As much as I love and support when software marketers use paid search engine marketing (SEM) to drive traffic to their site, let’s face it: organic traffic is usually better. Fortunately for Capterra, software marketers don’t have to choose one to the exclusion of the other. Organic traffic is free; it’s usually higher-converting traffic; and it often results in better quality leads. And did I mention it’s free?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is atop everybody’s list of marketing priorities for 2014, and rightfully so. Search Engine Watch reports that organic search results get an overwhelming 94% of clicks in Google and Bing, compared to the mere 6% of searchers who click on paid search ads. And in a recent Capterra survey, 78% of software marketers told us that organic search was one of their top three sources of new business in 2014.
So how can you boost organic traffic and improve SEO for your software company?
There are countless ways to impact SEO, but search engines like Google traditionally considered two factors to determine the organic search ranking for a site:
- Relevant keywords on your site
- The number and quality of backlinks to your site from other websites
(I guess that’s technically three if you count both the number and quality of backlinks as separate factors…but you get the point.)
The rationale was that if you’re writing about a particular keyword on your site pretty frequently, and if several other quality sites across the web link to your site as a resource for that particular topic, then you probably have some pretty valuable information on your site relating to that keyword. As such, your site likely deserves to be ranked toward the top of the search results for that specific keyword.
Of course, if you’re familiar with SEO practices today, then you know that search algorithms have grown far more complicated over time, and they now take many more factors into account than just those two. However, I think there’s something to be said for returning back to the basics when it comes to SEO. Practically every week we hear of a new SEO law, and everybody jumps to respond to the latest trend. Then, inevitably Google decides it doesn’t like how everyone is gaming their system, so they change their algorithm again, and everybody runs off in a new direction to chase the next trend.
But without a solid foundation of relevant content on your site and quality backlinks, those new trends aren’t going to make a big impact on your SEO resutls. While creating relevant content with optimal keywords is a topic I’ll save for another post, today I want to focus on the other basic component to successful SEO: backlinks.
Here I’ll share six ways to earn more backlinks and boost SEO for software companies:
1. Create Linkable Assets
What’s a linkable asset, you might ask? Here’s the long answer. But in short, it’s anything worth linking to. The best way to earn backlinks to your site is to create something so irresistible that people can’t help but share it and link to it. Pretty obvious, right? But it’s a lot harder to come up with irresistible content than you might think. That being said, I believe software marketers— who are on the cutting edge of technology and constantly evolving to meet market demands— are the best suited to come up with creative, unique, linkable assets.
While I mentioned above that content with relevant keywords is an important factor for SEO, you shouldn’t really worry about keywords when brainstorming your linkable assets. Why? Because a linkable asset doesn’t just have to take the form of a blog post or an epic article. It can be a video, an image, a widget, or a unique tool you come up with that doesn’t include any written words at all. The more outside the box your linkable assets, the better… if the same asset can be found on several other websites, then yours probably isn’t all that link-worthy.
2. Publish Unique Data
This tip is really an extension of #1 because data is just a specific type of linkable asset, but it’s worth calling out as its own SEO strategy. B2B software buyers especially love sharing data. After all, numbers are the language of business! And what do people do when they share data? They link back to the original source.
So if you’re sitting on trends, stats, and data- whether from usage of your software, from customer surveys, or from your research- publish it! You can create blog posts, research reports, and include the data in your website copy, and then watch the backlinks start rolling in.
3. Respond to HARO Queries
If you’re not familiar with HelpaReporterOut.com (abbreviated HARO), sign up for a free account today! HARO is a free service from Vocus that connects reporters, bloggers, and journalists with interviewees, quotes, and sources for their articles. You can select which topics to follow, and each day, HARO will send you an email with new queries from reporters who need input on their current stories.
You can reply to the relevant* queries with brief pitches about your software company, and many journalists will link to your company website when they quote you in their article. Even if they don’t link back to your site though, it’s a great PR strategy to get your software name in front of a new audience.
*Note: The key word here is relevant! HARO is not an opportunity to pitch your software company to any journalist you may want to write about you. You must provide helpful, thoughtful answers to the journalist’s specific questions in order to successfully land a HARO pitch.*
4. Contribute Articles to High-Ranking Sites
Despite recent controversy about guest blogging for SEO, contributing unique, quality content to high-trafficked, relevant sites in your industry is still a great way to spread the word about your software and gain exposure with new audiences. And it’s also a great SEO strategy because your website can only rank once in the top search results for any given keyword. But if you’ve written about that same topic on a variety of websites, you could potentially show up in multiple organic results on the first page.
The key to successful guest blogging is to find the right websites to contribute to. Make sure to target sites that do not compensate bloggers for guest posts (paying for links is a big no-no), sites that have a large audience relevant to your target audience, and sites that have strict guidelines for publishing contributed articles (if they publish jibberish alongside your post, then it’s probably not going to attract the right attention).
And even if the backlinks in your guest posts are eventually devalued by Google, by sharing your insights with new audiences, you may inspire others to share your site and link back to it on their own websites. Also, make sure that the content you share in your guest posts has not been published online before, because duplicate content will not benefit your SEO… it may even hurt your results!
Not sure where to contribute a post? Get started by submitting a new post idea for Capterra’s blog!
5. Monitor Mentions of Your Brand
You might be thinking, but if I monitor sites that are already writing about my company, how is that a way to earn more backlinks? Just because a blogger or publisher references your brand online, that doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically link back to your site. In these unfortunate situations when you’ve been denied a backlink, it never hurts to ask for one!
Many times, when bloggers reference your data, quote one of your employees, or share your content, they simply forget to include a link, or they may have gotten the information off another site. By monitoring all mentions of your brand, you can find these missed opportunities for backlinks and reach out to ask if they’ll add one back in. I suggest signing up for free Google Alerts for your company name and website domain.
6. Pick Popular Partners
While I mentioned above that directly paying for links is never an advisable SEO strategy, partnering up with companies that share a similar target audience with your company can be another great way to earn relevant backlinks. For instance, if your company is a sponsor at an association tradeshow, and your CEO gives a killer speech in one of the sessions, the association might write up a recap post of that speech and link to your site to give you credit. Or if one of your vendors features your company in an online testimonial, they might decide to link back to your website. So when establishing business partnerships, think of opportunities that you both could provide valuable backlinks to one another’s sites.
Hopefully after reviewing these six backlink strategies, you’ll stop chasing SEO trends and take matters into your own hands to start building earning backlinks today! I say earning instead of building because you do have to put in the work to really earn them… taking shortcuts and chasing the latest SEO hacks won’t get you the results you want, and they may actually hurt you in the long run.
Software marketers- what other strategies have you used to get backlinks to your site and improve SEO?