SEO is an easy thing to forget when you’re busy building a successful SaaS company. I know — I’ve worked with dozens of highly successful SaaS companies, ranging from brand new startups to publicly traded ones. No matter the size, when it comes to SEO, there are a few things that most SaaS companies seem to forget and that the really successful ones usually remember.
I want to share with you three things I consistently see that make or break organic growth for SaaS companies so you can put them on a sticky note and keep it on the bottom of your iMac.
1. SEO is an investment with compounding interest, not a 1:1 purchase.
Most clients I deal with look for a direct ROI from their investment, and understandably so. The problem is that any projection is just that — a projection. It’s an extrapolation of many different variables that the market could expose over the course of the next few months to a few years. These factors might include another company’s content that is competing with your own, the varying ways Google sees best to answer the queries regarding your keyword targets or the general demand of the keywords you’re looking to target, just to name a few.
While you should always be focused on the return you’re going to get from your investments in marketing, SEO is particularly difficult to gauge a direct ROI from. It should not be looked at in the same way that you would look at AdWords or any other pay-per-conversion type of marketing.
SEO should be looked at as an investment, one that will have compounding interest. The assets you create to rank and share will gain authority over time. As these assets gain authority, they will earn higher rankings and generate a higher return. The more of these assets you put into play (and diversify across multiple different targets) the better chance you will have to compound your growth over time. That said, if you only produce a few assets that aren’t well thought out and targeted, you will likely get burnt out and not appreciate the potential of SEO to consistently grow your traffic.
2. Good communication with your customers about your product is a massive asset.
Some of the best content and SEO assets come from creative community communication about your product or company.
Allow a dialogue with your customers online through a help desk, community-driven blog or even a public forum like a subreddit. By doing so, you can create a sense of community, which can not only further develop your product but also act as free marketing for your business. Grow the authority of your site by means of content that will rank for queries related to your product or product type. And send links and social signals to your site that will look influential to Google.
Many companies do a fantastic job of this, such as Moz with its open community blog and Buffer with its extremely detailed posts about how to better your company’s social media performance. Squarespace, with its extensive help desk and forum focused on solving many issues for its customers, is another example. Squarespace also provides inspiration for custom development on its extensive list of base website templates.
Each of these companies provides information that customers are thinking about or need to better utilize their products. This solves two problems at once: customer support and organic marketing.
3. Set up a routine for organic growth and keep pushing, even when you think you don’t need it.
It takes time for your SEO investments to actually kick in and start generating a return for you, so don’t wait until you “need” it.
The point here is to have a plan in place for organic growth, whether that be through consistent social engagement, a strong community management program, a killer customer service team, a detailed content marketing strategy or all of the above. Start pushing against this plan before you are ever in dire need of the traffic this plan will generate. And never stop pushing against this plan just because you’re performing well.
If you stop pushing against a high-quality plan because it’s working, your assets will plateau over time in the effect they have on your growth. You will need more traffic, and the time it takes to ramp up a plan like this again will be painful. Many people in the industry explain this process as a flywheel that, once rolling (and consistently pushed against), will compound and have a massive growth effect on your business. But it takes a while to get that flywheel moving. Once moving, it’s relatively easy to keep it moving, but if it stops it’s very tough to get it rolling quickly and efficiently again.
So get the flywheel moving quickly before you think you actually “need” it. Set up your content marketing plan, social interaction plan, community management plan and digital PR plan and invest assets to keep it moving. It won’t bear a ton of fruit initially, but over time it will become one of the most cost-effective and scalable growth platforms you will have access to.
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