Getting the coveted top 5 positions on Google is challenging. Creating compelling content and inserting relevant keywords are crucial SEO (search engine optimization) ranking factors, but they don’t guarantee you will reach your target audience. You need an additional ranking factor – link building.
Link building is the process of acquiring backlinks to improve the SEO visibility of your SaaS website.
What are backlinks?
Simply put, backlinks are links from one website to another. They are like research citations and inform readers and search engines that your web content is informative and relevant to the search topic.
Link building for SaaS is a quantity and quality game. You want lots of links to your web pages, but the quality of those backlinks matters, too. So, a link from an authoritative website like Bloomberg is a more valuable endorsement of your content than one from an up-and-coming blogger.
Why is Link Building for SaaS Businesses so Important?
Google identifies backlinks as an essential factor in how they determine content quality. When prominent websites refer to your content, it signals to Google that your website is a trusted authority on a particular subject and should receive maximum visibility.
That means Google will push you higher up the organic rankings for that particular subject or topic. As you build more of these links, you gain topical authority. With time, this will allow you to publish any new content within your niche and have it ranking within days.
High rankings mean more visibility for your SaaS website. This helps you drive more organic traffic to your website. Let me give you an example.
Aura, a company we support wanted to get a page about “what to do when your Instagram is hacked” ranking. It’s a competitive high-volume search term.
The initial focus was creating a great piece of content. After that, they started building links to the post.
The blue line on the graph is the number of visitors to the page. The orange line is the number of links pointing to the page. You can see a close correlation between the number of links pointing to the page and where it ranks on Google.
That’s why link building needs to be part of your marketing plan.
The benefits of link building go beyond SEO and rankings. When done correctly, link building can help you drive qualified leads to your website by improving your search rankings on Google.
Here is an example. Let’s say you have an email marketing tool and your target audience is B2B business owners or marketers. You’ve created an awesome piece of content about the best email marketing tools. Now you need to get that content ranking.
To get your content ranking, you need a site with a lot of topical authority and links to your target page.
Securing authority links from relevant publications in your niche will help your content rank. That would include authority publications like HubSpot, Buffer, and Content Marketing Institute, among others.
Securing backlinks with optimized anchor texts can drive some of their traffic to your website. You can then convert that traffic through inbound marketing techniques. This is also called referral traffic. It will also improve page authority, which will boost your search rankings.
13 SaaS Link Building Techniques
Link building for SaaS doesn’t have to be a challenge. The right strategies help you collect a profile of varied, high-quality backlinks. Below are 13 link-building techniques that have delivered incredible results for our clients.
1. Guest Posting
Writing guest posts is a reliable way of acquiring links for SaaS companies. It involves building relationships with bloggers and web publishers so you can post content on their blogs with one or more outgoing links pointing back to your website.
The process is actually fairly simple. At Crunch Marketing, our guest posting process starts with link prospecting. Link prospecting is the process of identifying suitable websites that benefit your link-building strategy. Remember how we said it’s important to target authority websites? That’s what you should be looking for here.
Additionally, you want to identify authority sites whose traffic mirrors your target audience.
Essentially, we target websites with the highest domain authority that will boost your search ranking. We also look for sites that can drive qualified referral traffic to your SaaS website. This way, we achieve two goals at once. We get the backlink while pulling traffic of potential leads to maximize our link-building ROI.
Once we identify suitable websites, we begin the outreach.
While researching topics, it’s essential to come up with something relevant to both the website’s audience and your product offerings. This allows you to add your backlinks contextually, which is instrumental for success.
Here is an example. Once again, let’s say you have an email marketing software solution and want to pitch a guest post on a site like Buffer. One topic that could work well is “4 must-have drip campaign emails for small businesses.” Such a topic is relevant to Buffer’s audience and will allow you to insert a backlink to your email marketing SaaS contextually.
After identifying your guest post topic, it’s time to send out your pitch. This part is super important because the top publications receive tons of guest post inquiries daily. Your pitch must stand out.
Here is a screenshot of an email pitch that has worked well for me.
Including samples of your best work and inviting blog managers to collaborate on guest post ideas is an effective way to get people to respond.b2b
After editors accept our topic proposal, our writing team creates high-quality, SEO-optimized content with target keywords and variations as anchor texts to backlinks.
Guest posting may take a lot of effort, but you eventually gain many backlinks, increase traffic, and improve your site’s domain authority. Below are the results we delivered for one of our clients.
Here is another example:
Over two years, we increased the number of backlinks to 18k from 4k referring domains and organic traffic to 1.6 million! That’s the kind of results you can great with a great SaaS guest posting strategy.
2. Create Linkable Assets
A linkable asset is a piece of content that generates backlinks and traffic. Examples of linkable assets are:
- Trends or research reports
- Studies and surveys
- Guides or Tutorials
- Statistic roundups
- Free online tools
Creating valuable SaaS content is an excellent way to attract backlinks naturally. Let’s say you are a sales acceleration SaaS; you could create a report on the state of sales productivity every one to two years. If you can’t conduct regular research, do a roundup post on relevant stats in your industry – similar to what we did on our SaaS statistics post.
The other option is to offer a free online tool.
Our client, Writer, is an AI writing platform that helps companies scale on-brand content, reduce editing time, and increase content output. They offer a free, AI-powered grammar check tool. This tool has helped Writer acquire thousands of backlinks, as you can see below.
It has attracted over 6k backlinks from 941 referring domains.
Linkable assets can attract hundreds, if not thousands, of backlinks. The key is to create high-quality tools that people will find useful. This will encourage other websites to send their users to that tool with backlinks.
It’s a pretty ingenious strategy used by various SaaS brands, like Ahrefs and HubSpot.
3. Target Unlinked Brand Mentions
This is one of the simplest link-building methods on this list. Simply set up a Google News alert to find web pages that mention your brand. You can then check these mentions to see if they are linked or unlinked.
If the mention is unlinked, contact the blogger, editor, or website manager and ask to add a link to your website. If the mention is linked to your homepage, but you have a more relevant page, ask for a change and provide them with the link.
This strategy works well since the site is already familiar with your brand. They already mention your brand anyway. Therefore, they won’t mind accompanying the mention with a link.
4. Identify and Replace Broken Links
While link prospecting, you may have come across websites with 404 error pages. These are pages with broken links that, for one reason or another, the linked article isn’t available.
You can take advantage of these broken links by offering the site owner your content instead. You can search for broken links with backlink tracking tools like Ahrefs Backlink Checker.
Broken link-building is an effective strategy. Search engines don’t like error pages, so there’s a good chance that websites with broken external links will take you up on your offer.
5. Link Insertions
Link insertions build your backlink profile by placing links to your website into existing content on another website.
For instance, you come across an article on employee productivity and think it would be the perfect place to link to your software guide on time-tracking tools.
This strategy requires direct outreach to bloggers. First, identify relevant, high-authority news sites, online industry publications, and blogs. Next, search their pages for relevant topics and keywords to link to your website.
Here’s a nice example from Hubspot. We identified the following page that offered a relevant opportunity for one of our clients, Beaconstac.
The page gets 2.1k visitors a month.
There was an opportunity to reference Beacostac in the post.
Finally, contact the site managers and request link insertions to specified content. In your pitch, you will have to demonstrate how the backlink will improve the reader’s experience.
There are several pros to choosing link insertions. For one, they can be very efficient. Compared to a guest post which takes time to create and publish, link inserts are much faster. They can also be powerful if you get link inserts on pages that are relevant and get a lot of traffic.
Moreover, since link insertions are done on existing pages, you may be able to secure a backlink from a page that already ranks well with lots of referring domains.
That said, you definitely need to approach link insertions carefully to avoid building spammy links that can get you penalized.
6. Provide Testimonials for other Brands
Providing testimonials is an easy way to get backlinks. You can leverage your integration partners, offering them a written testimonial in exchange for a backlink.
The best part about this technique is that you’ll usually secure the backlink from another website’s homepage. That’s because most websites will usually publish testimonials on their home pages.
Check this out. Hunter shared a testimonial for Ahrefs. It got published on their Homepage with a backlink.
Participating in case studies of partner brands is another way to secure backlinks. Case studies are linkable assets that directly mention and often link the businesses highlighted in the report.
7. Hire a SaaS Link Building Agency
Link building for SaaS content can be long and frustrating, especially if you don’t have the resources to do it internally. As marketers, you don’t always have the time to research high-authority sites, negotiate guest posting topics or follow up on unlinked mentions.
This is where reputable link-building agencies come in. They have teams of workers dedicated to various stages of the link-building process – link prospecting, content creation, outreach follow-up, and so on.
They also have tried and tested techniques for SaaS SEO optimization. Best of all, you capitalize on their established relationships and gain access to high-authority domains.
Partnering with a SaaS SEO agency will also accelerate your results while keeping things looking natural. In addition to building backlinks for the guest posts they secure for you, they can include your links in the content they create for other clients. This results in a nice balance that enhances your backlink profile.
8. Make a Guest Appearance on Podcasts
Some people don’t have the time to read a 3,000-word blog post, but most of them can listen to a podcast on their morning commute, during an evening gym session, or while making family dinner.
Therefore, podcasts are another great content marketing technique that can help you build your SaaS brand while securing valuable backlinks. But how exactly does appearing on podcasts help you build backlinks?
Well, podcasters share scripts for each podcast episode. The scripts are usually published alongside the episode and include all the resources the podcast discussed. For example, in this My First Million Podcast episode, the hosts published the links to the different sites referenced in the episode.
By appearing on podcasts, you can land backlinks through podcast scripts.
Moreover, some podcasters publish podcasts on their website and include links to sources mentioned during the show. As the guest, you can be assured a link to your website will be posted on show notes describing the episode.
In the example above, Brian Parks, founder of Bigfoot Capital, acquires quality links to his firm’s website, social media handles, and eBook.
Another way to get backlinks from podcasts is by sponsoring them. Check out this example from the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.
Here, Duct Tape mentions the podcast’s sponsor below the episode transcript. The sponsor, HubSpot Podcast Network, gets logo placement, a blurb about who they are, and two backlinks.
The advantage of SaaS link building through podcasts is the time and resources needed to create the content are less consuming than visual or written content. You only need a sufficient number of valuable talking points to share with the audience.
Podcasts have the added advantage of building relationships with creators with vast networks. These relationships can help extend your reach and gain more backlinks. Check out our list of the best SaaS podcasts if you’re looking for a good starting point.
9. Run a PR Campaign
PR link building uses tools like press releases to secure high-quality backlinks from high-authority websites.
Link building for SaaS PR campaigns must be strategic. Some publishing houses charge a fee to post press releases, which can look like you’ve bought the backlink. In that case, the press release link should be a nofollow link. Nofollow links still drive traffic to your targeted web pages.
Target media outlets that publish content relevant to your niche, like news services that focus on business technology.
10. Target Product Roundups
Product roundups list the best brands, products, or services for a particular topic. You’ve probably seen articles with titles like, ‘The 19 Best Survey Tools of 2022’. That’s a roundup. The article describes each tool and includes a link to the company’s website.
Therefore, with this technique, you’ll simply browse the internet for relevant roundups on which your product can be featured. After identifying the roundups, approach the editors with a pitch to have your product included in the roundup. Usually, you’ll write a short blurb and share it with the editors.
That’s the approach we used to get the Tara AI issue tracking software featured on this HubSpot product roundup.
Product roundups are effective link-building tactics for SaaS brands. Not only are they a convenient resource for customers to discover products, but they are also a reliable method of securing backlinks.
To find roundup lists in your niche market, search for ‘top [industry]software.’ For example, if you’re a CRM business, the search query could be ‘best CRM software.’
Make a list of the publications that publish these types of articles. In your outreach, present a brief overview of your SaaS product and its benefits, and ask to be featured in their next roundup post.
11. Leverage Journalist Resources like HARO
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) connects journalists looking for niche information with industry experts like yourself. Based on your registered interests and expertise, you receive an index of request summaries and the media outlets requesting the information via email. When you click the request that matches your expertise, you will see the deadline submission, inclusion criteria, and the story brief.
Platforms like HARO are a great way to earn backlinks from high-quality news sites. However, they do have significant drawbacks. For example, competition is stiff, so you won’t hear back from some of the requests you respond to.
If you feature in an article, you may not get a link, or the backlink may be a nofollow link, which doesn’t contribute to SERPs ranking.
But don’t discount HARO. A nofollow link from Forbes can boost your brand reputation considerably and drive great referral traffic to your website.
Other sites similar to HARO include SourceBottle, Terkel, and Qwoted. Alternatively, you can #journorequest on Twitter to connect with reporters in real-time.
12. Create an Affiliate Program
You’re probably familiar with affiliate marketing. Third-party marketers (affiliates) earn a commission every time they send a prospect to a SaaS website, and they convert.
The affiliate is given a unique link to share with their followers or website visitors and receives payment based on the number of clicks or sales.
Affiliate programs are great for promoting sales, but they’re often overlooked as a link-building strategy. Admittedly, these links will not pass any link juice since they’re usually nofollow.
However, they give your brand and products great exposure. They’ll build your brand awareness and can boost your direct traffic, which can support your SEO efforts.
13. Get a Listing on SaaS Review Sites
Most review sites incorporate backlinks to your homepage, allowing you to capitalize on qualified leads. When reputable SaaS review sites like TrustRadius, Capterra, and G2 link back to your website, it also helps improve your SEO ranking.
These sites also come with the added benefit of social proof. Social proof statistics show that 93% of prospective customers read online reviews when making purchase decisions.
So, in addition to the SEO endorsement from the review site, you get the stamp of approval from customers. There is a downside, though. You don’t have control over users’ product reviews, and negative feedback can impact lead generation.
5 Things to Review When Vetting a Site
Now that you have 13 tried and tested ways to acquire backlinks, you’re probably itching to start a link-building campaign. But not so fast.
Remember, link building for SaaS is both a quantity and quality game. The quality of your backlinks depends on the referring domain.
Here are five things you need to review when vetting websites to ensure you secure nothing but the highest-quality backlinks.
1. Domain Authority
Domain authority (DA) is an SEO metric that predicts how well websites rank on SERPs. It uses factors like domain age, traffic to the site, number and quality of outbound and inbound links, among others, to determine the score.
DA scores websites on a scale of 1 to 100, with scores above 60 considered excellent. So, when vetting referring domains, looks for sites with a 60+ DA. Relevant backlinks from these websites are valuable.
You can check the site’s DA using the free domain authority checker tool by Moz.
Another SEO metric is domain rating (DR) created by Ahrefs. This metric measures the strength of a website’s backlink profile. It uses factors like the number of unique referring domains, dofollow links, and others to calculate the rating.
Since backlinks are just one aspect of PageRank, DA is the better metric. Still, you should aim for websites with a 60+ DR as they are likely to also have high DA.
2. Website Traffic
When choosing a referring domain to work with, it is vital to know how much traffic they generate. You don’t want to waste link-building efforts on sites with 500 unique visitors. The minimum traffic you should accept is 3k unique visitors, but 10k and more is preferable.
Avoid sites with significant traffic drops. These indicate a manual or algorithmic penalty for a breach of search engine guidelines. Tools like Ahrefs or Moz can show you the data on backlink profiles and traffic of prospect websites.
3. Backlink Profile and Spam Score
Analyzing the backlink profile of referring domains gives you an idea of the quality of the backlinks. How many of their outbound links are live? What type of links do they generate?
For instance, if the ratio of do-follow links is significantly disproportionate to nofollow links, that domain may be practicing black hat backlinking.
You also want to know their spam score. The spam score measures the number of links marked as spam.
Various factors go into calculating the spam score, including low link diversity, URL length, and domain names with numbers. Rated from 1 to 100, a spam score of 61 and above is cause for concern. You should investigate the quality and relevance of the site further.
You can check the spam score of a website through SEO tools like Moz, as shown below.
If you identify sites with a high spam score, do a manual check, evaluating the site’s content. If indeed the sites show spammy behavior, make sure not to build any links from them.
Speaking of relevance…ask yourself, is the referring website’s subject matter relevant to your business? If you have to do mental gymnastics to answer yes, you shouldn’t create links with that website.
Here’s why. The relevance of the linking page and site impacts the value of your link. Your target audience searching for ‘the best email marketing tool’ will never find your link on a page about performance-enhancing drugs. Conversely, email marketing isn’t helpful to users who want to get jacked, so the link has little value.
5. New Referring Domain Vs. Old Referring Domain
Finally, consider the age of the referring domain. Domain age is a factor in calculating domain authority. Older websites usually have an advantage. But you shouldn’t discount new sites that check the boxes in the vetting process.
Therefore, the question isn’t new versus old. You should use both. The question is, how should you use these websites?
New referring domains are easier to forge link-building partnerships with; they, too, are looking to improve their SEO ranking. However, as you get more links from a domain, the subsequent links start to lose impact. It’s like getting job references from the same person.
We suggest targeting a maximum of three links from the same domain for mid-tier authority sites. For high authority sites, aim for four to eight links.
Dofollow vs. Nofollow Backlinks: What’s the Difference?
We’ve mentioned nofollow links several times in this article, but what are they?
Websites link with each other in two ways – with dofollow and nofollow links. The difference between these two is that dofollow links tell search engines to give authority to the pages they link to, while no-follows do not. As a result, nofollow links have no direct impact on PageRank.
So, when building links for SaaS marketing content, you want dofollow links. That is not to say that nofollow links are worthless. They still drive traffic to your website and diversify your backlink profile. A diverse link profile is a contributing factor to Google’s SERP ranking algorithm.
What to Avoid While Building Links for SaaS Brands
Link building can be tedious, and the temptation to take shortcuts is strong. However, if you use so-called ‘black hat’ SaaS SEO tactics to improve your organic ranking, you risk breaching search engine guidelines.
Black hat link-building strategies include private blog networks, spamming comment sections with links, keyword stuffing, purchasing backlinks, cloaking, and poor-quality guest content. We’ll talk a bit more about content quality.
Content link building is a white hat SEO tactic. Unfortunately, some people abuse it by producing content with over-optimized anchor texts. To avoid over-optimized backlinks, vary keyword anchor texts and spread them throughout the website.
That said, make sure to use a consistent URL format while building backlinks. For example, if you’re building links to a page with a URL like “mydomain.com/link-building/” use that URL format consistently. Avoid changing it into something else like “mydomain.com/link-building” as this can create canonical issues. We talk more about this in our SaaS technical SEO guide.
SaaS Link Building FAQ
SaaS link building refers to the process of obtaining links that direct to your website in order to improve its authority and search engine ranking. Popular link-building strategies include guest posting and securing link inserts.
Google continues to rely on links as a search ranking signal. Links from authority sites will boost your search rankings. However, you need great content to maintain those rankings. This guide reveals how to secure powerful authority links.
Link building is a critical strategy for lifting your B2C or B2B SaaS website from the recesses of the SERPs to the coveted first page. Acquiring high-quality links drives traffic to your website and increases your domain authority. Both these factors improve your search engine rankings.
But it can be a long and frustrating process when done incorrectly. So, we shared 13 successful ways to acquire backlinks. Some of these strategies require you to contact website owners and request your link to be added to their content.
Link building isn’t only about the number of backlinks your website has. It’s also about the quality of those links. We shared five things referring domains should have to ensure quality backlinks.
Others involve creating unique, high-quality content and building relationships. If you don’t have the capacity for either of those, hire an agency that dedicates its entire resources to scaling SaaS brands.
At Crunch Marketing, we specialize in content marketing and link-building services for SaaS brands. We’ve helped brands like Writer and Shift4Shop secure backlinks from authority websites and more than triple their traffic value.
Nico is the founder of Crunch Marketing, a SaaS marketing agency. He works with enterprise SaaS clients like Writer, Right Inbox, and Surfer SEO, helping them scale lead generation globally across EMEA, APAC, and other regions.