Building your online presence as a SaaS brand has never been more important. That’s because most product searches start online.

This is exactly why you must understand and leverage link building for SaaS in your marketing strategy. 

For the Uninitiated…

Making it to the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) is crucial for business growth. That’s because people rarely go beyond the first page. As a result, being featured on it has massive business benefits like:

  • Brand awareness
  • Organic traffic
  • Inbound lead generation

One of the most effective ways of cracking the first page of SERPs is to build relevant, high-quality backlinks.

What are Backlinks?

Backlinks are links from other sites pointing to your website or particular pages. Backlinks are crucial to an effective SaaS SEO strategy as search engines consider them an essential ranking factor.

This is why SaaS link building must be an essential element of your SaaS marketing strategy.

Just so we’re on the same page, link building is the process of proactively building backlinks to your website. While you may not have a direct influence on the websites you’d like a backlink from, there are strategies you can leverage to earn them. But more on that in a moment.

Two Types of Backlinks You Should Know

Before you run off to start building backlinks, you need to know that there are two types of backlinks you can earn:

Nofollow Backlinks 

This type of backlink doesn’t pass link equity (is not a vote of confidence). Because they have the “rel=nofollow” attribute, search engines usually don’t consider them as they crawl websites. However, Google acknowledged they use them as hints in ranking content.

Dofollow Backlinks

These are backlinks that pass link equity and are considered more important for helping you rank higher in search. 

While dofollow backlinks have more value, it’s good to have a healthy mix of both types of backlinks on your site.

How Link Building Helps Your Growth

I know you’re rearing to get to the top SaaS link building strategies you can use to build backlinks. However, before we get to them, let’s briefly look at how link building helps you grow your business.

Acts as a Vote of Confidence

When other websites link to yours, it signals to search engines that your content is valuable to users. Because of this, they push it higher up on SERPs.

Sources of Relevant Traffic

Another vital role backlinks play is that they help drive relevant traffic to your site. Getting a backlink from a site enables you to tap into that site’s audience. Visitors to that site will see your link and click on it.

Helps Build Trust & Authority

Business is all about gaining your target audience’s trust. And backlinks can help you do just that. When publications cite your business, product, or article, it boosts your authority. People will trust your brand more, making it easier to convert them into customers.

Most Effective Ways To Build Links For Startups & SaaS 

Ready to dig into the best SaaS link building strategies you can use to grow your SaaS brand.

Thankfully, most of these are relatively simple and cost-effective, making them great for bootstrapped startups.

So, let’s dive right in, shall we?

1. Software Roundup Resources

Software roundup resources are articles that feature multiple software solutions that solve the same or similar problems.

Who should use this: Any brand, regardless of their growth stage. This is almost always a free strategy. You just have to be published in relevant publications.

How to use this:

  1. Research publications in your niche that publish roundup posts.
  2. Reach out to those publications and ask to be included.
  3. Alternatively, you can create a roundup post and pitch it to relevant publications.
  4. Join forums on platforms like Slack, Facebook, e.t.c. that focus on creating roundup posts.

2. Company Name or Founder Name Reclamations

Reclamation is the process of identifying publications that mentioned your brand or founder but didn’t link to your site.

Who should use this: Any brand. However, it’s best for startups or brands that haven’t invested much in building their online presence.

How to use this:

  1. Identify prominent people in your organization likely to be mentioned by other brands.
  2. Monitor mentions of your brand/founder online by using tools like Google Alerts, BrandMention, mention.net, Brand24, and others.
  3. Reach out using email asking if they could include a link to your site in the mention.

3. Guest Posts

Guest posts are blog posts you create to publish on other sites. This is the most reliable and predictable method when building backlinks for SaaS.

Who should use this: Every brand should regularly use this SaaS link building strategy.

How to use this:

  1. Research relevant high authority sites in your niche that accept guest posts
  2. Pitch your ideas (prospecting)
  3. If accepted, craft a high-quality post to submit
  4. Rinse and repeat

4. Press Releases

Press releases are an informative content type created around current events in your organization or simply telling your brand story. They are good for keeping your target audience informed. They also make for a fantastic SaaS link building strategy.

Who should use this: Every brand, whether an early-stage startup or an established SaaS brand.

How to use this:

  1. Find PR directories in your niche.
  2. Carefully select authoritative and trustworthy publications.
  3. Create valuable, newsworthy content and distribute it to your chosen publications.
  4. Be careful to mix up your anchor text for different publications — don’t use the same anchor text.

5. Podcast Appearances

Podcasts have become a significant content consumption channel. They’re also an excellent way to generate backlinks for your SaaS brand, as the host will link back to your site on their website.

Who should use this: Anyone, as this is an easy method of building backlinks.

How to use this

  1. Compile a list of podcasts in your niche.
  2. Pitch a topic relevant to the audience.
  3. Prepare yourself to deliver the best 30-minute presentation to be featured on the podcast. 

6. HARO

HARO. 

HARO stands for “help a reporter out.” It’s a platform that connects journalists who need quotes/content with subject-matter experts who want more online exposure. 

Who should use this: anyone, including early-stage startups. Haro is completely free and easy to use. 

How to use this:

  1. Sign up for an account
  2. Choose categories you want to get daily alerts for
  3. Check your alerts once or twice a day
  4. Reply to 2 or 3 prompts that you have knowledge about via email 
  5. Stay patient as publications can take a while before adding your quotes to your site 

7. Software Integrations & Partnerships

Forming partnerships with other SaaS brands is a powerful SaaS link building strategy as you get backlinks from said brands’ partner pages.

Who should use this: Anyone with a product that can be integrated with other SaaS solutions.

How to use this

  1. Find brands that offer complementary products
  2. Reach out to them and pitch your integration and its benefits
  3. Work with their development team to ensure a smooth integration
  4. Get listed on their partner page

8. Software Directories

SaaS business directories are online registries that list SaaS businesses in an index. Each business’s listing is linked to the company’s website.

Who should use this: This is a strategy every SaaS business should leverage as it’s super easy and costs nothing in many cases. Even paid listings are worth it as they come with more exposure.

How to use this:

  • Curate a list of industry-specific business directories.
  • Prioritize those your target audience visits frequently. 
  • Apply to be listed
  • Craft an optimized summary of your business to use on your profile.
  • Submit/upload your profile when accepted.

How to Create Incredible Content that Earns Links Over Time

When building links for SaaS brands, one of the most critical elements in your arsenal is your content. You need to know how to create SaaS content that earns backlinks over time organically.

How do you do that?

First, you need to understand that creating link-worthy content takes a lot of planning and research. It also requires skilled writing to ensure your content resonates with the target audience. Once that’s sorted, here are some tips for creating amazing content that organically earns backlinks:

Create Evergreen Content

Evergreen content is content that continues to provide value long after it has been published. It never gets stale like news-based content.

A few tips for creating evergreen content include:

  • Choose topics that matter
  • Create in-depth content that covers your topic in detail
  • Constantly update the content to ensure it’s fresh 
  • Use the right keywords for discoverability

If you can create evergreen content that’s packed with value, it will organically generate backlinks. 

Publish Unique Industry Research

Another fantastic way to create content that earns backlinks is by publishing industry research. Particularly in the B2B industry, facts and statistics play a huge role in helping buyers understand the market and make the right decisions. Publishing unique research and studies also helps establish you as an authority in your field. 

And because other publishers need facts, stats, and research to add credibility to their content, your research will become a powerful link magnet.

Include Interviews with SMEs

Everyone wants to cite subject matter experts (SMEs) in their content as they’re a great way of adding credibility.  Leverage this in your SaaS link building by interviewing SMEs in your space. People will likely want to cite or quote them in their content, leading to you earning precious backlinks.

Create Useful Case Studies

Case studies are a powerful way of showcasing your expertise. However, you can also use them as a link magnet. To improve your chances of getting backlinks to your case studies, make sure they:

  • Contain valuable information.
  • Show a clear process.
  • Include measurable results. 

People love showing examples that can help their audience. This is why case studies make for a great SaaS link building tool.

Leverage Interactive Content

Interactive content is another excellent content format that attracts backlinks. Examples of interactive content include:

  • Tools 
  • Cheatsheets
  • Calculators
  • Assessments

Because these add value to readers, other websites are bound to link to them.

Link Building Worst Practices to Avoid at All Costs

As you research the best strategies for SaaS link building, you’re likely to come across some that may seem harmless but do more harm than good. Some promise fast results with minimum investment in time, effort, and money. Avoid these like the plague. Here are a few examples:

Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

A PBN is a network of websites built specifically to build backlinks. PBNs are used to build links to particular websites to manipulate search rankings. This is a black hat tactic that must be avoided at all costs as it can lead to penalties. They also don’t help with other aspects of SEO like driving traffic.

(and therefore pass authority) to a single website to manipulate search engine rankings. This scheme is similar to a link wheel or link pyramid, as it involves several different websites all linking to one another or one central website.

Buying Links

Buying 100s of links per week from a low-brow service may look like a fast (and easy) way of building backlinks to your site. However, it’s another black hat tactic you must avoid as it goes against Google’s webmaster quality guidelines. While this may look like a cheap way of building backlinks, it will cost you more in the form of:

  • Penalties
  • Loss of rank
  • Tarnished image

Buying links is a great way of shooting yourself in the foot — it only slows you down and costs you more.

Building Irrelevant Links

Link building for SaaS brands can be tough and time-consuming. This is because you need to build relevant links. These are links:

  • From websites in the same or similar industries
  • With content relevant to your audience
  • From websites with low domain rating

Of course, this means you have to be picky about the backlinks you build. As a result, it takes longer to build them.

But no matter how long it takes, never take shortcuts by building links on irrelevant websites. Instead, focus your energy and resources on building quality links on high DA websites in your industry. Search engines are smarter and can tell whether a backlink is relevant or not.

Powerful Examples of SaaS Company Link Building

We’ve looked at so many aspects of Link building for SaaS brands and you’re probably rearing to get building. However, before you rush off, let’s quickly look at some powerful examples of SaaS link building so you can draw inspiration and insights from them.

1. Hubspot

Hubspot is a juggernaut in the sales and marketing verticals. The brand is one of the biggest inbound marketing and sales platform providers in the world.

Hubspot has done so well because it invested a lot in its SEO game. Of particular note, here are three things they did well:

  • Building tools for marketing and sales teams and giving them away for free.
  • Creating outstanding content, especially research (like their State of Inbound Reports)

These are two factors that helped the brand build powerful backlinks organically.  

A chart showing Hubspot's backlink profile.
Hubspot’s backlink growth. Taken from Ahrefs.
A chart showing Hubspot's organic traffic profile.
Hubspot’s organic traffic growth. Sourced from Ahrefs

2. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a powerful SEO software suite with tools for most things digital marketing. These include keyword research, competitor analysis, rank tracking, and more. 

If there’s an example of a SaaS brand that takes link building seriously, Ahrefs is it. They target high-value topics and keywords and create best-in-class content around them. They then run a link building campaign to build links to the page.

Because of this (and other SEO best practices), Ahrefs is the number one digital marketing tool.

Ahref's backlink profile.
Ahref’s backlink profile. Taken from Ahrefs.
Ahref's organic traffic profile.
Ahref’s organic traffic profile. Taken from Ahrefs.

3. Shopify

No conversation about the best e-commerce platforms is complete without a mention of Shopify. Founded in 2006, the SaaS brand is a comprehensive e-commerce platform that enables businesses of all sizes to start, grow, and manage an online shop.

One of the ways Shopify managed to grow to be a billion-dollar brand is by creating and giving away tools that small businesses need. Examples include a privacy policy generator, logo maker, and more. These high-powered link magnets resulted in the brand rising on the SERPs, generating tons of inbound leads, and much more.

A chart showing Shopify's link profile growth.
Shopify’s link profile growth. Sourced from Ahrefs.
A chart showing Shopify's organic traffic growth.
Shopify’s organic traffic growth. Sourced from Ahrefs

SaaS Link Building — The Key to Organic Growth

Building backlinks to your website is one of the best ways to build your domain authority (DA), bolster your online presence, and drive relevant traffic to your site. While building backlinks may take strategic planning and a lot of effort, it must be done if you’re to grow your business.

However, with the tips and strategies above, link building for your SaaS brand will be more efficient and effective.

Don’t have the time or expertise to plan and execute a link building strategy?

RevenueZen is a proven SaaS SEO agency, and we’ll happily help you design and run a high-powered SaaS SEO strategy that produces results.

The Missing Link: SaaS Link Building and Your SEO Strategy
Ken Marshall

Ken Marshall is the CGO and a Partner at RevenueZen. He’s been doing some version of digital marketing for the past seven years and has shifted his focus to all things SEO and inbound for the last five. Husband, mini Australian shepherd puppy dad, and serial entrepreneur (mostly failures, lots of lessons).