So, you just found a new keyword that you think is relevant to your business and are now deciding how to rank for it.
This guide on SaaS keyword research will show you how to find valuable keywords that matter the most to your website.
Rather watch a video? Here I’ll explain this article more with more examples.
Before You Start With Keyword Research, Lay Out Your Content Strategy First
Did you know that nearly nine out of 10 large SaaS businesses leverage blog posts as part of their online marketing strategy?
Content has never been more important to stay competitive in a competitive landscape.
Now, remember writing essays in school?
Your teachers probably emphasized the importance of having an outline to guide your efforts. Keyword research (and content creation) works the same way.
You need a cohesive, unified strategy to get the most out of your organic content.
Without one, your website or blog will just seem like a disorganized jumble — not to mention you’ll likely miss the mark with your audience.
It’s not a great look if you’re hoping to attract new customers.
So before you start, you need to know who you’re writing to and why you’re writing to them. And ultimately, how you’re going to reach them.
Before jumping in, there are four types of keywords you need to know:
- Commercial keywords
- Transactional keywords
- Informational keywords
- Navigational keywords
Also helpful if you start with an audit for your SaaS content before you get started.
Start With Your Audience — What Do They Want to See?
Before diving into keyword research, consider the type of content that appeals to your audience.
You must have a full ICP on your target audience and know exactly what they’re looking for.
Do they want to read how-to articles? Informational articles about industry trends? Something else?
Use this general information to steer your content strategy in the right direction.
Effective keyword research always starts with your audience.
Strategies to Find Keywords That Matter to Your Business
Once your content strategy is laid out, it’s time to find the types of keywords that draw in new users.
Of course, you want the content built around these keywords to be valuable enough to keep page visitors returning.
You want topics that influence conversion rates, not just traffic.
Here are five tactics to help you find relevant keywords for your SaaS.
Tactic #1: Find Bottom-of-the-Funnel Keywords Relevant to Your SaaS
Bottom-of-the-funnel search terms are great for hooking customers ready to buy and building up your initial sales funnel.
If someone lands on your page after searching “how does point of sale software work,” they probably aren’t going to immediately make a purchase, although it is a great way to position your SaaS as a potential solution.
But if they get there after searching “[competitor POS software] vs. [you],” there’s a good chance they’re ready to buy.
You might boost your sales and conversion rate if you find the right bottom-of-the-funnel and transactional intent keywords to build content around.
These three tend to be winners across multiple industries:
- Alternative keywords
- Comparison keywords
- Category keywords
“Best [Category]” Keywords
A customer searching for category keywords like “best [the type of software you sell]” is probably comparing different companies’ offerings in preparation for making a purchase, so this is an important keyword to target.
Using list-style blog posts, you can incorporate “best [category]” keywords without being overly salesy.
You’ll want to position your offering at the top of the list for these category keywords and end with a CTA.
Competitor vs. You
Customers searching for comparison terms like “[competing SaaS company] vs. [you]” are even more likely to buy — they’ve narrowed their search down to two different brands.
Find out what competitors your target audience searches for most, then make a comparison post for each.
Don’t put your competitor down in favor of your own product; be sure to give an honest review while highlighting your SaaS as the better solution.
These comparison keywords will likely have the best conversion intent for your SaaS.
In Asana and Monday’s case, you can see that they’re getting around 1,500 monthly organic traffic just from these comparison keywords.
If you want potential users to find you through Google Search, you must create organic content that meets them where they are in the buyers’ journey.
Alternative terms are another great search term to take advantage of.
It’s a good idea to make a list-style “[competitor] alternatives” post for each major competitor, positioning your company as the main alternative to that competitor.
When you use alternative terms, be sure to review each product honestly. Don’t just highlight your own product and trash the competition.
These competitor keywords should be covered from every angle to influence a user close to making a decision.
Tactic #2: Middle-of-the-Funnel Keywords That Solve Audience Pain Points
Searchers in the middle of the marketing funnel are learning more about a particular type of SaaS, and they’ve usually begun to build their awareness of different brands.
You can boost audience engagement and gain new leads at the consideration stage. And most importantly, push them further along the funnel.
These typically are more long-tail keywords.
If you can create content that matches search intent for “how-to” searches and takes a product-led approach, potential customers will be more likely to consider your brand as an option.
If you can thoroughly answer a common question your audience has, you also build topical authority.
If potential customers find your content helpful, they might return to your site instead of running a more general search.
For example, if you sell project-management software solutions, consider including content that answers “How to use project management software to improve your business” or “How to use a project management tool.”
If you want to find a good example of a SaaS that uses this product-led approach, check out Ahrefs blog, a popular SEO tool.
Their blog content is always on the mark and is considered an essential learning hub for anyone starting in SEO.
Use this article, for example; their main keyword is “how to do keyword research,” which has 1.2K monthly searches, and they currently rank in position 3. Notice how it’s a long-tail keyword rather than just “keyword research.”
Their entire article is dedicated to doing keyword research specifically with their tool. They’re not pitching their tool, saying you need to buy it. Instead, they are showing how their tool can make your life easier compared to what you’re currently doing.
It likely won’t lead to a direct conversion (although that can happen); instead, it’s great for building initial consideration with your target audience.
When starting with content at the consideration stage, you should create a list of keywords and topics that could work for this product-led approach.
This type of content is excellent for moving leads down your funnel.
“Why” searches are similar to how-to searches — content based around these target keywords allows you to sell your audience on your product.
If a potential customer is considering purchasing a project management tool, they might search for “Why use project management software” or something similar.
This type of keyword allows you to explain why your project management tool is needed (the benefits) and, ultimately, why your SaaS is the best solution.
Again, this likely won’t lead to direct conversions, but it is a great topic to cover once your BOFU topics have been fully built out.
Again, these will mostly be long-tail keywords rather than short-tail.
When planning your SaaS keyword research strategy, you always want to start at the bottom and work your way up.
Tactic #3: Find Top-of-the-Funnel Keywords That Build Awareness for Your SaaS
Every business wants to generate leads and make more sales.
But you can’t do that if your audience has no idea your particular type of SaaS exists.
At the awareness stage, top-of-the-funnel keywords can help you begin to educate your audience without pushing for an immediate sale.
Maybe your audience is searching for topics like “What is employee satisfaction?” or “What are the benefits to satisfied employees?”
Not that these will bring in direct conversions (although they might), but they’ll more so be used to build out your sales funnel and capture initial awareness with your audience.
Now that the awareness has been captured, they’ll likely move along the funnel (through other marketing channels, not just organic) until they reach the decision stage.
That’s why starting your keyword research strategy with BOFU topics is important. Once the users start at the top of the funnel, you’ll already have content created to guide them along.
And for your SEO to work, you need to scale your content production so you’re visible throughout almost all of their searches during their buyers’ journey.
With TOFU, it’s important to remember that these topics should be last in terms of priority for your keyword research strategy.
“What Is” Keywords
“What is” keywords are ideal for capturing top-of-the-funnel customers.
If someone reaches your page after searching “What is project management software,” you can answer their question while highlighting the benefits of using this particular SaaS.
Informational keywords will build awareness for your SaaS but shouldn’t be expected to generate leads.
Tactic #4: Build Linkable Assets to Help Improve Your Authority and Reduce PR Costs
Not all of your content needs to be aligned with your sales pipeline.
While topical authority is one thing, you also need to build site-wide authority as well.
Optimizing content for backlinks can help build your site’s authority and help your main content rank better.
And if a well-known website links to your content, that backlink doubles as free advertising, too.
So, what’s a linkable asset? It’s a piece of content designed to be visible through search and specifically to encourage backlinks from other websites.
Depending on your industry, you might find some linkable assets more effective than others. But generally speaking, the following link assets are safe bets:
If your website includes well-researched data, your page will likely be cited as a source.
Data in infographic form is especially likely to draw the audience’s eye and set you apart from competitors.
Not only can websites find you through search, but you can also pitch this type of data to journalists through Digital PR.
Likewise, websites (especially high-authority websites) will likely back up any statistics they mention with a source.
Finding multiple statistics for a given industry aggregated in one place can be difficult.
If you take the time to research and collect statistics (and then format them in a way the average person can understand), you’ll have a highly linkable asset.
You can also use these statistics for broken link building. Finding websites still linking to broken pages and offering your statistics as an easy fix.
Recent or Forecasted Trends
Not all content needs to be evergreen.
Some websites pride themselves on offering their audiences the most current information possible.
As you may have guessed, it’s a lot easier to find evergreen content than recent/forecasted content in a given niche.
Creating “trend articles” dedicated to timely content can majorly pay off for websites looking for expert insights.
This content tactic works best if your brand is considered an authority in your niche or a reputable source.
Online calculators — whether they’re for auto loans or finding your BMI — are one of the internet’s most useful features.
They’re also highly linkable.
As a bonus, potential customers might also stumble upon your page while searching “[something relevant to your SaaS] calculator.”
Tactic #5: Go After Quick-Win Keywords if You Have the Data Available
A quick-win keyword is an organic keyword for which your page ranks 1–20 on the SERPs.
If you have any of these pages, a few optimizations can boost your search engine rankings and drive organic traffic.
While a jump from position 6 to position 4 might not seem like a lot, it can make the difference, especially considering how users typically interact with the first 10 results on the SERPs.
Being at the bottom of the first page likely doesn’t bring you the results you’d expect, so the goal should always be to be ranked in at least the top 5.
Google Search Console to Find Organic Keywords Ranking in Position 4–20
Google Search Console is a free, handy tool for anyone with a website.
Use it to see if there are any search queries where you rank from 4–20.
Then, take some time to optimize these pages.
But how do you do that?
One of the best strategies is to update that content. You can:
- Add internal links
- Update sections
- Add new sections
- Update your publish date
- Add more media and images
- Optimize for more keywords
These content optimization tools work well for guiding you on how to optimize your content better.
I’m currently using Frase for this article right now. It tells me:
- All of the entities, primary keywords, and secondary keywords to include
- How many links (external and internal) I need
- Word count
I’ve also created this SaaS SEO checklist that should help guide you on the right path.
Or you could hire me to help with your SEO 🙂
Google Search Console to Find Organic Keywords Ranking on the First Page Without Any Clicks
Ranking on the first page is certainly an accomplishment. But something needs to change if you’re showing up on the first page and getting no clicks.
If you have one or more pages with this issue, your meta title and meta description probably aren’t appealing to your audience.
Ensure both match search intent while enticing the searcher to click on your URL.
You can also use schema to make your URL stand out more.
To find these ideal keywords, all you need to do is:
- Load up GSC
- Head over to the query report
- Set a date range to the last 28 days
- Set a position filter for less than 10
- And a click filter for less than 1
This will now give you all of the keywords on your website that should be driving traffic but aren’t at the moment.
Best Keyword Research Tools for SaaS Content Marketing Teams
To maximize your content marketing strategy’s chances of success, you need the right keyword tools to find the right topics. Here are several keyword tools you can use:
Don’t underestimate your audience.
While tools like Google Search Console can help give you an idea of what they’re searching for, getting in touch with your audience through surveys and polls can give you a complete idea of the types of content they search for and want to see.
Leverage Your Sales and Product Demo Teams
Your sales reps/product demo teams spend much more time working directly with customers than you do.
Talk to them or join sales calls to better understand what your audience is looking for and what their pain points are.
During their sales call, you can find out their pain points and if creating content around them is possible.
You’ll want to be more hands-off during the sales call to prevent flustering the potential customer.
Using Reddit to Find Audience Data
You don’t have to interact directly with your customers (or talk to someone who does) to get a feel for your audience.
Reddit’s text-based format makes it easy for you to see what your target audience is looking for, the type of language they use, and what keywords they might use to find the answers to their questions.
If you’re a project management tool, you can go on subreddits like r/humanresources or r/projectmanagers to find what common pain points are for your audience.
Take a deep dive into their pain points and answer them in your content to have it better resonate with your audience.
I recommend using site operators to find these questions.
Reviewing Platforms to Find Common Pain Points
You can also use review platforms like G2 to discover common pain points about your or competitor’s solutions and create content around them.
This works very well when it comes to alternative and comparison articles. You can use audience data and customer reviews to find pain points you can leverage and show why your software solution is the better option.
Considering those pain points, your SaaS SEO strategy will be better aligned to create content that matches your audience’s needs.
Create a list of topics based on customer segments you find.
Using First-Party Data From Google Search Console and Google Analytics
First-party data is collected from your own website.
In Google Search Console, you’ll have access to the search queries your site is directly ranking for. You can find what type of search queries they are, their organic traffic, their search volumes, and their search engine rankings.
You can even use this data to calculate the search queries monthly search volume.
Google Search Console data can be a treasure trove of insights for anyone looking to optimize their SaaS SEO strategy.
Ahrefs/SEMrush for Basic Keyword Research
Keyword research tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush help you discover relevant keywords your audience uses to find you.
Using them is simple.
You can input a general keyword (like “email marketing software”) into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, and the tool will generate clusters of relevant keywords and keyword variations with their respective keyword difficulty and monthly searches.
As you can see, there are many options to build topical authority around email marketing software.
You can add these topics to your SaaS SEO strategy and build clusters around these valuable keywords.
I like SEMrush for keyword research, but I find Ahrefs Keyword Explorer to be much better. There’s also Moz Keyword Explorer, but I haven’t used that one as much.
Just be careful to avoid keyword cannibalization.
You can even run a keyword gap analysis to find competitor keywords you should also target.
While these will be competitive keywords, they’re still important to target to steal away search traffic from your competition.
After your keyword gap analysis, you’ll have dozens of keywords, so you’ll want to start your content creation process as quickly as possible to catch up to your competition.
Google’s Keyword Planner for More Accurate Topics
Google’s Keyword Planner is a useful free keyword tool for planning even large-scale content strategies. When you log in, you have five main options:
- Find potential keywords
- Create a list of keywords
- Combine two keyword lists to generate new keywords
- See search volume/trends for different keywords
- Project performance for different keywords while taking your SEO budget into account
Executing a SaaS SEO strategy is a huge investment of time and money, so SEO tools like this help you ensure you’re being as efficient as possible.
Using Google AdWords to Find High-Converting Topics
You want to draw customers to your site, but you also want those clicks to convert.
Google Ads helps you decide which topics to cover to maximize conversions.
Find the topics driving the most leads and create content around it. This way, you build high-converting content and reduce your dependency on paid advertising.
This should be essential for any SaaS SEO campaign.
Check this article out to see ways a SaaS can use SEO and PPC together.
Google’s AutoSuggest is a convenient feature for searchers, but it’s also a helpful keyword tool for you.
See how it completes queries and look for valuable keywords to use in your content or create new articles.
Google Autosuggest is a great way to find keyword ideas without paying for a tool.
You can also use the Keyword Sheeter to sheet out autosuggest queries.
Timing is a key part of any SaaS keyword research strategy.
Trends will show you what keywords are trending so you can target them and draw more visitors to your site.
Since these industry trends are new, you likely will have less competition for them.
People Also Asked
This feature gives you insight into what related topics or keywords your audience is searching for.
If you’re working on a content cluster, these results can help you decide what follow-up pieces you want to include.
You can also use AlsoAsked to get a bird’s eye view of the People Also Asked section.
Steps to Take After Finding Your Target Keyword/Topic
Let’s jump right into the steps. Here are the best steps to take after finding your primary keyword topic:
Review the SERPs for that Keyword and Match Search Intent
After you find your keyword, the first thing to do is to review the SERPs. You’ll want to check each competitor and see what’s ranking for that keyword.
You want to look at things like the type of website’s ranking, how much traffic it’s driving, the domain authority, and how much content they’re covering.
Another thing to look at is the search intent behind the keyword. Are these pages showing informational, navigational, or transactional pages?
Are they listicles, guides, how-to’s, or definitions? These are all things that you need to look out for when you’re reviewing the SERPs.
Also, look out for your articles; you don’t want to cause keyword cannibalization issues writing for the same intent twice.
Review What Competitors Are Writing About and What They’re Missing
Now that you understand what the competitive landscape looks like and the intent behind the keyword, the next thing you have to look at is the on-page content being covered by the competitors.
Which pages are ranking, or which content are they showing? How are they making their content as comprehensive as possible?
What you want to do is look at the top results in the first three positions and see what it is that’s making their content rank. What information are they covering? Are they adding additional media or internal links?
Take note of any patterns that you can use in your own content. This means you want to include everything they cover in your own content and information that hasn’t been covered before.
But you want to take it further and provide more unique information than the other competitor pages do not offer.
Create an SEO Brief Based on the Keywords You Found
Now that you understand the search intent and the content you have to cover, the next thing you will want to do is create an SEO content brief.
This will include internal links, which keywords to use (long tail or seed keywords), the title tag, the meta description, and, most importantly, the actual outline of the content.
When listing the headers for your content, you want to at least let your writer know or at least let yourself know which each header should cover.
So, when writing this content, ensure you have a reference point to know that this is what you should be covering.
Assign to a Writer or Create the Content Yourself
Once you have created your brief, the next step is to assign it to an in-house writer or a freelance writer through platforms like Upwork or Fiverr.
Alternatively, if you plan to write the content yourself, create the brief first, plan what you want to say, and then write the content. Instead of focusing too much on the keywords, you should write first to get a draft of the content and then optimize it for SEO once it’s fully finished and edited.
Write Your Content to be as Comprehensive as Possible
The most important part of writing content is its comprehensiveness, beyond just using keywords.
Instead of sneaking keywords in, make sure that your content is as comprehensive as possible. Ensure that you cover all the information your competitors cover, offer a unique angle, and give your audience a unique perspective. This doesn’t mean that more content is better. Instead, you should create fully comprehensive content around your topic.
Additionally, if your competitors or the top-ranking articles have around 1,500 to 2,000 words, aim for the same word count or higher.
Optimize Your Content for Keywords and Related Entities
Once your content is finished, you can focus on adding keywords and related entities. Make sure that you include your primary and secondary keywords and related entities that can help with semantic SEO.
Remember not to stuff keywords in; instead, add them in naturally. Write around a keyword that represents a topic instead of writing around a keyword.
Publish the Content and Add Relevant Internal Links
Once you have completed all the steps, you can upload your content to your website. After uploading, add internal links that point toward the new page from recently published or relevant pages. If possible, link back to other pages from your own page as well. Aim for at least 1-2 links pointing towards the new page when publishing.
Track Your Keyword or Content
After publishing, track your target keyword to see how it performs and whether it gets traffic. If it’s not where you want it to be in 30 days, review and update it.
Review Your Results Every 30 Days
It’s essential to optimize your content every 30 days. If you notice that your content is underperforming, then review it and see how you can improve it.
This could include building backlinks, adding internal links, or additional content. Track your results to see where you’re at and how you can improve your content without setting it and forgetting it.
Common Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Doing Keyword Research for Your SaaS
If you’re just starting your keyword research process, you might have already found that there’s a learning curve.
Here are some mistakes to avoid with your keyword strategy.
Focusing Only on Keyword Volumes
Keyword volumes are important, but they just show you what people are searching for (monthly searches) — not what brings you conversions.
Instead of focusing on searches per month, focus on actual keywords that resonate with your audience.
Whether they’re transactional keywords or commercial keywords, they should have some intent behind them rather than just choosing it because it has a high search volume.
Not Sticking to One Topic
It’s tempting to jump from topic to topic when generating content. But make sure you stay organized! You’ll want to include a cluster of content around each major topic, so it’s easier to research just one at a time.
Not Researching Keywords Around Your Competitors
You want to distinguish yourself from your competitors, especially when it comes to search engine traffic. See what keywords are working for your competitors and use them to guide your own strategy.
Only Using Keyword Research Tools
Marketing tools are great, but you want to gather as much information as you can. Customer surveys, analysis of social media platforms, and other strategies can be valuable, too.
Using Domain Authority and Keyword Difficulty to Influence Topics
Domain authority (DA) shows you how strong your site’s backlink profile is.
Domain authority is a useful metric to keep in mind, but search engines don’t take it into account.
Closing Thoughts on SaaS Keyword Research
That pretty much sums it up. It’s only a few simple steps for successful content creation, but they’re very necessary steps. Follow these keyword research methods, and your content will likely be successful every time you publish.
Improve Your Keyword Research Process With a SaaS SEO Consultant
Looking for help with your content strategy? Feel free to book a free SaaS SEO discovery call with me. I’m a SaaS SEO consultant who can help take your solution to the next level.