Do you know why the biggest brands in the world are 100% protected from Google updates?
They don’t have some special gentleman’s agreement with Larry Page. It’s because Google trusts them 100% as a legitimate brand.
That is the secret to avoiding penalties in the search results.
If you look at brands like Tesla, Amazon, Hubspot and others they all have something in common.
They have thousands of backlinks pointing to their homepage.
This happens naturally for the big brands because journalists and bloggers love to talk about their favorite brands. They also love to link to those brands.
The effect of this phenomenon is that big brands keep getting more backlinks the way Google always intended, naturally. Thousands upon thousands of signals are being sent to Google that these brands should be trusted.
With that brand trust comes protection from penalties from Google updates. Amazon could literally employ the most underhanded black hat SEO techniques and they would still avoid penalties because the natural link-building that is happening on their site is so overwhelming.
As a small SaaS startup, we don’t have that same luxury. No one is going to link to us naturally because they are huge fans of our brand, at least not at first.
So how do we mirror what the big brands have done to establish our SaaS businesses as trusted brands with Google?
We have to follow their pattern of link building.
Backlinks are expensive.
You essentially have two options to get backlinks. You can spend time writing blog posts like this one which takes a lot of time (when you actually write the content yourself), and time is money.
The second option is to hire a company to build backlinks for you. And that is also expensive, especially with how many backlinks you need to actually make a dent in the search results.
Because backlinks are cost-prohibitive, the temptation is to build links to your big-money pages, or blog posts that you’re trying to rank. Building links to those pages is a smart strategy in some cases but for a startup it is premature.
If you’re a newer SaaS company, before you build backlinks to any other pages you need to send pretty much all of the backlinks you build to your homepage.
This sends a huge signal to Google that you exist and that you’re in business. A business should always be trying to build brand recognition. That is what Google is looking for, signals that a brand is here and growing.
Ever heard of State Farm, Liberty Mutual, Farmers, All State? If you’re in the US and into sports I guarantee you have. Insurance companies are borderline psychotic about building brand recognition on television.
This is standard business practice and exactly what Google wants to see us doing as well.
The way that we establish brand trust with Google is to do what these big companies do. Build brand recognition.
This means that with each backlink we build to our homepage, we need to use some form of our brand name as the anchor text.
People link naturally to Hubspot using “Hubspot” or “Hubspot.com” or “https://hubspot.com” as the anchor text. Same with Tesla and Amazon and all of the other big companies. They all get new backlinks to their homepage consistently with some form of their brand name as the anchor text.
Our goal is to put our brands in the same boat as the big brands so we need to do the same thing.
This means that even after you have established some brand trust with Google you will still need to continue to build homepage backlinks…forever. Hopefully as you grow it will happen more often naturally but until then you have to be very deliberate about it.
With any new SaaS startup I try to get as many homepage backlinks as I can. Because I often bootstrap my businesses, money is always a factor in the beginning.
Here are five of my favorite ways to build homepage backlinks quickly and with as little financial investment as possible.
- Journalist pitch requests
- Podcast interviews
- SaaS business directories
- Expert roundups
- Guest posting
Journalist Pitch Requests
If you’ve done any type of link building then you’ve heard of HARO (help a reporter out). Journalists have deadlines and many of them need quotes from experts in a specific field and HARO is one of the places they reach out for quotes. If you can provide them with a quote that is well thought out and insightful, they will publish it in the article. In addition they will almost always link to your company homepage in the article. Imagine the credibility and visibility that comes with it.
But HARO isn’t the only source. There are other good ones like Qwoted, Profnet, and JournoRequest hashtag on Twitter. JustReachOut has a pitch request tool that aggregates all of the sources into one place and is searchable by keyword.
One of my favorite marketing strategies is to pitch myself as a podcast guest. It’s one of the few marketing strategies where you can not only get a captive audience to listen to you and hopefully get to know, like and trust you, but podcasters will always link to your homepage in the show notes.
So you’ll get the SEO benefit but also referral traffic from listeners to the episode. Not to mention you essentially are able to sell to an audience for twenty to thirty minutes on why your SaaS app is amazing. And don’t be afraid to go onto smaller podcasts, you’ll still get backlinks and you never know how the podcast will grow.
Think of business directories as your secret weapon for more visibility and those sought-after homepage backlinks. Choose reputable directories related to your industry that offer direct links to your homepage.
Being part of expert roundups is like attending a big party where everyone gets to share their expertise. Contributing to industry blogs and websites in this way not only helps you gain exposure to a wider audience but also earns you valuable backlinks. It’s a win-win.
If you’ve positioned yourself as an expert you can simply get invited to participate in these roundups. A much easier way is to use services like Terkel to get access to roundups and the free backlinks that come with it.
I will admit that guest posting is the most time-consuming of these strategies but if you take the time it is effective. I won’t go into the strategies or benefits of guest posting, I think we all know them.
I will simply say that you should take the time to develop relationships and guest post on the most relevant blogs that you can. Give them your best content. Add value to the internet. If you’re going to spend the time to do it, do it right. (And don’t try to cheat by having ChatGPT write the content for you)
These five methods are not just good for new businesses, I continue to use all of them to build homepage links because as I said before, you need to consistently get links to your homepage forever. This blog post you are reading right now is an example of me using the guest posting strategy.
So there you have it, if you want to be truly successful with your SEO campaign you need to start by building brand trust with Google by building branded anchor backlinks to your homepage.
Now get out there and get building.
About the Author
Adam White is a 20+ year entrepreneur having built and sold 18 internet businesses. He currently runs SquidVision.com, a new type of landing page optimization software for SaaS companies, and does SaaS and SEO consulting at Prosperly.com. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and kids and in between SaaS businesses he writes and directs feature films.