Ecommerce link building is about having relevant and trusted backlinks that attract targeted search users to your website.
Users who are desperately looking to buy the exact products that you sell.
Most eCommerce brands have mastered the art of link building. To them, it’s all about positioning as the brand that should be trusted.
For example, eCommerce websites like Dodocase, Zappos, Target, and the like, are perceived as industry leaders – because of how they showcase quality products and provide undeniable customer support.
In turn, this makes it easy for the brands to earn links from industry websites. I’m sure you’ve even linked to these top shopping sites or told someone about them.
That’s the power of effective positioning.
Of course, you could get hundreds of thousands of generic links easily, but when you’re looking to improve your search rankings, your should focus on:
RELEVANT and QUALITY links.
And for you to get a relevant and quality link pointing to your eCommerce web page, you need to be smart. More so, you don’t have to beg for the right links (case: most brands make this mistake).
According to Kunle Campbell, a specialist eCommerce marketing consultant at 2xeCommerce.com,
“You need a link building mindset shift.”
Campbell further stressed that if you want to scale your eCommerce link building efforts, you need to approach it with the mindset of an inbound marketer.
The reason is because SEO is a broad and dynamic subject. The strategies we hold dear to our hearts might become outdated, the moment Google rolls out their next algorithm update.
That said, I want to distil the 4-steps approach that Kunle Campbell used to build a successful eCommerce brand when it comes to link building.
If you’re ready, let’s do it!
Step 1: Creativity switch: Focus on Inbound
Inbound marketing is all about pull marketing (providing immense value in your content, and getting noticed and appreciated for it).
The moment you change your mindset, your approach will also change. This means that your eCommerce link building strategy will be different from a brand that depends only on outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing is a bit too pushy. It’s similar to a brand or marketer begging for links, whereas, a smarter brand can earn better links by simply providing value or a special experience.
For example, Dan Petrovic from DEJAN Marketing likes to organize competitions to get exposure. He says that his favorite approach to link building is….
“Competitions, but on the product page itself.
Most people make a mistake of running a competition on a separate URL and then giving away a product as a prize. I say place the competition information on the product page of the giveaway item. Use a hash like this: “website.com/productURL/#
Truth be told, if you focus on building a brand and not just a link, you’ll make more impact. You build a relationship with your content asset. And guess what? This is what “eCommerce link building at scale” is all about. It works like magic.
Yes, there is nothing wrong with hand-to-hand combat outreach, whereby you seek for links, but you need to be thinking about scaling: How you can take series of action steps that yield dramatic results in 2016?
These results can/will go beyond getting links.
When you scale, don’t be surprised to get massive social shares, brand mentions, co-citations, and other benefits of getting more eyeballs and attention to your content asset.
Step 2: Optimize processes to improve your search rankings faster
Question: What is the best way to improve search rankings?
Answer: It depends on many factors.
However, links are still the number #1 ranking factor that makes all the difference.
The reason why scaling your eCommerce link building is crucial is because, it gives you the opportunity to add chunks of quality links at a go to your web pages, which in turn pushes (or mildly put: improves) your rankings faster.
Listen up: When you scale your link building, it means that for every step you take, you’ll not earn one link only, but many.
You could convince authority bloggers to link back to you – just by doing something remarkable (e.g., creating content on a topic that most people dread).
And to do something remarkable requires hours of research and brainstorming content ideas.
As Garrett French, Founder at Citation Labs emphasizes in this article:
“Remember, linkers (the classic resource page linkers) go for evergreen, informative, educational content. […] Hopefully your SEO keywords have led you to (similarly) informative (and non-sales-y) content ideas.“
To create that kind of content, you should come up with topics on a constant basis and demonstrate them to your manager. Not easy, but doable if you invest 2-3 hours only for this purpose.
Remember that you need more links than ever before to achieve your search engine optimization goals. Quality still matters. But you MUST not neglect the quantity of such ‘quality’ links.
Earlier data from Moz found that getting one backlink will most likely have a small to medium effect initially, but that effect increases over time.
On the flip side, when your web page ranking is low, the link you build will have more effect on your ranking boost.
Step 3: Understand the SEO Hierarchy of Needs
Obviously, we can’t talk about link building at scale for eCommerce brands, without taking a deep dive into the SEO Hierarchy of Needs.
See, you want to understand the structure of your website: design, usability, market research, and so on. They are all important.
Backlinks are only but a fraction of the factors that make for a profitable website.
As an eCommerce marketer, you should look at this Hierarchy of Needs with an open mind – because, they’re not set on a stone. You can redefine them in your own way.
Looking at this diagram, you’ll agree with me that having a deep understanding of your business is critical.
Because, if you go on a link building spree without being confident of your brand essence, scalability, culture, and so forth, you may get the links – but you wouldn’t know what to do with them.
Don’t let anyone deceive you, because building the right links isn’t the ultimate objective. It’s just one important aspect of the system.
Right before or after you set up your business, you need to understand the business fundamentals.
Then, you move on to knowing the language patterns of your target audience. Most of these people aren’t going to buy your product – but that’s okay.
At this stage, market and keyword research tells you what an ideal audience thinks. You get to know what’s on their minds when they’re using search engines.
In the past 3 years, Google has quite evolved in the way they understand a given keyword and the objective (intent) behind it.
Consequently, when you conduct a keyword research and find a group of key phrases, say:
- Necklace for women
- Best necklace for men
- Affordable wrist watches online
You shouldn’t get excited, and start devising means to rank for such keywords. In reality, people who search for “best necklace for men” may not be ready to buy right now.
It’s possible that most of them are just researching about the item, pending when they’re ready to buy.
In this case, the keyword is “best necklace for men,” whereas the intent (the reason why people are searching for it is) is “researching for information about wearing a necklace.”
So how do you know these intents?
It all depends on your market. That’s the reason for market research. Follow these two steps:
- Find out where your target audience hangs out (e.g., discussion boards, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter)
- Get into the conversation. Listen to them. Ask questions and learn how people respond.
To better understand the user intents, it’s ideal to conduct market research first before keyword research.
Step 4: Get people to link to you naturally
Most eCommerce brands can’t imagine having authority sites linking to them willingly. To them, it’s impossible.
But that’s not true.
For instance, Kunle had more websites link to his content (both in-house and guest articles), out of their own free will.
Here’s what happened…
They read the content, benefitted from it, and couldn’t hold back from sharing it on social media and citing it on their blogs. The secret is writing in a natural way. Here’s how Matt Cutts, Head of WebSpam at Google puts it:
Shopify earns a lot of links each time they publish a new eCommerce-related article.
If you want other websites to link to you, think about making an impact.
Let’s get this straight: Whether you’re a B2C or B2B eCommerce brand, one thing is certain:
“You’re dealing with people.”
You’re not selling to businesses per se, but to people.
For example, when a popular or authoritative site links to your eCommerce store, don’t see this as a gesture from a brand, but a real person.
If you look at the SEO Hierarchy of Needs one more time, you’ll notice one striking thing:
As you climb up the pyramid, you’ll see that the data you collect during market and keyword research is inserted into site architecture. In other words, you’re going to structure your pages to appeal to people’s behavior.
You’ve got to be intentional about it. Then, when you’re sure your site architecture is on point, content is the next phase.
This is where you grab the data (especially the user intent) collected during research, and produce engaging content that people can’t resist.
More important, you want to produce content that speaks to your audience, and actually sells your product.
Design and Site Usability (UX) are also critical. At this point, you want people to nod their heads when they visit your site or read your content.
Make your website easy to navigate and your content interesting to read. That way, you’ll have proven your expertise.
And talking about the appeal, when you visit Jeep.com, you quickly think of luxury, right?
On the other hand, when you visit Amazon, you’ll think of how to save money when you shop. These are deliberate design and UX efforts, nothing accidental about them.
Starting an eCommerce business is easy, but growing it into a successful brand is difficult.
To simplify it, you can start by making sure that your website is ready for the target audience.
Start taking conversion rate optimization seriously. If you start to generate targeted visitors to your eCommerce site, but only a few of them subscribe to your email list it’s a pity.
I’d love to hear from you. Which of the four-step approach have you used to build links to your website?