If you’re familiar with the accounting industry then names like Quickbooks, Xero and Freshbooks probably ring a bell.
That’s because they’re some of the most well-known accounting SaaS companies out there, with many more being in the industry wanting a piece of the pie.
Although there are many channels that an accounting software can utilize to grow, SEO has proven to be one of the most (if not the most) effective of them all, in terms of attracting organic traffic and acquiring new users while keeping CACs low.
Just to give you an idea of what we mean, this is what Steve Toth (ex SEO Manager at Freshbooks) said about the company’s organic growth on an episode of a great podcast called the SaaS SEO Show:
Seeing how much just one set of pages can contribute to a company’s overall growth is amazing, so we wondered what impact other SEO actions could have on such a business.
This is why we decided to make a list of as many accounting SaaS companies we could find, in order to analyze which SEO tactics they use and how effective they are for them.
Note: Our sources for finding the companies have been directories like G2 and Capterra, as well as LinkedIn or simple Google searches. When it comes to analyzing their organic growth, our tool of choice is Ahrefs.
By SEO tactics (or channels if you like) we analyzed some of the most prominent ones that SaaS companies tend to use, such as:
- Blog content
- Tools, calculators and other JTBD pages
- Comparison and alternative pages
- Topic clusters
Before we dive deeper into our findings, here’s a brief overview of our study.
Our Data Study’s Findings
- The organic traffic distribution follows the Pareto Principle
- The blog is the most used SEO tactic
- The blog contributes on average 22.55% to the websites’ total organic traffic, making it the top organic channel
- 63% of the websites have an accounting glossary, contributing an average of 5.8% to their total organic traffic
- 59% of the websites have created comparison and/or alternative pages
- Less than half of the websites have created pages with JTBD intent, contributing 2.63% to the organic traffic on average
And our key finding: Topic clusters are the least used tactic, but they outperform most of the others.
Note: All data is valid as of August 2023.
Let’s have a closer look at those findings.
1. Organic Traffic Distribution Follows the Pareto Principle
When it comes to the most prominent SEO metrics of the accounting SaaS websites we studied, here’s what we found:
- The average monthly organic traffic of all websites is 499,450 with the total number amounting to 13.5M
- The average number of keywords they rank for in Google’s SERPs is 115,896
- The average number of backlinks they’ve received is 1.04M
It’s worth pointing out that these metrics only give us a general overview, since the Pareto Principle applies.
This means that 20% of the accounting SaaS websites are responsible for 80% of the organic traffic they generate altogether.
To be precise, 20% of them are accountable for 11.2M monthly organic visits out of the total 13.5M, which is 82.9% to be exact.
This wasn’t a surprise to be honest, since there are certain SaaS companies dominating the accounting niche (we think you can guess which ones they are).
2. The Blog is the Most Used SEO Tactic
When it comes to the SEO tactics the SaaS websites use, it’s no surprise that the vast majority of them have an active blog section, creating SEO content to attract organic traffic.
To be precise, 96% of them have a blog making it the most used tactic.
As for other tactics:
- 63% of them have a glossary of accounting terms
- 59% of them have comparison/alternative pages
- 48% of them have JTBD pages
- Only 7.4% of them have created topic clusters
However, the blog isn’t just the most widely used channel, but also the best performing one (always in terms of organic performance).
This is something we experienced first-hand with a B2C accounting SaaS we worked with, which we helped go from 100 to 28K monthly organic visits in just 12 months, with almost all traffic coming from blog content.
Going back to our finding, the blog contributes an average of 22.55% to the total organic traffic of the websites we studied, with the other tactics contributing an average of:
- Topic clusters: 10.57%
- Glossaries: 5.8%
- JTBD pages: 2.63%
- Comparison and alternatives: 0.6%
What’s very interesting is the fact that although topic clusters are only used by 7.4% of the websites, they’re the second best performing tactic, but we’ll dive deeper into this further on.
Let’s continue with the breakdown of our findings.
3. 63% of the Websites Have an Accounting Glossary
Glossaries are becoming increasingly popular for SaaS websites, due to their ability to rank for many relevant terms, attract backlinks, and generate organic traffic.
They also provide great internal linking opportunities and can even contribute to a website’s topical authority, even for keywords with high commercial value.
Based on our analysis, 63% of accounting software have invested in creating glossaries of accounting and financial terms.
If you’ve visited such a website you’ve most likely come across one, such as the following glossary by Quickbooks:
Which performs well as seen in the following screenshot:
But only contributes a fraction (0.1%) to the website’s total organic traffic which is close to 5M monthly visits.
On the other hand, this accounting glossary by FreeAgent:
Also generates a lot of traffic (although its performance has been stagnant):
But it contributes by 17.5% to the website’s total organic traffic!
This is natural, since a larger website that generates millions in monthly traffic might have a good performing channel, but as a percentage it will most likely only contribute a small part.
For smaller websites, a good performing channel might have a larger impact (as a percentage) to its total organic performance.
As we mentioned earlier, 63% of accounting software have glossaries which contribute an average of 5.8% to their total organic traffic.
In numbers, they generate an average of almost 20K monthly organic visitors, which is quite decent.
All in all, although glossaries do require some development time, they can prove to be an excellent tactic for a SaaS website (when it makes sense to build one) and have the ability to support the company’s content strategy as a whole.
4. 59% of Websites Have Comparison & Alternatives Pages
Creating comparison and alternatives pages are usually key for a SaaS to drive more conversions, since they’re based on BOFU keywords and target searchers who are ready to buy or use a service.
Accounting is one of the SaaS industries that has leveraged this tactic a lot.
Especially some of the market’s big players like Xero, FreshBook and QuickBooks, have invested in such pages, since they have a strong brand name and people tend to search for alternatives to them.
Based on our analysis, 59% of accounting software have created comparison and/or alternatives pages, contributing on average just 0.6% to their total organic traffic.
Obviously the gap between the two percentages is noticeable and the pages’ organic performance is quite low, but we wouldn’t say this matters; their main goal is not to attract as many visitors as possible, but those few who are ready to convert.
What we also noticed, is that the larger accounting SaaS are the ones investing more in comparison and alternatives pages, rather than the smaller ones.
This makes total sense, since they have a stronger brand name, they’re more well known, and people tend to search for them more.
By adding their names into Ahrefs and filtering results based on modifiers with commercial intent, we notice many keyword with high search demand:
On the other hand, there obviously aren’t many (if any at all) comparison and alternative pages for software that aren’t well known.
Personal Tip: Avoid creating comparison/alternatives pages for websites that don’t yet have online recognition.
5. 48% of Accounting Software Have JTBD Pages
Pages with job-to-be-done intent are quite prevalent in SaaS websites and can include:
- Other tools
And more, that help users get something really specific done.
Accounting and finance in general are great cases for such pages. As we saw in our intro, FreshBooks created invoice templates because they not only attracted its target audience, but they were relevant to the product too.
Calculators also fit this category well, such as the following tax calculator by Quickbooks.
According to our study, 48% of accounting software have JTBD pages of any kind, contributing an average of 2.6% to their total organic traffic.
While they don’t contribute a great deal, such pages are great in solving searchers’ problems and satisfying their intent.
When combined with relevance to what each company offers, they can even accelerate product-led growth.
6. Topic Clusters Are the Least Used Tactic, But…
Our last finding is an interesting one.
Although topic clusters are the least used “tactic” of all the websites we studied with only 7.4% using them, they contribute an average of 10.5% to their total organic traffic!
This makes topic clusters the second best performing tactic after the blog.
We could say this is an underutilized strategy, with the potential of bringing in great organic results.
One of the examples I personally like is Wave’s Freelance Hub:
What’s great about it is that the topics covered such as…
- how to become a freelance writer
- best apps for freelancers
- freelance graphic design rates
…have nothing to do with accounting or finance, but they attract freelancers who might be interested in something like an invoicing tool which Wave offers.
As a result this currently generates over 10K monthly visits and ranks for 17.7K keywords.
Note: By “topic clusters” we analyzed ones that live outside of the blog section, in a separate set of pages.
All in all, it’s clear that there’s room for topic clusters to be utilized more by SaaS companies, since they’ve proven to work well when executed correctly.
Let’s wrap things up.
It’s no secret that many SaaS categories are saturated, with websites trying different strategies in order to win the organic game.
Accounting SaaS are no exception, so we believe it was worth breaking things down and seeing what works best for them.
Some final comments:
- “Big players” seem to dominate the SERPs
- Blog content continues to be the best performing SaaS SEO tactic
- Glossaries are widely used but not enough, since they show potential
- Topic clusters aren’t used enough, although they’re the second best performing tactic
So that was the end of our data study on the SEO tactics that accounting SaaS use.
In the next posts of this series, we’ll break down the SEO tactics of different categories such as HR and Project Management SaaS.