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The SaaS SEO Roadmap That Drives Qualified Pipeline (Guaranteed)

If you’re leading a high-growth SaaS with a lean team and a tight budget,

The reality is that building a roadmap that drives a qualified pipeline and supports your demand generation goals is becoming increasingly challenging in this market.

Worst? Most guides and blog posts out there share the same tactics and strategies.

The one-size-fits-all approach drives the whole market to the point of saturation. The same messaging zombifies the audience. 

The result? 

No matter what SEO roadmaps and plans most companies put in place, the results remain mediocre. 

In this blog post, I will share the macro POVs and the micro POVs: what’s happening in the B2B market, what’s happening in the SEO’s world, and how you can create a plan that works for your budget, company’s growth stage and business model.

Note: Main goal of this blog post is to give you a few actionable principles and ideas. Implementing one of tips from this blog post should give you a huge performance boost. (dinner on us if not)

Since each company is different, I don’t want to give you a plug-and-play roadmap. 

Understanding The B2B Market

To build a revenue-generating SaaS SEO roadmap,  let’s look at the current sales cycle, internal budget allocation, the industry’s advertising costs, and the biggest misconception that the SEO industry is having right now.

State of B2B sales cycle in 2023 & onwards

According to the B2B Sales Benchmark Report in 2023 by Ebsta, here are a few key highlights:

→ Win rates decreased by 15% in 2022.

→ Average deal values dropped by 32%.

→ The length of sales cycles increased on average by 32%

This highlights that there’s a big shift in the buyer’s behaviour.

People cannot afford to spend like what they did during the pre-COVID era.

Budget cut

Reality is that the current economy impacts how we allocate budget.

Most B2B marketing team either receive the same or less budget than last year.

Rising CAC over time

And even though the budget is the same, acquiring new customers’s getting costlier and costlier.

Main causes:

→ Oversaturated ad space

→ Lack of differentiation in strategy

→ Audience gets zombified + Macro factors

Misunderstanding in the buying journey (silo-ed)

The truth is the current SEO planning approach is outdated in many companies.

Here’s what it looks like:

  • The senior leadership team builds OKRs and assigns them to channel-specific marketing departments (paid media, SEO, etc.)
  • SEO will have a few milestones + leading & lagging indicators to focus on.
  • SEO in-house team or agency ramps up keyword research, technical SEO fixes, and monthly reporting.

This approach works for other industries.

But it won’t be as efficient in a market where buyers need more time and more touchpoints to convert.

Truth – this silo planning approach leads to:

→ Lack of alignment with sales/paid ads/customer team

→ Lack of resonance with your ideal customers

→ Lack of qualified leads from the channel

One-size-fits-all approach

Another problem in the SEO industry is that most companies use the same approach for every single company.

No matter what:

  • Business model (Product-Led or Sales-Led)
  • Growth stage (Seed, Series-A, Series-B, etc.)
  • Market context

Most SEO agencies and consultants use the same model:

→ Focusing on user intent & content

→ Fixing technical errors

→ Building links

Don’t get me wrong, SEO has a few principles we must follow.

However, using the same strategy without considering other factors won’t help in this current market.

What does this mean?

This means that if you’re leading a high-growth SaaS with a lean team and budget, you need to consider how to build an SEO plan that:

→ Shortens the sales cycle

→ Is cost-effective (but not too limited)

→ Reduces cost of acquiring new customers

→ Creates multiple touchpoints and is holistic

→ Is custom based on your company’s model

Instead of what we have had in the past – a one-size-fits-all SEO plan that doesn’t account for market conditions, buyer’s behavior, and the company’s growth stage.

3 Principles To Build The Roadmap

After testing our playbooks with 51+ SaaS companies over the past 15 years, we’ve found 3 key principles that you’d need to follow to create an SEO strategy that guarantees driving sales, not just traffic:

Forget about SEO – Think about the business’s growth and business model instead.

Sounds counter-intuitive, right? 

Why would you recommend forgetting about SEO when planning for SEO?

Here’s the harsh truth:

SEO has been around for a long time (since the 1990s)

And it’s become so complex that we need a dedicated field for this.

As a result, we’ve reached a stage where it’s become extreme. And most SEOs live in their SEO bubble. 

This is understandable, but this mindset leads to:

– Lack of consideration for the company’s growth stage

– Lack of consideration of the company’s business model

– Lack of creativity.

The easiest way to solve this is to start from the foundations. Instead, consider the business’s growth and business model.

Product-Led Growth vs Sales-Led Growth

At some point in the go-to-market strategy, a company must decide which model it follows.

And this model impacts the business’s process.

The way we approach SEO and content then needs to change accordingly. 

Product-Led Growth:

–  Involves using products to drive growth

– Offers customers a self-service model

– Uses free trials and freemium model to provide value and improve activation

Sales-Led Growth:

– Involves sales process to move customers along the funnel

– Provides 1-1 assistance and demos to guide customers

– Great choice for mid-market and enterprises that have complex sales cycles.

By simply considering the differences between SEO and content roadmap planning, you can create a compatible strategy with other departments’ work.

For example – here’s how the company’s growth model impacts the keyword research stage:

With product-led growth companies, the biggest data source is customer support tickets.

Analyzing this as part of your keyword research should give you a significant edge against competitors.

How so? You will get insights from your ideal customers – their goals, concerns, words, and phrases they use. This is something that no amount of competitive analysis and keyword tools can provide. 

The same thing for sales-led growth companies; you will get the most insights from listening to sales recordings.

Another example is how different it is for content creation goals using this lens. 

Old SEO goals:

  • Drive X amount of traffic that leads to X amount of demos/sign-ups
  • Create X blog posts and optimize X pages
  • Fix X technical errors and build X internal links

New SEO goals:

  • Drive X organic-attributed sales qualified opportunities OR product activations 
  • Create X blog content that assists the sales process or product activation
  • Create an internal link structure that supports the user flow

Can you see how different using the high-level business growth model instead of a channel as a foundation is?

Remember: SEO is a distribution channel. The business process and how you serve customers should be the primary foundation. 

Creating an ongoing feedback loop between departments

The biggest performance driver you build for SEO is implementing an ongoing feedback loop between marketing and other departments.

For example, here’s what happens in most companies:

– Marketing and sales team work in silo

– Both departments lack shared goals, metrics, and communications

– Both departments can’t see each other’s importance

This leads to drops in both department’s performance.

And when leadership tries to find the root cause, we see the common:

“X is not doing its job! We only handle Y and have no responsibility for X.”

Don’t go down this path; Use our alignment framework instead:

Here are the 3 main steps in our alignment process:

1. Align the process leads to revenue and metrics

The main goal of Marketing is to nurture and build trust with the audience until the buying triggers happen and they contact Sales. 

SEO needs to drive more pipeline and revenue. And Sales need to support SEO with data.

2. Gather shared data from all departments in one place

For SEO, you should:

  • Share overall performance
  • Share touchpoint content that contributes to the final conversion
  • Share insights from high-performing pages

For Sales, you should:

  • Share sales progress and performance
  • Share objections and recordings
  • Share what resonates well with the audience during the sales call

3. Put in place a strategy that requires departments to work together

For SEO, you should:

  • Create content’s that both search-engine-friendly and sales-enablement-friendly
  • Use sales insights for content research and optimization
  • Create case studies

For Sales, you should:

  • List reasons behind closed-won deals
  • List reasons behind lost deals
  • Gather sales arguments and how we handle objections

Making sure all tactics are not silo-ed

Let me give you an example of a silo SEO and content tactic:

The current content calendar and creation process at most SaaS companies looks like this:

Content calendar:

-> Topic

-> Keyword, volume, and competition data

-> Assignee and due dates

-> Content type & funnel stage.

Once the topics are approved, the team then

-> Creates a brief for each

-> Includes instructions for writers

-> Reviews and builds pages

The approach above works.

But over time, we’ve noticed that tracking only progress and keyword data leads to:

-> A lack of a high-level view of competitors’ positioning & product angle

-> Us overlooking other factors besides keyword volume and competitors

-> No strategic direction for each content brief

And during this market, every single misstep could lead to a downfall in your campaign.

Every tactic we use must sync with other departments and the company’s high-level goal.

In the next section, we will share the top leading inputs you can add into your roadmap and how you can turn them less silo. 

5 Leading indicators and inputs you should include in your SEO roadmap

So, what are the top 5 leading inputs/tactics you should include in your roadmap?

Action Item #1: Content research using multiple sources

Gone are the days when keyword research and content planning revolved solely around SEO tools. That method has run its course, especially for SaaS companies looking to connect with their audience on a deeper level.

So, what’s the game plan now? Let’s dive into a more holistic approach that brings real, human insights into the mix:

  • Customer Interviews: Get up close and personal. Chat with your best-fit and newly onboarded customers. Understand their journey, what attracted them to your solution, and the challenges they were looking to solve. These conversations are gold mines for content ideas that resonate.

  • Sales Recordings: Ever wonder what makes your prospects hesitate or what convinces them to sign on the dotted line? Sales call recordings are a treasure trove of insights. Listening in can help you identify common objections and questions, giving you a direct line to topics your content should address.

  • Forums & Communities: Where does your audience hang out online? Industry forums and communities are buzzing with discussions, questions, and debates. Diving into these conversations can reveal what topics are top of mind for your audience and what information might be missing.

  • Third-Party Review Sites: These platforms are where customers voice their honest opinions about your product and your competitors’. Analyzing these reviews can help you group customer feedback into themes, highlighting strengths to capitalize on and areas for improvement that could be great content material.

  • Newsletters: Subscribe to newsletters from thought leaders and industry trendsetters. They’re often on the cutting edge of industry trends and challenges. The topics they choose to cover can inspire your own content creation, ensuring you’re contributing relevant and timely insights to the conversation.

Action Item #2: Content refresh using first-party data and third-party data

It’s time to debunk a common myth: more content equals more revenue. This approach might have its merits in some sectors, but in the realm of high-growth B2B SaaS companies navigating lengthy sales cycles, it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

The reality is that continuously pumping out content can lead to a drop in quality, diminishing returns from your traffic, increased customer acquisition costs, and leads that just don’t measure up.

So, what’s the wiser approach? Use the 80/20 rule in your content strategy. Concentrate on the 20% of your content that’s already performing well

This doesn’t mean you rest on your laurels.

Instead, enrich this content with fresh insights from customer interviews and input from your product team. Adding valuable perspectives from third-party sources can also elevate the usefulness of your content to your audience.

The core idea here is not just to create but to refresh. By revisiting and updating your existing content, you can enhance its relevance and effectiveness without the additional spend of creating new assets from scratch.

Implementing this strategy will allow you to:

  • Maximize the impact of your existing content, getting more value from your efforts without increasing your budget.
  • Draw in high-quality leads more efficiently, improving conversion rates at a lower cost.
  • Hit your revenue goals confidently while managing a focused and less burdened team.

This content refresh approach is about recognizing the value in what you’ve already built and understanding that these assets can continue to serve your strategy and your audience well with some tweaks and updates. It’s a smarter, more sustainable way to support your growth and maintain your authority in the B2B SaaS space.

Action Item #3: Update product & use case pages using our new framework

Elevating your product or use case pages goes beyond the traditional SEO playbook. It’s about creating a seamless, engaging user journey that not only informs but converts. Let’s break down the essentials of crafting pages that stand out, resonate with your audience, and drive conversions:

 

1. Implement Breadcrumbs

Start with breadcrumbs that link back to other main conversion points on your site. This not only improves user navigation but also subtly guides visitors through your conversion funnel, connecting the dots between related products or services.

2. Reformat Your H1 Tags

Your heading 1 should do more than just describe the page—it should contain conversion-focused terms. This small tweak ensures that from the moment a visitor lands on the page, they’re greeted with messaging that aligns with their end goals.

3. Craft a Compelling Position Statement

Immediately after the H1, introduce a position statement that succinctly highlights what sets your product or service apart. This statement should be bold, clear, and memorable, encapsulating the essence of your value proposition.

4. Describe Benefits and Differentiators

Beyond features, your page description should emphasize the benefits and unique differentiators of your offering. How does your product improve your customer’s life or business? What makes it a better choice over alternatives? Answer these questions clearly and compellingly.

5. Incorporate Third-Party Reviews

Leverage the power of social proof by including third-party reviews. Seeing positive feedback from other users can significantly influence decision-making, providing reassurance and credibility to your claims.

6. Showcase Your Product in Action

Visuals are key. Include high-quality in-product images or videos to give visitors a closer look at what you’re offering. Seeing the product or service in action can help bridge the gap between curiosity and conviction.

7. Strategically Add Internal Links

Interlink your product or use case pages with other relevant use case or feature pages. This not only aids SEO but also encourages deeper exploration of your site, increasing the chances of conversion.

8. Utilize Insights Across Departments

For your copy, don’t rely solely on market research or SEO tools. Use insights from sales, customer service, and product development teams. Their firsthand experiences with customers can provide invaluable perspectives that resonate more authentically with your audience.

How It Stands Apart

This approach diverges from traditional SEO tactics by:

  • Prioritizing first-party data and real user feedback over generic third-party research tools.
  • Focusing on messaging that addresses customer pains and aspirations, rather than merely stuffing keywords.
  • Adopting a holistic strategy that integrates insights from across your organization, breaking down silos to create a unified, compelling narrative.

By updating your product or use case pages with these elements in mind, you’re not just optimizing for search engines—you’re crafting an experience that speaks directly to your customers’ needs and motivations, setting the stage for increased engagement and conversions.

Action Item #4: Internal linking strategy – a new model

Over my 15 years working closely with SaaS marketing leaders, I’ve uncovered a pervasive mindset that inadvertently impacts their bottom line—often without their realization. It’s the misconception that internal linking is merely an SEO tactic. 

This oversight can lead to a slew of issues, from poor user experience and high bounce rates to a disrupted flow where users feel more herded than guided. 

The result? A noticeable dip in both the quality and quantity of leads.

I’ve crafted a new model designed to revolutionize the way SaaS companies approach internal linking. And the best part? I’m sharing it with you, free of charge. Here’s what you’ll gain access to:

A User-Friendly Site Architecture

We begin by laying down a detailed site architecture that prioritizes user experience above all. This foundation ensures that visitors can navigate your site intuitively, finding the information they need without friction.

Strategic Internal Link Placement Playbook

Next, we dive into the heart of internal linking with a playbook that goes beyond SEO. This strategy enhances both your site’s SEO performance and user flow, creating a seamless journey that naturally encourages deeper engagement.

Content Cluster Planning for Message Coherence

Lastly, our model includes comprehensive planning for content clusters. This ensures that your messaging remains coherent across different pages and topics, reinforcing your value proposition and brand identity throughout the user’s journey.

 

Why This Matters for High-Growth SaaS Leaders

If you’re at the helm of a high-growth SaaS operation, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Implementing this model can significantly transform how traffic navigates your site, turning casual browsers into qualified leads. Moreover, by enhancing both the efficiency and effectiveness of your site’s internal linking structure, you can:

  • Streamline the Customer Journey: Create a site flow that expertly guides traffic through to conversion points, significantly increasing your lead generation capabilities.
  • Reduce Acquisition Costs: By improving the quality of leads and the efficiency of your site, you’ll see a marked reduction in customer acquisition costs.
  • Achieve Revenue Goals: With a more engaged audience and a higher conversion rate, reaching—and surpassing—your revenue targets becomes a tangible reality.

Consider this model a crucial piece in your SaaS marketing arsenal. Save it, share it with your team, and start building a site that not only ranks well but also resonates with and converts your target audience.

 

Action Item #5: Monthly testing and sprint-based testing

By regularly analyzing what’s working and pinpointing what isn’t, you can ensure your strategies remain agile and effective. However, to truly stay ahead of the curve, integrating sprint-based testing with paid media can accelerate your feedback loop, providing valuable insights at a much faster rate. Here’s how to approach this dual-faceted action item:

Monthly Testing: The Pulse Check

Think of monthly testing as your marketing pulse check. It involves systematically reviewing all your marketing channels, content effectiveness, user engagement metrics, and conversion rates. This isn’t just about crunching numbers; it’s about deriving actionable insights that can inform your next moves. Use this process to:

  • Evaluate Content Performance: Which pieces are resonating with your audience? Which ones are falling flat?
  • Analyze User Behavior: Where do users drop off? What paths are they taking to conversion?
  • Refine SEO Strategies: Which keywords are driving traffic? Are there new opportunities to explore?

Sprint-Based Testing with Paid Media: The Accelerator

While monthly testing gives you a broad overview, sprint-based testing with paid media lets you zero in on specifics and gain insights at a much faster pace. By running short, focused campaigns, you can test hypotheses, messaging, and channels to see what truly captures your audience’s attention. This agile approach allows you to:

  • Test Messaging Quickly: Experiment with different value propositions and calls-to-action to see what resonates.
  • Identify High-Performing Channels: Allocate budgets more effectively by doubling down on channels that deliver results.
  • Gauge Audience Response: Use real-time data to understand audience preferences and behaviors.

Implementing the Action Item

  1. Set Clear Objectives: Begin each cycle with specific goals. What are you testing for? Is it content engagement, conversion rate optimization, or something else?

  2. Develop Hypotheses: Based on your objectives, formulate hypotheses. For example, “Adding testimonials to our landing page will increase conversion rates by 15%.”

  3. Execute Tests: For monthly tests, use your existing data to make informed adjustments. For sprint-based tests, set up your paid campaigns targeting your hypotheses.

  4. Analyze and Adapt: Post-test, analyze the results against your objectives. What worked? What didn’t? Use these insights to adapt your strategy moving forward.

By marrying the thoroughness of monthly testing with the agility of sprint-based testing via paid media, you’re not just shooting in the dark. You’re making informed decisions that continuously refine your marketing approach, ensuring that your strategies are not only effective but also highly responsive to your audience’s evolving needs.

 

Resources allocation guide: How to execute

Yes, theory sounds great and nice – but putting it into practice is another challenge.

To bridge this gap, let’s break down the resource allocation into three core factors essential for the successful execution of your plan.

1. Time to Build Systems and Train Your Team

First and foremost, consider the time investment needed to establish the systems and processes that will support your strategy. This isn’t just about the initial setup; it’s also about ensuring your team is well-equipped and trained to maintain these systems moving forward.

  • Action Steps:
    • System Setup: Allocate time to develop or refine your content management system, SEO tools, and analytics platforms. This might involve integrating new software, setting up dashboards, or configuring tools to better suit your strategy.
    • Team Training: Organize training sessions or workshops for your team. Focus on both the strategic aspects of your plan and the tactical use of tools and systems. Consider ongoing training opportunities to keep your team updated on best practices and new developments in SEO and content marketing.

2. Expertise to Build a Non-Siloed Content and SEO Strategy

Creating a strategy that transcends departmental silos requires a holistic view of your organization’s goals, customer journey, and the various touchpoints along the way. This necessitates a blend of expertise in content creation, SEO, user experience, and data analysis.

  • Action Steps:
    • Cross-Departmental Collaboration: Foster a culture of collaboration by setting up cross-functional teams or regular sync-up meetings between departments. This ensures that insights from sales, product, customer service, and marketing inform the overall strategy.
    • Hire or Consult Experts: If certain areas of your strategy require specialized knowledge your team lacks, consider hiring new talents or consulting with experts. This can help fill gaps in expertise and bring fresh perspectives to your strategy.

3. Consistency and Effectiveness

The success of your strategy hinges on your ability to execute it consistently and effectively over time. This means setting realistic timelines, prioritizing tasks, and regularly monitoring your progress to make necessary adjustments.

  • Action Steps:
    • Create a Content Calendar: Develop a detailed content calendar that outlines what to publish, when, and on which channels. This helps ensure a consistent output and allows you to plan resources accordingly.
    • Regular Reviews and Adjustments: Implement a system for regularly reviewing your strategy’s performance against your goals. Use these insights to refine your approach, reallocating resources as needed to areas where they can have the most impact.

What’s next?

The key to building an effective SaaS SEO roadmap lies in understanding the unique challenges of the current landscape, including longer sales cycles, higher customer acquisition costs, and the pitfalls of a one-size-fits-all strategy.

To create an SEO plan that works, you can do the reversal thinking model:

  • What would the marketing department do to miss targets?
  • What would a failing SEO plan look like?
  • Why do agencies tend to deliver mediocre performance?

Then, you can do the opposite of the answers to the questions above. If the solutions you arrive at resonate with what you’ve read so far from this blog post, then that means we’ve done a good job!

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    Picture of Justin Nam Tran

    Justin Nam Tran

    I co-founded InboundScope and have worked with over 51 SaaS companies, focusing on brand positioning, copywriting, SEO, and CRO. Previously, I was the Head of Marketing at an asset management SaaS company