Done right, search engine optimization can help your site achieve higher rankings in organic results, and drive traffic and sales consistently day after day, week after week, month after. month. This is what makes SEO a vital channel for e-merchants, in an arena where paid advertising is becoming more and more expensive.
SEO, in its most basic form, can be further subdivided into two categories: On-Site SEO and Off-Site SEO. On-site SEO involves optimizations on each of your web pages to help search engines understand what your site is about, so that it is displayed to the right people, at the right time.
Unfortunately, there are hundreds, thousands, or maybe even tens of thousands of sites that compare to yours. So how do search engines go about determining who to show on the first page?
This is where off-site SEO comes in. Off-site SEO and its various components help search engines identify the most authoritative and relevant sites. A big part of the process depends on backlinks or backlinks. Backlinks are simply links from third party sites, which point to your own site.
The process of getting links from other websites is called link-building, or backlink building. This is an SEO Sydney strategy that most e-commerce sites should devote time to every week.
Not all backlinks are created the same
Backlinks can be subdivided into 2 categories: “follow” or “ dofollow ”, and “nofollow ”. A backlink follow is simply a link that actively strengthens your SEO. It’s a link from another site that says to search engines “I recommend this site” (yours). On the other hand, a “no follow” backlink is a link that says “I acknowledge the existence of this site, without recommending it”.
For a backlink to be no follow, you just need to slightly modify the HTML code of the link by adding a small piece of text. By examining the HTML code, you can also find out if the backlink is follow, or no follow:
Keep in mind that easy-to-create links, such as those from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or blog comments, are almost always nofollow links. When it comes to sharing and exposure, these links are still important – but all web marketing experts agree that they don’t boost a site’s organic ranking.
Some backlinks are worth more than others
Think of each link as a vote for your site, but understand that voting is not democratic – every vote has weight and authority. For example, a link from Vogue is worth much more than a link from a site that was just created 3 months ago.
How to determine the value of a link?
There are several factors that determine the value of a link and its impact on your site. Some of these key factors are explained below:
- External links from large, professional and relevant sites (eg a magazine in your niche) have much more impact than those from smaller, random sites.
- Links from unique domains are more important than links from the same domain.
- Links that use relevant anchor text convey more juice focused on the targeted keyword. For example, a link that has a relevant keyword in the anchor text, such as “leather bag” will pass more juice than a “click here” link.
- A page that has a large number of links will pass less juice per link. To assess the overall authority of a referent domain, there are certain tools such as SEMRush, Ahrefs and Majestic which have developed exclusive indicators intended for this purpose. These indicators will allow you to assess how interesting it would be to get a backlink from a particular domain.
Never buy links
We mentioned that backlinks can weigh different weights, but it’s also important to note that some backlinks are just plain bad. Backlinks from fraudulent websites that search engines consider to be of very low quality, or from websites that are created for the sole purpose of manipulating search algorithms, can penalize your site or even cause it to be removed from the results displayed.
Buying backlinks and backlink packs is not such a good idea these days. Nothing replaces initiatives that are supposed to legitimately generate backlinks from credible sources.
Set a goal of backlinks
Backlinks are not created by magic. You have to invest time and effort to build them over time. It is a long-term strategy, which nevertheless retains all its interest. The best way to approach the process is to set goals for yourself to achieve. When you are just launching your website, quarterly goals are probably more appropriate.
5 backlink building techniques
Now that you understand the importance of backlinks and the different types of backlinks out there, how are you going to get them? We list below 5 techniques for building links for your online store. Keep in mind that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of backlink building techniques. It is therefore important to study all the options available to identify which ones will best suit your business, and your brand.
1. Create content that is viral, or that it is impossible not to share
In its most basic form, content marketing is all about creating highly engaging content – whether it’s written, video, or audio – that people are naturally going to want to share. This proven technique still works just as well for building a good backlink profile for an e-commerce site.
For example, Wendy’s Lookbook, a popular fashion blog, created an original and very informative video that showcases 25 ways to wear a scarf. This engaging piece of content has received over 42 million views on YouTube.
Since her video was so well received, Wendy created a blog post that takes a behind-the-scenes look at making the video. As you might expect, this article alone generated 117 backlinks (85 follow and 32 no follow).
Key point to remember: an e-commerce site will generally require between one, two, or three years to succeed in creating a hundred follow and legitimate backlinks. This shows you the effectiveness of viral content. While it is not easy to reach the numbers in the example presented, it is essential to continually think about potential viral marketing initiatives, and more importantly, to find a way to test them cost-effectively.
2. Have your products evaluated
One of the most popular techniques for building backlinks and qualified traffic for your online store is reaching out to bloggers and asking them to rate your product. Each evaluation performed will, in general, generate a link to your site.
To get started, you need to identify the different blogs in your niche and assess the size of their audiences. Take the time to get to know bloggers and interact with their current posts to get noticed.
Once you have established a rapport with the authors, you will need to, metaphorically speaking, sell your product to them. You can use the script below for this and modify it to your liking if needed.
3. Blog contributions
By contributing to popular blogs in your niche, through writing guest articles, you will increase your chances of getting relevant and authoritative backlinks. This approach works for all parties – it provides the authors or magazines you contact with new content, and it allows you to reach their audiences and get, in general, an authoritative backlink, if your article is really good.
When submitting a guest post, keep the following in mind:
- Your email should be short and to the point, always.
- Always try to convey your pitch by email. If you don’t have the blogger’s email, you can rely on a Gmail extension to find (almost) anyone’s email. This extension, formerly called Rapportive, is now called Sales Navigator.
- Start by building rapport with your contact by complimenting them on their blog, or a recently posted article.
- Make it clear that you want to contribute to the blog and come up with three potential blog post ideas.
- Link to your portfolio and share any references that can support your credibility.
4. Get links from your partners
E-merchants who sell products from other brands can ask their suppliers and partners to point a backlink to their site. If you are in this case, it will usually suffice for you to send a courteous email to your suppliers and partners to inform them of your request, so that they can add you to their directory of partners or points of sale.
This will not only help you get legitimate backlinks from credible and authoritative sites, but also sell more.
5. Aim for media coverage
Media coverage on a magazine or even a small local outlet can earn you powerful backlinks from authoritative areas of news. There are a number of ways to go about this, but in general you should start by contacting smaller magazines and then gradually aim for more well-known publications.
Note : some e-commerce sites have managed to gain momentum by following this approach. Having first been featured on small, local magazines, they gradually saw doors opening and partnerships with larger magazines forming, gaining more backlinks and credibility over time.
Several ways to build inbound links
There are many other back linking techniques apart from those listed above, and some will be better suited to your business than others.
Link building remains one of the most important and essential pillars of any long-term SEO strategy. You have pretty little leeway when it comes to making search engines understand that your store and your products are particularly good. Ultimately, you need other sources to recommend you, and that is exactly what backlinks do.
Set a goal and spend a few hours a week building backlinks. Over time, your domain will gain authority and start picking up more and more keywords, bringing you a steady and continuously growing stream of traffic day after day.
Article published by Jack Smith
Jack Smith is the editor of the Folio3 Shopify development firm. He is responsible for content marketing and localization for USA and Europe markets at Folio3 Shopify.