As the e-commerce industry continues to grow at a steady average rate of about 10 percent each year, competition to get sales and exposure increases. That’s where link building comes in.
Link building is an effective way to gain more exposure and traffic for your website. Building links for e-commerce sites in particular can translate into more sales and return customers.
I mentioned some of the below tasks during my webinar for SEJ, but below are a few examples and how they apply specifically to e-commerce.
1. Influencer Outreach
Running an influencer program where bloggers and other online influencers can share reviews and information about your product is an easy way to get links.
If you don’t want to do the outreach yourself, you can hire a link building or influencer agency, or work with an influencer platform.
Clever is a popular platform for e-commerce goods. They have a proprietary backend system that allows you to choose the types of influencers you want, including their demographics (e.g. location) and audience.
Influencer outreach is an art and science all its own, but it mainly deals with the following steps:
- Identify your target audience.
- Find influencers and bloggers that have the same audience.
- Craft an outreach email or message to send to each influencer.
- Work with influencers who accept a campaign.
- Ensure that FTC guidelines for disclosure are followed at all times.
- Track social shares, posts, and links about your product to gauge success.
To evaluate the success of your influencer campaigns, identify your tracking metrics and goals. For instance, you could aim for each blogger’s review post about a product of yours to translate to a certain number of sales.
Make sure your goals are as specific as possible. Several marketers follow the SMART method, where goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Having a clear goal helps better identify success or failure.
Working with bloggers and social media influencers can create more buzz about your products, which will lead to more online reviews. That’s another great way to get links.
2. Editorial and User-Generated Review Sites
Review sites usually do great on search engines and can lead to more links and exposure for your e-commerce site. There are basically two types of review sites that I’m including here:
- Content reviews, like when TechCrunch has a reporter try out a new computer.
- User-generated content review sites, like Yelp or TripAdvisor.
No matter the format, impartial sites like The Wirecutter, Product Hunt, or TrustPilot can help generate referral traffic and increase brand trust and loyalty.
As with influencer outreach, you’ll want to set up a strategy for getting listed on review sites:
- Create a list of editorial content and user-generated review sites you want to target.
- See if your company and products or services are already listed. If there is a profile available for your company, make sure you claim it.
- For editorial written reviews, identify the process for pitching to each outlet.
- Double check that proper disclosure is in place, according to FTC guidelines.
- Share reviews on social media and your own website as they become available.
Any reviews need to be impartial and honest. Don’t try to hide or delete bad reviews if they are true. Instead, publicly comment on the review to show your willingness to fix the situation.
Additionally, whenever you find reviews of competitor products that are no longer available, you can use a link tool like Screaming Frog to find external links pointing to their website. You can then reach out to those sites to recommend one of your own products as a suitable replacement.
Working with other websites, especially if they sell related products, is a great way to get more of your product links in front of your target audience.
If there are other retailers in your industry that aren’t in direct competition with what you sell, consider creating cross-promotional partnerships with them.
For instance, Life Time Fitness is a series of elite gyms around the United States. Throughout their website and their online store, they offer special discounts and offers for related but not competing products like protein bars or restaurant gift cards.
Since Life Time doesn’t make their own line of protein bars, they aren’t in competition with the manufacturer. However, because their audience is interested enough in a healthy lifestyle to pay $60-140 monthly for a Life Time membership, they are likely to also be interested in purchasing protein bars and shakes. Life Time has their audience so narrowed down, they even offer a media kit for potential partners.
4. Related Internal Links
While most of the above strategies have to do with external link building through building relationships with partners, customers, and influencers, your internal link building efforts shouldn’t be ignored. Try installing a plugin or developing a solution that automatically displays products related to the one the user is currently on.
Amazon is a master of linking to related items. Their “customers who bought this also bought” widget not only shows related products but also uses social proof of past customer purchases to convince customers to buy.
Dick’s Sporting Goods also employs a similar tactic, but with a sidebar that is present with the user as they scroll down.
Adding a related products widget or box on your e-commerce pages can help increase average purchase rate and time spent on site as customers consider other items. You can also see what products are purchased frequently together using Google Analytics data so you know what to recommend.
In addition, if you have content or a blog on your e-commerce site, you can link to mentioned products or additional content that may convince them to make a purchase.
Working with influencers, customers, and other retailers for better e-commerce link building takes a lot of effort. You need to grow relationships to make campaigns a success. However, most e-commerce sites will find a benefit to focusing on link building strategies when looking at how they can become more visible online.
Featured Image by Kevin Rowe
Screenshots by Kevin Rowe. Taken May 2017.