Guest Column | November 3, 2021

10 Harmful SaaS SEO Mistakes To Avoid

By Brad Shorr, Straight North

Top 10 ten iStock-670634444

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a popular digital marketing option in the SaaS industry. High organic rankings on Google, in addition to driving website traffic and conversions, also convey credibility, stability, and trustworthiness to visitors — very important buying influences in this highly competitive industry where companies come and go with great frequency. By avoiding these ten mistakes, your SEO campaign will have the strongest possible foundation.

1. Not Having Target Pages

The primary goals of SEO are to increase organic website traffic and to convert organic visitors into customers. When SaaS firms optimize only their home pages, they run a high risk of losing conversions, since the visitor must click at least once from the home page to find an interior page with more details about the service. To maximize campaign ROI, create and optimize target pages for one or more versions of the service. If these pages rise to the top of Google SERPs (search engine results pages), users who click-through will have all the information they need to sign up right in front of them.

2. Selecting The Wrong Keywords

Keywords are the foundation of an SEO campaign: Choose the wrong ones, and you’ll get the wrong traffic or no traffic. SaaS firms often err by automatically selecting the most popular keywords. This backfires, though, if larger competitors dominate the rankings for those words. A better solution is to look for niche terms with lower search volume — referred to as longtail keywords — that are highly relevant, suggest buying intent, and are overlooked or under prioritized by larger competitors.

3. Not Refreshing Keyword Research

In some industries, terminology does not change much, and popular keywords stay popular for many years. In SaaS, however, technological advances, new business models, and evolving user behavior cause keywords to change rapidly. Therefore, updating your keyword research at least annually is important to make sure your target terms are still the best available and still describe what you are trying to sell.

4. Avoiding Or Improperly Executing Link building

Several years ago, Google released its highly publicized Penguin algorithm update to penalize spammy links. In the aftermath, many companies avoided link building entirely, fearing Google would deem any backlink to be a bad link. However, through all of this, building proper links following SEO best practices has remained a legitimate and essential part of any SEO campaign. The key is to do it correctly.

5. Not Optimizing For Conversions

It can’t be stated too often that SEO hinges on conversions. For SaaS firms, conversions typically take the form of freemiums, free trials, or full-service signups. If these options aren’t presented persuasively, if the terms and conditions are unappealing, or if the signup process itself is confusing, organic traffic will be squandered and the SEO campaign will produce little if any ROI. SaaS firms must make CRO (conversion rate optimization) an integral part of their web design and marketing activities.

6. Publishing User-Unfriendly Content

Google crawlers expect the same thing as humans from the content displayed in SERPs: relevance, trustworthiness, authority, and engaging style. If your website content falls short in any of these areas, it will neither achieve high rankings nor make a good impression on readers. All website and off-site SEO content should be professionally written — and edited for grammar, clarity, accuracy, and style.

7. Underfunding The Campaign

SEO is labor-intensive and requires talented personnel in every phase of execution. Talented writers, editors, web designers, technical SEO specialists, and campaign managers, whether in-house or outsourced, must have enough time to do their jobs properly and thoroughly. Trying to generate meaningful ROI on a shoestring budget using a canned, one-size-fits-all formula rarely never succeeds.

8. Neglecting On-Site Maintenance

Google crawlers must be able to find and interpret your website content, often daily. Since things can go wrong on a website daily, the SEO campaign must monitor site performance carefully to identify and correct issues that prevent Google from properly indexing your content. Typical issues include broken links, duplicate content, and improperly configured redirects.

9. Ignoring Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are short snippets of descriptive content that often appear below the URL in SERPs. Since meta descriptions carry no direct SEO weight, companies sometimes fail to write them. Mistake! Meta descriptions, when properly written, can turn an indifferent search engine user into a site visitor. At a minimum, meta descriptions should be written for the home page and all target SEO target pages of the site.

10. Running The Campaign On Autopilot

A “set it and forget it” approach to SEO inevitably fails. SaaS firms, more than most, need to continuously review results and modify tactics and strategies to keep organic traffic and leads on an upward trajectory. Not only do keywords change (as noted earlier), but new competitors come into play, business models change rapidly, and new services are introduced continually. A keyword strategy and optimized content more than a year or two old are too outdated to deliver the best possible results. Regularly updating your SEO campaign strategy keeps you ahead of the competition.

About The Author

Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, a Chicago-based internet marketing company that specializes in SEO. With decades of marketing, sales, and management experience, Shorr has written for leading online publications including Forbes and Entrepreneur, and for the American Marketing Association.