How To Get Your First 20 SaaS Customers - Page One Hijacking
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Trying to get your first SaaS customers is really hard.
If you don’t have a built-in audience or aren’t lucky enough to have your product go viral, it may take awhile to get traction.
I hear all the time about how getting featured on Product Hunt is the holy grail for new SaaS startups to get their first paying customers.
Most of bootstrapped startups go the SEO route and try to get free traffic from Google. I know I'm not the only one that tracks their Google rankings daily.
But SEO takes time and you need traffic and sales now.
But what if I told you there was a cheat code to get your new SaaS on page one of Google for all of your most important search terms, without having to pay for Google Ads?
I call it Page One Hijacking.
Page One Hijacking is exactly like it sounds. You hijack the web pages that are ranked on page one for your important SEO terms.
If you implement this strategy effectively you instantly get targeted traffic to your website from Google long before your website ever ranks on page one.
How do you hijack page one of Google?
There are two simple strategies that work like magic.
I’ll explain the first strategy by sharing how I was able to get my first 25 SaaS customers.
A few years back I started a small SaaS company called Guest Post Tracker (I have since sold that business and have no affiliation with them).
Guest Post Tracker was a huge curated list of blogs that accept guest posts. I noticed that all of the existing lists online were super outdated and never updated.
So I built my own tool and committed to keep the list updated and growing and then I charged people for access to the list.
Naturally, I was trying to rank for key phrases like “blogs that accept guest posts” and any variation of that phrase.
You could essentially pick any category and add it to the beginning of that term ie “business blogs that accept guest posts”.
I did a Google search for the phrase “blogs that accept guest posts” and looked at who showed up in the top 5 of the results.
There were a couple of blog posts ranking in the top 5 that had been written by bloggers that were big lists of guest posting sites sorted by category.
These bloggers weren’t trying to make money from the posts except from traffic and ads.
In other words, they weren’t actually competing with Guest Post Tracker.
I reached out to both blog owners and asked them what they would charge to add a section in each of their articles that talked about Guest Post Tracker.
After a few back and forth emails we came to an agreement with both bloggers. One charged me a one time fee of like $350 and the other charged me around $150 quarterly.
They updated their posts with my contextual ads and I was off and running.
I immediately started getting a steady flow of traffic and sign ups as soon as these contextual ads went live. I had only had the site live for a couple of weeks and was already growing at a good rate.
Setting Up Contextual Ads So They Drive Sales
The key to the success of this ad is how you set it up contextually. It needs to look like the author of the post wrote it on purpose.
As you can see from the image above it looks like a glowing endorsement for GuestPostTracker and it comes within the first 150 words of the blog post.
It is super important that you set these up right because if they look like ads, people will NOT click on them. If they look like a natural part of the article and the offer is relevant you will drive traffic and sales.
Let me show you two examples of CTA’s inside of a blog post. The first example is a typical ad style CTA meant to stand out and draw your attention. Unfortunately people have become accustomed to ignoring those types of CTAs.
The second example is two calls to action that both go to the same landing page and both are naturally embedded into the content of the blog.
People love discovering the best new (fill in the blank) and its easy content to create and get ranked.
These posts drive traffic to the tools or apps or toys or whatever is being featured in the “best of” listicle and so it is a great place for you to have your SaaS business found.
Your goal should be to get your SaaS company added to as many of these relevant lists as possible, especially if the list ranks on page one for search terms you care about.
Step 1: Search Google for “best” and then whatever your business category is.
For example, if I’m trying to link build for my new SaaS startup SquidVision, one of the searches I would do is “best landing page optimization tools” which returns a bunch of blog posts that list all of the tools in my category:
Step 2: I would go through each listicle ranked on page one and make sure they don’t link to my website and also make sure they are not a direct competitor of mine (although that sometimes doesn’t matter).
Step 3: I would then reach out to them asking them to add my tool to the list.
My email would look something like this:
Hey (author name), saw your list of landing page optimization tools and wanted to know what it will take to get SquidVision added to the list.
SquidVision is a killer new app that uses heatmap technology to track user clicks but the huge difference is that we attribute revenue to all of the clicks.
So users can see exactly how much revenue every page, button and link are generating.
I’m happy to do the write up on our tool for you to add to the post if that will make it easier for you. It will match the style of the other tool write-ups.
Let me know.
By framing the email this way you open up the possibility that you may have to pay for placements in some of the articles in order to get them to add it but many will do it for free, especially if you do the write up for them.
Apart from getting access to the traffic that the posts are already getting from Google, you’ll also get a backlink using this strategy which of course helps your SEO.
One other thing to consider when it comes to Page One Hijacking. Google has already ranked these pages on page one for key phrases you want to rank for.
That means these pages hold a ton of SEO power. The more backlinks you can get from pages that rank for terms you are targeting, the faster you will rank for those key phrases.
Drinking My Own Kool Aid
Want proof that this is still one of my favorite growth strategies?
Go do a Google search for “content marketing tools” and you’ll see Hubspot ranked #1 for that search term (they rank #1 for almost every phrase they target).
Scroll down the listicle and see who recently got listed at #24.
Now obviously being the last SaaS business listed on the list isn’t ideal but frankly it’s probably better than being somewhere in the middle.
And considering this is Hubspot, one of the most popular blogs in the internet marketing space I am super happy with the result.
Keep in mind that this strategy isn’t going to be free. You will most likely have to pay the blogs to place your business on the post. As long as the price isn’t outrageous, then it will be worth it.
Page One Hijacking is one of my go-to Saas growth strategies when I first launch a new SaaS product and one that I continue to use as another marketing channel that produces great results.
What are some other strategies you have used to get your first SaaS customers?