SaaS Keyword Research: Techniques, Examples & Tips

From how to identify SaaS keywords to mistakes to avoid, learn everything you need to know about SaaS keyword research.

SaaS Keyword Research

SaaS Keyword Research: Techniques, Examples & Tips

Running a SaaS business isn’t like running a regular ol’ company.
So, why would you use the same SEO techniques that other industries use?

SaaS keyword research comes with its own unique challenges – and opportunities.

And as someone who’s helped multiple SaaS platforms 10x their organic traffic (without link building), I’m very well-versed with ins-and-outs of it.

I know what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to cover in this guide.

From the different kinds of SaaS keywords you’ll come across to how to evaluate them, and mistakes to avoid, I’m going to take you through EVERYTHING you need to know.

And by the end of it, you’re going to be more well-versed in SaaS keyword research than most “self-proclaimed” SEO experts out there. 😉

You’re Going to Learn About:

(click on the links to jump to a section)

Let’s get started!

7 Critical Keyword Components 

You can’t find the right keywords without knowing what you’re looking at.

Here’s a breakdown of all the components you need to keep track of when it comes to choosing the right SaaS keywords: 

1. Keyword Difficulty (KD)

Keyword difficulty is an estimate of how difficult it is to rank for a keyword.
The higher the score, the harder it is to rank for it.

When it comes to difficulty:

  • KD 0-10: Easy
  • KD 11-30: Medium
  • KD 31-70: Hard
  • KD 71-100: Super Hard

Does this mean all keywords with high KDs should be off limits?
Definitely not!

In fact, the keywords with the highest KDs are typically the keywords you want to rank for the most.

For example, if you run a project management tool, the keyword “project management tool” is probably up there with your most valuable keywords.

Just look at the KD for that:


It’s one of the reasons why some people choose to go the paid search route (purchasing ads) when it comes to super-high KD keywords.

Why?
You get a spot at the top of the results instantly – a spot that would’ve typically taken you months to achieve if you were to go the organic search route.

Unfortunately, the CPC (cost-per-click) for these keywords can make ads very expensive in the long run, so it still makes sense to still try and rank organically for your core keywords.

Fortunately, with the right SEO strategy and content, you could potentially rank for any keyword you want.

But more on that later. 😉

2. Search Volume (SV)

Search volume is the average monthly searches for a specific keyword in a specific country.

Let’s go back to our “project management tool” example from earlier:


You can see that the search volume for the keyword in:

  • The United States = 7800
  • The United Kingdom = 4700
  • Philippines = 2400
  • And so on

If you total the search figures across all the countries, you get a cumulative total search volume of 39000!

So, you should only go after keywords with high search volumes, right?
Nope!

Let me explain:
Many BOFU (bottom-of-the-funnel) keywords tend to be hyper-specific, and because of that hyper-specificity, they don’t have very high search volumes.

For example, let’s look at a more specific variation of “project management tool:”


The volume has plummeted!

However, if you run a project management tool that specifically caters to creative agencies, this is still an incredibly valuable term to rank for.

Why?
There’s a good chance that managers at creative agencies are the only people searching for this term. That means the searchers for this term fit your ICP (ideal customer profile) to a tee and have a very high chance of converting.

An added bonus?
Look at how much the KD dropped!
Ranking for this term will be much easier too.

This same logic applies for SaaS tools who operate with very large deal sizes, such as enterprise tools:


As each deal is worth so much, every conversion counts.

My point?
If the keyword resonates with your target audience, go after it – irrespective of the search volume.

3. CPC

CPC stands for cost-per-click.
If you were to purchase an ad for a specific keyword, you’d be paying this sum for each click your ad receives.

As we mentioned earlier, the more difficult a keyword is, the higher the CPC typically is.

For reference, the CPC for “project management tool” is $20!


That figure can add up really quickly – especially if you’re dealing with large search volumes.

So, be careful if you’re opting for the paid search route. 

Do it wrong and you could end up like this:


However, if the CPC for a keyword is pretty low, and the keyword is very conversion-focused, it might just make sense to pay for it to ensure you’re the #1 result.

You could even evaluate which keywords your competitors are bidding on to evaluate if purchasing an ad is worth it.

4. Search Intent

Evaluating the search intent behind a target keyword is fundamental to efficient SEO (search engine optimization). 

Go over the top ranking articles to determine what people are looking for when they type this keyword in.

Are they looking for:

  • A listicle of tools?
  • A detailed informative guide?
  • A page they can purchase items from?
  • A combination of all of these?

Let these results help you determine what kind of content you need to create for this keyword.

For example, the SERPs (search engine ranking positions) for “project management tool” are:


From these results, you can easily determine that people want a listicle of the best project management tools.

Therefore, in order to rank for this keyword, you’d likely have to offer them a listicle outlining the best tools available today.

5. Persona

This builds on the search intent you determined earlier.
Look at the SERPs to evaluate who you are writing for.

What is the audience like?
Are they experts?
Are they amateurs?

This will determine the kind of language and approach you use when creating your piece of content.

For example, the SERPs for “project management tool” show us that the searchers are likely project managers looking for a project management system to manage their operations.

Determining a keyword’s persona will help you evaluate if the searchers for that term fit your ICP or not. The more closely a keyword’s persona fits your ICP, the more valuable that keyword is.

6. Nature

Look at a keyword’s SERPs to determine the nature of the keyword in relation to the sales funnel.

If you were to categorize the searchers for a keyword into leads, where would they fall?

Would they be:

  • TOFU – top of the funnel leads (awareness)
  • MOFU – middle of the funnel leads (consideration)
  • BOFU – bottom of the funnel leads (decision) 

Why does this matter?
Your approach would vary greatly based on what kind of leads they are!

For example, as we mentioned earlier, SV (search volume) doesn’t necessarily have to be as important a factor when it comes to BOFU keywords. As they’re very conversion focused, you could still get tons of value by ranking for them – irrespective of volume.

For TOFU keywords however, where the conversion possibilities are typically much lower, you typically need to look at volume to determine its value. You’re tackling broad scale awareness here and hoping that some of those searches will lead to a purchase.

Let’s illustrate this with an example.
If you run a project management tool; some sample TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU keywords would be:

TOFU Keyword: Work productivity

The searcher is interested in productivity at work – but they could be a manager or an employee. Either way, they are looking into work productivity and could find value in your tool.

MOFU Keyword: Project management tips

The searcher is likely a project manager who fits your ICP. 
However, they’re not looking for a tool outright – just tips on being better.

BOFU Keyword: Project management tool

The searcher is explicitly looking for a project management solution – a prime candidate for conversion.

7. SERP Volatility

Remember when I said that the SERPs should determine the kind of content you create for a keyword?

Well, that’s true most of the time.


See, there are occasions where that might not be the right approach.

Enter: SERP volatility.
It’s a graphical depiction of what a keyword’s SERPs have been like in the past. 

The more stable the graph is, the more you can rest assured that you should follow the format that the current SERPs follow.

For example, the SERP graph for “project management tool” is pretty stable:


Hence, following that listicle format we talked about earlier still makes sense.

But what if the graph’s extremely volatile?
In that case, Google isn’t sure of what the right approach for this keyword is.

This presents itself as an opportunity for you to dig deeper, evaluate the persona and search intent yourself and craft a piece of content that you feel matches the keyword best.

However, even the most volatile graphs will have a few stable SERPs – and it’s these SERPs that you want to pay special attention to. 

Whatever they’re doing is working much better than the others and is something you need to replicate. 

So, don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel!

Right, so we’ve gone over the criteria to evaluate keywords.
But what are the different types of keywords you’ll come across?

8 Common Types of SaaS Keywords (with Examples)

When it comes to keyword types, they typically fall under one of these 8 categories:

1. Solution Keywords

What’s the first thing they teach you in sales?
You’re not selling a product, you’re selling a solution.

Use that same logic when it comes to identifying these keywords.

“What solutions does your tool offer a potential customer?”

Sure, you may run an email marketing tool.
But what can customers do with your tool?

This way, you open the possibilities for tons of different solutions.
And chances are, you already have a cheat code to generate these terms immediately.

What am I talking about?
Go to the features section on your SaaS website!
There’s a good chance each of those features can serve as a valuable keyword.

Let’s stick with that email marketing tool example to illustrate this.

Your email marketing tool can:

  • Perform mail merges
  • Conduct email A/B testing
  • Handle email tracking

The text in bold over there signifies a unique, relevant keyword opportunity that you can tackle.

Need proof?
Let’s run those terms through a keyword research tool like Ahrefs:


Just with those solutions, you’ve found over 85K worth of global traffic that’s up for grabs.

And what did you have to do?
Just take a glance at your features!

And here’s the thing:
Your competitors are already doing this as part of their content marketing and SEO efforts, so you should too!

Don’t believe me?
The top 3 organic results for “email tracking” are all SaaS tools that offer that solution:


2. Product Keywords

If you’ve got your solution terms down, this should be a walk in the park.

Why?
This builds on the data you collected earlier.
Product terms are essentially an extension of your “solutions.”

The only difference?
You’re just adding the word “tool” or “software” as a suffix!


Nope.
It really is that easy.

Let’s use two of the keywords from earlier:

  • Mail merge
  • Email tracking

Add “tool/software” to end of each of those terms, and you’ve got a whole new set of keyword opportunities to tackle:


The only problem here?
You might not find keywords with a lot of search volume for some of the more niche solutions you offer. For example, there’s next to no search volume for “email ab testing software”:


Does that mean these are useless terms?
Not necessarily.

These can still be very relevant keywords – especially if you’re in a very niche industry with a high ACV (average customer value).

Why?
When it comes to these niche terms, one visit (and hopefully one conversion) goes a long way.
This is especially true for enterprise-related keywords like the ones I mentioned earlier.

The search volumes for these are typically much lower, but because the deal sizes are so large, they’re still very valuable.

For example, look at the search volume comparisons between “email marketing software” and “enterprise email marketing software”:


But here’s the thing:

  • A regular email marketing tool might need 1000s of customers to remain profitable.
  • An enterprise email marketing tool? They’d need a fraction of that – so every visit counts!

3. Integration Keywords

Building a reputation is hard.
Building a reputation in an oversaturated, hyper-competitive field like SaaS is even harder.

But what if I told you there was an easy way to piggy-back off the success of the SaaS tools that came before you?

Enter integration terms.

Here’s the deal:
When you associate two things with each other, people tend to think of both in the same high regard. So when you integrate with another tool, you can benefit from some of their reputation.

So, how do you find these integration terms?
Think of all the other tools your SaaS offering can work with to enhance a user’s experience.

For example, if you developed a note-taking app, chances are, your users would like to do some things with those notes.

  • Maybe they want to send that note out as an email
  • Maybe they want to create a project task from that note
  • Maybe the note had sales data they wanted to plug into a CRM

Then, list down the different tools that they can use to accomplish those things.

For example:

  • Sending an email? Use GMail or Outlook
  • Creating a project task? Use ClickUp or Asana
  • Populating CRMs? Use Hubspot or Pipedrive

Now, here’s the not-so-fun part.

You’re going to have to create integrations with all of these tools.
But the upside is, you’re adding more value to your SaaS product and making it more attractive.

So in the long run, it’s a win, anyway.

Okay, so far, so good.
But where are the keywords?!

Once you have your integrations ready, you’re going to look for keywords around:
Integrations with the tools you can integrate with.

You can then create exhaustive articles that include your tool as a good integration option. 

For example, if you developed integrations with ClickUp and Outlook, look for “ClickUp integrations” or “Outlook integrations.”


For reference, look at what Marker.io, a feedback reporting tool, did with their ClickUp integration article:

Image Source: Marker.io

They:

  • Benefited from the large keyword volume that anything ClickUp-related generates
  • Presented themselves as a viable add-on to ClickUp’s already large user base
  • Aligned themselves with an already well-reputed SaaS brand, thereby increasing their own reputation

The best part?
There’s no limit to the number of integrations (and integration keywords) you can tackle!

4. Alternative Keywords

SaaS is hyper-competitive.
But you already knew that.

Fortunately, this ultra-competitive environment lends itself to a very easy keyword type:

Alternative terms.

So what are alternative terms?
They’re keywords with your competitor’s name and the word “alternative” slapped at the end.


It really is that simple!

Let’s go over this with an example:
Say you created a project management tool.

Who are your competitors?
A SaaS company like ClickUp? Asana? Basecamp?

List those down, then plug each of them into your keyword research tool with the word “alternative” at the end of each of them and voila!


But why do these keywords work so well?
Because these are very BOFU-focused (bottom-of-the-funnel) keywords.

Someone searching for an alternative to a tool:

  • Already has a use-case for that tool
  • Is tired of that tool and wants to use something else

AKA, your ICP!

Need an example of a piece of content that tackles this kind of term well?
Check out ClickUp’s Asana alternative listicle.

5. Problem Keywords

Wait…didn’t we already cover this?
Well, not really.

Solution terms might sound the same as problem terms.
But they’re not.

Let me explain:

  • Someone looking for a solution likely knows what they’re looking for.
  • Someone looking for a problem doesn’t. They just know they have a problem to solve.

Let’s stick with our email marketing tool example from earlier.

The keywords there were:

  • Mail merge
  • Email A/B testing
  • Email tracking

Someone needs to know what these features are if they search for them.
In other words, someone who clearly knows what they’re doing.

But what if someone doesn’t know what a mail merge is?
They want to send emails to multiple people, they just don’t know what that feature is called.

That’s where problem terms like “how to send multiple emails at once” come in:


Still on the fence about how relevant a term like this is?
Don’t just take my word for it.

Guess who’s at position #1 for this keyword in the search engine rankings?
Selzy, a sales email solution.

In fact, the top 4 organic results are all SaaS email software!


Okay, so how do you find more of these?
Look at what your solutions are, and then break them down without any industry jargon.


I know, I know.
So, here’s another easy hack.

Many keyword research tools have a feature called “questions.”
They essentially group together question-based keywords that are related to a specific keyword.

For example, I typed in “email” and then navigated to the question tab in Ahrefs.


It gave me over a MILLION question-based keywords.


Now, will all of these be relevant?
Of course not.

But it gives you an extensive dataset that you can easily go through and pick-and-choose from.

6. Brand Keywords

This might be a surprising one, but it’s integral to your search engine optimization success.
You MUST rank for your own brand name-based keywords.

Now, you may be thinking: “What does that even mean?!”

Let’s say you run a SaaS platform called UltimateSaaSApp.
(I’m very creative when it comes to names)

You need to ensure that you rank for:

  • UltimateSaaSApp
  • UltimateSaaSApp pricing
  • UltimateSaaSApp features 
  • And so on

And here’s the interesting part:
The bigger you get, the more valuable these terms become.

For example, look at Asana’s top keywords:


4 of their top 5 keywords are brand terms.

But shouldn’t you automatically rank for these terms?
It’s your SaaS platform after all!


Not necessarily.

There’s a good chance your competitors may be creating pages/articles to rank for these terms or even bid on ads to rank for them.

For example, Monday.com, a rival project management tool, ranks at #3 for “Asana pricing” with an article on Asana’s pricing:


Why bother trying to rank for a competitor’s SaaS brand terms?
Well, whenever someone searches for your platform, they’re bombarded with your competitor’s content.

Yep.

So, what can you do?
Well, for one, make sure all your landing pages are SEO optimized. 

Additionally, many SaaS tools actually bid on ads for their own brand terms to avoid being usurped by a competitor. 

For example, Asana runs an ad for their own brand term “Asana pricing”:


While this may seem like overkill, it’s usually necessary.

Because think about it:
Would you rather have prospects find out details about your software on a competitor’s site or your own?

Exactly.

7. Persona Keywords

Look, let’s not lose sight of the main goal.
The only reason you’re doing all this keyword research is to reach your target audience.

And sometimes, that means targeting what your target audience is interested in, instead of what you can offer them.

Why do that?
To get on their radar.

This is especially important for niche SaaS software that might not have too many use-cases.
There’s only so many solutions and problems you can write on, right?

So, what do you do?
It’s a very straightforward 3-step process:

  1. Take a good, hard look at your ICP and what they’re interested in.
  2. Then, create content around those topics to get them to your SaaS website.
  3. And once they’re on your site, you can pitch your solution.

Let’s take Paddle – a payments solution for B2B and B2C SaaS companies.

You’d expect them to write about payments and tax, right?
And they do!

But they don’t stop there.
They go beyond.

As their ICP is SaaS businesses, they tackle topics around SaaS in general, to establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry.

Image source: Paddle 

Why would they do this?
Again, it comes down to reaching as extensive an audience as possible.

If Paddle were to stick to their primary use case, i.e, SaaS payments processing, this is what they’d be limited to:

Even if you were to look at related terms, you’re going to run out of topics real quick:


Hence, the pivot to keywords that appeal to their target audience instead of their value proposition.

But if you thought that meant their content isn’t optimized for conversions, think again.
Take their article on PLG motions.

Image source: Paddle

It’s a detailed deep dive into how to improve your product led growth approach in 2023 with tons of tips.

One of those tips centers around improving your user’s transaction experience – AKA something they can help with.

Take a look:

Image source: Paddle

They creatively link to two articles that heavily focus on their value proposition in an article that originally had nothing to do with them!

This way, visitors landing on their blog post:

1. Might not think they have a payment processing problem

2. Are informed that they likely do

3. Are then immediately given a solution to that problem

It works like clockwork.

8. Informational Keywords

We saved the easiest for last.
Here, you look for terms centered around the niche your SaaS solution operates in.

It’s that simple.

So, if you run a project management tool, you want to cover any keywords related to project management.

And when I say “any”, I mean “everything.”

We’re talking keywords around:

  • Project management tips
  • Project managers
  • Project meetings
  • Project charts


But why do all this?
Let me introduce you to Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines.

E= Experience
E= Expertise
A= Authoritativeness
T= Trustworthiness

These are critical ranking factors that determine your likelihood of landing on page 1.

Essentially, you want to show Google that when it comes to your niche, you are a trustworthy and experienced expert.

And the only way to do that?
To create top-quality content around EVERYTHING in your niche.

But that isn’t the only reason.
People looking for these informational terms are likely TOFU or MOFU prospects. 

For example, someone searching for project management tips is likely already involved in project management, right?

AKA, they could be good candidates for conversions down the line.

Still on the fence about whether taking such an exhaustive approach is worth it?
Let’s take a look at Monday.com – a popular project management tool.

As of now, they have 873 pages on their blog that relate to project management.
873.


Oh – and it brings them almost 175K in monthly traffic.
So, there’s that too.

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, how do you find these keywords?
An easy way to do this is to add your target niche into your keyword research tool, and then navigate to the matching terms tab.

For example, I plugged “project management” into Ahrefs and navigated to the Matching Terms tab:


It gave me nearly 200K terms:


But we’re not done.

You can navigate to the Related Terms section and click on Also Talk About to identify even more terms.


For example, here are some of the other related terms it showed me:


It’s one of the easiest ways to generate 100s to 1000s of keyword opportunities in an instant.

But here’s the deal:
You need to pick and choose the right ones for this research to be worthwhile.

Fortunately, I’m going to show you how to do that too.
But first, let’s go over some more ways to brainstorm some more keyword ideas:

4 Creative Ways to Brainstorm SaaS Keywords

Use these techniques to generate tons of SaaS keyword ideas in no time:

1. Look at Your GSC Data

Why rely on keyword research tools for keyword ideas when your own content can help you instead?

This technique involves:

  1. Publishing a piece of content 
  2. Waiting for it to be indexed 
  3. Looking at the GSC data for that page
  4. Identifying all the keywords it’s ranking for

That’s it!

For example, take this sample article that was written for the keyword “how many emails can you send before spam.”

The GSC data for this page shows us that it’s also ranking (albeit not very well) for all these other related terms too:


The reason why it isn’t ranking well for all these terms is obvious.
It doesn’t answer the search intent for these terms accurately.

However, that does present itself as an opportunity for you to create separate pieces of content for these terms that do answer the search intent!

But just a word of caution – only look at terms that your existing piece isn’t ranking well for. 
There’s no point writing separate articles for keywords you’re already doing well in!

That’s going to lead to keyword cannibalization – where you jeopardize your chances of ranking for a term by having multiple pages from your own site vying for the same spot.

For example it would NOT make sense to write separate articles for these related terms that the existing article is already ranking for:


2. Analyze Your Competitors

Want to outdo your competitors?
Beat them at their own game!


One easy way to generate tons of keyword ideas is to simply perform some in-depth competitor keyword analysis.

Look at the keywords they’re targeting with content and ads, and then aim to do the same – except better.

Why does this work so well?
Because they’re competitors, the keywords they deem valuable are probably valuable to you too.

Additionally, chances are, your competitors are a lot larger than you are. They might have massive content marketing budgets that allow them to find obscure, highly relevant keywords.

By analyzing their SaaS SEO strategy and digital marketing techniques, you’re reaping the benefits of their meticulous research without any in-depth research work of your own!

So, how do you do competitor keyword analysis?
Well, when it comes to identifying the organic competitor keywords to go after, keyword tools like Ahrefs are your best friend.

Simply add your competitor to the tool, navigate to the Top keywords panel, and you’ll have insights into what keywords they’re ranking for, the ranks they’re currently at, the traffic those keywords pull in, and so much more!

For example, here are the top keywords that Toggl, a productivity tool, is currently ranking for with their SaaS blog:


Who knew ice breaker questions could be relevant to a productivity tool?
Clearly, Toggl did!

Another creative way to find competitor keywords is by looking at your competitor’s top subfolders.

It’s an easy SEO tactic for finding topics you should probably target.

For example, if you created a graphic design tool, Canva is one of your biggest competitors.

If you look at their subfolders, you’ll notice they create a lot of content around “colors” and “templates.” 


Those two subfolders rank for over 130,000 different keywords that you could target!

And what about evaluating your competitor’s ads?
Tools like iSpionage can come in handy.

Similar to Ahrefs, plug your competitor’s URL in, and you’ll get a list of ads they’re currently bidding on.

For example, here’s a list of ads that Hubstaff, a time tracking tool, is currently bidding on along with the CPC for each one:


Some of these stand out, right?
Attorney time and billing software?

If you ran a productivity tracking tool, you may have just found a new lucrative market in seconds!

3. Leverage Product Reviews & Sales Calls

Want to learn how to easily identify what your customers are looking for?
Listen to them!

A lot of SaaS marketing revolves around hypothesizing what customers might need or might be searching for.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, to speed things up, you could just ask them what they’re interested in instead. 

And that’s where your sales calls and product reviews come into the picture.

Ask your sales reps to pay special attention during their sales calls with leads.

Make sure they identify:

  • Common pain points
  • Solutions that leads are looking for
  • Competitor tools they’ve used
  • How leads are planning to use your software

This treasure trove of data can help you identify key terms you might want to rank for – given that they resonate with your audience.

For example, if you find that most leads have trouble with their emails ending up in the spam folder, that could be a great “problem term” to approach with an article.


Similarly, SaaS product reviews on G2Crowd and Capterra – of both yours and your competitor’s tools, can give you insights into what a potential customer values most.

For example, look at this review of Hubspot CRM on G2Crowd:

Image Source: G2Crowd

If you ran a CRM tool, some key terms you could glean from this review include:

  • User-friendly CRM
  • Advanced CRM contact management
  • CRM deal management
  • Sales pipeline tracking
  • CRM email automation
  • CRM integrations

Will all of these end up as viable keywords?
Probably not.

But it gives you a good base to build on!

4. Pay Attention to Google Suggest

I know, I know.

This isn’t the most refined way to identify keywords.
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

This is one of the easiest ways to identify missing opportunities that might have slipped through the cracks earlier.

The process here is simple:
You type a key phrase into Google and make note of the suggestions it generates.
For example, when I type “email tracking” into Google, this is the search result I get:


Not only do you get a host of related terms that you could tackle with different articles, you also get a set of questions that you could answer to get on the searcher’s radar.

Look, here’s the deal:
If you’ve followed all the steps I mentioned earlier, you’ve likely already found all the keywords that Google Suggest could offer up.


But that doesn’t mean you should skip this step.
Better safe than sorry, right?

Okay…so you’ve got your keywords.
What now?

How to Evaluate the Keywords You’ve Found

By now, you probably have a list of keywords longer than the Great Wall of China.
Great!

But you now need to refine that list to identify the best opportunities.

Here’s how you do that:

1. Go Back to Your Keyword Components

This is a good opportunity for you to go back and re-familiarize yourself with the seven keyword components I talked about earlier.

To briefly go over them again, they are:

  • KD (keyword difficulty)
  • SV (search volume)
  • CPC (cost per click)
  • Search Intent
  • Persona
  • Nature
  • SERP Volatility

These seven components comprise the holy grail when it comes to keyword evaluation.

Once you thoroughly understand each component and how they relate to each other, separating the good from the bad becomes a piece of cake.

For example, let’s take a hypothetical keyword “X”.

Keyword “X” has:

  • KD = 9
  • SV = 50
  • CPC = $8
  • Search intent = Transactional (SERPs are mainly landing pages)
  • Persona = Experts (who fit your ICP)
  • Nature = BOFU
  • SERP Volatility = Stable 

What should you do?
At first glance, the low SV might be off-putting, however, when you take the search intent, persona, and nature into account, you realize this is a very conversion focused keyword.

Based on the ranking SERPs you recognize that landing pages seem to work well and the SERP volatility confirms this.

The CPC is a bit on the higher side, so maybe ads aren’t the way to go.

Additionally, when you look at the relatively low KD, you can safely assume that creating a well-optimized landing page should be enough to get you rank. 

And given the BOFU nature of this keyword, it could be an extremely lucrative page for you.

Hence, this is likely a great keyword to go after!

2. Adopt a Topical Perspective Over an Individualistic One

You know the #1 mistake many marketers make when it comes to keywords?
They get tunnel vision.

They get obsessed with that one highly-relevant, highly-competitive keyword and do everything they can do to rank for it.

  • They create a 10,000+ word article on it.
  • They try to get as many backlinks to that article.
  • They plaster that post across all their social media channels.

And you know what usually happens?
It DOESN’T work.

The reason?
I’ve already covered it earlier!

It’s Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines.

Here’s a quick refresher:
E= Experience
E= Expertise
A= Authoritativeness
T= Trustworthiness

If you want to rank on page 1, you need to demonstrate how you and your content exhibit all four of those components.

And that’s impossible to do with a solitary post.

How can Google call you an expert if you just wrote one article on it?
That’d be like saying you’re an expert on astrophysics because you watched one webinar!


The solution?
Go after niches and topics as a whole instead of just individual keywords.

I’ll pull up the monday.com example from earlier again.
They currently rank on page one (rank #7) for their main target keyword: project management.


But how many articles do they have on project management as a whole?
Eight hundred and seventy three.


My point?
Don’t ignore all those smaller tangential terms when you’re evaluating your keywords.

They play a vital role in getting you to rank.

3. Consolidate Keywords into Clusters

This actually builds on the point I just talked about.

As we’re no longer looking at keywords individually, but rather as a whole, it’s time to organize them as such.

And I’m not just talking about broad scale categorizations such as “project management” or “tasks” – I’m talking about going as granular as you can!

Why?
It’s best to approach each granular cluster one at a time.
This will show Google that when it comes to this specific mini-cluster, you’re an expert.

Repeat this often enough with related mini-clusters, and soon enough, you’re now considered an expert in your niche!

Let’s take project management for example.

Some mini-clusters you could approach are:

  • Gantt charts
  • Project templates
  • Task checklists
  • Project reporting
  • And so on

Establish yourself as an expert in each of these clusters and then you boost your chances of ranking for “project management” as a whole.

Don’t believe me?
Let’s go back to the monday.com project management example.
Two clusters within “project management” are “Gantt charts” and “project checklists”.

Monday identified unique opportunities within the Gantt chart cluster and created three separate posts to tackle three different Gantt chart-related keywords:

Similarly, here are three separate articles they wrote on checklists:


Ranking for these mini-clusters likely helped them rank for their parent keyword.

Oh, and trust me, you’re going to find more than just 3 keywords under each cluster.
This was just a small snippet!

Keyword research seems pretty straightforward once you break it down, right?
While that’s true, it’s still easy to fall prey to some common pitfalls:

4 Keyword Research Mistakes Most SaaS Companies Make

Avoid making these mistakes when performing your keyword research:

1. Only Focusing on Solution Terms

I didn’t list eight different types of keywords for no reason!

It’s very easy for someone to only look at solution terms since those seem like the most BOFU-relevant terms.

And while there is a good chance that those will be some of your highest-converting terms, only focusing on them will be doing yourself a massive disservice!

A well thought-out keyword plan will involve all eight types of keywords I mentioned earlier. 

Not only do they target different kinds of leads, but they also help you maximize your footprint in your niche – helping you establish yourself as an authority in your industry.

And if there’s one thing I’ve talked about incessantly, it’s that establishing yourself as an expert in your niche is vital to ranking.

Oh, and there’s another reason to branch out beyond solution terms.

How many solutions do you think you can offer?
If you just focus on those terms, you’re going to run out of keywords in no time!


2. Replicating Your Google Ads Strategy

Look, nobody’s denying that Google Ads can be helpful.
I acknowledged it earlier too!

But what isn’t helpful is trying to replicate your Google Ads strategy when it comes to your organic keyword research. 

And there’s a very simple reason why:
They’re two different things.

For starters, the kind of keywords you typically target with ads are very BOFU-focused.

And as I mentioned in the previous point, you’ll be doing your organic keyword research a massive disservice by ignoring the seven other types of keywords available.

Additionally, the evaluation criteria for what’s a good keyword to bid on vs. what’s a good keyword to rank organically for is very different!

With a Google Ad, your priority is typically CPC and KD.
With organic keywords? There’s a host of other things to consider.

Simply trying to copy your Google Ad strategy with your organic content won’t get you anywhere – even if you think it’ll save you time. 

It likely won’t be saving you money either! 

3. Copying Your Competitors

I know, I know.
One of my “creative ways to brainstorm keywords” was to look at your competitors.


So why is this part of my list of mistakes to avoid?
Let me break it down.

You can learn a lot from your competitors.
However, you can’t assume what works for them will automatically work for you.

Why?
You are not your competition!

You don’t have the same:

  • DA (domain authority)
  • Site age
  • Industry presence
  • Budget
  • Existing audience
  • Million other parameters

Chances are, you’re at a very different stage in your SaaS journey than your competitors are. They’re likely well established players, while you’re trying to break into the field.

And do you know what that means?
You’re going to have to work thrice as hard to outdo them.
Simply relying on what they’re doing will only get you so far.

Don’t believe me?
Let’s go back to that Canva example from earlier.

When they burst onto the scene, they had to compete with giants like Adobe.
Simply doing what Adobe was doing wasn’t going to get them to where they wanted.

So what did they do?
They prioritized templates, color theory, and free tools as a core facet of their SEO strategy. 

The result?
Over $26 million worth of organic traffic in the USA alone.


My point?
Look at your competitors as a reference point, not a blueprint.

4. Targeting Keywords in the Wrong Sequence

You went through all that trouble of finding those keywords and organizing them into clusters for a reason.

However, if you make this mistake, all that work would’ve been for nothing!

You can’t just randomly pick and choose which keywords to approach.
There needs to be a method to all this madness.

In other words: 
You need to make sure that you approach the keywords you found in the right order. 

But what is the right order?
You can’t expect to rank for an ultra competitive parent keyword like “project management” without already ranking for all the tangential, easier clusters that surround it.

Remember, you’re doing all this to showcase your industry expertise to Google. 
The more content you write around your parent topic, the easier ranking becomes.

Does that mean creating a cornerstone piece for project management only after you’ve written tons of related content first?

Nope!
Create your cornerstone piece for “project management.”

Then link to it in all the other articles you write. 
Your articles on checklists, the ones on charts, the ones on tips – every single one.

When these articles eventually rank (as these keywords are easier), you’re going to have a top ranking piece of content linking back to your cornerstone piece. 

And since the only way an article can rank is by showing Google that it’s a reputable source, any article it references is likely also authoritative.

And that’s how your cornerstone piece can move up the SERPs and start ranking for your parent keyword.

Don’t believe me?
Remember that monday.com article I referenced earlier that’s on page #1 for “project management?”

There are 171 internal backlinks to it from other pages on the monday.com domain:


Congratulations!
You now know everything you need to know about SaaS keyword research.

Well, almost everything.


If there’s one thing that you’ve noticed from the innumerable screenshots I’ve added, it’s that you need the right keyword research tool.

Fortunately, I’ll walk you through the SEO tools I use to create kick-ass keyword strategies:

3 SaaS Keyword Research Tools You Need

The right keyword research tool is like the Robin to your Batman.
It’s a steady companion that’s going to make your work a lot easier.

These are three essential SEO tools I keep in my keyword research arsenal:

1. Ahrefs 

Image Source: Ahrefs

Ahrefs is my go-to keyword research SEO tool. 
From keyword ideation to competitor analysis, it handles everything you throw at it.

With it, you can:

  • Leverage a database of 19.2 billion keywords in 243 countries
  • Identify tangential keyword opportunities with the related terms tab
  • Uncover problem keywords with the questions tab
  • Conduct in-depth competitor analysis (both organic and paid)

Price: Starts at $99/month

2. SEMRush

Image Source: SEMRush

The SEMRush SEO tool is a more-than-capable alternative to Ahrefs. 

As the keyword data (KD, SV, etc) in Ahrefs are all estimates, it makes sense to cross-check that with SEMRush’s estimations.

However, you’re going to find most of the same features in SEMRush as Ahrefs. 

So, if you’re just starting out and still developing your SaaS SEO strategy, sticking with just one of the two should be enough.

You get access to:

  • A keyword database of 21 billion terms
  • Keyword Magic Tool to uncover related keywords quickly
  • Search intent feature to speed up the evaluation process
  • Detailed competitor analysis tools

Price: Starts at $119.95/month

3. iSpionage

Image Source: iSpionage

iSpionage is a great tool to evaluate what PPC ads your competitors are running.

With it, you can:

  • Gain a complete overview of your competitor’s SEM (search engine marketing) strategy
  • Generate reports with detailed breakdowns of your competitor’s PPC ads
  • Track keyword CPC changes

Pricing: Starts at $59/month

Supercharge Your SaaS Success with SEO

There you have it!
You now know everything I know about SaaS keyword research.

And while it may not be rocket science, it still involves a TON of time and effort.
Not to mention, this has to be an ongoing activity.

You can’t just research a bunch of keywords once and call it a day!
It’s a periodic exercise that you need to keep revisiting to ensure you stay on top of things. Additionally, you need to focus on content creation and building a fail-safe SaaS marketing strategy.

Which is why it might just make sense to leave it to the professionals.

At Startup Voyager, we’ve:

  • Worked extensively with a time tracking tool to generate hundreds of top 3 results.
  • Helped a SaaS project management tool generate millions of dollars worth of traffic with our top-notch SEO services.
  • Generated tons of content that’s landed in the top 3 SERPs for an email marketing tool.
  • Helped a conversational AI platform hit #1 on the search engine rankings for tons of keywords.
  • Taken a fintech platform from 0 to over 100,000 organic visitors in just over 10 months (without using a costly SEO tactic like link building).
  • Helped another platform outrank government sites in their industry in under 3 months.

It’s safe to say that when it comes to SaaS SEO, we know what we’re doing. 

From content creation to technical SEO — we have the expertise to develop compelling and optimized content that resonates with your target audience.

So, why not leave the SaaS keyword research to SEO experts like us? 
We can help you 10x your organic growth while you focus on championing your SaaS company to success.

Get in touch with an expert at Startup Voyager today so we can help you build a rock-solid SaaS SEO and content strategy!

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