Olga MykhoparkinaJun 29, 2021
If you’ve been in the world of SaaS content marketing and SEO for longer than a minute, you’ll know that backlinks are crucial for your content marketing strategy. Even the best content will have a hard time ranking unless it’s supported with high-quality backlinks.
The problem is, getting links is neither cheap nor simple. An even bigger problem is, there are lots of people offering to sell you links at suspiciously low prices. I’m pretty sure you came across one of these:
They reach out on LinkedIn…
You see their ads all over the net.
On paper, these links look great, but not all links are equal and some may even harm your website’s performance rather than improving it.
With so many temptations, even the wisest SaaS marketing manager starts to wonder – how do I choose which websites I want backlinks from? How do I know that a website is good enough quality to link from?
At Quoleady, we build hundreds of high-quality links for our SaaS clients every month. For each website, there are strict criteria on whether we accept it or not for our clients. Today I’ll share how we choose which websites we get links from and why it matters for your SaaS brand.
Before going into tips and best practices, let’s first go over the places where you don’t want to get links from since that list is far more important.
First of all, avoid any “SEO expert” selling you links from a list of the websites that they manage like in the images above. These links are low-quality and the sites that they offer are usually private blogging networks, linking to each other.
Your website’s link will be placed with thousands of other paid link insertions. Search engines will consider these links as spammy and irrelevant and when these sites get taken down and penalized (which is a matter of time), your site will be affected too.
It’s also a good idea to avoid freelancers from platforms such as Fiverr (no offense) offering links or link packages for X amount of money. At the very best, they will give you a link to an irrelevant page with your desired anchor. SaaS link building takes time and effort and you cannot expect high quality at $50 spent on 100 links.
Moreover, avoid content farms. These are websites that seemingly have no niche or topic and you’ll find them writing about lawn care in one blog and digital marketing in another one. These websites push out any content just to be able to insert links from clients such as yourself.
Content farm example
You also do not want to build links from articles that are filled with a large number of backlinks. If someone offers you a link from a page where every other word is a link (we call that a link cemetery) – it was written for links only.
Unless the bunch of links in the post are internal links (links to the other pages of the same website) these posts do not hold much value for search engines, so skip them.
In general, avoid paid links. Arguably, you could say that every link costs money – you have to pay the agency, the writer, the outreach manager, the link builder, the SEO specialist, you name it. However, these are the usual costs associated with a high-quality campaign.
Having said all that, there are countless websites online that are great to get links from. To separate the good from the bad as well as learn how to choose the very best, we’ll give you our checklist to go through every time you want to build a link from a new website.
Every website online has a certain domain authority (DA) ranked from 1 to 100. This metric was introduced by Moz back in the day and the bigger the number is, the more trustworthy the website is and the better the opportunity to get a link from it.
Every time we want to build a link from somewhere, the first step is to check a website’s domain authority. You can do this by logging into Moz.com and looking up the website address.
The domain authority as shown on the Moz dashboard, for the Hubspot website
An even easier way is to install MozBar – the Chrome plugin for Moz which conveniently shows you a website’s DA as soon as you open it in Chrome.
The domain authority, as shown in Chrome on the Mozbar Chrome extension
For our clients, the minimum DA we want to build links from is DA20. Of course, your own personal preference could be different but this is a reasonable number that keeps our goals high.
If you don’t want to use DA as a metric, you can also use DR or domain rating, a metric introduced by Ahrefs, the famous SEO tool. It too tells you how strong a website is, but the values are sometimes completely different.
The domain rating of the same website as shown in the Ahrefs dashboard
In this specific case, the DA vs DR values for the Hubspot website are very close, but sometimes they could differ as much as 20-30 points.
In the battle of DA vs. DR, choose the metric that you like better because both are great starting points.
The second detail is the website traffic for the website we want to build a link from. A website that has a good domain authority but no traffic is a sign that something is wrong and you should avoid it. A lot of websites that fall into this category have been built for link schemes only.
You can check how much traffic a website has in Ahrefs. Note that this is not the most accurate tool for measuring website visits (as we’ve seen discrepancies between Google Analytics almost every time), but it’s good enough for the job. You can also use SimilarWeb extension to analyze website’s traffic, but its data is just as well far from being accurate.
The overview of our client Ringblaze’s website in Ahrefs – their traffic is 5,300 visits per month organically
Most of the times the number you’ll see in Ahrefs is far lower than the actual traffic coming to the website. In case of RingBlaze, it’s the 3X difference. So normally, we’d avoid getting a link from any website that has fewer than 1,500 visits per month according to Ahrefs.
If our client’s target audience is in the US, we do our best to stick to the platforms with the traffic from the United States – you can also see this in Ahrefs:
Organic traffic by countries
Finally, you want to ensure that the organic traffic is evenly distributed among a website’s pages. For example, you could find a website that gets 90% of traffic from their home page, with other pages contributing very little.
While it’s not unusual for the home page to bring in the majority of traffic, you want to target a website that has an even distribution of traffic among their blog and other pages.
Again, you can check this in Ahrefs by navigating to the ‘Top Pages’ report:
Top pages report by Ahrefs
When you open up your target website in Ahrefs, you can see lots of information about it. Besides the information on traffic mentioned above, you want to look at how consistent the website metrics are.
An overview of a website’s traffic and organic keywords through time – we would not recommend placing a link on this website because the sudden drop in mid-2020 could mean a Google penalty
Take a look at the organic traffic graph and the backlink graph of every website you want to get a link from. You don’t want to see any drastic changes in either – such as huge drops and sudden rises at a single point in time.
This means that something shady happened with their backlinks and traffic – possibly that they got penalized by Google. You want to target websites with consistent growth over a long period of time:
Example of a website with a consistent backlink profile growth
We work with SaaS clients only. That means that when we build links, we build them mostly from other SaaS websites that write about similar topics. When Google interprets these links coming to your website, it needs to see that they are relevant and contextual and in general, that they make sense.
A link from a news outlet here and there is not so bad but you want to stick to websites that matter for your industry. Getting a backlink from a website with a huge DA is always good, but there’s not a lot of use if the niche is completely unrelated. Imagine getting a link from a carpet manufacturer to your project management app blog, for example.
When you’re looking for link placement, you want to take a look at what the website general writes about and what other websites they link to. That way, you’ll know if you’re in good company or not.
An example of a website covering digital marketing, SEO and for some reason, blackjack. On paper, the website seems like a great opportunity (DA44), but is most likely a scam
In general, you want to avoid websites that write about porn, casinos, and gambling. This is just asking for trouble and no good SEO expert will touch anything that has to do with these niches. Moreover, you want to avoid all websites that give links to porn, casino and gambling websites. If they give a link to you, you’ll be in that same crowd.
When you build links for your website, you want to ensure that each link you get is labeled dofollow. That means that search engines will “see” this backlink and that it will count towards your backlink profile. We’ve written about the difference between nofollow and dofollow links before and while the occasional nofollow link is not harmful, it’s better to avoid them.
Moreover, if you have lots of backlinks, there is a chance that you already have a link from a website that you’re reaching out to. You can go to Ahrefs and check if a website you’re targeting already gave you a link or not – it’s a fairly quick and easy process.
Simply navigate to the ‘Backlinks’ report in Ahrefs and type in the url of the website in question like in the example below:
Backlink report in Ahrefs – checking if the website already has backlinks from a given domain
Every website has a number of linked domains – these are the websites that website A gave links to. On the other hand, the referring domains are websites that gave links to website A. Consider it as a ratio of links coming in and out of a website.
You want this ratio to be as close to 1:1 as possible. For example, if a website has 1,300 linked domains and 300 referring domains, that means that it gave out more links to other sites than other sites linked to it. It gave out 1,300 links while only earning 300 links itself.
The other way around is great too: let’s say that a website has more referring domains than linked domains, it means that it earned more backlinks than it gave out – and this is definitely a site you want a link from.
This ratio could mean that a website is selling links and giving out links to others, often in return for money. You want to avoid websites with a poor ratio of linked and referring domains, just to be on the safe side.
To check the number of linked domains navigate to the ‘Outgoing links’ -> ‘Linked domains’ report in Ahrefs and you’ll instantly see the exact number as well as the whole list of the domains.
Linked domains report in Ahrefs
The number you’d want to compare it to is the number of referring domains that is also available in Ahrefs:
91 linked vs 369 referring domains is a great score meaning that a link from this website will be valuable and beneficial.
MajesticSEO is a tool that has its own system for rating the quality of a website. Without going into too much detail, Trust Ratio determines how valuable of a target is for links based on the overall flow of links coming to the website you’re targeting. In general, if the website itself has great links, you’ll benefit from getting a link from them as well.
You want the trust to citation flow of a website to be at least 0.50 – you can easily check this metric in MajesticSEO before proceeding to build a link.
Every now and then, you’ll run into a website that wants to charge money to publish a guest post or link to you. While this isn’t inherently bad, it is against Google’s best practices that strictly forbid selling links. Of course, people sell links all the time, seemingly without penalty.
The problem is, a website that will accept a sponsored post usually has very low (or non-existing) standards for what they accept. They commonly disregard the quality of the content and publish anything for a quick buck. Needless to say, avoid these websites.
One final check that our team makes is to manually look over the website to make sure that it’s up to standard. This means checking out the blog posts, the overall design, the content they publish, the product they offer, the internal and external links they have, and more.
In general, you want the quality of their content to be at a high standard and the topics relevant to your industry and business. After reviewing a few hundred websites, you’ll get a good sense of what websites are good targets and which ones are not.
Combine your common sense with a wide range of metrics you can get from Ahrefs, and you can tell within minutes if a website is a good target for a link or not.
We have the pleasure of working with a variety of SaaS brands and we’ve built some great links for them in the past. Consider this guest blog which we did on the Pics.io blog on behalf of our client, Ringblaze.
Titled Boost Your Team’s Productivity Like Nobody’s Business, it was published in November 2020. Looking at the Pics.io blog, you can see why this is a good target for a link:
Let’s show you one more example. This one is called How To Use LinkedIn Contacts For Email Marketing: A Step-By-Step Guide For Startups and it’s the one we helped our client Expandi.io and their CEO, Stefan Smulders with.
The website is great because it’s
As you can see, choosing a website you want to get a link from is a lot of work. Every choice you make has to be backed by careful research and solid data. Only by taking this approach can you ensure that all of your links are high quality and they will make an impact on the SEO performance of your SaaS website.
Does this seem like too much work for you? No worries – we have you covered! Our expert team has built hundreds of high-quality links for SaaS clients from different niches and we can help you too. If you’re looking for a reliable partner that can build quality, relevant links that make an impact, reach out to us today to get started!
Let us know what you are looking to accomplish.
We’ll give you a clear direction of how to get there.
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