Link Building for SaaS: 10 Overlooked Strategies (+ 13 Do’s and Don’t’s)

natalia-toth-picture

Natalia Toth

JULY 2, 2024

Getting noticed as a SaaS business is harder than ever.

The industry is booming. BetterCloud found that by 2025, 85% of all business apps will be SaaS-based.

That's fantastic news for growth - but it also means competition is fiercer than ever.

SaaS companies spend large sums on marketing and sales, often reinvesting half of their revenue just to stay in the game. Quality backlinks help boost visibility in search results, but they come with a hefty price tag. Just think of it: every fourth in-house marketer spends between $10,000 and $25,000 on link-building per month, according to Aira.

But you don’t have to be one of them!

There is a world of frequently overlooked strategies that can raise your site authority without breaking the bank.

In this guide, we're talking about ten untapped SaaS link-building tactics, backed by real-world examples from savvy SaaS businesses.

Plus, you’ll find 13 must-know link-building do’s and don’t’s, explained by SEO experts.

1. Link-building through partner marketing

Partners are businesses that cater to a similar target audience, but instead of competing, they complement your product offering with either technology, services, or distribution channels.

Partnering with other companies is not merely useful for your link-building efforts but can be the driving force in your overall Go-to-Market strategy. The common types of partnerships in SaaS are technology alliances, channel partners (distributors, resellers, and solution integrators), and membership in an industry association or a niche NGO.

In terms of marketing, partnerships help your SaaS business with:

  • Boosting brand awareness by tapping into your partners’ established customer base
  • Enhancing credibility: partnering with reputable companies in your industry strengthens your brand image and increases customer trust
  • Generating leads and increasing sales: partnerships open up additional sales channels and referral opportunities

There are many ways to secure backlinks from your partner organizations. Here are some of them:

  • Get mentioned in their partner directory

MACH Alliance provides backlinks to each of their 100+ ecosystem members - composable commerce vendors and solution integrators - in their partner directory.

mach-alliance-partner-directory
MACH Alliance Partner Directory

Equipped with a link from a trusted organization with a Domain Rating of 66 and with qualified, high-intent traffic, MACH Alliance members get more visibility with potential customers.

  • Host a joined webinar or a fireside chat

Aside from backlinks and lead generation, speaking at a webinar provides you with enough content to repurpose on your blog and social media for months to come.

  • Engage as a speaker at an industry event

This will give you not more than a temporary backlink in the Speaker section on the event’s homepage. Industry events are usually covered by industry journals, so you might also get in the limelight of the media - and Google’s Lead Documentation just confirmed how powerful backlinks from news sites are.

  • Contribute to your partner’s content creation process

Submit a quote, infographics, or a thought leadership piece for a partner’s blog post. Work together on an industry report, a case study with your mutual customer, or a product comparison article. This is an amazing opportunity to leverage your partner’s site traffic to stand out as a powerful addition to their tech stack.

For example, this article on Contentful’s blog, submitted by a Solutions Architect at their partner agency, Wunderman Thompson, explains how brands can adopt a composable approach.

contentful-article-by-agency-partner
A guest post on your partner's blog is great for link acquisition and brand awareness

2. Showing up on product launch & listing sites

If you have a tight budget but a bit of time, submitting your SaaS product to a product listing website has big potential. These platforms put you in front of your target audience, often for free.

The most popular platform that startups leverage to boost brand awareness and attract leads is probably Product Hunt. Product Hunt boasts a monthly audience of 3.7M visitors and a Domain Authority of 91, making it a perfect place to place a backlink to your product and drive qualified leads and collaborations.

This is what a product page on Product Hunt looks like:

tally-page-on-product-hunt
By launching on Product Hunt, SaaS products attract users and a strong backlinks

Here are seven more platforms where you can make your product visible::

  • AppSumo
  • AlternativeTo
  • Betalist
  • SaaSHub
  • StartupStash
  • StartupBase
  • LaunchingNext

Even more importantly, these platforms boast strong, active communities. By staying active, supporting other products, and contributing thoughtful comments to discussions, you can quickly expand your professional network and foster marketing and product collaborations.

Imagine you are writing an article for your blog and looking for real-world input to make it stronger. You can start a discussion on Product Hunt, reach out to members with the most appealing contributions on LinkedIn, and ask if you could incorporate their quotes into your blog post.

It’s a double win: you make your content piece stronger by citing real people’s experiences and get an opportunity for additional post promotion by the quote contributor.

3. Create a custom tool

If your development resources allow, investing in a unique tool that can be widely used in your niche is a great way to secure links organically.

“Finding creative ways to develop natural backlinks is essential for any SEO strategy. I have found that investing in free-to-use tools your audience finds real value in, like calculators that solve complex problems, is a great way to develop your brand and earn links.”

Dustin Slightham

Sr. Director at PrimePay.com

This is exactly what PrimePay did: they developed a Bonus Tax Calculator which determines the amount of withholding on bonuses and other special wage payouts.

Primepay's Bonus Tax Calculator Page
Primepay's Bonus Tax Calculator is a link magnet

Within one year, the tool secured 100 backlinks from twelve referring domains in the Fintech industry, and an explosion in organic traffic followed. Today, it’s PrimePay’s best-performing page in terms of organic traffic.

ahrefs-graph-showing-primepay-traffic-and-referring-domains
Primepay's Bonux Tax Calculator traffic performance

Another great example is the Sales Commission Calculator by Reply. It allows you to calculate salespeople’s commissions for different scenarios.

reply-online-sales-calculator
Develop a tool that other sites will find useful and refer to

Within a year, the calculator attracted 71 backlinks from 50 referring domains.

ahrefs-graph-showing-reply-traffic-and-referring-domains
Reply invested in a real backlinks magnet

4. Passive PR for Management & Team Members

Digital PR, or public relations, can be a powerful tool for link-building.

I’m seeing an increasing number of SaaS companies (finally) turning to digital PR as a way to earn authoritative editorial links, in particular, using data studies to create interesting and relevant stories that journalists want to write about, and link to.
Especially as a SaaS startup, there’s a temptation to want everything to be about the platform, but brands are starting to realise that there’s only a handful of journalists who want to write about new products and their people. There are only a few TechCrunch’s out there.
Stepping away from ‘brand PR’ for a moment lets you see the bigger picture, realising that journalists want engaging stories, not product pitches. And this can be leveraged to earn links and increase awareness.
Create a data study that’s related to the audience, pitch it to relevant journalists and earn links that money could never buy!

James Brockbank

Managing Director & Founder of Digitaloft

While reaching out to news publications for links is an option, one of the most effective PR strategies is through HARO (Help a Reporter Out), now featured by Connectively, and similar platforms.

These tools connect journalists with sources for their stories, and if you provide valuable insights or expertise, you can often secure high-quality links that might not be possible through link exchanges.

On Connectively, you sign up as a subject matter expert (SME) and submit the topics you’re an expert on. Then, you browse journalist queries on various blogs. Technology is one of the most popular topics on Connectively, with roughly 70 opportunities to provide quotes (and earn a backlink) each week. You can bookmark opportunities to send a pitch later.

connectively-dashboard-with-opportunities
On Connectively, you can find opportunities for brand exposure on the media

The free Connectively plan allows you to send up to 10 journalist pitches per month. If you want to send more pitches, Connectively offers monthly paid plans at $19, $49, and $149.

To maximize your chances of success, here are a few decent alternatives to Connectively that you can try for free:

  • Featured
  • Sourcebottle
  • Qwoted
  • PitchRate
  • Terkel
  • SourceBottle

5. Get featured on podcasts

Joining the podcast can raise your brand awareness tremendously, build up trust, and create a personal connection with your audience. Plus, you might get a few powerful backlinks, too.

However, this requires some user research on your side.

Before you invest in speaking on a podcast, talk to your target audience about whether there are any podcasts they listen to regularly and if yes, what are those.

Pitch your participation to relevant podcasts, coming up with a topic that brings together their content strategy and your marketing goals.

For example, the Better Done Than Perfect podcast by Userlist invites guest speakers from the SaaS world to share insights on all things related to SaaS businesses.

userlist-podcast-episode-screenshot-with-links
Joining a podcast episode is great for brand awareness and trust building

Here are a few more podcasts that feature SaaS founders:

  • How I Built This Podcast with Guy Raz
  • Founder Chats by baremetrics
  • Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman
  • SaaSclub.io
  • SaaS Marketing Superstars with Aaron Zakowski
  • SaaStr podcasts
  • Latka podcast
  • The SaaS Revolution Show
  • Product Stories Podcast by trustshoring

6. Try image-based link-building

Infographics are engagement magnets! According to Truelist, people are three times more likely to share and like infographics compared with other types of content.

Develop high-quality infographics, charts, and other visuals related to your industry. Share them on social media and encourage others to embed them with proper attribution.

That’s exactly how Act! got a backlink to their ‘Best CRM for small business’ blog post from engagebay’s article.

Infographics on CRM system importance by Act
Infographics by Act gets featured in external articles

7. Search for unlinked brand mentions

Unlinked brand mentions mean that your product was mentioned on an external page but without linking to your site. Reaching out to the site’s content team and asking to put a link is a low-hanging fruit.

To get notified when your brand name appears on the internet, you can set up a Google Search alert. Alternatively, you can use a tool like Mention, Brand24, or BrandMentions.


8. FAQ pages

A comprehensive FAQ section that addresses common pain points and questions from your target audience can enhance your ranking for relevant keywords.

Other websites in your niche might find your FAQ valuable and link to it naturally as a resource for their readers. Finally, FAQ pages are excellent for internal link building. By linking to your FAQ section from other pages, you distribute link equity and enhance overall site authority.

But how do you know what your target audience is looking for online?

One great way to find out is by using Ubersuggest, the free keyword research tool by NP Digital.

Let’s say your product automates customer service tasks. First, add a keyword and set the language and the country where your target customers are.

Then, hit ‘Search’ and navigate to Keyword Research -> Keyword Visualization.

ubersuggest-trial
Ubersuggest helps discover what your audience searched for every day

Here, you’ll see the most common search queries related to your target keyword. You can expand each keyword and see the search volume and SEO difficulty. Pick the questions that are most relevant to your product and answer them in the FAQ section.

9. Resource Pages

Resource pages, or "recommended tools" pages, are a curated collection of valuable information a brand wants to share with its audience. They are like a well-organized toolkit or a go-to guide filled with helpful resources, tools, apps, products, services, and interesting articles or websites.

"Resource pages have been exceptionally powerful in my experience, offering high-value backlinks from authoritative sites. Clients have seen significant traffic boosts as these pages naturally attract educational and reference links, which in turn enhances the overall SEO performance."

Rishabh Jain

SEO Specialist

Resource pages are a magnet for backlinks - if you create them strategically.

‘If I write a guest blog post for a partner company, I'll also create a shorter resource page on a related topic on our own site. This gives us two chances to attract backlinks – the guest post itself plus our own dedicated resource.
Sometimes, other websites won't add a link to the guest post if they already have too many links in that article. That's where our second resource comes in handy! I can offer them the shorter version as an alternative, increasing the chances of getting that valuable backlink. It's a win-win: we help them out, and we get more eyes on our content.’

Alishba Memon

Senior Content Writer / Content Team Leader

10. Comparison Pages

Develop data-backed comparison pages that objectively compare your SaaS product to main competitors.

When you just begin, it’s considered good practice to list your most popular competitor first and mention your product as a second or third alternative.

And as you see your rankings for the specific keyword go up, you may get bolder and showcase your product in the first place.

For example, Zendesk’s article on the best CRM software for small businesses is the champion among competitors for backlinks built.

Boasting an in-depth analysis of fifteen alternative platforms, an FAQ section, and owned infographics, Zendesk’s blog post secured 441 backlinks from 53 referring domains. A solid portion of backlinks came within only three months from publication.

ahrefs-graph-showing-zendesk-traffic-and-referring-domains
Zendesk's comparison article is best performing among competitors

What are the best practices I should follow?

In link-building, there are a few clear do’s and don’t’s.

Let's see what practices boost your chances to succeed and stand out from competitors.

1. Do original research and share examples

It may sound trivial, but content really is king.

Focus on what resonates with your target audience and has the highest potential to attract natural backlinks.

What works best? Here are the biggest magnets for organic backlinks:

  • Product comparisons
  • Glossaries
  • Industry reports and studies
  • Infographics
  • Articles with examples from the real world

Investing in market research pays off quickly. For instance, this Dashly’s article on 36 chatbot statistics for 2024, which summarizes the findings from their client statistics, gathered backlinks from 62 referring domains within seven months.

dashly-chatbots-blog-article-with-statistics
Dashly invested in solid market research and won

Blog posts with real-world examples win. See this Copyfolio article that demonstrates authentic copywriters’ portfolios. The post has secured 76 organic backlinks from 59 domains, including one from none other than Hubspot.

Another outstanding example is brought by Tidio, an AI customer service platform. They published a post on how to write apology letters to customers and illustrated it with 7 real, ready-to-use letter examples.

tidio-email-apology-article
Tidio's article with apology email examples naturally attracts backlinks

Within just 5 months from the publication date, the article collected backlinks from 78 domains.

2. Build lasting relationships with experts in your industry

Many marketers dislike link-building for one reason: it feels too impersonal, transactional, and pushy.

It doesn’t have to be that way though. The SEO experts to whom we talked all agree: that investing in a strong rapport with other professionals pays off tremendously.

“Building connections takes effort, but it's worth it for long-term link-building success. I search for people interested in my niche through platforms like LinkedIn and Product Hunt.
For example, whenever we launched our platform on Product Hunt, I would reach out to marketing and growth professionals who upvoted us. I'd connect with them on LinkedIn, starting conversations about their work and offering valuable insights to build rapport. This approach has led to high-quality backlinks and collaborations that continue today.”

Alishba Memon

Senior Content Writer and Content Team Leader

“Building relationships is crucial, especially for startups. Many high-authority sites have standards and won't link to sites with low domain authority or traffic.
However, when you've established good relationships with people in the industry, they're more likely to give you a chance, even if your website is just starting. It's like having a mentor or a helping hand that gets the ball rolling when you're starting from scratch.

Simon Toroyan

Lead Innovator at Semlead

If you’re looking to connect with genuine SEOs in your niche, try signing up for Ranking Raccoon. With its manual moderation and zero spam tolerance, it curates the perfect atmosphere for nurturing lasting collaborations with other trusted marketers.

ranking-raccoon-sign-up-banner

3. Submit guest blog posts (smartly!)

Guests posting as a link-building tactic has been here for ages, but it works slightly differently for SaaS.

A trending strategy is when founders start by contributing informative, thought leadership guest posts to relevant websites in their industry. This is a great way to gain exposure and backlinks.

One strategy that is popular lately with startups is guest posting. Many founders even start guest posting on relevant sites before their own blog is live. Once their blog is launched, they ask for backlinks from those 30-40 sites they contributed to. It's a smart way to quickly boost your DA and get noticed by bigger players.”

Daria Gogoleva

Growth Strategist at Audiense and Tweetbinder

You need to be strategic about placement. The recent Google Leaked Documentation confirmed that only backlinks that generate clicks have an impact on your rankings. Writing an outstanding blog post requires time and effort, and you want to invest it in a piece that will awaken your target audience’s interest and motivate them to learn more by clicking on your site URL.

Here are a few search operators to find guest posting opportunities:

  • ‘write for us + {niche}’
  • {keyword} intitle:”write for us”
  • {keyword} intitle:”write for me”
  • {keyword} intitle:”contribute to”
  • {keyword} intitle:”submit” + inurl:blog
  • {keyword} “submit a guest post”
  • {keyword} “accepting guest posts”
  • {keyword} “guest author”
  • {keyword} “become a contributor”
  • inpostauthor:guest {keyword}

4. Mind the URL Rating, not just the Domain Rating

Domain Rating (DR) gives you an overall picture of a website's authority - but you receive a backlink from a specific page. URL Rating (UR) provides a more nuanced view of that page's value for your backlink.

UR helps determine if the specific page's topic and content are relevant to your backlink - so you can be more confident that getting this backlink is worth the effort.

“In 2024, people mostly focus on Domain Rating (DR) as the main metric. But I think URL Rating (UR) matters a lot, too.
Think of it this way: when someone lands on a page, it's like that page is giving a personal recommendation to the links it shares. That's UR in action. So, it's not just about the overall reputation of a website, it's also about the trust we place in the specific page sending us somewhere else. So both DR and UR are important if you want to win at SEO.”

Alishba Memon

Senior Content Writer and Content Team Leader

5. Collaborate with influencers

89% of marketers believe that investment in influencer marketing generates a higher ROI than other channels, and that’s for a reason.

According to Tomoson’s study, businesses earn an average of $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing - that applies to SaaS companies, too.

For specialized SaaS products, especially if you’re in the startup phase, the best approach is to start with nanoinfluencers - people that have 1,000- 4,999 followers.

Why? Despite having a smaller audience, nano-influencers often foster deep engagement and trust with their followers. This allows brands to connect with specific target demographics that may be difficult to reach through traditional marketing channels.

If your target audience spends time on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube Shorts, collaborate with influencers to create content that mentions your product on these platforms.

To find influencers in your niche, you can use a tool like influData, InfluencerMarketing.ai, or HypeAuditor.

6. Keep an eye on competitors (reasonably)

Competitive research is crucial not just for SEO, but for your overall marketing strategy.

By doing a regular check on your competitors' activities and their outcomes, you can ensure that you don't fall behind, refine your approach, and learn from competitors' mistakes.

“You have to pay attention to what your competition is doing. If you've built a ton of backlinks and someone's still outranking you, you must dig deeper. What kind of content do they have? What backlinks do they have? Are they getting more relevant links than you? Sometimes quality beats quantity – a few strong, relevant links can outperform dozens of weaker ones. And remember, traffic pages can be powerful link sources. They often have more impact than links on older, less-visited pages.”

Simon Toroyan

Lead Innovator at Semlead

Now, a tricky question: shall you try and get a backlink from a competitor?

The short answer is: yes, you should. But with a caveat.

“Backlinks from competitors are incredibly valuable. Think of it like doubling the power of your existing links. Since your competitors target the same audience as you, their backlinks hold significant relevance and authority in your niche. Even reciprocal links with competitors can be beneficial, as it creates a mutually beneficial situation where both websites gain exposure and authority in the shared target market.
However, be cautious when giving out links to competitors. Always evaluate the potential impact before linking to them. You will have competing articles, carefully consider whether giving them a backlink outweighs the potential benefit for them.”

Simon Toroyan

Lead Innovator at Semlead

7. Employ different strategies

Finally, don't just rely on a single technique.

Ideally, your backlinks should come from different types of websites and industries (but all relevant to your niche), and be of multiple types (e.g., links from guest posts, social media, directories, review sites, etc).

That’s important for several reasons:

  • Natural link profile

Google values a natural link profile. Relying on a single technique creates an unnatural pattern that might raise red flags - and affect your visibility

  • External risk mitigation

If you depend solely on one strategy and it stops working (e.g., a directory gets devalued or a guest posting site changes its policy), you could lose a significant portion of your backlinks.

  • Resilience to SEO updates

With Google Search algorithm changing by the day, you're better equipped to face these changes with various backlink sources in your toolkit.

a list of do's and don't's for backlink building
Key do's and don't's when building backlinks

Is there something I should avoid?

If done wrong, backlinks can kill your credibility.

See what are some common link-building mistakes you’d better stay away from.

1. Sacrifice quality to quantity

This one is a no-brainer. Prioritize high-quality backlinks from relevant websites over a large number of low-quality backlinks. You’re better off getting one strong backlink per week than a hundred irrelevant ones in a day.

As Google’s Gary Illyes just confirmed:

“Google is really, REALLY good at ignoring links that are irrelevant to the site they’re pointing at.”

This leads us to the next “don’t’” practice.

2. Ignore niche relevance

Only pursue backlinks from websites relevant to your industry to attract targeted traffic.

Stay away from sites in shady niches like CBD, marijuana, adult content, casinos, and cryptocurrencies. These industries tend to have a higher number of manipulative and low-quality websites that Google doesn't favor. Getting links from these sites can harm your site’s reputation and credibility.

A backlink from a site that has no clear topical focus will also be nearly useless:

“Steer clear of general websites that cover a wide range of topics, especially if they're not well-known news outlets. These websites often lack authority and relevance, making their links less valuable for your SEO efforts.”

Simon Toroyan

Lead Innovator at Semlead

3. Buy backlinks

You already know that you paying for backlinks from spammy or irrelevant websites can earn you a penalty from Google.

But paid backlinks from relevant domains are not recommended either.

“I've seen firsthand how paid backlinks can be a risky gamble. Some providers will remove your link after just a month or a quarter, leaving you with nothing to show for your investment.
You want backlinks that stick around for the long haul, ideally for at least two years. Unfortunately, some paid link services don't deliver on that promise. That's why I'm not a fan of paid link-building – it can be a waste of money if you're not careful.”

Alishba Memon

Senior Content Writer / Content Team Leader

4. Go for top-authority sites from the start

As a new product, you want to gain visibility among potential customers as soon as possible.

But approaching high-authority domains for a backlink right from the beginning may be an uphill battle.

These well-established sites often have large teams, making it difficult to pinpoint the right contact person. Even if you do, their inboxes are flooded with new backlink requests every day, and yours might get lost in the noise. Plus, they may be hesitant to link to an emerging site and a product that hasn't yet proven itself in the market.

A way out? Start getting backlinks from smaller sites first - as you build your authority brick by brick, you can aim for more prominent link-building partners.

“When you're just starting, your website's authority is understandably low, and big, established sites don’t want to link to you right away. It's a bit like trying to get into an exclusive club – you need to build up your reputation first.
I've found that it's best to start by getting backlinks from other sites with similar authority. It's a way to get your foot in the door. Later, as your site gains credibility and a higher DR, you can start approaching stronger domains for backlinks.”

Daria Gogoleva

Growth Strategist at Audiense and Tweetbinder

5. Only build backlinks to new content

Another common mistake is to neglect backlink building to existing, already well-ranking pages for the sake of newer ones.

Your older content deserves just as much attention as the newer pieces. Why? Because your competitors are very likely trying to take you over for specific keywords.

“I've learned to never neglect existing content. Even if a blog post is ranking well, the competition never sleeps. While you're busy working on new stuff, competitors are actively building links to outrank you. Keep your guard up: Increase your backlink efforts and conduct ongoing content analysis for necessary updates. Adapt your approach based on the situation; at times, you'll need to blend strategies, whether they involve SEO (technical, on-page, off-page) or design (mainly UX) improvements as needed.
I always keep an eye on what my competitors are doing and make sure I'm not falling behind. If I see them getting more backlinks to a competing page, I know I need to step up my game and get more links too. Otherwise, I risk losing that valuable traffic and all the hard work I put into creating that content would be for nothing.
So, my advice is to prioritize your existing content, especially the high-performing pieces, and don't forget to keep an eye on what your competitors are up to.”

Simon Toroyan

Lead Innovator at Semlead

6. Follow the crowd

An always popular link-building tactic is to identify sites that link to your competitors but not you, and then request a link to your own site.

However, that should not be your sole focus.

Don’t fall into the trap of chasing the same links all of your competitors have and nothing else.
Yes, being featured where your competitors are featured makes total sense from a referral-traffic perspective, and you shouldn’t ever discount chasing these, but that shouldn’t be all you’re doing.
Look at where you can land links from that your competitors don’t have, whilst maintaining relevancy. This is where you really gain a competitive advantage, chasing those hard-to-land links.

James Brockbank

Managing Director & Founder of Digitaloft

How long does it take a good backlink to impact my rankings?

You do everything right, but don’t see immediate results?

Especially if you’re a new SaaS company, you might be wondering how fast backlinks can have a positive influence on your business.

Authority Hacker shares that in 9 out of 10 cases, your link-building efforts start to pay off within 1 to 6 months.

However, some experts that we talked to see the impact much faster.

“I've mostly seen results from good backlinks within one to one and a half months. But there are so many variables at play. Despite building strong links for a page, it's not always guaranteed to improve rankings. Determining whether the issue lies with the link or the content is the fun and challenging part. This is the part where you will differentiate yourself from the competition.”

Simon Toroyan

Lead Innovator at Semlead

Conclusion

If you work for or own a SaaS business and want to stand out from the competition, these frequently overlooked SaaS link-building strategies offer a fresh perspective.

Experiment with these tactics and see what works best for you, but be patient with yourself. Link building is an ongoing journey, and these strategies are just the beginning of your path to success. We’re rooting for you!

natalia-toth-picture

Natalia Toth

Head of Marketing