No matter the product, the ultimate goal of any ecommerce site is to attract customers. Once on your page, they can navigate your well-designed interface and peruse your products before finally sealing the deal by clicking “add to cart.”
The challenge is figuring out how to get them there.
One of the most important tools for ecommerce entrepreneurs is link building. By creating valuable content and using other link building strategies, you can attract users via multiple avenues.
In this column, you’ll learn four proven ecommerce link building strategies that will help you get in front of new customers, attract quality links, and improve your ecommerce site’s search rankings. But first, why is link building so important for ecommerce companies?
How Links Support Ecommerce Business Objectives
If your website hosts interesting articles, enlightening graphics, unique resources, or other compelling content, you can attract an entirely new sector of users.
These people aren’t necessarily setting out to make a purchase, but once they’ve arrived on your page, they can be converted to customers.
Plus, just by visiting your site, they increase your traffic. They may also link to your content, which helps spread awareness about your brand and expose more people to your website.
You can also connect with other sites and publications and encourage them to link to your content as well, further improving your site’s reputation.
Today’s customers are put off by blatant branding and aggressive marketing strategies. The best way to build your brand —and your customer base — is by creating content that attracts people to visit and link to your site naturally.
This helps build trust and establish you as not just a retailer, but an educational resource. Link building can help you achieve this goal. Here’s how to do it.
1. Empower Your Customers Through Knowledge
Offer advanced resources and guides related to your products in an education section. Knowledge makes people feel empowered, and that’s especially true for those looking to make a purchase.
Including an education section on your website will keep those looking to do research before buying from navigating elsewhere for more information. If they stay on your site, they’re more likely to buy from you.
An education section also helps to establish you as a subject-matter expert and provides content that others might link to.
Take, for instance, this educational section from jewelry store and lab-grown diamond retailer Brilliant Earth:
This section explains the basics of diamonds (like cut, color, clarity), and also details the company’s own unique processes. By providing useful general information alongside more specific product information, they are able to contextualize their products.
Diamonds are a notoriously expensive product, and this section also serves to help customers understand and justify the prices, increasing the likelihood of a purchase.
This page is also a valuable resource for related websites within similar sectors to link to, like wedding and fashion blogs.
If your company conducts its own research, an education section can also help you show off your capabilities and expertise. The more unique your research, the more likely it is that other sites will link to your page.
For instance, Mailchimp collected data on open rates for emails across the various industries of its customers.
Not only are they providing a worthwhile resource to link to, but they are also setting themselves up as credible thought leaders in their industry.
Arming customers with as much information as possible makes them feel confident in themselves and in your brand, making them more likely to do business with you.
Plus, creating an education section builds your brand and helps you build links.
2. Explore Unlinked Brand Mentions
Think of an unlinked brand mention as an opportunity. Any page containing a word or phrase that could contextually link to one of the pages on your site is just that: a chance to reach out to the host of the site, and suggest a link insert.
Unlinked brand mentions are a great way to approach ecommerce link building because they offer almost unparalleled ROI. All you need to do is find a site with a mention that’s up for grabs, and ask if they’d be willing to link to your site.
Tools like Ahrefs can be a great way to pull up viable site options in the blink of an eye. There are four types of brand mentions you should focus your research on:
Thematic mentions are those that don’t mention your company, product, or brand specifically but make thematic/contextual sense.
For example, if you sell pool equipment, there is probably a spot for your link in an article about summer fun, even if it’s not blatant.
These kinds of opportunities require a good sense of context and can be very successful when approached with logic and care.
Finding a mention of your company name that does not already link to your site is like entering the race halfway to the finish line!
As long as the mention isn’t negative, you can reach out to ask about inserting a link.
Product mentions don’t reference your company by name, but they do reference a product you sell.
If your product fits well into the larger context of the content, these mentions are a great opportunity to get yourself a backlink.
When used correctly, retail brand mentions can be the most powerful option of them all.
If your site features Gucci products or Gucci coupon codes, for example, you have a connection to one of the biggest and most searched brands in the world.
All you have to do is reach out to sites that mention these terms or similar ones, and suggest they link to your products or coupon codes specifically.
Now, your site is bolstered by the entire array of people searching the internet for Gucci.
3. Use Research-Backed Discount and Coupon Codes
Studies show that people are more likely to buy when they feel they’re getting a deal. Paying less for more makes people feel smart, and creating a positive association for your customers with your brand is always a good idea.
Shopify recommends using coupon codes on holidays (like Valentine’s Day) and occasions that signal customer appreciation (like a customer’s birthday). You can also offer incentive coupon codes to new customers to help build their loyalty.
Offer different types and levels of discounts, and track the purchases they produce to see what approaches get the best results.
The way you present a discount can often make all the difference. In his research into what customers perceive as a “good deal,” marketing professor and author Dr. Jonah Berger noted that when purchasing a $2,000 computer, customers felt like $500 off was a better deal than 25% off – even though the two discounts were functionally identical.
Applying A/B testing like this to your discount and coupon approach can help you figure out what is more appealing to your specific audience.
One thing to note: you should avoid making deals an integral part of your offering, or else sales may become dependent on customers who won’t buy unless there’s a discount.
Coupon Codes & Affiliates
Fashion retailer Cents of Style takes advantage of coupon codes by offering unique discount codes and landing pages to its affiliates, who then add UTM code snippets to the end of their URLs.
These unique codes allow Cents of Style to track the success of their affiliate program by determining exactly which affiliate is driving traffic their way.
They also give the affiliates incentive to share the site’s products, because they know that their customers will appreciate being offered a discount.
If you have an affiliate program, consider partnering with influencers and offering unique discounts for them to share with their audiences. This creates a feeling of exclusivity.
If your affiliates and their audiences know they are getting discounts that aren’t available publicly on other platforms, they will likely become more enticed to share with others as a way of showing off their special knowledge. This means more hits for them, and for you – everybody wins!
You can also send notice of available coupon codes to websites like RetailMeNot, Honey, and Ebates, which aggregate coupon codes.
Many customers search these pages before making a purchase, hunting for the best deals. By sharing your codes with them, you may end up on that customer’s radar.
4. Give Stuff Away, For Free!
The only thing people like more than discounted products? Free products!
While giveaways can seem counterintuitive at first – why would you just give away the very product you’re trying to sell? – they are an excellent strategic tool for building your brand awareness and sentiment.
I even mentioned them during one of my SEJ ThinkTank webinars, specifically because of their high success rates.
As long as you’re giving away a product that people will actually want, there is no better way to get people excited about your brand and even snag some free publicity.
A giveaway can be organized on your own site or social media, or carried out through partnerships with influencers and bloggers. Giveaways with partnerships are a great way to expand your network and piggyback on others’ social followings.
Once you decide to go the influencer/blogger route, you need to figure out who to reach out to and how you’ll get in touch. Many people with significant social followings field dozens if not hundreds of messages a day, so you have to be as strategic as possible.
Use a tool like BuzzSumo to research popular bloggers in your sector who might be willing to partner with you. This can be as simple as running a search for industry terms in order to get a list of popular articles focused on topics related to your product.
Once you have a sense of who is producing relevant content, you’ll have a jumping-off point to research who you’d like to partner with.
When you find someone who seems like a good fit, ask for a media kit to get a bird’s eye view of their audience and engagement. If you like what you see, you can ask for the rates.
Budgeting for an influencer/blogger partnership can vary widely depending on who you connect with, and what kind of arrangement you reach. Most bloggers and influencers have their own set of guidelines and rates for giveaways, which usually depend on their niche, audience size, and impact.
Keep in mind that you’re forming a two-way relationship – many bloggers and influencers enjoy doing giveaways for the boost in engagement and traffic they produce.
They often combine the giveaway with a review of the business or product, to get customers excited about the product and make them more likely to enter.
Here’s an example from an allergen-free cooking site, reviewing a noodle brand and including a giveaway:
When you partner with a blogger or influencer, you want to be sure you’re getting enough bang for your buck.
By asking them to use UTM links for analytics tracking, you can visualize exactly how the giveaway is affecting your traffic and sales. You should also ensure they comply with FTC guidelines and give proper disclosure of your partnership in all relevant content.
These link building strategies are effective because they help bolster your business from all sides. These approaches will not only help you bring in more traffic and create a loyal customer base.
They will also raise the prestige of your brand by highlighting your knowledge and trustworthiness, and your valuable relationships with others adjacent to your sector.
Make your ecommerce website more than a place for quick purchases – create a hub of high-quality resources and affordable, custom-feeling solutions. Once you’ve established your brand, you can watch your ecommerce website flourish.
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots taken by author, July 2021