SaaS Keyword Research: How To Find Low-Difficulty Keywords

SaaS Keyword Research: How To Find Low-Difficulty Keywords

When drafting a content strategy for our blog, we strive to avoid the same SaaS keyword research mistake most companies make: prioritizing high-traffic keywords over conversion-intent keywords.

For early-stage SaaS companies like ours with a small marketing budget, it's essential to go after keywords that drive sign-ups rather than traffic.

Tim Soulo, CMO at Ahrefs, said it best: "Traffic is good for your ego, but not your bank account.".

Choosing the right keywords is the difference between driving hundreds of sign-ups from a keyword with a 100 monthly volume and zero from another that promises thousands of monthly traffic from SEO tools.

The truth is, SaaS keyword research process is changing, and you can't be left behind. And that's the reason we've written this piece.

So, in this SaaS keyword research guide, you’re going to learn how to identify:

  • Keywords that drive results from content marketing within 6-12 months of content production (free trials or product demos)
  • Relevant keywords that are easy to rank for and have high buying intent.
  • Target keywords you can easily rank in the top 5 positions for in organic search result listings.
  • Long tail keywords with a keyword difficulty score of less than seven on SurferSEO (And less than 50 on other SEO tools).

Let’s dig in.

What Makes a Good Keyword? 4 Criteria to Evaluate

Just as we have good and bad backlinks, the same applies to keywords. While a keyword can help you drive traffic, it doesn't necessarily mean it will drive conversion.

So, when trying to find relevant keywords for your business, keep these four criteria in mind:

1. Low competition, moderate to high search volume

We prefer to target keywords with low KD (Keyword Difficulty) scores and moderate to high search volume when doing keyword research.

More important than traffic numbers is the buying intent of the keyword. So, for instance, if we have Keyword A with a low KD score, 1,000 monthly volume, and informational search intent.

And on the other hand, is Keyword B with low competition, with 20 monthly volumes but commercial or transactional intent.

The right keyword to target, in this case, is Keyword B.

The reason is simple: people with commercial search intent are further down the sales funnel.

You don't need to educate them from the start. Instead, you need to offer them a solution and prove that your product is the best.

Secondly, targeting low-competition keywords ensures we don't have to go head-to-head with the top dogs in our niche before our content can rank.

Hence, we have to choose our battle wisely.

2. Who's already ranking?

If SEO is your primary traffic source, It's a MUST for your content to rank on the first page.

According to SERP Watch, 67.60% of all clicks on SERPs go to the top 5 pages.

That means if you're not on the first page, your audience might not see your content when they enter their search queries on Google Search.

To stop that from happening, we always verify the top-ranking pages on SERPs for each keyword we intend to target.

For example, we once planned to create content for this keyword "Content marketing for SaaS" but opted against it.

We looked at search results and discovered that the top-ranking pages had content from big names like Search Engine Journal, SEMrush, and, Ahrefs.

You will encounter this even with search terms that have low KD scores.

For us, the KD score doesn't define the competitiveness of a keyword; the top-ranking pages do.

3. Business potential score

Business potential score measures our affinity to mention our product within our content. Usually, this is measured on a scale of 0-3.

Zero means no chance, while three means high chance.

For instance, if you own a CRM software, it's easier to weave-in your product into content that targets the following keywords:

  • Top 5 CRM Software for Small businesses
  • Pipedrive alternatives
  • Ten business phone solutions
  • CRM software for link-building agencies

As opposed to the following groups:

  • What's account management?
  • Benefit of CRM for small businesses
  • What’s a customer journey map?

The reason is simple. With the first group, the keyword intent is commercial, while the second group addresses someone at the top of the funnel, and casually browsing for information.

The problem with the second group is that someone searching for "What's an account management" probably won't need a CRM software in the next 3-6 months.

So, it doesn't make sense to waste our SEO efforts on bringing them on board while there's a starving crowd waiting in line.

4. Customer journey and buying intent

At SEOmatic, the first 30 articles we published were all targeting BOFU keywords. These are the "profitable keywords".

As we mentioned earlier, we don't want to waste our resources targeting seed keywords that aim to educate website visitors from ground zero. We can leave that for our competitors.

Also, remember earlier that we mentioned that we choose keywords based on low competitiveness and moderate to high volume?

Well, there’s an exception to that.

  • Keywords with high volume and high DA scores are not ignored; rather, they're scheduled for later.
  • Keywords with zero search volume but high buying intent are prioritized, especially if they match the user's pain points.
  • Keywords with high volume, low competition are ignored if they have zero buying intent.

We aim to start with BOFU keywords and move our way up to MOFU and then TOFU.

SaaS SEO Process for Identifying 100+ Easy Keywords - Our 3-Step Framework

Our keyword research process for SaaS occurs in 3 phases: Selection, Validation, and Execution.

Let’s take you through each step of the framework.


In the selection phase, we identify keywords that align with our business goals: driving conversion.

And there are five steps in our selection of keywords:

1. Recorded customer interviews

Effective keyword research starts with the target audience, not with competitors or keyword research tools. During customer meetings, we strive to understand customer needs by asking questions like:

  • What goal do you hope to achieve with our software?
  • What were you previously using before you found us?
  • What phrase do you enter on Google when searching for a solution?
  • How has our product made your life easier?

The first questions can also be asked during the onboarding process of your SaaS. This way, creating content our target audience will love to read and share is easier.

2. Find keywords based on user reviews

Because we can't interview all customers, we often go to review sites like G2 and Capterra to read user reviews to understand customer struggles.

When you use review sites, you won't find specific keywords. Instead, you will get a list of problems that can serve as keyword ideas.

For G2, the most crucial section we look at is: What Problem is XYZ software solving, and how is that benefiting you."


And for Capterra, the section that says “Alternatives considered” and “Reasons for choosing XYZ software “ is a keyword research goldmine.

3. Find keywords based on software alternatives

When it comes to BOFU keywords, the best way to get them is to:

  • Identify users' problems
  • Identify solutions

From experience, two categories of prospects fit into these groups: the unsatisfied and the undecided.

  • Unsatisfied users: Prospects seeking an alternative to their present software.
  • Undecided prospects: Comparing two products to find the best fit. Example: Someone searching for "Ahrefs vs. Semrush" or "Keap vs. Pipedrive"

To find keywords in each of these categories, we need to pick a product and identify the various alternatives in the market.

You can get this by looking at G2 and Capterra once again:

For instance, let's say the product we're doing keyword research for an Agile CRM, possible alternatives according to G2, are:

  • Zoho CRM
  • Nutshell
  • Pipedrive
  • Fresh sales
  • Keap

Now that we know their alternatives, we can brainstorm possible keywords.

Here’s what we came up with on the spot:

  • Zoho CRM alternatives for small businesses
  • Nutshell CRM alternatives
  • Keap vs. Pipedrive

Knowing your software alternative allows you to come up with comparison keywords also.

4. Keyword gap analysis - Identify Your Competitor's Keyword

Theoretically, this is where the actual keyword research process takes place.

We say this because this process only gives us actual keywords instead of pain points or phrases.

We often carry out a keyword gap analysis on our top 5 competitors for these reasons:

  • Identify keywords they're ranking for that are relevant to our business
  • High buying intent keywords they’re targeting
  • Low-competition keywords that we can also rank for

All keywords that meet these requirements are selected and exported into our Keyword Research sheet.

Now that we identified pain points and problems that our prospects face, we must convert those pain points to their respective keywords.

5. Converting Pain Points to Keywords

In the selection steps mentioned above, you will likely end up with a list of problems and pain points.

If your product is a CRM software for small businesses, you might have phrases expressed as pain points like this:

  • CRM for task management
  • Manage and track multiple projects in one place
  • CRM with Chrome extension
  • CRM with time-tracking features
  • Free tools for mining email addresses for cold emailing
  • Automate Manual business process

If you enter all of this into most SaaS Keyword Research tools, it will return zero volume.

Fortunately, if you use SEO software like Ahrefs or Surfer SEO, you will get lots of suggestions on the keyword the phrase matches with.

Plus, the difficulty score and keyword volume.

To carry out a pain-point to keyword mapping process with Surfer SEO, follow these steps:

  • Under "Keyword research", enter your pain-point-related phrase and click "Create Keyword Research". To follow our example, we will be using "Automate manual business process" as a case study.
  • Next, review each keyword cluster. A keyword cluster is a list of keywords that should be addressed in our blog post. In the below example, we have should probably write an article about "workflow automation for small business" so the article should target small business. Pick this if it make sense for your business (i.e you are targeting this ICP).
  • For the phrase we entered, here are the most profitable keywords we found:

That's seven keywords from just one phrase we entered into Surfer SEO’s keyword explorer tool.

On Surfer SEO, the keyword difficulty score is measured on a scale of 0-10.

  • 0 - 4 = Low competitive
  • 5 - 6 = Moderate competition
  • 7 - 10 = Very competitive

When we use Surfer SEO, we stick to 0-6 especially if you have a new domain; this is our company's benchmark for SaaS SEO keywords.

Repeat the process shown above for each pain point on your list. In the end, you should have hundreds of keywords.

Note: You can connect your Google Search Console account to Surfer SEO to get more suggestions on keywords relevant to your business that you currently need to rank for.

Think of it as Surfer SEO syncing with Google Search Console to conduct a keyword gap analysis on your site.

Validation Phase

Not all the keywords we identified in the "selection" phase will align with our current business goal. So, this is where we screen our keywords based on the following:

  • Customer journey: Group keywords into TOFU, BOFU, and MOFU.
  • Business potential: Keywords that allow product weave-in get a score of 3, and those that don’t get a score of zero.


Does that mean keywords that fall at MOFU and TOFU will be deleted and removed from our list?

Not at all.

Because our goal is conversion doesn't mean we'll not create TOFU and MOFU content at some point.

Labeling each keyword helps us prioritize instant keywords over future ones.

  • Instant keywords: Keywords with high buying intent will be focused on in the first 3-6 months of content production.
  • Future keywords: Keywords with low buying intent, like TOFU and MOFU, we will target later.

Next, BOFU keywords are separated from our main keyword sheet and dumped into a secondary sheet.

The next question is: How do we know which BOFU keyword to start with?

It’s simple: do a SERP analysis.

SERP Analysis for BOFU keywords

SERP analysis is plugging each keyword into search engines to see the top-ranking pages.

For instance, for the keyword "Pipedrive ve Keap", a quick Google search SERP analysis showed that it's a competitive landscape:


The top-ranking URLs are review sites like G2, Trustradius, Getapp, Keap, and Pipedrive with a DA score greater than 50.

If you're new in this industry, with a < 30 DA score, there's no way you're outranking these pages in 6 - 12 months. This makes it a difficult keyword to to start with.

We repeat this process for each keyword; at the end, we should arrive at two lists.

  • Keywords with low competition: Top-ranking pages are small websites; we have a chance.
  • Keywords with high competition: Top-ranking pages are big competitors; we don't have a chance.

Usually, we schedule keywords with low search volume for writing first, while the harder ones will come later.

Execution Phase

The tool we use during our execution phase is Surfer SEO.

This aims to come up with relative keywords for optimizing our content.

When we plug our keyword into Surfer SEO’s keyword research tool, it tells us:

  • The competitive nature of the keyword (SurferSEO grades this on a scale of 0-10)
  • The cluster each keyword belongs to
  • Monthly search volume of each keyword

In the end, we will select "create content editor," and the tool will launch a content editor page that generates the following:

  • Headlines
  • Outline
  • Relevant phrases to include in the body of the content for it to rank
  • Make suggestions on word count, number of headings, and images to use in the content.
  • Where to include primary keywords within your content


Note: SurferSEO also has a content editor that helps you optimize existing content.

Common SaaS Keyword Research Mistakes (And Why You Should Avoid it)

Overlooking Zero Search Volume Keywords

Because a keyword returns zero search volume on SEO tools doesn't mean, in reality, it has zero search traffic.

In our case, we often get questions regarding "How to create datasets" for programmatic SEO.

And it’s a topic we believe will drive a lot of traffic if we create content around it.

But guess what? SEO tools say no one is interested in that keyword. To them, it doesn’t exist.

So, when it comes to zero search volume keywords, you can create the first-mover advantage. And be the first to rank for the keyword and build topical authority before the rest of your industry catches up.

Targeting the same keywords as competitors

Some SaaS businesses begin their keyword research with compatible keyword research analysis and end up targeting the same keywords as their competitors.

The downside is that most of their competitors prioritize seed keywords that attract prospects at the beginning of the sales journey. They look for volume keywords over conversion.

Going head-to-head with big names

Smart SEOs measure their chance of ranking before targeting a keyword.

If you’re just getting started, it’s difficult to go head-to-head with big names in your industry. These big brands run Google ads to rank faster for paid keywords.

Challenging them will be a waste of time if you don't have the same budget and authority.

Creating content without listening to customers

At SEOmatic, our keyword research is fueled by customer interviews and feedback.

For instance, during our onboarding process, we always ask customers what goal they want to achieve, and they will fill it in their own words.

This helps us identify possible pain points we can transform into SaaS SEO keywords for our content strategy.


As you can see, SaaS Keyword Research is a tedious but rewarding process. It's important to get it right from the onset.

After all, nothing hurts as much as wasting your marketing resources on keywords you cannot rank for. If you get your SEO strategy right, you can create once and generate continuous leads and organic traffic from your content.


👨‍💻 Took my first leap into SEOmatic.ai today.

🖊️ It was simple to use & generated 75 pieces of unique content using keywords + some prewritten exerts.

⏳Total time cost for research & publishing was ≈ 3h (Instead of ≈12h)



Founder, Salespitch

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