Technology and software companies are among the most popular businesses in the world today. Whether your company is a startup or an established presence, it is important to use search engine optimization (SEO) to stand out from all the others.
SEO is the process of improving your web presence so search engines will list you higher in search results. It sounds simple, but has a lot of components and should be an ongoing project for you and your company. However, done right, the benefits you can gain from good SEO practices will help drive traffic to your website that you might not otherwise receive. Here are some tips to get you started on optimizing your SaaS or technology website.
1) Know Your Customers
In any industry, it is critical to know who your target audience is, what they are looking for, and how you can serve as a solution for them. This is especially important in the tech industry, since the customer base ranges from technology novices to experts who understand even the most complex jargon.
For some software and technology companies, the audience is often looking for detailed, highly technical information that the average person might not necessarily understand. For others, the audience might be looking for content that is more simplified. Knowing who your audience is and what they are expecting from you will allow you to tailor your content and message to what your customers are interested in, thereby increasing the interest they will have in your company and generating more sales. This leads us into our next tip, which is…
2) Choose the Right Keywords
Now that you know your customers, you can make a list of both technical and non-technical keywords that they would search for when they look up your software or technology company. Think of a list of terms you would use to find your company online, as well as terms that savvy and less-than-savvy that people might use to find you. When it comes to keyword selection, it is better to go more niche, what we in the industry call long-tail keywords. These terms are anywhere form three to six word phrases that have a smaller reach than short phrases, but drive more relevant traffic that has a higher chance of converting. For example, if your software primarily caters to smaller businesses, you may want to invest in keywords like “small business management tool.” You can test out your list of potential keywords in tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, or Spyfu to see which phrases have a decent amount of traffic.
Once you have curated your list, you should start organically incorporating your keywords throughout your website in order to maximize the chance of your listing being shown higher in the search results for that keyword. Choosing the right keywords and incorporating them throughout your website will let more people know what your business is about and drive more customers to your product or service.
3) Create Original Content
Aim to create original content including your keyword phrases that will educate your audience about your products or services, values, and expertise. Content like blog posts, video tutorials, product demos, interviews, and photos can work to drive more organic search traffic to your website and will help you move up in search rankings in searches that are relevant to your business.
Maintaining consistency in the quality and timeliness of your content will help build the relevant content of your website and help you on your journey to become a trusted resource and leader in your industry. Create this fresh content by writing about the technology community around you and what questions you think people most want answered. Some ideas for software and technology companies include posting about product launches, upcoming updates, how customers and clients use and value their products, and advertise their customer support systems. Use a variety of types of content, like videos with summaries or transcripts, text content in blogs, and photos, will increase interest in your content and ensure people come back to see your new posts.
If you’re worried about being able to come up with new content consistently, start with what you can handle. Add customer testimonials, positive reviews, and trust badges to your content list to show people how reliable your product is. Quality is always better than quantity. Relevant, quality content will never fail to drive traffic to your website.
4) Optimize Your Website’s Technical Set Up
As a technology company, your website will serve as a resource to potential customers about the quality of your products or services. Therefore, technical SEO should be a priority for you and your team. Here are some helpful tips to optimize your website on the back end:
- Decrease Website Load Times: Visitors to your website will expect fast load times, especially since you’re marketing a technology product or service. In 2016, 53 percent of mobile users abandoned websites that took more than three seconds to load. Page speed is a direct factor in organic search rankings, because Google wants to serve content that users will value — and your website becomes less valuable to users the longer it takes to load. Google is in the business of having more people use Google, so if it serves websites with poor user experiences, chances may be that people will stop using Google if that happened enough. Google’s large focus on page speed means they penalize slow sites. Fortunately, you can use Google’s PageSpeed tool to analyze factors regarding your site’s load time, give you actionable next steps, and help you prioritize technical SEO tasks for you and your team (and your website).
- Have A Mobile-Friendly Website: Having a mobile-friendly website should be one of your top priorities, regardless of SEO. In 2017, Search Engine Land reported on a BrightEdge study that said 57 percent of traffic to websites now comes from mobile devices. It also reported that most mobile and desktop queries will vary based on device. This means that if your website isn’t optimized for mobile traffic, you’re potentially missing out on a huge chunk of potential customers. Luckily for us, Google has a tool for everything, including checking whether your website is mobile-friendly.
- Fix Broken Links: Software companies, including the big guys, can be among the biggest offenders of this best practice — never have links to dead pages on your website. If you have a page on your website that was removed or no longer exists, be sure to create a 301 redirect to automatically take users to the new version of that content. Let’s say you changed your /about-us page name to /about-company-name. If a user tries to access /about-us without a redirect in place, they’ll see a “Page Not Found” error. This hurts your user experience and potentially your bottom line. When changing page URLs, always check to see if the old URL is present in your main navigation or internal links and switch those out as well.
5) Optimize Your Titles and Descriptions
Your keywords should not only be featured on the original content of your website pages — they should also be present in the metadata of each of your pages. The most important components are page titles and meta descriptions. Page titles are among the strongest ranking factors of your page, so be sure to include primary keywords in your title tag. Meta descriptions, while not an official ranking factor, tell users about what content they can expect to see on a page and can improve click-through rates if optimized well. Be sure to include calls to action in your meta description, like “Download our software today!” or “Call us today!”
The title tag of your web page should be no longer than 65 characters (including spaces), and your meta description should be no more than 150. Any longer, and Google and other search engines will cut off what you have to say. An easy tool to see if your titles or descriptions are cut off is Portent’s SERP Preview Tool. When in doubt, put your most important keywords of phrases toward the front — the search engines index top to bottom, front to back. If your title tag is Keyword 1 — Keyword 2 — Your Brand Name, then Keyword 1 will carry more weight than Keyword 2.
6) Optimize Your Images
ALT tags, or “alternative text ” for an image, are also important components of optimization. ALT tags are used to describe the image or what the image represents. As with many website specifics, ALT tags also play a role in SEO. ALT tags serve as a textual translation of an image’s content, since search engines can’t “see” or contextually understand images the same way humans can. This also helps search engines determine the best results to provide when a user searches for images.
With ALT tags it is important to be descriptive and concise (i.e. no “keyboard stuffing,” which is SEO-speak for including keywords gratuitously). A good example of an ALT tag for the image below would be “person holding iPhone showing social networks folder.”
In addition to optimizing your ALT tags, you should also optimize your images themselves. Choose a descriptive file name, since search engines can read those as well and use that as another ranking factor. If there’s an opportunity to include your primary keyword, go for it. For example, if you have a specific type of software, include that in your image of that interface.
Image sizes themselves are a crucial part of technical site optimization, similar to what we discussed with site load time. When images are large or not compressed, this means that your website will take longer to load and render for the user, which is a direct impact on your organic search ranking. We recommend making your image files as small as possible, without compromising image quality. There several tools online that can help you with optimizing your image sizes. Another tip to speed up your load times are using responsive images. Responsive images will help your website display the best suited images dependent on which device a person is using at that moment. That means you will save time by having different image size options already included in your website, rather than the alternative of a browser taking the time to resize your image while the site loads.
7) Use Social Media
Social media is an extremely valuable tool for software companies, and search engines index social media profiles. Social media helps facilitate two-way conversations between an ordinarily hard-to-reach business and the customer. It also serves as an additional channel to help drive traffic to your website from an audience than you wouldn’t otherwise reach.
If you are creating your social media accounts for the first time, include as much information as you can, including your business name, description or bio, address, and more so search engines can get all the necessary information to rank your profiles higher.
When it comes to posting, quality content, which can include company announcements, blog posts, or current news from the industry, is always better than quantity. However a regular posting schedule will keep your name fresh in peoples’ heads rather than a post every few months. Consider using a tool like Hootsuite or HubSpot to schedule your posts in advance. Social media posts don’t have to be generalized — you can even promote events your company is hosting like webinars, trade shows, and luncheons.
A primary benefit of social media is building a relationship with your community on an individual basis. For example, you could create a Facebook group for your consumers to interact with each other and discuss how they use your product or service and find ways to improve. On your main company page and in any groups you create, make sure to engage in discussions that are relevant to your company’s expertise. Additionally, make sure all your posts are helpful and have a purpose. No one wants your company’s posts to clutter their social networks. Additionally, the larger your following, the more data you have to complement your paid social media advertising.
8) Track Your Progress
You may have reduced your page-load time and begun publishing content on a regular basis, but how do you know if you’re getting results? Website and app tracking tools, such as Google Analytics, will help you monitor your website traffic, paid ads, conversions and leads, and e-commerce sales over time. You will be able to figure out what works and what doesn’t work, and in time you to come up with a strategy that works for your company and your customers. There are also some rank tracking tools online, however, high ranking keywords mean nothing without an increase of quality traffic from search engines. Make notes on when you conduct different optimizations and compare that with your analytics and reporting — if you notice more organic search traffic, you can infer that your website is becoming more visible in Google and other search engines.
Search engine optimization for software and tech companies involves strategizing about your potential customers, how they use your website, and your online presence. SEO is an ongoing process, so it can get a little overwhelming at times, but following the tips we’ve outlined above will put you on the path to driving more (and qualified) website traffic, increased brand recognition, and loyal customers that respect your company’s experience and expertise. Feel free to lean on the experts here at Fujisan if you have additional questions or if you need help working on improving your website’s SEO.