A lot of Shopify ecommerce store owners overlook organic traffic, and for good reason. Building a dependable flow of organic traffic is difficult and time-consuming, especially for ecommerce stores that have high commercial intent. This is true for all ecommerce stores, including those built using the Shopify platform.
As a result, most ecommerce stores depend primarily on digital advertisements as their source of qualified traffic. While there is nothing wrong with paying for traffic, the strategy is hardly sustainable since it demands a constant influx of advertising dollars.
What many store owners don’t understand is that they don’t have to choose between paid and organic traffic sources, that they can enjoy the benefits of both. While paid traffic continues to bring in immediate sales that are required to keep the lights on, simultaneously investing in an organic strategy can help them create an alternative stream of equally qualified traffic.
If you are reading this article, chances are that you have already understood the importance of organic traffic and have already started optimizing your ecommerce store to improve visibility in the search engine result pages.
Advanced ecommerce link-building strategies can offer significant improvements in this visibility. However, one of the most important yet challenging aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) is off-page SEO or link building. Let’s understand it in a little more detail.
What Is Link Building And Why Is It Important?
Search engine optimization has two aspects- on-page and off-page SEO. As their names suggest, on-page SEO is a set of actions that you take on your website and off-page SEO is a set of actions that are not taken on your website.
Naturally, website owners have more control over the on-page aspect of their SEO efforts. Those serious about organic traffic often perfect their on-page SEO in a matter of days. It is the off-page SEO part that takes time and real effort.
Since competitive websites usually perfect their on-page SEO, search engines like Google needed another way to decide their ranking hierarchy. The solution to this problem was backlinks.
Backlinks are simply links pointing to your website that are present on other websites. Search engines consider backlinks like votes of confidence. Having a backlink from a high-quality website means that the owner of the high-quality website does not mind sending their audience to your website, that they trust your website has equally informative and helpful content.
However, when the concept of backlinks for SEO was first introduced, search engines only considered the number of backlinks as a ranking factor. As a result, a variety of websites were created with the sole purpose of giving out backlinks. It became a business to buy and sell backlinks, essentially diminishing the efficacy of the solution that search engines came up with.
When Google and other search engines noticed, they updated their algorithms and introduced rules for acquiring backlinks. There are majorly three rules that you must keep in mind while building links for your ecommerce store or Shopify ecommerce store:
- Backlinks must be from high-authority websites. Search engines want to see great websites trusting you with their audience. Getting backlinks from poor quality, low authority websites usually do more harm than good.
- Backlinks must come from relevant websites. Getting a backlink from a travel blog hardly makes sense for an ecommerce store that sells home decor. Such links degrade the user’s experience and most search engines, including Google, are pretty intolerant when it comes to poor user experience.
- Backlinks must be acquired naturally. This means you must not pay for backlinks or acquire them through a link exchange wheel. While it is true that Google’s algorithms currently cannot always detect instances of paid and exchanged links, such schemes usually involve a lot of different people and even if one of them screws up and gets caught, your store will also have to face the heat.
While these rules may seem restricting, they are just there to ensure undeserving websites don’t make it to the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs). Not following these rules may result in Google devaluing all the links pointing to your website or even worse, it may result in a Google penalty that prevents you from attracting organic traffic even if you do everything right.
For this reason, even if you are availing link building as a part of SEO services from an agency or a consultant, make sure you know exactly where your backlinks are coming from. Moreover, it is also important to understand the difference between do-follow and no-follow links.
As the name suggests, do-follow links tell search engine algorithms to ‘follow’ the link and give your website the ‘link juice’ that improves its authority. No-follow links do the opposite.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should only seek do-follow links. A healthy backlink profile usually contains a majority of do-follow links with a healthy number of no-follow links. This makes your backlink profile more authentic and proves to the search engine that you have not purchased the links (because nobody pays for a no-follow link).
Despite these rules, it is absolutely possible to build a strong backlink profile that lets your eCommerce store outperform your competitors in the SERPs.
Here are a few tactics that you can start implementing right away:
Seven Link Building Tactics That Work
Brand Mention Links
This tactic is relevant for those ecommerce stores that have existed on the web for a while. If you have a new store, this section may not be for you.
If, however, you have been running your ecommerce store for a while, there is a good chance that it may have been mentioned on other websites. You can use a service like mention.com to find all such mentions.
Once you have a list of all the websites that have mentioned your brand, start finding their contact information through their contact pages. Then, reach out to them thanking them for the mention, and politely ask them to include a link along with the mention.
Since there is a high likelihood that the websites that have mentioned you have said positive things about your brand, there is a good chance that they will agree to give you a backlink without much friction. In fact, of all the strategies mentioned in this article, this one probably has the highest rate of success. The best part is, you don’t even have to spend time personalizing your outreach emails. A single email blast is usually enough to get the job done.
If you stock products for other manufacturers, you have a great opportunity to acquire some incredibly high-quality backlinks.
Simply go to one of your suppliers’ websites and locate the page dedicated to distributors. If you do find such a page and don’t find your brand or website mentioned there, send them an email requesting a linked mention.
If, however, you don’t find such a page, it is still worth your time to reach out to them. In your email, instead of directly asking for a backlink, ask them about their policies regarding giving out backlinks to distributors and retailers. In most cases, they will be more than willing to give you a backlink.
Alternatively, you can also get in touch with your contact in the supplier’s company and ask them to help you acquire the backlink.
Create Linkable Assets
Till now, we have discussed backlink-building strategies that don’t really require you to create any new content. However, these strategies also involve reaching out to websites and businesses that are already aware of the awesomeness of your products or those who actually supply awesome products to you.
There is no doubt that such links are beneficial but the truth is that you can only build a limited number of backlinks through those strategies. Once you have exhausted their potential, you will have to find ways to acquire backlinks from niche websites that may not even be aware of your brand’s or website’s existence.
So, why would such a website send its audience to your website?
There can be many reasons but the most common one is the presence of high quality and valuable content on your website.
One of the best ways to create such content is to create a piece with the objective of attracting links. Such a piece of content is called a linkable asset.
To find out what kind of content is most likely to attract backlinks, you can research competitor websites. Put the link of a competitor’s website in your preferred SEO tool and look at the pages that have attracted the higher number of links.
This will give you an idea about the kind of content that is considered “link-worthy” in your niche.
Based on this idea, you can go ahead and come up with your own similar but unique ideas. Alternatively, you can employ the infamous skyscraper technique of creating a “better” linkable asset.
Whatever content your competitors have created, simply improve it with a new point of view, or with more detailed and updated information, or simply by producing the same content in a format that is easier for users to consume (like video) and publish it on your website.
Then, make a list of all the websites that are linking to your competitor’s page and send them an email informing them about your (better) piece of content. Make it convincing, really dive into how your piece is better and how it will benefit their audience.
Forge Influencer Partnerships
If you have been marketing on social media platforms, you may have already worked with influencers on those platforms. Many such influencers also have their own websites, and there are also many bloggers that may or may not be present on social media platforms but enjoy a handsome volume of traffic on their blog.
Find such influencers and try to forge a long-term partnership with them. In most cases, such partnerships may start with a simple product promotion. However, if you select the right influencers, even a single positive review from them will generate enough ROI that you can think about giving them monetary compensation in exchange for posting about your brand every now and then.
Such partnerships will benefit your brand in two ways. One, your products will get visibility in front of the audience of the influencers that you work with, and this visibility can be very powerful. Studies have shown that online consumers trust influencer product recommendations almost as much as they trust recommendations from their friends and family members.
The other benefit of collaborating with influencers that have their own websites is that every time they promote one of your products or post a product review. Most influencers become influencers because their websites publish valuable niche content and such websites are considered high authority by search engines. This means, every time they publish something about your brand, you get a high authority backlink.
Make Products Shareable
Deploy an easy share button with lots of options on each one of your product pages. However, be sure to put the option of copying the product page link in focus.
This way, if someone likes a product and wants to share it with their own circles, they can use the link to do so. As a result, not only would the number of shares on your products increase, there is also a good chance that your links may end up on a high authority website or forum.
Even if your product page links end up on social media platforms, or websites that don’t give out ‘do-follow’ links, you can rest assured that they are contributing to making your store’s backlink profile stronger.
Create A Blog And Publish Consistently
We spoke about how content assets are great for attracting backlinks in one of the earlier sections. A blog, when executed right, can also be viewed as a collection of several such linkable assets. As long as you are putting out valuable and authentic information, any piece of content on your website can be considered a linkable asset.
Studies show that having a blog on your website improves your chances of ranking higher in search engines by a whopping 434%.
Even if you ignore the ability of a blog to continuously attract natural backlinks, there are several other benefits of blogging. Here are a few statistics that put a light on some of them:
- Companies that publish 16+ blog posts generate 4.5 times more leads than companies that publish 4 blog posts or less.
- Over 200 million internet users have ad-blockers installed on their browsers. The number has seen a 40% year-on-year growth. That’s perhaps why content marketing produces 3 times as many leads as paid ads (in the long run).
- Blogging influences 6% of sales of ecommerce stores. This number is doubled when an ecommerce store consistently publishes blog posts for over 12 months.
As you can see, blogging, when done with high-quality content and consistency, produces some truly incredible results.
With that said, keep in mind that consistency is the key when it comes to bringing in organic traffic. So, make a realistic plan and publishing schedule that you know you can stick to. Once you have a plan, you can research blog ideas, write them, and publish them according to your plan.
Try Guest Posting
Guest posting is hands down the most popular way for businesses across niches to acquire links. As the name suggests, the tactic involves you featuring as a guest author on an authoritative website within your niche. Since you will be producing the content, you can add a link to your website within the content you submit as your guest post. However, there is a catch. The link you include should add value to the content and should be contextually relevant.
Moreover, most websites will reject your guest posting proposal if you include a link to one of your product pages.
This is actually another reason it is important for ecommerce websites to have a blog. Having content on your blog gives you plenty of opportunities to link to your website in guest posts where you are not allowed to link to product pages. Then, with the help of internal linking, you can ensure that the “link juice” is passed on to the product pages as well.
Create A FAQ Section
An FAQ section works really well at improving the user experience on your website. It can also potentially improve sales numbers and reduce the stress on your customer support team.
From an SEO point of view, a FAQ section allows you to answer multiple common questions that consumers in your industry may have. If you answer them correctly and add enough value with your answers, there is a good chance that over time, other websites in your niche will take notice and start linking to your FAQs page.
From a link-building point of view, an FAQ section may seem like a long shot but if you are truly answering the burning questions that plague the people within your niche, you will attract links. In the worst case, even if you are not able to generate a single link through your FAQ section, you can rest assured about the fact that it is doing wonders at improving the user experience on your website.
Improved user experience usually results in higher dwell times on your website, which is something that search engines may interpret as a positive sign.
If you don’t want to remember all the rules of link building, the one rule of thumb is to create valuable content. As long as you are doing that, other websites (in most cases) will be happy to link to your website.
I hope that these tips will help you get the ball rolling with your link-building efforts. However, if you still have questions, I would be happy to answer them in the comment section.
If I forgot to mention your favorite eCommerce link-building technique, share it with me (and all the readers of this article) in the comment section below!