Post by Kamel Adi
Startups! I’d like to start by saying that I adore the startup community. I’ve worked at startups in the past, currently work at a startup SEO agency, and I’ve worked at a nonprofit dedicated to supporting startups. Phew! I think I hit my keyword requirement (just kidding). That being said, the list of challenges that startups with a limited budget
SaaS startups, in particular, tend to do very well with SEO for a few different reasons. Their novelty usually makes them easy to promote, online startup support communities are plentiful, content amplifiers are extensive, and they’re built on a recurring revenue model. SEO is often the best marketing investment for a growth phase SaaS startup that wants to build investor confidence with positive PR and it’s also often the most
This five-point Saas startup SEO checklist is intended to help you maximize your SEO efforts to ensure your small business website gets the attention it deserves and gets easily found by
#1: Determine Your SaaS SEO Goals
Do you know what makes SEO different for startups? Absolutely nothing as far as search engines are concerned. Google doesn’t give a fig if you’re a startup or a well-established business. That’s because search engines are entirely concerned with reading (crawling) your website so they can better understand how your website and webpages
As you’ll learn from that starter guide, Google really wants you to have a site that it can read (crawl) and also answers user questions. What goes into technically optimizing your website could easily turn this article into a TLDR piece, so let’s focus on the broad brush strokes.
The remaining ranking factors revolve around trust and authority. Your SEO goals, in turn, should balance these three things (technical optimization, authority, and trust) with your macro business objectives. For example, do you want to drive user sign ups for your SaaS startup? Then your SEO goals should be to have a technically optimized website that Google trusts and views as authoritative for the keyword and searches performed by your target user. Easy, right? That’s an extremely simplified statement, but it should help you to start conceptualizing your goals without diving too deep into the many layers that comprise technical SEO, website authority, and trust factors.
#2: Create a User Research Journey
What, pray tell, is a user research journey? Your goal here is to identify your target website visitor and figure out what they’d search for and why they’d be searching for that. Let’s make one for a fictitious SaaS startup that uses Ai to write articles for you (I wish).
Once you’ve created your customer research journey you’ll have an idea of what your target audience is thinking for every step in their decision making process. Well, you’ll at least have a better idea. At this point, you need to figure out which search terms your customers are using at the various stages of their journey so you can position yourself in the results. For the example above, we can see that our persona wants to hire a writer to ghost write on her professional blog.
#3 Identify Keywords Related to Your SaaS Startup
Start by installing a nifty chrome extension called Keywords Everywhere. It pulls in search volume, CPC and competition data for almost all the keyword research tools out there. Our target user in the above example might punch in some initial searches like this:
Writers for hire
Let’s see what kind of results we get.
Do you need help with your website?Services We Offer:
- Medical Website Design
- Health WordPress Development
- Website Maintenance
- Medial SEO & Digital Marketing
As we can see, the top results are saturated with ads and job listings. A quick glance tells us that the pertinent results are all landing pages where our target has to submit a request for a quote. Being in an initial research phase, she’ll most likely scroll down a bit more to the organic search results hoping to find something a little more low effort with transparent pricing. That’s where we want out Ai startup to live, search-wise.
Let’s punch in the “writers for hire” query.
Here we see results with transparent pricing. The user is likely to click on these results, but are there different search terms that could work better? Our nifty keyword tool tells us that search volume is low and the competition and CPC are pretty high, but “content writers” has a whopping 49,000 monthly searches compared to the measly 720 monthly searches for “writer for hire.”
In other words, we’re going to focus our content on the keyword “content writers” since the competition is lower and the search volume is massively higher. Do keep in mind that the likelihood that you’ll rank for those keywords depends on the factors I mentioned earlier, so you’ll need to consistently show search engines that your website and pages on your website relate to the keyword “content writers.” If you want to see where your website currently sits on the authority and trust metrics compared to your main competitors, then you can use CanIRank SEO tool to do so.
So how do you get your startup website on that coveted first page?
#4 Create and Amplify Startup Marketing Content
Now that you have some idea of what your target persona is searching for and you’ve got a better idea on how your website stacks up compared to your competitors, you’ll need to come up with some content that speaks to those search keywords. If your website is fairly new then odds are your authority and trust ratings are pretty low. One way to improve in this area is create and amplify content.
Start by sharing your story
Luckily for you, there are tons of organizations that focus exclusively on supporting startups. If you have a compelling story or you’re creating a compelling product, they’ll share a piece written about you. Another great way to build brand authority and generate backlinks is by creating a high value content piece on the history of your product when sharing your story. Take one of our client’s as an example, online PDF editors may seem like a hard industry to make interesting, but creating a history of the PDF content piece, you can educate your users, attract site traffic and increase backlinks all while improving your brand authority. Getting backlinks from sites that share founder features, founder spotlights, etc. will help you to start building your website authority as well. It can seem pretty time consuming, but when you have a new website it’s important that you start sending signals to Google that your website is getting the thumbs up from other websites (aka backlinks). If you’ve done some keyword research ahead of time, you’ll be at an advantage down the road if you use them in the content that’s published.
Tailor your content to your target user
What does Carley, our persona, care about? It’s probably event planning. If you find that this is a sizable community, you might start creating content that speaks to them or whatever works for your particular SaaS startup. Another good place to get some ideas is to look at the “People Also Ask” box when you do a Google search. They’re great for finding topic ideas and give you a good sense of Google’s intent for the keyword.
Amplify your content
What sound does a tree make if there’s nobody there to hear it? I think you get the analogy. If you make all of this amazing content and then just leave it there, you’re not going to reach very many people. You’re going to have to amplify that grade A content. You can start with low hanging fruit like Reddit threads, Quora questions, forums, and link roundups. To get a better sense of how to get some backlinks and amplify content you can check out this article on how to get backlinks written by my colleague. Startups typically run pretty lean marketing teams and every little bit of marketing that you invest in should be maximised, so I also recommend integrating as much of what you create into your publically oriented marketing assets. One great tool is a social media aggregator that allows you to display your social media engagement directly on your website which can do a lot for establishing social proof for your new website.
#5 Scale Your Startup SEO
You don’t have to start with a full-blown SEO strategy to start addressing SEO and marketing your SaaS startup. You certainly don’t want to use any black hat tactics, but keeping the items in the checklist in mind is a great place to start. Set some goals, identify your targets, do some keyword research, and start amplifying your content. If you don’t have the resources to create a super technically optimized website, then start by at least focusing your content on keywords and search intent. You can always go back and hire someone to come in and technically optimize what you’ve created. If you’re looking at implementing SEO marketing, then find an agency that can help with a few things like writing content specs for you, defining a customer research journey, or building audience personas. As you grow profitable and add SaaS users you can always scale up your content production and marketing campaigns, but at least you’ll be on the right track coming out of the gate.
Invest in paid ads
It doesn’t hurt to skip in line if you’re a startup. While you’re working on your startup SEO and building your website authority, ranking for your target keywords is going to be tough starting out. Investing in paid ads can help inform your startup marketing and help you start pulling in some users right away. Funnel.io’s Complete Guide to AdWords Conversions does an amazing job of laying out common conversion goals.
Don’t hire a guru
Finally, let’s address SEO as an industry. It’s highly valued by organizations big and small, but it’s often misunderstood. It’s a facet of marketing that’s abused by any number of gurus, shamans, and SEO wizards promising overnight first page rankings. Then there’s the plethora of horror stories that came about after Google’s algorithm updates. Many businesses have been sold a bag of goods and they’ve rightfully opted out of work with SEO’s who don’t establish transparent business practices. Before hiring someone, consider these 11 questions to ask an SEO agency.
If you looking for more SEO strategies for startups, check out this 40 point SEO checklist from Search Engine Land.
To Summarize use these following SEO strategies for your startup to generate buzz and drive traffic to grow your busness.
Strategy #1: Determine Your Startup SEO Goals
Strategy #2: Create a User Research Journey
Strategy #3: Identify Keywords Related to Your Startup
Strategy #4: Create and Amplify Startup Marketing Content
– Start by sharing your story
– Tailor your content to your target user
– Amplify your content
Strategy #5: Scale Your Startup SEO
About the Author
Author: Kamel is a Digital Marketing Consultant at a startup SEO agency and a contributor at Startup Atlanta. When not working on digital marketing campaigns, Kamel can be found kayaking, hiking, playing tennis, or catching up on his favorite sci-fi shows.