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Keyword Research for SaaS SEO: A Realistic Actionable Strategy! (2022)

We discuss how you can perform keyword research for your SaaS growth with insights from SEO experts and SaaS founders.

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Note: SaaSwrites is a curated growth marketing hub and resource built to help SaaS founders grow their products. We sincerely thank all our experts for their constant value addition to this world.
Are you wasting a lot of time doing keyword research and writing a great blog post only to find get 37 views and ranked on page 7?
Or are you finally focusing more on SEO and building a keyword strategy that will bring you millions of impressions and hopefully leads and sales?
Well, just two months ago, I had the same problem.
Now my keyword strategy for SaaS SEO is on point with no confusion with some of my pages reaching page 2 and helping me bring more leads for my SaaS.
In this article, I will explain what and how a SaaS product needs to do to build an effective, actionable, and realistic keyword strategy that actually brings in results in the next 6-12 months. Let’s go!

Your initial keyword research strategy for a SaaS SEO should be to focus on below the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) content.

Let me explain:
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Step 1: Start below the BOFU

What does that mean?
  • Write user guides for all your smallest SaaS features
  • Optimize them for SEO by adding a benefit to the title.
For example, here’s a title template that you can apply for your SaaS product:
Here's how <SaaS product> can help bloggers with <your special feature>
This serves two purposes:
  1. Let's Google know your unique product for the target market (bloggers in this case)
  1. Creates help guides for your existing customers
Before you write for any new customers, write for customers you already have!
You'll create SEO relevance + great customer support
Now add Rich media to these user guides. You can add:
  • YouTube video
  • maybe a podcast
  • Add some infographs and screenshots
Then add your internal links.
This will send further strong signals to Google!

Step 3: Build and develop your topical relevance

Once you cover all your user guides richly, start creating topical relevance for BOFU content.
You can do this by:
  • Comparing your features
  • Add why your benefits matter more
Slowly create topical relevance with each feature and comparison.
Add 'Alternative to <WP> for <benefit> pages.
This will help you build a solid base of content and a great start of unique keywords that your SaaS product will rank for.
Once you write your guides explaining all your features, you can move forward with BOFU keywords!
But first, let us understand the keyword search intent:

Understanding keyword search intent for your SaaS SEO

Answering the searchers' intent is key, Anyone who's doing a Google search wants one of the following four things:
1. Information
2. Navigation
3. Transaction
4. Comparison
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Let’s understand the intents.

1. SaaS Information intent

These are queries like "what is cold email", “how to build backlinks” and how-tos.
People are looking for help on how to get things done. They'll do it themselves. You just need to give them the right tools.
Volume
Competition
Effort
Impact
High
High
High
High
Tip: Work on informational content when you have deep expertise in your SaaS service to rank higher in search engines. For informational content, you need to be exhaustive in your answering.

2. Navigational intent

People using these keywords are looking for something specific. A brand like "Hypefury" for example.
It's not hard to rank for competitors but you won't get a lot of traffic out of it. Focus on the comparison intent (which we'll talk about in a sec).
Volume
Competition
Effort
Impact
Low
Low
Low
Moderate

3. Transactional intent

This is used when people want to buy. The search results are littered with ads and its pay-to-play. It's really hard to rank high on these types of keywords AND get any meaningful organic traffic. This is where Google makes its money.
Volume
Competition
Effort
Impact
Moderate
High
High
Moderate

4. Comparison and investigation

Before you buy you need to convince yourself you're buying the right thing so you Google: "Best restaurant in NYC". These are also highly competitive terms but
Now that you know what types of user intent there is we can focus our on-page optimization to match and exceed expectations.
Volume
Competition
Effort
Impact
Low
Low
Moderate
High

How to do keyword research for your new SaaS SEO?

When you have a new domain with a low DA, you can not go after those high-volume money keywords. You lack authority & trust with Google to rank for those. Instead, you have to find KWs that are easy to rank and are low competition.
How? Keep reading...

1. Start keyword research for SaaS SEO with Google autocomplete

Let's say your niche SaaS is for fishing. Put your seed keyword in the search bar "Why my fish" followed by an asterisk (*) & note down all autocomplete suggestions.
Do this for a few more seed keywords like
  • Can fish *
  • Do fish * etc.
Note down all the autocomplete suggestions and put them into a nice google-sheet.
Next step: We analyze each of these keywords to see if they are EASY-TO-RANK or not.
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2. Check SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for your SaaS SEO

Open google incognito, search your keyword & check the top 10 results for:
  • Low DA (Domain Authority)websites (DA < 10)
  • Discussion forums
  • Quora/Reddit posts
  • Pinterest/Facebook posts
  • Low-quality ranking articles
If the KW (Keywords) ticks all or most of these, highlight it!
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3. Validate demand for your SaaS SEO

This step is important because most easy-to-rank keywords tend to have very low volumes. One way to validate search volume is to put the keyword in any KW research tool (like Ahrefs) and get an idea.
Pursue it differently. Instead of checking for KW volume, I check for topic volume.
Why?
Because that particular KW might have a low volume, but it might also have dozens even hundreds of variations that can combine together to give you high volume.

4. Check Topic volume for your SaaS SEO

Take the top 5 ranking articles and put them in Ahref one by one and check for how many total KWs each article is ranking for.
Make sure you only check articles relevant to that keyword (sometimes, SERP also shows irrelevant results).
If the top results for that keyword are ranking for a LOT of different variations of the same or similar keywords, It's a GOOD sign. That means you can not only rank for that keyword but for a lot of those other variations too.
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Now you got a keyword that;
  • has very low competition in SERP (mostly UGC and low DA sites)
  • has a lot of variations that can add up to a high volume
  • has low-quality articles ranking
Now, pen down the best possible article on that topic covering all the aspects, optimize for the keywords, publish and see your traffic go up.
Once you publish 50 - 80 of these articles, your website will gain enough trust (and traffic) to go for high-volume keywords.

9 ways to find high ranking keywords for your SaaS SEO using Ahrefs

Julian shares actionable keyword research tips using @ahrefs that I've used to find great opportunities, identify underserved niches & scale search traffic w/ mostly high-quality content.

1. Simple hack to find permutations around core topics for SaaS SEO

  1. Go to Keywords explorer
  1. While on the empty editor, click Enter
  1. Filter by core keywords and other stuff
  1. Shave off hours of keyword research by doing this.
  1. Funnily enough, it's a feature many users & SEO's don't even know about.
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  1. Go through Quora's and Reddit's keywords in the top 10 results
  1. Enter URL in Site Explorer
  1. Click Organic keywords
  1. Filter to positions 1-10 by relevant keywords.
Helped @philostar rank articles in under a day w/ this
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3. Do this when you are early in your SaaS SEO journey

Use #1. hack and filter KD <15; vol. >500; enter core kw. Prior ranking for these kws to boost chances of ranking fast. Scaled @mentorcruise blog to 1.5 million search visits in under a year primarily using this tactic ;).
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4. Rank old SaaS SEO content in under a day through a content update

  1. Identify pages where you rank on the 2nd page for high volume queries.
  1. Add 500-1000 new words.
  1. Enter your URL in Site Explorer
  1. Click Organic keywords
  1. Filter by position 11-20 and volume by >200.
Here's an example using @ahrefs
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5. Find topics for your blog

  1. Do step 1
  1. Filter by core keyword
  1. SERP features include featured snippets.
  1. Most featured snippets are paragraphs that you can target to get search traffic.
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6. Competitive Keyword research is all about finding keywords your competitors rank for:

  1. Enter URL
  1. Click Competing Domains
  1. Click Content gap
  1. Enter top 10 competitors
  1. Use Filter tool. This is extremely useful for basic keyword research.
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Read:
Note: @ahrefs doesn't allow saving the keywords in lists through this though.
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7. 10x your search traffic for your pages on the first page of the SERPs

  1. Enter URL
  1. Click Organic Keywords
  1. Filter pos. 2-10
  1. SERP Features “Where target doesn’t rank” & tick “All Features” > Vol > Optimize content for elements
Ex. using @sejournal
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  1. Enter URL
  1. Click Organic keywords
  1. Click SERP Features “Where target doesn’t rank” & Select “featured snippets”
  1. Optimize.
Example using @levelsfyi
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9. Spot underserved niches

  1. Enter keywords in keyword explorer
  1. Click Matching terms
  1. Include: best, review, alternative
  1. Filter <15KD
  1. Sort by volume
Boom! Tons of low-competition, high-volume queries.
For example, using keywords "weed, CBD, oil"
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Case Study: Alex shares how to find thousands of low competition Keywords in 30 seconds to grow a website to 125k monthly visitors

Here’s how Alex did his keyword research:
The most common advice that I see about keyword research is to avoid big fish (high authority competitors) in your niche... and this is a HUGE MISTAKE.
A high authority website will usually rank for millions of keywords.
But did you know that only 10-15% of their keywords rank in the Top 10 in SERPs?
It means the remaining 85-90% of keywords are fair game, and we will be able to discover many low-competition keywords with this huge database.

How to Find Thousands of Low Competition Keywords using @Ahrefs

Add a high authority domain in your niche to a dashboard and set the following filters. Position: 11-100 KD: 0-20
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How to Find Thousands of Low Competition Keywords using @Semrush

Add a high authority domain in your niche to a dashboard and set the following filters. Pos: 11-100 KD: 0-29
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So depending on the tool and the keyword difficulty setting we received up to 1.2M of potentially low-competition keywords to work with.
Crazy, right?
Let's say your website or a cluster on your website is about flooring. We'll add an additional filter to include all keywords containing 'flooring'.
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Now that you have a few thousands of relevant low-competition keywords, your goal is to find gaps in Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and feel them with your high-quality content.
Your article should land on the first page for a given query in SERP.
WARNING: Most SEO tools calculate KD (keyword difficulty) based on the strength of incoming backlinks so you shouldn't blindly trust this metric.
Before you create an article on a particular topic, make sure to manually assess SERP to identify who are your competitors and if you stand a chance to rank on the first page of a targeted SERP.

Conclusion: Having a well-defined strategy and roadmap to build your keyword research for SaaS SEO will help you bring consistent results

Here are some of the points to consider:
  • Start writing your blogs with keywords that are below the BOFU. Cover all your SaaS features with well-detailed user guides, screenshots, and rich media content. Have them written with a specific benefit to your target audience. You might create some unique keywords and that’s ok.
  • Next, understand the keyword intent that your target audience will search your solution for. Having a buyer intent will result in you competing less with high search volume and having a more transactional-focused approach. This will help you build sales and good domain authority.
  • Consider to leverage some keyword research tools that help you find keywords that are relevant for your SEO journey. Filter your results with Keyword Density (KD), Domain Authority (DA) and apply search results based on keywords that you can serve well with your content
 

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