field to deliver compelling, easy-to-read content that provides actionable advice and unique insights—which is exactly what Google wants to serve to its users.

Bruggencate offers these thoughts on the strategy and content quality provided by First Page Sage: 

What sets FPS apart from other SEO firms is the focus on thought leadership and their use of real engineers to compose content. Their content allowed us to rank for our most valuable keywords in a way that also positioned us as the industry thought leader for PCB design. Other SEO and content companies just repeat conventional wisdom without providing the design insights our target audience wants and needs.

The Results

The campaign has resulted in a substantial upward trend in total keyword rankings, as shown in the graph below. These data show the total number of keywords for which Cadence’s PCB Resources page ranks in various positions in search engine results. There is extensive growth in the number of keywords ranking in all positions. Of note is the 934% increase in total keyword rankings over the course of the prior year.

Cadence keyword growth as measured by ahrefs.Ahrefs data showing an increase in total keyword rankings throughout the campaign

The increase in keyword rankings over time has pushed more traffic to Cadence’s PCB Resources page. The number of monthly organic sessions as reported using Google Analytics data shows a corresponding increase over the same time period. Organic sessions exceeded the 100,000 per month threshold in Q1 2021.

Google Analytics data shows that the FPS content strategy drives real traffic directly from major search engines like Google

The campaign results show that a long-term investment in SEO-driven technical content consistently provides higher returns than the same amount spent on PPC ads, as shown below. Indeed, Bruggencate notes “FPS not only provides us with evergreen thought leadership content, but an entire targeted strategy behind it. Over the last 3 years of working with the team at First Page Sage, we have seen our cost per conversion drop each year and our digital ad spend decrease too.”

Cost per conversion decreased substantially over time

The dedicated, long-term SEO campaign implemented by FPS led to cost decreases over time, with cost per conversion eventually dropping well below the cost of PPC ads ($0.56 per conversion as of November 30, 2020).

The long-term success of the campaign also produced the following results:

  • Record number of new subscribers, free trial requests, and user signups
  • Campaign expansion with content being leveraged for nurture email campaigns
  • Traffic to Cadence’s PCB Resources page is currently outranking competing blogs by more than 10-to-1

Future Outlook

SEO-driven content has become a cornerstone in the company’s digital marketing strategy, and the company is looking forward to applying this strategy to other software products. The SEO strategy for Cadence going forward will focus on:

  • Targeting rich snippets in search results for existing content pieces
  • Mining engineering forums for pain points content topics
  • Optimizing content allocation into different product and market segments
  • Continuously expanding the strategy into Cadence’s other product lines

Cadence plans to continue its relationship with our agency as a core part of its digital marketing strategy. Bruggencate remarks “We view our relationship with First Page Sage as a partnership. Their thought leadership campaign for Cadence goes so much deeper than your typical SEO, SEM, or digital marketing agency. For us and what we do, we must partner with someone who is comfortable taking the reigns of our inbound marketing strategy, and continue the drive for that inbound engine. That is why we choose First Page Sage.”

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