Untapped Link Building Techniques for Ecommerce Sites

by Brian Dean on November 4, 2013

Ecomerce Site

As an Ecommerce site owner, you have a lot on your plate.

You have traffic to generate, funnels to optimize, and customers to retain.

To top it all off, your link building is an uphill battle because your site’s content is made up of category and product pages…not the type of content that tends to land natural backlinks.

But if you’re like most Ecommerce sites, link building isn’t an option for you. With organic search traffic as the lifeblood of your business, you can’t afford not to build backlinks to your site.

Fortunately, there are a handful of powerful — and easy to implement — link building strategies that Ecommerce sites can tap into to get more search engine traffic to those high-converting category and product pages.

First, The Long-Term Approach That Works

I’ve seen more than a handful Ecommerce sites get hammered by Google’s latest round of algorithm updates.

Because most Ecommerce spaces are so competitive — and with giants like Amazon dominating the first page — it’s more difficult than ever for smaller Ecommerce sites to get any traction on Google’s brand-biased first page.

That’s why it’s very tempting to go over to “the dark side” and start buying shady links from blog networks or sending out anchor-text rich press releases.

And while that may give you a short-term boost — over the long-term — it’s a recipe for disaster.

The approach that works now (and in the future) is this:

  1. Create an outstanding customer experience
  2. Create awesome content that you can use to generate links to your site
  3. Promote your site with a focus on building links

The first strategy is straightforward (and probably something you’re working hard on anyway), but it bears repeating: there are bloggers and webmasters that own sites in every niche under the sun. And if you can “wow” your customers Zappos-style, you’ll generate links when people talk about their experience online.

You’ve got #1 under control, so #2 and #3 are all me :-)

Create (and Promote) Epic Content On Your Blog

While you can easily optimize your Ecommerce site’s on-page SEO, getting natural links to your Vitamin E category page is a different story.

But that doesn’t mean you’re tapped out of on-site linkbait just because you run an Ecommerce site.

In fact, your blog is your most powerful link building weapon…if you use it right.

Most Ecommerce blogs are content wastelands that are chock full of boring product announcements and “limited time offers”.

While there’s certainly a place for tooting your own horn on your blog, that shouldn’t be your focus. You want to create epic content that appeals to bloggers and site owners in your space (what Rand Fishkin calls The Linkerati).

When you create content that stands out and blows people’s minds, you’ll generate links to that page on your site and your homepage (when people mention content on another site they often do something like: “This amazing piece of content by site.com”.

Once you get some juice (in the form or PageRank) to that page, you can funnel it to your high-priority category and product pages via anchor text-rich internal links. In fact, internal linking is one of the cornerstones of Wikipedia’s SEO strategy (and it works):

Internal Links

Your epic content can come in a variety of forms, from white papers, to ultimate guides, to tutorials to funny videos like Dollar Shave Club’s famous intro video. The important thing to keep in mind is that you want to view your blog as a way to provide value to your customers, not as a product and feature announcement area.

Keep in mind that publishing epic content is only the first step. For it to perform well you need to get out there and do lots and lots of email outreach. Email outreach takes a lot of time and effort — but unless you already have a huge audience on your blog — it’s the best way to get the word out about your awesome content.

If you’re new to blogger outreach, I recommend reading this guide by KISSMetrics and chapter 3 of this link building guide from Backlinko.com.

Turn Brand Mentions Into Backlinks

If you have customers, you probably have people talking about your brand online. And sometimes they mention your brand without actually linking back to your site (gasp!).

And if you can find these at scale, you’ll get some of the easiest links on the planet. After all, these people are already talking about your site online. They just need a nudge to turn your plain text mention into a link.

The tool that works best for finding brand mentions is the aptly named Mention.net.

Mention.net scours the web for mentions of any keyword on the web, including brand names. All you need to do is create what’s known as an “alert” that searches for your brand:

Ecommerce Rules

When Mention.net finds a mention, you’ll get an email notification. And if you see that someone mentioned your site without linking, reach out to them to thank them for the shout out…and gently ask them to link to your site.

Product Mention Monitoring

You can also use the same approach with products that you sell on your site. For example, if you sell premium coffee on your Ecommerce site, you’d want to set up an alert around keywords like “premium coffee”, “high end coffee” and “gourmet coffee”.

That way, when a blogger writes about premium coffee, you can reach out to them to build a relationship. You can either give them a heads up about your site that sells premium coffee at reasonable prices — or better yet — send him or her a free sample.

If you can scale the process of identifying bloggers that talk about your products — and sending them free samples — you can get quality backlinks that your competitors can only dream about.

In fact, sites like Milk Unleashed have built dozens of high quality links from mommy bloggers simply by sending them free samples of their product:

Mommy Blogger Backlink

Authorized Retailer Link Building

Whether you sell golf balls or pens at your Ecommerce store, you probably work with a number of major manufacturers.

And these manufacturers typically have authorized retailer pages that link out to offline and online retailers that they trust:

Authorized Retailers Link

If you’re not already on their list, you just need to send them an email and ask. They’ll typically either send you some sort of application to make sure you’re legit or just check out your site.

As long as you have a good-looking operation, they’ll typically link to you without much hassle.

Guest Posting

Guest posting is a fantastic way to get links directly to the product and category pages that you want to rank. Just look for sites that write about your product category and openly accept guest posts.

For example, if you sold golf clubs on your site, you’d want to use these search strings in Google:

“golf” + “write for us”

“golfing” + “guest post by”

golfing + “contribute to”

When you find a potential guest posting opportunity, check out the site’s Domain Authority using Open Site Explorer:

Ideally, you want to see a Domain Authority of at least 2o (the higher the better):

Domain Authority Example

This signifies that your link will have enough authority to give you a boost in Google’s results.

In your post’s author bio area (where most sites allow you to put a backlink to your site), include a link directly to an important product or category page…not your homepage.

About the author

Brian Dean Brian is an affiliate marketer, digital marketing consultant and serial entrepreneur that gives businesses the skills and tools they need to maximize their search engine visibility. He specializes in content marketing, blog growth and search engine marketing (both SEO and SEM).

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