This is the most complete list of link building strategies for SaaS companies only.
As a result, you won’t find any link acquisition techniques that you – a SaaS owner or marketer – would not be able to use due to the nature of your product and the industry.
Instead, you will discover 25+ highly effective ways to build links to your SaaS website, from the homepage, product or feature pages, blog posts to any other piece of content you have.
I’ve organized the list by the order of effectiveness. The first 11 strategies are relatively easy and quick to do. Many of them do not require creating additional assets, like writing a specific piece of content or producing an infographic. Because of that, these strategies are ideal for startups. That said, they also do not always produce the strongest links.
Further down the page, you’ll find techniques that, although take time and effort to implement, produce incredibly powerful links that can propel your site in search.
Finally, I’ve closed this post with some useful advice to help you build links for your SaaS brand (all of which is based on my experiences as an SEO consultant for SaaS.)
So, if you’re wondering how to build links for your SaaS business, this page has all the answers.
#1. Reclaiming Brand Mentions
A useful strategy if your brand gets mentioned online. You may find that, often, those publications do not link to your brand while referencing it.
For example, this article references one of my former clients, AdEspresso. However, the reference is not a link.
To secure that link, therefore, the company would have to email the person behind the article and kindly ask to link to them so that their readers could find their product more easily.
#2. Reclaiming Name Mentions
This link building strategy is a variation of what we’ve discussed above. However, instead of researching and reclaiming brand mentions without a link, you do so to find references of key people in your company.
Perhaps someone mentioned or included the company’s CEO in an article. Your marketing person may have gotten a mention and a quote. Perhaps one of your tweets where you’ve expressed an opinion ended up in someone else’s article… The opportunities for those mentions are many.
Once again, to convert them into a link, you just have to reach out to the person behind the mention and ask them to link to you so that people could find out more about your company.
How to find a brand and name mentions?
There are many brand monitoring tools on the market – Mention, for example – that allow you to monitor the web for references of particular terms. Set up individual projects for your brand as well as key company stakeholders and check any source the tool finds out for a link.
#3. CSS Galleries
This particular technique uses a trait common in the design industry as a foundation. That trend is the need for reference. Designers often scout projects, looking for inspiration and also, to discover new ideas.
(I know, I used to be one of them, actually.)
Because of that, many design reference sites and galleries exist to showcase the best of the best on the Web. And what’s particularly important for you is that submissions often include a dofollow link.
This gallery, for example, includes an image-based link.
This one, on the other hand, uses a button as a link to the site.
In either case, those sites got nice and juicy dofollow backlinks.
So, if your site sports an incredible design, submit it to CSS galleries and design award sites. Not every submission gets accepted, unfortunately. But if you get in, you’ll have a new backlink pointing to the site.
#4. Participation in Expert Roundups
Every now and then, someone might reach out to you asking to participate in an expert roundup. These, usually long-form, pieces of content gather advice or responses on a specific topic from industry experts.
Unless you’re ridiculously busy and can’t dedicate 15 minutes or so to write your submission, always agree to participate. Why, because in almost every instance, participants get a mention and a link back to the site.
Quick tip: Don’t be discouraged if the site inviting you to participate seems new and their domain authority is still low. One reason these people conduct the roundup is to boost their authority. Over time, the site might become a well-known and respected resource, and so will the backlink that point back to you.
(The actual roundup invitation email I received.)
#5. Content Syndication
This is a simple link building strategy that works in tandem with your content promotion efforts. Every time you publish a new blog post, for example, syndicate it to various industry-related news sites or portals.
In marketing, as I’m sure you know, we have Growth Hackers. If you’re a bootstrapped SaaS, you may frequent Barnacl.es too.
There might be similar sites in your target industry, and so, every time you hit publish, grab your new page’s URL and submit it there.
#6. Submission to Software Directories
Software Directories work much like design galleries. However, instead of highlighting your great design, they feature your product.
The more established directories have amassed a considerable Domain Authority and allow you to add a dofollow link (note: some require a premium placement for that. Otherwise, you get a nofollow link, which is still something.)
#7. Submission to Business Listings
Similarly, you can also add your company to local and international business directories.
Now, I admit that, in most cases, these help with generating local SEO links. However, if your company has a registered office, then, I don’t see anything stopping you from placing a business listing there.
Note, in some cases, these directories allow only nofollow links or a paid placement to get a dofollow link.
#8. Resource Pages
Resource pages, as the name suggests, collect various resources relating to a specific topic in one place.
Some resource pages focus on specific tools and software, like this amazing list of rank tracking tools by Dan Shure…
Others include only articles and other educational content, much like this list of sales resources below, featuring podcasts, articles, and online communities.
What the above means is that you have two opportunities to build links with this strategy:
- You can find tools listings and reach out to the people behind them, asking for the inclusion, or
- You can do the same with your content, suggesting it as a resource for the education-focused pages.
How to find relevant resource pages?
I use a simple search query – “topic” inurl:resources (alternatively, you could also try inurl:links). For example:
Another method: A list of 10 most-productive links page prospecting queries.
#9. Product Reviews
If there are bloggers reviewing products in your category, and in many cases, there are, reach out and suggest that they look at your product too.
To make it even more enticing for the person to review your product, offer a discount for their audience. Most bloggers want to provide value for their readers, and many will be happy to take you up on your offer.
And they will link out to your product from the review, of course.
#10. Blog Directories
If you have a blog, then, you can submit it to various blog directories and get a link back.
Blogarama, for example, has a Software category, its links are dofollow.
You can build links from Quora in a number of ways.
First, include links to your product and the blog in your bio. Note, these links have the nofollow attribute.
Second, include links to your content in replies. The easiest way to do it is by answering questions relating to your content, and then, referencing your page as the top resource when a person could learn more. These links are also nofollow.
#12. The Skyscraper Technique
I won’t even try to sugarcoat this: The Skyscraper technique (originally coined by Brian Dean) can do wonders for SaaS brands, but it requires an incredible amount of work.
The technique’s premise is simple: Outdo a specific and highly linked to resource, and then, suggest it to the people who linked to it originally.
Implementing the Skyscraper technique includes three key stages:
- You find a heavily linked to content that’s relevant to your target audience,
- Create a 10X better resource
- Notify everyone who linked to or shared the original content about your asset, asking them to swap the link.
In his guide to the technique, Brian shares amazing results he’s gotten with it. Keep in mind, though, that he wrote the post six years ago. The quality of the content has gone up considerably since then and so, beating many of the top linked pieces might require an enormous effort.
It’s well worth it, though.
#13. Top Lists/Statistics Pages
For the most part, those “top [something] in [industry]” or “[number] [industry] stats for [year]” pages seem to have no purpose. Well, particularly in the context of link building, right?
A significant group of people scout for them, use their content and link to them heavily. That group is content creators.
Most people creating content today focus on making their work as data-driven as possible. That means that writers regularly scout the web for the most relevant statistics or listicles to draw inspiration from, quickly. Most of them, then, reference the source with a juicy, in-text backlink.
(And if they don’t, you still have the opportunity to gain that link by reclaiming the reference, see strategies no. 1 & 2 above.)
So, create roundups of statistics or top lists. Then, optimize them for phrases such as “[topic] stats for [year],” for example: “25+ SaaS Marketing Stats for 2019”
If you can, build some links to this content to ensure that it ranks well, and content creators can find it.
Example: This simple SEO stats page has amassed 311 backlinks from 151 referring domains.
#14. Podcast Guesting
The premise of the strategy is that you appear on someone else’s podcast show to share your insights and advice. Typically, when the podcast episode goes live, the person behind it also publishes show notes and includes a link back to your site.
#15. Get Interviewed
Similarly, you can get interviewed for blogs and the outcome from the link building perspective will be the same – A backlink from the interview page.
How do you find interview opportunities?
Look for industry blogs or publications that publish interviews, even occasionally, and reach out with a topic suggestion.
#16. Interview Others
This is a link building technique I’ve used on many occasions successfully. You see, most people are curious about what others, particularly those they hold in high regard, know. That’s why interviews do so well on the web, in general.
But also, if you interview your subjects on a unique topic, others will refer and link to those insights.
For example, in 2014, not that long after the Penguin update, I conducted a series interviews with link builders for a client (now-defunct product.) Our topic wasn’t link building per se, however. Instead, we asked our participants about how much the Penguin update has changed their jobs. We inquired about the trust in link building agencies after the update, among other things.
Since the topic was intriguing and original, we got scores of links and shares to those interviews.
#17. Strategic Guest Posting
I’m sure you’ve heard enough about guest posting for links for a lifetime. I won’t bore you with the basics, then.
Keep in mind, though, that strategic guest posting – placing guest articles on highly respected and authoritative websites your audience uses – is by far one of the most rewarding link building strategies.
The downside, strategic guest posting requires a lot of effort to deliver results. You need to find sites that you’d like to guest post on, create engaging outreach emails, and negotiate the placement.
But if you have the resources to do it, I’d highly recommend the strategy.
#18. Surveys, Reports, and Proprietary Research Findings
This is the “top lists and statistics” strategy on steroids. Why, because instead of including someone else’s data, you create a unique dataset only your company has. As a result, everyone who references your findings will have to, legally, link to the source – Your site.
This study of top Google ranking factors by SEMrush, for example, has netted the company 6700 links from 853 referring domains.
Granted, it must have taken the company a long time to research what factors search engines consider when ranking the right content. But it gained them a significant amount of links (not to mention, industry visibility.)
The crucial element of this strategy is the outreach and promotion of your findings. You’ll have to put some effort at least to let the right people know about it. It is an effort that pays off.
#19. Write Testimonials or Case Studies
Go through all the products you use to run the business. Do any of them feature testimonials section on the website? If so, offer to write a testimonial and ask if the company would be willing to link to your domain from it.
Not that many do, unfortunately, but you may strike gold with this strategy.
Another variation of this strategy is offering your experience with the product as a case study. In this case, you almost always get a link (and since you share usage data and so on, you have the power to request it.)
#20. The “Complete” Guides
Another entirely content-based strategy that I love and use often. It relies on you creating a “complete” guide to something relevant to your product. Because your content offers an ultimate take on the problem, many people will be compelled to link to it (as it is the most authoritative resource on the topic.)
Last year, I wrote the Guide to SEO for HubSpot. To date, the page amassed 2800 links from 310 domains.
(Full disclaimer: This wasn’t a link building project. We created this page with other objectives in mind; however, the resulting links are a nice cherry on top.)
#21. Create an Industry Glossary
Another much linked-to resource is a complete glossary of industry terms. Once again, many content creators would choose those to reference additional resources that explain terms they include in the copy.
In this case, the success of your glossary relies on your keyword research and how well you optimize it for relevant phrases.
An infographic is a visual representation of data or information that gives an easy-to-understand overview of the topic. Sure, these assets can take a considerable amount to create. And yes, it’s harder to convince people to reshare your infographic on their sites (with a link back to the source.) But this strategy still works, particularly in less marketing-savvy industries.
In general, this strategy involves two steps:
- Creating infographic on the topic your audience cares about,
- Outreaching to sites that focus on such topics, typically, asking whether they’d be interested in reposting the asset (with a link back to the source, of course.)
#23. Competitive Research
This is not a link building technique per se. Yet this activity could help yield some considerable amount of quality links.
How does it work? Simple, analyze your competitors’ backlink profiles to see which links you could recreate easily. I typically look for guest posts they’ve placed (and try to get placements there too,) podcasts they’ve guested on (for the same reason,) and profile links I could recreate for my clients.
#24. Free Tools
I have to say, it would be silly for a software company not to avail of this strategy. You have all the resources to do it in-house, after all. So, create small and free utilities that can help your audience to achieve something. Then, promote it heavily and … watch the links roll by.
#25. Industry Column
This technique helps both with generating backlinks and improving your industry visibility. If possible (and most of the time, it is possible,) secure a column to write in a heavily-popular industry online magazine or portal. You don’t have to commit to a rigid publication schedule. Many publications offer the option to write monthly or even quarterly. Yet, every time you do, your name will appear in front of the target audience, and you will be able to include links to your content in articles.
BONUS: Useful Advice to Help You Build Links for Your SaaS
Below I’ve shared some information to help you understand link building better, know what certain, most-common terminology means, and how to improve the process of acquiring links for your SaaS.
What is Link Building, Actually?
Many misconceptions about the practice exist so, I believe it’s best that we start here.
First things first, you need links to rank, full stop. Three years ago, Google has spilled the beans, finally, revealing that the three most important ranking signals are content, links & the RankBrain.
(The search engine looks at countless other factors as well, of course. However, the above three are the foundation for your rankings, simply.)
So, if your site doesn’t have a strong backlink profile, it will struggle to rank well in the search results.
Why, because for Google, links count as votes of confidence others give your content. Let’s use a common social interaction as an example to explain this. Imagine you are told that a new manager will join your office soon. No one knows her. Nobody has heard anything about her. Naturally, then, everyone treads carefully. Will this be a good and thoughtful boss or a toxic person causing everyone to start hating their lives a couple of days from now? Will she help the team efforts or stall projects on end? No one knows.
Suddenly, somebody in the office mentions that they’ve worked with her. She’s a great colleague, full of empathy, and a fun person to be around too. Someone else remembers hearing similar things about her.
As if by magic, the mood in the office changes, right? Those two votes of confidence are enough to put everyone’s anxiety at ease.
For Google, links work in a similar way. They convince the search engine that a particular domain or a piece of content is worth ranking.
Naturally, links and many other factors also ensure where that piece of content would end up in rankings. But without links, it wouldn’t, most likely, be considered for inclusion.
Link building is the process of getting other websites to link to your content or the site.
As you’ve seen from the first section of this guide, there are many link building strategies that work for SaaS companies. When you build links, you proactively act on them to generate or acquire those votes of confidence.
But why link building for SaaS is different?
For one, the answer is in the nature of SaaS marketing and the business model.
Let’s consider that in comparison to two other business types – Ecommerce and local business.
- Operates globally, typically
- Offers a single product with a limited feature-set
- Often operates on a self-service model, relying on users to identify their problem and stumble on the software out as a potential solution. In short, its users exhibit informational intent throughout much of the buying journey.
- Operates globally but often focuses on a specific market,
- Offers 100’s of products if not more
- Targets for customers with a strong buying intent.
- Operates in a limited area
- Focuses on supplying a specific, in-demand service,
- Targets buying intent, primarily.
Here’s how those characteristics affect link building
Fewer assets. Because of its business and product nature, SaaS sites have few product pages only. Ecommerce businesses, on the other hand, can have thousands of them.
Fewer commercial opportunities. Global reach prevents SaaS companies from using local SEO and local marketing tactics to drive traffic and sales. You are also limited in the partnerships or marketplaces you can use for that effect. Ecommerce stores can do so much more than you, in fact.
Limited intent. Your users exhibit informational intent, mostly. Ecommerce store visitors at least consider buying a product. And no one inquiries with a local law firm without having a problem that needs legal assistance.
None of the above is bad. However, those characteristics affect what type of link building strategies would work for your SaaS, simply.
What’s involved in link building?
This is a question I hear a lot. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this (but I’ll try to shed as much light on this as possible.)
First, there are three categories of links:
Content-based links. These links happen because people reference and link to what you’ve created – your content.
Profile or submission-based links. These are non-content based links that you build by setting up profiles, reclaiming existing mentions, and other strategies (you’ve seen many of those at the start of this guide.)
PR-based links. Finally, this link type relies on the business, product or the founder, for example, to become publicly visible. Giving interviews generate PR-based links, as the interviewer will, most likely, link to you from the published interview. Others might pick up on what you said and reference that in their content, linking to you.
So, in a nutshell, link building involves (but is not limited to) these activities:
- Strategy planning,
- Content creation, particularly linkable assets,
- Outreach or broadcasting those assets to the world to gain links,
- PR and media relations,
- Competitive intelligence to identify new link building opportunities, and more.