Neil Patel

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Link Building for SaaS Sites: How Important Is It?

Text saying "Link Building for SaaS Sites: How Important Is It?" overlaid on an image of a woman typing on a computer.

The Software as a Service (SaaS) industry has grown from $31.5 billion to an estimated $171.9 billion in just seven years. That’s 5x growth, and it’s only expected to continue.

So how can SaaS site owners and marketing teams hope to compete in this ever-expanding industry? According to our data, the answer is a solid link building strategy.

Link building is an important Search Engine Optimization (SEO) technique that many companies overlook.

How beneficial can it be?

Well, considering the number one search result in Google has 3.8x more backlinks than positions two through 10, it’s safe to say that it’s one of the more important SEO factors to implement.

In this article, we’ll introduce the basics of SaaS link building. We’ll then share an analysis of five of the top SaaS websites and how link building has contributed to their success. So, if you’re ready to learn how a SaaS link building strategy can help your business, then read on!

The Basics on SaaS Link Building

Link building is the practice of increasing the number and quality of backlinks, or inbound links, to your website. Backlinks are an off-page SEO technique to draw more qualified traffic to your website.

Think of backlinks as a vote for your site. The more backlinks you have, the higher you’re likely to appear on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Where does SaaS link building fit in?

While all sorts of companies can benefit from link building, SaaS companies, in particular, can benefit from a strong backlink strategy. That’s because SaaS has exploded in recent years. Businesses are investing in SaaS more readily with numbers expected to reach record highs in 2022.

With more companies entering the space, SaaS companies need to find new ways to acquire leads. A SaaS link building strategy is one way to do so.

So, what does SaaS link building look like?

In general, SaaS companies can use linkbuilding in the same way that non-SaaS companies do. There are a few places where SaaS companies may find some unique opportunities, though. These include:

  • Unlinked brand mentions
  • Testimonials
  • Software reviews and comparisons
  • Q&A sites
  • Roundups
  • Trend reports

SaaS companies can also look to create their own backlink opportunities, such as through writing guest posts or joining industry panels.

One thing that we should mention is there is a right and a wrong way to start building up your backlink profile. The graphic below explains the growth you should be shooting for.

Examples of good trendlines and bad trendlines.

How Link Building Campaigns Impacted Performance for These Sites

We established how link building can be implemented for SaaS. With that said, is it actually effective?

To answer this question, we’ve analyzed five SaaS sites, including:

  1. Adobe
  2. Salesforce
  3. Microsoft
  4. Oracle
  5. Webflow

So, what metrics are we looking at to determine the “success” of a site’s backlink strategy?

First and foremost, domain authority score. This is a general reflection on the quality of the domain to which backlinks contribute significantly.

We also want to consider the total number of backlinks, as well as referring domains and total number of organic keywords that the site is ranking for. This will give us an idea of the site’s “link universe.”

Finally, we’ll look at organic traffic per month and estimated traffic value (in dollars) which is perhaps the greatest measure of success when considering Return on Investment (ROI).

1. Adobe: Keyword Universe Dominance

The Adobe Creative Cloud home page

Adobe is a strong contender for the most best SaaS platform out there with an Authority Score of 91 and 1.3 billion backlinks. Of those backlinks, 84% are follow links vs. 16% no follow links. 74% are text-based vs 20% image-based.

Before we continue, let’s address the importance of follow links versus no-follow links.

On the surface, these links appear the same. However, a follow link is an endorsement of sorts from the referring domain while a no-follow link is telling Google not to pass any of the referring domain’s PageRank to your site.

While both follow and no-follow links will contribute to your backlink profile, a higher percentage of follow links is best for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Now, back to the metrics.

Of the 1.3 billion backlinks, there are 1.7 million referring domains. The majority of these referring domains have an Authority Score of 0 – 10 (37%) or 11 – 20 (27%). As for referring domains in the 71 – 100 range, Adobe sits at 5.3 thousand, just about or less than 1% of their total referring domains.

According to SEMRush, Adobe has 17.8 million organic keywords total, with 11.7 million ranking in positions one through 50. Adobe receives 128.4 million in organic traffic per month.

Ahrefs estimates the value of the traffic going to the Adobe site at $102.1 million.

A horizontal bar chart highlighting Adobe's backlink profile.

2. Salesforce: Better Referability Through High-Ranking Domains

Salesforce for SaaS linkbuilding

Salesforce has an Authority Score of 85 and 91.4 million backlinks. Of those backlinks, 74% are follow links vs 26% no follow links and 81% are text-based vs 9% image-based.

Of the 91.4 million backlinks, there are 221 thousand referring domains. The majority of these referring domains have an Authority Score of 0 – 10 (22%) or 11 – 20 (26%). When looking at referring domains in the 71 – 100 range, Salesforce sits at 2.9 thousand, or 1.3% of total referring domains.

According to SEMRush, Salesforce has 2.5 million organic keywords total, with 1.28 million ranking in positions one through 50. Salesforce receives 11.5 million in organic traffic per month.

Ahrefs estimates the value of the traffic going to the Salesforce site at $9 million.

A horizontal bar chart highlighting Salesforce's backlinking profile.

3. Microsoft: Record-breaking Traffic Value

Microsoft for SaaS linkbuilding

Microsoft is the clear winner in our analysis, with an Authority Score of 94 and a total traffic value higher than Adobe (our runner-up) by an exponential rate. Microsoft boasts a whopping 6.5 billion backlinks. Of those backlinks, 92% are follow links vs 8% no follow links. 94% are text-based vs 5% image-based.

Of the 6.5 billion backlinks, there are 1.0 million referring domains. The majority of these referring domains have an Authority Score of 0 – 10 (39%) or 11 – 20 (28%). When looking at referring domains in the 71 – 100 range, Microsoft sits at 5.3 thousand (same as Adobe), or 0.5% of total referring domains (slightly greater than Adobe’s 0.3%).

According to SEMRush, Microsoft has 8.6 million organic keywords, total with 2.7 million ranking in positions one through 50. Microsoft receives 383.3 million in organic traffic per month.

Ahrefs estimates the value of the visitors going to the Microsoft site at $170 million.

A horizontal bar chart highlighting Microsoft's backlinking profile.

4. Oracle: Leader in Text-Based Backlinks

Oracle for SaaS linkbuilding

As our third most successful SaaS site, Oracle has an Authority Score of 87 and about 536 million backlinks. Of those backlinks, 93% are follow links vs 7% no follow links. 54% are text-based vs 44% image-based.

Of the 536 million backlinks, there are 404 thousand referring domains. The majority of these referring domains have an Authority Score of 0 – 10 (37%) or 11 – 20 (28%). As for referring domains in the 71 – 100 range, Oracle sits at 3.4 thousand, or less than 1% of total referring domains.

According to SEMRush, Oracle owns 1.5 million US organic keywords total, with 469 thousand ranking in positions one through 50. Oracle receives 18.8 million in organic traffic per month.

Ahrefs estimates the value of the visitors going to the Oracle site at $15.6 million.

A horizontal bar chart highlighting Oracle's backlinking profile.

5. Webflow: Excellent Profile of Do-Follow Backlinks

Webflow for SaaS linkbuilding

Webflow is the least successful SaaS site on our list, with an Authority Score of 79 and 216.2 million backlinks. Of those backlinks, 96% are follow links vs 4% no follow. 85% are text-based vs 14% image-based.

Of the 216.2 million backlinks, there are 192.7 thousand referring domains. The majority of these referring domains have an Authority Score of 0 – 10 (43%) or 11 – 20 (36%). As for referring domains in the 71 – 100 range, Webflow sits at 1.2 thousand, or less than 1% of total referring domains.

According to SEMRush, Webflow has 312 thousand organic keywords total, with 104 thousand ranking in positions one through 50. Webflow also receives 1.2 million in organic traffic per month.

Ahrefs estimates the value of the visitors going to the Webflow site at $1.8 million.

A horizontal bar chart highlighting Webflow's backlinking profile.

What We Can Learn From Our Data

Microsoft had the highest domain score at 94 and a whopping 6.4 billion backlinks, of which 92% are follow. Furthermore, Microsoft sits at an estimated traffic value of $170 million. Having such a robust backlink profile, especially considering 0.5% of its backlinks are from sites with an authority score of 71 – 100, has helped Microsoft obtain their high domain score.

Adobe has an authority score of 91, just 3 points lower than Microsoft, with 1.3 billion total backlinks. This is substantially fewer backlinks, yet Adobe is bringing in an estimated traffic value of $102.1 million, which isn’t too far off from what Microsoft is bringing in. This is despite Adobe being a few referring domains behind in the 71-100 range (0.3% versus Microsoft’s 0.5%). Microsoft dominates simply because of the sheer size of total backlinks they own.

When looking at keyword universe, though, Adobe is the clear winner with how many keywords are owned (17.8 million versus Microsoft’s 8.6 million). The potential reason why Adobe may be ranking better, but Microsoft is winning in terms of traffic value, is that Microsoft 365 products are cheaper per month over Adobe.

Oracle and SalesForce were fairly comparable and smack in the middle of Microsoft/Adobe (our winners) and Webflow (our loser). They are both in the high 80s for authority score. Oracle had a slight edge when it came to a larger backlink profile and a higher authority score. Thus, it brought in more in estimated traffic value.

Webflow had the lowest authority score, as well as the fewest amount of backlinks and referring domains. This correlates to the smallest traffic value seen in this case study.

So what’s the takeaway?

In SaaS, we can safely assume that three things will impact your bottom line:

  1. Having a robust backlink profile.
  2. Having strong referring domains.
  3. Creating content that will help you reach your goals of gaining more backlinks.

So, if you ever thought a backlink building campaign for your SaaS website would be a waste of time and money, think again!

FAQs

If you have more questions on backlinks for SaaS, check out these frequently asked questions and their answers.

Is the anchor text chosen important?

The anchor text for any given backlink can be important. This is because anchor text helps search engines determine the most relevant keywords a backlink’s web page should rank for. It’s also important in sending qualified leads to your site, as poorly optimized anchor text may leave readers feeling suspicious or unsure of the quality of a link.

Where should I build backlinks from?

When you get backlinks from sites with a higher domain authority score than your own, you’re “borrowing” some of their domain authority for your own site. So, aim for high-quality sites with domain authority scores in the 71 – 100 range.

As you can see from our analysis above, though, the majority of backlinks will come from sites in the 0 – 20 range. That’s okay, as long as you continue to diversify your backlink profile.

What is linkable content?

“Ultimate guides,” also known as pillar content, is one of the best pieces of content for building your backlink profile. Other types of highly linkable content include infographics, directories, and free industry tools.

What makes a backlink high quality?

A high-quality backlink has three qualities. One, it’s earned organically versus being outright paid for. Two, it’s relevant. Three, it’s highly reputable. So, offer organically earned, relevant, and reputable content to website owners, and only add backlinks to your site that fit the same guidelines.

Should I offer backlinks on my website for other websites?

As long as you’re using organically earned, relevant, and highly reputable backlinks, there’s no reason not to add them to your own website. In fact, doing so can be beneficial for your readers and it may make the sites you link to more likely to link back to yours.

Conclusion

If your SaaS website is underperforming compared to the competition, it’s time to consider what steps you can take to improve your position. One technique I strongly recommend is to implement a link building strategy.

You don’t need to be a major company like Adobe or Microsoft to benefit.
We know that backlinks are a major factor when it comes to ranking on SERPs. An effective link building strategy will help you to increase the number and quality of backlinks in your profile. This can only help to improve your website rankings and increase organic traffic.

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