This guide will walk you through 10 SaaS-specific link building strategies, from content marketing and guest posting to competitor backlink analysis, that you can replicate even if you’re new to search engine optimization.
With a current market worth of $195M (Gartner), SaaS is one of the fastest-growing industries. And the industry is only expected to grow with new SaaS companies.
Where will your startup be in all that competition? Will you even be seen?
How will you cope with big shots of horizontal and vertical SaaS?
This is where SaaS link building comes into play.
In this article, I’ll discuss what SaaS backlink building entails and the link building techniques you can adopt to build it for your startup.
What Is SaaS Link Building?
SaaS (Software as a Service) link building is similar to typical link building. You’re still doing the rudiments of actively seeking upvotes from other websites to boost your authority, rankings, and sales like any backlink process.
The only difference is the center of attention: your software.
In other words, SaaS link building means getting/attracting high-quality backlinks from authoritative and niche-relevant websites to your SaaS products.
Let’s break down the underlined words:
- High-quality backlinks — are the links you get from a non-spammy or black hat link building strategies
- Authoritative and niche-relevant websites — are similar domains in the SaaS niche with high DR/DA scores (at least 60) and “good” web traffic (at least 1K monthly).
- SaaS products — are the software you’re marketing.
MailChimp ticks the authoritative SaaS website box and is a well-visited site in SaaS. Specifically, your product will benefit from a domain with 6.3M monthly web traffic.
Now, you know what “SaaS link building” is. But do you need it?
Why not focus all your attention on creating a “good” product?
Is Link Building for SaaS Really Necessary?
Even if your product is the best for miles, you won’t make sales if no one knows about you. So, you need marketing. And link building and SEO are a big part of digital marketing.
So, yes, link building is crucial to your SaaS marketing success.
Below are the top benefits of building links for SaaS and proof that they work.
3 Benefits of Link Building for SaaS Companies
Links Are Ranking Factors
While there is recent hype around content freshness and E-E-A-T being crucial to search engine ranking and optimization, backlinks are just as important — and have always been.
In fact, backlinks are confirmed ranking factors.
According to Andretti Lipattsev [Partner Development Manager, Google], in a Google “Q & A” hangout session, “backlinks and content are the top 2 ranking factors.”
FYI: the video was recorded in 2016. In other words, backlinks have been crucial to website’s search engine rankings.
Organic Traffic From Search Engines
Backlinks are a means to an end: ranking high on search engine result pages.
Why should you care when you can run ads and get the top spots?
For a startup probably still looking for seed funds, spending your limited budget on PPC (Paid Per Click) marketing is not advisable — when you can conserve the funds.
Instead of PPC, try organic marketing (content marketing) and a link building campaign.
With organic marketing, you’ll fetch sustainable and affordable traffic from search engines. This will skyrocket your visibility and awareness of your SaaS products.
Referral Traffic and Sales
The benefit of having a link building strategy extends beyond organic traffic, which is directly from search engines. Backlinks also fetch another type of traffic: referral traffic.
Referral traffic is what you get from the sites linking to yours. And since the said sites are authoritative, the traffic will bring in hot, ready-to-buy leads.
The more organic traffic (direct or referral) you get, the more your brand builds authority. With time, your SaaS product will be the go-to in your niche.
Ultimately, all your link building efforts will lead to improved sales.
Knowing about benefits is one thing. Seeing proof is another. The latter will better convince you about the importance of link building for SaaS.
In that case, check this out:
Does SaaS Link Building Work?
Short answer: yes.
The SaaS brands below are proof.
FUB is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) SaaS tool for real estate businesses. It helps real estate folk organize & engage leads while delegating tasks to team members.
Since its launch, FUB has been a huge success. So much so it has a 97% customer satisfaction score.
📌 Success with SaaS link building strategies:
FUB has 22K backlinks from 1.8K referring domains — over 70% of both are dofollow, less than 30% nofollow links. Interestingly, these links are built off well-planned content marketing strategies.
FUB ranks in the top 3 results for 451 keywords. That is why it has over 72.6K traffic valued at $63K.
Here are some of the keywords:
Vero is similar to Zapier — where there are action maps and triggers. In that mold, it is a SaaS tool for marketing automation. But I’ll say it’s more tuned towards email marketing.
Here is the best part: you can integrate Vero with Zapier and other marketing tools.
📌 Success with link Saas link building strategies:
Vero has 28K backlinks from 3.6K referring domains — over 79% of both are dofollow, less than 20% nofollow links. A lot of the backlinks are drawn in by Vero’s resourceful blog posts.
Interestingly, there are big shots and high-authority websites (90+) in the referring domains. Examples are Hubspot, Search Engine Journal, and Neil Patel.
Vero ranks in the top 3 results for 219 keywords. Unlike FUB, the keywords have higher KD (Keyword Difficulty) scores.
And Vero nailed it all — even getting up to 3 SERP features for each.
If you’re in the SaaS niche, HubSpot won’t sound strange. You’re likely using the CRM tool for your sales, marketing, and content management.
So, in short, HubSpot is a leader among SaaS companies in every right — especially for inbound marketing.
📌 Success with link building:
HubSpot has 42M backlinks from 393K referring domains — both are 91% dofollow links. Such figures are rarely matched in the SaaS niche.
So, it’s no surprise that Hubspot has over 10M visits per month. If Hubspot had gone the paid ad route, the traffic would have cost over $18M. Instead, they stuck to organic marketing and link building.
Today, they are ranking in the top 3 results for 159K keywords — with some having 99 KD scores.
You’ve seen the success stories of SaaS companies using effective link building strategies. Now, let me show you how to follow suit — the tactics, outreach methods, and metrics.
How Does Link Building Work?
Link building works in 3 steps:
- Decide on the tactics/strategies to use
- Create a link building outreach campaign
- Measure your link building efforts
10 Link Building Tactics Exclusive for SaaS Brands
Start a Blog
You can only write so much info on your homepage and service pages. Your users still need more guidance on using your products, new updates, pricing breakdown, and comparison pieces.
Hence, the reason for blogging.
Besides, other SaaS brands own blogs. And they (blogs) form the cornerstone of the brands’ marketing and link building strategies. So, you have nothing to lose following suit.
📌 How should you go about blogging?
Get inspiration for creating high-quality content from industry leaders like Ahrefs, Hubspot, and Semrush.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
- First, write around all the questions about your SaaS products — how do they work? How can a beginner find his way around your software?
- Secondly, talk about trends in your industry — and how your products can help users navigate such trends.
- Unearth easy-to-rank keywords in your niche — write around those. Use Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.
Here is a simple guide to finding easy-to-rank keywords
- Go to Ahrefs Keyword Explorer > Insert a broad term — I used email marketing as an example
- The results will likely show difficult-to-rank keywords. You’d hardly nail those as a startup. So, choose “search suggestions” instead.
- Then, apply the KD filter. Set it to “0-30.”
Also read: How to Write SEO-Friendly Blog Posts
📌 How will you get links with blogging?
The idea is to create the best piece for your keywords, and then other sites will link to it. To fast-track the rate of backlink acquisition, support blogging with targeted outreach campaigns.
Create a Free Tool
Like starting a blog, free tools are one of the “common” link building methods for getting editorial backlinks — high-quality links that you get without outreach.
Is this the same as creating a demo for your SaaS tools?
Demos are great onboarding tools. But they are limited when it comes to acquiring links.
Free tools, on the other hand, are miniature of what you sell. And they are often hosted in a subdirectory. In other words, they have their own pages and can receive backlinks.
If you’re wondering if free tools work, check this out:
Above is the domain-authority profile of Ahrefs’ free backlink checker. The tool gives only a glimpse of what Ahrefs can do with backlink analysis. Yet, it has over 99K backlinks from 4.9K referring domains — 70% of the links are dofollow.
So, don’t doubt this strategy. Instead, think of what free tools to create for your target audience. Fortunately, you don’t have to think far; you can upgrade your demo.
📌 Are there other ways to create “free tools”?
- Check trending topics in your niche — then create a tool that solves the problem.
Go to Google Trends > input your term > scroll down to related queries and topics.
- Survey for what users need in niche groups on FB and LinkedIn.
Explore Product Embeds
Free tools will undoubtedly fetch your SaaS business several high-quality inbound links. But don’t stop there.
What about your paid tools?
Do you know you can enable embedding for your tools to get backlinks?
Take HubSpot Online Form Builder as an example. It is a free “lead generation” tool that can be embedded into external or standalone web pages.
Below the form, HubSpot includes a link. And the anchor text is subtle — “create your own free form with HubSpot.”
You can adopt this SaaS link building tactic to all your tools — paid or free. But remember that this link building tactic only works if you have an embed-enabled tool. Otherwise, engage your developers to create one.
📌 Is this strategy safe?
You most likely have concerns that embedding backlinks in your tools is similar to hacking a site to insert links. But don’t fret. The two are not the same.
In the former, the link is like a signature that the tool is yours.
The latter, hacking websites, is illegal. It is a clear violation of search engines’ rules. In fact, it is one of the black hat strategies that will affect your site’s ranking or get you suspended/ removed from search results altogether.
Ask For Image Credits
Asking for image credit is similar to targeting unlinked mentions. The only difference is that you’re looking for where screenshots of your tools are used without a backlink to you.
📌 How can you find uncredited product images?
- Go to Google Image Search
- Upload suspected images to the search
- Check through the top ranking websites
Next, send a pitch to the sites that didn’t credit you under a shot of your product. Model this template:
Hi [first name],
I found your article [title of the article] through a random Google search. I saw that you used [name of the tool] to cite an example. Thank you.
I’m glad the tool could help. Do you have any challenges using it?
Also, could you kindly add a credit and link to the tool page here [link to the product]?
— [your name]
Explore User Badges for Links
Awarding badges to top users or subscribers of your product might seem like a weird, vanity SaaS link building strategy. But it is not.
This strategy gets you editorial backlinks. The users who display the badge on their website, on the other hand, leverage it for authority and sales.
So, it is a win-win.
📌 Are user badges a thing for getting SaaS backlinks?
A typical example is G2.
G2 is an authoritative and popular review platform trusted in SaaS industry — thanks to its vast data from user community, social media, and online sources. The folks at G2 then condense the data into a grading system and show that to readers via their market report.
If your product gets a feature in the report, you’ll get a G2 badge.
📌 But how does that translate to a backlink for G2?
- The award is created and hosted on G2.
- You need an embed code to display the badge on your website.
- G2 adds a backlink in the embed badge.
You can adopt such a genius idea to get more links to from related SaaS businesses. However, you must build a capacity to handle vast data about the SaaS products in your niche.
Guest Post on Integration Partners’ Blogs
Similar to badges, SaaS brands often have integration partners. This is visible with top brands like HubSpot, Zapier, MailChimp, and related software.
The connection between these brands does not stop at integration. It also involves link exchange (reciprocal links). But that can be shady if not done correctly or there is excessive link exchange.
So, instead of link exchanges, build links via your integration partners’ blogs.
Since you already have a relationship with the brands, getting a blog post on partners’ resource pages will be straightforward — even if they don’t accept blog submissions.
- Pitch irresistible blog articles around target keywords
- In this case, the irresistible topic will be informational articles on integrating the partner into your tool.
- Make the article all about the partner.
Eventually, when the post goes live on your partner’s blog, you’ll get a high-quality backlink and rank for your target keyword.
Feature in Product Roundups and Reviews
Product roundups and reviews are to SaaS what directories are to local businesses. They help you get listed along with many SaaS companies and products.
Unlike directories, roundups and reviews are more like blog posts than listings. In other words, the backlinks are top quality.
Even at that, you can’t get on any roundups. Be selective; pick only high-authority sites.
📌 How can you find the right product roundups and review posts?
- The long game — build relationships with SaaS influencers. Send a demo of your products to them. Then, you’ll get more backlinks.
- The shortcut but equally high-quality — use Google search operators.
Let’s discuss how to use the “shortcut” method better.
- Type <“SaaS” + intitle:roundup> into Google search bar
- Pick the result with the most traffic — install the Keyword Surfer extension to know that right from Google search results
- Send a pitch to get listed and build backlinks. In some cases, you might only need to fill out a form like this:
Feature in Thought Leadership Articles
Thought leadership articles are posted on superniched, high-authority websites and blogs. Getting a feature on them will not only jolt your backlink profile but also improve your brand awareness.
Interestingly, you don’t even need to promote these kinds of articles. They earn promotions from journalists and reporters.
In other words, a single feature on a thought leadership article will lead to a chain of high-quality link juice.
📌 How can you get featured in thought leadership articles?
- Use HARO — check queries submitted by reporters/journalists and send your expert opinions.
- Monitor journalist requests on LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Join niche Slack communities like PLG (Product Led Growth) — check the discussion and questions forum.
- You can also pitch your favorite authoritative websites about contributing to their pieces.
Explore Podcasts and CEO Interviews
Podcasts and interviews are not as explored for link building as the methods discussed. But they can be excellent tactics.
📌 But how will you get backlinks from audio content?
- Most podcasts have transcripts that are published as blog posts.
- Journalists listening to the podcast can quote your opinion in their articles.
- Your links will likely appear in the event organizers’ newsletter.
- Beyond backlinks, podcasts often have a rich, ready-to-buy fanbase. They will convert faster than visitors from search traffic.
Either way, you can’t lose making guest appearances on podcasts and similar events — like webinars or product launches.
We are left with another question: where will you find SaaS podcasts?
- Type <“SaaS” + inurl:podcast> into the Google search bar.
- Again, pick the Google search results with the highest traffic.
- Send a pitch to join the podcast as a guest speaker — highlight your expertise with testimonials.
Competitor Backlink Analysis
Competitor backlink analysis means getting inbound links from the pages linking to your competitors’ websites but not to yours.
The idea is that if the pages link out to your competitors, they will likely link you if you have better content.
📌 So, how does this link building work?
I explained all the steps and processes in this guide: How to Find Backlinks of Competitors.
I’ve been talking about sending pitches. Let me show you how to craft the perfect one that will likely lead to backlinks.
Crafting the Perfect Outreach Message
When crafting a pitch, follow this pattern:
- Build rapport first — show that you know the website you’re pitching. Talk about the post that draws you in. Offer short and honest compliments.
- State the problem — discuss what was wrong. Is it technical SEO, broken links, or lack of depth? State the issue. More importantly, discuss the impact of these issues and why they should be fixed ASAP.
- Offer the solution — Show authority and why and how you/your content can help.
Additionally, don’t send lazy pitches. Research heavily and address the recipient by their first name. Use Hunter.io or GetProspect.
Otherwise, you’ll start the pitch on the wrong foot.
Lastly, send your pitch from a company email. Wait 3-5 days before sending follow-up messages.
Check my ultimate guide on outreach link building for more tips.
How to Measure Your Link Building Efforts
To know if your link building campaigns are a success, look you for these metrics:
- Number of backlinks — check with Ahrefs Site Explorer
- Website traffic and dwelling time — use Google Analytics
- Domain authority and page rating — check with Ahrefs Site Explorer
- Rankings — Use Ahrefs Rank Tracker
In a tightly-contested SaaS industry, link building can be the difference between your website’s visibility, sales, and bankruptcy. Brands like HubSpot use link building tactics to scale. You should also follow suit as a startup to scale your SEO efforts.
Pick any of the ten strategies in this article, send your pitch, and monitor the progress.
Whenever you’re in doubt, know that you can always get help from a SaaS link building agency like SERPReach. We offer top quality link building services.
Further reading: Pitfalls to Avoid When Building Links for SaaS