Here’s the situation: you have a great online store with awesome content and a user-friendly site that keeps customers coming back. You’ve also done a lot of technical SEO. But the results don’t seem to be coming in. Is search engine optimization just not for you?
Most eCom marketers have heard of link building/backlinks, but it can be a tough concept to wrap your head around.
There are ways to get better at link building for your online store. In this blog, we’ll dig into link building and give you the top eight strategies to help you draw in more traffic from the right sources of backlinks.
Why Do Backlinks Matter For eCommerce Sites?
Backlinks are a major part of how search engine algorithms decide which websites to rank. While Google doesn’t provide clear documentation on precisely how backlinks matter in its algorithm, SEOs know through experience that backlinks make a difference. They help increase authority which then increases the likelihood that the site will rank higher for target keywords — increasing organic traffic and revenue! The more backlinks a website has, the more it’s considered authoritative and popular to search engines, who are then more likely to rank them higher for target keywords that bring them organic traffic and revenue.
To rank higher in organic search, eCommerce stores need every bit of SEO power available for their product pages and category pages, especially when competitors like Amazon and major retailers take up a lot of organic visibility. Link building is an absolute necessity and has an incredible ROI.
Our Favorite eCommerce Link-Building Strategies
As we mentioned before, link building for SEO is not just a one-off task. It takes a solid long-term approach to help you get the right results.
Here are the top 8 link-building strategies that are proven to help e-commerce stores get credible backlinks and increase their organic SEO.
1. Guest Post Outreach
Guest posting is the most powerful and effective link-building tactic for eCommerce brands. It involves writing and publishing content on other websites that are within your industry or niche.
By contributing valuable content to these blogs, you can showcase your expertise, build brand awareness, and acquire high-quality backlinks to your eCommerce website.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively leverage guest blogging for link building:
Research and Identify Relevant Blogs
Look for blogs and publications within your industry that have a substantial readership, active engagement, and a history of publishing high-quality content. You can also consider factors like domain authority, social media following, and the demographics of the audience when selecting the blog platform.
Craft Your Pitch
Once you’ve selected the blogs that are the best fit, create a solid pitch for the blog owners and editors. Don’t send out mass emails with no personalization; that’s a great way to get your email on a spam list. Tailor your pitch to each platform and each recipient, demonstrating that you understand their audience and offering specific topic ideas that align with their content themes.
Write the Content
If your pitch is approved, dedicate time and effort to creating an exceptional guest post that is link-worthy. You want to deliver a valuable, well-researched, and actionable piece of content that resonates with the site’s target audience. Incorporate research, data, real-life examples, and rich visuals to enhance the post’s credibility and engagement.
In the content, you can even include links to your e-commerce website with optimized anchor text (usually the keyword you want to rank for). These links should be contextually relevant and add value to the reader’s experience.
Engage and Publicize
After your content is published, actively engage with readers by responding to comments and questions. You can also promote it through your brand’s social media channels, email newsletters, and other digital marketing channels. This amplifies its reach and encourages others to share it, increasing the chances of acquiring more backlinks.
Remember, guest post outreach is not just about link building. It is an opportunity to showcase your expertise, build relationships, and contribute valuable content to the community.
2. Supplier Outreach
If your store sells products from other brands, getting a backlink from them should be easy and free. Create a list of the brands you sell and ask them to put a link to your website on their site.
If you can swing it, get a backlink to a key category page that features their products. This will not only promote their business but it can give important pages a valuable SEO push.
3. Digital PR
A great strategy to generate online awareness and build credibility is Digital PR. For this to be successful, you need a narrative that can capture the attention of the press, influencers, bloggers, and other platforms that will want to feature your content on their website.
Some examples of digital PR include:
- Press Release about your company for journalists
- Publishing insightful reports or industry surveys
- Case Studies about your products
- New Product Announcements or Trends
When you have compelling content, journalists are more likely to feature you and help drive traffic to your website generating valuable backlinks.
Digital PR is not just about self-promotion; it’s about providing value and building mutually beneficial relationships. Engage in conversations, offer expert opinions, and share valuable content with journalists, bloggers, and influencers. By becoming a go-to resource in your industry, you naturally attract attention, media coverage, and those coveted backlinks.
4. Unlinked Brand Mentions
Another excellent way to build links organically is by reaching out to websites that have mentioned your eCommerce brand but forgot to link it to your page. If you find that your products have been featured on a review website, but aren’t hyperlinked, reach out to the site owner and ask for a link back. More often than not, they will be happy to do it since they already know your credibility.
To help you find these unlinked mentions, you can simply use Google Alerts for your business and set up a weekly or monthly alert for any mentions of your brand name. There are also tools in SEMrush and Ahrefs that show unlinked brand mentions.
5. Link Inserts
One way or another, most backlinks are paid. Even guest posts often have a placement fee attached to them. Link inserts enable you to purchase a link in an existing piece of content instead of writing an original guest post.
This is a popular way of building links because it’s fast and relatively affordable. The “downside” is you have to vet the websites you’re getting links from carefully. If the website gives links out to anyone who will pay, chances are your backlink won’t be as “powerful” to a search engine.
One unique challenge eCommerce brands face is building backlinks without using affiliate links. Link inserts are a great solution. Your store can get guaranteed links without having to give out more affiliate commissions.
6. Affiliate Partnerships
According to a survey by ReferralRock, eCommerce affiliate programs have an overall success rate of 80%. The power of affiliate partnerships lies in their ability to leverage trust and recommendation. When someone recommends a product they genuinely love, their audience listens. With the right affiliates, you can tap into their loyal following, gaining instant credibility and social proof for your e-commerce store.
Affiliate relationships work great for link building. All of your affiliates will link back to your product in one way or another, which means you get hundreds if not thousands of backlinks for virtually nothing.
Some sites will mark links as “nofollow” or “sponsored” which might not be ideal for SEO, but these links are still helpful.
7. HARO (Help A Reporter Out)
The simplest way to successfully grow your backlink profile and increase domain rating is by providing insightful, relevant, and high-expertise content to your audience. This means that instead of direct promotions for your e-commerce brand or products, you provide unique insights to your audience, which can help you get noticed by the right outlets.
HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a platform where journalists post requests for information, and anyone who subscribes to the platform can submit an answer. If the journalists like your response, they can include it along with a link.
HARO has a tremendous upside in that journalists from some of the world’s largest publications use it frequently. A backlink you may not have been able to get through a guest post can be secured with some luck on HARO. However, it has an extremely low conversion rate (even the best HARO outreach team will only get 3-4% of the links they pitch) and it’s incredibly time-consuming. We recommend using it only in addition to other link building tactics.
8. Competitor Backlink Analysis
Knowing what your competitors are up to is a great way to stay ahead in your SEO game!
Analyzing competitors’ backlinks can tell you exactly the type of content that you need to create to attract the most backlinks in your niche. With this technique, you also need to analyze the types, quality, and number of backlinks that your competitors are getting, which will help you know what you need to do to displace them from the top position.
Some of the ways to scope out your competitors are by using simple tools like Small SEO Tools Backlinks Competitor Checker or SEMRush Backlink Analytics Tool. Both tools can give you comprehensive insights into your competitor’s referring domains, backlink types, link attributes, authority scores, and other data points.
With the SEMRush Backlinks tool, you can even check out the top content that is helping your competitors gain quality links and try to replicate that strategy in your content marketing approach. Simply go to the Indexed Pages option and see the type of content your competitor uses — blogs, news, how-to, or product pages.
What You’ll Need to Get Started
If you’re interested in building your own links, here are a few tips for you to get started the right way.
Choose Your Target Pages
First, you need to pick the pages you want to build links to. Most brands err by simply getting inbound links to their homepage. In SEO, you want to build links to specific target URLs. For eCommerce brands, that’s probably going to be category pages, and product detail pages, followed by blog posts.
The process involves identifying which web pages you want to rank, which keyword you want to rank them for, and how many backlinks you need. Once that is clear, you can begin your link building efforts.
Create Linkable Assets
When you pitch a website, journalist, or publisher for a backlink, they’re going to want to have a reason to give you a link. Any website that creates a scalable backlink campaign needs to have a library of valuable content and resources from which it can pitch ideas to publishers.
Linkable assets are content types that help you secure backlinks. They can be:
- Articles with first-party research
- Product reviews
- Rich infographics
- Original Research or Surveys
- Free Resources and tools
- “How-To” or “Best-Of” Content
- In-depth Product Guides and Tutorials
- Thought-Leadership Content
You can use these tools when you craft your outreach for a better response. For instance, telling a journalist you’ve conducted a survey about a trending topic or that your brand is offering a 50% first-time customer discount is likely to get a positive response.
Choose An Outreach Partner
We’ve covered some basic strategies that are proven to work; however, executing a backlink campaign is an involved process. If you choose to handle it in-house, an SEO consultant can set you up with a process and strategy that your team can execute with the proper training and oversight.
Many eCommerce brands choose to outsource their link building campaigns to agencies that offer expert link building services. Though this comes at an increased cost, the payoff is getting reliable links that grow your SEO and eCommerce business.
Link building is crucial to getting your brand noticed in today’s highly cluttered marketplace. Given its importance in SEO, several brands try to find shortcuts or hacks to link building. However, just a word of caution — paying for links may seem like a great short-term hack but can be detrimental in the long term. This is against Google’s link spam guidelines and is definitely not worth the risks.
The tips and strategies mentioned above will help you organically build quality backlinks and boost your brand’s SEO in the long term. Remember, e-commerce link building is not a one-time hack or a quick fix. It takes consistent effort and sustainable techniques to help you drive long-term growth, which is the ideal approach to any SEO strategy.
For more details, you can also check out our SEO case study for a B2B brand that used content strategy and a backlink program to grow traffic by 100% and increase conversions by 162%.