Link Building for SaaS Companies remains one of the most important ranking factors for SEO success. High-quality backlinks from reputable websites help search engines determine the authority and relevance of a site. This in turn leads to higher rankings and more organic traffic. For SaaS companies that rely on inbound leads, an effective link-building strategy is even more critical.
Link building has evolved quite a bit over the past decade. Gone are the days when low-quality directories, paid links and link exchanges were acceptable strategies. Google’s algorithms have become sophisticated at detecting and penalizing artificial or manipulative linking practices. The focus today is on earning high-quality editorial links through valuable content assets, digital PR, influencer marketing and other white-hat tactics.
In this comprehensive guide, we will cover link-building fundamentals, metrics, strategies and best practices tailored for SaaS companies. With over a decade of experience in the SEO industry, I will share key insights on maximizing high-authority backlinks to boost your SaaS business.
- Link Building Fundamentals
- Importance of Link Building for SaaS
- SaaS Link Building Challenges
- SAAS Link Building Strategies and Tactics
- Tracking and Measuring Results
- SAAS Link Building Process Step-by-Step
- Enhancing Your Saas Presence
- Related Reads
Link Building Fundamentals
What is Link Building?
Link building refers to the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites which point a search engine back to your own site. These incoming links act as votes of confidence in your content and signal search engines to trust and rank your pages higher.
Types of Links
There are several categories of links to be aware of:
Editorial Links – Naturally placed links within a blog article, news story or other content. These are the most valuable domain authority boosters. These links do not violate Google’s Spam Policies. Instead, they view links as ‘votes’ and these votes help them identify which pages should rank near the top of the search results.
Web 2.0 Links – This refers to websites that emphasize user-generated content, ease of use, and compatibility with other products, systems and devices. Links from sources like Medium, Tumblr, and Reddit. Generally have diminished value nowadays.
Directory Links – Submission links from online directories and aggregators. Low to medium value typically.
Sponsored Links – Paid placement links, usually clearly marked as “Sponsored”. Low long-term value.
Sitewide Links – Links throughout an entire website, often in footers. Low value due to sitewide devaluation.
Organic vs Paid Links
Organic links are earned through outreach, PR, marketing and providing value to publishers. Paid links involve directly compensating a website to place a link. While paid links can drive traffic, they are risky due to Google’s strict policies and penalties. The focus should be on cultivating organic links.
How Search Engines Use Links
Search engines use links to crawl and index new sites. More importantly, links help determine trust and authority. Sites with more quality links tend to rank higher on relevant keyword terms. Links pass equity and anchor text also provides semantic signals.
Vital Link Metrics
When measuring link-building success, some key metrics to track include:
Domain Authority (DA) – SEMrush’s 1-100 score for ranking domain power. Aim for links from high DA sites.
Referring Domains – The number of unique domains linking to your site. Used to gauge link diversity.
Keyword Links – Links that contain your target keyword anchor text. Still beneficial for rankings.
Link Velocity – The rate at which you get new links over time. Steady growth is ideal.
Importance of Link Building for SaaS
|How Link Building Helps
|Highly competitive space. Established vendors have massive brand presence.
|Earn links to increase domain authority and credibility. Outrank competitors for organic visibility.
|Hard for buyers to trust unknown SaaS vendors with data/security.
|Quality links signal trust and legitimacy to prospective customers.
|Difficulty reaching full target market. Many niche products.
|Links bring referral traffic and expand brand visibility to wider audiences.
|Cost Per Lead
|High CPL from paid channels alone. Need to complement with organic acquisition.
|Links generate branded and non-branded organic traffic. Lower CPL.
|Buyers search for solutions online. Ranking high is critical.
|Links boost search rankings for commercial intent keywords. Increases conversions.
|Lower-funnel tactics often attract low intent visitors.
|Links help top-funnel awareness and bring qualified visitors. Improves lead quality.
|Need integrated strategy across channels.
|Links enhance other channel efforts like paid search, social media, email marketing.
1. Driving Conversions
According to a recent BrightEdge study, organic traffic from search engine optimization engines has 2.5x higher conversion rates than other sources. So rankings and traffic from link building have an outsized impact on SaaS conversions and sales.
2. More Impact Than Other Industries
Research from Searchmetrics shows content marketing and link building have 2-3x more SEO impact for SaaS sites compared to ecommerce and informational sites. This highlights the importance of links for SaaS lead gen.
3. Critical for SaaS Companies
Unlike retail sites which can rank well from transaction signals, SaaS companies are dependent on links to determine trust and authority. This is why cultivating a diversified, high-quality backlink profile is critical for SaaS SEO success.
SaaS Link Building Challenges
The SaaS space faces fierce competition and most established vendors already have massive link profiles. Many SaaS companies also focus on niche offerings, which limits broader link-building opportunities. It can be difficult for smaller SaaS sites to build authoritative links at scale.
1. High Competition
The SaaS industry is competitive. Established vendors dominate with brand power, domain authority and massive link profiles. New entrants have a tough task gaining ground.
2. Niche Focus
Many SaaS tools focus on a specific function like email marketing, chatbots, landing pages, etc. This niche focus limits broader media coverage and link-building opportunities.
3. Difficulty Building Links at Scale
For larger companies, building links at scale to move the needle on rankings is challenging. Tactics like outreach and guest posts don’t scale for SaaS companies.
SAAS Link Building Strategies and Tactics
|Create gated assets like ebooks, templates, and guides. Offer in exchange for links.
|– Generate new leads
– Increased brand awareness – Higher conversion rates
|Write and contribute articles to industry publications. Include backlinks.
|– Increased domain authority
– Greater site visibility
– More organic traffic
|Broken Link Building
|Find and replace broken links on high authority sites.
|– Earn high-value backlinks
– Boost site authority
– Improved keyword rankings
|Competitor Link Analysis
|Identify sites linking to competitors. Reach out with unique data.
|-Discover new link opportunities
– Differentiate from competitors
– Steal market share
|Leveraging Own Assets
|Audit internal pages/content. Pitch to publishers.
|– Increased backlinks
– Amplify existing assets
– Lower link building costs
|Connect with relevant bloggers, and analysts. Offer content contributions.
|– Credibility from influencers
– Qualified referral traffic
– Brand awareness in niche
|Recover lost links from past content removals.
|– Regain lost authority
– Maintain link equity
– Stop ranking declines
|Promote company news and milestones. Sources may link back.
|– Links from news sites
– Brand visibility
– Attract media coverage
|Encourage social shares of content. Drives referral traffic.
|– Links and engagement
– Increased reach
– Lower customer acquisition costs
|Once secured, get additional links on the same domains.
|– Compounded value
– Multiple links from top sites – Faster results
1. Content Assets
Creating gated content assets like ebooks, templates, infographics and guides can be very effective for link building. These assets provide value to readers in exchange for their contact information, allowing you to generate new leads. You can proactively reach out to industry websites and influencers and offer to provide your gated asset in exchange for a backlink. The content asset gives them useful resources for their audience, while also benefiting your link building goals.
2. Guest Posting
Guest posting involves actively writing and contributing articles to relevant industry publications and blogs as a contributor. By securing guest author slots on these sites, you can include backlinks pointing back to your own website within the article content. Focus on identifying high domain authority publications related to your niche and transparently pitch the value you can provide their readers through an insightful guest post.
3. Broken Link Building
This technique involves finding broken links on high authority sites pointing to competitor domains, and then offering your own content as a replacement link. Many sites have outdated content and broken links from past articles or resources. By monitoring and identifying these broken links, you can contact the site owner, offer relevant content of yours to replace the broken link, and secure a high value backlink in the process.
Here is an instance of broken backlinks on the Apple webpage as identified through Ahrefs.
4. Competitor Link Analysis
Analyze sites and resources linking to your competitors in your space. Identify sites and influencers talking about the same topics and solutions for your shared audience. Reach out to highlight unique data or perspectives from your content and how you can provide additional value for their readers as well. A competitor link analysis helps discover relevant link building opportunities.
For example- Microsoft identifies sites linking to competitors like Salesforce and reaches out to get links. Using tools like Ahref helps to identify sites that competitors have reached out to get links.
5. Leveraging Own Assets
Audit your existing website content for pages and assets that lend themselves to link building opportunities. Resources like case studies, client lists, online tools, reports, and other software or data assets on your site help demonstrate your expertise and authority. Proactively reach out to industry websites and journalists to highlight these resources as beneficial to their audience and secure backlinks where appropriate.
6. Avoid Buying Links
It’s important to avoid buying links or participating in link networks and schemes focused on exchanging paid links. These artificial link building tactics violate Google’s quality guidelines and can lead to algorithmic penalties. Focus your efforts on earning organic backlinks through outreach, providing value, and high-quality content. While paid links can help short term traffic, organic earned links are ideal for long term SEO success and domain authority.
7. Influencer Outreach
Research relevant influencers, thought leaders, bloggers and analysts in your industry. Identify ones creating high-value content for your target customers. Reach out to introduce yourself and highlight unique data, expertise or content you can provide as value for their audience. Offer to contribute resources, statistics or insights for their upcoming articles or reports in exchange for backlinks and mentions from their site.
8. Link Reclamation
Old links from past content that previously pointed to your domain can go stale over time. Monitor and identify pages that have removed or changed previously existing backlinks pointing to your site. Contact the site’s webmaster to notify them of the outdated or broken link, and request they reinstate it or replace it with an alternative high-value page on your domain. Reclaiming these lost links helps recapture authoritative sources.
9. Press Releases
Creating press releases highlighting company news, product launches, key hires, awards or milestones can provide link building opportunities. Leverage newsworthy items from your company and share via press release wires. This content may get picked up by industry publications, blogs, and news websites which can then link back to your domain as the official source.
10. Social Promotion
Promoting and sharing your content across social media platforms helps increase visibility and reader links. Encourage followers to share blog posts, assets and other content across their own social channels. These social shares and engagement also serve as social signals that can boost your perceived authority.
For example- Salesforce promoting their blog about partnering with McLaren through X to increase reader links.
11. Link Insertion
Once you secure an initial guest post or link, explore opportunities to obtain additional links from the same publishers. Analyze their site for relevant blog categories, resource pages, or related posts where your content and links would also provide value for readers. Use your established relationship to pitch inserting useful links in other areas of their domain.
Tracking and Measuring Results
Properly setup and connect Google Analytics to monitor performance from your link building campaigns. Specifically track:
- Traffic from referring domains – Monitor sessions, users, pages per session, bounce rates
- Rankings in SERPs – Track rankings weekly for your target SaaS keywords
- Custom campaign tagging – Setup UTM link tagging to measure conversions from each link
- Goal conversions – Enable goals for key conversions like contact form submissions, demo signups, free trial starts
- CRM integrations – Connect GA to your SaaS CRM to track closed deals from links
Focus on ROI and Lead Quality
The most important KPIs to track for SaaS link building are tangible business results, not just vanity metrics. Specific metrics to track include:
- Leads generated – Measure contact form fills, calls, demos booked from links
- Trials started – Key conversion indicating high-quality leads
- Revenue influenced – Analyze CRM to see deals closed from link referrals
- Cost per lead – Calculate cost to acquire leads from link building efforts
- Lead to customer % – Conversion rates of leads to paying customers
- Churn rates – Monitor churn of customers from link-generated leads
- Keyword rankings – Track target keyword movements week-over-week
Avoid overoptimizing for referral traffic alone. Analyze the quality of leads and revenue from links to identify and expand partnerships with the sites driving the highest ROI.
Surveys and Campaign Links
- Visitor surveys – Survey link referral traffic to gauge brand awareness and sentiment
- UTM campaign tagging – Track the performance of specific outreach campaigns through tagged links
- Feed campaign data into models – Continuously improve your link ROI predictions with real data
The key is analyzing beyond aggregate link metrics to the qualitive lead and revenue generation impact of specific high-value link placements. This enables you to double down on the highest ROI link building partnerships.
SAAS Link Building Process Step-by-Step
Now that we’ve covered various strategies and tactics, let’s walk through the link-building process from start to finish:
1. Identify Client Ideal Customer Profile
Conduct detailed buyer persona research to understand your ideal customers. Identify their job roles, common pain points, goals and motivations. Also analyze key demographics like industry, company size, and location. Building a clear picture of your ideal client allows you to create tailored assets and target outreach for link building.
2. Analyze Competitor Links
Leverage SEO tools like Ahrefs and BuzzStream to analyze the backlink profiles of your competitor websites. Identify high authority sites linking to competitors in your space. Look for gaps where you can create better content and outreach campaigns to secure links from those relevant sites. Competitor link analysis reveals link building opportunities.
3. Develop Linkworthy Assets
Ideate and create content assets designed to appeal to your ideal customers. Assets like gated ebooks, ROI calculators, market research reports, templates, and guides work well. Make sure they provide real value in exchange for reader contact information. Promote these gated assets in your outreach pitches to secure high-quality links leading to conversions.
4. Identify Revenue Driving Sites
Find the publications, blogs, directories and influencers your target customers read for information. Getting links from websites your potential clients frequent helps drive qualified traffic that converts. Prioritize securing placements on sites that can deliver the most referral traffic and inbound leads.
5. Create Personalized Pitches
Avoid spammy template outreach. Craft customized pitches highlighting why the website’s specific audience would get value from your content and links. Show you understand their niche and tailor messaging accordingly. Personalization results in higher response rates.
6. Prioritize Highest Potential Sites
Audit your outreach list and segment sites based on predicted value and ROI. Identify websites that align most with your ideal customer profile and their buying journey. These high-potential sites that can drive qualified leads and customers should become your priority for securing placements. Getting links on a few authoritative and relevant sites will outweigh many links from tangential sources.
7. Promote New Links
After securing a new link, amplify its impact by promoting it across social media, email newsletters, and your own site’s internal linking. Share links on social to boost engagement. Notify email subscribers of the new placement and highlight it in your content. Interlink your new link within related pages on your domain. This expands visibility and referral traffic.
8. Track Conversions
Measure the ROI of specific link placements through UTM link tagging and campaign tracking. Identify links that drive the most goal completions and conversions. This allows you to double down on outreach to high-converting domains. Optimize link efforts based on hard data around sales and leads generated.
9. Refine and Expand Outreach
Use conversion tracking insights to shift focus to securing additional links and guest posts from your top performing domains. Craft targeted outreach to expand relationships with sites demonstrating significant ROI. The data on ROI enables you to scale your most valuable link prospects.
1. What are some white hat link-building tactics for SaaS sites?
Recommended organic tactics include content marketing, guest posting, influencer outreach, broken link-building techniques, site interlinking, co-marketing partnerships, participating in communities, and leveraging brand assets/PR. Avoid buying links, low-quality directories, link networks, and other manipulative tactics.
2. How can I track the ROI of my link-building efforts?
Use Google Analytics to monitor traffic from referring domains. Pay attention to search rankings for target keywords as well. Implement UTM link tagging to track leads, trials, and sales generated from specific link placements. This helps identify your most revenue-driving links.
3. How often should I be building links for a SaaS business?
The key is consistency. Set a goal for securing 2-4 new high-quality links per month at minimum, then scale efforts over time. Check link velocity reports to ensure you’re maintaining a steady pace of new links. Monitor rankings and tweak strategies as needed.
Enhancing Your Saas Presence
Link building remains an essential pillar of SaaS SEO success. With this guide, you now have a solid grounding on strategies, tactics and best practices to start driving more high-authority backlinks to your SaaS content and site. By developing link-worthy assets, and cultivating partnerships with industry websites, you can gain trust and authority in the eyes of Google to boost your organic rankings and traffic.
Focus on securing placed links from reputable sites through valuable content and outreach. Avoid low-quality links and spam tactics. Apply the steps outlined to expand your link profile. Track rankings, traffic and conversions to gauge ROI.
Done right, a successful link building strategy can become a source of qualified leads and sales for your SaaS business. Pair it with content marketing, technical SEO and other tactics to maximize your ROI. With a sound SEO strategy powered by a diversified and ever-growing link profile, your SaaS company can gain an organic growth edge over the competition.