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min read
May 23, 2024

Starter Guide to SEO for SaaS Companies

Parthi Loganathan
CEO of Letterdrop, former Product Manager on Google Search

As a former Google product manager and now CEO of a late-seed stage startup (where SEO is one of two inbound channels), I know how confusing SEO can be for companies in the SaaS space.

This starter guide cuts through the noise to provide a straightforward, practical approach to implementing an effective SEO strategy that gets you qualified traffic from your ideal buyers who can turn into pipeline.

It covers:

  • how to determine if SEO is right for your business
  • tactics for short-term results and long-term success
  • how to troubleshoot issues along the way, and more

Who Is This Guide For?

This guide is intended for early stage startups, likely Series A companies, who are considering SEO for the first time and are looking to capture existing demand.



  • Have a simple website with a few pages or blog posts
  • Have one or two marketers on staff
  • Are looking to capture existing demand amongst people who are already searching for solutions relating to the problems you solve
  • Are looking into turning your website into an acquisition channel through search engines with little idea where to begin

Do You Have the Right Horizon to Make an SEO Investment?

SEO is largely a demand capture channel, so you need to understand what in-market buyers might be looking for. If there is no existing demand, it's not going to get you leads, and you should probably invest in demand generation versus demand capture activities first.

You also need to realize that SEO is competitive and usually takes a fair amount of upfront commitment, unless you're uniquely positioned in a niche with minimal competition. It does however compound over time and can be one of the best low CAC channels in the long run.

If you're looking for quicker (but more expensive) wins, or if you don't really understand whether or what your buyers are searching for, it might not be for you. And that's completely okay — it's better to know what the channel can and cannot do, and decide accordingly instead of getting frustrated when you can't make it work.

5 Early-Stage SEO Strategies and Tactics for Success

Before you do anything, a quick check is to see if you can leverage programmatic SEO. Your options are:

  • Programmatic SEO to create a large number of keyword-targeted pages at scale using templates, data, and perhaps AI
  • An editorial SEO strategy, or "content SEO" where you actually go an answer specific questions that might be asked in searches

Most companies don't have a business that's amenable to programmatic SEO. You need to have something about your product or ICP that can be segmented and supported with data. If that's you, you should check out our programmatic SEO guide.

For example, Zapier creates dedicated pages for every integration they have and all combinations of integrations. Programmatic SEO makes perfect sense for them.

Examples of programmatic pages from Zapier
Examples of programmatic pages from Zapier

The rest of this guide is specifically focused on what you will need for editorial or content SEO.

1. Start with Bottom-of-Funnel Keywords

Focus on bottom-of-funnel content first.

Your goal is to get leads as quickly as possible. The best way to do that is to capture the <5% of buyers who are already in-market and searching for solutions.

They're going to review sites like G2, asking their friends and in communities, and searching on Google (or ChatGPT).

Target keywords that indicate someone is actively researching and close to investing in a solution like yours. Let's say you sell a CRM product. Your keyword search checklist should include:

  • Competitor alternatives. eg - "HubSpot alternatives", "cheaper version of Salesforce"
  • Comparison searches. eg - "HubSpot vs Salesforce", "HubSpot vs [your product]"
  • Category searches. eg - "best software tools for [category]", "CRMs for [specific vertical, like dentists]", "HubSpot for real estate"

These searchers are clearly actively looking for solutions. If you can rank for these queries, the traffic will be highly qualified and primed to convert.

An example of a "competitor x vs y" article that indicates readiness to buy
An example of a "competitor x vs y" article that indicates readiness to buy

As your site matures, you can start building topical authority, bucketing or clustering topics, get into the nitty-gritty of use cases, and produce more awareness content targeting higher levels in the funnel.

But before you can even consider doing that, aim for at least 20-30 pieces of content with commercial intent to capture in-market buyers.

2. Develop Expert-Led, Data-Driven Content

Once you have your keyword strategy in place, you need to start creating content.

We have an article on the first twenty pieces of content any B2B business should begin with — but if you want your SEO content to work, you need two fundamentals:

  1. Experts to write or inform your content. Copying what's out there already or using pure AI-generated drivel won't help you stand out and rank. Most companies will hire writers who don't know your business and expect magic. It's unfair to them if you don't also pair them with subject matter experts yet to get credible and unique content. You need your writer to be able to interview customers, executives, sellers, partners, and product managers at your company.
  2. First-party data and related assets. Use multimedia assets wherever you can, including screenshots, charts, and videos supported by internal data and research. Your competition can't copy it and buyers actually value these assets they can trust.

An example of proprietary data from Gong
An example of proprietary data from Gong

We've integrated an AI workflow into Letterdrop that helps you source and embed expert quotes directly from the editor.

The expert receives an email prompt, they record a short clip, and you receive the clip back complete with a logo and captions. It's also prepped for YouTube.

Most companies think about SEO wrong — just walls of regurgitated text. The only way to stand out and rank in 2024 is to actually apply yourself and not be scared about getting the voice of experts out there.

Don't be afraid to interview your experts, upload those gold nuggets to YouTube, and embed them on your blog. It also helps you win at SEO on YouTube.

3. Post a Blog at Least Once a Week to Break Out of Google's Sandbox

If you have less than 30 pages on your site, it takes momentum to break out of Google's sandbox, which is a supposed set of algorithms that restrict freshly created websites from ranking well in Google SERPs for a certain time.

At this point you don't have enough ranking pages for Google to feel confident in consistently surfacing your content.

With this in mind:

  • Target publishing a blog at least once a week, or four times a month. This will help you reach that necessary momentum
  • Alternatively, you can release your content all at once. But this can be demanding on a small team, and it doesn't allow you to analyze and learn patterns the same way as if you were pacing yourself

Consider promoting new posts across other marketing channels as well, including email, ads and social media. A consistent distribution strategy helps you amplify reach and further builds your authority around specific topics.

4. Optimize Your Pages For Conversions

You ultimately need to analyze your website experience through the lens of visitors to your site and answer search intent.

Just answer the damn question, and do it the best out of what's out there already.

Here are some other steps to follow to make sure that your pages are actually optimized for the user.
1. Validate that your target keyword aligns with your business and audience intent. Search the keyword and analyze the top-ranking pages to understand what Google considers the best answer, and in what format. Letterdrop actually has native tooling to automate this.
Your goal should be to create the most comprehensive and authoritative content that provides the best answer to the search query. Incorporate those unique insights I talked about earlier however possible.
2. Design your pages for conversions. Structure your content journey backward from the conversion event that you want. For example, what would get people interested in booking a demo?
Educate and build trust with potential customers by addressing their pain points, and guide them toward your product as the go-to solution for their needs.

5. Know What to Outsource and Keep In-House

Lots of companies outsource their SEO efforts, even at the beginning.

But when it comes to developing a successful SEO strategy, there's one element you don't want to outsource — creating content that authentically captures your business expertise and customer insights.

Agency content will most likely be an uninspired amalgamation of what already exists online. It lacks the unique perspective only you can provide. This is because they have no true understanding of:

  • Your specific business
  • Your product/service offerings
  • Your ideal customer's needs and pain points

You also need to ask yourself exactly what you're outsourcing with an agency.

While agencies can manage tasks like:

  • Setting up SEO tools
  • Configuring paid advertising
  • Executing technical SEO audits

You should NEVER outsource:

  • Your core messaging and value proposition
  • Insights into what your customers truly care about
  • The unique expertise you aim to convey through content

Avoid Investing in Technical SEO in the Beginning

Companies often prematurely invest heavily in technical SEO audits before having enough website content. I've seen businesses with only 30 pages spend $20,000-$30,000 on an audit — money better spent actually producing quality content.

Don't put the cart before the horse. Focus first on building that substantive content base.

How to Troubleshoot SEO Plays

If you've invested time and effort into your SEO strategy but aren't seeing the + results you want, it's important to diagnose potential issues at various stages of your funnel.

Here are some common pitfalls and how you can address them:

1. Mismatched Search Demand:

  • You might have estimated a higher search demand for your keywords than actually exists. Tools like Semrush and Ahrefs provide estimates, but they don't cover all keywords and can involve guesswork
  • The audience searching for your keywords might not align with your target demographic. For instance, if you aim to reach VPs in North America, but the primary audience searching your keywords are individual contributors (ICs) in Brazil, there’s a clear mismatch

2. Highly Competitive Keywords:

  • If you're targeting highly competitive keywords, breaking through can be tough. This is often the case in saturated markets where many competent competitors vie for the same keywords
  • In such scenarios, consider revising your keyword strategy to focus on less contested niches that major players might be overlooking

3. Search Engine Limitations:

  • Sometimes, the issue may lie with the search engines themselves. Even if your content is high-quality and answers the user's query well, search algorithms don't always surface it — this is out of your control

4. Conversion Issues:

  • High traffic doesn’t always equate to high conversion. If your website doesn't have compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) or if your product doesn't resonate well with the audience, even the best content won't convert
  • It's important that your website not only attracts visitors but also effectively communicates your value proposition to convert visitors into customers

By carefully analyzing each stage—from keyword selection and content creation to channel optimization and conversion tactics—you can identify where your strategy might be faltering and make necessary adjustments.

Focus on Bottom-of-Funnel, Expert-Led Content

By following this playbook, sticking to bottom-of-funnel, expert-led content, you'll be able to drive pipeline quickly.

We're always available to chat best SEO practices and to help you automate them. Feel free to reach out.

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