Want to drive more search traffic to your SaaS with SEO?
In this SaaS SEO case study, we’ll step outside the usual content marketing tactics most SaaS companies use. And look at how Zapier leverages SEO to drive millions of high intent searchers to their product every month.
This strategy has nothing to do with blogging (although we’ll take a look at how they added a blog later to enhance this approach).
We’ll also walk through…
- How they created 25,000 search optimized landing pages.
- How they filled these pages with unique content, without having to write it themselves.
- How they launch each page to generate a bunch of high quality backlinks right out of the gate.
- And how they use search marketing to create a more powerful network effect.
Capturing Millions of High Intent Searchers Each Month
According to SimilarWeb, Zapier receives 7.3M visits a month.
Of total traffic, over half comes from search.
How to Make Something Invisible Stand Out
Like other middleware SaaS, Zapier faced the challenge of having an “invisible” product. Their app didn’t perform customer facing actions but instead formed connections behind the scenes to unlock new functionality and value from existing apps.
Rather than trying to pitch users on the value of integrating tools, Zapier realized early on that people were already looking for specific integrations. To capture this existing intent, Zapier decided to make the app partners in their integration ecosystem the stars of their marketing and piggyback on their success.
They did this by creating three tiers of landing pages for every app in their ecosystem:
- A landing page for the app itself.
- A separate landing page for every app to app integration e.g. a page all about connecting Gmail with Trello.
- Separate landing pages for every single app to app triggered workflow or “zap” that exists between each app.
Whether someone is looking for general info on an app, how to integrate two apps together, or a specific app to app use case or scenario Zapier has a landing page ready to capture that intent.
That makes for a lot of landing pages. According to data from SEMRush, there are over 25,000 of these landing pages ranking in the top 100 of Google.
These landing pages were the main driver of Zapier’s early growth, and today they account for approximately half of all search traffic to the site based on SEMRush estimates.
Zapier’s Playbook for Scaling 25,000 Search Optimized Landing Pages
Creating 25k landing pages is one of those things that sounds crazy without some hack or workaround. But Zapier’s “hacks” look a lot more like persistent effort combined with smart systems thinking and a solid understanding of SaaS SEO.
One of the things you might be tempted to hack with landing pages at this scale would be using some kind of repeatable content template, since the content creation side would be the most time intensive. Just change a few keywords for each app and voila, right? But Zapier recognized the SEO value of each page having unique, relevant content.
While their pages do have a templated structure and layout, each page also has human created descriptions of the apps and summaries of each integration. And we’re not just talking about a few lines of unique text, many of the pages have multi-paragraph overviews that drill into deeper features and benefits.
Outsourcing SEO Content to Partners
But rather than write all this content themselves, Zapier created a playbook for onboarding and launching new app partners. Part of this onboarding process includes getting app partners to write the content for these landing pages. If needed, it also includes editorial guidelines for the Zapier team to clean up the content to make it a perfect fit for each landing page.
Not only does this free up one of the most time intensive SaaS SEO elements, but it also generates the most relevant content from the people who have the best understanding of each app’s use cases – the app creators themselves.
Outsourcing Link Building to Partners
Zapier also leverages partner help in getting some initial backlinks to new landing pages. Their onboarding process for new apps includes:
- Getting partners to set-up an integrations page on their site linking back to Zapier.
- Getting partners to write a post announcing the integrations on their blog.
- Adding links to a few of the top “zaps” directly in the partner’s app.
Not only do these partner promotion tactics generate a stream of new users for Zapier, but they also provide an initial set of backlinks to help boost the page rankings. Then there’s the initial exposure that may get the integrations written about on industry blogs, or shared on social media. Garnering more backlinks.
Amplifying and Protecting Your Network Effect With SaaS SEO
Middleware SaaS platforms like Zapier are one of the most obvious examples of network effects in SaaS. As Zapier adds new app partners to its integrations list, its platform becomes more attractive and valuable for end users. And the more end users attracted to the platform, the more apps want to join the platform. It’s a virtuous cycle.
Zapier’s SaaS SEO strategy plugs into this network effect seamlessly and amplifies its impact. Each new app partner leads to a new set of app landing pages, expanding Zapier’s ability to capture high intent searchers. The more new users Zapier generates from this search traffic, the more enticing the platform becomes to new app partners. Which leads to more app landing pages. Another virtuous cycle.
These landing pages also have a protective effect on Zapier’s expanding network, essentially surrounding it with a moat that competitors will have a hard time crossing. Building 25,000 unique landing pages isn’t something that’s easy to duplicate. And it would add an extra layer of difficulty for a competitor entering the same space.
This is in contrast to acquisition channels like paid search and paid advertising, which allow you to quickly expand your reach to a large audience but aren’t ideal for protecting your network long term due to the high cost of sustaining paid acquisition.
Using Content Marketing to Increase Search Traffic and Generate Demand Early In The Customer Journey
Zapier’s network of app and integration landing pages work great at drawing in visitors searching for a specific app or integration. However, there are also a lot of people searching for more general app categories and use cases that these landing pages don’t rank as well for.
These searchers haven’t yet narrowed their search down to a specific app, and are performing mid funnel research on apps available in a specific category. Or they’re doing top of funnel research on solutions to a specific problem or use case, and may not even be aware that an app is a good way to solve their problem.
In order to connect with these searchers, Zapier created a blog and content marketing strategy that focuses on exploring different app use cases and reviewing apps in different categories.
By not waiting until a need for a specific integration arises and exposing users to Zapier’s integrations early in the customer journey, Zapier is able to cast a wider net and generate new demand for its service.
And it has widened their search net significantly. According to SEMRush, over 1/3 of Zapier’s search traffic comes from their blog. As we discussed earlier, this also positions Zapier’s integrations as a key consideration when choosing an app and building a software stack – rather than an afterthought that comes when you are trying to fill gaps in your existing stack.
Using Highly Relevant Calls to Action to Increase Conversions
All Zapier’s search traffic isn’t worth much if they can’t convert some of those visitors into users. To help maximize conversions, they use highly relevant calls to action on both their app landing pages and in their blog posts.
Rather than a generic free trial or sign up CTA, Zapier provides a call to action focused on the specific integration visitors were searching for:
And on their blog, they embed CTAs for specific integrations that tie into the use cases being discussed in the content…
Zapier assures visitors they are on the right track when they reach the sign up page, with copy customized to fit the specific integration they clicked to set-up in the CTA. This simple customization nurtures the visitor intent that was established on the landing page or blog post.
After creating login credentials, Zapier doesn’t waste that user intent by dropping new users into a central dashboard or control panel. Instead, users are dropped right into the integration set-up flow where they can get the integration from the CTA up and running.
This is a critical step in the Zapier user journey. If a user can get their first integration set-up, they can experience the “magic moment” of seeing it automate away a manual task that they’re used to spending their time on. The value of that time savings suddenly becomes tangible.
Staying Invisible to Generate Millions of Visitors from SaaS SEO
Ultimately, Zapier has done an excellent job crafting high quality landing pages and content that both Google and visitors like. And they’ve created a playbook and systems that have allowed them to scale this high quality approach.
But maybe the most strategic and admirable SEO decision they made was to embrace the “invisible” nature of their product, and put their app partners and users first. They have put app partners in the spotlight while fueling their own growth. And have built a simple, direct way for users to find the integrations they need to save time and maximize the value from their stack.