Effective Link Building Tactics for Ecommerce Brands
- July 18 , 2023
- 13 min read
To say that the eCommerce market is a significant revenue-generating industry is an understatement. Estimates indicate that last year’s online shopping revenues peaked at USD$ 5.42 trillion and will likely reach USD$ 8.1 trillion by 2026.
The fact that there are 12 to 26 million eCommerce sites worldwide shouldn’t stop virtual merchants from building their own websites to establish a digital presence. Besides, there’s no use creating a life-changing product or service that nobody knows.
For marketing professionals, search engine optimisation (SEO) offers a practical solution to online visibility concerns. According to a study, the page that places first on the search engine results page (SERP) corners 28.5% of the total click-through rate on average. That’s around 1.46 billion of the 5.3 billion global internet users.
Any website owner wishes to be in this position, but at the same time, know that link building for eCommerce is only one piece of the puzzle in a slow and steady race to number one.
Hyperlinks are more than clickable phrases, images or videos embedded in blogs and other digital content. A link enables users to navigate from one webpage to another. It does the same for search engine bots that analyse the links between pages and sites to decide the most relevant results for a query or keyword. Despite the constant changes to the 200 ranking factors affecting site performance, link building remains one of the significant determinants.
A great link profile, most notably with many high-quality inbound links to a webpage, is key to ranking better. It denotes credibility and authority and signals that your site is reliable and citation worthy. It draws increased organic traffic and enhances site and domain authority, pivotal in link acquisition.
Several tools are available to determine domain rating or website authority, including this one from ahrefs.
- Inbound links/ Backlinks: Inbound links are known for many names, including incoming links and backlinks. As mentioned, they’re clickable anchor texts, images or videos from external web pages that connect to your eCommerce site pages.
- Outbound links: Conversely, outbound links describe links to external sites that you use when creating content. In such circumstances, you’re the one creating backlinks. It does help your strategy because you’ll be associated with the authoritative sites you link with.
- Internal links: This link type connects one page to another within the same website. For instance, an informative blog from your site can include an internal link to your products or services page.
Do Follow and No Follow Links
You might come across additional terms such as do-follow and no-follow links. Placing a do-follow link lets search engines pass the source’s authority to the destination page through link points or juice, while the no-follow link doesn’t.
The world’s most popular search engine has a metric to calculate link points called PageRank. A do-follow link adds points to this metric, with more reputable sites gaining more ‘juice.’ Gaining do-follow links from authoritative sites help improve your eCommerce site’s domain rating.
On the contrary, a no-follow link signals search bots not to count the points, so they don’t directly influence a page’s SERP placement. However, no-follow links aren’t useless, as they can drive referral traffic. Links posted on popular online communities, sponsored, user-generated and affiliate links are often used in a no-follow format.
Nonetheless, not all links are created equal, so site owners must know which are valuable and which are less helpful. Ensuring compliance with search engine guidelines is likewise crucial. Practising black hat SEO techniques, like buying links, spamming and keyword stuffing, can penalise your site or negatively impact ranking.
Effective eCommerce Link Building Tactics
An eCommerce site’s capacity to select authoritative links and get high-quality backlinks is at the core of effective link building. Whether an eCommerce site owner or online marketer hoping to improve organic search traffic, these strategies can increase the effectiveness of your SEO and other digital marketing efforts.
- Audit your link building profile and strategies frequently
Conducting frequent SEO link audits is key to an effective backlinking strategy. Besides the fact that SEO results often take time, the rules often change or get updated. Hence, what was effective a few years ago may no longer work in your eCommerce site’s favour for 2023.
At the very least, perform the following activities:
- Determine your domain and page authority to know if your eCommerce site is good enough for link building.
- Get a list of your backlinks to evaluate your profile and compare it against competitors.
- Analyse the movement of your eCommerce site’s earned and lost backlinks.
- Identify and get rid of dead backlinks.
- Study your competitors’ backlinks to know their most linked pages, and identify gaps.
- Check the referring sites or domains as a basis for your outreach plan.
- Review the referring domains’ toxicity score, and decide whether to remove or disavow links.
- Identify any broken links and correct them.
- Ensure your links don’t have penalties that negatively impact site traffic.
When revisiting your strategy, evaluate how your company’s website stacks against the competition, especially the top-ranking sites. Reputable SEO platforms have link analysis tools you can use in your audit and competitor backlink analysis. Then identify what you must do to close the gap.
- Master internal link building and choose outbound links wisely
All active sites can acquire great backlinks by getting good at internal link-building, choosing external sites to link to and posting valuable content to get great backlinks. We will discuss each separately and start with insights on internal link building. Internal link building is an often-overlooked SEO process that involves producing URL links that direct readers to the other pages on your site. They can either be structural or contextual. The former refers to links generated during website development, like site maps, headers, footers and navigation bars, while contextual links describe the links embedded into your content. They must work together to improve your eCommerce site’s ranking chances.
Here are some points to consider when creating an internal linking system:
- Perform keyword research and identify the most popular keywords in your niche.
- Strategically use them in your content while making your page search and navigation-friendly.
- Link internal content to your other digital assets about a related subject. Let me show you how it’s applied as I introduce a page about themed link building, an advanced strategy.
Choosing external links
Conversely, choosing external links for your eCommerce site may be challenging. Without setting parameters, the risks of creating toxic links and getting penalised by search engines remain high. Below are some of the things you need to focus on when selecting outbound links:
- Check the external site’s relevance. Think outside your topic and include the site’s relevance. Online merchant sites have many non-competitor sites to link with, depending on their niche.
- Mind you anchor texts. While search engines recommend your anchor text to be descriptive or give clues as to what the page is about, avoid using the same keywords in all your backlinks, as it could become spammy.
- Review the page’s authority. Note that link points or juices are passed by the page and not by the site. Quickly check a source’s page authority instead of the homepage.
- Ensure you don’t have toxic links. Unnatural links are spammy and are penalised by search engines. Always perform a backlink audit to spot and weed out these problematic and potentially harmful links.
- Go for quality over quantity. Spend time picking relevant and authoritative sites rather than stuffing your eCommerce pages with external links.
A good internal linking system enables search engines to understand your site and pages better. For instance, using descriptive anchor text helps the machine analyse what your site and pages are about and evaluate their relevance and value based on user search keywords or the query entered. Doing so has the same impact on human readers, where understanding your pages and site better leads to enhanced user experience and engagement.
- Search for unlinked brand mentions
An unlinked brand mention occurs when your eCommerce brand or product is cited without linking to your site. As backlinks are critical in developing reputation, credibility and authority, every unlinked mention is a missed opportunity.
Searching for such unlinked references is quite easy. Type your brand name in quotation marks to launch a search engine query. Otherwise, use content exploration tools that could provide better results. Once you’ve identified them, contact the host site and ask for a link insert, citing your eCommerce brand as anchor text and your most contextually appropriate internal page as the backlink.
- Find and fix broken links
Broken links can negatively impact SEO and user experience in several ways. Readers will abandon your site if they can’t find the needed information, increasing your eCommerce site’s bounce rates and decreasing its usability. Broken links also signal that your website is outdated, affecting link equity and making your pages less attractive to other sites.
Recovering and correcting broken links ensure no erroneous links are integrated into your content or any citations placed on external sites, preventing 404 errors and improving the readers’ experience.
How to find broken links
You can use tools from SEO service providers to locate broken links or use search engine tools and your site’s functionalities. Tools like this from Ahrefs.com check for broken links.
Internally, you can check the links on your site, including the headers, footers and navigation bar. If clickable links don’t redirect you to the intended page, you’ve found a broken link.
Additionally, you can use search engine tools to inspect your page to look for 404 errors, better known as ‘page not found’ notifications.
How to fix broken links
Once you’ve found faulty links, fix them by addressing the cause of the problem. For URLs that have been moved or deleted, redirect readers to the new page. Update incorrectly typed URLs so that they can be linked to the correct page. If the linked page isn’t available or has been removed, it’s best to remove the broken link.
Contact the host site for external site backlink fixes and inform them of the faulty links.
- Create linkable and shareable content
Some retail store site owners forget that creating high-quality content is key to acquiring prime backlinks. Linkable and shareable content is crucial, as it persuades readers to keep coming back to your site and compels them to share your content. It boosts your SEO efforts through increased traffic and engagement, enhancing brand reputation, niche authority and potential sales revenues.
Here are some ways to create content that boosts your link acquisition efforts:
- Make it unique and citation-worthy: Your content mustn’t only be shareable. It must be credible, comprehensive and relevant so that other eCommerce sites can use it as a valuable source or link.
- Research, research, research: Know your audience well and conduct a keyword search to target words to include naturally. Focus on their pain points and challenges and provide actionable suggestions for addressing these. Otherwise, make them feel that they learned something new.
- Go in-depth: Creating long-form content enables you to tackle the subject comprehensively, making it attractive for other sites to link to. An analysis of over 11 million Google search results discovered that the average word count for top placers was 1,447, making lengthy and helpful pieces more suited for your link building goals.
- Identify interesting eCommerce subjects: Besides writing unique content, researching consumer behaviour, industry information and updates and sharing insights on relevant topics is a good way to start. If you manage to create and publish a study, you’re likely to be quoted by other sites, boosting your link-building initiatives.
- Invest in videos and other content formats
Besides long-form pieces like white papers, blogs, case studies and so on, digital retail store owners can combine multiple content forms in one resource, with a growing bias for video content. A survey has discovered that 72% of survey participants prefer to learn about a product or service through videos.
Embedding videos and other visual assets to your content makes it more valuable and shareable. The same can be said for creating video narratives about your brand, humble beginnings, production processes and others.
Blog posts with more than 7 accompanying images generated 55% more backlinks than articles without. Blogs with at least one embedded video drew in 70% more traffic than video-less pieces. Meanwhile, infographics were better at garnering backlinks. Uploading them generated some businesses with 25.8% more links than ‘how to’ posts.
Sometimes, your content shouldn’t stay static and could be repurposed to fit a certain platform. For instance, you can repurpose blogs for social media posting or use do-follow links in community discussions where they’re allowed.
- Work for maximum content exposure
Content marketing is a strategy that uses content to fulfil multiple business goals, including brand awareness, promotion, lead generation, customer retention and others. It seeks to create customised content and spread your content to as many audience contact points as possible.
Besides contributing to an online retail store’s SEO performance and digital footprint, content marketing can boost link acquisition through several means, especially when other marketing tactics are thrown into the mix. Content marketing often overlaps with email, social media, search engine, influencer and affiliate marketing strategies.
- Guest posting is one of the easiest ways to earn a backlink and helps build brand authority.
- Affiliate marketing helps expand your reach in no time. While affiliate links are typically no-follow, they can still draw organic traffic to your site. Affiliates also often write reviews, which can help your site rank for queries about ‘the best XXXX products.’
- Customer reviews impact purchasing decisions. Up to 93% of consumers read online reviews; the same rate admitted that customer feedback impacted their buying decisions. Similarly, 91% of millennials trust online reviews as personal recommendations. Thus, besides leaving online reviews on their site, digital merchants must create a system for automatic feedback collection directed to popular review sites.
- Influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing industries, reaching USD$10.39 billion in 2021. By collaborating with influencers, you can gain backlinks when the content is shared with their subscribers and their followers’ connections.
- Establishing relations with digital resource providers can go a long way in providing you with maximum exposure. If you’re confident with your well-researched content, pitch it to these agencies for distribution. Otherwise, they could create a news release by quoting any of your company’s executives, granting that you’ve done something extraordinary or are sharing valuable industry insights.
When distributed strategically, any content, so long as carefully researched and cleverly written, can improve the success of your link building efforts. High-quality, relevant and engaging content is more share worthy and can easily generate linked citations from reputable sites, helping boost your profile.
Link building is considered one of the most challenging SEO methods for a good reason. Still, eCommerce businesses can adopt the tips above to develop strategic link-building tactics.
Besides basic SEO and link building knowledge, site owners can download or purchase link analysis tools to ensure a sound backlink profile. Similarly, they must upload great content and get their message and brand out there to increase awareness, gain high-quality backlinks and increase traffic.
However, link building is only one piece of the puzzle. An effective link building strategy must be supported by solid SEO practices, extraordinary yet shareable content and a systematic content marketing and distribution strategy. Without these, your backlinking efforts will amount to nothing.
Like other SEO tactics, there are no fast and easy link-building rules for eCommerce sites. Each company has different link building requirements based on its current performance and niche. If you’re ready to improve yours, inquire about our link building packages or message us.
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