Friday, April 01, 2011

13 Ecommerce Link Building Tactics For Your Online Store

13 link building tips for ecommerce merchantsLast week, in this SEO Series, I discussed and defined Google’s PageRank and explained its importance when it comes to gaining traffic to your online store. This post, entitled Understanding Google PageRank to Optimize Your Online Store, detailed the in’s and out’s of Google’s elusive 0-10 score in aPageRank Infographic followed by a guide to better understand this metric within the Google algorithm. The point of this post was simple: show why gaining inbound links to your website is an important step in ecommerce success. Inbound links are links pointing to your website from external websites throughout the web. Gaining inbound links is considered a priority in search engine optimization (SEO). In fact, some SEO’s believe that link building should be at least 60% of your overall SEO strategy. Beyond just affecting PageRank, inbound links can also give you relevancy in search engines for certain keywords, provided those keywords are in the anchor text of your link. Links also have the added benefit of driving traffic to your site from other websites, which means sending you more customers. Clearly, links hold a great deal of value, but how do you get them? The fact of the matter is, every industry is different, which makes the methods for getting links different as well. While the methods below may work across industries, the implementation will focus on the ecommerce industry only. So take some time to read through each tactic and then try to add them to your own campaign:

13 Linkbuilding Tactics for Ecommerce

1. Unique Products: Consider the products you sell in your online store. Are any of them unique? Maybe you have something that nobody else has? If so, consider putting this product(s) at the forefront of your online store for all to see. Funny and unique products get a user’s attention, so much so that they may want to link to your site to show your product to their friends, social connections, and readers. At ZippyCart, we write up a weekly blog post called The Product of The Week. Here we write up an entire review of unique and funny products that we find online. The review provides links back to the online store that sells the product, product pages, and more. We do this because it’s fun, not because anyone is asking us to write about them… let your unique products inspire people to link to you, because it’s fun and creativity deserves a link or two.

2. Guest Blogging & Blogrolls: If you don’t have a blog as part of your online store yet, you should get one soon. Blogs are a great way to consistently add unique content and build rapport with customers. 3dcartsaw this need, which is why they added blogs as a basic feature for their ecommerce solution. Those merchants utilizing a blog can add a blogroll to their site, which displays links to other blogs and sites. When you have a blogroll, you can request that other sites with a blogroll add a link to you on their blogroll and you can add a link to them. Try to request that they link to your home page over your blog, because this is where you want to build links initially. If you have already built out a great deal of links to your home page, then consider sending links to other important pages on your site first.

Beyond exchanging blogroll links, you can also exchange blog posts. Guest blogging is a great way to get inbound links to your site and build your brand. Reach out to blogs that are inline with your niche and ask them if you can submit a guest post. You will likely be able to add one link in your post, and definitely one link in your bio. On ZippyCart, we let people guest blog often, and the least we can do for their great content is provide them with a link. There was a great post written recently on MyBlogGuest.com calledSuccessful Guest Blogging – Getting the Etiquette, which you should read if you want to start guest blogging.

3. Product Videos: Having product videos in your ecommerce store is good practice period, but did you know that you can also get links from this? The easiest way to get links from your product videos is to also post them on YouTube. In your video description, include your website URL complete with the http://. This will then become a link. Now, if you want a great deal of inbound links from your product videos, then that is a little bit harder because it requires some creativity. Making your product videos funny is a great way to get people linking to them. The best example of product videos driving links would be Blendtec and their “Will it Blend” campaign. Blendtec stands behind their blenders so much, that they’re willing to blend anything and film themselves doing it. It hurt to watch them blend an Apple iPad, but almost 9 million people have now watched that video, so they’re doing something right.

4. Contests & Promotions: If you host a contest or provide a unique promotion, then you are engaging your users, which will encourage some to link to you. For example, what if you decided to ask your customers to send in video product reviews and award a free gift card to the best videos? If the reward is good enough, you can probably get other blogs to cover it and link to you. Your customers might get excited and link to you as well. Next, you can let other customers vote on their favorite, which will encourage the video creators to send people to your site to vote for their video. They may email their friends, but they’ll also post something on Facebook, Twitter, and any blogs they can. If you want to do something like this, consider working with a company like Fliqz, as they are very affordable and have handled contests like this in the past.

Unique promotions can also get a similar viral response if done right. Look at Tom’s Shoes as an example. Every time someone buys a pair of shoes at Tom’s Shoes, they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need. This promotion is not only a great way to pay it forward, but also a great way to gain media attention and inbound links.

5. Press Releases: This one is an oldie but a goody. Most paid press release sites let you put up to 4 links on your release and then they syndicate it for you. Every time someone picks up the release and posts it to their site, you get links. Your press release also encourages people to write news posts about it, like we did with today’s Vendio post. They put out a press release and we wanted to make sure our users heard the news, so we wrote up a post and linked to them.

6. Top Product Lists: Top 10 Lists are great linkbait because they usually provide a mass amount of good information in an easy to digest way. At ZippyCart, we try to write a lot of Top X Lists simply because it helps provide useful information to our readers in a way that many can skim through. This post is one such Top X List. Merchants that want to capitalize off of the link love gained by top lists should consider making some unique lists related to thier products. For instance, you can write up the Top 9 Uses of Handerpants. You may also want to write the “Top Strangest Products in My Store.” If you make these lists unique, fun, and informative then you’re sure to get links. Just make sure that you aren’t writing them just for links, because people will see through that. Good content gets links, so make sure your content is good.

7. Article Syndication: Are you an expert in your industry? For instance, what if you sell tires and you know everything there is to know about these round wonders, so much so that you could have invented the wheel. Well, if this is you, then people will want your expertise added to their websites. This is where article syndication comes in. There are many sites out there like EZineArticles.com and GoArticles.com, that let you submit unique content to, which others can then add to their websites for free. The trick is that anyone adding the content to their site has to include the “About the Author” section when they publish the content. As long as you add a link to your author bio, you’ll get a link every time someone publishes your content.

8. Directories: Like press releases, directories are nothing new, but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth your time. Submit your online store at least to the reputable directories like DMOZ and JoeAnt. There are hundreds of directories out there, and many cost money, so be picky about where you submit. To narrow down your options, after you have submitted to the well known directories, next search for directories related to online shopping, your products, or your niche. This will help you find about 20 good directories worth submitting to. Each submission equals a link back to your site, which is helpful as long as your submission isn’t buried deep in the directory.

9. Social Bookmarks, Tweets, and Facebook: Unique products, top 10 lists, and any important content that you have should be sent out to the world because that’s the best way to help your needle get found in the large haystack of online stores. When you Tweet your content, others may retweet it. The more tweets, the more likely someone is out there to also link to it. Similarly, when you share on Facebook, you reach many others willing to repost your link. While links from Facebook and Twitter are not followed (so they don’t effect PageRank), they still help show your interaction in social networks, which many SEO’s think will be a huge part of Google’s ranking algorithm in the future.

Social Bookmarking sites offer you a great opportunity for inbound links. The best Social Bookmarking sites to target include Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. On these sites, others who like your content have the opportunity to give it a vote. The more votes you have, the more likely your content will be seen and linked to.

10. Local & Business Links: Many merchants with an online store are focusing on a local community of customers or come from a local brick and mortar storefront. Use this to your advantage. Reach out to local businesses in your neighborhood that also have a website and ask them to link to you. Participate on local community forums and include a link in your signature line. Reach out to local press and work together on a story that links to you. There are many ways to reach out to your community and get some link love in return.

11. Product Reviews: Do the products you sell also sell on big sites like Amazon.com? Or maybe Amazon has a similar product, but yours is better? If this is true, then find those products and review them on Amazon. In your review, include a link back to the product on your own site so that people can find it cheaper or find a better version. Not only do you get an inbound link, but you also get attention of someone who is ready to buy.

12. Sponsorships: This one works along the lines of number 10 above, in which you are working with the community around you. Consider reaching out to local organizations and offering to sponsor them. Sponsor a Little League team to get a link, sponsor non profit organizations and request links, reach out to local business organizations and make a donation for a link back. These are tried and true methods of getting high quality links that will stay around for life.

13. Widgets: Whenever I say the word “widget” I usually am met by a blank stare. So what is a Widget? Look at the sidebar of this website at the black and green box called “The Everyday Entrepreneur.” That is a widget in its simplest of forms: a daily quote widget. The Everyday Entrepreneur gets added to at least 1 website per day, which in turn usually gets us 1 link per day. We sought to create something that would keep online startups and entrepreneurs inspired, especially in this economy. We thought to ourselves “What do we need to keep going?” The answer was that daily push to keep us optimistic and working hard. So, as we gathered quotes from around the Internet and throughout our library of books, we decided to share them with others, which led to The Everyday Entrepreneur. Take some time to think about what will make your life easier, as well as your customers. If you have an idea, go to Widgetbox.com and create a widget from your idea (you can do this without any knowledge of code). Place that widget on your site and, if it’s helpful, others will click the “embed this widget” option and add it to their own websites.

This SEO series is almost at an end, so I hope all of the tips from this and previous posts have helped. Next week will be the last installment in this series, which will cover things not to do when link building. Until then, I wish you great success in your ecommerce link building endeavors!

via zippycart

Jason Kiwaluk

Mower & Shoveller,

Ideation | Ecommerce | Fintech | Innovation | Strategy | Opinionated Agitator RevenueWire,FuturePay+PayMotion

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