Ecommerce Link Building Strategies – Backlink Generation For Ecommerce StoresSo, I’ll spare you the usual How Ecommerce Is Only Going To Get Huge gospel – we all know the numbers, and we all know that ecommerce is probably the most straightforward way of having a website that makes you money in real time. But what about ecommerce link building?
Unfortunately, things aren’t as straightforward there.
Here’s the reason:
There is no such thing as an untapped niche. Even when you’ll be selling top hats for robots, you’ll have a couple of competitors trying to snatch customers away from you.
In that sense, it sucks to even think about having a great product (or a dozen) sitting in your warehouse just because you can’t end up at the top of the SERPs (trust me, I’ve seen this carnage happen MANY times to some excellent, top-of-the-line products).
In most cases, people just move to Amazon or eBay, start moving the products off their shelves and be happy with truncated profit margins. If that works for you, great. If not, it’s time to take Ecommerce SEO very, very seriously – and it all starts with exploring some great, across-the-board ecommerce link building strategies.
While we have already assumed (quite rightly so) that ecommerce is only going to get bigger, it’s important to take a moment to understand what building ecommerce backlinks (of high quality, of course) means for an ecommerce website.
Ecommerce SEO, just like regular SEO, is heavily dependent on establishing authority. But that’s not all. The referral traffic that backlinks drive may not be anything more than the authority-signal for a regular website – but for ecommerce websites, this is pure gold.
Let’s consider a practical example to understand this point.
For this example, I’m considering the jewellery niche – a great representative for a wide ecommerce cross section.
Running a quick search for the money keyword “silver necklace for baby girl UK”, we get these results:
The top 3 results include (excluding the 2nd ranked generic store):
Now, let’s quickly run the core domains for these top 3 contenders (using Ahrefs Domain Comparison Tool). Here’s what it looks like:
(Remember, we will only be focussing on ecommerce backlinks in this post).
As you can see, there’s a HUGE difference between the number of backlinks for domains ranked #1, 3 and 4. The first ranker outdoes the competition in nearly every other SEO/authority aspect as well. The ultimate goal for us will be to build ecommerce backlinks that can compete with these numbers.
Now, let’s assess the backlinks for the page that actually ranks in SERPs. Here are the results:
Please note: The domains placed at #3 and #4 are ranking their homepages – not category pages. So, it’s important to take their numbers with a pinch of salt.
Onto organic traffic now.
The results for SERP listed pages for the given keyword:
#4: 368 (virtually nothing when compared to #1)
Here’s a graphical representation of the results so far to put things in perspective:
Building ecommerce backlinks directly contributes to higher rankings and hence higher organic traffic – this should be obvious. Going a step further, when we consider the click-through rates and average order value for these categories, it’s not too difficult to understand that ecommerce link building adds immensely to the top line of every ecommerce business.
If your ecommerce store is roughing it out there against established competitiors, building links can solve many, many of your problems by directly improving sales.
At Ghost Marketing, we have helped a number of ecommerce businesses in all industry sectors and niches build high-quality links that have quickly improved their overall SEO stature. To know more, check our link building process out. To request a proposal, feel free to get in touch.
Ecommerce link building – unlike link building for a lead gen website – has multiple ‘linkable’ touchpoints. Understanding these can be an extremely effective way of building a natural, robust and authoritative link profile.
This is the obvious part. In most cases – regardless of the type of the website – the highest number of backlinks will point to the homepage (ecommerce websites are no exception).
If your ecommerce website is a niche/micro-niche store, it’s extremely important to add as much authority you can to your homepage as you can. Backlinks are your best friends in such a scenario.
Category pages provide huge opportunities for ecommerce websites.
Having designed and executed dozens of ecommerce link building campaigns, I can say one thing with certainty – many of your competitors pay little attention to building links to category pages. That’s a screaming siren for you to get in on the action.
There are multiple benefits of spreading your link profile across category pages.
It’s not always easy to build links to individual product pages. Firstly, we almost always have to talk about dozens/hundreds of products (as opposed to one homepage and a handful of category pages).
Secondly, as you keep adding products, it becomes next to impossible to build a high number of links to each and every one of them. And, as you can guess, building cheaper backlinks for each and every product page just isn’t realistic.
This is exactly where we begin to understand why category pages are so important.
Alright – this is where things get interesting.
Content opens up a HUGE number of doors for ecommerce businesses. And to be really honest, I am yet to see a small ecommerce business that does it well.
Content marketing gives you linkable assets – a dream come true for a link builder.
The less effort you have to take in building each link (from editorial links @ 0 to paid links @ 100), the more successful each content campaign is. In the context of ecommerce link building, content assets should be treated as importantly as category pages – even when they can only generate leads/indirect conversions (as opposed to category/product pages).
Creating link bait content should be a big part of these efforts.
Other link building touchpoints include the contact page, FAQs, buying guides and so on. These will be the last targets for your ecommerce link building campaigns.
So, now that we have established that the road to profits for any ecommerce business has to go via multiple link building campaigns, it’s time to actually get down to business.
There are dozens of ecommerce link building strategies that depend entirely on your budget, the type of your website and the competition – but there are a few that run across the board with the same effectiveness.
A final link building plan should consist of a unique mix of these (and other) white hat link building strategies.
To know how much our link building plan will add to your top line, feel free to write to us here.
Digital PR, as you know, is a great link building tool. It can, however, break your bank if you aren’t doing it right (here’s a lowdown on our digital PR link building strategy).
Okay, now let’s try to solve these with a weird approach (of sorts).
Firstly, PR is easy when you don’t have to pitch too hard.
That’s where the extreme experience comes in.
When you’re pitching ideas for ‘extreme’ products, you know that journalists/media people will be interested. They love having nothing more than content that oozes ‘Click On This Right Now’ . By extreme, I mean products that are unique, strange, weird, unheard of – or whatever in that league.Please note: While building links to your ecommerce store via digital PR, you don’t always need to have an extreme product on your shelves. It’s often enough to have a quirky product that is noticeable. You can always reach out to media contacts with such products for digital PR, with a link pointing back to your home page.
Here’s an example.
GrassFlipFlops.com is a niche ecommerce store that offers – no surprises here – grass flip flops.
They seem to have aced this niche pretty well – thanks probably to their digital PR efforts. The product isn’t obviously extreme – but it’s definitely quirky enough for people to remember and be ‘baited into’ reading about.
No wonder they regularly score links from media outlets – here’s one from BuzzFeed.
There’s no better way of putting some great deals out there than digital PR.
If your store is reasonably large and your brand is fairly popular, this strategy works flawlessly 10/10 times.
The logic is simple – just extend the extreme experience idea to offers/deals and get in touch with relevant media publications to do the PR for you.
Here’s a great example.
Leveraging the Royal Wedding frenzy, this store did some solid digital PR. This is nothing more than the classic newsjacking strategy. Here’s one piece from Mirror.
The link points back to the home page and will probably keep giving authority to the store for a long, long time. Worth the money/efforts (or both)? Absolutely!
Understanding content marketing becomes easy when you’re willing to accept that the content marketing ROI is ongoing (Link building ROIs are calculated along the same lines).
If your content assets are of the ‘evergreen’ nature, they tend to age beautifully (provided that the quality is high). As these assets age, it becomes easier and easier to build links to them, simply because they are already being talked about out there.
As far as ecommerce businesses go, content marketing is a completely different beast. You CANNOT hope to build link via your content assets if you’re not investing enough time and money into creating them. In other words, ecommerce link building via content marketing is tough to scale.
So, what’s the solution?
The scalability problem in content marketing is particularly serious for small ecommerce stores with run-of-the-mill products. I wouldn’t know how you plan on making those succeed, especially given that nearly every common ‘buy’ search query will be gobbled up by Amazon .
On the other hand, if you’re offering something unique, it’s much easier to make content work for you, via an SEO content strategy.
I have always maintained that ecommerce businesses need to focus on visual content first, followed by video content as they not only help you build links (high shareability implies high linkability), but they directly contribute to intent driven referral traffic (a bonus) as well.
Well-produced visual/video content assets are far easier to notice than, say, a long-form article/blog. So, adding these visual touches to your content marketing efforts helps earn and build links in the long run.
Always keep in mind that you’re going after two goals:
Here’s a great example of how an infographic can be turned into a scalable ecommerce link building asset.
Real Men Real Style is an ecommerce and lifestyle business that offers classic Western and Southwestern accessories – cowboy boots, for example.
Here’s the infographic they have produced in one of their posts.
It’s attractive, informative and definitely entertaining.
Here’s the link analysis for that page:
See how they have raked up 600+ backlinks thanks just to one great infographic?
One more interesting thing to notice here – there’s no organic traffic to this page. They couldn’t care less about that because this page – for all I can tell – was built specifically to host this infographic and to build links thereon.
The bonus is they – in this process – have established themselves as an authority in their niche. It’s a win-win!
Right off the bat: I’m not here to debate the moral aspects of this approach.
Using charities for link building is a great thing – you just can’t convince me otherwise (we have already talked about how this can be used as a local link building strategy).
As an ecommerce store, you can find and donate to charitable organisations in two ways:
Whichever way you look at it, this is one of the best approaches when it comes to ecommerce link building. It’s scalable, gets you some authority links and the best part: you can actually add a great conversion booster to your sales pages (all the while doing something good!).
As a consumer who cares about how products are sourced, how they are processed and what sort of stuff goes on behind the curtains, I always prefer to buy from a responsible business. By building ecommerce links via charities, you make sure that your money is returned in two ways: the SEO authority from the link juice AND the conversion boost you get on each page. What’s to hate here?!
MemoBottle is a craft water bottle business. All they sell are gorgeous water bottles and bottle sleeves.
They have partnered with Water.org (arguably the best known water conservation foundation in the world) to donate $1 for each sale they make. This works because the store and the charity are natural fits for each other. People who buy $120 water bottles are definitely going to be impressed by their association with Water.org (the point I made earlier).
As a result, they have secured a hugely valuable backlink from the foundation. This page features all such businesses that pledge support to Water.org.
Here’s the backlink:
The point is easy to understand – by giving back to a charity that overlaps with your business, you strike multiple targets in one go.
Tiered link building is something that most link building agencies fail to grasp.
The only problem with tiered link building is the effort:reward ratio.
In this case, however, ecommerce link building via the charity route opens a nice little treasure chest of tiered links (because charities usually enjoy a very promising, natural link profile).
In our example, here’s the link analysis for the page from where the ecommerce store is getting their backlink:
As you can see, the linking page already has 31 links. These all add in their own little capacities to the ecommerce website’s link profile.
It’s all great, I say!
We have already discussed in the first point how an ecommerce link building campaign can acquire high authority backlinks through digital PR of extreme experience products.
Let’s now see how this strategy can be coupled with the ‘giving back’ angle.
Whenever you launch a giving back campaign (especially in association with a notable charity), you instantly have in your hands a press-worthy story that doesn’t need to be pitched hard to your media contacts.
In addition, you can work with the charity organisation’s own PR team to reach out to their contacts – a wonderful secondary asset, because most charities have on board a full-fledged PR team.
The result is:
All this happens after you build your links, eventually making sure that your link building (+ giving back) budget pays for itself many, many times over.
Here’s one example of this strategy in action (I’m sticking with the same ‘watery’ line of thought!)
WaterFilters.net, by working with Charity Water, created a neat, concise digital PR campaign. One of their hits can be seen above (as featured here).
Want to build premium backlinks that skyrocket your ecommerce SEO to a whole new level? Check our bespoke backlink building process out to learn more. You can also request a free proposal and consultation by getting in touch with us.
A link building campaign never really reaches a conclusion – it’s a process, rather a destination.
So, building links in every which way you can becomes important – especially when we talk about white hat methods of ecommerce link building.
Here are a few additional strategies that may or may not apply to all stores. I’ll keep updating these on a regular basis – so bookmark the page if that interests you. (If you’ve got any questions, you can always find me on Twitter).
If you’ve got some certifications that you can show off on your “About Us” page, don’t just stop at showing them off. Make sure the certifying authority (usually a website with a great link profile of its own) links back to you.
This gives you a handy, valuable link that you well-and-truly deserve (and, needless to say, substantiates your claims).
For food products, Fair Trade Certified is a competent certification authority (in the US, at least).
Here’s what their outgoing link profile looks like:
It’s just a sample screenshot – there are hundreds of stores they link to. I have, on purpose, arranged these in an ascending order of DA to weed out social media and other authority sites.
In almost every industry, there are opportunities to acquire certificates that generate links as well as authority. Fair Trade is just an example – you can think of many others, from ISO to Vegan Certified and Made in USA to regional organic certifications.
Most ecommerce businesses are either flat-out importers or private label brands.
So, naturally, they do establish good relationships with manufacturers, wholesalers and even stockists.
It’s very easy to use these relationships to score some easy backlinks to get your domain going.
If it’s a large manufacturer, chances are that they would hesitate in linking back to you. In almost every other case, the manufacturer will happily link back to you if your website is good enough (and you’re linking back to them!).
Here’s one example.
Printify is a popular dropshipping facilitator for ecommerce stores in the personalised fashion sector.
Here’s their outgoing link profile:
Notice how they link back to all the stores that sell products sourced from them?
We already talked about how it’s easier to get your digital PR pieces to fly if you’re offering an attractive offer that’s guaranteed to generate clicks for the host website.
This strategy has been abused by quite a few ecommerce stores. So, unfortunately, the best coupon websites out there usually don’t approve coupons from random ecommerce stores.
But that doesn’t mean you should give up. Offering coupons and deals on these websites is a legit way of creating backlinks WHILE bringing extra traffic to your store.
Here’s an example.
I’m considering a mid-authority coupon aggregator Latest Free Stuff.
Here’s their outgoing link profile:
It’s easy to see that they Dofollow most of their coupon providers. So, if I have a good-enough store live and I create a few coupons and submit them, I can easily, automatically generate a few relevant backlinks.Important: Some coupon aggregators refuse to put coupons live unless you offer them affiliate commissions. So, think this through before executing.
Here’s a short list of top coupon websites that accept coupons online (it’s a handy resource for all ecommerce link building campaigns. Find the share buttons at the bottom of this page to share it across your social media.)
Using resources pages to get links is a scalable method for ecommerce link building.
Resource pages work for almost every business website out there, and you can find a ton of resource pages that operate within your specific niche.
You need to make sure that the resource pages you work with aren’t spammy, though (a common mistake for rookie link building agencies).
It’s a fairly common strategy – so I won’t talk at length about it here.
Unlinked brand mentions give you a (sort of) straightforward way of ‘securing’ links rather than building them.
This involves finding brand mentions all over the internet (using tools like Ahrefs Content Explorer) that don’t link back to your store.
You can also run reverse image search (especially for the images of your products) and find where they are being displayed. Then get in touch with the webmasters for those websites to request a link. They will, more often than not, agree because attribution is important for credibility.
This, again, is a common way of building links.
It’s just like digital PR – except you need to find influencers that operate strictly in/around your niche.
A good way of doing this is to find out where your competitors are getting their links from (using a systematic, smart competition link analysis approach)
You’re almost always going to find out influencers/review websites that link back to them in droves.
Once you do, let your outreach team close the job for you.
You may need to offer referral/affiliate commissions and/or free samples and/or straight-up cash for these. Not exactly scalable – but it helps your brand get targeted exposure.
Roundups are primarily meant to improve the stature of ‘people’ – but they work just as fine for ecommerce websites. If you’re interested in learning more about this, our in-depth link building guide has got you covered.
You can find roundup websites that regularly talk about your business sector and try to get them to feature your website in one of their roundups. This becomes easier if you have a popular angle to your products (e.g. vegan, organic, guilt free, recyclable and so on).
You can also use your content assets as ego baits for influencers (and then move to the strategy we talked about in the earlier point). What this really involves is creating content assets that talk highly of certain influencers (a roundup of your own!), and get them to link back to that piece (because, why not?).
It’s time consuming and doesn’t add much to the ‘reading’ value of the page – but that’s a different story altogether.
With behemoths like Amazon and eBay hot on their trail, ecommerce businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain organic traffic.
Building an awesome link profile takes care of this problem by pushing your content AND products up the SERPs for money keywords.
It’s easier said than done, though.
At Ghost Marketing, we’ve helped numerous ecommerce businesses solve the scalability, budgeting and quality issues with their link building campaigns. To know how we can help you beat your competition in a matter of weeks, feel free to write to us here.