When it comes to SEO, the homepage tends to be the most problematic asset on a typical SaaS website.
For many early-stage SaaS brands, the website consists of the homepage and perhaps a handful of supporting pages that don’t offer much in the way of SEO value.
But even the more established SaaS companies — those with larger sites and many pages to drive their search visibility — struggle to make good use of their homepage.
How can you optimize your SaaS company’s homepage? Here are some ideas to drive rankings, traffic, and conversions to new business.
Why is Homepage SEO So Challenging for SaaS Brands, Specifically?
Let’s face it, homepage SEO is confusing for almost everyone. Whether it is a SaaS company, a local company, or another business type, you’ll find many in each vertical who struggle to make good use of this real estate from an SEO perspective.
At the same time, the homepage is also the one asset almost every business cares about the most.
It’s often the primary landing page, regardless of the traffic source. Because of that, it’s also that one asset that most often:
- Welcomes visitors.
- Makes a first impression about the brand.
- Describes what the company does (or at least hints at it and suggests where else someone could learn more about it).
- Explains what value the company provides and what sets the company and its products apart in the market.
- Points visitors to where they can find the information they’re looking for (both through the navigation and any internal links you place there).
As Yoast explained the typical approach to homepage SEO:
“One purpose that I feel a homepage doesn’t have, and that is ranking for keywords other than your business name or brand.”
That’s true for most brands. But I’d argue that the SaaS market (and what goes with it, SaaS marketing) is different from other industries.
What’s Different About SaaS?
Many early-stage brands don’t have any other commercial assets (or even the ability to create more, at that).
For many SaaS companies, the homepage plays a commercial role and might be their only commercial page.
Then, there’s the issue of brand recognition.
Everyone’s heard of Asana. Drift. HubSpot.
Those companies can use fancy taglines in their meta title tag and get away with it. They know that people are looking for their brand anyway.
As for other keywords, those companies have thousands of pages to target those phrases.
(Having said that, Hubspot still optimizes their homepage for product categories.)
But when you’re a relatively new SaaS company trying to carve a space for yourself in the industry – when you’re trying to beat more established competitors and focused on kick-starting growth – counting on someone searching Google your name and getting to the homepage (remember, the only page on the site) isn’t going to get you far.
So, what are your options?
The Role of a Homepage in SaaS SEO Strategy
The importance of your homepage goes far beyond the fact that you have no other pages to optimize (yet).
The clearer you are in explaining what your product does, what category it falls into, and what value users get from it, the easier it will be for the search engine to establish how to rank you in the search results.
When you’re just getting started in SaaS, the homepage will attract most if not all organic links.
Whatever mentions, media references or other PR your product acquires will likely link to your homepage.
As other sites link to your homepage, they pass along PageRank which can then be distributed around your site to help specific pages get found by Google.
Smart internal linking will help you pass the benefit of that PageRank you’ve gathered at the homepage onto new pages as you develop them.
What Keywords to Use to Optimize a SaaS Homepage, Then?
There are three types of keywords to focus on. The first is obvious but to find the right phrases for the others, you will need to do a bit of keyword research.
1. Your Brand
Despite the need to focus on other terms, it’s still a good idea to include brand-related terms on the homepage.
At a minimum, include the company or the product name in the homepage’s title tag, typically at the end of the tag.
This way, you ensure that the main focus of the tag is on your primary target keywords.
In most cases, you’ll naturally sprinkle the brand across the page, too. You’ll mention it in the meta description, perhaps include it in the main subheading, under the tagline, in alt text for an image or two, and elsewhere in the body copy (in reviews or testimonials, for example) as it naturally occurs.
2. Product Category (If the Intent Is Right)
This is where you begin to position your homepage (and the brand) for phrases that can drive valuable commercial traffic.
Product category-related keywords describe the primary category that best defines your product.
These aren’t the keywords that might define the project’s attributes or functionality but more general seed phrases that tell a user what the product is and aren’t related to your brand in any way.
These are often the phrases you use to describe the product to clients, investors, or various stakeholders — Enterprise Resource Planning software, CMS and ecommerce, communications platform, etc.
These are the terms you’ll find salespeople referencing those in their emails, sales materials, and so on.
Where to Include the Product Category-Related Keyword?
As this is the primary keyword you’ll be targeting, use it on every page:
- In meta tags.
- In the page’s H1 tag.
- In the page’s body content’s opening.
- In alt tags, etc.
An Exception: When the Keyword Has a Different User Intent Than the Homepage
There might be situations where the user intent for a product category-related phrase is different than what you can target with the homepage.
Even though the phrase might seem to have a commercial intent at first, upon inspection, you may realize it ranks for a whole variety of intents.
Take the keyword phrase [small business CRM]. The keyword seems ideal to use on a software product’s homepage.
But look at the SERP. Those listings include mostly informational content:
- Most of the top-ranking pages are listicles presenting collections of CRM software solutions.
- None of those pages are product homepages.
- There is only one actual CRM software domain ranking, and even that’s not a commercial page.
Ranking a homepage would be pretty difficult to impossible to achieve, especially for a lesser-known SaaS brand.
You have two options here:
- Compromise and identify a different product category-related keyword (or at least one that is close enough to the product category.) Create a separate page to target the original keyword you intended with content relevant to its intent.
- Focus only on the brand. I personally believe that’s too much of a compromise for an early-stage startup.
3. Keywords Relating to the Product’s Core Offerings
We’ve covered positioning for your brand and the product category.
But what about those other phrases that describe your product? What about keywords that relate to the product’s features or functionality?
These phrases aren’t your primary keywords but there is a way to weave them in.
What’s more, you can use the homepage to support specific pages you might create for those keywords.
Include a list of your product’s functionality. You most likely have it on the page already in some shape or form.
Then, link each of those sections to a relevant landing page.
Ideally, you will use the additional keyword in the link’s anchor text to increase relevance. You’ll achieve three objectives this way:
- You’ll increase the topical relevance of the homepage. Google and other search engines will better understand what your product does and what phrases would be relevant to your domain.
- You’ll be assisting visitors in finding any content that’s relevant to their needs.
- And finally, you’ll be strengthening the page authority of those additional assets you’ve created to rank for keywords related to the product’s features or functionality.
Your SaaS brand’s homepage is more than a landing page for branded queries and direct visits.
Make sure you understand how it can impact your organic search rankings for different types of queries now and in future —and make good use of those opportunities.
- SEO Basics for SaaS Companies
- 3 Advanced SaaS SEO Strategies & Best Practices
- A Complete Guide to SEO: What You Need to Know
All screenshots taken by author, March 2021