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Explaining Product-Led SEO: Is It Right for Your SaaS Company?

Product-led SEO can be a powerful way to scale your website and drive significant user growth to your company. What is it and is it right for everyone?

Every team looking to take advantage of organic search algorithms uses a combination of content, products, metrics, backlinks, and customer data to ensure SEO is a profitable revenue channel.

However, the term product-led SEO does have a specific meaning that differs from more traditional, keyword-led content strategies — even the ones that involve creating content that mentions or shows off your product.

Let’s go through the important nuances, learn why people are so excited about product-led opportunities, and see if it makes sense for your company.

What does product-led seo mean?

Product-led SEO is a marketing strategy that leverages the core attributes and user data of a product to fuel inbound traffic and attract new customers via search engines. 

You might be thinking, “Isn’t that what every SEO strategy is supposed to do?”

The answer to that is, “Yes, but…” Product-led SEO is the creation of a web-experience that is far more integrated with the functionality of your product than a traditional product-led content strategy that is optimized for search algorithms.

Strong cross-team collaboration is the secret to the success of a product-led SEO approach. By aligning product development, marketing, and SEO, you can create a seamless synergy that boosts organic traffic and product adoption.

Product-led SEO vs. SEO using product-led content

Here is a simple way to distinguish between the two organic search strategies.

Different focus points

A keyword-led SEO and content marketing strategy primarily involves identifying and ranking for popular keywords with significant search volume and relevance by creating single pieces of content. Its focus is on growing online visibility around topics where you display your expertise in your vertical or industry.

Product-led SEO, on the other hand, emphasizes the product, its features, and the user experiences. The content and the product can be virtually indistinguishable to the user. Think about how Zillow or Airbnb tries to rank for individual property and city listings.

Different data sources 

With a traditional keyword-led content strategy, keyword research tools, customer data, trend data, and general market data form the foundation for content marketing. 

In contrast, product-led SEO zooms in on product usage and customer data as primary sources for development.

Different Integration 

Traditionally optimized, product-led content lives in website subfolders related to blogs, articles, tools, templates, etc.

Often programmatic, product-led SEO is integrated into the product’s use-case and delivered via an app or app-like UI that makes the content feel as though it is a product.

Recommended Reading: 8 Must-Have Content Types for PLG Companies Investing in SEO [+184 SaaS Marketers Told Us Which They’d Build First]

Finding your Blue Ocean for your product-led SEO strategy

In the realm of SEO and digital marketing, a "Blue Ocean" refers to an untapped, competition-free space. It’s an area where your SaaS company can leverage unique keywords that are relevant to your product and user base but are largely ignored or overlooked by your competitors.

Instead of aiming for high-traffic keywords where competition exists (a "Red Ocean" scenario), you seek out less obvious, product-specific queries that your user base will likely use.

To achieve this, you must deeply understand your users, their behaviors, needs, and how they interact with your product. By leveraging user data and product usage information, you can identify unique search queries that will lead potential customers directly to your product.

Tips for finding your Blue Ocean strategy

Discovering your own Blue Ocean search engine optimization opportunities requires thinking creatively and resourcefully about your data sources and your product's scalability.

Here are three unique methods worth looking into first:

Exploiting public data sets

Similar to how some companies utilize government data, there are numerous public data sets available across industries that can be leveraged to create valuable content and experiences. By integrating this public data with your product, you can build a resource that fills a unique niche and draws organic traffic.

Leveraging automation

By automating the creation of content or pages based on available data, you can rapidly scale your content creation. For example, if you operate a real estate SaaS, you might programmatically create individual pages for each neighborhood in a city, populated with relevant data and information. As a result, you’ll have thousands of unique, searchable pages.

Borrowing from successful web products

Look at successful web products outside of your immediate industry, especially those that your users love. Analyze what makes these products successful from an SEO perspective, and think about how you could incorporate similar elements into your product. This could be anything from a user-friendly interface to a unique content format to a particular kind of interactive tool or resource. 

For example, if you’re a company like Testbox and you offer demos for a whole host of SaaS company products, you might also notice that your users are looking for first-hand reviews. A product-led SEO strategy might lead you to look into providing a similar experience for G2’s or Capterra’s products.

Examples of product-led seo that you’ll be jealous you didn’t think of first

Zillow 

You’re probably familiar with Zillow, a real estate database company. As part of their SEO strategy, each listing’s data automatically generates a page on the website that can be indexed by Google and other search engines.

This creates millions of pages that can rank for address-specific searches, massively increasing organic traffic and product usage.

Zillow's product-led seo traffic growth

Zapier

Zapier is the SaaS poster child of product-led SEO, and for good reason. Their team saw that people search for ways to integrate and automate different apps and software platforms with one another.

Since this is exactly what their product allows you to do, they create landing pages that are optimized for search for every software tool connection that you can imagine. The result is a ton of organic traffic directly to their product functionality pages and a whole heap of trials.

Zapier is also a great example of the two types of SEO efforts being run simultaneously. Their blog content is a traditional mix of keyword-led and product-led content vs. the product-led seo approach we’re talking about in this article.

Zapier's product-led seo traffic growth

G2

If you’re in SaaS, you’ve visited G2 at one point or another to help in the comparison stage of your research, and you’ve likely tried getting reviews and leveraging their platform to promote your own software product.

Since people search by software categories and product-types, G2 implemented a product-led SEO strategy that gives users the exact comparison experience they want. 

They generated thousands of pages that give users a comprehensive, streamlined comparison experience all in one place. This incentivizes more people to list their product on G2 and generates a mountain of organic traffic for their website.

G2's product-led seo traffic growth

Grubhub

Similarly, companies like Grubhub have sought to bridge the gap between how people search to order food or groceries and what their product offers customers.

So they created indexable, location-specific restaurant listing pages with menu access, reviews, and ordering functionality. As a result, more users find them on Google and end up downloading their app.

Grubhub's product-led seo traffic growth

If this type of SEO strategy fascinates you, check out Eli Schwartz's book about it here.

Is product-led SEO right for you and your team?

Because product-led SEO often involves a large-scale, programmatic effort, it’s not typically the first SEO strategy your team will employ.

It’s much more common to start with a traditional content-led SEO strategy that allows you to:

  1. Implement several ideas around what you think your target audience is looking for
  2. Research more opportunities where you can potentially scale results via automation
  3. Measure the impact of each idea and evaluate the true resource needs and cost to implement a full-blown product-led strategy

Once your team feels confident that they have a deep understanding of what users love about your product and how they shop for features and products like yours, you should have the confidence to greenlight a product-led SEO strategy.

However, some teams might not use a true product-led strategy for the following reasons:

  • Lacking the technical know-how concerning programmatic SEO
  • Inability to give cross-functional bandwidth to the project
  • There isn’t currently a known creative avenue to combine search trends and the product’s direct usage
  • Cost of the program is affordable relative to other long-term SEO strategies, but more expensive in the short-term
  • Perceived competition level makes it cost prohibitive
  • Product benefits from a sales-led motion vs. a product-led GTM strategy
  • Lack of clear outcomes and metrics to measure success
Interested in further exploration in other product-led marketing activities and tactics? Read more here:

What Product-Led Marketing (PLM) Is, and How to Use It to Grow Your User-Base [+ Helpful Resources]

Product-Led Growth: What It Is, Examples, KPIs, and Department Roles

Think you’re missing out on a product-led SEO opportunity?

If you’re looking to learn more about product-led SEO, or you think you might be ready to implement your own strategy, we’re happy to answer your questions on a quick call.

And for info on using a combination of content and government data to create a scaled SEO content program, listen to our podcast episode featuring the SEO lead from Aura, which reaches more than one million visitors per month.