It’s no secret that effective SaaS link building strategies can help your site rank higher in search engines. This is because high-quality content and backlinks are some of the most important SEO ranking factors.
So, how can you build quality backlinks for your SaaS business?
In this article, I’ll show you how to develop great strategies you can use to build backlinks and boost the domain and page authority of your website.
What Is SaaS Link Building Strategy?
SaaS link building strategy refers to any efforts of acquiring backlinks to a website. Over the years, link building strategies have evolved because of how search engines value backlinks.
In the past, it was all about quantity. A site would rank higher if it had more backlinks.
However, nowadays, Google determines the relevance of a backlink, its context and the quality of the source, making quantity irrelevant.
This means your link SaaS building approach should focus on getting links from high-quality sites that are also relevant to your site.
For instance, you can’t get a link from a real estate website if you’re a SaaS business owner. The site won’t add any value to your business and audience even if it’s the top-ranking website.
How Does Google Determine a Website’s Relevancy?
Every site has a score known as Domain Authority (DA) which Google uses to determine a site’s relevancy. For example, Contracts Wise (contract management software company) has a DA of 20.
While knowing your website’s relevance is important, you shouldn’t only focus on what your Domain Authority is.
Instead, you need to understand your site can become stronger and rank for more competitive keywords as you get more links to your site from more authoritative websites.
If you want to beat your competitors, check if their website is stronger than yours.
Here are Contracts Wise’s competitors.
Below is a detailed report of their competitors.
The more and better backlinks you have, the higher your website will rank. This is because building links is about improving your website’s ability to rank higher.
When you build links you can also get referral traffic from qualified sources.
Types of Links You Should Pay Attention To
There are two types of links you need to focus on:
Follow Links (Dofollow links)
Follow links are links that push SEO link juice and increase the page rank of the linked-to website. The link juice flows through websites and into new websites through hyperlinks.
They can also help you rank higher and are the best links you can get, especially if they’re from a strong relevant site. If the site is more reputable, the linked-to site gets a bigger boost of link juice.
For example, getting a link from BBC or Forbes is pure gold. Bear in mind that by default, links are usually followed on the internet and search engines rely on them to rank sites.
Nofollow links are links that do not pass link juice as they’re tagged. They also do not boost PageRank or a page’s placement in the search engines.
These links are created with the nofollow link HTML tag. Basically, the nofollow tag tells search engines, “do not pay attention to this”. There are many reasons a link should not pass link juice.
Examples of these links include a link in blog post comments, forums, social media posts, widgets, or press releases or if it’s bought. These links are usually tagged with <a rel = “nofollow”.
Is It Okay To Buy Links?
While some SaaS business owners may want to build backlinks by using a paid service, I do not recommend buying links because of the following risks:
- Google may penalize you with a manual penalty
- You may lose sales and traffic during the recovery period
- Loss of time in identifying and removing what Google thinks are unnatural links
If you want to hire the right SaaS link building services, ensure they’re reputable and write posts that get published on relevant industry sites that link out to your content naturally.
Link building is part of my SEO services for SaaS companies. Schedule a free session to learn more about how I can help you drive leads to your site through SEO.
How Many Links Should You Build?
The links you should build depends on several things. For example, if you want to boost the overall authority of your site, the number of backlinks you need is likely to be more.
However, if your goal is to increase the authority of a certain page, two quality links are sufficient to help your page rank higher.
Here are some factors to guide you when considering the number of links to acquire:
- Check the backlinks that are linking to your competitors. It’s likely your website will need to get links from the same sources.
- Research your competitor’s link velocity (how fast they’re building those links e.g. every month).
- Check the number of high-quality links your competitors have for your target keywords.
Does SaaS Link Building Still Work?
SaaS link building still works and is one of the 3 essential pillars of SEO, along with technical SEO and well-optimized content, which I laid out in the SaaS SEO strategy post.
Backlinks are worth the effort. Besides, they help you outrank your competitors. By building quality backlinks to your desired pages, you’re telling Google to rank your page over a competitor.
Effective SaaS Link Building Strategies
Based on my experience building backlinks for SaaS businesses, these are the strategies I’ve discovered are the most impactful.
Create Linkable Content
If you want to attract high-quality backlinks, create content that authoritative websites and influential bloggers will want to link to. Examples of linkable content include studies, tools, list posts and guides.
The two things that make content linkable are usefulness and uniqueness.
What Is Useful Content
Useful content is content that covers all aspects of a topic. The types of content I’ve found work best are comprehensive, shareable content assets.
Shareable content includes your content marketing assets such as studies, tools, surveys and guides.
With surveys and studies, you can create statistics around your topic and build authority. The study can also provide a way for other people in your industry to cite the statistics in their own content.
The Ahrefs study that I linked to earlier on is a good example of useful content.
Think about it this way:
- Ahrefs is a SaaS company
- They conducted a survey about link building, something their product helps solve
- My brand that’s related to their industry linked to the study as a source of authority
They also have comprehensive guides and other shareable posts related to their product.
Hubspot’s study about visual content marketing statistics is another example of great linkable content.
These content pieces work well because when you create content that teaches people the things they desire to learn, their chances of sharing it with their friends who may also benefit from it are high.
Keep in mind that comprehensive content like this performs well on Google. However, it requires a well-thought SaaS content marketing strategy.
The other type of content that attracts inbound links is unique content.
What Is Unique Content
Unique content is content that provides new insights into a well-known topic.
The types of content I have found work best when it comes to unique content are value or mission-driven content, opinion and thought leadership pieces.
Value or Mission-Driven Content
With value or mission-driven content, you explain your story about what made you develop your product, and how you solve your user’s problems differently than your competitors.
For example, if you provide email marketing software, you can list problems with current email software that made you develop your product.
Apart from mentioning what’s wrong with email software, you can also make the piece relatable to anyone who has ever had issues with email.
For opinion pieces, you present contrary perspectives that argue against what’s accepted as the norm in your industry.
A good example of this content type is this piece by ConvertKit founder Nathan Barry that exposes “get-rich-quick” schemes.
Such articles stir emotions and both people who disagree and agree may be compelled to share.
Thought Leadership Pieces
These pieces provide a fresh perspective or insights into your article.
In a nutshell, every link building strategy should begin with a strong foundation of linkable, high-quality content.
I can say this confidently because useful and unique content is what I’ve seen work through my 7+ years of working with SaaS companies.
How to Brainstorm Linkable Topic Ideas
First off, you need to come up with some topic ideas you think might be popular and then validate the idea.
Let’s choose the keyword “Chatbots” because it’s a popular topic for marketers.
Next, type it into Google to see if there are several articles on Chatbots that other websites are linking to.
Here’s how the top results look like.
When I click on the red, rectangular box of the first result (www.chatbot.com), this is what I get:
This shows Chatbots are a popular topic, worthy of creating a linkable asset around. The next thing to do is create your linkable asset and develop outreach campaigns to get backlinks.
If you have great content, the opportunities for outreach are many. You just need the right strategy to distribute your content to the right people to earn the backlinks.
Apart from creating linkable content, you can also:
Target Resource Pages
Resource pages are pages that give readers several resources on a certain topic. The pages contain curated lists of the best blog posts, communities, tools or websites a specific audience may find useful.
Their purpose is to link out to other websites.
Here’s an example of a resource page.
If you have link-worthy content, reach out to high-authority resource pages within the SaaS industry and ask them for a link.
A recent study by Semrush revealed that earning backlinks from resource pages is the 3rd most popular link building strategy.
How do you locate these pages?
Just reverse engineer your competitor resource page links. I use Ahrefs to identify resource pages that are linking to my client’s competitors and try to win the same links.
Sometimes back, I specifically looked for resource pages that were linking to the ActiveCampaign homepage (past client that offers a marketing tool) from pages that have the term “tool” within them.
I found 61 awesome link opportunities from this quick search that I exported for outreach.
Resource pages can generate a ton of referral traffic. Posts like “The Best Marketing Automation Tools” and “The 40 Best Tools For SaaS Startups” can generate serious leads that can turn into customers for your business.
I have worked with SaaS businesses that generate thousands of paying customers after being featured on resource pages.
Don’t underestimate their value.
You can also find these pages by using these search queries:
- SaaS useful resources
- SaaS best resources
- SaaS inurl:resources
- SaaS intitle:links
- SaaS inurl:roundup
- SaaS helpful links
For instance, here’s what I found after typing SaaS useful resources.
Here’s how the page looks when I clicked on it.
They have listed different websites. So, if your content is link-worthy, you can easily get a link from them.
Here’s an example of one of the links.
Note that anytime you earn a backlink with the linked phrases on a page matching your target keyword (exact match anchor text), it may act as extra link juice.
Look for Broken Links
Broken link building is a strategy that requires you to find broken links on a site within the SaaS industry.
A broken link is a link that’s no longer available.
This happens when a website has links pointing to pages that no longer exist.
Dead links are bad for user-experience because when a user clicks on such links, they’re taken to a page that doesn’t exist. This is a good opportunity to reach out and let a site know they’re linking to an unavailable page.
If you can offer your content as a replacement link, you can get a backlink and boost the rankings of that piece of content on search engines.
Let’s say a website has linked to a page about “Best Social Media Marketing Tips for SaaS Startups” and the page no longer exists.
If you have a post on your site on the same topic, just pitch them as a replacement post. If you don’t have it, create a new post.
Guest posting is publishing your content on other sites as a guest author. In turn, you can link great content on your website within the content such as case studies, statistics or infographics to earn a backlink.
There are several SaaS businesses that have used guest posting as their link building strategy. For example, Groove HQ has acquired over 1 million users with guest blogging alone.
As you can see, contributing to relevant, authority sites in your industry can get you quality backlinks, create awareness for your brand and also generate more leads plus customers for you.
The strategy is simple.
Just reach out to sites within the SaaS industry that accept guest posts and pitch them your idea.
However, produce content that’s valuable to readers and not just to the search engines.
If you’re sharing your company’s subject matter expertise, you’ll earn backlinks that will get you referral links and also strengthen your brand.
Note: You should also pitch guest posts to mid-tier websites instead of targeting authoritative sites only.
This image from Ahrefs explains this concept further.
Authority websites usually have their content calendars fully booked. While you still need to target them, you should also reach out to mid-tier websites as they’re likely to publish your content much earlier.
How do you find guest posting opportunities?
First, install Moz or Uberseggest, free chrome extensions to show you the Domain Authority of every website in search engine results.
Once you’re done, use these search queries to identify relevant guest blogging opportunities.
- SaaS + write for us
- SaaS + guest post
- Saas + guest author
Here are the results you’ll see.
Any website with a higher Domain Authority than yours is a great target.
Once you find websites to target, evaluate their content, go through their editorial guidelines and write a high-quality post on a topic they haven’t covered recently.
When you have completed the article, send it to the editor for review.
Partner With Influential Guest Bloggers
Sending pitches to different websites you want to publish your content is time-consuming.
So, instead of spending a lot of time crafting your pitches, ask guest bloggers that have access to your target websites and request them to feature your company in their articles.
As an incentive, hire them for a fee, give them research data they can use in their posts or a free account of your product.
How can you find them?
Just go to your target website and look for authors that publish regularly on the topics you are interested in.
For instance, here are the results I got when I searched for SaaS on Entrepreneur.com
Next, click on the first 10 articles to see the ones that have been written by SaaS experts.
View their author page to see if they contribute regularly to the site. If they’re, contact them via their website or social media profile.
If they respond, make them an offer and ask them if they can feature your SaaS brand.
To boost your chances of receiving a positive response, send them a list of link-worthy posts from your website that they can use to build links.
In my experience, this tactic has a higher ROI and is much faster than guest blogging yourself.
List Your Product on SaaS Review Sites and Directories
This strategy gets you links, social proof and potential customers. Most of these review sites receive lots of traffic as users explore different options for products.
Examples of these websites include:
- SaaS Genius
- Top Ten Reviews
- GS Crowd
- Trust Radius
You can also reach out to bloggers who review products within the SaaS industry and give them 2 months to use your product for free in exchange for a review on their website.
You can find such bloggers by searching for “[competitor1] vs. [competitor2]” or “[your competitor] + review” on Google as shown below assuming Hubstaff is your competitor.
Another great alternative is launching an affiliate program for your product. Apart from increased sales, the program can also become a consistent source of backlinks.
When affiliate bloggers sign up for your program, they’ll publish posts and reviews on their websites about your product.
Claim Unlinked Brand Mentions
This tactic involves reaching out to sites that mention your brand without including a link.
When you discover such content, contact the editor of the website, thank them for mentioning your company and request them to include a link to your brand.
How do you discover such opportunities?
Just set up Google News Alert for your brand.
Once you have set alerts, you’ll be notified whenever a website mentions your brand.
Linked Brand Mentions
This technique involves contacting sites that have linked to your home page and request them to link to a relevant page on your site.
For example, you can ask a website to link to your product page instead of your home page. If you do this, you can rank higher in search results and outrank authority websites.
Get Featured on Relevant Podcasts
Did you know there are close to 1,000,000 active podcasts on the internet with over 30 million episodes of podcasts?
While some are hosted on Google and iTunes Podcasts, most podcasts are hosted on their websites and have transcripts.
There lies your opportunity.
Like guest posting, podcasts can be a great source of backlinks for SaaS businesses since they have case studies and innovative ideas to share.
To be featured in a podcast, you need to find the best podcasts within the SaaS industry.
Once you find them, explain to the host the difference your product is making in your user’s lives and let them know you want to be interviewed.
For instance, SaaSclub has a popular podcast about various SaaS topics. Each episode has a few links to the products mentioned and paragraphs in the description.
To find more podcasts, type into Google “best SaaS Podcasts”.
Getting interviewed on podcasts even when they’re hosted on Google or iTunes Podcasts can help you get new leads. This is because people search for a brand when it’s mentioned in a podcast.
Even if your website doesn’t earn a link in the podcast description, listeners will still search for it improving your brand presence in search engines and help you get better rankings.
Additionally, getting featured in a well-known podcast can get you invited to other relevant podcasts and get a backlink to your website in the podcast description.
Overall, this is a powerful tactic that SaaS companies can benefit from.
Publish Alternatives Posts
“Best Alternatives To” is a common article format in the SaaS industry. It also provides an excellent link-building opportunity to new SaaS businesses.
Let’s say your SaaS is a time tracking product modelled on Hubstaff. To use this tactic, search for “Best Alternatives To Hubstaff” or “Hubstaff Alternatives”.
There are several results for this keyword and each of them is a great link-building opportunity.
Just write down all the websites you want to pitch and introduce your product. Explain to them why it’s a good alternative to Hubstaff and ask them to include it in their post.
To increase your chances, write a few unique sentences about your product so that they can copy and paste it to their site.
Pitch Your Article Against Weaker Content
This is another easy link building tactic. Look for weak content published on authority websites and check their backlink profile.
You may be surprised if you see the number of links the content has just because it’s published on popular sites. You have two options:
- If you have a better article on the same topic, go ahead and pitch the editor.
- If you don’t, write one and contact the site editor informing them they have linked to a weak post and your article is superior because it has visuals, statistics and has covered all the aspects of the topic.
Let me demonstrate this process.
- If you have Ahrefs Content Explorer, search for your topic. In this case, I’ve searched for “freelancing”.
- Add two filters (Referring Domains and Word Count) to your results. I’ve kept referring domains to 50 and word count to 900 as shown below.
The results are showing articles with over 50 referring domains and 900 words long.
Look for an article you can replace in the search results. Here’s an article I found with less than 900 words and over 50 backlinks just because it’s published on a high-authority site.
Open this article in another tab to see the content quality.
As you can see, the article has a huge wall of text with no images.
If you already have a better article, go to the next step. If you don’t, write one because there are over 50 backlinks for grabs.
Check in Ahrefs Site Explorer all the unique backlinks of this article to see the linking websites.
Choose the linking websites that are relevant to your topic and contact them with your article to get a backlink.
Keep following up until you get a response because it usually takes several follow-ups before getting feedback.
Find Sites That Interview SaaS CEO’s
Interview link building strategy is similar to podcast link building strategy. It involves creating a list of sites that have previously interviewed SaaS CEOs and then contacting them to see if they want to interview you.
How do you find these sites?
Just type sites that interview saas founders into Google. Here’s what you’ll see.
When I click on the 4th result, this is what I see.
Imagine how many backlinks you can get if you’re invited to several interviews.
Another great tactic you can use is to become a source of quotes for bloggers and marketers in your niche.
Content creators are always searching for reliable quotes to make their content link-worthy and credible.
If you become a consistent source, you’ll earn a backlink.
Here’s how to do this.
- Look for the most active bloggers that contribute to different publications
- Contact them via social media or email
- Tell them you appreciate what they do
- Introduce yourself plus your business and explain why you’re an expert
- Let them know you’re willing to cooperate if they ever need an interview or quote for their content
Do this with several professional bloggers and you’ll be surprised by the number of backlinks you’ll get this way.
Suggest Content Improvements
I like this link-building strategy because it has a high success rate. It’s very effective because you’re not asking for anything directly.
Instead, you’re reaching out to make someone else’s blog posts better for free.
Allow me to explain.
Many posts are based on opinions instead of facts. Even high-authority websites publish such content because finding case studies or data references takes time.
Most writers aren’t also willing to make that effort.
You can get several links using this technique if you have published survey results, infographics, case studies or an original research study that can add credibility to an opinionated article.
Just contact the editor and:
- Tell them you like their content however it can be better
- Share your article they can refer to add credibility to their published content
Any person that values quality resources would be glad to use your article and make their content credible without extra effort.
In turn, you’ll get the link.
Mistakes To Avoid in SaaS Link Building Strategy
Now that you know the techniques you can use to develop your link building strategy, let’s now talk about the mistakes you should avoid.
Not Developing Links to Your Homepage
Often, most SaaS businesses build links to their content pages and ignore their homepage. However, Google may think you aren’t a reputable brand if you don’t have several links to your homepage.
You can build homepage backlinks by guest posting on relevant, authority sites to make Google view your website as an authority in your chosen topic.
This can also increase the performance of your other content pages.
Targeting Competitive Keywords
While there may be phrases that are valuable to your business, they aren’t worth pursuing if they’re difficult to rank for or are too competitive.
Embrace the fact that even after building enough links to a page with great content, it may get stuck on Google’s 2nd page. High-authority sites also experience this issue.
In such scenarios, target other keywords and remember organic traffic is your final goal and not ranking. Instead, choose less competitive keywords to generate traffic to your website.
Over-Optimizing Your Homepage
A common mistake I’ve seen most SaaS businesses do is over-optimizing their homepage. Most businesses stuff their homepage with the keywords the company is targeting hoping the search engines will pick this up.
This can be counterproductive and get you penalized. It can also make link building more difficult because your link sources may think your website is fraudulent or spammy.
Just optimize your content pages naturally and focus on delivering quality information for your target users.
How To Determine Relevant SaaS Link Building Opportunities
With the above techniques in hand, use this process to get good link building opportunities.
The research phase enables you to know more about your audience and the SaaS industry.
Researching can also help you identify content types that are getting links, influencers with the largest followers and high-authority competitors.
Here are the two methods I use to get this information:
Backlink and SERP Analysis
- I use Semrush or Ubersuggest (link building tools) to conduct a backlink analysis. This enables me to find overlaps of where my client’s competitors are earning links from.
- Once I’m done, I check SERPs to see the top 20 sites that are ranking for the keywords my client wants to rank for.
- I then look for overlaps in the content types getting linked to.
Find Authority Sources and Influencers
This process involves looking for influencers (authority figures that have personal websites) your target users are already following.
It also involves discovering relevant and authority pages.
The Under-Utilized Method
A common mistake that most businesses make is that they only check who is being linked to currently and forget to look into sites that don’t link to their competitors or to them.
Allow me to demonstrate how this works.
Let’s take a client who develops software for charter school boards. If you wanted to know the site that aren’t linking to their competitors or to them currently, ask yourself these questions:
- Are there other software services charter schools need to use in their work?
- Where do they spend their money?
- Which conferences do they attend?
- What do they fund?
It’s a process of seeing where your target audience might discover you.
In this step, you should seek opportunities for developing relationships with authoritative and influential SaaS sites.
If you can become friends with sites and people who have quality content and consistent organic traffic, these can be great link building opportunities.
This is important if you want to pursue guest blogging because these engagements require solid relationships than the other tactics.
To prospect effectively:
- Broker or introduce content relationships between bloggers or publishers who don’t know each other, and their content is useful to their audiences.
- Become a contributor to SaaS Linkedin group with a goal to share value, not marketing your services.
- Write a roundup post and ask influencers to share with their audience your knowledge.
- Join engaged SaaS online communities or attend digital meetups for SaaS founders.
- Establish relationships with SaaS blogs and publishers.
- Contribute to relevant Twitter chats.
Reach Out to Websites and Influencers
The outreach phase involves contacting the sites and influencers you have identified without doing it in a spammy way.
This is what I mean.
While sometimes you may ask for a link especially with the broken link tactic, I recommend you don’t ask for a link directly unless you have a solid relationship with the editor.
If you’re doing cold outreach, think about how you can add value and still include a link to your content.
Here’s an example:
I love your website content. Currently, my team is writing a blog post on “xxx” and we are wondering if you would like to see the outline. Would you be interested in checking out the outline?”
If you get a positive reply, send them the outline. At this point, you have engaged them in your process, established a relationship with them, and made their perspective valuable.
You might even get suggestions to improve your content.
When you respond, you can say something like:
We were planning on publishing this on our website, but if you’d like, we would be happy to publish this on your site.”
Wait to see their response.
This way, your response is more of a favor than asking for a link.
While this may not work all the time, I hope you have an idea of what is required in link building outreach.
Develop a Follow-Up Sequence
One attempt to contact someone is usually not enough. You should include a follow-up sequence in your outreach to get feedback from people you may have not heard from if you hadn’t followed up.
This doesn’t need to be complicated. I usually send them an email asking, “Did you see this?” if I don’t get feedback on my first message.
In total, I only send 2-3 follow-ups.
Are You Looking For a Link Building Consultant?
SaaS link building is time-consuming when you don’t have a lot of content on your website or when your product is still new. However, as you begin publishing link-worthy content, building links becomes easier.
If you don’t know how to build links to your site and are looking for a reputable link building outreach service, schedule a free consultation.
Maclean is a SaaS Copywriter & SaaS SEO Consultant with over 7 years of experience in the industry. She’s also the founder of SaaS Thrive, a blog focused on helping SaaS startups and large enterprises improve their search visibility and grow their organic traffic plus ROI. Connect with her on Facebook and Linkedin