SaaS Keyword Research – (Real-time Example + Framework)

  Published on December 29 |   17 minutes read

Are you running a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business? If so, keyword research can bring customers closer to converting and becoming your software users. This includes researching relevant keywords such as product features, customer pain points, competitors, pricing plans, etc. So it’s important to take the time to do thorough keyword research for each stage of your sales funnel.

This guide will provide you with a few keyword research examples, all the necessary steps and information you need to conduct successful keyword research, and some templates that can give your SaaS business a competitive edge. Read on to learn more!

Framework for SaaS Keyword Research: Intent Mapping

Before I begin the actual keyword research process and the ideas for finding keywords, it is crucial to understand the intent behind a search and its relevance to the sales funnel stage.

Intent mapping is a process of understanding the customer’s intent behind each keyword search. This will help you match relevant keywords with each user journey stage. For example, some users may be looking for general information, while others may be researching solutions and prices down the funnel. 

There are 4 types of keywords within the sales funnel:

  • Informational 
  • Navigational
  • Commercial
  • Transactional

Informational stage/keywords

The informational stage is the top-of-the-funnel stage in the sales funnel is when a customer is looking for information within your niche. Keyword research in this stage helps to identify what potential customers are searching for and how they phrase their queries. 

A good keyword research example at the top of the funnel stage could be: ‘What is Project Scope?’

The user is not necessarily aware of the tools that could come in handy in managing the project scope but is for sure looking to understand what goes into the project scope.

This is where product-led SEO comes in, whereas a SaaS business, you can blend in your product features to assist the user in better managing the project scope.

ClickUp has done an amazing job in covering this informational topic and aligning it with it’s product features:

They talk about everything that can help a user understand “Project Scope”, its examples and offer it’s features as some of the resources that can be very helpful in managing a project. 

Irrespective of your SaaS offerings, the goal of informational keywords is to attract the users in your SaaS sales funnel so that you can convince and convert at a later stage. 

Navigational stage/keywords 

Navigational keywords lie in the middle of the funnel stage of the sales funnel. The searcher is aware of the product or the solution to his problem and is further researching into learning more about it. 

Continuing with our example of the project management niche, a good keyword research example in the middle of the funnel stage could be: ‘project management software’, or ‘project management tools’.

the goal of informational keywords is to attract the users in your SaaS sales funnel so that you can convince and convert later.

These keywords are more specific to the topic and will help potential customers who know what they’re looking for find your product or service. 

Commercial stage/keywords

Commercial keywords lie somewhere between the middle and bottom of the funnel stage of the sales funnel. These keywords will attract prospects looking to buy a product or service and have done some preliminary research. The searchers in this stage would be aware of some of your competitors and other solutions that are within their research sphere.

A good keyword research example in this stage would be to target comparison-based, review-based topics or alternatives, such as ClickUp vs. Asana or ClickUp review, alternatives to Asana, among others.

Transactional stage/keywords

They are at the bottom-of-the-funnel stage, where the searcher is ready to click the trigger to convert. As a SaaS company, you will want to include transactional keywords such as “buy,” “price,” “discount,” etc. 

By utilizing intent mapping to identify keywords within each stage of the sales funnel you can target your audience more effectively and generate higher organic traffic. As a SaaS company, you can develop a comprehensive SEO plan with these insights to drive targeted traffic and more conversions.

Before I dive into some of the strategies that can help you brainstorm keyword ideas, let’s takes look at some of the metrics provided by keyword research tools to help you better understand the data.

Understanding Keyword Metrics Before Starting Your SaaS Keyword Research

When conducting keyword research, it’s important to understand the metrics. These metrics can help you decide which keywords to target and how to best optimize your SaaS SEO efforts. 

But be mindful that these metrics are just approximations and estimations, and you should use them as a guide rather than absolute measures. 

You’ll want to look at a few different factors:

  • Search Volume
  • Keyword Difficulty
  • Traffic Potential
  • Cost Per Click
  • Parent Topic

Search Volume

Search volume estimates the average monthly searches for a particular keyword over the last 12 months of available data. This information is valuable when creating an SEO strategy for SaaS products or software companies, helping you determine which keywords should be prioritized and how much effort to put into each target phrase. 

A tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush takes it even further by breaking down the volume on the country level to help you create an international SEO strategy for your software.

Different tools report data based on different algorithms they are using. It is likely that you will see variations in the search volumes across different tools. As a matter of fact, these are estimations for you to get an idea and plan accordingly. This is where expertise from SaaS SEO experts can help you create a strategy based on extensive experience and access to multiple tools. 

94.74% of keywords get 10 monthly searches or fewer.

Keyword Difficulty

Keyword difficulty is something that has confused a lot of marketers. Simply put, it measures how easy or difficult it is to rank on a keyword in the top 10 results. Zero means the easiest, and 100 means the hardest.

But the fact is, irrespective of these numbers, you can rank your website pages with relevance and topical clusters. It would be correct to say this is an estimation and should be considered a starting point to create a comprehensive SEO strategy for your software business. 

Traffic Potential

Traffic Potential provides insight into how much organic website traffic could be generated from a particular keyword. It’s calculated by summing up the estimated traffic that the top-ranking page for your target keyword receives from all its other ranking keywords.

With this metric in place, you can plan your traffic numbers and see where you can generate the most ROI. This metric is only available in Ahref’s Keyword Explorer. 

Cost Per Click

It is generally the price an advertiser would pay to get a click on a specific keyword through paid marketing. But you might be wondering how does it come under organic SEO? 

The fact is people who are willing to pay to get a click-through from a keyword eventually mean those are commercial intent keywords and have the potential to drive business revenue. 

By keeping track of this metric in your research, you can be sure of the fact that the keywords are business driven and can uncover potential opportunities for your SaaS business. 

Parent Topic

Parent topic is only available in Ahref’s SEO tool. This is derived from the top-ranking page and the keyword which is driving the most traffic to the page. Parent topics can give you an idea of the hub and cluster content and how to rank better in search engine results. 

You can use parent topic keyword research to expand your target keyword list, increase your page’s reach, and discover related content ideas that will help you improve your SEO strategy. 

There is a sheer quantity of data inside these keyword research tools that can help you conduct in-depth keyword research for your software business. 

Keyword Research Example (Real-Time Research)

For this example, I will be using an example of a time-tracking software that monitors employee productivity. 

I will dive straight into Ahref’s because that is our go-to tool to begin our research process. 

In the first step, I just dropped in the software use case as the keyword, i.e. time tracking.

Based on the metrics discussed above, I can clearly see the keyword is pretty difficult to target but has a lot of potentials since it is being searched 17,000 times across the globe (the US is leading the charts).

The next step would be to jump into keyword ideas to see the variety of matching terms around time tracking.

In the next screen, I can see 20K+ keywords that I can potentially start working on, but the key here is to find the right keywords, considering the age of your website. 

If you are just starting out, it is highly advised to use the KD filter and target anything between 0 to 20. But this does not mean you should not target keywords that have higher difficulty. The fact is KD is just an arbitrary number that should only be used as a starting point to build out your strategy. 

Considering the website is totally new, I added a filter of max KD equal to 20 and a global volume of at least 200 (to be sure that I am targeting keywords that the users are searching). 

In the next window, I selected Terms that are matching “Software” to help us get an idea for the kinds of landing pages I can build and the keywords to target around those.

I can see a lot of potential keywords with low difficulty and moderate volume, which are primarily bottom-of-the-funnel keywords.

  • Time tracking software for consultants
  • Freelancer time-tracking software
  • Attorney time-tracking software
  • Best time tracking software for small businesses 
  • Time tracking software for accountants
  • developer time tracking software

The next step will be to use a Google spreadsheet to add these keywords to extend the research process further. 

To find the true intent behind these keywords, I dived into the SERPs (Search engine result pages) to see what type of pages and content search engines consider relevant for any of the keywords.

This process can be automated, but a manual analysis of the SERPs and keywords goes a long way in helping an intent-focused content strategy. 

50% of search queries contain 4 or more words. These queries usually have a higher conversion value, as they are more specific

Keyword Research Strategies (Ideas to look out for SaaS Businesses)

Finding the right keywords can make all the difference in getting your software seen by your target audience. There are a lot of strategies you can use to find relevant keywords; however, some of the following can help you get started right away.

  • Utilize reviews to get the customer’s voice
  • Analyze competitor keywords
  • Comparisons with competitors
  • Dive into PPC Keywords (Competitor + Your Own)

Understand Your Software Use Cases to Get Started With Keyword Ideas

First and foremost, you should truly understand the pain points your software solves. This will be the starting point for you to find the best keyword ideas in your SaaS space.

Ask yourself—what are the different types of tasks users are likely to have when using our product? What features do you offer that can help them solve their problems? Gathering this information ahead of time will give you a better idea of the keywords you should include in your research.

Once you have a better understanding of the different use cases of your product, you can start by brainstorming a list of possible keywords that relate to those use cases. This will give you an initial set of ideas to get started with. From here onwards, you can use Ahrefs or SEMrush to expand on each term and search for similar terms and phrases associated with it.

Utilize reviews to get the customer’s voice

Customer review sites have made it easier than ever for SaaS companies to collect feedback from customers in a public forum. 

These reviews are invaluable for keyword research, as they provide direct insight into how customers talk about your product and what search terms they might use to find software like yours. By monitoring these reviews, you can gain valuable insights into how users think about your or competitor’s software.

There are a lot of platforms that you can utilize to gather your customer’s voice. I am a big fan of G2 and Capterra which are also pretty helpful in analyzing your competitor. The idea here is to read your product reviews and also your competitors. 

The following example is of a review of ActiveCampaign (Customer Experience Automation Platform):

I can easily pick some unique keywords that align with their business such as automating email communication or automation features for small sized businesses. 

Swift through these reviews carefully, and read between the lines. With this review ActiveCampaign can start a totally new section for their audience that covers terminologies or a glossary of the key terms used in their category, as the user has clearly pointed out that “it requires learning terminology syntax of components to effectively navigate to the desired tools”.

Analyze competitor keywords

Competitor analysis is an excellent way to growth hack your content marketing strategy. You can easily find ideas that are already helping your competitor drive traffic to their websites.

For this, I use Ahrefs and SEMrush. Both are powerful keyword research tools that provide insights into the keywords your competitors are targeting.

In Ahref’s by simply posting your competitor’s website you can find the keywords their pages rank for, and keywords that are driving the most traffic.

By taking a step ahead, and adding filters to the list of keywords, you can cherry pick some low difficulty keywords which have a certain search volume. There are tonnes of filters you can use such as minimum volume, CPC (helps in finding commercial keywords), countries, and much more.

Comparing your product with competitors 

So often, your competitors would have a lot of search volume for their brand names. You can leverage their brand searches by comparing your software with their products. This opens up a whole new category of ‘Comparisons’ for you to target in your content strategy. 

You can do this by simply dropping your competitor’s brand name in Ahref’s keyword explorer and heading over to keyword ideas. Popular brands like Asana (Project Management Tool), have a lot of terms in the “vs” category.

Now you will have a pool of keywords that you can use to compare your product among others. There are different ways you can go about utilizing these keywords. You can either compare your product with the other two popular products or you can offer your solution as an alternative to both the product compared.

ClickUp has done a fantastic job in utilizing this strategy. They have simply compared the two popular software in the project management space and offered their SaaS as an alternative to both the competitors.

You can cover as many comparisons as you want in two, three, or even four-tier comparisons.  

Use PPC Keywords (Competitor + Your Own) to Get Keyword Ideas

PPC keywords are a goldmine of keywords. They can give you a good idea of which keywords have the potential to generate recurring revenue for your software. 

These are some untapped keywords that are already popular and might not have been discovered through other methods. There are different ways you can collect PPC keyword data. 

One of the easiest ways is to simply start by looking at the words and phrases associated with your competitors’ ads. To do this, just follow the steps below:

Go to Google and search for the problem or the solution your SaaS offers

Now, read through their titles and descriptions and note down the key terms used such as, creative task management, project planning tools, and others. 

Next is to open these pages, read the copy, and pick relevant keywords to generate ideas and topics. The chances of these keywords converting are near 100% just because a lot of brands are already bidding and spending money to get clicks on such keywords therefore they are worth targeting organically. 

If you are already trying search engine marketing for your software, then diving into the Google Ads dashboard is your next best option. You can do it yourself or take help from your PPC team. The idea here is to gather the search terms or keywords from the past many days that resulted in a conversion. 

This can be further broken down into CTR, Conversions, or even CPC-level data to get concrete ideas you can utilize in your content marketing mix.

Keyword Research Tools For In-Depth Analysis

Once you’ve come up with a list of keyword ideas, the next step is to use a keyword research tool to analyze them. This will help you understand the different keywords related to your product and their popularity. 

As a SaaS SEO agency, Ahrefs and SEMrush are the go-to tools for researching keywords and aiding our SEO process. But there are several others that you can use to create a strategy that works for your business.

  1. Ahref
  2. Semrush
  3. Soovle
  4. Answer the public

Ahrefs – Keyword Research Tool for SaaS Businesses

When it comes to performance as a keyword research tool, Ahrefs stands out among all. Due to the fact that it processes large amounts of clickstream data from 10 search engines, the accuracy of the results is impeccable. 

SaaS business owners across the globe love it due to its ability to help you prioritize keywords using 10+ filters.  

Keywords Database

Ahrefs boasts one of the largest keyword databases in the world, with over 7 billion keywords, which are refreshed every month.

Pricing

Ahref’s offers a seven-day trial for seven dollars. At the end of which, you can opt for a subscription model that ranges between $99 to $999.

SEMrush – Extensive Database of Keywords

SEMrush is an incredibly helpful SEO suite for understanding and optimizing your content. Not only does it provide detailed insights into your own organic search performance, but also enables you to compare your efforts with those of your competitors in the SaaS industry. 

With its keyword overview feature, you can easily find keyword opportunities and take a dive into how they are being used by competitors to better understand their SEO strategies. 

This helps you determine what changes need to be made in order to optimize your content for higher visibility and rank better in organic search rankings. SEMrush thus provides invaluable insights into the keyword strategies of your competitors, enabling you to craft an effective digital content marketing strategy. 

Essentially, SEMrush is a powerful tool that can provide you with an edge in the SEO game and help you achieve better organic search performance. 

Keywords Database

SEMrush’s keywords database has over 21.1 billion keywords that are updated regularly, you can be sure no keyword is untapped.  

Pricing

SEMrush offers paid plans that start from $99.95 and go up to $399.95. It also offers customized plans based on your business needs and requirements with flexible pricing options.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right keywords requires the right balance of customer understanding, market research, and analytical know-how. 

By using some of the strategies mentioned above you should be able to identify a healthy mix of high-traffic and low-competition keywords that will help you achieve your desired results. 

If after reading this post you feel like you could use some help formulating or executing your keyword research strategy, book a call with us today. One of our expert strategists would be happy to chat with you about how we can help grow your SaaS business.

author

Farasat Khan

Khan is an SEO consultant with 8 years of experience. His expertise has helped hundreds of brands generate additional revenue through search traffic. He is an SEO cum Digital Marketing specialist specializing in content strategy, search intent, and the sales funnel.

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