There are a few key components to a killer SEO strategy, like laser-focused keyword research, nitty-gritty technical SEO work, and on-page optimizations that convert. But another essential element to a winning SEO strategy is SaaS link building, and it can be the difference between a strategy that translates into business transformations and one that falls short.
For 2023, 2024, and beyond, it’s critical that SaaS orgs master link building, and update their strategies to take the newest best-practices into account.
Let’s start with the basics: link building is a critical aspect of any successful SaaS marketing strategy, because it helps search engines like Google “rank” your pages, and helps boost your brand’s authority in its space.
While link building has long been crucial for SEO work, it’s even more essential in today’s digital age. Firstly, the search engines are more competitive now than ever before, making it “exponentially harder” to rank than it was just a few short years ago. SaaS buyers also rely on relevant links for their buying, with research showing that they’re using online research and other methods to complete over 60% of their buying process before engaging your business.
By focusing on quality and intentional link building, you can effectively enhance your online visibility, rank higher on Google, drive more organic traffic to your website, and, ultimately, increase new customers.
This is because backlinks are one of the most important SEO ranking factors, and your website’s backlink profile functions as your company’s Google “credit score.” The higher your score, the more trustworthy your domain is, and the easier it will be for your optimized content to perform well.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the ins and outs of a winning SaaS link-building 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 (studies show us that only a quarter of searchers actually go to the second page). As a result, being featured on page 1 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 creating 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.
What’s the Deal with Ranking Factors in 2024?
The term “ranking factors” gets thrown around a lot, so let’s quickly touch on what it means in 2023 and beyond, using Google as an example. Google says its ranking systems for generating search results are designed to sort through “hundreds of billions of results” to “present the most relevant, useful results in a fraction of a second.”
Google says its key ranking factors in 2023 and beyond include:
While these factors might be broad, SEO experts have long studied Google’s algorithms to come up with precise steps and practices that actually move the needle. For example, it’s widely stated that Google uses over 200 ranking factors in their algorithm (with not all of them being 100% proven).
While this is a lot of factors to take into account, it’s also clear that Google prioritizes a few of the essential factors, backlinks being one of them. SEO researchers have found that the “number one result in Google has 3.8 times more backlinks than those in positions two to ten. Another study of more than one billion web pages found a clear connection between backlinks and organic traffic.
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:
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.
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 eager 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.
Link Building Best Practices for 2024
Link building trends can change at the speed of light, and there are a few digital factors that might influence the near-future of link building. Here are some link building trends we’re watching for the end of 2023 and into 2024, and some best-practices to keep in mind:
- AI and content: AI has become the “new kid on the block” when it comes to creating written content, for better and for worse. While AI content writing can take link building into account, it’s important that both the quality of the content and the quality of the backlinks stays high. For example, if you’re using AI to generate written content, you’ll still likely need a skillful SEO pro to comb through the final product and add-in relevant backlinks.
- Quality over quantity: While this is nothing new in the world of SEO, it might be even more crucial in the coming months and years. The quality of content and backlinks is paramount, and plays a much larger role than the quantity. We know that the search engines are increasingly prioritizing information that’s “most helpful” to searchers, and that churning out tons of low-quality content and links is unlikely to make a difference.
- Multimedia link building: Link building no longer needs to only be relegated to written content, and any SEO strategy can benefit from multimedia link building in 2024. Think about how you can include media-rich links that are relevant to your users, such as YouTube video, graphics, and even social media videos (which are increasingly taking SEO into account).
What are some other general SaaS link building trends we’re watching for the coming year? We’re keeping an eye on mobile-friendly link building, the relevance of links and anchor text, and the confluence of link building and different marketing strategies (such as the marriage of social media marketing and SEO).
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:
- Research publications in your niche that publish roundup posts.
- Reach out to those publications and ask to be included.
- Alternatively, you can create a roundup post and pitch it to relevant publications.
- 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:
- Identify prominent people in your organization likely to be mentioned by other brands.
- Monitor mentions of your brand/founder online by using tools like Google Alerts, BrandMention, mention.net, Brand24, and others.
- 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:
- Research relevant high authority sites in your niche that accept guest posts
- Pitch your ideas (prospecting)
- If accepted, craft a high-quality post to submit
- 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:
- Find PR directories in your niche.
- Carefully select authoritative and trustworthy publications.
- Create valuable, newsworthy content and distribute it to your chosen publications.
- 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:
- Compile a list of podcasts in your niche.
- Pitch a topic relevant to the audience.
- Prepare yourself to deliver the best 30-minute presentation to be featured on the podcast.
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:
- Sign up for an account
- Choose categories you want to get daily alerts for
- Check your alerts once or twice a day
- Reply to 2 or 3 prompts that you have knowledge about via email
- 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:
- Find brands that offer complementary products
- Reach out to them and pitch your integration and its benefits
- Work with their development team to ensure a smooth integration
- 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:
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 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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.