Once you’ve got your e-commerce store up and running, and possibly ticking along nicely with traffic and sales, you’re probably going to want to start thinking about how to scale that traffic. Obviously scaling with paid traffic is an option, and is a good way to start bringing in more traffic immediately. SEO is certainly something we recommend every store owner should invest in. There are two ways to invest in SEO. You either do it yourself, which takes considerable time and effort, or you hire an expert. Even if you hire an expert to do the grunt work, if you don’t know much about SEO, you run the risk of poor quality work, or worse a Google penalty.
Linking 101 – Trust, Authority, Relevance
Now this seems rather obvious, but the 3 pillars of building links effectively and safely, are trust, authority and relevance. Trust is essentially how trusted a site is relevant to other sites on a topic. For example, if you want to obtain a link, try and acquire a link from a site that already has other quality links pointing to it. Authority is where a site has become a leader in it’s market or industry. Amazon is obviously a leading authority in the e-commerce space, and Bloomberg.com is an authority in the business space. Relevance refers to a site that is relevant to your particular market.
When you begin building links you want to make sure you consider all these factors. Obviously an authority site that is trusted and is relevant to your market, is an extremely powerful link. It’s an endorsement by this site to wherever it’s pointing to your site. Google knows this and consequently will provide more value to your page or site.
It also needs to be mentioned that traffic is an extremely important part of any link building strategy, i.e. ensure the links you receive are from sites or pages with existing traffic. If you follow the 3 pillars, generally this is a given, but not always, so you need to be diligent in your research.
You need to consider the anchor text when linking to your site. This is important for both inbound external links and internal links. If you are selling red widgets, it make sense to link to your red widgets page and use the anchor “red widgets”. This is known as an exact match anchor. If you do this, you want to be careful and use this anchor sparingly. I normally only send one exact link to a page if I want that page to rank. Then I normally send links with anchor text with generic or partial match anchors, i.e. “where to buy red widgets online” is a partial match anchor. A generic anchor would be “Click Here”.
Link Targets – where to link to
With e-commerce we see very good results sending links, both externally and internally to the category pages. We also link to product pages and the home page, but if we want the most benefit through out an entire category, we send our most powerful links to the category page. Generally if you can power up the category pages, the product pages will get a push as well, and over time you end up ranking many more product pages. In general terms this is known as a hub page. Further to this, we also use blog posts on a particular product or category and use that as our link target, that then links to the category or product page.
Notes on anchors: Normally we also ensure that we use an exact anchor only once in a link chain – an example might be linking from a guest post to a blog post, that then links to the “red widget” product page.
Guest post anchor: “red widgets”
Blog post anchor “more information here”
Guest post anchor: “more information here”
Blog post anchor “red widgets”
These are the two ways we would use anchors. We would not use the exact anchor twice in the chain. This approach has yielded very good results. While it’s simple, it’s easy to forget this simple strategy.
Notes on URLs: Generally we also want to ensure any page we link from, both externally and internally, has at least a partial or exact match keyword in the url.
i.e. Guest post: guestpost.com/where-to-buy-red-widgets-online
This will have more power all things being equal, than guestpost.com/stores-that-sell-products-cheap-online
Notes on H tags:
If the page that we are linking from has the exact match in the the URL, we generally look at using a partial match in the H1 or H2 tag
i.e. <h2>There are many stores that sell widgets that are red</h>
We also try and adhere to all of the above rules when linking internally. Sometimes it is not possible, but once you get used to it, it becomes second nature.
Ok we’ve discussed, URLs, anchors and H tags. Before we look at where to acquire links, let’s discuss link velocity.
This is one of these topics where people ask how many links should I build and how fast. As with all things SEO, common sense still prevails. We always look at our keywords and topics in a tools like Ahrefs.com, and determine what link numbers the major competitors have, and also look at the link velocity graphs., i.e. how fast has the link profile grown.
You definitely want to think in terms of traffic and links. If a keyword has large volume and the top few sites are get a lot of traffic, then it makes perfect sense that they would also be acquiring links naturally in a similar manner. If a keyword is only getting 10 or 20 searches per month, it wouldn’t make sense if a page relevant to that keyword acquired 100’s of links in the first month. Use competitor analysis to really start to understand how a site doing well for that keyword has created their link profile.
Again the first place you should look is your competitors. Use ahrefs.com or a similar tool to analyse what types of links there are getting and what sort of anchor text profile they have. We see many sites that do not look at this low hanging fruit. Many times you’ll find links that you can easily acquire for free with this research.
A bit of creative thinking may be required in some instances. Let’s say you want to obtain a link from the same sites as the site ranking number one. You find that this link is in a blog about the topic. You could easily create a detailed blog post about the topic, and then reach out to the blog owner letting them know about your awesome content. This can be duplicated at scale with mass outreach strategies. These are however beyond the scope of this article.
Many e-com store owners forget to build their brand entity. The first thing we do with a new e-com store is create all the social profiles; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube etc, and then create a Google My Business listing. It’s an important way to verify to Google that you are legit. Many stores don’t do this as the don’t understand what the benefit will be. You can then also build out citations (local business directories), and source business directories that are in your market or niche.
Google has a large stable of properties that are generally used for business services, such as Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, Slides etc. These can be used to strategically add in links and then also linked to each other, know as a Google stack. If these assets are made public they can be indexed in Google and help build trust and authority. In a similar manner you can use Amazon S3 buckets.
Guest posts done the right way work like gangbusters. Again you need to make sure you use the 3 pillars when looking for guest posts. There are many good services you can find with a bit of research. You can also manually or mass outreach to blog owners once you’ve targeted them.
Believe it or not, comment linking still works. Again you need to consider the 3 pillars and it will pay dividends. Most of our comment link building is manual nowadays, for this very reason.
It doesn’t matter what your read, or where you read it, PBNs still work if set up properly. They are safe if setup properly. If done wrong, your site will suffer the consequences. Use at your own risk. Again, there are many places to learn how to use them, but choose wisely.
All of the methods above work, and will continue to work as long as you use the 3 pillars, and consider the traffic associated with the link. A link on a page or a site with no traffic will have very limited benefit. Why would google reward the link if no one is bothering to visit the page. It obviously has now value for either the user or Google.
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