Looking to build backlinks to boost your visibility on the SERPs and increase your SaaS website’s domain authority?
Then, this guide is all you need.
By the end of this guide, you will have a strong knowledge of:
- The definition and importance of SaaS link building.
- Different types of links that you would be building.
- Planning a complete customized link-building campaign.
- Outreach tactics that will get you mentioned.
- Steps to implement 17 tried and tested link-building tactics.
- The metrics you need to measure and track.
- Best practices and tips to avoid common mistakes.
Now, let’s get into it.
Chapter 01 – What Is SEO Link Building For SaaS?
Links are one of the top two criteria considered by Google while ranking websites.
84.39% of SEO experts believe that link building has a big impact on brand authority.
Let’s start by understanding link building.
What is link building?
Link building is a process that improves the visibility of a website on the SERPs by getting it mentioned on various credible websites.
It involves reaching out to various domains in your vertical and requesting them to get mentioned on their website. You have “built a link” when a domain links to your website from theirs.
The image below explains this well.
Also known as “the fourth pillar of SEO”, link building helps improve your website’s rankings in the search.
Link building brings a lot to the table from the SEO perspective.
Why is SaaS link building important for SEO?
Link building for SaaS helps with SEO in the following ways:
- Increases your credibility: Your visitors are more likely to trust your content/expertise if you are mentioned on high authority websites.
- Google examines your backlink profile: To rank higher than your competitors, you need to have more links, in quality and quantity, than them.
- Get more traffic: You will get more visitors from different websites where you are mentioned.
- Better SEO rankings: Lots of quality backlinks will improve your domain authority. It means your website is more likely to rank higher in the search engines.
- Higher organic traffic: As you will rank higher for the keywords you are targeting, you are more likely to get more organic traffic.
- More sales, more revenue: Aptly placed links can direct high-intent traffic to your website which can get you more leads that convert.
- Greater reach: Through multiple websites, you can reach multiple niches.
- Emerge as a thought leader: The more mentions you get, the more likely it is that your opinion on a particular topic will be respected.
Is that all?
No. Link building has a few more crucial benefits that will help your business.
Lesser-known benefits of SaaS link building
Link building is known as one of the pillars of SEO. However, it will be a mistake to think that the perks of link building don’t go beyond that.
Below are three great benefits of white hat link building.
- Build publisher relationships: In the course of building links for your website, you will make a lot of partners. With their help, you can get more out of your marketing processes. For example, you can promote your upcoming webinar on their network.
- Continuous referral traffic: Your link will permanently exist on your partner’s website. Unlike ads, they will continue to get you traffic even after you have stopped your link-building efforts.
- Brand building: Thanks to SaaS services, starting a company is easy. With many competitors, it can be challenging to establish credibility. SaaS link building proves your brand value as you get mentioned in more and more respectable domains.
“Great! I will start building links right now!’
There are a few things that you need to be aware of.
What you should avoid while building links?
Avoiding the following practices will not diminish the benefits of your genuine link-building efforts.
Illegal websites (for example, gambling and pornographic) and link farms encourage these practices. Link farms are a network of websites that link to each other to increase their domain authority. These sites are more likely to get flagged by search engines due to their suspicious nature of interlinking.
The image below explains how link farms work.
Link farms will get you multiple links in a short amount of time, but sooner or later, land your website in trouble.
Link exchange is not a good tactic
“I will mention you and you mention me back” might sound good on paper but is never a good strategy in the long run.
Here are the reasons why you should approach this cautiously.
- Their audience might be different from yours. You will get traffic, but the bounce rate of that traffic will be too high. There is no point in getting traffic that is not interested in your content or product.
- Excessive link exchange attracts penalties from Google. Maybe not you, but the sites you “collaborate” with are guilty of that. If you are mentioned on a website that is penalized, your SEO health will deteriorate.
- You might mention questionable websites. Link exchange means you also will have to mention your partners. However, you might not know the quality of their pages and the content to which you will be sending your visitors.
Never buy links
It is when you pay a certain amount of money to a website to get mentioned. It can very easily backfire for multiple reasons.
- It will cost you a lot. Buying links from authoritative websites can be heavy on your marketing budget.
- They might make your link “nofollow”. Even if Google knows the source of the traffic, the “link juice” will be less.
Penalties due to bad links
Bad/poor quality backlinks are easy to obtain. Getting good backlinks is great for your SEO, but bad backlinks are exponentially worse. Here are some of the consequences you might face.
- Poor quality of traffic: This traffic will have a high bounce rate and low dwell time. This happens when the visitors directed to your website don’t match your target persona.
- Reduced visibility: A lot of mismatched traffic might reduce your rankings for certain keywords you are that traffic for.
- Unindexed from search engines: Very poor backlink profile might get you removed from search engines altogether.
You might receive a message similar to the following to Google (and other search engines) if you get involved in the above practices.
It’s recommended to stay away from practices that have the potential to incur these penalties.
Not all kinds of links will contribute to your SEO efforts equally. Gaining a complete understanding of links might help you.
Chapter 02 – Understand Links
Before you go approaching to find potential link-building partners, you need to understand links. What they are and how they differ from one another.
Two types of backlinks
Based on their tags, two types of backlinks will get traffic to your website. However, please keep in mind that these links are indistinguishable to the reader as the difference lies in the source code.
These kinds of backlinks tell the search engine that the source of traffic is from a different domain. They are taken into consideration as they assess your backlink profile.
These links are the easiest to create. Unless specified, building links means building “dofollow” links. They directly impact your rankings and the more the better.
These links have a rel=“nofollow” tag in the source code.
These links tell the search engines to ignore that link while assessing your backlink profile.
Some websites don’t allow dofollow link building, hence this is the next best option. Search engines including Google encourage businesses to use this tag during link exchanges.
Google has introduced two new tags to get more details regarding nofollow links.
- Sponsored links: These are the links that you paid for. For example, listicles of tools/products/services in your vertical. (rel=”sponsored”)
- User-generated links: These kinds of links are mentioned by your users on social media. (rel=”ugc”)
Nofollow tag can also help your website dodge a penalty if you are unknowingly linking to spammy websites.
But, do they have an impact on your SEO?
Should you get nofollow backlinks to your SaaS website?
Link building for SaaS is an expensive process. You need to spend a lot of time, marketers, and money. So, every move counts.
You might be wondering whether nofollow links have an impact on SEO.
The short answer is yes.
Yes, it can be said that nofollow links don’t have an impact as big as dofollow links which is why the latter should be your priority. But search engines still “read” those links, including the sponsored ones and user-generated content.
Google recognizes the nofollow attributes and understands the user intent.
So, what are the benefits of nofollow links?
High-intent traffic from external sources
If you are getting a link from an authoritative website in your niche, you will get lots of visitors that are more likely to convert. Apart from more leads, you will also increase your website dwell time, and reduce bounce rate.
Even though you won’t get the “link juice” as the link is “dofollow”, your visibility in the SERPs will increase. You will still get the traffic. Make sure that you choose the anchor text properly.
It can directly improve your rankings
SEMrush analyzed a case study where they studied the impact of nofollow links on domain rankings and search visibility. They have found out that nofollow links still contribute positively to the site’s rankings.
Google still knows that a website has mentioned you. They don’t “consider” it, but they do know the source of the traffic.
Although conclusions from the analysis of one case study should be taken with a grain of salt, it still proves that the effect of nofollow links on SEO cannot be discounted.
Improved social signals
Social signals are the number of shares that a webpage gets. These links are nofollow or are published with a rel=”ugc” tag. These are interpreted as a citation by the search engines and hence count as backlinks.
There is a direct correlation between social signals and SEO.
Better social signals increase the number of impressions and visits (that are organic unless the shares are sponsored). This increases the website dwell time and your social traffic increases.
That is still a win.
Furthermore, a study concluded that social shares do increase the rankings of a website on search engines.
Avoid short-term link-building shortcuts
SEO is a long-term strategy.
Hence, while building links you need to think in the long term. There are a lot of black hat link-building tactics that might give you momentary gain but may cause irreparable damage to your domain (and business) in the long run.
Here are the risky black-hat link-building tactics that you need to avoid participating in.
- Paid links: Paying to get mentioned on various websites will temporarily boost your rankings.
- Over-promotion: Having your link spammed on social media might get your website red-flagged.
- Misleading links: If you are mentioned on a website under an anchor text, make sure the content on that page matches it.
- Link exchanges: It can be risky if you don’t know which website you are getting traffic from.
- Links from shady websites: Illegal websites can and will destroy your backlink profiles. Make sure that you disavow them.
Building links (or any SEO efforts) should be done while following webmaster guidelines that will help you differentiate between good and bad links.
Good vs. bad links according to Webmaster Guidelines
Good links improve your website’s rankings. If you still rank lower on the SERPs even after continuous SaaS link building, you need to check your backlink profile. Websites that are infected with malware and viruses affect your domain rankings negatively.
Linking to and from penalized websites is bad. Google doesn’t like websites that are affiliated with the ones they have penalized.
Make sure to scan through the webmaster guidelines of Google and Bing which will give you lots of insights regarding SaaS linkbuilding.
Why is sustainable SaaS link building important?
At this point, you are aware of the consequences of bad link-building practices. Let’s take a look at the pros of good link-building practices.
- High ROI: Your business is here to stay. The links that you get to your website should too so that they continue to add value to your website.
- Search engines will love your website: A website that plays by the SEO rules set by Google, for example, ranks higher on Google.
- No penalties: Good link building will not get your website penalized. That means you can continue to enjoy the rewards of your SEO efforts.
As SEO campaigns are generally long-term strategies, it is crucial to plan a link-building campaign that will help you achieve the desired results.
Chapter 03 – Plan a SaaS Link Building Campaign
So far we have understood six important things:
- The definition and importance of link building.
- Business advantages that you can get from link building.
- Types of backlinks.
- Good and bad links.
- Black hat link-building tactics that you should avoid.
- The real reason why you should employ sustainable link-building methods.
Now, the fun begins. Planning a link-building strategy unique to your organization.
How long does it take for SaaS link building to improve a site’s ranking?
It is necessary to start on the right foot and that is setting realistic goals. If you have just started your website, you can’t expect to rank at the top of the SERPs within a month. To calculate the time it will take to improve your site’s desirable ranking, follow these steps.
1. Find the domains that are currently ranking for your desired keywords
This will give you the list of the websites that are currently ranking for them. In other words, these are the domains that you have to outrank because you will be competing with them for your target audience’s attention.
For each target keyword, collect the results of the first two pages.
Make sure that you are located in the areas where the bulk of your audience is at. If not, you can use VPN services to search from those locations.
2. Conduct a backlink audit of the domains that are currently ranking
You can use tools like Ahrefs, or SEMrush to capture the initial details like the number of referring domains, URLs, backlinks, etc.
This will give you a benchmark that you need to reach.
Don’t get overwhelmed if some of the old players in your domain have a huge number of backlinks. Keep in mind that they have been doing this for years. And as you become an authoritative tone in your industry, you will get mentioned in other domains naturally.
This step will put a definitive number (or a range) of backlinks that your SaaS website needs to earn to beat the highest-ranking pages.
3. Check other details of those domains
Details like the number of pages on their site, the website health, what are the other keywords they are ranking for, and how much traffic are they getting.
You will be able to paint a complete picture that will help you create your link-building strategy precisely.
4. Audit your backlink profile
After this step, you will know if you have a molehill or a mountain to climb.
In either scenario, you have to remind yourself that SEO is a continuous process and a long-term strategy that will continue to give. Because of this reason, the ROI of SaaS link building (or any SEO effort) is difficult to measure. How can you put a price on visibility on the SERPs?
On average, it will take from two to six months for you to see the SEO gains from your consistent link-building efforts.
What types of links do you need?
In Chapter 2, we talked about types of backlinks. We concluded that dofollow links from good websites are desirable.
But which websites are good for you?
Every business is different which makes its target audience special. If you get mentioned on websites that are completely outside your domain you will get a kind of audience that is not interested at all.
That traffic will have a very high churn rate and a very low dwell time. It will be interpreted by the search engines (because they are dofollow) as misleading links. Misleading links negatively affect the browsing experience which could end up earning you a penalty.
Find websites where your audience generally goes to find answers to their questions. These are your primary link targets. If you get mentioned on those websites, you can pull in a lot of high intent traffic from these.
Find out the websites that are already mentioned in the primary link targets. Let’s call them secondary link targets. You should start with them as they might be relatively easier to get mentioned.
Now that you have an idea of which kinds of domains you start targeting, you should start prioritizing them.
Prioritizing link targets
Which domains should you prioritize first?
The ones that give you the most returns. The higher the authority a brand has in your vertical, the more “link juice” your website can get off of it.
Apart from domain authority and organic traffic, you also need to determine how relevant the audience of that website is. As we touched upon in the previous section, if the traffic doesn’t want the value you are offering, you are better off not getting them.
The easiest way to make sure that you don’t get an uninterested visitor from an external source is by ensuring that all domains you aim to get mentioned in are related to your vertical. Find as many related websites and blogs as possible.
How to find authoritative domains that should mention you?
Backlink audit of the competing domains for the same (or similar) keywords.
You will get the list of the domains that are mentioned and you can start from them. Of course, you need to eliminate the ones that are their partners, or the ones that require you to have a threshold level of domain rating that you are not at yet.
You will easily find publications or blogging websites where you can get mentioned with little effort. It will serve as a great starting point.
The next thing you need to do is find their contact details.
Finding contact details of target domains
Most of the websites have a “contact us” page. Fill in the form and let them know what you are looking for.
Another method you can employ is through social media. You can contact the editors and admins of your target domains via Twitter and Linkedin. Many professionals also use email scrapers to get the work email of the website managers and send them messages.
Before you start looking for the contact details make sure you have a long list of target domains. Don’t forget to send follow-ups after you send the first email. Try to offer some value. Leading with value will get your email read and replied to.
The most important step in a link-building campaign is to send the right message to the right people. In this chapter so far, we have explained how you can find the right people. The next part of the puzzle is the right message that will motivate them to mention you.
Chapter 04 – SaaS Link Building Outreach
After making a list of domains you want to reach out to and getting their contact details, you need to start reaching out to them.
Bear in mind that the domains you are reaching out to get lots of messages like yours. Make sure that your first instance of communication is unique.
How to craft your message?
If you are reaching out to a domain with high authority, they might be getting a ton of messages from other businesses as well. Your message needs to stand out and make an impact. Keep in mind that you might get only one chance at this.
When sending outreach emails, it is important to craft your message in a way that motivates the reader to take action. In this case, the action is mentioning your website on theirs. The format of your message depends on the medium but the core remains the same.
While crafting your message, keep the following things in mind.
- Lead with value: Not a lot of people offer anything which puts the recipient off. You are getting a link, so offer something in return. That makes them care about your proposition more. Reports, statistics, and analysis are great ideas.
- Make your message clear: You cannot trick your way into getting mentioned. Let the editors of the target domains know what you want from them. This clarifies the action they need to take to complete your request.
- Show that you are not a spammer: Even though you are reaching out to multiple domains, you are not spamming. Try to craft a personalized message if you can.
- Make sure your subject line covers your message.
- Use their first name while addressing them.
- Keep the message short and to the point. Respect their time.
- Give them an honest compliment about their blog or product.
- Add a clear course of action. What do you want them to do?
- Send from a company email.
- Send follow-ups: You are not the only one reaching out to them. It is a possibility that your message got buried in their inbox. Send them a follow-up after two days then four days. If they still don’t reply, try elsewhere.
The content of your email depends on what you have to offer and what you request in return. For instance, if you are pitching guest posts, you can use the following email template.
Subject: Guest post proposal for <SITE NAME> from an <YOUR PROFESSION>
My name is <Name> and I am <role> at <company-tagline>.
I hope you are doing great.
I was just reading one article on your blog about <topic> and I loved your insights about <crucial point from the article>.
I was wondering if I could contribute to your blog on the topic <title suggestion>. I will be writing based on my professional insights with statistics and examples.
I believe your readers will find it useful.
Let me know your thoughts.
Just wanted my message to get on top of your inbox.
Please let me know if you accept high-quality, and unique guest posts that will keep your readers engaged.
Note how all of the points we have mentioned above are incorporated within this template. There are multiple tools (listed in the next section) that you can use to automate this process and get maximum returns.
If you are struggling with writing an email, start by simply writing down your message. Then focus on each sentence and make it short and direct. Keep it authentic.
Now that you know how you need to craft your message, let’s take a look at how you can manage the whole process effectively.
Manage your link-building outreach process
Sending outreach emails to tens of people every day and following up if they don’t reply. Sending them additional emails in case they request more information. You get the idea. The outreach process can get tedious. For your sanity and to track things properly, you need to manage it.
Also, management helps you scale.
Earlier we have mentioned (numerous times) that SaaS link building is a consistent, long-term process. That means you need to “automate” it to some degree. Having clear steps highlighted in a document for this process is an example.
The first thing you need to do is track all your efforts and their results. By doing this you can profitably scale up or down your efforts to secure those links.
Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet
To keep track of all your processes effectively, create a sharable sheet that is accessible to everyone involved in the process. It will also help you to send follow-ups to each of the target domains you reached out to.
Tools for outreach management
You will need apps that will make your process much more effective. Below are the three applications that you need. If you are not particularly a fan of them, feel free to check out their competitors.
- Mail Merge: Sending personalized emails will help you build rapport with the domains you are targeting. This tool helps you personalize your emails straight from the excel sheet. You can have as many personalized parameters as you want.
- Boomerang: Sending follow-ups is necessary because your recipients probably get tons of emails per day. But it can be challenging if you are sending a lot of emails. Boomerang will remind you in time so that you can get your message on the top of your recipient’s inbox.
- Hunter: After you have found an appropriate domain where getting mentioned will be valuable for your business, you need to contact them. Here is where you can use Hunter to find the organizational emails in less than a minute.
How to deal with negative replies?
Not all of the domains you reach out to will accept your offer. Most will say no. Some will be on edge, some will ghost you after a few emails.
So, eventually, you will get negative replies, and here is how you deal with them.
1. Always reply and thank them for their time
When someone says “no” to you for anything, they have at least listened to your request. Start by thanking them for their time.
The biggest mistake you can make is not to reply to them and delete the whole thread.
2. Request them the reason for which they said no
In some instances, publications and blogs are caught up with other things that are central to their organizational goals. For example, hiring new employees, changing the website’s design, building their SaaS linkbuilding plan, etc.
Ask them politely why they wouldn’t be interested in something that adds value to their site.
If they have rejected your offer because of something temporary, remind yourself to ask them once again in the future.
3. Try to offer something else
A social media mention, or a newsletter cross-promotion.
There are many ways in which you can collaborate with different publications and blogs for mutual marketing benefits.
Dos and don’ts during link-building outreach
It is always a smart move to learn from others’ experiences.
After building innumerable links for multiple SaaS businesses across various industries, we have collated some dos and don’ts.
Follow them and you will get the maximum returns on your link-building efforts.
- Send customized messages. There is a person on the other side who will be reading your message. If you want them to accept your request, send a personalized message.
- Following up timely. Life gets in the way and things get pushed down in the order of priorities. Sometimes your request is one of those things. Remind your partners by sending them another personalized message.
- Create content worth linking to. Why else would a reputed publication link to you if their readers won’t get value from your content?
- Outreach by different mediums. Emails, social media, forums, and more. Make sure that you craft your message appropriately.
- Send long messages. This is synonymous with wasting their time. If you can say something in a few words, avoid long sentences. Your first message should be around 200 words.
- Use automated tools for sending messages. SaaS linkbuilding becomes successful when you build relationships. You can’t build relationships if you adopt a “one size fits all” mentality in your messaging.
- Be impatient. We have mentioned the importance of following up a few times so far. But don’t overdo it. Don’t send follow-ups the day after. Wait for at least 2-3 days.
- Ask for link exchanges. Most respectable publications will be turned off the moment you mention that.
Great! At this point, you need to be aware of link-building tactics and start using them.
Chapter 05 – SaaS Link Building Tactics
So far, you are aware of how you should reach out to the domains of interest to get your links placed. But, you need to have a defined set of actions that you need to carry out that will get you a link.
In this chapter, we have listed 17 link-building tactics that you need to start implementing right now.
Every tactic will help you earn links and the returns are exponential.
1. Create a dedicated blog for your audience
A blog is a must-have for every SaaS business.
It’s a place where you can deliver value to your customers and educate them through your content. This will increase the engagement and will also position you as a more credible voice in your domain.
Even though your reader doesn’t click on the “buy now” button right away, you will be the first one they will think of when they are ready to purchase. The main reason is that they already trust you as you know what you are talking about.
Here are some of the best SaaS blogs that you can get inspired by:
Make sure that your blog has a great UI. Continue to add quality content that gives value to your audience. Revisit old articles and update them so that they stay relevant. Adopt healthy content marketing tactics so that you get more traffic. Black-hat content marketing tactics will give you short-term gains but your SaaS website will get penalized by the search engines.
2. Build linkable assets that get links on autopilot
A lot of SaaS businesses struggle to get links because their content is not worth linking to. No one consciously wants to send their audience to a website that contains shallow content that merely scratches the surface.
Invest some time and resources into building content that is unique and provides insights that your audience doesn’t get easier.
Pick one topic and create as many in-depth pieces of content as you can until you have covered every aspect of it.
An inch wide and a mile deep. That’s what you should be aiming for. Spreading yourself too thin on generic content is a waste of your time and resources. Furthermore, you will struggle to get backlinks despite continuous efforts.
On the contrary, valuable content gets you links on autopilot.
Here are the most common types of content you can (and should) create that will continue to build your links organically.
- Statistics and reports: Everyone likes numbers. It helps them measure things efficiently, understand the current state of the market, and predict future trends. There will be many articles that will be mentioning the numbers from your report and link you as the source.
- Guides: Long-form content gets 77.2% more backlinks than short articles.
- Glossary Pages: Describe all the terms and phrases related to your industry. This is especially valuable to newcomers in your target market. Check out this glossary page from Moz for reference.
- Pillar-cluster content: This will help you establish your credibility within your niche. This model has been adopted by many SaaS companies. You can create a web of content that touches upon every topic within your area of expertise.
- Expert roundups: The opinions of seasoned professionals are quoted everywhere. If you create content by interviewing experts and collating their opinions, you will easily get tons of backlinks. We have created lots of such content for our client JetOctopus.
- Thought leadership articles: Content from founders and innovators who aren’t afraid to go against the grain tends to get attention. For example, articles from Rand Fishkin always touch many readers as the content is new and innovative.
- Free tools: Free estimators and calculators help your target audience find or calculate a number that makes sense to them. They are more likely to act on it because it adds a quantifiable point. Here is a list of interactive tools that will get you started.
- Podcasts with experts: Podcasts are quickly becoming one of the most preferred forms of content as they can be listened to on the go. Here are the steps you can take to use podcasts as a link-building asset.
3. Write guest posts for authoritative blogs in your domain
Authoritative blogs within your domain have already established their credibility by continually publishing valuable content. Contributing guest posts to those blogs will help you leverage their reputation for your benefit.
A good rule of thumb is to start with blogs that you already like.
If you don’t have a long list of blogs that you can write for, you can start to find which blogs your competitors got mentioned at. The steps to find that are mentioned in Chapter 3.
Keep these following points in mind while writing guest posts.
- Write as if these will be published on your blog. Remember, this article will represent your SaaS business.
- Let the publisher know that you will be inserting a link. This way, you can insert links that they accept. Many publishers don’t accept landing pages.
- Insert links organically. Don’t force links into paragraphs where they don’t belong. It messes with the readability.
- Add a short author’s bio. The readers of that article will know more about you, which helps build rapport with your readers.
4. The HARO strategy
Reporters and journalists are constantly looking for authentic sources for new stories from different industries. Being one of those sources makes it possible for you to get an honorable mention on websites like Mashable, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.
Help a reporter out (HARO) is a platform where you can get in touch with more than 75000+ journalists. The platform already has over a million sources. Make sure that you go through their rules before you sign up.
HARO works in three simple steps.
5. Run PR campaigns
Public relations (PR) campaigns put a business in the spotlight leading to increased brand awareness. The stories that are run in these campaigns can earn you links from media websites and online journals.
PR link building becomes successful when you build lasting relationships with journalists and writers from these houses. If you directly reach out to them and request them to get you mentioned, you might not get anything.
Start by investing time and resources to build and nurture a relationship with them. Help them with stories or jobs which are not about you. You can send them sources for a current story they might have been working on, help them with research, etc.
PR campaigns are a long-term investment, so be ready to play the long game.
If you have a small marketing team, are operating with a limited budget, or want fast growth, partnering with a digital PR agency is your best option. They already have built relationships with multiple publications and journalists. You can skip the queue and get to the front.
Here are some tips that you can start following to tip the scale in your favor.
- Stay updated in your industry: Set up Google Alerts so that you get notified immediately when there is a huge story brewing up in your industry. This will help you find the latest angles with your PR stories and also leverage the already existing spotlight on that topic.
- Craft unique stories: Your business is different from your competitors. This should reflect on the PR stories that you run and the angles you put forward in them. A new statistic, an unknown fact, or a controversial opinion helps.
- Write credible content: Experienced journalists are experts in seeing through stories that don’t have a leg to stand on. Add statistics from third-party surveys, your research, and logical insights drawn from them.
- Keep it simple, silly (KISS): Journalists are bombarded with hundreds of pitches a day. The amount of time they have for you is a few minutes. Make sure that you get to the point directly by making your pitch plug-and-play.
- Optimize your emails: Follow simple tips like personalizing the subject line with the first name, leading with value, and following up after an adequate period. Be a professional and try to incorporate their suggestions into your stories.
6. Offer freebies in exchange for links
Brands give away free goods and services to publications and influencers all the time for mentions and link placements. You can employ that tactic to sweeten the deal. Many SaaS companies offer free subscriptions in return for link exchanges.
This opens up the opportunity for you to start reaching out to influencers and thought leaders in your domain. Through this tactic, you can get some authentic product reviews.
Before offering any freebies, make sure that the person (or publication) you are offering it to needs it. For instance, if you are a mobile game publisher for teenagers, offering the premium version to the editors of a tech publication may not be the best idea.
Apart from your product or service, you can offer gift cards, coupons, vouchers, for other things they might find useful.
7. The stolen images strategy
The images from your website might be used by other domains without giving you the credit. Conduct a reverse image search to find out where your images have been used without a link back to your website.
Start contacting the editors and publishers of those websites and request them to give you a backlink to your website.
Note: To make sure you get the most out of this process, invest in creating authentic images and infographics that add value to your readers. As we mentioned earlier, build linkable assets. They will continue to earn you backlinks on autopilot.
8. Natural link exchanges
As 73.5% of domains have reciprocal links, it is a link-building strategy that deserves a fair share of attention.
The strategy of “you link to me and I will link to you” is not recommended by a lot of traditional SEO experts. One of the key reasons is that Google frowns upon this kind of arrangement.
However, natural link exchanges are a common occurrence and a widely adopted practice, especially by budding SaaS companies. Organic placement of a partner’s link in a blog article where it fits the context and adds value to the reader can do wonders.
It is important to carry out this strategy perfectly. Overusing it will attract the wrong kind of attention from Google (or other search engines). Keep the following friendly tips handy to get the best from your natural link exchange outreach.
- Reach out to active blogs only: Websites that consistently post new content can easily incorporate your links organically. It will also give you more options which will increase the chances of you getting placed.
- Consider sites with DR>30: Of course, the more the better. It is important to set a threshold so that you get value from these exchanges. Getting backlinks from websites with low domain ratings will not do much for you.
- Analyze their website before reaching out: Use free tools like Majestic that will let you know about the trustworthiness of their website.
- Link to them first: Lead with value. Also, they are more likely to listen to you if you have already done something that benefits them.
- Offer something else: A newsletter mention, a social media shoutout, or a link to another website that you are writing a guest post for.
9. SaaS Product Embed Strategy
This may not work for all SaaS products, but for the ones that it can, it is a goldmine of link placements.
A lot of popular brands employ this strategy to direct prospects to their websites.
Intercom mentions “We run on Intercom” in each of the conversations. This increases the visibility and serves as a gateway to their website. Take a look.
Here is another example from a WordPress table of content generation tool, Topic.
These mentions are not annoying and will attract the attention of individuals who want to use your product for that value.
10. Tools you have integrations with
Many SaaS products are now extending their usability by allowing their users to access their services through other apps that they use.
For example, accessing Trello and Google Calendar through Slack.
If your product has integrations with other products, then you can surely leverage this opportunity to create content on their website. Usually, you will get at least two backlinks, one from their blog post, and another from their help docs.
This also presents itself as a marketing opportunity as you can tap into their audience with the announcement message.
If you don’t have any integrations at the moment, start with Zapier. Then, proceed to research a bit more about your target audience to find how you can make their workflow simpler. The more integrations you build, the more authentic backlinks you can earn for your domain.
11. Claim Unlinked Brand Mentions
Identical to the stolen image strategy (#7 in this chapter), there might be various websites that have mentioned your SaaS product without linking back to you.
Use a brand monitoring tool like SEMrush or BrandMentions to find where you are mentioned, contact them, and get your link placed. These opportunities require the least amount of effort to give backlinks to your brand name.
Take a look at how easy it is.
After you find the websites where you are mentioned without a backlink, you can start reaching out to them. Of course, maintain a friendly tone in your message.
12. Replacing Broken Links
The presence of a broken link diminishes the user experience.
Many blogs and websites have embedded links that point to a 404 page. If you have a blog post that covers that topic in detail, you can pitch it to them. They will be delighted to know that they had a 404, and you will earn a backlink in return.
This tried-and-true link-building strategy can be employed easily by using tools like Broken Link Checker.
You can check for broken links in high-authority blogs in your niche and reach out to them requesting to place the correct link.
13. Link Building for SaaS Through Resource Pages and Listicles
There are a lot of resource pages (or listicles) that mention several valuable pieces of content, such as eBooks, guides, SaaS products, etc. The quality of content these pages link to makes them more valuable.
If you have a great blog article, an eBook, or a report, reach out to these pages and request them by explaining how mentioning your resource will add to their page.
To make sure that this strategy works, you have to build assets that are worth linking to (#2 in this chapter). The only difference is, that you will be manually reaching out to them rather than earning links on autopilot.
You can get started by searching for resource pages that could include one of your assets and reaching out to them.
14. Links From Educational Institutions Through Product Partnership
Again, this may not work for every SaaS product.
However, this is a great link-building opportunity as backlinks from domains ending with .edu or .gov add tremendous authority to your website. Being mentioned as a partner on their site and having a dedicated page will do wonders for your domain authority.
Many SaaS products, like Notion, sweeten the deal by offering their product for free for both students and teachers to help them with task management. This has earned them backlinks from multiple universities.
15. Give Testimonials and Participate in Case Studies
If you have a SaaS product, you must be using other ones.
Those tools will love to tell their prospects how useful they find their product. It will help them find more clients in niches similar to yours and you will get a backlink in return. Take a look at how Backlinko got an easy backlink.
You can also participate in case studies which are a great source for authentic backlinks. Take a look at how KnowBe4 earned multiple backlinks from a case study they participated in.
Apart from SaaS tools, you can give reviews to different services that you are using for your business.
16. Participate in Conferences, Webinars, and Podcasts
Your presence in online events does more than promote your business and increase your brand awareness. It is also a great source for getting backlinks.
A great benefit for the same is your link will be viewed and potentially visited by a wide array of audiences. On top of that, the host of the event will take care of marketing the event.
If you have your podcast, you can invite different guests and get featured on their website as a promotional blog article. Also, you can reach out to different resource page articles that list podcasts in your niche to get your podcast mentioned.
Becoming a guest in different podcasts means you will be mentioned on an accompanying page. Here is an example from an episode of The Search Engine Journal Show.
In that particular episode, the guest received a couple of links.
17. Earn Backlinks Through Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing programs drive referrals as your promoters share your link with their network. By providing better affiliate marketing than your competitors, you can win over more affiliate marketers to advertise your products.
SEMrush’s profitable affiliate marketing program earned its backlinks from popular blogs like BloggersPassion and ShoutMeLoud.
Which link-building tactic is best for you?
Before you go ahead and start employing one or many of the above tactics, make sure that you take care of the other aspects of your website. Great content published regularly and technical SEO.
Our recommendation is to start from the beginning and try each of the above tactics and see which one works best for you. Every business is different and the phase of growth you are in also determines which link-building tactic will be the best for your business.
Of course, a lot of the above tactics will require a lot of time and resources. It is always fruitful to hire a growth agency that is a pro at employing white-hat link-building techniques and will give you maximum returns on your investment.
Processes are incomplete without the presence of a method that helps us measure their impact and link building for SaaS is no different. There are a few metrics that you should keep an eye on to make sure that your link-building efforts are not going to waste.
Chapter 06 – Link Building Measurement and Metrics
In this chapter, we have listed six metrics that you should be looking at to measure how well (or poorly) your link-building campaign is performing. We have also stated what their significance is, how you can measure it, and what you need to do if they are not improving as you expected.
1. Domain Rating
It is a number between 1 and 100 that shows how authoritative and credible your website is according to search engines. Obviously, the higher the better. The sheer simplicity of this metric makes it easy for website owners to track and measure it.
How to measure domain rating
Here are some free tools you can use to check your site’s domain rating:
- Website Authority Checker by Ahrefs
- Domain Rating Checker by Small SEO Tools
- Bulk Domain Rating Checker by SEO Review tools
- Free Domain SEO Analysis Tool by Moz
Note: Keep in mind that each of the tools above (and others that didn’t make it to this list) uses an array of parameters to determine how SEO-friendly your site is. Don’t be surprised if your website’s domain is rated differently in each of the tools.
How fast should your domain rating increase
Just like most questions related to SEO for SaaS businesses, the answer is it depends. Here are some of the factors that determine how fast (or slow) you can expect your domain ratings to increase.
- The number of domains that link to you: Getting one link each from ten different domains is better than getting ten links from one. If more websites mention you, your credibility becomes more.
- The quality of websites that link to you: Your domain rating will increase faster if you get a backlink from the New York Times rather than an ordinary blog that started last month.
- The kind of visitors you get: The quality and quantity of visitors you get from an external source will tell you if you are mentioned on the right website under the right anchor text. If visitors click on your link but leave soon afterward, you need to rethink your strategy.
- The rate of link building: Like most processes in SEO, consistency is key in link building for SaaS. Going all-in for a month and pausing the strategy for two will harm the rate of growth.
2. Website Traffic and Dwell Time
Website traffic is the number of visitors you get in a period and dwell time refers to how long they remain on your site before going away.
How to measure website traffic and dwell time
Google Analytics is the best free tool available that you can use to measure your website traffic and dwell time. Set it up and open the console.
The interface is fairly simple and you can see traffic by source and corresponding dwell time by using the left-hand side navigation menu.
To check the traffic by source, go to Behavior->Overview and click on ‘View Full Report’ in the bottom right corner. After choosing the page you want to analyze, go to Secondary Dimension->Acquisition->Source. You will find the dwell time in one of the columns in that table.
What affects your website traffic and dwell time
- The anchor text: It should be intriguing enough for the reader to click on. If it is a mere selection of words, it is more likely that it will get skipped over.
- The content on your page: It should be relevant to the reader and should be related to that article you are mentioned in.
- The quality of traffic the source site gets: Earlier in this guide we have mentioned that you should get backlinks from good websites. If they don’t get good visitors, you won’t either.
- The freshness of the source page: New pages get more traffic than old ones. Make sure that you get backlinks from articles that are not older than six months.
3. Number of Backlinks
This represents the number of instances you are mentioned on other websites and blog articles.
The number of links you receive depends broadly on two things. One, it depends on how aggressively you are pursuing new links. To boost the results, you simply need to scale up your outreach operations.
Two, it depends on how link-worthy your content is. If your content is valuable, authentic, and actionable, it will build you links on autopilot.
How to check the number of backlinks
- Link Explorer by Moz
- Free Backlink Checker by Ahrefs
- Backlink Checker by Small SEO tools
- Backlink Analytics by SEMrush
- Backlink Checker by Neil Patel
To get more backlinks, scale up on your link-building efforts or employ a new tactic from the previous chapter.
While obtaining or earning links, keep an eye on the following two metrics.
4. Link Relevance
It refers to how closely relatable your content is to the website that links to you. Or, more precisely, how appropriate the content on your page is based on the anchor text, article, and website it is placed on.
A few sections ago we touched upon how relevance can affect your domain rating as it affects the quality and quantity of traffic you get. Therefore, you need to focus on topical relevance while executing your link-building campaign.
How to ensure link relevance
- Anchor text: Make sure the anchor text is related to the topic of the content you are linking to. Diversify the anchor texts on different sites as Google might sense manipulation resulting from over-optimization.
- Link to the page which has authority: If multiple credible pages with content on the related topic link to the webpage you are getting a link from, that is good news.
- Related phrases on the source page: The source page and the target page should have common phrases. For instance, try to incorporate long-tail keywords from the source pages in the article you want to get placed.
5. Position of the Link on the page
Some links are better than others. The weightage of a backlink depends on the quality and quantity of backlinks present on the page and domain you are placed on.
If your link is the only link on a page and is placed higher up, you will get more SEO benefits. The “link juice” decreases if your link is placed at the bottom of an article with 20 other links.
Where should you place your link?
Place your links under topically relevant anchor texts higher up in the article. Ideally, you should place your link in the introduction. If that is not possible, you can place it right under the first subheading.
Another great place to place your link is on one of the subheadings. These prominent places attract the readers’ attention and are more likely to direct them to your site.
Hence, during your outreach process, you should aim to place your link as higher up as you can.
Chapter 07 – Putting Link Building Into Practice
Run a link reclamation campaign
If you recently migrated your website, for example, some of your links mentioned on various domains may be broken. Those broken links need to be replaced with a working link or need to be redirected to the relevant content page.
The link reclamation campaign does just that. This campaign is quite crucial as statistics suggest that 18% of links take readers to irrelevant pages or 404 pages providing a poor link experience. There are three segments of a link reclamation campaign.
1. Fixing broken links on your site
It could be possible that certain existing pages on your website are deleted or have their URLs modified. This will direct the visitors to 404 pages which will affect the user experience. The first part of link reclamation is to fix the broken links on your website.
2. Fixing broken backlinks
The easiest fix in this scenario is to redirect those links to a live page that contains the same, or at least similar content. You should keep in mind that redirected links are slower than normal ones, so it is recommended that you contact the web editor to replace the link, if possible.
3. Fixing canonicalization issues
Even though these issues won’t send your potential visitors to a 404 page, they will drastically reduce the “link juice”. If the canonical issues are huge, you can get hit with a manual penalty from Google.
Canonical issues occur when more than one link takes the user to the same page.
There are many causes of canonical issues, the most common ones are:
- Duplicate content on your site.
- The site is accessible through both HTTP and HTTPS.
- Trailing slash issue.
- Camel casing – the site is accessible at both www.example.com and www.Example.com
- URLs that change based on the device – m.example.com and www.example.com
- Syndicated content – many businesses post the same content on Medium.
The simplest solution is to use canonical tags [rel=”canonical”] on all your web pages so that it only shows one kind of content to one webpage.
Be creative with your link-building outreach
In Chapter 4 of this guide, we have explained how you can craft a message that gets read. Although you can rely on that template, you can also mix things up a bit to improve your chances.
Experiment with different subject lines
The name or email address of the sender and the subject line is the first thing that your recipients will see. As 47% of recipients open an email based on a subject line alone, it is important to get it right.
Here are some tactics you can start employing now.
- Personalize it by addressing your recipient by their first name.
- Use emojis to keep it informal and playful.
- Let them know how it will value them. For example, let them know how mentioning a statistic from your site will improve their content’s credibility.
- Talk about a trending topic within the industry.
As you continue with your outreach process, you can experiment with different kinds of subject lines and find ones that work for you.
Ask engaging questions
Take a look at the following example of an outreach message.
A question demands an answer. Asking an open-ended question like in the example above will implore your recipient to reply. This will increase the probability of you getting mentioned in that domain.
Open with a joke
Find the people you are about to reach on social media to determine if they would be okay with humor. Then, use a simple opener on the subject line and the punch line in the body. Here is an example.
Make sure that you don’t joke about personal topics such as religion and politics.
Don’t use one template
Using the same template will make your message sound robotic. Keep in mind that there are other people on the other side and people like interacting with people. For the best results, it is recommended that you craft all your messages by yourself.
In cases where you are reaching out to multiple individuals, use different formats of messaging and see which one sticks.
Measure and monitor performance through related SEO metrics
What gets measured, gets managed.
There are three metrics that you need to measure regularly to know whether your link-building efforts for your SaaS website are getting the desired results.
1. Domain Authority of your SaaS website
As we explained earlier in this guide, Domain Authority is a metric that tells you how authoritative the information present in your blog is regarded by the search engine. Higher domain authority means the search engine will show your content first for the keywords you target.
2. Organic traffic to your SaaS website
If your link-building campaign is planned and executed properly, you will get more visitors to your website. This happens as the search engines see your website as more authoritative so you start showing up more on the SERPs.
3. Leads captured
Getting mentioned on other sites is only a part of the process. A successful mention gets you qualified traffic that converts. Hence, keep an eye on the number of leads you are generating to know the impact of your link-building campaign on your bottom line.
You can measure it easily by setting up custom goals in Google Analytics or tracking it in your CRM tool.
Identify link targets for niche markets
In Chapter 3 of this guide, we have explained how you should find target websites where getting mentioned is beneficial for your SaaS business. Those target websites should attract visitors that could be your customers.
Here is a quick recap:
- Build a complete user persona. That means knowing the demographic and psychographic details along with the pain points and desired solutions for them. This will give you an idea about where they hang out, their language, etc.
- Search for the pain points. The blogging and publishing sites that come up on the first page of the SERPs are the ones you should go for.
- Conduct a backlink analysis of your competitors to find out which websites/publications they are mentioned in.
- The list of websites that you now have forms your link targets.
Build relationships with editors
Maintaining professional relationships with editors will increase the chances of you getting your link mentioned and your guest post published. On top of that, it makes it easy for you to continue getting more of your links mentioned.
In certain instances, you might also get recommended to other publications by one editor to make your link-building process more successful. Here are some quick tips that will help you maintain relationships with blog editors.
- Be concise, clear, and professional in your communication. If you feel that you can be informal, go for it, otherwise, it is wise to remain professional.
- Always reply to them on time. The editors are bombarded with tons of emails and messages from individuals like yourself. Save their time by being punctual.
- Lead with value and practice reciprocity. The editor already knows what you are looking for. Most people who reach out to them rarely lead with value.
- Keep your word. For example, if you promised them a mention somewhere else, do it. Deliver them the content on time.
Well, that is all you needed to know about link building for your SaaS brand. Here is a concise summary of each chapter.
- Chapter 1: Introduction to link building for SaaS. Its importance and how it increases the visibility of your SaaS brand by boosting your domain authority.
- Chapter 2: Different types of links that you can build the ones that give you the most “link juice”. Here you will also learn about the black-hat tactics that you must avoid.
- Chapter 3: Setting goals for your link-building campaign and creating an action plan. It involves identifying link targets and finalizing metrics to track.
- Chapter 4: Sending outreach messages to target domains to earn backlinks. Here you will learn about crafting messages, building relationships, and managing the process.
- Chapter 5: 17 tried and tested white-hat link building tactics that you can use to earn backlinks on authoritative sites.
- Chapter 6: Measuring the impact of your link-building efforts. The relevant metrics and tools to track them.
- Chapter 7: Best practices and quick tips that will help you avoid mistakes and get the most out of your link-building campaign.
One last thing.
A successful link building campaign has a lot of moving parts. You need to build processes, relationships, contacts, pipelines, etc., and keep iterating to see the desired results.
That could take from a few weeks to a couple of months (at least), even with this guide by your side.
If you are a SaaS brand that is just starting out, that is a lot of time!
For fast growth of your brand’s credibility and online visibility through white-hat link building, a good bet is to partner with an experienced SEO agency that will take care of everything from planning to execution. It will save you a ton of time and money by delivering results much faster.
Either way, good luck!
FAQs: Link Building for SaaS
What is the best link-building strategy for SaaS?
In Chapter 5 of this guide, we mentioned 17 tactics that you can use to build links. Start with the simpler ones such as creating a blog for your target audience, building linkable assets, and guest posts. As you get good results through these basic strategies, start experimenting with other tactics and scale up the ones that are doing good.
Is link building still relevant to SEO?
Yes. Link building is considered the fourth leg of SEO. Getting yourself mentioned in different domains increases your authority. This improves your ranking on the SERPs.
Is link building for SaaS illegal?
No, as long as you build links through white-hat tactics. There are a lot of black-hat methods of link building that will give you huge short-term returns but will get your SaaS website penalized. We have explained black-hat tactics in detail in Chapter 2 of this guide.
What is link building and how does it work?
Link building is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of hyperlinks from other websites that positively contribute to your SaaS website’s domain authority. On a basic level, you “build a link” when a link from a website is mentioned in a different domain.
There are 17 proven tactics for link building for SaaS which have been explained in Chapter 5 of this guide in detail.
How much does link building for SaaS cost?
The cost of a SaaS link-building campaign depends on the following factors –
- How long do you want to keep it running?
- How many tactics do you want to employ?
- How aggressively do you want to go for it?
- What is your current backlink profile?
Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of Growfusely, a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO.