November 1, 2022
eCommerce link building is one of the best ways to set your website apart from the crowd. Check out these expert tips for link building for your eCommerce brand.
Fun fact. In 1996 when Larry Page and Sergey Brin set out to create what would eventually become Google, one of their working titles for the search engine was "BackRub." It was a reference to "backlinks." They called it this because even then, they knew that a website's "backlinks" were a significant indicator of how important a website was. Twenty-six years later and link building is still as crucial as ever.
Since the global pandemic, the dramatic rise in eCommerce has resulted in fierce SEO competition. It has never been more important to give your potential customers what they are searching for as fast as possible. This is where a link building strategy becomes a key tool for an eCommerce website. The right links pointing to the right pages will ensure that Google is showing your customers the right products.
Here we're going to share some important tips on successfully building links for your eCommerce site.
To rank well in search engines, your eCommerce website will usually require these core components of SEO - content, technical and link building.
Think of your website as a Hollywood movie. For a movie to have box office success, it has to have a good story - that's your content. It has to be well-made - that's technical. But it also needs good word-of-mouth.
It needs people who tell their friends, "You HAVE to see this movie!"
That's what link building is. When one website points a link to another website, that is them saying to Google, "You HAVE to see this site!"
And the website with the most quality links from the best sources will be the one most likely to be noticed by Google.
Let's say somebody is shopping for a red dress. Likely, they're simply going to type "red dress" into Google. Now there are a lot of eCommerce sites out there that sell this item, so how will Google decide which ones to show? Let's see the Page 1 results below…
Many factors go into search engine optimisation. However, it's no surprise that the businesses towards the top have put more effort into their link-building campaign than those underneath them.
It’s not just a matter of the website’s domain authority. The top three results have more backlinks, period. And there a few different ways they can earn these backlinks. To get started, an eCommerce link building strategy would be necessary and we’ll cover tips and tactics you can use in a moment.
However, once these brands start getting featured in various publications and on Google search, they start to naturally attract links too. After a while, they don’t even have to lift a finger as people will build links to their website due to the power of the brand.
And that’s the ultimate goal for how to boost your eCommerce brand’s authority online. So let’s take a look at ways you can get started with eCommerce link building today.
Take another look at the Page 1 results for "red dress." Notice anything about the actual web page that's being presented? All those results point to the exact category pages for the red dresses they're selling, not the home page or a specific product.
Again, content and website optimisation plays a role here. But if you want Google to present the correct product page in their search results, pointing high-quality links to a category or collection page that is just about that specific product is very important.
This might sound like an obvious tip, but it's a crucial one that can be overlooked. Sometimes the Google search results click through to a home page. Other times they point to specific product page, or a blog post.
Every backlink is valuable, and regardless of where they point, you will gain some SEO benefit from it. However, in the highly competitive world of eCommerce, if you're fortunate enough to get a spot in those top 3 results, you had better make sure that when the user clicks through to your site, it takes them to what they're searching for. Otherwise, you risk losing them to another eCommerce store.
Building high-quality, relevant links to the correct product page will go a long way to making sure the right page is coming up in Google.
Now that we've discussed where to point your backlinks, you need to choose the right anchor text the user clicks when they come through to your website.
Anchor text refers to the words that you make clickable when creating a link. “Click here” and “read more” are common examples.
A great rule of thumb when deciding what your anchor text should be, is to ask yourself, "would I click this?" If the answer is no, perhaps some more thought must go into it. It also needs to be relevant to the page that you’re linking to so people have enough context to know what to expect once they click.
Using the same example, "red dress" or “red dresses” are the obvious choice. And yes, building several high-quality backlinks using the anchor "red dress" or “red dresses” is very important (especially for SEO purposes).
But you can't just build 100+ backlinks using the same anchor because it looks unnatural and can seem spammy.
Google knows when it's being played, and a big red flag for them is a page getting too many links using the same anchor. You won't necessarily get penalised, but they will certainly give preference to other sites if they suspect any link manipulation. And that's almost as bad as a penalty when you're trying to compete with the other results.
The way around this is to vary your anchor text, e.g., "red dresses size 8-12"; "red dresses in Melbourne,"; or "red dress for a wedding reception." Throw in some branded anchors (your company name) and some naked anchors (the actual web page URL), and you've got yourself a natural, balanced link profile.
Use keywords that describe your product as the anchor text while taking care to vary the text, so it does not seem unnatural to Google and other search engines. It’s also ok to use your brand name or the actual link to your page as the anchor text from time to time.
This one is another obvious tip, but it can't be overstated. A backlink is like a vote of confidence in the eyes of Google. It is a website literally encouraging a user to leave their site and come to yours.
It's one of the highest endorsements your website can get, and that's why Google likes it. However, again, they are no fools. If you build links to your red dress product page from an auto-mechanic website, that will look suspicious.
In the early days of search engines, this technique worked. It didn't matter where the links came from or what that anchor text was. It was a pure game of "the most links wins."
Not anymore. Choose websites that actually have content on their site about your product and target them to build links. This could be a blog post or one of their product pages. Put the user first in your link building strategies, and you can't go wrong.
The relevancy of the website linking to yours matters. Choose websites that are in the same industry and cover similar industry topics as what your website does.
Here is where you can really take your link-building efforts to the next level. There is evidence to suggest that Google gives extra value to a local link building strategy (and this can also work well for eCommerce link building too).
Not sure what a “local link building strategy” is? We mean it quite literally. What suburb or city are you based in?
Try to find other businesses and organisations relevant to yours in your local area. Reach out to them and offer to cross-promote with them. Offer a discount on one of your products or services to their customers in exchange for a link.
What local sports teams are in your area? Reach out and offer to sponsor them in exchange for a link on their club's webpage.
There's legwork involved with this kind of link-building, but it's worth it. It shows genuine collaboration with other websites, with links being shared for all the right reasons. And if someone searches for "red dress in (your suburb)," you're in the box seat to show up in the top spot.
Find local businesses in your suburb or city that are similar to yours and collaborate with them. You do not have to work with competitors. Rather, find industry-adjacent businesses that would benefit from collaborating with you.
Who are your competitors? I'm sure every business owner knows who they are competing with and can quickly rattle off 2 or 3 of them.
But in the world of SEO, that's the wrong answer. The correct answer is "for which keyword?"
Simply put, your competitors are whoever ranks above you in search engines. And that changes depending on what keyword the user searches for.
Type your top 3 keywords into Google and write down all the competing companies that rank higher than you. Those are your competitors. For whatever reason, Google likes them more than you right now.
So now it's time to get to work and discover why. It might be that they have better content on their site. It might be that their eCommerce website is simply faster and more aesthetically pleasing. They might also have more backlinks than you.
There's a lot of industry-leading software out there that allows you to examine the backlinks of other businesses. It is strongly recommended to invest in one of these for your link building strategy and have a good look at what backlinks your competitors have.
You can see the anchor text they use, the pages they point to, and basically, everything we've discussed in the above tips.
At EngineRoom, we also specialise in helping eCommerce site owners craft a winning SEO and link building strategy. As a website owner, it can be hard to keep up with all of your marketing and we can help ease that burden so you can grow your eCommerce store the easy way.
Use a professional SEO tool or an expert eFind local businesses in your suburb or city that are similar to yours and collaborate with them. You do not have to work with competitors. Rather, find industry-adjacent businesses that would benefit from collaborating with you.
Link building doesn’t have to be hard or boring. For instance, there are many creative methods you can use to help get more relevant publications mentioning your brand name and linking back to your website.
A quick and easy way to build links to your online business is to find places where your brand has already been mentioned but the writer hasn’t linked back to your website. You can reach out and ask for a link to be added and voila! It’s as easy as that.
This technique is often referred to as “unlinked brand mentions”. To find places your brand has been mentioned without relying on professional tools, you can run a search for your brand name on Google (making sure to remove your website and social media sites).
Here’s what that would look like:
Once you have a list of pages that mention your brand, it’s just about contacting the writer and asking them to link back to your website. In some cases, there will already be links but in the ones where there aren’t, you can request they link to a specific page on your website.
In a similar fashion, you can also collaborate with writers and editors of other websites using other creative methods.
You could try guest posting by creating an expert piece of content those other websites can feature. Make sure to add a link back to your store in the article!
You can also identify links that are in existing content but no longer work. Perhaps they pointed to other eCommerce websites that are no longer active or that have removed the page. This is a great opportunity for you to ask for a link to your website to be used here instead.
There are many creative ways you can acquire links to your eCommerce website and help boost your brand’s visibility online. Try out different techniques to see what works best in your industry.
Building links to your site is relatively simple and will have a big impact on your brand’s visibility online. In the face of massive global competition, only the brands that tick the most boxes are the ones who give themselves the best chance to succeed. That's why an eCommerce website in a competitive industry needs to make sure they're on the front foot.
Where and how you appear in Google search results is the proverbial front window of your online store. It's the first thing your potential customers see and link building is one part of the marketing puzzle that can help make sure you're one of the first shops seen at the top of search results.
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Digital PR Lead
Don creates affiliations between two websites to raise awareness around our client's brand and to improve SEO performance.