With recent algorithm changes, links have taken on even greater importance to the online health of a website. Learn how to find the links that benefit your website and discard the old, damaging “link building” habits.
Search engines are a critical marketing component for ecommerce websites and a large percentage of your store’s daily visitors undoubtedly arrive via organic (aka natural or unpaid) search results. Each day potential customers search for products using Google, and if you have the right search engine optimization elements in place, those customers are likely to be matched up with your products. Unfortunately, in order to appear predominantly in relevant Google search results, you need more than a nicely designed site and descriptive product names with relevant keywords. When crafting their search results, Google also wants to know which sites are the most authoritative in their industry, and they often review backlinks to estimate a website’s authority. In fact, it would be safe to say that the real search engine juice behind all websites (including ecommerce stores) is backlinks.
Backlink: [bak-linc] Noun. A link received by a webpage from another domain or webpage. Also known as link, incoming link, and inbound link.
Despite the number of Google algorithm updates in the past few years, your site’s backlink profile is still a crucial element of your SEO. According to a 2014 study performed by Search Metrics, it’s still the number one off-site factor in determining where your site lands in search results. Without links pointing back to your site, your chances of landing at the top of search results on the first page are low. And you want to appear at the top since the first organic result receives a 33% click through rate.
Today, however, the search engines are looking for quality over quantity, and that means a better link building strategy. Fortunately for you, there are several marketing techniques you can implement in 2015 to help you earn these valuable links to your site. Some take a little leg work, but in the end, are completely worth the effort.
- Create a killer blog
Blogging about industry topics and news regularly is an easy way to begin earning links back to your site. If you take the time to create unique and informative blog articles, people around the internet will notice and reward you for your effort by citing you as a resource for their articles.
- Find the influencers
Identify authors, bloggers and influencers in your niche and use Google Alerts to notify you when they’re discussing topics relevant to your products. When they are, reach out to them with your feedback or advice. This can help start a relationship that can prove valuable down the road.
It’s also a good idea to follow these same influencers on Twitter. Retweet their articles or products to your followers and engage in conversation with them. When the time comes for your new product launch or release of an in-depth how-to guide, send a tweet to them letting them know these are coming. Since you’ve been interacting with them, the influencers are more likely to mention your product to their fans.
- Interview the experts
You can take the influencer strategy one step further by asking them if they’d be willing to do an interview for your site. You’d be surprised how willing most people are to participate in interviews. This is especially true when the influencer has something to promote. Once the interview is complete and live on your site, the interviewee is likely to include a link on their site notifying their fans.
- Use SEO tools
Use popular site explorer and backlink software like Ahrefs, Majestic, and Open Site Explorer to analyze the link profile of your three closest competitors. Review the links pointing to their sites and see if there are any opportunities for your site. If you can identify a relevant site within your industry, take the time to reach out to the site mentioning who you are and the products you sell. Convince them to link to your site instead of your competitors.
- Reach out to manufacturers
Do you sell products from a third party manufacturer? If so, these manufacturers often have pages on their website listing where customers can buy their products online. This is a great chance for them to include a link to your ecommerce store on their site.
- Design an infographic
Ever created an infographic for your blog? Well you should! Infographics are powerful pieces of online content that if done well, can result in a tons of links pointing to your site. Because infographics are highly visual, people are very likely to read and share them. All of the links generated are well worth the price tag to create a beautiful and informative infographic.
Don’t have the marketing budget for an infographic done by a professional? You can now create professional looking infographics on your own with the help of sites like Piktochart.
- Help a reporter
Sign up for free with Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Writers across the internet are always looking for experts to interview for articles they have coming up. When they do, they will post what they need on HARO. All you have to do is reach out to writers these writers telling them how you can help and stating you’re an expert in the field. You’re likely to be chosen for an interview or to answer the writer’s questions. Once the article is complete, it will include a mention of you and a nice link back to your site.
- Write a how-to guide
If you sell products that are difficult to install or run, one of the best things you can do as an ecommerce store owner is to create a comprehensive how-to guide for customers. These guides are useful for customers and are a great way to entice them to buy from you. Additionally, bloggers in your industry will find the guide useful and will in turn site it as a resource on their site.
Take the guide one step further by creating a series of short videos demonstrating how to setup the product. The videos don’t have to be high quality. What’s important is that the customers find them useful.
- Participate on industry forums
As an industry expert, we encourage ecommerce owners to actively participate in industry related forums and subreddits. This is a great way to share your knowledge and answer forum participant questions. It can also be a great place to identify topics for blog articles for your site. Be careful not to simply pop in and drop links. That sort of behavior will get you banned and may even generate backlash. Bring value to the conversation.
To find forums in your niche, search in Google using “Niche/Keyword + Forum.” Sign up for the ones that have the most recent and active participation.
Most of these link building techniques center on creating relationships with influencers in your niche and potential customers of your store. The odds of someone linking to a site they’re unfamiliar with are low. As such, taking the time to listen to and answer their problems goes a long way in establishing your store as respected industry experts. Once this is accomplished, people will look to you for your expertise and will reward you time and again with the strongest currency on the internet, links.
We wish you the best of luck this Cyber Monday and, as always, if you need personalized advice for building links and industry-specific guidance for your SEO campaign, feel free to contact our marketing services team.
-Russell Benavides, Search Marketing Specialist