Technical SEO is the very foundation of your website’s SEO campaign.
No matter how much quality content you publish, or high authority backlinks you build, you’re not going to rank well if your SaaS technical SEO is a mess.
If your content pieces are cannibalizing each other, for example, then Google won’t know which of your pages to rank.
Alternatively, if you’re using a subdomain for your blog, you’re going to take 2x to 3x longer to rank your website.
In this article, we’re going to teach you all you need to know about technical SEO for a SaaS website!
Read on to learn:
- What is SaaS Technical SEO?
- 10 Ways to Improve SaaS Technical SEO
- 8 Tools to Help Improve Your SaaS Technical SEO
- Beyond SaaS Technical SEO – What Else You Should be Doing
Let’s dive right in!
What is SaaS Technical SEO?
SaaS technical SEO is the process of ensuring that your website meets the technical requirements of modern search engines.
Look at it as the foundation of your SEO campaign.
Before you start working on your website’s SEO (doing keyword research, creating SEO content, building links, etc.), you’ve got to make sure that your technical foundation is in the right place.
If you’re a non-technical person, worry not. We’re going to make a distinction between the SaaS technical SEO work that you can do personally and the work you can outsource to your dev team.
Below, we’re going to cover ten of the most important elements of a SaaS website’s technical SEO.
10 Ways to Improve SaaS Technical SEO
#1. Avoid Duplicate Content
Having pages with similar content harms your chances of ranking well on Google.
When evaluating your website, Google will have difficulties deciding which of the duplicate pages it should rank.
And since Google is, in most cases, going to rank only one of your pages for each target keyword, this can be a big issue.
While you won’t get penalized for this, you can potentially miss out on a key page ranking on Google.
Fortunately, there’s a very easy solution for this one. All you need to do is add a rel=canonical to the duplicate pages linking to the master page.
This shows Google that these pages are subsets of the master page and that the master page is the one that should be prioritized in terms of ranking.
To add a re=canonical tag to your duplicate pages, simply add the following code to the duplicate page header:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”URL” />
Two pages that have similar content but different copy or target keywords aren’t considered to be duplicate content, and you don’t need to add a rel=canonical tag.
If you’re doing programmatic SEO and creating hundreds of similar pages, for example, then you don’t have to worry about using rel=canonical as long as these pages aren’t too similar.
#2. Avoid Content Cannibalization
Content cannibalization is when you have 2 different articles or pages targeting the same (or almost the same) keyword.
For example, let’s say you have three articles targeting the following three keywords:
- Technical SEO guide
- How to do technical SEO
- Beginner’s guide to technical SEO
If you Googled any of these keywords, you’d see that the results that pop up are the same.
This is because when someone Googles any of these keywords, they’re looking for the same thing – a guide to technical SEO.
So, having three separate articles on the topic confuses Google on which of them to rank.
The solution here is to redirect the articles that have less traffic, backlinks, or rankings to the article that has more.
If the articles also happen to have different valuable bits of information, you can consolidate all that content into the main article to improve it.
#3. Prevent Your Staging Website from Indexing
This one’s a common technical SEO mistake that SaaS companies make.
Sometimes, their staging server ends up getting indexed on Google and ranking for certain brand keywords.
Fortunately, there are several simple ways to prevent this from happening:
- Add a server-side authentication.
- Whitelist only the IPs from your office/employees.
- Include index tags in your robots.txt
#4. Include a Sitemap
Sitemaps help search engines find different pages on your website.
If your website has an adequate number of internal links (meaning, all your pages are easy to find from your homepage), then Google likely doesn’t need you to have a sitemap.
You might, however, need a sitemap if:
- Your website is very large. In such a case, having a sitemap ensures that Google doesn’t overlook your new pages.
- You have pages that aren’t linked to often throughout your website. In such a case, a sitemap helps make sure that the Google bot crawls your entire website.
- You don’t have a lot of backlinks. Google usually discovers (and crawls) your web pages from links from other websites. If you don’t have a lot of backlinks, Google might have difficulty finding some of your pages.
As for how to make a sitemap, you have the following two options:
- If you’re using WordPress, simply install YoastSEO or RankMath, both of which automatically generate a sitemap.
- If you’re NOT using WordPress, use this tool to automatically generate a sitemap.
#5. Using a Subdomain for your SaaS Blog
This one’s another common SaaS technical SEO mistake.
Adding your SEO-oriented blog on a subdomain is a big no-no, always go for a subfolder.
Instead of this:
The reason for this is that Google treats a subdomain as a completely separate domain from your main one.
This means that any backlinks you build to your subdomain blog or your main website won’t impact each other and you’ll practically need to double your link-building efforts.
You can read about successful case studies of websites migrating from subdomains to subfolders here.
The gist of it is, though, that most of these websites got a very serious boost in terms of their traffic and rankings.
#6. Don’t Forget to Add Alt Text for Images
Alt text on your images is useful for two main reasons:
- It helps make your website more accessible for people with visual impairments.
- It helps your images rank on Google image search.
As such, it’s important to ensure that each of your images has an alt text attached when uploading them to your website.
The best practice is to also mention your keyword in an image whenever it’s relevant.
#7. Make Sure You Satisfy Core Web Vitals
As of mid-June 2021, Google started rolling out its Core Web Vitals update.
The gist of it is:
Google now pays extra attention to your website’s user experience. If your website is fast and responsive, you’re a lot more likely to rank well on Google than if it weren’t.
The Core Web Vitals measures three main metrics:
- Large Contentful Paint (LCP). How fast does your website load? Optimally, your site should load in less than 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay (FID). This one measures the interactivity of your website. Meaning, how long it takes for your website to execute a user’s action from the time they click a given button. For good UX, you should aim for an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). Or, the visual stability of your website. For a good user experience, you should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
Click here to read more about Core Web Vitals and how to ensure that your SaaS website is as effective as possible. To note, this is something your development team should handle, more so than your SEO.
#8. Losslessly Compress Your Images
Before uploading images to your website, you should always make sure that the images in question are losslessly compressed.
This can reduce the size of your images by up to 50% and maybe even more, which helps improve your website’s load speed.
All this without harming the quality of your images!
There are a ton of different tools you can use to compress your images, including:
#9. Use Schema Markup Where Relevant
You’ve probably already seen rich schema markup on Google:
Schema is a semantic vocabulary or tags you can add to your website to alter the way your content is presented on search engines.
This is not something mandatory, but it can come in handy in certain niches.
In the recipe niche, for example, the use case is self-evident: you get to display your recipe content more engagingly.
You can see different schema use cases here and decide if they’d benefit your website.
#10. Optimize for Mobile Experience
As of July 1, 2019, Google does mobile-first indexing. Meaning, Google predominantly reviews the mobile version of your website when deciding on whether or not to rank your site.
So, if you want your website to perform as well as possible on Google, you’ll want to make sure that it runs on mobile without any hiccups.
This is something your tech team should consider during the development stage of your website.
8 Tools to Help Improve Your SaaS Technical SEO
And that wraps up all the important things you need to know about technical SaaS SEO!
Now, let’s talk about tools.
The technical SEO tools we’ll cover below will help make the process of improving your website’s SEO so much easier:
- RankMath or YoastSEO. Both of these tools come with a checklist for on-page SEO optimization and they also automatically create (and update) your website’s sitemap. Using either of these tools is essential if you’re using WordPress.
- Ahrefs or SEMrush. Both Ahrefs and SEMrush are all-in-one SEO suites. They both allow you to do a technical audit on your website, find backlink opportunities, analyze competitors, and more. Using either of these tools is essential if SEO is a primary marketing strategy for your SaaS.
- WP Rocket. This WordPress plugin automatically speeds up your website by implementing page caching, GZIP compression, cache preloading, and more.
- ScreamingFrog. This one’s a must-have SaaS technical SEO tool. You can use ScreamingFrog to crawl your website and uncover technical SEO errors.
- Copyscape. You can use this tool to make sure that your content writers aren’t plagiarising articles from other websites (and prevent cases of duplicate content).
- Google Tag Manager. All-in-one system to implement, track and analyze tags on your website.
- Google Search Console. GSC is the most reliable tool for tracking your website’s rankings on Google.
- Google Analytics. In addition to GSC, you can use GA to measure how the traffic you’re driving from Google performs on your website.
Beyond SaaS Technical SEO – What Else You Should be Doing
As we mentioned before, SaaS technical SEO is the foundation of your SEO campaign.
You can’t, however, just stop there.
To drive serious traffic to your website, you also need to do keyword research, analyze your competitors, create quality blog content, run link-building campaigns, and more.
Check out our further readings to learn more about all that:
- How to Rank Without Backlinks
- Lessons from Building 300+ Links
- How to Evaluate Backlink Quality
- How to Outsource Link-Building
And that’s a wrap!
By now, you should know everything you need to get your SaaS technical SEO in order.
From here on out, just keep publishing quality SEO content and building backlinks and you’re on your way to dominating your niche!