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How to build backlinks for eCommerce [The Ultimate Guide]
How to build backlinks for eCommerce [The Ultimate Guide]

How to build backlinks for eCommerce [The Ultimate 2020 Guide]

In this step by step complete guide, I will show you how to improve your eCommerce link building (offsite-SEO) and get more sales.

If you haven’t yet checked the part 1 –  Advanced SEO for E-commerce complete guide I encourage you to check it. That’s because you will rank way easier if your onsite SEO is on top.

So, you got your online store up and running. Great! Now it’s time to get some traffic and make some sales.

But let’s face it – getting traffic is hard. It doesn’t have to be.

I’m going to share with you the exact eCommerce link building tactics that helped me improve my search engine rankings, increase my traffic and grow the sales of my store.

But first, let’s get something out of the way:

If you are here to learn fast link building, you’re in the wrong place.

Link building is a growth strategy that requires a significant time investment, and efforts on your side.

Prepare yourself to do a lot of work but trust me; all the efforts will worth in the end as you will see yourself ranking for the keywords you want and generate sales.

#1. eCommerce backlinks: Paid, Viral and SEO

Scaling growth is hard – there are only a few ways to do it. As Andrew Chen says, there are only a few ways to scale user growth. In my opinion, this applies to eCommerce traffic and sales, too.

These ways are: Paid acquisition, Virality, SEO.

Each of these channels creates exponential growth because when you make money from customers, you can use that money to buy more customers, which give you more money.

Or in the virality scenario, a cohort of new users will invite even more users, who then invite even more on top of that.

#1.1. Paid acquisition for eCommerce

If you are aware of the Lean Startup, by now you’ve validated the demand for the things you sell. During the validation stage, it’s likely that you used paid channels to get that initial boost in your traffic and acquire your first customers. Using Google Ads (AdWords), as StartupBros suggest, is a quick way to validate your business idea on the cheap.

Yet:

The paid acquisition might not be the perfect solution for your online store in the long term. Buying customers directly through ads will cut your already razor-thin eCommerce margins.

If you are in a dropshipping eCommerce business, it’s likely that you have a 5 to 20% product margin on your sales.

Make this simple calculation:

How much it costs you to acquire a paying customer through Google Ads (or other paid acquisition channels)? And what are the return on investment (ROI) per paying customer and the customer lifetime value (CLTV)?

With my store, it cost me roughly $30 to get a paying customer through Google Ads. And the (Customer Life Time Value) CLTV was below that. I was losing money. Not good!

#1.2. Virality for eCommerce

ecommerce-virality-1dollar-shave-club

If you have an innovative, unique, custom-made product a la Kickstarter, viral word of mouth could work for you. Also, you can achieve virality with a good marketing strategy. And for some it did work. (Hint: TheDollarShaveClub.)

But what if you are selling a commodity?

Would your friends love the office supplies you sell so much to share them with the whole wide web? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Even if you produce a unique product, you still need to design your viral loop and have a viral engine in place. Think here lots of A/B testing and experiments.

#1.3. Improve your store’s SE rankings and sales with SEO

There’s no doubt that you can get more sales for your online store and improve your search engine rankings by doing off-page SEO. e-commerce link building in particular.

Let me show you:

Brian Dean of Backlinko shares how one of his readers managed to increase his online store’s referral traffic by getting quality backlinks:

Referral traffic increased by building quality backlinks
Referral traffic increased by building quality backlinks.

At our Bulgarian store, we managed to get almost 3,000 organic traffic sessions for 3 months, just a month after our launch. Keep in mind that we are using a brand new domain for the store.

MenGear.bg store Traffic Stats
MenGear.bg store Traffic Stats

Also, about 80% of our referral traffic is coming from our link building efforts.

MenGear.bg - Referral stats
MenGear.bg – Referral stats

Moreover, SEO is our top revenue source and top orders source:

Traffic vs Revenue Sources
Traffic vs Revenue Sources

This result is the outcome of just about a couple of weeks of link building.

Benefits of SEO link building for eCommerce:

  • You pay with your sweat. Perfect for bootstrapped stores.
  • Your product margins won’t shrink like the stock market.
  • It’s scalable.
  • If targeted correctly (keywords with buying intent) brings people that intend to make a purchase.

Drawbacks of SEO link building for eCommerce:

  • If not done well, Google might penalize your store. Do I have to say no paid links?
  • There’s no such thing as “fast link building”. Getting quality backlinks to your store takes efforts and a lot of hustling.

This post is a comprehensive guide to off-page link building for eCommerce. Use it and apply it today to improve your store’s search engine rankings.

I’m going to share with you, my best actionable advice on link building for eCommerce

#1.4 Is your Store Link-Worthy?

The web is built on links, right? But what motives a site owner to link to your shop.

Here’s the deal: Nobody cares about your online store.

The sooner you get used to this, the sooner you’ll become better at link building.

People care all about: Them, them, them.

Be useful!

The less valuable your content, The less likely you are ever to receive a link to it. – Eric Ward, author of “Ultimate Guide to Link Building.”

Ward continues by saying that the most useful sites are those that provide rich quality content on a particular subject on which the author is an authority.

Imagine you sell supplements. The supplements market is a competitive one.

What most store owners do when they launch their online store:

Take the default distributor’s product copy and pictures and throw it on a basic product page with a “Buy now” button. While that approach might be fast, it’s not the best way to be useful and get people to link to your online store.

On the opposite, check what Bodybuilding.com is doing for their product pages:

Gosh, so much useful information!

There are tons of content on every facet of this product. The whole page is using a custom-built design that looks like a magazine review. There’s info on the servings, tastes, way of consuming, ingredients and loads of customer reviews. It could be the best resource on the web about this whey protein.

Bodybuilding.com is an excellent example of how an online store can add rich, relevant content and build a community around its products. Also, make sales along the way.

Getting links naturally will decrease your manual link building efforts.

In a webinar, Rand from Moz, which we interviewed a while ago here on Monetize.info, talked about the importance of being link-worthy and likeable.

The process of link building today has reversed.

You don’t build links anymore; you earn links naturally.

If you can’t earn links naturally, not only can you not get links fast enough and not get good ones. You also are probably earning links that Google doesn’t even want to count or may even penalize you for. It’s nearly impossible to earn links with just good, unique content.

Rand Fishkin “Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die.”

To earn links naturally you must create content that’s 10x better than the competition, says Rand.

The 10x concept is not something new.

In one of his latest lectures “Competition is for losers”, Peter Thiel (founder of Paypal) said that to conquer a market, you must be 10x better:

My sort of crazy, somewhat arbitrary rule of thumb is you want to have a technology that’s an order of magnitude better than the next best thing. So Amazon had over ten times as many books, it may not have been that high tech, but you figure oh well it can sell ten times as many books and be more efficient along the way.

Peter Thiel

For MenGear, we hired a junior copywriter to write unique product descriptions for every product on the site. Because the products we sell are hard to find on the local market, it was easy to create unique product descriptions.

The least words per product copy were 300 words. That way, we had over 200 hundred web pages of unique product copy.

MenGear - Writing Unique Product Descriptions
MenGear – Writing Unique Product Descriptions

We still have to work on achieving the 10x effect!

Before creating your link building campaign, you should ask yourself:

  • Are my product pages 10x better than my closest competitor?
  • Are my product descriptions 10x better than my closest competitor?
  • Is my product photography 10x better than my next best competitor?
  • Is my store genuinely useful for my customers?
  • Is the UX of my online store 10x better than my competition’s store?

Being useful gets you backlinks and makes your store grow. Products don’t.

#1.5 Is link building dead?

While I had my best results with off-page SEO, a more increasing trend is improving your site’s user experience.

How to measure UX when it comes to SEO?

  • CTR (click-through-rate) – what % of people click on your store on the search engine results page (SERP). CTR indicates how relevant are your pages to the people searching for a particular term. With online stores, people usually search for a product. They either are looking for information about the product or are using a long-tail keyword when they have a buying intent.
  • Time on site – your visitors should stay on your site for more than a minute. Include interlinking sections like “Relevant products”, “Product reviews”, “Users also bought”, etc. These sections can increase customers’ time on your site and general engagement with your products. Amazon is an excellent example of this. They are pretty good at making you spend more time (and money) on their site:
  • Bounce rate – In your Google Analytics go to Acquisition > All traffic > Source/medium and select Organic. What’s your bounce rate?
  • Personal experience note: When we raised our product prices, we had a major increase in the organic traffic’s bounce rate (as you can see).Why? Because our prices didn’t meet the peoples’ expectations. People could see the price discrepancy when comparing our product’s prices to the prices of other stores they found on the SERP. Our prices were way off!

As Neil Patel puts it in this post about UX: What’s best for users is best for Google.
See:

I still believe off-page link building will get you lots of traffic and sales bud don’t abandon your on-page UX metrics. Also, make sure to get your pricing right. That way your search engine rankings will certainly improve.

Okay, your product pages are in check, and you’re confident with the UX you deliver on your store.

What’s next?

#1.6 What’s your link building campaign goal?

Before you dive deep into designing the link building campaign for your online store, you must decide on your primary goal. Choosing a goal for your campaign will allow you to be more analytical and track the right metrics for your link building efforts.

Example goals could be:

Goal #1: Getting more online sales

What to measure on your online store?

  • The number of orders made through Google organic traffic.
  • Revenue from Google organic traffic.
  • The conversion rate for that traffic channel – what number of people that came from Google bought a product.

For points 1 and 2 I’d like to use a simplified analytical software for eCommerce called Metrilo. Metrilo integrates with your online store and allows you to see an overview of your top revenue and order sources in a neat manner:

A free alternative (although not as simple and well detailed as Metrilo) is setting up a goal in Google Analytics

What to measure on the SERP (Search Engine Rankings Page)?

  • Your search rankings for a particular converting keyword. That usually is a long-tail key term that lands the searcher on one of your product pages. I like this little free tool that shows your SERP position based on a keyword and domain:
  • Increase in converting search traffic.

Goal #2: Increasing your store’s authority and trustworthiness

You can improve your eCommerce authority by getting links from sites that have already earned the trust and proven authority to the public and search engines.

Although the SERP impact is significant, in this case, a strong side-benefit is your online store’s increased value in the market.

Imagine you sell geek gadgets, and your store gets a positive review on another geek blog. It’s likely that your online store will receive some healthy referral traffic and site engagement.

What to measure in your online store?

  • Increase in referral traffic.
  • The conversion rate increase for the referral traffic channel.
  • Increase of newsletter/other opt-in subscriptions.
  • Increase of product reviews, blog comments, and other site engagement metrics.
  • Decrease of bounce rate. Notice how small is the bounce rate for our referral traffic result of the link building campaign:
  • Increase of other sites actively suggesting your products.
Bounce rate in Google Analytics
Bounce rate in Google Analytics

What to measure on your SERP?

  • Increase of branded searches.
  • Increase in your search engine rankings.

Once you know what your primary goal is and how to measure it, it’s time to get your hands dirty and build your link building eCommerce campaign.

Why creating an “eCommerce link building Campaign” is the wrong way to go?

Because:

Good marketers think of campaigns, great marketers think of frameworks. I learned this from Quicksrpout’s guide to online marketing.
Look:

When a campaign ends, the backlinks to your online store stop. And you don’t want that!

You should create something that’s repeatable. You must design a system and repetitive processes that help you build ongoing relationships for link building.

That’s why we are not going to create a link building campaign, but a framework that would allow us to produce sustainable results that scale.

#2. Scalable growth with a Link Building Framework

Let’s get our feet wet!

2.1 What’s the Link Building Framework?

The eCommerce Link Building Framework is the document you should be referring time and time again while executing any link building.

This Link Building Framework can be used for any link building campaign, not just for online stores. It’s our tactical blueprint for backlinking and also a simple CRM.

What to do next?

  1. Start by creating an excel spreadsheet. If you are collaborating with team members, you might want to create a Google spreadsheet.
  2. Name it “[your store’s name] Link Building Framework”.
  3. Add the following columns. We are going to explain each column in details below: Website, Rapport Built, Contacted, Replied, Linking, Contact details, Asset type, Article name (if applicable), Audience, Most used keywords, Backlinks profile, TF (Majestic), PA, DA, Traffic (optional), Conversion rate (optional), Number of orders (optional), Revenue (optional)

This is how the link building framework for my online store looked like. Click on the image to view full-size.

Link Building Framework
Link Building Framework
A quick explanation of the link building framework columns:

  • Website – the link opportunity. A concrete URL that you’d like to backlink to you. Could be a top-level domain name, a sub-domain or an inner page. Read “Find Link Opportunities” section to learn how to find sites.
  • Rapport > Contacted > Replied > Linking – Yes/No; for each column. These columns represent the “backlinking relationship funnel”. They help you keep track of every relationship:
  • Contact Details – Name, email, phone, etc.
  • Asset type – your linkable assets. Promotions, giveaways, discounts, products, expert opinion and any other assets related to your online store. More on assets in the “Figuring your linkable assets” section.
  • Article name – if you are doing guest-blogging.
  • Audience – an overview of the audience that read the website or a particular page on the website.
  • Most used keywords – most used key terms on that website, domain name or page.
  • Backlinks profile – What website link to the link opportunity page. A linking profile of the website. Read more about qualifying link opportunities in the “Identify Good And Bad Links”.
  • TF – Trust Flow, metric from Majestic.
  • DA – Moz Domain Authority.
  • PA – Moz Page Authority.
  • Traffic – measure the referral traffic that came as a direct result of your backlink.
  • Conversion rate (CR) – what % of people who came from the link made a purchase. CR will help you get a better understanding of what webpages to target if your main goal is getting more sales.
  • The number of orders – how many orders did you get as a direct result of that backlink.
  • Revenue – revenue as a direct effect of that backlink. It is particularly helpful if you’re investing in your linking assets. That way, you can measure ROI.

2.2 Make an inventory of your linkable assets

Why should people link to you? Your linkable assets give the answer.

Your linkable assets are something that only you have. They should be different from other websites. I’ve identified some common linkable asset categories to help you get thinking about what your online store’s linkable assets could be.

2.2.1 Content assets

As Kerry from GetResponse says in this article: It’s becoming an age-old adage already, but, more and more, it is proving to be true again and again – content is king. The most valuable links are the organic ones, and the best way to build those is to continue to create the very best content that you can and get it shared far and wide across social and in your email campaigns.

Content assets open up your store to a lot of link opportunities. Also, content assets are again about being useful and helping people solve their problems.

When you think of content assets, don’t just think text.

Example content assets for your online store could be:

  • Detailed product descriptions. Over 600 words. Your product copy should be unique, helpful and evoke emotions.
  • Videos – how-to video guides, product reviews and other videos showing the product in use.
  • FAQs – install Disqus or Facebook comments on your product pages and collect customer’s questions. Then organize the most common ones into a product FAQ.
  • eBooks – technical guides and product brochures.
  • Illustrations – help people to understand your product better with useful illustrations and diagrams.
  • 360-degrees product photos – allow people to interact better with your product online. [WooCommerce 360 Image] is a great plugin that allows you to implement interactive 360-degree images on your product pages.
Content Types To Create for eCommerce [Complete Guide]
Content Types To Create for eCommerce [Complete Guide]
Think Geek is an excellent example of an eCommerce site that creates a lot of content assets on its product pages.

2.2.2 Product assets

Because you are an online store, often this is your best linkable asset. It might also be the easiest path to get some quality backlinks.

Depending on your product prices, you can use this asset for giveaways, donations, promotions, reviews and contests. Just be careful to not go over overboard, or you might lose more money than you earn from this tactic.

2.2.3 Knowledge and opinion assets

AKA the “thought leader” link building tactic.

Share your field expertise with the community through guest authoring, posts, and interviews.

Apart from being a reliable approach for quality link building, this method develops your authority in the domain of your store.

2.2.4 Collaboration assets

Create partnerships with your suppliers, customers, authority figures in the field and PR resources. You can later leverage these relationships to create link building opportunities.

2.3 Make a list of your assets

You will input this information under “Asset type” on your Link Building Framework file.

Check out the linkable assets of my online shop:

  • Content assets: product descriptions (300+ words), FAQ on each product page, 3 blog posts a week on innovation, technology, and geeky stuff.
  • Product assets: 10% off on all products, 20% off on Star Wars product category.
  • Knowledge assets: articles on eCommerce, Entrepreneurship.
  • Partnership assets: connect with eCommerce marketplaces.

Once you start link building, you should be able to identify which assets brings you the most links. In your link building framework doc, just click on the “Asset type filter” and filter the different type of assets.

Then focus on what works best by trying to generate links using those particular assets.

#3. How to find link opportunities

Now it’s time to find websites and pages that are most likely to link back to your online store. You either are going to find them manually or extract link opportunities via data scrapping.

Collect all website links under the “websites” column on your link building framework.

Here are 5 methods to find link opportunities for your store:

3.1. Look for blogs in your field

Let’s say you sell geek gadgets. The best way to find geeky blogs is to look for blog lists and content curators.

You can do a quick search to find publishers that write about geeky things by using queries such as:

  • geek + “blogs”
  • geek + “top blogs”
  • geek + “list of blogs”
  • geek + “favourite blogs”
  • geek + “posts”
  • geek + “post roundup”
  • geek + “news”

Check this great post from Buzz stream on finding content curators. Extracting dozens of URLs from list pages might be a tedious job to do by hand.

Link Gopher is a handy-dandy little Firefox extension that extracts all links from a page and removes duplicates for you:

A great tool I recommend for finding link opportunities on related blogs for your e-commerce website is Link-Assistant from SEO Power Suite.

3.2. Look deep for forums, directories, and communities

You should know where your target audience hangs out. Identify a list of niche websites and social networks.

When thinking about your audience, don’t just think about your market-defining audience.

Let’s say you sell teeth whitening kits. Your initial instinct might be to think about people with teeth problems or self-conscious people.

If you think more creatively you may expand that search to other people who are likely in need of teeth whitening. For example, people who will get married soon, graduating students, YouTubers.

For my gadget store, I targeted not only geeks but web developers and entrepreneurs.

Use search queries to identify communities where your audience hangs out:

  • [my target audience] message boards
  • [my target audience] communities
  • where [my target audience] hangs out
  • where to find [my target audience]

Again here you can get a hand of help from Link-Assistant which can scan the web for forums and communities where you can place your links.

3.3. Scan your competitor’s backlinks

My favourite tactic. By reverse-engineering my competitors’ links, I managed to discover some valuable link prospects for my store:

3.3.1 App.NeilPatel.com (Free, Paid)

Neil Patel’s app is a very convenient option to get information about keywords and backlinks of your competitors. I use it daily for its simplicity and accurate information.

Get competitor backlinks using app.NeilPatel.com
Get competitor backlinks using app.NeilPatel.com.

3.3.2 Moz.com (Free, Free Trial & Paid)

Moz.com is a robust option to get information about competitors backlinks, being one of the oldest. They have a 30 days free trial option that I encourage you to consider it.

  1. Copy a competitor online store URL. A home page or a product page if you’d like to be more targeted.
  2. Go to [MOZ Open Site Explorer] and paste it.
  3. Under the inbound link, you’ll find all the websites that are backlinking to your competitor’s page. You can also see whether a link is do-follow or no-follow.
Get competitor backlinks using Moz.com
Get competitor backlinks using Moz.com.

3.3.3 SEO SpyGlass (Free & Paid)

Besides all other backlinks tools we recommend, SEO SpyGlass (Check our review) is a desktop app (both Windows and Mac) that gives you accurate info. Their pricing structure is appealing.

Get competitors backlinks using Seo Spyglass
Get competitors backlinks using Seo Spyglass

3.3.4 Ahrefs (Free trial & Paid)

Ahrefs has a good backlinks database that is updated pretty often.

Get Competitor Backlinks using Ahrefs Backlinks Explorer
Get Competitor Backlinks using Ahrefs Backlinks Explorer.

3.3.5 SEMrush Backlinks (Free Trial, Paid)

SEMrush (Tutorial, Exclusive deal) is my favourite tool when it comes to analyzing backlinks. It has a comprehensive backlinks database, and it offers a link toxicity score which makes it easy to distinguish the good backlinks from toxic ones.

Other tools you can use to find competitors backlinks: SeoBility.net, LinkMiner from MangoTools.

3.4. Find guest-authoring opportunities

If you are planning to capitalize on your knowledge asset, then you should find places to share your expertise.

Search for guest authoring opportunities with queries like:

  • [your keyword] guest blogging
  • [your keyword] guest posts
  • [your keyword] guest authors
  • [your keyword] write for us
  • [your keyword] looking for writers

#4. Identify Good And Bad Links

By finishing the last section, you should have at least 100 link opportunities in your Link Building Framework.

Now we are going to qualify, organize by importance and take out the bad links from the list.

I’m going to share 10 ways with you to distinguish good link prospects from the bad.

4.1. Domain age

No matter what Matt Cutts says about domain age, the domain age is still a paramount factor in search ranking and website authority. Marketers like Neil Patel still believe in domain age.

The older the domain of your linking prospect, the better.

This Domain Age Tool allows you to see the domain age of every domain name you type in. It works with a list of sites, so you can prospect all domain names you’ve collected in the previous chapter at once.

Domain age Tool
Domain age Tool

I would take out from my link building campaign domains that are very new, less than one-year-old.

4.2. Website relevance

How relevant is the website to your linkable asset?
Look for related keywords appearing in:

  • Title tag
  • Anchor tags
  • H1, H2, etc. tags
  • URL of the web page
  • In the body copy

I love using WordTracker Scout for that. Scout is a Chrome extension that gives you keyword insights for the page you are currently viewing.

4.3. Website traffic

“The best backlink is one that sends you traffic.” – Brian Dean, Backlinko

While it’s impossible to know what traffic exactly a website gets (unless you take a sneak peek into their Google Analytics), you can still have a good estimate by using online tools, both free and paid.

The most accurate is SEMrush Traffic Analytics. The basic information is available in the Premium plan, while for more details you need to purchase the addon which costs another $200/mo. I don’t recommend it if you don’t own a digital agency or you keep a very close eye on your competitors.

SEMrush Traffic Analytics
SEMrush Traffic Analytics

Another option you can use to get traffic information about websites is SimilarWeb. Just like on SEMrush, the paid version of SimilarWeb gives you more details while the free one is pretty limited. Unfortunately, for small sites, the figures are not present or inaccurate.

similarWeb Traffic info
SimilarWeb Traffic info

The 3rd option we recommend is the good, old Alexa.com. Again, not really accurate stats but gives you estimates that you can use to judge if the link from a website has the chance to give you traffic or not.

Alexa Traffic Sources
Alexa Traffic Sources

The last option we recommend is Ahrefs that just like SEMrush, have organic traffic estimation on their paid plans. Just to make this clear, it doesn’t have details of referrals or social media traffic, only estimating traffic from search engines.

ahrefs Organic Traffic
Ahrefs Organic Traffic

4.4. UX metrics

Remember about the importance of UX metrics for your link-worthiness. Your backlinking prospects’ UX metrics are important as much when you qualify websites.

For that, you can also use SimilarWeb. It gives you an approximate overview of a website’s Time on site, Pageviews and bounce rate:

SimilarWeb Engagement Estimation
SimilarWeb Engagement Estimation

If you are after traffic and sales, you don’t want backlinks from a website with less than a 1-minute time-on-site and above 70% bounce rate. However, these type of links can still bring SEO power to your search engine rankings.

4.5. MOZ Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA)

Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. Use Domain Authority when comparing one site to another or tracking the “strength” of your website over time.

The MOZ Bar It’s a simple Chrome Extension that allows you to qualify an online store’s authority.

Get the DA of a site using Moz.com
Get the DA of a site using Moz.com.

4.6. Inbound links

The quantity and quality of inbound links is a significant factor in how a website ranks on the search engine results page. From the previous sections, you already know how to check Inbound links with the Open Site Explorer.

Several more ways

Two other quick ways to qualify competitor inbound links are:

Using the following Google search query: “link:”competitorsite.com” -site:”competitorsite.com”. This search will find all links to the competitor’s site and exclude any internal links.

4.7. Outbound links

Check what links going to outside websites are on the URL.

4.8. Social activity

Do people engage with the brand? Look for factors like:

  • Likes and followers
  • Shares and Tweets
  • Number of comments on site

I like to use SharesCount.com tool for social engagement analysis as it gives you a quick overview of the site’s social media impact:

SharesCount.com
SharesCount.com

4.9. Design & Layout of the site

The design and layout of the website are the last but not the least aspect you should take into consideration when you judge a quality backlink. That’s because the design is a UX factor but speaks for the level of professionalism and involvement of the owner. If there are no broke elements, no broken pages and the design is simple and clean, you may have spotted a winner.

Several other questions you should ask yourself:

  • What is the overall design quality?
  • Does the site use Flash or HTML5?
  • Is the design accessible?
  • Would users quickly access links?
  • Are there excessive, annoying ad areas?

By checking these 9 factors, you should be able to separate the good from the bad links.

Don’t hesitate to remove any links from your Link Building Framework that seem obscure, lack any elements of trust or have bad inbound and outbound link profiles.

#5. 21 eCommerce link building tactics [2020]

Congratulations on getting so far! Now it’s time to do some link acquisition.

Recap. So far, you’ve done the following:

  1. You chose your link building campaign goal
  2. You Created the Link Building Framework Doc
  3. You outlined your linkable asset inventory
  4. You collected at least 100 link building opportunities
  5. And you filtered out the bad links and prioritized the good ones

Now it’s time for the fun part. Getting quality backlinks.

I’m going to share with you 15 eCommerce link building tactics that work well in 2020.  Some of them I’ve used for my online store, others I’ve seen other SEO experts use.

As you may know, link building tactics have changed over the years. What worked 5 years ago may bring low results now or even harm your website. That’s why you need to be updated.

What definitely not works today’s and makes more harm than good:  mass blog comments, mass forum posts, links from broad directories, guest posts on low-quality sites and blog farms.

Below you can find several link building methods that proved their worth in time. Feel free to grab and test any one of them today.

5.1 Claim Your Brand on Social Media and Web 2.0 sites

For an e-commerce website branding is important. That’s why I advise you to register ASAP your social media pages and web 2.0 properties. You can use them to post updates and syndicate your content.

Social Media Accounts:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter

Instead of checking manually on every site, you can think of you should use these tools: Namechk.com, InstantUsername.com and Knowem.com

NameChk.com - Find available and not available usernames on Social Media and web 2.0 properties
NameChk.com – Find available and not available usernames on Social Media and web 2.0 properties

Keep a doc with all these properties and make sure you log in and update content from time to time. An abandoned profile does more harm to your business than a non-existent one.

Action plan:

  1. Check the sites that are relevant for your niche using Namechk.com and other tools.
  2. Register the accounts and claim your page and brand.
  3. Post relevant content and link your store.
  4. Keep these properties updated.

5.2. Guest blogging

A lot has been spoken and written about guest blogging, so we are not going to go into great details here. The best resource on the topic is this video on Mixergy by the co-founder of Buffer.

One of the key takeaways from Leo’s interview for me is to write blog posts for a wider audience: The problem is that customers aren’t the ones who will send you the most traffic. Instead, you need to reach “a large audience that could be inspired,” he says, “and goes away and maybe tells someone”.

I know what you are saying by now: “I run an eCommerce business, I don’t run a software business. I can’t do guest-blogging”.

Yes, you can. As an eCommerce owner, you probably have a broad multidisciplinary skill set. Why not share that knowledge with the world?

Think of topics on which you can become a trustworthy expert:

  • eCommerce
  • marketing
  • product and services
  • payments
  • inventory management
  • people and processes
  • product reviews
  • dealing with unusual situations

 

Do a google search or use a guest posting tool like Outreach.buzz that have a database of over 3800 blogs that accept guest posts. Identify blogs that would be a good home to your content. Figure out what is the most popular content on these blogs and then pitch the blog owners.

I like the use the following outreach email template:
Hello [name of blogger],

[Short introduction]

I’d like to share my knowledge with other people on the topics of [your topic]. Last few days I’ve been writing an article on [your topic]. I noticed that your readers are interested in [the topic]. I think I can contribute to your blog by talking about the following points:

[A brief list of things you are going to write in your post]

I think this material will be well worth for your readers, what do you think?

Best Regards,
[your name]

The best thing is you don’t have to write the whole article before you get a green light. You just go to the next one.

Action plan:

  1. Start with Outreach.buzz.
  2. Identify blogs that are a good home to your content.
  3. Pitch them using the email template.
  4. Write the articles yourself or hire a writer and send them for publishing.

5.3. Local Citations and listings in business profile directories

Local SEO is optimizing your local business website so that you are found for the local searches in Google that are most relevant to your business.

For anyone wondering how local SEO differs from normal SEO, the former is all about building relevant signals around a specific location whereas the latter is the practice of getting higher SERP  rankings for relevant keywords.

With more and more people using smartphones, and voice search usage on the rise, the future lies in local mobile marketing. Having an SEO-compliant website and a strong local SEO strategy will get your website on to Google’s local listing pack.

Only submit your store to local directories if you have **a business** physical address. I’ve tried otherwise and didn’t work out. If you address looks suspicious YellowPages, and others will reach out to you to confirm that you use a business address.

Check out this list by Hubspot; it’s an extensive collection of local business directories. I would suggest starting from there.

Action steps:

  1. Identify the right citation for your niche and your business.
  2. Submit your business to these citation sites and monitor the process.

5.4. Include your brand name on your marketplace store pages

Although not an exact link building tactic, this method is critical if you sell on Amazon, Etsy or eBay. I can’t stress enough how many people use eBay store names that are different from their domain name. Don’t do it!

The importance of brand search on Google is increasing, and it’s one of those authority factors that will play a bigger part in search engine ranking every day. Think about UX factors here. The more people search your brand on the SERP page, the better for your search engine rankings.

For your eBay and Amazon stores, use the same name you use for your domain name. This tactic will ease people to find your original store through the search engine and increase your CTR for brand searches.

Claim your store name in marketplaces
Claim your store name in marketplaces

Successful cross-branding across marketplaces is all about using your store name.

Action steps:

  1. Look for marketplaces (local, national, international and niched) for your store.
  2. Make your marketplace store name the same as your domain name.
  3. Put your logo on your eBay page.
  4. Include some elements that could drive traffic to your store like a phone number, description of your store or even an invitation (even if just implied).

5.5. Ask for an opinion on niche communities

This tactic is all about providing value to get value.

Create rapport and trust by regularly posting on the message board before you talk about yourself.
Never, and I mean NEVER should your very first post be about your store.
Engage with the community for at least a few weeks, write helpful and detailed posts every other day. Only after you contribute, you can ask for an opinion. Never come out too promotional.

I got my very first paying customer for my novelty gifts and gadgets store, just 2 hours after posting a thread about my online shop. I asked for a genuine opinion about my online shop’s design, prices and product selection. I got a customer and helpful reviews in return.

You or your store might get dissed when you do that. I made the mistake of being defensive about my shop and came back with some opinionated replies.

When you start receiving negative answers, hold your horses before you reply. Always be thankful for the opinions you get or at least try to be neutral.

When doing this tactic, I was pretty selective about the niche communities I’m targeting. I’ve only posted threads where I assumed other geeks reside like developers message boards and other tech-savvy communities.

It’s ok to be a community member with an online store, it’s not ok to be an online store with a community profile.

Action steps:

  1. Target only the right communities
  2. Create rapport by posting regularly
  3. Ask for a genuine opinion about your store.
  4. Be thankful for every answer you get
  5. Don’t be promotional

5.6. Put a link in your forum profile signature

Even considering the forums are on a declining trend in 2020, I still consider them a good backlinks source. But for that, you should spend some time identifying the forums that are still active in your niche. Don’t overlook it.

Get backlinks using a forum signature
Get backlinks using a forum signature.

Most forums use “no-follow” links – they won’t bring any SEO juice and increase your search engine rankings. But forums are still worth for the traffic that comes from them.

Offer a product promotion or other incentive in your forum signature to attract more users to click on your store link. Joanna from Copyhackers advice on telling people to “click here” and put visual elements to lead people to click.

Use this template for your signature:
➤ Click here to get [your promotion] from my online store [store’s domain].

For example:
➤ Click here to get 10% off Star Wars products from my online store MenGear.bg

I like to use Goo.gl URL shortener or Bit.ly to get stats like how many people click on my forum signatures.

Action steps:

  1. Identify and make a list of forums that are still active in your niche.
  2. Register a profile, introduce yourself and start posting useful content.
  3. Create a product promotion.
  4. Shorten the promotion landing page URL with Goo.gl and Bit.ly
  5. Put a forum signature linking to your promotion with visual signs and “click here”.

5.7. Submit your store to web design galleries

If your store has an extraordinary good design, you can send your web page to a service like The CSS Gallery List. A team of people will manually submit your link to a large list of web design galleries.

You might also want to consider CSSMania.com It costs $10 to submit a site on there, but it will get you some decent traffic to your store. You could expect between 300 and 3000 user sessions.

Bear in mind that 70% of the CSSMania traffic comes from India, so unless you offer delivery to India, this traffic might not be worthy conversion traffic.

The Awwwards web design gallery is the most popular among the web design galleries, but also the hardest one to get on to.

For you I’ve compiled a list of web design galleries that specialize in eCommerce websites:

5.8 Submit your store to icon galleries

Credit again to Brain Dean for this one(the man is a backlinking genius). There are many graphics sites where you can submit icon sets, like social media icons to. Make icons themed to your niche and submit them there. Find a list of them here.

Here is a list of icons galleries that you can submit your icons to:

5.9. Giveaway to bloggers

If you sell products in the lower or mid-price range (between $5 and $100), you can giveaway to bloggers in your industry.

Along with the guest-blogging tactic, giveaways are by far the most effective method I’ve used to build quality links (and traffic) to my store. By now you should’ve collected at least a couple dozen of authoritative blogs in your niche.

Now let’s reach out to them.

I like to use this cold-email template:

Hello [blogger’s name] [A short introduction to you and your store].

I’m approaching you because [rapport creating reason].

I’d like to ask what you think about our store.

Last but not least I’d like you to give us an address where we can send a small gift we’ve prepared for you. We think you’ll like it.

Best Regards,
[Your name]

If the template above looks confusing, check an example email I’ve used.

Hello Martin,

I’m Kaloyan, co-founder of a new website for unusual gadgets and all other geeky things — mengear.bg

I’m approaching you because I found out that you like the stuff we have. I noticed you were looking for geeky things like the ones of ThinkGeek.com, but you had difficulties finding them locally.

We have some of the ThinkGeek stuff; it would be awesome if you could check them.

Also, As you are a person that’s deep into the geek subculture, it will be helpful for us if you have 2 minutes to check out our site. Don’t hesitate to share your opinion about the products we list and the site in general.

Last but not least I’d like you to give us an address where we can send a small gift we’ve prepared for you. We think you’ll like it.

Notice how I’m creating rapport by talking about his problems first. Prove attention by mentioning a material on their blog or another notable fact about them.

With this approach, I got a mind-blowing 90% response rate. Bloggers like to get attention! What most corporations do when they send out a gift to bloggers is use a generic “congratulations, here’s your gift message”.

Don’t be a heartless bastard, include a personal message! It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive, just be personal.

To one of the bloggers we sent an excellent 8-bit glasses with a personalized geeky message:

Example of personalized message for bloggers
Example of personalized message for bloggers

Giveaway with style. Always use a personal message when sending gifts to bloggers.

Here’s the referral traffic we received from that blogger:

Not only that but a few more people shared our fresh message. All in total, costing us $5.

Action plan:

  1. Use the email template above to contact authoritative bloggers in your niche.
  2. Ask for their address.
  3. Send them a gift and a personal message worth sharing.

5.10. Offer promotions, discounts and coupons to bloggers

This tactic is like the one above but instead of offering bloggers a gift, you give them a promo code.

You reach out to bloggers using the email template from the previous method, but you include a note like:

I’d like to make a small discount for you and your blog’s readers as we believe they’ll enjoy the stuff we offer. Here’s a discount code for 10% OFF “discountcode”.

If you are using WooCommerce for your shop, Woo has a pretty good built-in Coupon codes feature.

WooCommerce Coupon code functionality
WooCommerce Coupon code functionality

To stay organized, I like to name my coupon codes using this structure: <blogger’s site name>< % of coupon>-off

So, for example, strangeracom10-off (Put a dash before “off”, so people don’t confuse zero with the letter “o”.)

5.11. Find vendors that link to retailers

Most product packages contain the name and address of the original distributor or manufacturer of the product. Look carefully on your product packages.

Map of retails on the distributor’s site.

Search for:

  • “vendor’s name” + where to buy
  • “vendor’s name” + retail list
  • “vendor’s name” + buy locally
  • “vendor’s name” + store locator

Then approach the vendor by asking them to link to your store.

5.12. Reach out to partners

When it comes to link building, reaching out to organizations that you already have a relationship with are low hanging fruit. Start with this.

Do you have any suppliers who may be open to this? Or are you sponsoring organizations? It’s only fair you get some credit. Even if it’s the local soccer club, they probably have a website which includes a sponsor page.

5.13 Send a press release

Even though Google is downplaying press releases, it’s still a good way to get EXPOSURE for your brand. I’m emphasizing exposure here, and only including this idea in this list because you DO get a backlink out of it.

It’s a good idea not to use keywords in your press releases to save yourself from an anchor text penalty from Google, just in case scrapers pick up your news release and decide to spam the web.

5.14. Ask your customers for product reviews

If someone just bought a product from you, then this is the perfect time to ask for a product review if they have any authority on the web.

Not only you’ll get a link, but reviews bring repeat purchases, up-sells and increase your influence.

I like to reward reviewers with a discount code.

Use this template to get your shop customers to write a review for you:

Subject title: Review your recent purchase to get a discount

Body copy: Thank you for your recent purchase at. Hope you like your new. If you have a blog or a website, we’d like to give you if you review our product.

Just send us back the link to your review, and we’ll send over a promo code to you!

Are reviews for links dangerous?
Personally, I never had any problems with getting backlinks from reviews but I only this tactic on a small scale.

This article from the Search Engine Watch outlines some potential danger from doing review reach outs for links. I certainly agree with these points if you are a large eCommerce business doing this tactic on a large scale and asking directly for links.

When reaching out for product reviews I never ask for a link, let alone an anchor tag. Because this is not the way you talk to potential customers and humans in a matter of fact.

Be careful when:

  • applying this tactic on a large scale.
  • asking directly for a backlink.
  • asking for an anchor tag.

5.15. Care about your customers

Care about your customers, and especially about those that are critical of your brand.

I found that people who are harmful to your brand, are the most vocal customers in general. You’d like to do your best to convert them to happy customers.

Install a product review or comments plugin on your website. This is an excellent roundup of product review plugins for WP by Elegant Themes if you are running a WooCommerce store.

Make sure you follow every comment under your products and personally get in touch with the authors of the bad ones.

Check this out:

I received an awful comment that one of my products was way overpriced. She was right. I had raised the price markup of that product way higher than I should have.

I did a bit of research on the customer (stalker alert) and found out that she was a blogger. She had bought the product from another place way cheaper. Not only that but she had a whole blog post on that product and some fantastic photography of the product.

I sent her an email personally explaining our store’s benefits, and I offered her readers a product discount. In exchange, I asked if I can use her excellent photography on our product page.

The result: I managed to convert an angry customer into a brand promoter.

A beautiful product photo from a previously unhappy customer.
A beautiful product photo from a previously unhappy customer.

5.16. Reclaim brand mentions

If your store gets mentioned on the web, then make sure you ask for a backlink. Check this article for brand monitoring tools for social signals and brand and keyword monitoring.

Use google alerts to find mentions of your brand online.
Use Google alerts to find mentions of your brand online.

Google Alerts is a free tool from hmm. Google that will send you an email when a mention of the setup keywords is found online. Go through all of your brand mentions and see if you’ve already got a link. If not, reach out and ask for it.

Google Alert Seo Tool
Google Alert Seo Tool

From practice, I’ve seen that the mentions are sent quite late so it may not be the best tool for you if you look for instant mentions like angry reviews for instance.

5.17. Find pages that use your product photography

If you are a brand like Firebox, and you make your product photography (that is also amazing) it’s likely someone already stole a picture or two of yours.

Google Image Reverse Search
Google Image Reverse Search

Sometimes other sites might use your product photos for other reasons: in articles, blog posts, etc.

The tools that will help you in finding your images are Google Images and TinEye.com

Politely reach out to each and ask if you could have a link back. Most website owners will be surprised to receive your message and are often open to giving credit for the images.

5.18. Find broken links

Finding broken links on sites is an old link-building tactic that works well for eCommerce, too. In a nutshell, you are searching for websites that could be a home to your link by looking for broken links. If there are any, you let the site owner know and ask if she can replace the broken link with a link to your store.

There are plenty of product aggregators and catalogues on the web. All you have to do is search for broken links linking to non-existent product pages.

The Broken Link Building Bible is an excellent resource on finding broken links. And this is the most extensive round-up on broken link building resources (save it for later).

Or if you want to make your life easier (and you are fine with joining the dark side), ahrefs made this quick video showing all link building bros how to find broken links extremely fast. And it’s easy!

5.19. Scan communities and sites for people looking for your products

If you are selling products hard to find locally, then you can find people that are in search for your stuff.

Scan niche communities, forums and websites by searching for your products. Outreach to those looking for the things you sell.

5.20. Make donations

Organisations often give credit for donations you’re making. Check what donations you’ve made, and see if they list donors with links. If they do, make sure you get a listing as well.

In the software development industry, it’s very common to use Open Source software. You can always decide to make a small donation to show them your gratitude and get a link in the process.

5.21. Offer a scholarship

Scholarships are great ways to help students pay for their studies and get awesome .edu backlinks to your website. How does it work? You create a scholarship page and offer a scholarship to a student. The reason may be creating an awesome article or a video proving they worth it.

Scholarship Example
Scholarship Example on Monetize.info

Once you have the scholarship ready you should contact universities and scholarship websites to promote it. Please pay it correctly and offer the scholarship to the winner.

5.22. Create or get invited in an expert roundup

An expert roundup post is a type of blog post that features contributions by multiple experts in your niche. The most effective roundups pose a very specific question that the experts can easily respond to.

When done correctly, expert roundup posts can really help you and your store stand out. Above all else, they can provide a ton of value to your customers.

Expert Roundup for eCommerce
Expert Roundup for eCommerce

Now will have an amazing piece of content that you, the experts, and your audience will love to share and give a backlink to their mention

5.23. Get interviewed on podcasts

Getting on a podcast is a great way to get your message out to the right audience and possibly land a backlink from the podcast guest.

Get a backlink from a Podcast Episode page
Get a backlink from a Podcast Episode page

There are many places where you can find podcasts related to your niche and industry. Here is an article with several podcast sources you should look into: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts.

After you made a list with several podcasts you want to appear its time to start the outreach work. Make an excel-like in the picture below and start pitching.

Keep track of podcast guests outreach efforts
Keep track of podcast guests outreach efforts

Don’t get disappointed if you don’t get too many answers. Follow up. In the links below you will find several templates that proven to work well. Also, you should kindly ask the guest to place a link to your shop in the podcast episode description.

#6. Monitor your backlinks

Okay, you’ve built some links but as Felix from MonitorBacklinks says: “Link building campaigns are not just about building or earning links. What’s the point, if you can’t keep them? Monitoring your backlinks is just as important as building them.”

It’s important to keep your hard-earned backlinks live. Check this article to learn one way to monitor your backlinks easily using MonitorBacklinks. (Note: a paid tool.)

#7. Why you need a Backlinks audit

Any site that is seen to be participating in link schemes is in danger of a ranking loss. Even worse than that, any site that HAD participated in link schemes is also in danger.

That means if you have a site that you are now running “by the book”, but you had been involved in some dodgy link schemes in the past, your rankings could still be seriously affected if you never cleaned up those poor-quality backlinks.

How to do a backlinks audit in 2020
How to do a backlinks audit in 2020

To put it bluntly, Google doesn’t want you to build links to your own website, at least not links whose sole purpose is to improve your rankings. As you look through your own backlink profile, it’s important to be able to identify links that may be causing your site problems.

SemRush Backlinks Audit
SemRush Backlinks Audit

In terms of critiquing/cleaning up your backlink profile, your job is to try and identify your links and then clean up ALL the poor-quality ones that point to your site. The next job is to then build new, better quality links to replace the ones you’ve removed.

The first step to cleaning the links you have identified as “bad” is to contact each webmaster, in turn, asking them to remove the offending link(s). Successful or not (and in most cases, it won’t be), document every attempt you make.

Please keep in mind that backlinks audit is not a one time job. You should do it at least at every couple of months to make sure it stays healthy. Your competitors may launch negative SEO attacks and destroy your rankings if you don’t disavow the backlinks fast

Conclusion

Good work for getting so far!

A lot of eCommerce website owners struggle with link building. This limits their SEO success because links play such as a big role in whether or not you’re successful in SEO.

But there’s no doubt about it: building quality backlinks to your store is one of THE best ways to get traffic and sales. eCommerce link building is so effective because it takes more effort than most of the other growth strategies.

But the willingness to try harder is what separates good from the bad marketers.

So are you ready to get started?

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About Stephan Monetize.info

Stephan J is the founder of Monetize.info and is making a living exclusively online since 2004. He tried and managed to make good profits on everything from Forex trading, options, website flipping, adsense, affiliate websites.His passions are cycling, fitness and he is spending a small fortune on watches and fine cigars

2 comments

  1. Very impressive article on bloggers. Nice and very helpful article, thanks for sharing. Thank you for sharing I just start setting up my website SEO And this helps a lot Thank you very much. Seekkr.pk, Pakistan, free ad posting, post free classified ads in Pakistan, Ads in your local area, find jobs near by you.

  2. Nice post and very satisfying, I can find helpful informations about making backlinks and improving my SEO ranking, Thank you and keep posting.

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