I have had the opportunity to lead the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) function at multiple B2B SaaS organizations. In the past few years, I have also talked to many talented folks in the B2B SaaS space to exchange ideas on what and how they are doing.
The conversation normally covers a few things (which all overlap with each other):
- SEO strategy
- Team structure
- Notable tactics
This post focuses on #1 and #2.
B2B SaaS SEO Strategy
For the most part, B2B SaaS companies all have a very similar SEO strategy.
It is because SEO is largely an open-book competition from Google. And SEO professionals have all figured out what needs to be done to rank on page 1.
SEO strategy is largely a three-part recipe:
- Content – the quality and quantity of your content production engine to meet search intent.
- Technical Development – technical knowledge and processes on implementing technical elements correctly for search engines, which are well-documented on Google Search Central.
- Backlinks – the quality and quantity links referred from other domains on the internet.
So which part of the strategy differentiates a company and puts you at the front of the pack?
When it comes to Technical Development, every competitor of yours can hire the right people to build that.
For the domain authority generated from backlinks, your standing is typically influenced by (1) earned links from great content, and (2) business reach (i.e, the size and maturity of your business). In my experience, this is not commonly the first thing to tackle.
Content becomes the only workable competitive differentiator, and your content must be better to rank higher than your competitors.
Not only does the content need to provide value to the searchers by fulfilling their search intent, but it also needs to satisfy search engine criteria of “great content” in terms of technical elements and authority.
Great content is often easier said than done. Some of the best examples in B2B marketing are from Hubspot and Neil Patel.
B2B SaaS SEO KPI
After too-many meetings discussing SEO metrics, I have come to 3 key takeaways in forming SEO KPIs for your team.
1. Keep it simple.
As a north-star, I suggest picking organic traffic; and its conversion as a secondary KPI.
This way, you are capturing both qualitative and quantitative for your SEO team.
There are fancy tools such as Bizible that could help you with multi-touch attribution for the organic channels, but there are too many variables with the B2B sales cycle that are not within your SEO team’s control.
2. Focus on what you can control.
If you are managing a website with thousands of pages, there are simply too many opportunities to tackle using the SEO strategy above.
Whatever you are going to measure should proxy the direct influence of your SEO team.
A good example would be to target non-brand keywords. Focusing on this gives allows you to tell a story that you are attracting traffic that does not know your brand already.
3. Tell a great (intangible) story
Story-telling is important in all aspects of marketing, not just SEO.
SEO inherently is limited by the number of search queries related to your business. In other words, it is a zero-sum game.
Everyone searches on Google daily – if you can tell a story that relates to the search behavior of your audience, you are halfway there.
For the other half, what I found more successful is telling the story of growth, rather than absolute numbers.
If you can show either you are capturing more traffic from the same keyword or from adjacent topics, you are getting a bigger search impression in the competitive SERP.
While SEO strategy could be similar between B2B SaaS companies, where companies can stand out is strong execution and a clear vision to drive their organic search presence forward.
If you are operating in a B2B SaaS business, how do you formulate your SEO strategy and what are your primary KPIs?
It’d be great to exchange notes with you.