SaaS SEO Case Study
How We Increased Revenue by 332%
In this case study we’re going to show you how we took a SEO client of ours in the SaaS space and increased their organic traffic by 269% and revenue by 332% in the first twelve months. Over 50% of their business comes from organic search and they are now outranking major brands such as GetResponse and Aweber.
This is a SaaS company based in the US that has helped hundreds of thousands of business owners generate additional revenue through collecting email lists, segmenting them, and sending out newsletters, and autoresponder campaigns.
They needed more leads and reached out to us in the beginning of May 2018.
Jumping in, we knew it was going to be tough – the competitors had monthly marketing budgets in line with our lifetime revenue. After thorough research and analysis, we saw a ton of opportunities to help them out and started putting together a strategic plan.
Brute force wouldn’t have helped us – we had to be smart.
Phase 1: Starting With On-Page SEO
As with every project, we started off with an in-depth analysis of the clients’ websites current situation. They had the basics down but in such a competitive industry, good isn’t good enough.
Luckily for us, the majority of our competitors were huge SaaS companies with thousands of employees and thus, a long chain of command. Meaning that their on-page was often out of date and this gave us a huge opportunity to shine through.
As with any serious SaaS business that has been around for a while, they had built up a ton of pages over the years. We’re talking about approximately 1,500 actual pages and over 4,500 that Google had picked up for various reasons.
We had to clean this up for a myriad of reasons:
- Google was being fed thousands of pages with either duplicate content or nothing at all on it. This is a massive resource-suck for them and they don’t like it.
- Old pages that had not been optimized for conversions and that had outdated information on them were outranking some of our most important pages.
- There were posts in Google’s index that were not even supposed to be public.
- The “authority” of the site was being spread to thousands of pages, instead of helping a few key landers rank.
Right off the bat we were able to delete and 301 redirect over 3,000 pages that were holding us back.
Next up we evaluated the content pages by three key factors:
- Are they bringing in conversions? (Revenue)
- Are they bringing in visitors? (Brand awareness and leads)
- Do they have any backlinks pointing to them? (To help us rank better)
We had set a baseline for what is considered significant in each category and ruthlessly set aside everything that was not adding value in these categories.
Lastly, we looked at the content on the page – was this valuable? If it was not working well on this page, perhaps we could use it again in the future or merge several pages into one big resource?
Everything that wasn’t adding value was deleted and redirected to a better, more relevant page or to the homepage.
We were down to 600 pages to work with. Much more digestible.
While we were conducting the content audit, our team faced a major issue. The site took over six seconds to load.
Not only did this make our teams life a nightmare, it also meant that the 20,000 potential customers that visited their site every month had the same issue.
Our site speed audit gave them a score of 57/100 for mobile and 65/100 for desktop.
Here are some of the changes we did to get them down to a two-second loading time for most pages:
- Switched hosting companies (this got us down to 3-4 seconds)
- Deleted all unused WordPress plugins
- Replaced 3 WordPress plugins with faster alternatives
- Started leveraging browser caching and a CDN
- Removed unnecessary redirects
- Optimized image sizes throughout the site (42% reduction)
Although we had cleared out literally thousands of pages, the existing hundred needed a lot of optimization.
There were hundreds of pages that we identified in the content audit, such as F.A.Q.s, that were set up separately, and in some cases, contained less than 200 words. The competition was boasting with 3,000 word-long resources so we followed suit and merged these into long-form, comprehensive pages.
The same issue was consistent across more important pages, including the main services and the homepage.
One of the best ways to rank better on Google is look at the top 10 results for the desired keywords and reverse engineer what they already like to see.
That’s exactly what we did.
Both for the homepage and the key services pages, we gave our clients’ copywriting team all the resources they needed to start cranking out content that ranks:
- Target word counts
- List of keywords and topics to include and their frequency
- On-page criteria (e.g. number of headings, images to use)
With the help of their copywriters and our SEO team, we quickly revamped the top 25 pages and with the help of “content freshness” saw ranking improvements quite rapidly.
As is common with out-of-the-box WordPress installations that have not been configured by an SEO expert, a lot of on-page issues needed to be fixed. The SaaS app was hosted on the .app subdomain, but the front-facing WordPress CMS was used for all marketing and traffic purposes.
Many of the title tags on the site were the same as H1 tags and this was causing over-optimization. Over half of them were also far too long and were truncated in the search results. Although this may seem like an easy fix, keep in mind that we had hundreds of pages to rewrite.
Most of the pages on the site were missing a meta description and this was clearly affecting click-through rates and thus rankings as well. Even some pages in first position were only getting 15% of the total clicks.
The copywriting team wrote up a unique meta description for each page and made sure to include a keyword as well as an enticing call-to-action to encourage click-throughs.
Not a single image on the entire site had alt text configured. As it was not feasible to go through 1,700+ images by hand, we used automated templates and some Excel magic to fix this issue.
Content Gap Analysis
With the existing content and on-page changes out of the way, it was time to create additional content.
We rounded up 15 of their most profitable competitors and started digging into the keywords they were ranking for.
What pages and keywords were bringing in business for the competitors, that we didn’t have on our site?
The conclusion was 1,300+ potential low-to-medium competition keywords with serious business intent that we grouped into 40 articles that the team had to create.
Phase 2: A 4-Pronged Link Building Strategy
Although our on-page SEO optimization and content work had already shown excellent results in both rankings and organic traffic, in a lucrative industry like theirs it simply isn’t enough.
Our competitors regularly had their C-level staff on national publications and were attracting hundreds of high authority media links every single month.
Combined with the fact that we now had dozens of new pages with great content, but no links, we had to double down on a strategic link building strategy.
The client had originally signed up for our acclaimed SmashLinks Pro package at $1,999/month in the beginning of May 2018.
Their press team had been pumping out a dozen press releases every month and linking them back to the site with exact match anchor texts.
The over-optimization was severe and we were afraid they were going to get penalized.
We decided that until we finish with the on-page changes and the creation of new content, our link building focus would mostly go towards:
- Diversifying the current link profile
- Diluting the anchor text ratios
- Boosting up the pages that were close to the top 3 using high relevance guest posts
Phase 3: Performance Review!
By the end of our third month, organic traffic was up over 57% and business was booming.
The client was ecstatic with the results and called us up to do a performance review of the last three months.
Due to the sheer amount of changes we made over the last three months, it was difficult to pinpoint what got us most of the results. But that didn’t matter as much – the site was now well optimized, the content machine was well-oiled, and their team educated on the basics.
The way forward was to build more, better, and stronger links.
The client wanted to significantly scale things up and we put together a custom link-building strategy for them. Just three months in, they upgraded to investing $5,000/month into link building.
Scaling Up Link Building
From July onwards, our efforts were almost exclusively focused on link building.
Their on-page scores were 90+ out of 100 for most pages according to our analysis and we had also taken care of the exact match anchor issue that was putting them at major risk.
From here onwards we utilized a 4-pronged link building approach.
Highly Relevant Guest Posts
Guest posts are where Smash Digital shines.
In our almost 8 years of operating an SEO agency, relationships have always been at the core of our values. It’s one of the things that allows us to get clients epic results.
Through our relationships with editorial teams, website owners, and the media, we get links other agencies dream of.
With this client, we put those relationships to good use by building highly relevant guest post links to their most important pages. These were (and still are!) the main mover of their rankings.
Broken Link Building
Diversity and a natural backlink profile are key for good, long-lasting results.
Using our proprietary web crawler, we went through 250 authoritative websites in the space and found each and every page that had links pointed to them but were no longer available.
The clients’ copywriting team helped us re-create better versions of the page and our outreach team got to work on reaching out to the people who had linked to the dead pages.
This was a massive win.
We created 8 unique pages and over the year locked down over 50 extremely high authority links.
The best part? The webmasters changing these links meant that our competitors lost em’ and we gained them.
What does that tell Google? Exactly.
Skyscraper Content and Outreach
Now that we’d successfully hijacked our competitors links, it was time to get more of what was already working well for them.
We took that same list of 250 authority websites and looked at their 10 most linked to pages.
Every industry has these.
They’re often in the form of:
- Comprehensive listicles
- Resources pages
- Industry statistics
- Case studies
Once we’d identified the most linkable topics, we analyzed similar posts on a topic and had the clients’ team create better versions.
More comprehensive, longer, written in a more engaging way, with a unique angle, and with a better user experience/design.
It’s a similar process to the broken link building strategy – we started reaching out to everyone who had linked to the competition and present our upgraded, superior resource.
Here’s an example of an older page we updated and revamped that hit close to 100 referring domains:
Creating Linkable Assets
While guest posts, broken link building, and outreach worked well, we also needed something that was a bit more scalable in the long term.
During a brainstorming session with both our team and the clients’ team, we came up with unique linkable assets that no one in the industry had.
These took quite a bit of time and resources to develop but are still paying outstanding dividends to this day.
Some examples of these free tools from other industries:
- SEO Penalty Indicator Tool
- Copywriting Headline Analyzer
- Small Business Loan Calculator
- Cashflow Projection Tool
- Image Resizer and Cropper
Giving away super useful resources like these for free will net you a lot of links over the long haul and best of all – it generally won’t take any work beyond creating the tool.
Phase 4: Another Performance Review
Our third (and so far last) performance review was another four months later and by then our traffic was up over 120% thanks to the link building efforts we had put in.
As much as we’d love to tell you that phase four, the stage that took them from a 120% increase to 269%, had some sort of magic ingredient…
In all honesty, it was simply a matter of additional resources.
In November 2018, they doubled their investment with us and have been running on $10,000/mo since then.
At the time of writing this case study (2019 August) they are up 269% when it comes to organic traffic and reportedly their revenue has increased over 330% since then.