In the past few years, link building has changed significantly. As search engines matured and the online ecosystem evolved, SEO strategies and link building for SaaS evolved with them. Private blog networks (PBNs) are things of the past, and businesses started to focus on building relationships that later yield high authority backlinks.
As search engines became more efficient at identifying link spam on a large scale, many of the tactics used to acquire links 10 years ago have now stopped working. Thanks to a combination of complex algorithms and plenty of data to work with, the search engines have begun to clean up the web. As a consequence, SEOs and those who are looking to increase their rankings have been forced to focus on great content that meets user needs.
Spamming thousands of comments on blog posts, buying mass directory links, and buying links on other sites is out of date. Now, the focus is on high-quality links that are earned, not bought. These are the links that the search engines want to reward with long-term gains.
This is why you need to actively invest time and resources in building relevant links to your site.
While doing this, you need to ensure that you play within Google’s guidelines and avoid common link-building mistakes.
What Is a Good Backlink?
Google considers every backlink a vote of confidence from one website to another. But unlike real-world voting, Google doesn’t only count the votes, it also weighs them. This is why one high-authority backlink is better than a dozen low-quality links.
But then what is a good backlink?
Here are the main qualities of the kind of backlinks you should look for:
- Relevance: Links from sites in the same niche or other closely related niches have more weight than links from completely unrelated sites that have nothing to do with your topic.
- High-Authority: Links coming from sites considered authorities in their niches are weighted more than new or unknown sites.
- Contextual: Links contained in a contextually relevant text block are weighted more than isolated links listed on a page.
- Editorial: Links that are manually approved by an editor are weighted more than links from sites where anyone can publish their links.
A link with some or all of these traits is excellent for your site’s SEO and will help your site rank higher for your target keywords.
How do you acquire these links?
How to Leverage Guest Posting to Grow Your Business
Over the past couple of months, we’ve been trying out different link building tactics, and of course, some work better than others. In the following text, you can find out the most effective methods SaaS companies can implement to build authority sites.
1. Use guest blogging the right way
It is widely known that guest blogging is a great way to build backlinks from high-authority sites. However, you should use this tactic IF you have:
- Link-worthy content on your site that you can link back to in your guest post;
- A super high-quality guest post that triggers attention;
- Resources for finding relevant guest post opportunities and managing outreach campaigns;
- Patience, because it can take anywhere between 1 to 6 months for your guest post to go live. Not to mention that sometimes the editors publish your guest posts without any links, so it is a hustle to negotiate that later.
Having said that, guest blogging is indeed a proven way to get backlinks if you do it the right way.
But which way is the right way?
Instead of targeting only the top-tier sites in your niche, make sure you also pitch guest posts to sites that are slightly ahead of you in terms of Domain Rating (DR), traffic, and reader engagement.
Domain Rating – DR measures the link popularity of a given website. Pursuing links from high-DR sites is generally advisable because they tend to have higher ranking pages. In other words, always aim for higher DR websites as it will bring more “link juice” to your priority pages helping you to rank faster (even in a competitive niche).
However, although a low DR score is incorrectly assumed to be a “toxic link,” Google’s “PageRank” algorithm works on a page-by-page basis. This means that a page on a low-scoring domain can itself have a high PR score, and vice-versa.
Furthermore, some low-DR sites will grow in popularity and reach a higher DR. So, don’t discredit publishing guest articles on legit-looking low-DR blogs because they may become more valuable in the future.
2. Write more high-quality guest articles in less time.
Scaling your guest posting strategy is not as complicated as it seems. Firstly, you must find out where your SaaS business stands in rank. Then you need to understand your baseline and set a target number of posts to achieve. If you do too few, you won’t grow your SEO profile.
Start by making a list of keywords you want to rank for, then use Google to find the top-ranking sites for those keywords. Browse through their content and decide whether yours is on the same level in terms of quality. If it isn’t, then it’s imperative to give your content strategy a makeover.
Once you have created successful content, the next step is to find related keywords you could also target. There are a plethora of useful tools that can help you. Their keyword suggestions will be useful later on when you start pitching specific content ideas.
Finally, use one of the keyword explorer tools to find the number of referring domains your site will need to get into the top ten Google search results for your chosen keywords and adjust your link-building strategy accordingly.
3. Partner up with the top guest bloggers
Instead of doing all the hard work yourself, find guest bloggers who already have access to your target sites and ask them to feature your brand in their posts. As an incentive, offer them a free account of your product, give them exclusive research data they can use in their guest posts, or simply hire them for a fee.
To find guest bloggers, go to your target sites and see which authors regularly publish about the topics you’re interested in.
For instance, meetfox.com is a relevant website where our competitors usually publish their articles. Here is how to reverse-engineer your competitors’ strategy to find relevant guest posting opportunities:
Open the first 10-20 articles from these search results and see which ones have been written by people who identify themselves as topic experts (in this case, Link building).
View their author page to see if they’re regular contributors to this site. If that’s the case, reach out to them via their social media profile or website and make them an offer to see if they’re willing to feature your brand.
To increase your chances of getting a positive response, give them a list of top-quality articles from your site that they can use.
In my experience, this strategy is much faster and has a higher ROI than guest blogging yourself. But, there is a catch.
Hardly anyone will give you a link for free as it is a very lucrative business and companies pay thousands of dollars for a couple of links. You need to think about what you can give them to return the favor. Here are a few things that usually work:
- offer them a link insertion from your website (this only works if you have a nice website e.g. DR50+ and loads of organic traffic)
- link to their priority pages from your upcoming guest posts
- link to their priority pages to websites from your partners’ network
How to stay ahead of your competition
As you take action and begin pitching your guest articles to other blogs, you may encounter many roadblocks:
- Bloggers may reject your guest articles;
- The negotiations might last for weeks, or even months;
- Sometimes they might strip your link(s) from the article without notice;
- The links that you get don’t give you as much movement as you anticipated.
The following are 3 recommendations for dealing with these issues:
1. Invest in the quality of your content
The whole point of guest blogging as a link-building tactic is to get your writing published on legit blogs for free. If you want a high percentage of bloggers to accept your guest posts, you need to focus on quality over quantity. Failure to do this will make it more challenging to get published, even on smaller blogs.
Building a portfolio of awesome articles published on well-known industry blogs will also help you move forward. If you’ve already done this, use them as validation in your outreach emails. This might even help you get the green light from blogs that usually decline guest posts.
Essentially, your goal is to invest more time into the quality of your content. This will make the remainder of the guest blogging process much easier.
2. Pitch more blogs than you can handle
As soon as you try to publish your first guest article, you’re going to realize that it doesn’t happen in a day. Publishing your guest post just isn’t usually at the top of a blogger’s to-do list.
To get around this issue, pitch the same article that you already promised to the first blogger. That way, should the first blogger decline your submission, it won’t matter. You’ll have a queue of other bloggers eager to publish it.
This can make them more eager to accept your next pitch. Why? Because they now know that other bloggers are lining up to publish your guest posts. That proves you aren’t pitching junk.
The best practice is to send the same pitch to 5–7 blogs. You can then offer the article to whoever replies first or, if you get lots of replies, to whoever has the most successful blog.
This is how you create demand with a queue of bloggers waiting for your guest articles.
3. Link to your other published guest posts
It’s widely known that many blog owners greedily hoard outgoing links. They scrupulously hand them out to only the most deserving of websites.
Some do this because they’re afraid Google will punish them for linking out too much or for linking to a low-ranked website. Others think that by not linking out at all, their site will rank higher.
But there’s no denying that for some, lazy SEOs are the culprit – those who spoil bloggers by offering generous sums of money in return for links.
So, don’t be too upset if a blogger says that you can’t link to your site in your guest submission—it happens to everyone.
Bloggers despise it when you link to your own web properties. But they’re considerate with you linking elsewhere.
You can use this to your advantage.
In the PageRank concept, the more links that point to a page, the stronger a link from that page is.
If you have live guest articles that link to your website, build so-called Tier 2 links to them. By linking to these articles from your other guest posts, you increase the power of Tier 1 links as indicated in the image:
After you do this, you can contact the blog owner and explain that you’ve landed them a successful backlink from a quality blog. This will be advantageous in building rapport, and at some time in the future, they will be open to reciprocating the gesture.
Link building can be challenging when your brand is completely new and you don’t have much content on your site. However, as you start publishing link-worthy content and building rapport with the bloggers and marketers in your niche, building backlinks to your site becomes easier.
Just make sure you stay away from any black-hat link-building practices that could get you into conflict with Google’s algorithms.