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SaaS SEO Checklist: The Only Checklist You’ll Ever Need

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Looking to get more out of your SEO?

I mean you probably are if you landed on this article.

Well hopefully I can help you out.

Whether you’re starting with SEO or just looking to get more out of it, I’ve put this checklist together to help your SaaS perform better when it comes to SEO.

In this article, I’ve listed out the exact SEO checklist that I use for all of my SaaS clients.

It’s worked time and time again and can be used for almost any SEO strategy.

And Here’s The SaaS SEO Checklist You Came Here For

1. Start with Audience Research

If you want SEO to work for your SaaS, you have to start with audience research. This stage in the SEO process is particularly important for SaaS companies whose customers have higher purchasing intents. It’s not like a restaurant where they’ll immediately become aware of you and then choose to select your business. Your target audience likely has an entire buyer’s journey they follow before they come to the decision to purchase your product. 

In some SaaS spaces, it’s fairly common for users to go from discovery to purchase, while others have to go through numerous touchpoints before considering your brand. And that’s assuming that other marketing channels are involved too. 

Having an effective SEO strategy, and really marketing too, all starts with audience research and knowing the right decision-makers to target. You can interview your current customers for feedback, research customer reviews of other SaaS products, or you can join sales/product demo calls to uncover pain points from prospective customers.

Once your ICP is set, you can start the process of building out your marketing funnel and creating a content roadmap. Your content roadmap will help keep your SEO on track and keep your content topic-focused.

2. Have Your Marketing Funnel Set

While this checklist is more SEO-tactic focused, your overall SEO and content strategy needs to be organized and planned for all these tactics to work. While these tactics may help with organic traffic increases, they won’t do much to add any value toward revenue growth. If you want to drive recurring revenue for your SaaS and grow your brand with SEO, you have to target the right people and the right topics.

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The marketing funnel will be your guiding template for how you build out and prioritize content. Whether you’re capturing your audience with top of the funnel content or converting them with bottom of the funnel content, your SEO does not start until you have your marketing funnel built out and your audience identified.

3. Align Content With Search Intent

Search intent is a factor in SEO that gauges whether your content is relevant to the searcher and matches the intent of what they were looking for. And how is relevance decided? You reverse engineer the SERPs to find what Google thinks is relevant to match the search intent. Search intent is one of those ranking signals you can’t miss. If your content is misaligned on search intent, your content is going to struggle to rank and get any organic visibility.

So before you create your content, you need to know what you’re creating content around in order for it to rank. Let’s say, for instance, you’re building out a service page around the keyword “project management tool.”. So now you’ll want to scan the SERPs to determine the intent behind that search.

If you search for “project management tools” and find out that all the results show comparison pages, your page will struggle to rank since it doesn’t meet the proper intent.

 Now, if you do that same search and find that service pages and comparison posts are ranking for that keyword, then you would have the go-ahead to create that content. Just know the SERPs will now be more competitive since you are only fighting for a small section of visibility since fewer ranking positions are available for your service page. 

There are 4 main different types of intent you need to know:

  • Transactional Search Intent – Transactional keywords denote a user’s immediate desire to complete a specific action online, often involving a purchase or sign-up. It is epitomized by organic search terms that directly indicate an intent to transact, such as “buy,” “order,” or “sign up for”
  • Informational – Informational keywords will likely be blog posts that are top of the funnel. You’re not looking to purchase anything here; you’re just looking to find out more information about a particular topic
  • Commercial – Commercial search intent refers to a user’s intention to make a purchase or explore buying options when conducting a search query online. It is characterized by keywords that suggest comparison, product reviews, or a direct intent to buy
  • Navigational – This intent means to find pages from a specific website. Ex: Searches for shoes on Nike’s website

4. Use Internal and External Links in Your Content

You’ll want to include internal and external links in your content. Not only do internal links help distribute PageRank across your website, but external links also convey to search engines that your content is trustworthy and well-researched.

If you’re creating content that requires expert insights, having citations to trusted websites can signal to Google that you did your research with this content and that it is likely trustworthy. A big part of EEAT. 

Not only this, but internal links also help search engines interact with your website better. Internal links make it easier for search engines to discover pages that might’ve been difficult for them to reach. 

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While there’s no set number to the amount of links you should have on a page, every rankable page on your website should have at least one internal link pointing toward it, and all of your pages should have a crawl depth of less than 3.

This means reducing the number of clicks search engines have to take to get to that page, starting from the home page.

5. Use Images and Videos to Break Up Walls Of Text

Don’t just post blocks of text with your content; break up your content with images and videos that make your content more interactive.

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As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. And especially for complex SaaS solutions, images can make the difference for your audience, who might struggle to read through your 2,000-word article. 

Search engines also love user experience factors, so having more media on your page will help your content stand out more and rank better. But don’t just publish random stock photos just to have them in your content; spend time creating custom images that elevate your content. 

Once again, search engines can recognize the difference between stock photos and unique images, so you’ll usually be rewarded for going the additional mile.

Especially in the case of your visual content, they can appear on the SERPs and image search, and if they are unique and eye-catching, they’ll also attract some clicks as well. 

But that means you have to optimize your images as well. You need to compress their file sizes so they don’t affect page speed, and you need to optimize your images as well. This means including relevant keywords in the file name and alt text.

6. Focus on EEAT

Regardless of your industry, you should focus on Google’s content quality guidelines, also known as expertise, experience, authority, and trustworthiness.

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This means: 

  • Expertise – showing you have the proper knowledge to be talking about this subject
  • Experience – you have the experience in your resume to back up your authority
  • Authority – proving to search engines that you are an authority on this topic. This is usually both site authority (backlinks – domain authority) and topical authority (content coverage)
  • Trustworthiness – is the content you’re creating trustworthy for others. Are you citing your sources? Is the rest of your content helpful? Did you research your topic before writing about it?

 While there’s no score or calculation for EEAT, this is just a way for Google to guide website owners on creating better content that Google will likely favor, especially in the case of your money or your life industries (YMYL), where the guidelines on content creation might be a little blurry.

So, if your SaaS operates in health or finance niches, you’ll want to add EEAT to your SEO checklist. Even if your SaaS doesn’t fall under YMYL, you should still consider EEAT in some form.

7. Don’t Forget About YMYL Either

While YMYL won’t apply to every SaaS company, this is still something that shouldn’t be ignored. While EEAT factors into YMYL, YMYL is more of a necessity for industries that sell products or provide services or information that can impact users’ happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.

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Here’s a quote from Google’s own John Mueller about medical YMYL

“I don’t think there is a straightforward approach to that. And I think especially when it comes to medical content, I think that’s super important that our algorithms are very picky there with regards to what we show. So, I would look at the quality rater guidelines and really think about how your site might be perceived by the quality raters. 

The quality raters don’t make the algorithms, but they give us much insight into what we might do in our algorithms. So I would strongly recommend going through that. And I think it’s especially true when it comes to these kinds of sites; it’s less about the tactics and more about making sure that it is a legitimate business and that it’s backed up by appropriate, trustworthy sources. 

So not just high-quality content, and doing all of this syndication, all of these things. But making sure that it’s written by a doctor, it’s created by legitimate medical professionals in their field.”

So, while EEAT is more of a base guideline to follow, your SaaS SEO campaign must consider YMYL to avoid devaluing your content. YMYL boils down to making content that will help, not hurt people.

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 Especially considering Google’s recent helpful content update, which is a sitewide signal, having hurtful content on one page of your website could impact content on the rest of your website. So, simply put, one unhelpful page on your website could devalue the rest of your site.

8. Make Your URLs Short and Include Your Target Keyword

Coming back to the actual SEO checklist optimizations, you want to optimize your URLs as well. This means keeping them relevant to the page and including your target keyword in them. Ideally, they should be short and to the point as well. In the case of my own article, I’ll likely have it be /saas-seo-checklist/ rather than /the-only-saas-seo-checklist-you-need/.

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9. Optimize your Meta Description and Title Tags 

Some on-page elements you’ll want to add to your SEO checklist is to optimize your title tags and meta descriptions. Your meta description and title tag are usually the first thing searchers see on the SERPs, so you’ll want to leave a good first impression. Title tags are also a strong ranking signal, so be sure to optimize them with your target keyword.

Even better if you can keep your target keyword close to the start of your title tag. While meta descriptions might not be ranking factors, you’ll still want to optimize them because Google will highlight them when users search for their query. Not to mention that your meta description can influence how a user clicks on your page.

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 I will be honest, though: for most SaaS websites, meta descriptions won’t be as much of a priority as other tasks. However, you can still find some solid opportunities by using Google Search Console to find quick-win opportunities, like finding keywords that are ranking on page 1 but aren’t getting any clicks. Then you can update the meta description to increase the likelihood of a searcher clicking on your result.

However, I should mention that meta descriptions get changed by Google around 70% of the time, so you’ll want to add this to the bottom of your SEO checklist. 

Your title tag is where you’ll want to prioritize the most. Not only because it is one of the most powerful ranking factors, but it’s also one of the first things users see when they’re performing their search. So you have to blend your small title tag with your keywords, a strong CTA, and match their search intent. 

For such a small space of text, it’s a lot of work. Another thing I should mention is that your title tag doesn’t need your brand name either. Google automatically shows that on the SERPs, so you can remove your brand name from the title tag and use that additional real estate to add more keywords or include a better CTA.

10. Optimize your Header Tags

Your HTML headers are actually ranking signals and are powerful ones at that. Your H1 is a huge ranking factor for search engines (usually since they are one of the first elements to appear for search engines), so your headers should be optimized with your primary and secondary keywords. This doesn’t mean you should keyword stuff your entire article. Actually, please don’t, as keyword stuffing is a negative SEO factor, but just find opportunities to include your keywords naturally within your headers.

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11. Don’t Just Copy Competitors’ Content

You have to be original with your SaaS content. It can’t just be a direct replica of what’s already ranking. While it is important to review the top results to get an idea of intent and relevancy, you still need to focus on creating content that isn’t just copied and pasted.

You need to think about it from Google’s perspective; why would they rank your content over the competition when it is the exact same as what’s already out there? Focus on information gain score and providing value to your target audience. Value that’s coming from expertise that only you have access to. EEAT comes pretty naturally here.

12. Focus on Information Gain Score, Not Word Count

Focus on information gain score, not word count. There’s a myth in SEO that word count is a strong ranking signal that search engines use to rank content.

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It’s an understandable myth but one that’s been disproven over and over again. Even John Mueller said

“Word count is not a sign that a page is thin content. You’re the expert on your site’s topic (or you should be), and you can make a qualified call on what’s helpful for users and what’s fluff. Don’t use word count.” 

But the reason why this word count myth is understandable is because long-form content usually ranks better than short-form content. But that’s not because of the words being used; it’s just because long-form content tends to be more comprehensive, whereas short-form content tends to be thin. But here’s where people go wrong. They think that now means they have to stuff their content with fluff for their content to rank. 

And again, while relevancy and information gain score have to be established, that doesn’t mean adding additional content or words that aren’t relevant to the topic. In fact, with all of the backlash of SEO content (and how users are now flocking to Reddit for answers), we may see condensed content skyrocket in terms of value.

This means packed and comprehensive content but does it in a short, descriptive, and clear way. This is a hope for me and many others, but only time will tell with that.

13. Optimize for Entities, Not Just Keywords

Now, this is the part of the SEO checklist that will separate yourself from the competition.

Remember how keyword stuffing is bad? Well, this is the alternative to fight against keyword stuffing. Instead of stuffing your page with your primary keyword over and over again (which used to work back in the early to mid-2000s), now we focus on entities, which are terms, places, things, and people that help search engines better understand your content.

As I mentioned, Google’s algorithm used to prioritize keyword stuffing, but now their algorithm focuses on natural language processing to understand the words being used on a page.

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That’s how they can determine what’s quality content and what’s not. But in the case of entities, these help search engines better categorize your content and measure the relevancy of your content to the topic.

For a deep dive into entities, I recommend reading this article to get a better understanding of entity SEO. But to optimize your content for entities, you’d basically be finding entities that align with your overall topic and adding them into your content.

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In the case of a SaaS, let’s say your solution is a project management tool; in addition to your target keyword, which is “project management tool,” you’ll want to include other entities like “project management” “managing projects,” “project managers,” “operations.”

Basically, any terms you can think of that help search engines better understand your content and improve the relevancy of your content to that topic. It also proves expertise as well; a person who knows project management tactics will be able to talk descriptively about it, and with entities, that’s Google’s way of measuring that you know what you’re talking about.

But if you know your topic well, these entities will likely end up in your content naturally. I recommend using tools like SurferClearscope, and Frase to help guide you when you’re optimizing for entities. And then use Google’s natural language API to see how your content is being interpreted.

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14. Look Out For Content Cannibalization

If you’re creating content at scale for your SaaS, you likely have some content that’s targeting similar search intents, leading to keyword cannibalization issues.

Cannibalization happens when you have 2 pages competing for the same keyword intent, which causes Google to pick one URL over the other. In most cases, Google will just devalue both of your pages.

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To fix cannibalization, you need to identify the underperforming cannibalization page and merge it into the performing one. You can also reoptimize the page for a different intent.

Either way, I recommend auditing your SaaS content at least 1 a quarter to find opportunities to find content like this.

 

Seems like a Lot Right? You Could Also Partner With a SaaS SEO Specialist Who Will Handle All of This For You

This SaaS SEO checklist should be enough to keep your strategy in check and effective. If you really want to level up your SEO strategy, I highly recommend looking into optimization tools; they’ll make the process so much easier for you.

If you need additional help, feel free to schedule an SEO strategy call with me. I’m an SEO consultant for B2B SaaS companies, so I can help out if needed.

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