Last Updated on by Artem K.
If you are looking to rank your content fast with SaaS SEO, you are in the right place because that’s what LinksHero, a link building service agency, is all about!
In today’s post/tutorial I share 11 actionable lessons that you can apply immediately to improve your SaaS blog’s rankings.
These are the lessons that I learned by working with top-tier SaaS companies both, rising and established producing results like these:
Let’s get right to it.
Lesson 1. Create Topic Clusters
For the rest of this tutorial, I’m going to assume we are working on pushing a time-tracking SaaS that can be used by employees, freelancers, remote workers, and small businesses.
Here is the thing – it doesn’t matter at what stage you are in, even if you have a fairly high DR (50+), you still want to be pushing out content in highly related batches of articles that you can then interlink together.
I can’t overemphasize just how important this is…for one single reason – somehow it helps to rank all your content so much easier…even if you don’t employ link building for your SaaS brand.
The logic behind that is simple – Google respects authority on any given subject.
Backlinks that come from other reputable websites are one way to indicate that authority.
The abundance of content that covers every single bit on a given subject – is another way.
In fact, the power of this method is still well underappreciated, and…you have to use that to your advantage.
Building these “topic clusters” is not rocket science as well – you just need to find everything that’s relevant to the keyword you want to rank for the most and…write about every single bit of it.
Here is how you do it for Search Engine Optimization:
Step 1. Go to SurferSEO’s Content Planner and plug in your keyword
I’m going to pretend I want to rank for “time tracking for freelancers” in search engines.
I then give it a bit of time to spit out the following for me:
- Freelance time tracker
- Accounting for freelancers
- Mac time tracker app
- Contractor timesheet template
- Productivity tracker
The above are topics that SurferSEO sees as related to the main keyword because it correlates the website that rank for this keyword with the other content pieces they cover.
Essentially, it’s reverse engineering of what’s working out there.
PRO TIP: I really like to first target those related topics that contain the keyword I want to rank for the most. In the above example, it would be the following: freelance time tracker, accounting for freelancers, mac time tracker app, and productivity tracker. All of them have at least one keyword that is contained in my main target keyword phrase – time tracking for freelancers. It’s a simple task – any SaaS search engine optimization freelancer can do it.
Step 2. People Also Search For AND Ask For
SurferSEO is great for digital marketing but…we are just scratching the surface of our SaaS SEO technique!
Next thing is – to go to Google directly and just search for your main keyword.
Here is what I get, once I plug in my main keyword for “People also ask” results:
- How do freelancers keep track of time
- How do I turn on time tracking on freelancer
- How do I track my time as an independent contractor
And if you click to expand any of those questions, you’ll get a whole lot of others that too are highly related:
- How do I manage my freelance hours
- How do I organize my day as a freelancer
Depending on the question that you picked to expand, the new queries that appear would be different.
Lesson 2: Whatever Happens, Build More Content and…Links
There are things certain in life – death, and taxes.
And when it comes to SaaS SEO, you can add the third one – whatever happens, continue creating more content and building links.
I’m writing this now during the aftermath of the most recent Google algorithm update that targeted spam.
A lot of newer websites that relied on heavy content production without link building got hit during that update.
When it comes to SEO, you can’t rely on just one part of the game – content production (in my example), you have to do everything.
Sure, you can take some time to focus mainly on content production, but after that, you need to stabilize that content with high-quality backlinks that will show Google that your content is worth something.
After that, rinse and repeat (or get an SEO freelancer do it for you)!
Some time ago one of my SaaS clients got a slight drop in traffic.
It felt like a little algorithmic bump but my SaaS guy reached out to me asking what we could change so that the rankings would go up.
I took a pause to calm him down and said that everything that we were doing is as good as it gets.
I asked him to relax and wait for a few weeks because that’s how this algorithm works – you get some bumps along your overall positive trend!
Granted, their best month yet followed in a few short weeks because, in spite of that bump, we continued doing two links:
- Building new content
- Acquiring more links
However, you can’t just get more of “any” links!
It’s all about quality…let’s discuss that now.
Lesson 3: Not All Links Are Created Equal
As a SaaS link building service, I earn my bread and butter by acquiring the best links for our SaaS clients.
And even though I don’t eat bread, I can’t afford to get crappy links for them because… poor-quality links will not help with SEO!
Link building is a lot of work but…how to tell a good backlink from crap?
Here are the guidelines my team and I use:
Domain Rating (DR) is a metric created by Ahrefs and serves as a quick and dirty way of telling how much authority a website posses.
Generally speaking, the higher the DR, the more power a website has.
The more power it has, the more likely it is to improve SaaS SEO rankings more quicker.
This is the main reason why we choose to acquire links from DR40+ websites – we want our clients to see results faster!
However, and that’s a big caveat, DR can be manipulated fairly easily!
In fact, we end up not acquiring backlinks from a fair number of websites with DR60/70/80 and even DR90 because of the manipulations webmasters do in order to get to these levels!
This is when the 2nd metric we use would help big time…
2. 1000+ Monthly Traffic + No Significant Abrupt Traffic Drops in the Past
While you can inflate the DR, you can’t inflate rankings and traffic (at least, not for prolonged periods of time).
Every link we acquire goes through this traffic check that we also do via Ahrefs.
The sites we get backlinks from all have, at least, 1000 unique monthly visitors, as indicated by Ahrefs.
Given Ahrefs’s tendency to consistently underestimate overall traffic, the real traffic number is a lot higher, but we still need that “1000+ monthly uniques” box checked.
Important: not infrequently certain websites would qualify for our traffic threshold but they would fail the “traffic history” check where we closely analyze how their traffic performed historically. There are many moving parts here but, for example, we wouldn’t acquire a backlink from a website that has 2,000 unique monthly visitors (as per Ahrefs) but had a traffic drop from 34,000 four months ago – something is not right here!
3. Visual Check
Even though we catch 9/10 poor-quality websites using the above data points, we still run a quick visual check to make sure the website is legit!
Here are a few things that put up a red flag for me:
- Magazine-style them. We don’t work with 19/20 websites that pretend to be magazines whilst existing solely for link-selling purposes. They are easy to spot – write about all the random topics out there at once (crypto, health, business, CBD…), look crappy, and…have a poor-quality logo with a random website name!
- Dodgy links and/or links coming from the homepage. If you see any links pointing externally from the website’s homepage, congratulations, you’ve discovered a PBN! Recently I came across a blogging mom’s website that was pointing to the casino from her homepage…maybe she just doesn’t know?
- Websites screaming guest posts left and right! Nothing wrong with guest posts in general but if a website is screaming guest posts, something is off (especially if these websites look ugly).
- Websites selling links publicly. Any mention of link selling that’s publicly visible is a huge red sign – skip that!
And, on the contrary, here are the green checkmarks I like seeing:
- Careers page
- Physical address
- Phone number
- Company name (LLC, LTD etc)
- Pricing page for their product/service
- Sign-up forms
Basically everything that indicates that I’m dealing with a real business that exists for reasons other than simply selling links (and helping my SaaS SEO game)
4. Relevant Pages
Here is a typical link building mistake…
A link from a high authority website from a page that’s irrelevant to what you yourself are trying to rank for can slow down your progress because Google might find it confusing (remember, it’s understanding what you are on about based on your content and the links you are getting!).
So if your time-tracking app page gets a backlink from a blog that’s all about…cement…that’s putting Google off!
That’s why we search for pages that have the most relevance to the pages our SaaS brand clients want to rank.
Relevant…seems like a broad term so here is my definition of it in the context:
A relevant page is a page that contains the keywords our clients want to rank for themselves.
Ideally, these keywords would be contained in the page’s Title and/or URL.
However, these keywords can also be present in headings and text bodies.
To give an example…
Our “time tracking for freelancers” page would get links from pages like:
- Time Tracking Techniques
- Freelancer Productivity While Working Remotely
- Ways to Stop Freelance Burn Out
You get the idea – all of the above content, at least, one keyword from our target “time tracking for freelancers”.
As you can see, getting high-quality backlinks is a lot of work so you should do that carefully but…if you start, don’t stop!
Related: Effective Email Outreach for SaaS
Lesson 4: Maintain Link Velocity Or Don’t Start Link Building At All
Link velocity is the speed of link acquisition your SaaS blog has at any moment in time.
We like looking at it on a monthly basis because it’s the easiest way to monitor it.
Here is the thing – a fraction of all content on the internet is getting quality backlinks pointing to it.
The rest of that content is floating out there…in the Internet universe!
So when a website is starting to get backlinks all of a sudden, Google doesn’t really trust that.
On top of that, it’s the algorithm’s inertia that’s stopping you from ranking immediately – it wants to see just how much is behind those backlinks.
- Are these backlinks accidental?
- Are these SaaS guys trying to manipulate the search engine? (Google doesn’t like that)
- Are more backlinks coming?
The last point is crucial.
There is almost a critical mass of high-quality backlinks you need to get to show the big G that your SaaS blog is worth ranking.
What’s important, is that a critical mass of backlinks needs to be acquired through a substantial period of time (domain age is a ranking factor as well).
This is what link velocity is all about.
You need to be acquiring backlinks consistently, month after month, without stopping.
In fact, this is what I always tell my SaaS clients when the inevitable “when do we see results” question comes up.
I say that it would take, at least, 3 months of CONTINUOUS link building before we see any moves.
However, fairly often we see significant positive changes after 45 days of link building (this is the benefit of working with high DR websites that are full of authority and can improve SaaS SEO a lot faster).
Related: SaaS Link Building Strategies
Lesson 5: Interlink Heavily
This point follows from the previous part but it’s important to mention the details.
A cluster would naturally have one (or few) articles that you want to rank the most – they usually are the pages that generate signups or even demos.
For anything that’s somewhat competitive, you need a significant amount of supportive content – I covered that in Lesson 1.
Once you got it all published, you need to interlink all that content using these pages as hubs.
I’d recommend keeping it simple and just interlinking together anything that’s relevant.
After all, it makes sense to keep the visitor on your SaaS blog for as long as possible, since it would improve the dwell time (an SEO ranking factor) and help them to learn more about your product.
Great content helps conversions – use this to your advantage.
Lesson 6: Create Content That Attracts Backlinks…Naturally
Content that’s based on keyword research and content that attracts backlinks, more often than not, are two different animals.
SEO-based content is hard to get links to because people are reluctant to link to this type of article (that’s when you’d need a link building service).
However, there are certain types of content that attract backlinks naturally.
Granted, it doesn’t happen overnight (unless it’s a successful online PR campaign that helps to land a lot of great links all at once) but it definitely works in the long run.
Here are some examples of content that attracts backlinks passively:
- Careers page
- Integrations page
- Research, data or stats
- Tools and calculators
The idea is that, once you publish these, links will start coming in naturally.
This will help to improve the overall authority of your domain which would, in turn, lead to improving the rankings of the pages that you need to rank the most (especially if you interlink them all).
Check out my previous post about 8 types of SaaS content that attract backlinks naturally.
Lesson 7: Make Sure You Are Capturing Email Signups Early
This is an indirect SEO tip but capturing emails is essential when you are looking to sell your SaaS to people (no matter if it’s B2B or B2C, you are still selling to people).
I recommend you start collecting emails as early as possible because you’d also be able to funnel them toward the new content that you publish.
It obviously helps with sales – new touchpoints are directly correlated with conversions.
However, this strategy also provides SEO benefits since you get an influx of “returning visitors” that visit the pages of your SaaS blog.
Google likes seeing that for the obvious reason – if people are coming back, the content is probably not sh*t.
It also helps to spread the word around, since you’d get some shares eventually – social signals can help Google trust the backlinks you are getting more (that comes from the logic that backlink spikes can be attributed to substantial social sharing when the content is first shared in social networks and then it’s picked up by other blogs that link to it later).
Lesson 8: Get Them to Search For Your…Brand
You have to be building your SaaS brand for obvious reasons.
As soon as you get people to actively search for your brand online, Google will spot that and improve your overall rankings.
The logic behind this is simple – people are more likely to search for something directly if they are familiar with it and/or like it.
In other words, they want to come back.
Google sees that Google appreciates that, Google ranks you higher.
How to get it to happen?
Well, the obvious one is to spend money on paid advertising.
People would see your ads on YT, FB, and other platforms.
They’d then search online to find you – there you have it.
I also created a little more “gray technique” (some would call it a bootstrap growth tactic) where I’d get my subscribers to search for my brand online, click the first result and tell me what they see in exchange for a chance to win…something very significant.
Use your imagination and…get people to search for your brand!
Lesson 9: Update Your Old Content Every 3 Months
Here is the thing – Google doesn’t need more of the same content.
There are tons of SEO writers producing a ton of content every single second.
Most of that content is garbage but a lot of it isn’t.
Indexing even just a fraction of that content is very taxing even for Big G.
In fact, a lot of content nowadays stays nonindexed.
Google knows your article is out there because its bot crawled the given URL but it considered it unworthy at the time of visiting and decided not to rank it (link building can and does change that by the way).
Given this new realm, getting your content indexed is a privilege!
And you must not waste that privilege by updating your content every 3 months OR more frequently if you have something important to add to the existing content.
Google loves that for two reasons:
First, it has this thing some call “freshness boost”. If you updated your article with a significant amount of information (e.g. Added 300 words while deleting 50-100 words of old content that’s of no use), big G will appreciate that and rank you higher (unless you messed up keyword density – use SurferSEO for that).
Lesson 10: Align Your Content With Keyword Intent
The notion that “more words are better” is still very widespread when, in reality, it couldn’t be further away from the truth.
Two years ago I was working with a huge education SaaS and there was this one extremely high-value URL we were building links to.
The backlinks we were acquiring were amazing – highly relevant links from .edu blogs, high authority education resources, and even a .gov backlink!
Yet, the page was still going down in search engine ranking positions.
I knew it wasn’t the links so I turned to SurferSEO to see what was going on.
A quick analysis showed that surprise-surprise, the page we were trying to rank had ~2000 words of content more, compared to the competitors in top-5 positions!
The content team made the adjustments by trimming down the article and…it ranked in top-3 almost overnight (on-page SEO changes produce the quickest results when the URL is published on a high-authority domain and loaded with top-tier backlinks).
The moral of the story – see what’s already ranking for your keyword phrase and produce content accordingly.
Here are the key things you need to look at:
1. Content Length
See what’s the average content length of the top-5 results and mimic the word count by adding 200-300 words on top.
Caveat: make sure you are comparing apples with apples and not the other way around! For example, you can’t compare an info-article to a “best” type listicle – they have different intent and Google ranks them on different merits even though you can easily find them both in top-5 positions.
This bit is especially important if there is a featured snippet result for your target keyword phrase because, if you do things right, you have a good chance of stealing it!
SurferSEO will help you to find the headings most commonly used by the top rankers.
These are the headings that you too should use…at least, partially.
You can consider these as must-haves for the article to be included in top rankings positions.
3. Add Truly Unique Content
This is an important part of the overall SEO game, which deserves a “lesson” on its own.
Let’s get to it!
Lesson 11: Publish TRULY Unique Content
98% of writers and SEOs understand “unique content” wrong.
They think that if their write-up passes the plagiarism checker with ease, then it’s truly unique.
This couldn’t be further away from the truth since, again, Google has a ton of incoming content, and all the variations in how you place words have been used up already.
So, what’s that “unique content” everyone is wrong about?
Truly unique content is about adding something that no one else has done before you.
It can come in a number of different forms and shapes. Here are some examples:
- Internal data points
- Research results
- Usage statistics
- Graphic visualizations
- Tools, calculators
- Stories, case studies
These can come as separate content pieces or be ingrained into something that you are writing for SEO purposes.
I recommend doing both since the above examples can generate links as separate content pieces while including some unique data points into your SEO-optimized SaaS blogs would show Google that your content is actually unique.
The whole topic of “uniqueness” goes back to Google’s very own information gain patent.
It’s all about what you can add to the table that others can’t!