As a software developer, you may think that SEO is for your marketing department only.
But the thing is it touches every single person on your team, including you. If the software you develop isn’t “SEO-friendly,” promoting it in Google’s organic search will be a deadlift for your teammates.
And if your product doesn’t take up steady positions in SERPs, just imagine how much exposure it’ll lose.
The answer is 53.3% of possible traffic, according to BrightEdge.
That huge flow of potential customers will go to your competitors, while you’ll keep wondering why your management doesn’t give you a raise.
Whenever you come up with a new app idea, don’t rush. Before you get down to something new, the entire team should get together and brainstorm ideas of how to make the most of it.
You’re all playing in the same league, after all.
By combining your skills, efforts, and creativity, you’ll release a product that will pay off, and most importantly pay off without a six-figure investment. Especially since there are resources providing free advertising for small businesses that stick to a tight budget and need to save on marketing as much as possible.
Read on to understand how to plan a software project with SEO and marketing strategies in mind.
Make sure your software can fit in more keywords
First off, you’ll need to think about functionalities that would match people’s search queries, aka keywords.
Before your customer interactions even start, they will enter Google or any other engine and search for your software there.
Let’s say you are planning to launch a time management app to track work hours. Your target audience is basically everyone who wastes a lot of time, so they’ll search for tips on how to organize their workflow and boost productivity.
Each tip can correspond to a specific feature of your tool:
- how to plan work hours – planning wizard;
- how not to miss deadlines – email reminder;
- how to assign tasks with ease – automatic scheduler.
The more keywords your software can fit in, the more times it can show up in front of your target audience. Note that Google Trends API can assist you in keyword research because it can search for a great volume of keywords in a short time and also provide you with location-specific and related queries, which you can then analyze to choose the most relevant for your campaign.
To gain maximum visibility, copywriters from your company’s marketing department should create a separate landing page or/and a blog post for each feature.
If you monitor search rankings, you probably know that one page can rank for hundreds of keywords. That’s why this investment will be justified.
Keep in mind that your new tool won’t rank high for very broad keywords like “marketing software.”
They work only for reputable companies that have been on the market for years, and their sites have impressive SEO metrics – 70+ DR (domain rating) and lots of traffic.
You can open any SERP checker to see the key metrics of the domains ranking for your target keywords yourself.
To get your software ranking, writers will need to focus on more specific phrases known as long-tail keywords. And it is your duty as a developer to launch a product that would match a lot of them.
For this, you can either use a premium SEO software tool, which will be much faster, or Google can actually get you covered for free.
Just type in your software category, and it will show you many variations of it people search for today. That’s possible due to a natural language processing algorithm integrated right into Google’s search bar.
You might have noticed that long-tail keywords don’t get as many searches per month as broad queries do. But ranking in the top 10 for broad queries is unrealistic, especially in the early days.
The quicker you can make more sales, the easier it’ll be for you to financially support the growth of your project.
Develop multipurpose software to embrace a wider audience
Wondering how to have startup ideas that could help you maximize your software reach?
This is the question commonly asked at the software planning stage.
First off, your tool should serve multiple purposes. You should plan it in a way that would suit the needs of different audiences. I mean people from different industries or, say, companies of different sizes.
To expand your reach, you can also develop an app for iPhone, iPad, and users of other devices. A big plus will be making your tool compatible with different operating systems and browsers.
Analyze search demand for your upcoming software
The cost to develop an app can vary based on multiple factors. It can be anything from an app type and its technical complexity to developers’ location and professionalism.
Building something simple like a timer or a calculator can take 5-7 months of work and cost around $30K-$150K. For a more complex project in the field of eCommerce, the numbers are higher – up to $300K.
For your investment to pay off, double-check that there’s demand for your app, preferably throughout the year.
In SEO circles, it’s called keyword seasonality, i.e. a period, during which your stuff will be in demand among searchers.
If you’re going to make an app for a specific occasion, people will be interested in it for a limited time only. And then, for the rest of the year, hardly anyone will check it up on Google.
For example, the app you’re planning to launch is meant for the Olympics.
Naturally, potential users will search for it shortly before and during the event. But once the Games are over, the demand for your product will drop and remain close to zero until the Olympics next year.
Always double-check the year-round demand for your software in Google Trends.
Find feature ideas that are in demand among your target audience
Time for the bitter truth – people don’t need another TikTok. What’s the point in re-inventing the wheel that hasn’t broken yet?
When planning a software project, you should identify new trends in your market. Also, try to figure out what people in your niche need but can’t find anywhere.
If you launch a tool based on their requests that others ignored, it’ll give you a competitive advantage. You’ll be able to get your product ranking for keywords that none of your competitors can make use of.
I must admit those keywords won’t have huge search volumes. But you’ll be the only one to attract the audience ready to convert for them.
Owners of many tools, particularly marketing tools like Ahrefs, gather feature requests on customer feedback management platforms.
Let’s visit one of them – Canny.
There, you will see what features users of competing tools ask for and how many times each request has been upvoted.
Note that the full name of each voter is in plain view.
So, you’ll be able to google them, find their email addresses, and reach out with good news. Imagine how excited they’ll be to try the tool that has the feature they’ve been waiting for.
Here are some other places to learn about the pains and needs of people in your niche:
- forums like Reddit;
- Q&A sites like Quora;
- Facebook groups, both private and public.
Whenever you see some question or concern in too many threads, that’s a good sign. Most likely there’s no tool that could do what forum members ask for or complain about.
Take your chance to become a pioneer in that specific field.
Once your software gets a release, your fellow marketers will have a list of threads to comment on and spread the word about it.
Build a free version for your software
Keywords will only give Google an idea of what your product is about and if it matches people’s search queries.
But only backlinks can really prove its worth.
By Google’s logic, if many sites link to your software, they probably do so because it brings genuine value. That’s why it makes perfect sense to rank it on the first page for relevant keywords.
One of the most profitable app business models regarding links is freemium.
No, I’m not telling you to give away the entire product at no cost at all. Being in common sense, I understand all the app development costs you’ll need to reimburse.
Still, try to plan your pricing policy in a way that would include a few plans like Starter, Lite, Standard, and Advanced.
The Starter plan can be available for free yet come with a limited set of features.
Bloggers publish compilations of free tools all the time and will want to add yours too. If they also have free access to your stuff, they may play with it for a while and post a standalone review.
To make sure this digital marketing strategy works, your free plan should provide more than five credits per month. And when they expire, users will need to upgrade to a premium package to access more.
Such a trick won’t help your software appear in many compilations of the best free tools and won’t get easy backlinks.
Neither will it have an opportunity to rank for keywords that contain the word “free.” They usually get thousands of searches every month.
Be generous at the start, and your freebie will make up for part of your company’s marketing costs in due time.
Sharing some functionality for free isn’t the only bait that bloggers could take to link to your software.
Another way to make it “link-worthy” is by including some sort of numerical data, e.g. as a feature of reporting.
Writers often link to statistics for their stories to sound reliable. And if your product interface has charts, graphs, timeline graphics, or any other visuals with stats, they can refer to it as a source of their data.
They can also illustrate their content with those charts using some of the best screenshot tools and link attribution below.
Take the place of discontinued software
The digital arena is an ever-changing environment.
Aspiring entrepreneurs regularly launch new tools, while start-ups that weren’t successful shut down.
Do you know about some good software in your niche that was discontinued? You can release an alternative tool and take its place on the pages that still link to it.
For example, Topsy was discontinued years ago but still has 1.86 million backlinks from over 40K domains.
That’s called broken link building in SEO.
Your teammates from the marketing department will be able to contact bloggers who haven’t removed links to the dead tool and suggest a replacement with yours.
Both parties will actually win here. You’ll build new links to your software, while bloggers will share only timely solutions with their audiences.
Although you don’t do SEO yourself, you can’t just ignore it at the stage of software planning. That’s what will determine its success in organic search, which is the largest traffic channel of today.
By developing a potentially rank-worthy tool, you’ll also do a big favor to the marketing department. Your colleagues will find it much easier to promote your stuff.
I can’t speak for all the companies out there, but successful product promotion usually leads to more sales and a pay rise for everyone on the team, not only marketers.
If you have any questions about how to plan a software project, feel free to tweet me at @NickCampbelll
hare only timely solutions with their audiences.