eCommerce link building is as much art as it is science. And for online stores, it's more important than ever for several reasons.
In the traditional sense, link building is what it has always been for marketing – a means to generate awareness and sell products. However, link building for ecommerce also is a means to break the usual mould that advertising costs money.
When approaching ecommerce link building tactics, it pays to plan ahead and conceptualise your strategies, just as you would with a traditional print or TV campaign.
After all, having the perfect ecommerce site will all be for nothing if you're invisible online. Building links is one element of making sure customers can find that perfect product page. So, your link building efforts are as crucial as the site itself in building an effective ecommerce website.
With this in mind, lets explore 10 ways companies can capitalise on ecommerce link building as an avenue for growth.
No matter what other issues we cover, blogging is arguably one of the most important aspects a company should prioritise. Google heavily prioritises companies that have live content.
By that, we mean companies that publish content on a regular basis, related to their field of expertise, will always rank higher on Google as a source of authority within their niche.
So, it benefits any business that wishes to rank well in search engines to keep a regularly updated blog. Do not think any random content will suffice, however. Google will look for relevancy. So, speak to what you know and what your business is known for. Google has a tendency to rank content higher than products. So, blogging should stay informational. For example, if your business sells pet products, focus on crafting blog posts on issues such as pet training and pet health.
This begs the question of how to move traffic from your blog to your product pages. Focus on proper website tools, such as ready access to navigation tools and/or a site map to shift potential customers from blog content to product pages. Also, where appropriate, you can incorporate product links into the blog itself.
Consider the example of the pet website. If you post a blog on obedience training, you can incorporate links to training collars or any books you may sell with additional training information.
So long as you're building links that are organic and relevant, this is a positive sign to Google.
In summary, remember to post content regularly but make sure it is relevant, useful and central to your brand.
2. Video Marketing
Written content isn't the only way to make an impact. While this may is the central focus of a lot of marketing you should keep in mind that streaming and video content is the common trend now for a lot of businesses.
Whether it be Tik Tok, YouTube, or Instagram, you should make sure your company has a multimedia presence. Consider what might trend or go viral. Also, take care that whatever content you disseminate is inoffensive. While multimedia sites are excellent sources of brand marketing, making a social faux pas can prove dangerous and near impossible to take back (everything lives on the internet forever).
You need only consider companies that have tried to market around the COVID-19 outbreak and run afoul of both consumers and regulators for their marketing material.
Importantly, properly crafted video content is advertising minus the cost of actually promoting it. The benefits of a well-crafted video gone viral is immeasurable.
To focus on viral content, identify what your audience might like and share. If you have a popular, catchy product page that you can highlight at your ecommerce store, then do so. If not, you'll need to create something that people will remember, like, and share. Humour is normally a good way of building interest and getting your links distributed.
For example, let's consider our hypothetical pet supply store. It's easy to highlight the products you have for sale and your link might actually get a few hits. But what it won't be is interesting enough content for someone to share, which should remain your target.
By contrast, you might post a montage of funny dog and cat video clips. Does it even mention your products? No. What it does do, if properly branded, helps associate your name with something enjoyable and memorable. And, it gives viewers a reason to send it to friends.
In short, you don't necessarily have to sell a product in a video. Brand identity and shareability are crucial. Some of the best viral campaigns on the internet may have little more than a "contact us" mentioned at the end or a link to visit the ecommerce site.
Properly done, your link building can grow exponentially as viewers start doing the link building for you.
3. Social Influencers / Brand Ambassadors
One potential avenue for marketing is social influencers. If you can win over popular social media people, the potential for cheaper marketing is limitless. However, you need to find influencers that are relevant to your product and who have an audience that will want to purchase what you have to sell.
If your product is unknown, this can actually benefit you. If you find the right influencer, your product can seem exclusive and a find, which can boost sales. Let's once again consider our hypothetical pet supply store.
The first step will be identifying influential people on the platform we choose - let's say YouTube first. We can start with keyword searches for appropriate influencers. We might start with "dog obedience training".
From that generated list we can examine different channels to identify someone with a good-sized audience and content relevant to your product lines. From there, you can follow contact instructions to try and establish a relationship with the influencer.
Some influencers may sell actual advertising or sponsorship packages, while others may enter some form of relationship with your company pro bono. It may help, with smaller influencers, to offer free products.
Offering a free sample of a product can be ridiculously cheaper to the bottom line than paying for advertising. As always, you need to identify influencers that make sense for your marketing campaign.
Another way to sell your brand is to foster brand ambassadors. Consider what your product is and who your consumers are and look for people that have an interest in promoting that product. Obviously, social influencers are your first line of promotors. But average social media users can also prove key to success. Consider it a numbers game. A hundred brand ambassadors can cumulatively reach as many people as one, more well-known social influencer.
Brand ambassadors are any people who will promote your brand on a voluntary basis. Read that to mean – for free. Whether you entice them with free samples, or they just have the loyalty necessary to champion your brand without payment, many ambassadors will promote your brand without any expectation of reimbursement.
You may, for example, run a Twitter campaign with a link for a special product offer. If you run an email list, consider trading a sample product if they get people to sign-up for your newsletter. Also, consider, for people with their own followers, they may also be seeking the prestige to be aligned with your company as an ambassador, which makes it an organically mutually beneficial arrangement.
4. Press Releases
Another excellent tool for ecommerce link building is to put out press releases. Identify any new products or features people might like and find interesting and craft proper press releases.
A good press release can produce multiple benefits. You can post links to an ecommerce site while also strategically placing a "contact us" style link and any other information you'd like to make available to audiences.
If you search for links to press releases regarding companies in your field, you can find free places to post information and updates about your ecommerce site. You can also approach journalists from online news outlets. Try not to make your press release too promotional and avoid common mistakes.
If you're unsure how to write a press release, there are plenty of examples freely available online. Or, if you like, you can outsource to a professional company to enhance your release and help convert your links into customers.
If you're brainstorming for ideas, let's consider again our pet product store. You could put out a release when a new training book hits the market. Or, perhaps a new line of pet vitamins is being offered. Think of what your customers would genuinely like to hear about.
As with other types of ecommerce link building, it is important to place your press releases somewhere appropriate and relevant to your business. Google will like to see your links to your website on an authoritative site. Also, keep in mind that the number of links in your press release should be kept to a reasonable number. If it looks like a link-laden advertisement, it might be pulled down by the operator of the site you posted it on.
If the website has posting rules, ensure you read them, follow the website rules, and limit links if necessary. It only takes one effective link back to motivate a user to click and get to your product pages. So be discerning in your link building strategy.
Sometimes, less is more.
5. Industry and Local Directories
Depending on your core business and region, many industries have directories on which you can register. Identifying an industry or local directory website is an easy way to place high-value links to your website and is an important part of your ecommerce link building. Further, getting a link placed on such a site means anyone that intentionally goes to the website in the first place is far more likely to be a potential customer.
Also, Google tends to consider such industry directories as containing higher value links, as opposed to general directories which have been downgraded in recent years. So a link in the directory will also potentially help increase your exposure in search engine results. Granted, there is no magic bullet here. A couple of directory links won't show a massive impact on your relevance to search engines. But a solid link building strategy is a composite of different techniques and strategies and each piece will play a part in making your links more easily findable.
Consider other approaches such as local suppliers, chamber of commerce, associations/organisations and partners that can also strategically help you improve your klout in your niche, whilst earning a link at the same time.
To get on an industry directory, search the relevant "contact us" or follow any rules or instructions written on the website for getting a link added to the directory.
6. Offer Discounts
An excellent link building strategy is the inclusion of discounts to encourage people to follow a link. When you build a link to your site, include a discount code in the link that customers can use for exclusive offers. Program in a discount code area in your online checkout system where customers can redeem these codes on your website.
As an added bonus, many sites on the web track online discounts, which means they will build links for you. Such dynamic link building tactics mean you will get links with no effort of your own aside from posting your initial discount offer.
Consider our hypothetical pet product website. You can either offer a discount on merchandise or, if you have something like in-house written ebooks, discounts to something that literally costs you nothing to produce.
7. Paid Advertising
While not directly an ecommerce link build building strategy, paid advertising is still an excellent method of reaching a large audience and getting feedback on commercial terms you can focus on for your SEO efforts.
Moreover, you can engineer online advertising campaigns to reach a specific audience.
Unlike print or television ads, you can tailor your strategy based on criteria like keyword searches. By carefully tailoring your ad placement, you can focus on finding motivated buyers to your ecommerce website.
If ads are paid on a per-view basis, it will benefit you to strategise for maximum conversions. Spend time identifying keywords that might attract a likely customer of your ecommerce store. If you make sure to target ads carefully, you are much more likely to convert visitors to sales.
There are two elements that a paid ad has to achieve. It has to make someone click on your link. Then your site has to convert that visitor into a customer. If both of these things don't happen, your ad money is wasted. Alternatively, your combined blogging and paid advertisement efforts to help increase its reach can increase the likelihood of others linking back to those informational or product pages.
One effective method of improving your campaign effectiveness is by A/B testing for your paid links. Craft different ads with different messaging, run them concurrently and collect data on how often each ad leads to a sales conversion.
One of the advantages of Google & Social Ads is that you can specify monetary limits on how many ads you'll pay for. So, you can do small batch runs for A/B testing just to gather enough data to find which ads are working best for you.
8. Develop Useful Tools or Widgets
When building links, one strategy is to offer tools people will find useful. People often search Google for links to widgets that perform a useful task they might like to have performed. Ready examples are services like online calculators, weights and measure conversion, or services such as Google Translate.
Once a user follows a link and arrives at your site, you have ample time to present your products. As long as the tool has something to do with your product or services, you will attract high-value users. Again, let us consider our pet supply store.
There are numerous simple apps to develop that users might like to use. You may build an app to calculate a dog's age in equivalent human years. Or, a simple app that can calculate flea medication dosage based on an animal's type and weight. Neither would be programmatically difficult to make.
So, they are inexpensive options to attract people to follow your links. If you've done effective internal link building, they should have an easy path to navigate to your product pages from the app.
9. Build a Community
Developing an online forum is a way to continually grow your website and content without having to do so yourself. There is an initial effort involved in setting up a forum and there may be some minimal administration necessary once it is up and running.
However, day to day posting becomes the responsibility of visitors instead of your staff.
That means more content is being discovered by Google on a regular basis and every post in another link to your domain. Moreover, users can discuss different topics that will widen the scope of information you offer, often in ways, you hadn't even thought of.
For our pet store example, you can create various help sections about dog grooming, health, obedience training, and sections on individual breed types that customers can post questions on.
This keeps a user base at your ecommerce site on a regular basis which keeps visitors both loyal and aware of your brand while putting you in a position to market new products or services directly to in the forum pages.
10. Create a podcast
Similar to video marketing, podcasts are an excellent way to reach consumers and assist in link building. Podcasts can be about anything for which your website has some authority and something useful to share. Podcast format is typically less formal and more conversational in style. So, it need not have an extravagant budget.
In our pet product example, you may simply put out a short guide on house training your new dog. As the information contained within is key, it clearly needs no expensive budget. If done well and it proves useful, it not only creates brand recognition but also encourages viewers to follow links back to your website and to your product pages.
Due to the ease of production and ready availability of podcasts, they make an excellent part of your larger overall link building strategies.
Have A Comprehensive Link Building Plan
Success starts with a plan. That's why we recommend building a comprehensive link building plan from the beginning. Focus on a coordinated outreach across all channels to establish your brand identity. Proper research will save you from painful mistakes that can waste your efforts or, worse, even do damage to your business' reputation or visibility.
That being said, ecommerce link building is essential for modern businesses seeking to conduct ecommerce. Because if no one knows you're there, it won't matter how good your website is.
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