Keyword Research is Your Best Weapon for SaaS SEO Success

Poppy Malise
February 5, 2022

Once upon a time, digital marketers came from far and wide to battle against one another in the mythical land of Google. They had heard that the most powerful weapon out there was called keyword research, but what was it exactly?

It wasn’t anything like a sword or shield that could be wielded by the best warrior; in fact, it didn’t belong to any person at all. No one knew where it came from or who had discovered this secret power long ago. But there were rumors about its whereabouts: some said that keyword research was hidden deep inside the SERP mountain range. Others said that it was discovered at the top of Mt. KW Tools. The most persistent rumor, however, was that this secret weapon was locked up in a castle guarded by Google Bots who would only let you in if you answered their riddle.

Whatever the case may be, keyword research is a powerful weapon that is making waves throughout the digital world and SaaS marketers everywhere are flocking to it. Thanks to numerous tools, SaaS companies can now identify their highest-value audiences much faster than ever before! Best of all, once you find out what keywords your audience is searching for online, your SaaS companies can prioritize exactly which keywords should go into which page, so that you can attract these customers as quickly as possible.

With that said, you might be wondering, how do I start keyword research for my SaaS company? This is an excellent question and we’re glad you asked! Let’s go ahead and dive into this topic further…

TL;DR

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What is SaaS Keyword Research?

Keyword research is a process that involves discovering which keywords, phrases or search terms are best for your SaaS business, based on the value they provide to your target audience. In other words, it’s about researching what kind of words or sentences people are using to search for businesses like yours! Your goal as a marketer should be to make sure your website ranks highly in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) for those terms.

The key to successful keyword strategy is understanding who you’re targeting, what they want and where they are in the buyer journey. This makes it easier to decide which keywords will generate leads and create a successful SEO strategy for your SaaS company.

Best Keyword Research Tools

Before we dig deeper into the topic of SaaS keyword research, you’ll first need to know about some of the best tools out there on the market that can help.

KWFinder

KWFinder is hands down our favorite keyword research tool because of its ease-of-use and straightforward interface.

When you have the Premium or Agency plan, you and your team can use KWFinder and other Mangools apps simultaneously. This can help streamline your workflow and speed up the keyword research process.

You can try their tool with a 10-day free trial and then continue with $39.90/month for a Premium subscription or $79.90/month for the Agency plan. They offer 40% off for an annual subscription.

Google Keyword Planner

This free keyword planner tool by Google allows SaaS marketers to discover new keyword ideas, see search volume data and create lists via Google Adwords.

Google Keyword Planner also allows SaaS startups to filter keywords by category and region to really drill down on what people are looking for. In addition, SaaS companies can see how many people search for any given keyword each month, which is one of the most important keyword metrics.

Keep in mind that you may need an Adwords account to use this tool. You can sign up here if you don’t have one already. It’s free anyway.

You can also use other great keyword research tools such as Moz, Ahrefs and WordStream.

Brainstorming Customer Keyword Categories

To begin creating your keyword strategy, you’ll need to gather any information you have on your target audience and start brainstorming with your team. After all, the more you know about your ideal customers, the better.

Start by identifying keywords related to your software business. You can also look at your competitors’ websites to find keywords in their landing pages and blogs, or you can look for keywords that their customers are searching for and use those as a starting point for brainstorming.

Once you have a pool of target keywords that might potentially work for your SaaS company, you’ll need to determine the keyword value. Only then will you be able to choose the best ones for your business and create a successful SaaS SEO strategy. 

To help you move forward with your research, here are some keyword categories you can use.

Branded Keywords

Naturally, you’ll rank higher for your branded keywords as Google increasingly recognizes your website. If you’re a brand new software company, you may want to jumpstart your business with a paid ad campaign while you’re developing your SEO strategy.

Market Segment Keywords

These are keywords people use when they are looking for general information about a certain industry. Think about using the word software, system, solution, platform, tool, etc.

Examples: ‘VPN service,’ ‘vacation rental software,’ ‘influencer marketing software’

Product Solution Keywords

These keywords are used when people need to solve a certain problem and are actively searching for tools that could help them.

Examples: ‘scan website for malware,’ ‘invoice processing automation,’ ‘call logging’

Feature Keywords

Your software is likely to have various features, and people often search for product features to find what they are looking for. Terms like scalability, client portal, export data and cloud integration all apply.

Examples: ‘customizable short url,’ ‘design your own shirt,’ ‘salesforce adoption’

Other Software Integration Keywords

These are searches for terms related to your product and other software integration. Think of the big, popular integration softwares such as HubSpot, Stripe, Slack, SalesForce, Facebook, Google Sheets, etc.

Competitor Alternative Keywords

There may be a competitor who has already established a dominant position in your industry. You might gain SEO momentum by including their brand name. Researching for competitor alternative keywords will show you that there are people out there who need software like yours but may not want to use your competitor’s software and are not aware of your brand.

Example: ‘dropbox alternative’, ‘stripe alternative payment methods’

Long-Tail Keywords

Also known as the low-hanging fruit keywords. These are longer and more specific keywords that can be used to target your ideal customer. Using long-tail keywords can help you improve your User Experience (UX) and rank higher and faster on Google.

Most low-hanging fruit keywords have a lower search volume than the general keywords, but these types of keywords establish better communication between your SaaS business and the customers who are actively looking for the software you offer.

Examples: ‘payment gateway for property management,’ ’email automation for insurance companies,’ ‘CRM for small businesses’

Pulling More Keywords from Your Google Search Console

Search Console is a free tool from Google that can help you understand the performance of your SaaS startup SEO. You can see ALL the keywords that your website is ranking for or keywords that are ranking for specific pages only. It’s the best tool to do keyword analysis for SaaS companies because it allows you to understand exactly what keywords your customers are currently searching to find your site and how well your site is performing in the search results.

When you go to the Search Console, click the “Open Report” link in the upper right corner. You will see a new page with website traffic, impressions and other information. You’ll then be able to go to specific pages from there.

To begin, click the “Pages” link and you’ll see updated statistics specifically for that page. Then click on the “Queries” tab and check the keyword lists that your page is currently ranking for. By default, Search Console sorts results based on how often the keywords have been clicked on, but you may also sort them by impression. This will give you a broader picture of the keywords used to reach your SaaS product.

Determine User Search Intent

The key ingredient to the success of your SaaS SEO strategy is understanding your audience’s search intent. It is also the secret sauce to creating content that attracts, retains and converts them into paying customers.

It’s easy to get caught up in researching keywords, but you must remember that each user walks their own customer’s journey. Your website needs to provide value during every step of the process, from discovery all the way to purchase and advocacy.

If you know that you’ve created stellar content but aren’t converting, then it may mean that the keywords you use and the intent don’t match.

The most important goal for Google is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. In other words, Google wants to show websites that will satisfy the user’s search intent, making it a major priority for your SaaS startup SEO efforts. When a person searches for a certain keyword but receives irrelevant information, that indicates to Google that the intent of the content may be wrong.

To fix this, start doing intent research for your SaaS keyword analysis by taking the keywords from your list and diving right in. To avoid bias, use an incognito browser while conducting this study. Then examine all the website content within Google’s first page results to determine what Google thinks users want to see. While doing this, make sure that you turn on your keyword radar because you may find new keywords to add to your list.

There are only three primary keyword intents but there are an infinite number of possibilities for searches. So, keep in mind that some keywords may fall under more than one category.

Search Intent: Awareness

Awareness-related keywords are commonly used when individuals search for information, answer their questions and research products. These keywords usually indicate that the user is not in a buying mindset. That means you need to create content that will guide their buying decision.

When you conduct keyword intent research on Google, you’ll notice that awareness-related keywords will show condensed information like knowledge grabs, highlighted snippets, Wikipedia, a dictionary, or informative blog articles.

Search Intent: Consideration

Consideration-related keywords are used when customers are trying to inform themselves before making a purchase decision. They are trying to determine if your software has any value and may be exploring different options, checking prices and comparing features. Your customers have now completed the awareness phase and are focused on making buying decisions.

When you conduct keyword intent research on Google, you’ll notice that consideration-related keywords will show similar results like a featured snippet, but they’ll also include sponsored results at the top of the SERP. The results will almost certainly contain brands searched for rather than simply offering information.

Search Intent: Commercial

Commercial intent keywords are for customers who are already in the buying mindset. They know what they want and focus on finding it rather than educating themselves about your product. This can include finding out information about benefits and drawbacks or which software they should choose among several options.

Commercial intent keywords for SaaS marketing SEO are a bit challenging to spot. With normal products, it usually leads with paid results or shopping results, shopping carousels and reviews, but there is no such thing for software results. The good rule of thumb is to use longer-tail keywords to target commercial intent and use more generic keywords for awareness.

Analyze Your List with Important Keyword Metrics

Once you’ve found the list of keywords that make the most sense in your SaaS keyword analysis, it’s time to combine them into one list in Google Sheets or any other tool of your preference.

Once you’ve combined everything into one list, you can start prioritizing them based on important keyword metrics.

Search Volume

From the earliest days of SEO, search volume has been an important metric. It represents the number of people who are actively searching for any given keyword. 

If a keyword has a high search volume, there is a good chance that people are actively looking for the kind of information and products you offer. On the other hand, if you find low search volume, it might indicate that there isn’t a market or that you’re researching the wrong keywords.

However, high search traffic does not guarantee quality keywords. A generic term like ‘CRM’ has a large search volume, but it is not necessarily the best target keyword, especially if your business is new.

When creating a keyword strategy, keep in mind that search volume for certain keywords changes drastically throughout the year. You need to check search volume regularly to ensure that your SaaS SEO strategy is still in line with the latest trends.

Keyword Difficulty

The ultimate goal of your SaaS marketing SEO efforts is to rank in the top spots in Google SERPs. Keyword Difficulty (KD) is an important metric to determine how difficult it is to achieve a higher ranking. Many tools (including the ones we mentioned above) have their own unique ways of calculating Keyword Difficulty.

These tools will calculate a score after analyzing the search results to determine:

  • The domain authority of other websites
  • The number of links the top pages received
  • How often the positions change

The higher the number, the more challenging it is to rank. These difficulties may be due to a site’s age, popularity or heavy volume of high-quality content.

You may also check the ranking difficulty for a specific term by Googling it. If the first-page content isn’t well optimized, you might be able to outperform them with an improved SaaS content marketing strategy and on-page SEO.

Keyword Trends

Another important metric that is often overlooked is keyword trends. This metric allows you to see how search volume varies over time. 

KWFinder, for example, allows you to examine monthly search trends from Google Trends, which provides a clear view of past search volumes month by month.

If you find that a keyword has a high search volume but it’s on the decline, it might be a sign of an aging topic. Unless you can provide new insights or information on the topic, there’s a good chance that it won’t perform well.

SERP Overview

The reason why we can’t stop recommending KWFinder enough is because it offers more data on the SERP Overview and is helpful to guiding your SaaS keyword research. It provides data like Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA), number of external backlinks to the URL, overall Link Profile Strength (LPS) and estimated visits your page receives per month.

Domain Authority is a Moz metric that predicts how well a domain will rank. It’s calculated by counting linking root domains, number of total links, among other things. Domain Authority scores range from one to 100, with higher numbers indicating a higher probability of ranking.

Page Authority is another Moz metric that predicts how well a specific page will rank. It uses a machine learning model to identify the algorithm that best correlates with rankings across the thousands of SERPs they predict against, then produces Page Authority scores using that specific calculation.

The Link Strength of a Page is a Mangools metric for determining the overall strength of backlinks on any particular page. The higher the score, the more powerful the link is.

Combine and Eliminate Keywords

Once you have a list of keywords that meet your criteria, combining them into one big, fat list is best practice. This will allow you to see your SaaS keyword research in a different light.

You’ll inevitably have some keywords that aren’t good to target because of wrong search intent, relevance, search volume or difficulty. You should eliminate keywords that are irrelevant to your current strategy or save them for later.

Another reason you should get rid of unnecessary keywords is because you may have too many in one category, meaning that the category is oversaturated. The goal is to produce quality content for your target audience rather than keyword stuffing.

Start with the extremes and work your way down. Keywords with an excessively high search volume are far from relevant for your business. Keywords with high difficulty and extremely low search volume need to go. Remember, the right intention of a few searchers for any given keyword vastly outweighs a high search volume.

Implementing Your SaaS Keyword Research to Create a Successful Content Strategy

Now that you have a large list of keywords, it’s time to refine them into a sound content strategy. Create landing pages and authoritative articles and blogs with each keyword category in mind.

Start creating content for each stage of your sales funnel and focus on satisfying your searchers’ needs wherever they are in their buying process. Once you have them hooked on your brand’s information, they might be ready for a product or service page.

Check out our Smart SEO Content Strategy to Shorten SaaS Sales Cycles article and learn about how strong SaaS SEO and content marketing strategies can boost your sales, increase customer satisfaction and position you as an industry leader.

SaaS Keyword Research: Partner with the Pros

When it comes to crafting a powerful SEO and content strategy for your SaaS company, the key ingredient is understanding what keywords your audience is using to find what they need.

It can be challenging to start, but that’s why our team is here! We’ll take care of everything from keyword planning through execution so that you can focus on what matters.

Your customers are searching for answers. Collaborate with our SaaS SEO agency to leverage our proven strategy for better digital visibility and be their solution.

Let’s connect.

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