Nick Brown is the Founder and CEO of accelerate agency, a SaaS SEO & content agency. Working with enterprise and scale-up brands.
Want an easy way to evaluate how effectively your SaaS business is using SEO as a sales channel? Just ask yourself this question: Would you double your monthly spend on SEO?
Evaluating your reaction to that question is like an instant health check for your SEO. Here are some different responses you might have had and what I think they mean.
‘Why would I want to do that?’
If your first instinct is to wonder why a SaaS company might want to double its SEO spend, then it may mean you should reconsider how important SEO could be to your business.
To be a successful SaaS company, your website should be generating leads for the sales team. Potential customers will be searching online for solutions to their problems. If your SaaS product can help them solve that problem, your website needs to appear at the very top of their search results.
The ROI from SEO campaigns varies, but for a good campaign, it can range from 1-to-4 (meaning you get $4 back for every $1 you put into your SEO efforts) to as high as 1-to-120. Even at the low range, if you’re getting an ROI of 1-to-4 from your SEO spend, why would you not want to double it?
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Instead of asking why you should double your SEO spend, ask, “why not?”
‘The ROI from my SEO isn’t high enough.’
Doubling your SEO spend might sound like crazy talk if your current campaign isn’t delivering a high enough ROI to make it worthwhile. There are two main reasons an SEO campaign can have a low ROI:
• As I explained in my previous article, SEO is a momentum game. Making initial progress takes a lot of work, but making progress gets easier and easier as you go forward. If your ROI is too low, your SEO campaign might not have had enough time to show the results you want.
• If your SEO campaign is over six months old, however, you should be seeing encouraging results. If an established SEO campaign isn’t performing well enough to justify an increased investment, then this is an important signal that something isn’t working.
‘I would prefer to invest more in PPC than SEO.’
Most SaaS companies use both pay-per-click (PPC) and SEO to generate leads. Done well, both should return fantastic ROI.
In some very specific ways, PPC is much better than SEO. Unlike SEO, PPC campaigns can generate returns immediately with no time lag. Google also provides much better metrics for PPC than SEO, making it much easier for data-driven marketers to judge what’s working and what isn’t.
Relying on PPC too much will eventually hinder growth for SaaS companies, however. As I explain in more detail here, the ROI from PPC campaigns goes down as a campaign gets bigger. If you want your company to grow sustainably for the long term, invest in SEO.
If your SaaS company is an early-stage startup, concentrating on your PPC budget probably makes sense. Whatever stage your company is at, however, the goal should really be to decrease PPC spending over time.
‘I don’t believe my company would benefit from more SEO.’
What I’m about to say may shock people who know me, as I generally recommend SEO as the solution for any business problem. But there are times when spending more on SEO might not make sense.
There will be tens of thousands of relevant keywords for selling your SaaS product, but even with a number that large, it is possible (after a lot of work) to start ranking for most of these.
Eventually, after years of work and investment, it is possible to reach a point where ROI stops increasing enough to justify increased investment. Staying at the top in SEO still requires a significant commitment, but normally not increased investment.
Before you get too excited, though, let me explain that this sort of situation really should be temporary.
Most SaaS companies I’ve worked with will introduce new products as the sales from earlier products begin to plateau. New products are designed to solve new business problems, and that means there are suddenly thousands of new keywords to target.
So, it’s theoretically possible for increased investment in SEO to not be worth it, but this should really be a sign that a SaaS company needs to invest in new products.
‘My company lacks the capacity for more SEO.’
This is possibly the most common reaction. Even if your company has a successful SEO strategy that is showing results, investing in more results requires a capacity that most SaaS companies don’t have in-house.
Here’s what I mean: Expanding an SEO campaign means producing a lot more content and using that content to generate a lot more links. Getting those links in bulk requires an experienced outreach team that can create opportunities and a dedicated team of editors and writers to fulfill them. Most SaaS companies simply don’t have dozens of underutilized people on their staff who are trained with the appropriate skills to do this sort of work.
This is where getting agency support is almost always necessary. A good agency will already have a dedicated outreach team, writers and editors in place, and will be experienced at scaling up to meet new demand if needed. Choosing the right agency can be difficult, but asking a specialist SaaS SEO agency these five questions would be a good place to start.
Also, just a warning: If you attend a conference anytime soon and you meet a guy who looks like me, don’t be surprised if one of my first questions is, “Would you double your monthly spend on SEO?”
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Author: Nick Brown, CommunityVoice