The Ultimate SaaS Link-Building Guide

The Ultimate SaaS Link-Building Guide
Do not index
Do not index
New to SaaS link building and don’t know where to begin? Well, this guide is for you.
In a few moments, you’ll learn how to build quality links to your SaaS website, address key challenges, and avoid practices that violate Google’s guidelines.
But first, let’s understand what “link-building” is and why it’s crucial for your brand.
Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks – also known as backlinks – from other websites to your web pages. Its goal is to improve your brand’s credibility and authority in a specific niche.
Link building also helps search engines discover your pages. By crawling links, search bots (a.k.a. spiders) identify new content for indexing and determine its relationship with other pages.
The following is an example of a backlink in HTML:
<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">SmartTask</a>
Based on their attributes, backlinks fall into two categories:
  1. DoFollow links: They pass link equity (or authority) to your website and impact your rankings. Unless they contain a rel attribute, links are usually dofollow.
  1. NoFollow links: They don’t usually pass link equity to your website but benefit your SEO efforts. Nofollow links always have a rel attribute that specifies their purpose.
Note: As of March 1, 2020, Google considers nofollow links as hints for indexing and crawling. Therefore, nofollow links can also pass link equity if they are deemed helpful by the algorithm.
Did you know that 46% of marketers spend $10,000 or more annually on link building?
Clearly, link-building has unparalleled benefits that compel marketers to invest heavily in the practice. Some of these benefits include:
  • Increased website traffic: Backlinks are like magnets that pull in targeted traffic from other websites. The more quality backlinks you build (from relevant and reputable sources), the stronger the attraction, resulting in a steady influx of visitors to your website.
  • More credibility: Google views backlinks as digital recommendations, similar to how word-of-mouth referrals work in the real world. The more referrals you have on your website, the more Google perceives it as reliable and valuable.
  • Increased brand awareness: Backlinks from influential websites in your niche enhance your brand's reputation. They also position you as an industry leader and a go-to resource for others.
  • Improved SEO: As per Google's Andrey Lipattsev, links are among the three most crucial ranking factors (the other two being content and RankBrain) in Google. This suggests link building is indispensable to SaaS companies trying to rank higher in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Now that you know why link-building is crucial, let's examine some popular strategies for earning quality links, their challenges, and possible solutions.

1. Guest Posting

Guest posting (or guest blogging) is publishing your content on someone else’s website – preferably in the same vertical – to engage a wider audience and boost your site authority. According to Aira’s annual report on link-building, it’s the third most widely used strategy.
Here’s a brief overview of all the steps involved in guest blogging:
  1. Find relevant websites for contributing a post
  1. Identify your POC (point of contact)
  1. Share a compelling pitch for your contribution
  1. Submit a blog that adheres to your target’s guidelines
  1. Follow up via email
Despite its apparent simplicity, guest posting is actually quite complex. This is especially true for beginners, who make the following mistakes when attempting it:
  • Contributing to irrelevant websites: If you run a project management tool, a link from a productivity website might be helpful. A link from a gambling website not so much. Sadly, most beginners opt for the latter since they lack a strategy or an understanding of how low-quality links affect their websites.
  • Not following guidelines: Beginners often overlook a website’s guidelines while sharing the content draft. However, that just lowers the probability of a response from the website’s editors. We’ve personally seen many collaborations go cold because the content submitted was poor.
Now let’s take a look at some guest posting challenges.
a) Guest posting is a costly affair
A major issue with guest blogging is that it’s too expensive to scale. Especially for new websites that lack expertise and seek out agencies for assistance.
To give you some context, a link in the B2B niche – acquired via guest posts or any other means – could cost you anywhere between $300-$500.
notion image
So what can you do about it?
For affordable and effective guest posting, look for opportunities within your network. Reach out to your LinkedIn connections and see if they’re interested in working together.
Additionally, explore communities like Superpath and Smartlinks that offer numerous opportunities for content collaboration.
b) Guest posting is a high effort low reward activity
Another issue with guest posting is that it’s too time-consuming. Moreover, it isn’t nearly as rewarding as it should be – especially for referral traffic (traffic from backlinks).
So what can you do about it?
For starters, you must rewire your expectations of guest posting. Think of it as a branding exercise and use it to cultivate authority.
Also, for best results, combine it with other strategies, rather than relying on it exclusively.
An ABC link exchange occurs when three websites agree to link to each other to improve their rankings. Essentially, it facilitates a link exchange loop in which no two websites are linked directly.
Let’s take a look at how this works:
Step 1 – Site A (your website) receives a link from Site B (your target website)
Step 2 – In exchange for its link, Site B receives a link from Site C (third-party)
Step 3 - Finally, in exchange for its link, Site C receives a link from Site A
ABC link exchanges can be quite lucrative if performed rigorously. However, you must consider the following before pivoting to them:
  • The number of links per page: While there’s no upper limit on backlinks per page, it’s good to be judicious with their use. Also, prioritize link quality over quantity to avoid a penalty from Google.
  • Irrelevant anchor text: If you use the same anchor text in all your backlinks Google may take notice. Therefore, customize your tags as per keyword requirements and page content.
Now let’s examine the challenges involved in ABC link exchanges:
a) Dependence on third-party websites
ABC or 3-way link exchanges rely too heavily on third-party websites to provide an outbound link to a partner website.
For instance, if website A (you) wants a link from website B (your target website), it’ll have to depend on website C (third-party) to link to website B.
In this way, everyone gets a link; however, a lot of time is spent in negotiations, and follow-ups to close the loop. This effort just multiplies exponentially when the ABC link exchange is done at scale.
So what can you do about it?
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to facilitate an ABC link exchange without personally scouting for third-party websites. Among them, these are the two most effective approaches:
i) Outsource the entire process to an agency. Although, you may not have complete control over the quality of links and the costs may be too steep.
ii) Use zero-outreach tools like Smartlinks to automate the exchange and maintain link quality.
b) Tracking and following up on pending requests
A 3-way link exchange requires extensive tracking and follow-ups to be successful. This becomes especially tricky when you’re juggling multiple requests.
So what can you do about it?
Most organizations leverage spreadsheets to manage link exchanges. Others hire dedicated resources (virtual assistants) for the same.
However, not everyone has the time or budget to implement these approaches – which is why, you must also consider automated solutions that require zero outreach and track multiple requests.
Broken link-building involves identifying a dead page on a website and requesting its replacement with your page. It's a popular tactic that relies on cultivating goodwill with websites and offering valuable content for links.
There are two ways to check for broken links on a website:
  1. Conduct a site audit with an SEO tool
  1. Use an online broken link checker
Regardless of the approach you choose, you will end up with a list of 404 pages.
notion image
Your job is to sift through this list and identify a relevant dead page. Following that, you can contact the site's content manager (ideally, an SEO expert or marketer) to discuss the broken link’s replacement.
And there you have it, broken link-building 101.
Of course, it's not always that simple. As with most strategies, broken link-building has its hiccups.
Here’s a glimpse of its key challenges:
a) Broken link-building has become less popular
A major challenge with broken link-building is that its popularity has diminished with time. There are two reasons for this:
  1. Overuse
  1. The growing popularity of paid links among link builders and websites
So what can you do about it?
Despite its declining popularity, broken link-building remains a viable strategy for earning quality links. That said, you’re more likely to succeed at it if you have a competitive advantage over others.
For instance, to earn a backlink for your tool, you must ensure that it’s either unique or far better than its competitors. The same goes for content, which needs to be far more exceptional than what has already been written.
b) Outreach is increasingly difficult
Since SEO experts see broken link-building requests all the time, they’re not too keen to respond to them.
Therefore, outreach for this strategy is a lot harder than expected.
So what can you do about it?
When it comes to outreach, you must focus on building relationships and sharing valuable insights.
Here are three tips to help you accomplish that:
  • Identify your point of contact (POC) for a target website.
  • Research your POC before initiating a conversation. Use social media to identify common interests and engage with their posts if you find them relevant.
  • Get to know your POC in your first few messages. Only discuss link-building once you’ve built a rapport with them.
Remember, outreach is a lot easier when you don't see it as a transaction. By being more affable and helpful, you become someone everyone wants to collaborate with.

4. Linkable assets

A linkable asset is a piece of content that is specifically designed to attract links from other websites. It can be an informative article, a research study, or even a tool that provides unique value and information.
Here are a few examples of linkable assets:
  • Expert roundups: An expert roundup compiles insights and opinions from industry experts on specific topics. It's usually presented as a Q&A, an interview, or a collection of short, skimmable snippets.
  • Case studies: A case study examines how a product or strategy was adopted by an entity and how it has performed for them. Essentially, it looks at a challenge faced by an organization, a potential solution, and the results of its implementation.
  • Infographics: An infographic combines visuals and content to communicate information. In doing so, it simplifies complex ideas, making them more palatable.
  • Guides and tutorials: A definitive guide or tutorial provides detailed instructions on a particular topic. It combines various studies, queries, and research on a subject into one authoritative article that seeks to be the ultimate source of knowledge.
Like any link-building strategy, linkable assets come with their own set of challenges.
Here’s a closer look at them and their potential solutions:
a) Linkable assets are resource-intensive
Creating high-quality linkable assets requires time, effort, and a team of skilled professionals. This investment may not be feasible for all businesses, particularly those with limited resources.
So what can you do about it?
One possible solution is to repurpose existing content, such as blog posts, research papers, or case studies, into different formats like infographics or pillar pages. That way, you can minimize the need for new resources and still produce link-worthy content.
You can also emphasize quality over quantity and publish fewer linkable assets each quarter. By doing so, you’ll be able to free up your resources for other lucrative opportunities in content.
b) Not always effective for link-building
While linkable assets can generate backlinks and improve website authority, there's no guarantee of success. The impact of a linkable asset may vary depending on various factors like content quality, promotion strategies, and overall market dynamics.
So what can you do about it?
When it comes to link-building, it’s best not to put all your eggs in one basket. Ideally, you should experiment with different strategies and see what works best.
Also, for the sake of time and efficiency, consider automated link-building. That way, you can create more valuable content instead of constantly looking for link-building opportunities.

5. Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is a tried and tested option for link-building that provides myriad opportunities every day. It’s based on a pretty simple concept: journalists and bloggers provide links to sources that share valuable insights with them.
To get started with HARO link-building, you need to:
a) Register yourself as a source on the website.
notion image
b) Subscribe to relevant lists to receive queries.
notion image
c) Keep an eye on your inbox for free media opportunities, delivered thrice every day.
notion image
However, your work doesn’t end here. To build quality backlinks through HARO, you also need to:
  • Respond to relevant queries on time
  • Create compelling pitches highlighting your expertise
  • Send at least 5-10 queries each day
As you can see, this can quickly become a lot of work. However, it can also get you a backlink from Forbes or The New York Times, which costs anywhere between $1000 to $2000.
For all its benefits, HARO link-building has some glaring downsides as well. We'll take a brief look at them and their workarounds here:
a) HARO link-building is time-consuming
HARO link-building can be a time-consuming endeavor, requiring careful monitoring of relevant journalist queries and crafting thoughtful responses to generate backlinks
So what can you do about it?
If it's within your budget, you should hire a dedicated resource or agency to take over your HARO link-building efforts. Or use templates to optimize your response time.
Considering that personalization is key to crafting pitches, the latter may seem counterintuitive. However, if you stick to the facts (stats and studies) and avoid beating around the bush, journalists will still find your pitch useful.
b) HARO link-building isn’t scalable for SaaS startups
For SaaS startups, HARO link-building may not be easily scalable due to resource limitations, time constraints, and the high competition for limited media opportunities within their niche.
So what can you do about it?
To address the scalability challenges of HARO link-building, consider diversifying your link-building strategies. Explore other avenues such as guest posting, ABC link exchange, influencer collaborations, and building relationships with industry publications.


Now that you’re armed with the knowledge and insights shared in this guide, it's time for you to take action.
Start implementing these strategies and monitor their impact. Remember, SaaS link-building entails several challenges, but if you stick with it, the rewards are worth it.
So, embrace the power of effective link-building and position your brand for long-term success.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What Types of Links Matter for SaaS Companies?
    1. For SaaS companies, authoritative and relevant links from industry publications, influencers, customer testimonials, and partnerships matter. A diverse backlink profile ensures credibility, improves search rankings, and attracts targeted traffic.
  1. How long does it take to see results from link building?
    1. According to Moz, it takes 10 weeks for a backlink to have an impact on your ranking. However, our experience suggests that it depends on a variety of factors:
      • How competitive is your niche?
      • Your link-building strategy
      • The rank of the page you’re building links for
      • Quality of your linked content
  1. Are backlinks still relevant in 2024?
    1. Yes, backlinks remain relevant in 2024. Although they have their challenges, search engines still use them to determine a website's credibility, authority, and popularity.
  1. What to avoid doing when building backlinks for SaaS brands?
    1. For starters, SaaS companies should avoid purchasing low-quality links from places like Fiverr. Additionally, they shouldn’t use exact match anchor text across all their backlinks. Finally, they should avoid building too many links too soon, since this can draw Google’s attention.

Written by

 Divya Mathur
Divya Mathur

Senior Content marketer at and Passionate about B2B SaaS and Artificial Intelligence. I’ve been in the content space for over 6 years and have first-hand experience in how On-Page and Off-Page SEO affect a site's traffic. These articles enable me to share my learnings and help you achieve better search results.