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19 List Building Techniques For SaaS Link Building [With Templates]

Understanding the link-building landscape is not merely a desirable skill but an essential aspect of SaaS marketing.

19 List Building Techniques For SaaS Link Building [With Templates]

A SaaS company’s link building techniques are similar to other business types.

Still, the list building methods are unique because of the type of content on publisher websites and the content resources a SaaS business possesses.

SaaS companies tend to have unique content resources, including engineering team insights, unique data, subject matter expert (SME) clients, competitor comparison pages, and a wide range of blog topics.

Using these resources, a company can secure brand mentions and links on sites that cover topics or content about:

  • Software alternatives or comparison articles.
  • SME listicles.
  • Internal SME quotes for content creators.
  • Statistical roundup articles to share SaaS clients or industry data.
  • SME guest posts.

List building is the process of matching these internal resources to external entities that will benefit from that resource and finding relevant prospects.

As I explain in my SEJ article, A Guide To Linkable Assets For Effective Link Building, linkable assets will be essential to most link building campaigns.

If the site has no linkable content, then use this guide to start planning.

Although the techniques below can be used across other industries, they are currently highly effective in SaaS link building.

Now that you have content, start identifying prospective link lists using the following process.

Universal List Building Process

This process can be used for creating lists for many link building techniques. Use the following list building template with the process and methods below to start link building today.

However, choose the link research tool or technique that works best for your niche. Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz, Majestic, or a search operator in Google can yield similar results.

Step 1: Seed A List Of Competitors And Keywords By Campaign Type

  • Select the type of list to build from the campaign options below, or competitor analysis. Add those to the proven link building models tab in the template (see screenshot below).
  • Create a seed list of keywords.
  • Identify direct or keyword competitors.
link building worksheet templateImage created by author, July 2023

Step 2: List Identification

Create a list: Select which of these three methods.

 Google Search Operator

Direct SEO Tool List

(Check out all the options here.)

  • Semrush.
  • Ahrefs.
  • Moz.
  • Majestic.

Bulk List Building Tools

Search for lists.

Step 3: List Segmentation & Filtering

Narrow the list to blogs that link to the competitor using default and advanced filters.

Default Tool Filters

  • Filter by topical relevancy first.
  • Metrics filter: If the list has a lot of low-quality sites, then narrow the list based on the tools’ domain-level score (e.g., Domain Rating in Ahrefs or DA in Moz).

Content-Need Segmentation

Narrow the list by:

  • Content type: Each tool is a “content-type” filter to narrow the list to articles.
  • Placement: Select “content.”
  • Language: select your preferred language.
  • Advanced filter: Find in “text.”

Export

Manually Review & Segment Sites Based On

  • Topics or methods to secure links (e.g., pitch the new survey about cyber security).
  • Quality of content and site.

Add The Targeted Site List To The “List Tracker” Tab Of The Template

list building worksheet templateImage created by author, July 2023

Pro tip: Use a search operator in Pitchbox to narrow the list beyond the default campaign settings.

Use this process and the following techniques to create massive lists of prospective sites.

Competitor Backlink Lists

Competitor list building is centered around researching your competitors’ backlink profiles. You can quickly create a target list for your link building campaign by identifying the websites linking to your competitor’s content.

Writing an article about “software alternatives,” “best of,” or “top tools” is an easy way to create a valuable resource for readers. These topics are one reason why so many listicle articles exist.

These are great opportunities to generate links if they mention competitors’ brands but not yours.

1. Find Software Alternatives

{company name} intitle:alternative

For example, an SEO software like Semrush might search for:

Ahrefs intitle:alternatives

2. To Find Lists Of Competitors, Use The Search Operators

{industry name + software} intitle:tools

{keyword} intitle:best of

{keyword} intitle:top

By modifying the search operator to focus on company blogs, the list can filter out major publications that may need to update their list.

{keyword} Inurl:blog intitle:best of

Although competitor link building typically yields some targeted links, a link profile should include diverse and high-authority placements. Passive source lists can provide that diversity.

Passive Content Creator Source Lists

Journalists and bloggers constantly search for sources, experts, and valuable content.

Become the source when they are searching.

HARO (Help A Reporter Out) was the only resource for a long time, but you can also use QwotedProfNet, and #journorequest (Twitter hashtag) to become a source.

After creating free or paid profiles for these sites, the request lists range from marketing case studies to business management or industry-specific requests.

Look for other trends in the topics requests to determine other sources within the company.

For example, HARO has a lot of requests for AI or generative AI sources. These requests can be an opportunity to use an SME from the engineering, development, or product teams as a source.

Building these lists may seem simple, but it demands a strategic approach to maximize your chances of being picked as a source.

Here are three lists to build:

3. Marketing Team List

Set up the marketing team as sources. HARO lists general “business” topics like marketing-specific content and case studies.

4. Leadership Team List

Include your leadership team as sources. These individuals often have years of experience and unique perspectives that can provide depth to a content creator’s story.

Plus, quotes from company leaders often hold more weight.

5. Industry Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

These individuals within your organization or network have specialized knowledge in specific areas of your industry.

Content creators often seek experts who can provide in-depth insights on specific topics.

A SaaS company will have engineering or development team members that can be excellent sources of technical information.

However, content creators also search other areas for data or sources. As you’ll see below, content creators also go to Google and Reddit in their search.

List Building For Earned Links

Earning links doesn’t require building site lists for outreach, but rather lists of keywords or communities content creators are searching for information on a topic.

Although these creators use many sources for research, they heavily use Google and Reddit to get direction, answer questions, or provide data.

Content creators are using research hubs on subreddits.

Keyword Research Lists

Instead of building a list of sites, this technique builds a list of targeted keywords for the content to rank.

6. Data Keywords

Create lists of keywords that indicate research-based queries. These often include terms like “statistics” or “data.”

By crafting content around these keywords, you stand a higher chance of earning backlinks from journalists or bloggers searching for data-driven insights in your industry.

Examples include:

  • [industry] statistics [year].
  • [topic] data (e.g., Christmas shopping data).
  • [industry | keyword] trends.

7. Researching New Topics

Many writers create content about topics that are new to them. Thus they will search for very top-of-funnel terms like “what is” or “what are.”

8. Book Summary Search

Create a summary or outline of a book on a relevant topic.

Create a list of “[book] + summary” keywords. E.g., “product-led SEO book summary.”

9. Expert Search

Search for an expert with “top [topic] experts” for listicles. Get listed on those listicles.

10. Trendy Topics

Find keywords for trending topics, and become the expert. With new topics, SMEs will be limited.

Thus secure placements on roundup articles about experts in trending topics.

Tips:

  • If your content is an order of magnitude (e.g., 10X better data quality) better than the top pieces, then build a list of referring domains that link to the top-ranking content. Use this as a primer list to do outreach and secure initial links.
  • Use the People Also Ask questions to identify topics to write about.

Subreddit lists

Content creators can use Reddit to learn more about their research, as subreddits exist for almost any category.

When creating these community lists, look for trends, not just one community. As you can see below, the “helpful sources” category has multiple similar subreddits.

Depending on the company’s niche, search for topical trends like “cyber security innovation threads.”

Here are three categories to build lists around, but research your niche.

11. General News

Create a list of general news subreddits that can provide a list for sharing quotes or unique data on a trending topic. Examples include /r/news and /r/worldnews.

12. Helpful Sources

Create a list of threads that posts data or helpful content around a topic. Some examples are /r/explainlikeimfive/, /r/dataisbeautiful, or /r/indepthstories.

13. Innovation Threads

In SaaS, if the product is innovative or leadership has a value-add take on a trending topic, Reddit has threads. For example, /r/Futurology has content on AI or advanced technology topics.

Building lists are easy to write about but difficult to execute. Use the following tips to search and filter down the entire list.

Tips to filter Reddit interactions for a targeted site list.

  • Subreddit Research: Use the Reddit search feature to find subreddits related to your industry or niche. Each subreddit is a community with its own rules and preferences. Understand these before you post.
  • Look for query-based threads: Search for threads where users ask questions or seek information about your industry or niche. These results yield great opportunities to provide a helpful response and include a relevant link to your content.
  • Host an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session: If you’re an expert in a particular field, you can host an AMA session. This focus allows you to share a lot of links to your content. Ensure your AMA provides value and isn’t just self-promotion.
  • Join discussions: Engage in discussions in your targeted subreddits. You can share if your content is relevant and provides more insight or a different perspective.
  • Share unique, high-quality content: Reddit users appreciate unique, high-quality content. If your content meets this standard, you’re more likely to earn upvotes, comments, and potentially backlinks.

Earning links can be time-consuming and resource intensive, but the next section covers a technique that any marketer can execute: guest posting.

High-Authority Guest Posting Lists

A “high authority guest post” refers to a blog or article written by a guest author and posted on a highly reputable, authoritative website.

The credibility and recognition of the host website are expected to increase the reach, credibility, and impact of the guest post. An executive, manager, or company leader will find more opportunities for the highest authority contributions.

These team members can secure contributions to major publications or company blogs. A strong thought leader can contribute to sites like Harvard Business Review or Fast Company.

However, guest posts on relevant company blogs are available in higher volume.

14. Major Publications Contributions

To build a list of major publications that will provide a byline, search for lists in Google with search operators.

A final list of these publications will be short, as many sites publish lists of them with the contributor guidelines.

To find these lists, search in Google with the following search operator, and

{keyword} -guidelines intitle:"contributor" intext:"publication"

15. Niche Company Blogs

Some websites also allow for a guest article contribution. For example, HubSpot allows experts to create and publish on the blog.

To find these blogs, search in Google for a variation of the search operators:

{keyword} intitle:"contributor"

Although this operator uses “contributor,” swap that word out for various terms to expand the list:

  • Guest post.
  • Guest contributor.
  • Write for us.
  • Blogging guidelines.
  • Contributor guidelines.
  • Submit a post.

Skyscraper Technique List Building

The Skyscraper Technique is a link building technique where you find existing high-performing content on a topic related to your industry, create something even better, and then reach out to the right people so they can link to your superior content.

It was developed by Brian Dean from Backlinko, and it’s a highly effective method of acquiring high-quality backlinks.

16. Links To Original Content

This list building method is similar to competitor analysis. Use Ahrefs, Semrush, Moz, or Majestic’s backlink reports to identify links directly pointing to the URL of the topic content.

However, this process is manual, as you have to check each domain’s links individually. Using Pitchbox can make this process more scalable with the “URL backlinks” integration campaign.

17. Site & Authors That Have Covered The Topic

Use a simple Google search to find articles or blog posts about your chosen topic.

Look for articles ranking on the first few pages of Google, as these are likely high-authority sites.

You can also use Google’s ‘site:’ operator to search specific websites for relevant content.

Pro tip: Exclude the keyword from the title to find content that mentions the topic but doesn’t cover it deeply in a whole article:

 -intitle:{keyword} intext:{keyword}

The Skyscraper has become very popular in the SaaS space, as have link exchanges.

Link Exchange Lists

Link exchanges refer to the process where two websites agree to link to each other to improve search engine visibility. However, think of these as resource exchanges instead of link exchanges.

In a resource exchange, each website shares informational content with each other’s audience. These assets include blog posts, studies, or guides.

18. Identify Companies For Link Exchanges

Not all, but many companies use a /blog or /resource folder structure. This common denominator can reduce the time to build a list, as these variables can be used to design search operators.

However, some company blogs exclude the /blog from the article’s URL. Thus the blog will be example.com/example-article instead of /blog/example-article.

For the latter, use the search operator

 inurl:"blog" intitle:{keyword}

19. Non-competing Article Exchanges

Find link exchange opportunities from articles that cover the topic but are not trying to rank for the exact keywords. Filter these out by excluding them.

inurl:"blog" intext:{keyword} -intitle:{keyword}

Conclusion

Link building for SaaS companies requires leveraging unique content resources and implementing strategic techniques.

Among these, the utilization of competitor backlink lists, passive content creator source lists, earned links, high-authority guest posting, and the Skyscraper Technique are significantly effective.

With meticulous attention to creating valuable content and a dedicated focus on list-building processes, SaaS companies can significantly improve their link-building efforts.

Understanding the link building landscape is not merely a desirable skill but an essential aspect of SaaS marketing.

Future efforts should focus on continually refining these strategies in response to evolving industry trends and market needs.

More resources: 


Featured Image: Sammby/Shutterstock

Category Link Building
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Kevin Rowe Founder & Head of Strategy at PureLinq

KevinĀ is the Founder of PureLinq, an off-page SEO & link building agency, focused on digital PR and strategic link building. ...

19 List Building Techniques For SaaS Link Building [With Templates]

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