Let’s face it – building links for e-commerce websites isn’t an easy job. It can be overwhelming for those new to link building. Even seasoned pros can face many challenges like being in a super competitive niche and appearing unnatural/spammy to Google.
Even with all these challenges, e-commerce link building can be done and scaled if you adopt creative and methodical strategies.
1. Product Outreach
If I had to choose one e-commerce link building strategy, I would go with product outreach. A rather simple method, all you have to do is find relevant bloggers in your niche and send them your products. What follows is upto the creativity of the blogger. They could write a review for your product or even better, organize a giveaway or contest.
Using this strategy isn’t just limited to backlinks. With the review/giveaway/contest, your product gains exposure in front of a new audience. A review by a popular blogger can almost serve as a recommendation from a friend.
Pay extra effort while selecting a blogger. To find bloggers that are a good fit for my campaign, I use the same process that I use while finding guest posting opportunities.
Pro Tip: Find the most popular/authoritative blogs in your niche. A simple Google search “Top 20 [niche] Blogs” will provide the results that you seek. Now, stick the URL in your favorite link research tools. Download the referring domains in Excel format and sort by Domain Authority. Go from high DA to low DA and find the bloggers that have linked out. Go to their blog and try to gain a measure of the user engagement. If you find it appropriate, you have just found the perfect fit.
You can also send your products to local mommy bloggers. Mommy bloggers usually have a loyal following and a good review from them could result in a huge influx of new customers.
Another potential target for your product outreach strategy are influencers. Influencers are people who have a huge following on social media. If you are just starting out, target medium level influencers and then move on to the big players once you gain popularity.
2. Sponsorship/Donation Links
Although, they require some initial investment, sponsorhip and donation links can provide excellent value. The effectiveness and value of these links depends on the execution.
If executed in a viable, white-hat way, they will result in ranking benefits. A suitable example for this would be when an e-commerce website selling pet related products sponsors an animal shelter.
However, when www.cookiecentral.com (DA 83, PA 65) which talks about cookies and data privacy, links out from their homepage to www.dhgate.com, a website for wholesale China products, it is a clear indication of manipulative practices.
3. .edu Links
Just like the sponsorship links, the backlinks you obtain from .edu domains can be of prime importance to your link building campaign, if you gain them in a relevant way.
A few simple techniques/strategies to gather .edu link are :
Offer discounts – One of the easiest ways to obtain .edu links is to offer discounts to students and faculty located near you.
Careers – By offering internships to students or hiring one, you can get listed on the university’s career page.
Scholarships and grants – both good. Again, I have to repeat myself, it all depends on execution. When an e-commerce site has 50 links from .edu sites and the rest of their backlink profile is trash, it is easy to figure out that the intent was to manipulate the SERPs.
4. Clubs and Associations
It is generally good business practice (that yields a link) to join the Better Business Bureau(BBB) and the local chamber of commerce.
As a business, you are free to join any clubs and associations which you want. Join them and request for an obligatory link(not always) on the members’ page. Just be a little selective. Only obtain links from clubs/association which are relevant to the nature of your business.
5. Low Hanging Fruit
This link building strategy should be implemented for every campaign, not just those targetting e-commerce sites.
Leverage business relationships
You should start by requesting link from your business relationships. If you are a retailer, you can easily gain a link from your supplier, just ask to be listed on the “Retailers” page. Another example would be, if you are a tire company, you can form a partnership with a company that sells wheels or rims and get listed on the “Partners” page.
Target personal relationships
Another low hanging fruit is to target personal relationships. It will always be easier to get a link from your friends, family, co-workers and even your employees, rather than approaching complete strangers. The chances of success in this scenario are quite high.
Target personal assets
Also, if you are the owner of other websites(a blog or another business),you can link out from these. However, don’t abuse this. Avoid a sitewide footer link. A simple link from the homepage should suffice.
Although easy to build, these links are of low value(except a few). However, you can use them to gain initial traction.
If you have a well-designed, pretty website, you can submit to CSS/HTML5 directories. Getting featured on these sites can be an excellent traffic driver, as well as yield a decent backlink. You can also build backlinks by submitting to logo design directories, RSS feeds, classified ads and adding your products to product listing site , to list a few.
Submitting your website to local and niche directories can serve the purpose of a backlink and help potential customers find you. I see many e-commerce websites ignoring this tactic. Local citations are an excellent way to acquire backlinks in a clean, non manipulative way.
You can also do a little competitor research to gain more of these submission based opportunities. Once you have exhausted these, switch to advanced search queries which will help you find link building opportunities.
6. Mention Tracking
If you are just starting out your link building campaign, tracking mentions for your website, brand, product and company can result in easy wins.
Finding mentions can serve a dual purpose – they are a great link building opportunity as well as a chance to establish a future relationship.
All you need to do once you find a mention is to reach out and send a short email, thanking them for the mention and asking if they would be okay with linking to you(be courteous if rejected). An example template that you could use for the email is –
I noticed you mentioned (ME/MY BRAND/MY WEBSITE) on your site: (LINK). Really appreciate the mention! I’m glad you wanted to share (MY CONTENT/COMPANY/BRAND) with your readers. Would you mind linking back to show your (READERS/AUDIENCE/MEMBERS) what you’re talking about?
You can use two tools to keep track of your mentions – Google Alerts and Ahrefs(does it all).
Google Alerts is the best choice for those seeking a free (and awesome) service. It has various settings that you can configure to your choice.
The setting I prefer are –
- How often – As-it-happens
- Sources – Automatic
- How Many – All the results
- Email – Be sure to setup a different folder for the alerts if you don’t want to end up with a clogged inbox.
The most important setting however are the search queries. These are the bread and butter of your mention tracking strategy. You have to get them right if you want to achieve any success. Some of the search queries I like to use are –
- “Company Name” -site:example.com
- “Founder Name” -site:example.com
- “Product Name” -site:example.com
Mention tracking can work in various situations. Example, if a blogger posts about a product, you can get in touch and send a free sample of your product which can convert into a high quality link and exposure to their audience.
7. Competitor Research
No link building campaign is complete without thorough competitor research. One of my favorite strategies to build links, I let my competitors do the hardwork and then steal their backlinks(evil laugh).
This is as easy as finding your top competitors and researching their link profiles using your choice of SEO tools to find links that you can replicate for your own site. Use this to score easy guest posting gigs.
However, don’t go too overboard. Be sure to see if the backlinks aren’t spammy in nature before replicating them.
Don’t forget to do one thing – create an awesome product. There are various instances where people expect their link building to do all the magic. It just won’t work if you have an average product or offer sub-par customer services. A good link building campaign can only complement an amazing product and customer satisfaction, not replace it.
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