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How to Build Links for Your Ecommerce Site

If you have built your e-commerce store recently, then the next challenge is to market and promote your store and your awesome products.

For promoting your online store, you have a few options:

  1. Ask friends and family members to view and purchase your products.
  2. Ask for references from your existing customers or friends.
  3. Go for paid ads on Google or Facebook.
  4. Do SEO and get traffic from Google and other search engines.

Here I will discuss the 4th option.

Getting Relevant Traffic from Google

Seo Is Hard

Google has been getting smarter with every passing day and that is making ranking in Google harder and harder. The common techniques that used for work a few years ago won’t work at all or worse, will get you penalized.

Links Are The Backbone To SEO

Google has been getting smarter, but links from other websites still are extremely important and form the basis of a good SEO strategy.

In fact, Google’s Andrey Lipattsev announced just a few days ago that content and links are Google’s top 2 ranking factors.

That means if you want to rank higher, you have to get a lot of links to your website.

Ecommerce Seo Is Harder

Since SEO is getting harder, E-commerce SEO is getting much harder. It’s a challenge for SEOs that won’t go away for a long time. There are many reasons why.

  1. The architecture of e-commerce websites can be tough to optimize
  2. It’s hard to get anyone to link to a page that sells a product
  3. There are hundreds, even thousands of pages you need to optimize
  4. It’s hard writing unique content for each of your products if your store has lots of products

But there are still some opportunities that you can take advantage of get links to your e-commerce store.

Here are 10 ways in which you can still build links to your e-commerce store.

1. Steal From Competitors

The first and easiest thing to score some links is to look at your competition and see where they get their links from. Depending on your budget, you can use free tools like openlinkprofiler, free version of moz, Semrush or Ahrefs. If you have the budget, you can go for the paid versions as they will give you more data to work with.

For example, let me show you how to use openlinkprofiler.  Open openlinkprofiler.com and enter your competitors URL.  If you are selling ethnic kurtis, you could analyze shopnaari.com.

Build Ecommerce Links. Analyse competitors

Build Backlinks for Ecommerce Site . How to analyse

Make an excel sheet with all links. You can use the export feature within openlinkprofiler.com to get 1000 links exported for free.

Excel Sheet for Backlinks [Image 3]

Add additional data about each website like popularity, website category etc. This is important as not all websites will honor your request for links.

Go through the list and start contacting websites whom you believe links would be easy to score from. For example a blogger would be much more likely to add your link than a news/media outlet.

Prioritize and start contacting site owners to get those links.

Here is a sample email script that you can use.


“Hey [website owner’s name]

I am the founder of [your website name] and I was searching for [bloggers/website owners] in the [category] when I found your website. Great looking website by the way.

I also saw that you have linked to [your competitor’s url] in your post [link of post]. As I mentioned that my company [your website URL] also sells products in this category I was hoping that you would add my website [your website URL] to the post as well.

If you like I can send you a few samples to review.

Thanks
[Your name]
[Your phone number] ”


Few tips to get a higher success rate with email outreach:

1. Personalize the email
Don’t send an email that starts with “Dear blog owner”, or your email will end up in the trash. Include the first name of the owner.

2. Be persistent
If you don’t get a response in the first email, send a reminder in a week. Then try to contact them via

Facebook/Twitter. Try at-least 4-5 times before giving up.

2. Supplier Links

If you are reselling a popular brand check the supplier website to see if the link out to other retailers and ask them to link to you as well. Obviously this works much better in certain industries than others. If you sell iPhones then it would be un-realistic to expect a link from Apple.

Here is how to go about finding supplier links.

  1. Google your supplier’s names and find their websites.
  2. Look if they actively link out to other retailers on their website. Usually they are linked under ‘distributors’, ‘retailers’ or ‘International’ (for international brands).
  3. Find contact information or call your supplier directly to have them add a link to their page.

Here is an example of a page that lists its international distributors.

Get backlinks from distributors

It wouldn’t be hard to contact them and ask them to link to your website.

3. Blogger Giveaways

There is a good chance that you can find a blogger who is blogging about the industry you are selling products in. 

With a few simple Google queries, you can uncover hundreds of blogs that are potentially writing about your industry and your products. Here are few sample Google queries to use.

Your industry + “blog”
Your industry + “review”
Your industry + “my collection”

So if you are selling ethnic kurtis, then you would search

“Ethnic fashion” + blog
“Ethnic” + review
“Ethnic” + “my collection”

This will give you a list of blogs that are writing about your industry. Make a list of all the blogs and start contacting them. Some bloggers will be happy to do a review if you send them free stuff and others might charge a fee. Make a decision based on your budget if you want to pay for a review or not.

Update: After the original post was published, Google announced that bloggers giving away links in exchange for free products should make the links “no-follow”.

Since Google is not always black and white on its updates, I would say that use this technique with caution. 

If the blogger you have contacted is publishing product review posts at a large scale, chances are you won’t get much benefit from their collaboration, like wise or traffic wise.

Only select bloggers who have an engaged audience and who do posts like these sparingly.

Remember, its not only about links. Blogger giveaways have also helps you reach a targeted audience and generate referral traffic.

4. Un Linked Mentions

Many times, without you knowing it, people are talking about your brand online. Many times, they would mention your brand but not actively link out to you.  For example: People talking about Dressmyphone on forums, blogs, communities and casually mention Dressmyphone and not provide a link.

All you have to do is contact the website owner and ask them to change it to a link. Easy right! Let’s see how it’s done.  Sign up for a free monitoring service like Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts. I’ll show you how to do this on Talkwalker Alerts.

Go to Talkwalker Alerts, and sign up (it helps in managing alerts).

Talkwalker Alerts [Image 5]

After that, enter a search query that you would like to be alerted about. For my brand I would write “Dressmyphone” or “dressmyphone.in”.

Settng Up Alert for Dressmyphone [Image 6]

After that I’ll select the frequency and other options. Done. Now whenever some-one talks about my brand, I’ll get an email alert. I can then check out the mention and ask the person to change the mention to a link!

5. Become Link Worthy

According to Google, links to your website should be natural and given editorially. What’s better to attract natural links than becoming link worthy?

Becoming link worthy meaning doing something outrageous, or note worthy that other people would want to talk about.

Even if you don’t realize, you may have read about link-bait.
Have you heard about the Google April Fool Pranks?
Have your heard about Unicorn Meat?

These are examples of products or brands that are link worthy. So how do you go about doing that? I can think of 3 ways that you can become link worthy.

 A. Interesting product/category pages

Category pages are the most important pages for an online store and one of the most difficult to build links to. However, by building an amazing category page, you can attract some attention and a good amount of links as well.

For example see this popular category page https://producten.hema.nl/
This interactive page has thousands of links pointing to it. You might not have the skills or the budget to create something like this, but you can definitely understand and implement the thinking behind it.

 B. Spoof Products
Spoof products are nothing new but work really well. An example I already mentioned above was unicorn meat. It’s not real, but it’s pretty noteworthy to attract a lot of links.

 C. Make News
Making news means doing something noteworthy that it becomes news. AIB did it with their popular roast. Aamir Khan accidentally did it with his intolerance statement.

I also tried to make some news when I announced pre-orders for cases for the popular Freedom 251 phone.

I tried it once again by being the first in India to launch cases for Xiaomi RedMi Note 3, Samsung S7 and S7 edge on Dressmyphone. I already had cases for the Xiaomi Mi5 even when it’s wasn’t announced to be launched in India yet.

I tried to contact media houses to cover this story but was not successful. Maybe I need to create some bigger news.

6. Guest Blogging

A lot of SEOs will tell you that guest blogging is dead and you should not use it as a method for link building.

I would both agree and disagree with that statement.

I would agree that spammy, mass scale guest blogging which does not add any value is definitely dead.

However, good quality guest blogging is alive and still a wonderful tactic to build links and build a reputation.

So the question is, how do you identify which guest blogging opportunities are good and which ones are bad? The answer is pretty simple.

If the guest blog did not have a link back to you, would you still write it?

If the answer is yes, you guest blog should be good. Another concern is how do you find relevant blogs to guest post on?  To find relevant blogs, you have to aim broad. For example: Let’s assume your company sells t-shirts.

You might be using screen printing or sublimation for printing t-shirts, find blog related to screening or sublimation. Your raw material might be woven in a different manner or composition, find blogs that talk about cloth manufacturing and guest blog there.

The process can be summed up to say  that you should find out what is unique about your product and find a blog that specializes in that field and guest post there.

7. Forum Link Building

No matter what industry you are in you will find a lot of different forms where people will be discussing your products and relevant industry. You should join these forums and participate in relevant discussions.

Most forums will allow you to place a link in your signature. This will give you some seo value as well as provide you with relevant traffic.

An important thing to remember is that you should only join forums if they are good.

Good means there are people actually discussing your industry.

Good also means a forum that is well moderated and free of spam. If you see a lot of irrelevant posts or spam posts, it would be wise to stay away from the forum.

For example, if you sold t-shirts, the t shirt forums is a great forum to hang out.

8. Start A Community

Starting a community or forum is a great way to not only attract your ideal customer in the future but to also score relevant links from other forums and blogs in the future.

In my previous post on Zepo, I talked about a Zepo customer who sold luxury pens online.

Just imagine how amazing it would be for their audience if they started a forum.

Since luxury pens are a collector’s item, the forum would be a big hit with its customers who would join and discuss all things pens. That is a great business strategy even if it doesn’t generate links.

Just search “luxury pen forum” on Google and see the search results.

Luxury Pen Forum [Image 7]

A look inside the forum shows all pen geeks discussing all sorts of things about pens.

Luxury Pen Forum [Image 8]

9. Form A Partnership With A Complementing Business

This is a tricky one to pull off but can be very powerful for link building. Imagine that you are selling T-shirts.

Think about what sort of non-competing business you could tie up with to cross promote each other’s products.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Businesses selling shoes exclusively
2. Businesses selling bottom wear
3. Design houses
4. Wholesale T-shirt sellers
5. Freelance Graphic Designers

These kind of business would be willing to strike a business relationship with your awesome t-shirt business.
All you have to do is contact the owners, ask if they would want to do business with you and ask them for a link to your business.
The requests you put out this way would have a much higher success rate as you are not just asking for links blindly, you are making a business proposition that helps both businesses.

10. Be Creative And Keep Looking For Opportunities

 
The last and the most important tip is to get creative and actively seek out opportunities for scoring links. Link building has evolved in the last few years and the only skill that constantly helps you in getting links is your creativity. 

Dedicate some time with your team every few days and brainstorm key ideas/opportunities with them. You never know when a good link building opportunity shows up like this one.

About Me:

I am an engineer by education and an entrepreneur by chance. I am currently building Dressmyphone. I also blog about online selling, seo and e commerce at Growing Commerce.

This post was originally written for the Zepo Blog here.

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11 Comments

  1. very extensive and in details as usual yuvraj! your signature style never fails to surprise me!

    i would also urge you to tell ecom owners and seo people to also try and always be RELEVANT. 

    you can imagine how many seo people use your mentioned technique of “forum link blogging”, “guest blogging” etc etc and try to post anything on trh for the sole purpose of achieving good seo. imagine if i allowed all the content that came through this way to be published! 

    what seo people need to also do is be diligent about what they are posting and where. most people don’t stop and think even for a passing moment whether their piece is relevant to the community, whether it adds value to anyone’s life, whether anyone would appreciate it or benefit from it, whether people would engage with it….

    so from my perspective, as a content curator who goes through heaps of content every single day, i would also add the point of creating relevant content for different forums and not overdoing it (having your website linked everywhere you mention it, is really disturbing to the reader and is an overkill). 

    also, do those “personalised emails” work? i get lots of those with someone else’s site in the subject line. or calling me mr asha etc etc. you can imagine where those emails go to :)))

    i like your point of alerts. getting alerted really helps!! 

    keep sharing stuff yuvraj! also pls go through ASK TANYA (which will soon become ASK SAPTARSHI) PAGE – it’s become our resource page on ecom – i’m sure you’ll be able to contribute there by answering some of the queries.

    keep blogging yuvraj – your pothas are full of insights (and thankfully relevant!!!)

    🙂

  2. Thanks for the kind words Asha!

    I can’t begin to comprehend how much spam you must have to deal with everyday. I’m surprised to see what extents people go to score links. Just the other day I was going through the links of a e-com solution provider and I was surprised to see it full of ir-relevant comments links, classified sites and what not.

    The best part, it was ranking for high for quite a few keywords. Hopefully not for long. 🙂

    Personalized emails work for me.

    By personalized I mean real emails written with genuine interest in the other person. Sadly, the overuse of outreach has caused lot of website owners to be skeptical of any cold email that lands in the inbox.

    I recently emailed 5 blog owners for a guest blogging opportunity. I first went through their website, read a few articles, understood their styles, saw what content performed better and then emailed them.

    This way, I was able to email them an honest and genuine proposal about wanting to write. I have recieved 2 responses already and they sounded happy to reply to me. This is the kind of relationship building that would last long.

    Email outreach is another long topic in itself, hopefully I will cover it soon. 🙂

    I checked out the Ask Tanya Page and already replied to the last (new) comment last night.

    Thanks again for your valuable comment. I appreciate your kind words always. 

    Have a great day.

  3. hahahah as i was reading your comment the first thing that struck me is that i’m gonna ask you to share how you write personalised emails for guest blogging!!!

    Email Outreach!! what an awesome topic to write on. i will surely look fwd to it. email writing is such an art and my personal issue is that i suffer from email fatigue so just can’t be creative while writing emails anymore 🙁

    [and email writing used to be my forte!!!]

    i guess some things just crumble under “occupational hazard” – lolz

  4. Haha.. that’s a good coincidence.

    I recently found a pretty good blog dedicated to email outreach. The content on it superb! I can’t remember the url but I will share it with you pretty soon.

    I never thought writing different and personalized emails would be so demanding and exhausting until I did it myself.

    Just a few minutes ago I was reading about a top seo blogger. He mentioned that he emails 100 people before writing a new post and 200 people after it goes live.

    I was like WHHHAAATTT!!! That’s insane. I have trouble reading that much email.

    I don’t know how you deal with email Asha! Hats of to you.

  5. Hey buddy thanks for such a piece of knowledge.

    Will these work for promoting a FB group as well?

    In FB search, we Intend to bring this as first group to be shown to people travelling to India

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/travelbuddha

  6. Thanks for the kind words Deepak.

    Sadly this won’t work for facebook groups. Facebook has not shared any details on its internal search ranking algorithm. But its safe ro assume that they would show the most big and engaged groups first. Have a good name and keywords in the group description and your chances of showing up go way higher 🙂

  7. i also thought the same, but unfortunately that is not true. 

    but thanks for reply. 

    If u r based out of mumbai then lets connect sometime. 

  8. Awesome effort

    I relate to the ‘start a community’ fully 🙂

    That’s what got you to post on therodinhoods in the first place!

  9. Hi Yuvraj.

    Wonderful and really useful.the DIY level detailing has made many things clear. Going to apply these at utpatang.com

    Thanks

  10. Thank you sirji! 🙂

  11. Hey Tarun,

    Glad I could help. Let me know if you need any help 🙂

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