I recently had the opportunity to do an audit and create a short SAAS SEO roadmap for an awesome company called Filestage.
I was asked to look at a certain cluster on their website and guide them towards improving the organic reach, the organic traffic they get and how can they expand more on that certain cluster of theirs.
Since it contained a lot of good and valuable information, that could be used by a SAAS Company, I will be sharing it with you today.
"Filestage is a file sharing, review and approval platform which makes working with images, videos, documents easy as hell.
If you are working with people, whether it's a small business or a huge agency, I'm sure you came across issues with communication about a certain project or file. Countless back and forth emails, hey can you change this and that and then you wait two days for a response.
Filestage aims for solving that issue by having a very easy to understand and intuitive software for handling filesharing, reviews, approvals."
A big shoutout to Filestage, lovely people working there and they have a great culture!
Before We Begin
You know, there are thousands of websites and SEO agencies offering free SAAS SEO Strategy advice and most usually, it comes down to three things:
1.) Keyword Research
2.) Create Content (Content Marketing Strategy)
3.) Build Backlinks
And while these are essentially true, this kind of strategy is very bland, broad and could be applied to any website.
Since as said, there are thousands of websites offering the same information, I have decided to take a different approach and actually show you a step-by-step process of a SAAS SEO Strategy while showcasing how a SAAS business is having these issues and how I think is the best to handle them.
Step 1: Auditing your SAAS Website
The very first step of a SAAS SEO Strategy is actually SEO auditing your website and taking care of the core quality issues.
Of course, for Filestage and that selected cluster, the work was done by me, but if you decide to do it yourself, you have to follow a certain procedure.
We have a detailed part in our Free Guide on doing SEO Audits, so feel free to check that out!
Why is getting rid of these simple issues (like meta issues) important for SAAS companies?
Although these seem trivial, more and more Core Algorithm updates have been fixated on content quality and site-wide quality, so it is important to fix them if you are doing SEO for SAAS websites.
“As explained, pages that drop after a core update don't have anything wrong to fix. This said, we understand those who do less well after a core update change may still feel they need to do something. We suggest focusing on ensuring you're offering the best content you can. That's what our algorithms seek to reward.”
Having all of the most common SAAS SEO Issues fixed on every page gives a great foundation for growth.
Many of these are so easy to fix, that usually, they slip through the cracks and no-one notices them.
On a small scale, they don’t correlate with ranking decreases or ranking drops, but on a bigger website, these can get into the range of thousands and can get quickly out of hand.
Since Filestage is receiving a significant amount of organic traffic per month, Google trusts it and is way easier on these issues, like it would be for a new or smaller website.
So let's say your SAAS website is brand new, not getting any organic traffic, filled with these basic, core quality issues. If you are not fixing these issues straight away, the possibility of you ranking in search engines is much lower to start with.
You have a lot more weight on your shoulders from Google to fix these issues, than an already established saas website, which is receiving organic traffic.
The Most Common Core Quality Issues You Need to Be Looking for On Your SAAS Website (Found on Filestage too):
The most common issues are going to be meta tag issues.
Too Long Titles:
If a Title is Too Long, Google truncates it and will look wrong. This can directly affect your CTR (Click Through Rate), how many people actually click on your listing. My personal SEO tests have shown me that Google still looks at everything above the “SEO Industry Standard” 65 characters, but for CTR Purposes, I recommend optimizing them.
Keep in mind that Google can update the Title of the page if it doesn’t find it descriptive enough.
Too Long Meta Descriptions:
If your description is too long, the same thing happens, Google truncates the end of it at approximately 165 characters. Make Sure all of the Meta Descriptions are no longer than 165 characters. Use as few stop words as possible.
Missing Meta Descriptions:
If you don’t have a Meta Description set, Google will pull one for you, depending on what it thinks is the best result for that query. Well, most of the time it isn’t the best. Make sure all of the pages have a Meta Description set.
Google looks at H1’s (amongst many other things) to understand what your content is about. Although with the introduction of HTML5, having multiple H1’s is not an issue anymore, it is still a good practice to only have one for communication a clear structure, not just for crawlers but for your customers as well.
Core Web Vitals:
Google has rolled out an Algorithm Update that focuses on Page Experience, Core Web Vital metrics.
This didn’t have a great effect on rankings as they have announced, but still, it is important to fix these issues, not to please Google primarily, but to have a better, faster loading website and increase the number of people that stay on the website and convert and decrease the number of people leave.
Many of these issues on your saas website can be and usually are site-wide, which means that they will have to be fixed on a site-wide basis.
These things, like Unused CSS and JS (commonly generated by third-party plugins or the theme itself), can be easily fixed by deferring them (only if they are not critical), making them load slower.
There can be of course individual issues on each of the pages, that are unique, like not properly sized images, so I recommend taking a look at each of your pages.
Internal Anchor Text Over-Optimization:
One of the biggest issues Filestage is facing currently (sitewide - not only in the cluster I helped them with) is internal anchor text over-optimization.
As part of the technical SAAS SEO audit, I analyzed the internal links coming in and out of this cluster.
Out of the 39 Pages in this cluster 13 of them are linking to the Project Management Tools page, with the same anchor text.
If this came from the navigation, that would be perfectly fine, but these internal links are contextual, which make the page heavily over-optimised for the target anchor.
Internal anchors are very hard to over-optimize. You can get away with a variation of the target keyword and you will be fine.
I recommend adding this technical SEO audit part into your saas SEO strategy and checking your own internal links as well.
If you have found that you have the same issue, I can recommend two things:
1.) For each of the clusters you have on your website, have a clear internal linking structure planned, even for future articles.
2.) For previous content, go back and fix over-optimization by adding keyword variations instead of exact match keywords as the anchor text.
The best option is to look at the Google Search Console data you have for ideas on new internal anchors. This can not only give you ideas but can give you keywords that the page is already getting impressions for.
This means that link juice can pass through these internal links, with the correct anchor text variation and it can actually increase rankings.
The same can be done with some competition analysis. You can look on any SEO software for the keywords you or your competitors are ranking for and use those as internal anchors.
Step 2: Quick Wins | Optimizing High Performers
The best part of any successful SEO strategy is going for quick wins.
Since Filestage is a saas company with a long history, their website already had a good amount of content. Some of them perform good, some of them perform poorly.
In this section, if you have an already established saas business with an older website, what I recommend you do is optimize the high performing pages and fix the low performing pages.
Who doesn't love quick wins?
Since pages that are already doing somewhat good, already have trust, authority with Google, the chances of ranking for more target keywords and getting more leads by optimizing an already goodly positioned page is much higher than with a brand new page.
So, let's look at how you can get more organic traffic, leads, sales by doing search engine optimization on the pages that are already bringing in traffic!
2.1 Structure Optimization
Before we add any new content to these pages, we will have to make sure the structure of these pages is fully optimized or if anything can be added to it.
Google is always looking for the pages that answer the most questions. If your pages have information, that answers questions that others don’t, you will rank better and have better topicality.
To Optimize The Structure, we will be looking at Google, for a few things:
- People Also Ask: Are there any questions there that we could add to the page that isn’t answered yet?
- Google Autocomplete: Are there any autocomplete queries, questions that could be added to the page?
- Search Suggestions: Are there any search suggestions that are related to your keyword and could be added as a section?
- Google Search Console Data: Are there any long-tail keywords, or questions (we can find this using a Regex filter) that you are getting impressions for, but you are not ranking?
- Image Search: Are there any image entities that we could talk about on the page?
- Zero Search Volume Keywords: Are there any keywords/questions in Ahrefs/Semrush which shows 0 Search Volume? Most of the time these get decent traffic, only tools don’t have the data to tell.
We list all of these into a Sheet, compare it with the current structure of the website and if there are any questions that we can answer in the article, we will add them.
The goal here is not to create a skyscraper article with more information and make the article longer, but to improve the user experience by answering more questions related to the query.
Google uses Unique Information Gain Score (Google Patent) for this.
The Unique Information Score is a score that is used to calculate the unique information amount within your content according to your competitors.
It is not enough to be original (passing copyscape), but at the same time, you should convey the questions your competitors didn’t or cannot answer, with the rules applying to the content length, which is as short as possible, having as much information in that segment as possible.
2.2 NLP and Missing Entity Optimization
When it comes to optimizing high performing pages, the most important thing to do is to include missing entities that are relevant to your topic.
The easiest and most convenient way of finding and adding missing entities in your content is using a software called Surfer SEO.
This tool allows you to audit your website based on the top competitors and give you specific recommendations and entities that your competitors included in their content, but you don't have.
The more related entities you talk about in your article, the more topical you will become for Google.
But in some cases, Surfer SEO might not find all of the missing entities you need to include in your content.
For example, Surfer SEO might not have the following entities, but Google thinks they are related:
To find these outlying missing entities, you can do manual research. This includes searching in Google, on Wikipedia and using other tools as well.
The best tools for this are:
- Entity Explorer
- Missing Topics
These tools can give you great inside what to write about and what type of entities to include in your content.
2.3 Regular Scheduled Updates for Freshness
Ranking an article is not enough, once it is up, it should be frequently updated.
If your page is not updated and Crawlers find the same information every time they crawl your page, they will less frequently visit it after. This is because they don’t want to waste resources on stale content.
“The web crawl interval of a document is determined through an iterative process and updated dynamically by the search engine after every visit to the document by a web crawler. A multi-tier data structure is employed for managing the web crawl order of billions of documents on the Internet.“
Even if it is just changing a very short section or adding some updated information, each article should be updated every three months.
If necessary, you can check the server logs to see how frequently Google Bot visits the said page and the content update frequency can be upped.
2.4 Stealing Featured Snippets
Every article on your website that doesn’t have a featured snippet in Google yet, should be optimized for it if the target SERP has one showing up.
In order to steal these featured snippets for each article, you have to analyze first what Google is looking for:
Is it a table? Is it an H2? Is it a List? Is it a straight answer to a question?
What kind of structure does the competitor have on their website?
Once you have the correct structure, you will have to write the content.
This needs to answer the query clearly while avoiding having a huge number of hops to get from the subject of the question to the answer.
In most cases, you can only appear on a Featured Snippet if you were on Position 5 or above.
2.5 Add FAQ Schema
The best thing you can do to increase the real estate you take up in the SERPs with your website is to include an FAQ schema on your page. This is a piece of code, paired with a written FAQ that you can add to your website.
This schema is very easy to create with online tools, or manually.
There are a few rules:
- The questions and answers should be on the page too and they have to be exactly the same.
- You shouldn’t directly answer the query in the FAQ schema. That way people won’t click on your listing and can actually hurt your CTR.
- I recommend adding at least 4 Questions and Answers
FAQ Schema is a great way of increasing your Click Through Rate with the minimum investment.
Step 3: Fixing Low Performers
Unfortunately, not every page on your website is going to be a high performer. If it was, you probably wouldn't be reading this article about SAAS SEO. 🙂
At Slothio, we call the pages that are doing bad in terms of rankings and organic traffic "Low Performers".
The most common problem for these pages is either over or under optimization. You can either include your target keyword in too many places, so it counts as spammy or you can have it not enough times.
3.1 Rewriting / Removing / Adding Content to Low Performers
In order to fix these articles, you will have to check the structure (like in Section 2.1) and do an NLP Audit (preferably with Surfer) on them.
Once you have the data, the content either needs to be fully rewritten, get shortened or needs more content added to it.
The process is similar as with high performers, but in this case, we are not just adding content to the page, we are actually fixing it.
As a general rule, if your website is getting a lot of traffic and a fresh page you have just released isn’t getting into the Top 40s in Google instantly, it usually means that there is something wrong with the article.
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Step 4: New Content | Broadening the Topical Map
Once we have optimized the high performer pages in the cluster and have fixed the low performer ones, we should be moving towards creating new content and broadening the Topical Map of your website.
This can be done in several ways:
- Regular Keyword Research using Ahrefs
- Reverse Engineering Competitors Rankings and Site Structure
- Google Trends Related Topics
- Google Knowledge Graph
What is really important here is not just to rank for random queries, but for the ones that can bring in new leads through informational traffic.
For example, Project Management, according to Google is related to these queries:
"project management, project manager, project managers, project plan, project team, team members, project management software, project management institute, project management process, project life cycle, work breakdown structure, execution phase, project management tool, communication plan, project management tools, project scope, gantt chart, project execution, project goals, successful project, gantt charts, triple constraint, project success, business case, project closure, project schedule, critical path, project charter, project planning, task management, kanban"
In order for Google to understand what kind of topic you cover, you need to hit on every single of these individual entities.
4.1 Creating a Content Plan and Planning Silos
To be efficient and have new articles coming out frequently, you will need to create a content plan.
This content plan should have every piece of content that you are going to release in the next 12 months.
At Slothio, it usually looks something like this:
It is not only important because you can efficiently plan ahead, but it’s important to have a good foundation for planning silos on the website.
For Silos, we use a specific type of silo (thank you Kyle Roof), which let's you focus link juice and authority on targeted pages.
This is a closed Silo, with internal links circling around. Keep in mind that no internal links are going out to other articles other than the Silo pages themselves.
This makes whatever link juice get into that silo, spun around the silo and all of the pages are going to benefit from it.
At the same time, supporting articles are pushing up the main articles' topical relevance.
With the content plan done, these Silos can be easily planned.
4.2 Creating New Content
According to the content plan and the silos mentioned above, you can start creating content.
Our go-to process for writing content is creating the structure, like mentioned in Section 2.1 and then using that structure writing NLP optimized content using Surfer SEO.
I highly recommend going after zero/low search volume keywords first (found previously in your keyword research), as those can be very easy to rank for (especially for a new website) and can ramp up a good sum of traffic.
With the right optimization and right silos, you won’t have to do a ton of link building, other than if it is a very competitive niche.
But, link building is still a very important part of any SAAS SEO campaign.
The first part for every page that you are trying to build links to is defining the anchor text ratio you are shooting for and how many links you need.
A few years ago it was enough to have a set percentage of target anchors, topical anchors, branded and misc. Anchors and you would be in the safe.
Now, it is much harder. For every keyword, the anchor text ratio is different and should be analyzed from the data of the Top 3 results.
It is also very easy to over-optimize yourself and get a filter on your website.
For example, the first result for “project management” has a 16% target anchor ratio.
In other niches, this can be 5%, but can be 50%.
The number of backlinks needed can also vary based on the keyword. Keep in mind that if your website has a decent On-Page you won’t need that many links, compared to saas companies whose websites are not properly optimized.
Outreaching for backlinks is getting harder and harder. Most of the website owners know they can get paid for placing a link, so unless you have something great to offer, they won’t do it for free.
Here are a few of the Link Building Techniques that we generally use at Slothio:
- Simple Outreach: We scrape the internet for relevant websites and emails and using a mass email campaigns, reach out to them via a template message. This usually gets a lower reply rate.
- Shotgun Skyscraper: This method heavily relies on Skyscraper Articles. You choose one keyword that has a very high Keyword Difficulty in Ahrefs, which basically show that it is extremely linked. You write an article on the topic which is better than your competitors and reverse engineer your competitor's backlinks, reaching out to those people to link to you instead. Through the skyscraper article we then, with internal links funnel the link juice around the website, main pages.
- Podcasts: If you or someone in the company appeared on podcasts, it’s a great way of securing links. Usually, these are not too powerful, but they are still useful. Ask the podcast hosts to link to your website on the published podcast episode pages
- Writing Statistic Articles: Writing information about industry-related statistics can be a great link magnet. For example, for Filestage, writing about "how many hours do companies spend on communication yearly and how much can you reduce it to with a good file-sharing software" can be a great way of attaining links.
This way you can attain links from news websites, websites looking for statistics. After that, just spread the link juice with internal links.
Now you know how to do SAAS SEO yourself or what to look out for when hiring a SAAS SEO Agency.
I've had a lot of fun creating this B2B SAAS SEO Roadmap.
A strong SAAS SEO Strategy combined with a good inbound marketing strategy can skyrocket the number of leads that you get from organic traffic, so make sure you hit every checkmark mentioned in this SAAS SEO Case Study!
Do You Want More Customers?
If you are looking to generate more customers, check out this guide and learn how.
You'll find 5 steps that will help fix the most important things on your website today!