Programmatic SEO

daydream Editorial Team

Apr 12, 2024

Product Market Fit solves for building backlinks

When we speak to prospective customers at daydream, one question inevitably surfaces — “It’s great that you can help us do programmatic SEO, but what about building backlinks?” The short answer to this question is that I don’t believe it’s useful to treat building backlinks as a distinct practice, at least in the way it’s commonly discussed in SEO circles.

The problem with building backlinks

Backlinks are used as a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm because they are proxy indicators for value created on the internet. If you have a lot of highly reputable domains sending links back to you, it should be because you created something valuable.

Unfortunately, rather than focus on creating something valuable that organically accumulates backlinks, the SEO industry has normalized buying backlinks directly from various SEO agencies. This practice is not only short-sighted — it’s also directly in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines.

If you choose to engage in practices that Google condemns, the premise of your SEO strategy is anchored in trying to exploit short-term wins and hoping that Google doesn’t catch you. These same people tend to stress the most when Google releases a new update, like the one they released in March.

If the foundation of your SEO strategy focuses on creating content that’s helpful to users, meets the quality bar of what you’d expect from a subject matter expert, and isn’t engaging in shady practices then you’ll have nothing to worry about. This is the case at daydream, where we saw no material adverse effects on any of our early design partners after the update.

The best companies don’t need to “build” backlinks

Consider companies like Notion (DR 91) and Tome (also DR 74), who are daydream customers. Neither company spends money buying backlinks, yet they have strong domains that continually accumulate backlinks and domain authority at a rapid pace.

Here’s Notion’s backlink profile, which shows them rapidly ramping to 90K+ referring domains over the span of a few years. Tome’s DR is lower, but their curve is even steeper, going from virtually no domain authority in 2022 to 74+ today.

Notion’s backlink profile.

Tome’s backlink profile.

How did they do this then? The answer is that they’ve just built a product that people love. Tome became the fastest productivity tool to reach 1M users organically, while 95%+ of Notion’s users originally came from community-led growth. Note that both companies nailed PMF before investing in SEO.

When a product is truly loved, it’s easily shared amongst people, reaches the press, and consequently generates backlinks at scale.

Programmatic SEO is an accelerant, not a silver bullet

In certain cases, implementing a product-led programmatic SEO strategy can accelerate your ability to catch backlinks quickly. Consider Pinterest’s approach to creating unique, search-optimized pages for every pin and collection. While Pinterest’s root domain accumulates links naturally, it's easily sharable long-tail /pins and /users/collections pages play an important role in compounding that effect.

Another excellent example is Canva, which compounds its natural ability to acquire backlinks by creating unique pages tailored specifically to specific pages or types of templates.

In both Pinterest and Canva’s cases, they nailed product-market fit before focusing on aggressive growth engineering. Programmatic SEO can be a backlink multiplier for a product with strong product market fit, but it’s not a substitute for it.

What about B2B SaaS products?

There’s some truth to the view that consumer products generally circulate on the internet faster, receive more media coverage, and therefore receive backlinks faster. That said, if you’re a B2B SaaS company, all your competitors will have the same issue, so it shouldn’t be something that you worry about.

Take the long view on SEO

At daydream, we believe that the companies that do SEO the best focus on it the least initially. Rather than looking for quick wins, they took the long view on building a product people love, achieved product market fit, and only then built an SEO strategy to accelerate product distribution. If you’re a company with a product-market fit interested in building a programmatic SEO strategy around your product, please contact me at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you!

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© 2024 daydream Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 daydream Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 daydream Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.