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How to Build Links for Ecommerce & Affiliate Sites in 2021

Learn how to boost your ecommerce and affiliate site’s search visibility with link building and which approach can bring you the best results.

link building fundamentals for ecommerce & affiliate sites

Looking to boost your ecommerce and affiliate sites’ search visibility in 2021?

Building links to your category, product, and affiliate review pages may be just what you need to seriously move the needle.

But how do you get started?

On February 24, I moderated a Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Kevin Rowe, Founder of PureLinq.

Prospecting and securing critical category or commercial page links play a major role in driving rankings in competitive fields.

Rowe revealed the fundamentals of link building for ecommerce and affiliate sites in 2021.

Here’s a recap with his top takeaways, based on the proven approach that PureLinq has been implementing for their clients.

Link building for ecommerce and affiliate sites - Kevin Rowe

Selecting Your Approach

Any link building campaign begins with identifying the approach you’re going to take.

Unlinked mentions are an effective strategy for securing links to category or review pages.

Rowe and his team found that focusing on this approach is the fastest and most impactful among other tactics, with a conversion rate of 50-90%.

In this type of campaign, you have to find existing articles already mentioning your brand and reach out to the publisher to request that they link to your own webpage.

There are certain categories you can start to focus on, such as:

  • Company brands (i.e., B&H Photo Video, Wayfair, Everytable).
  • Product brands (i.e., Purple, Nectar, Bulletproof).
  • Retail brands (i.e., Nike, Acer, Apple, Lindt).
  • Executive brands (i.e., Elon Musk, Gary Vaynerchuk, Loren Baker).
  • Thematic.

Finding Unlinked Mentions

There are several ways to find unlinked brand mentions.

  • Via manual direct email.
  • Using prospecting tools: Find bulk mentions using Moz Fresh Web or Ahrefs Context Explorer then upload the site list to Pitchbox or BuzzStream.
  • Full automation (i.e., PureLinq’s Mention connection technology).

Here’s a detailed guide from the PureLinq team on different tools you can use to find brand mentions.

Selecting the Right Pages

Analyzing top competing content and visibility will help you identify your target pages for link building.

Here’s an overview of areas to analyze.

Top Ranking & VIsibility Analysis

Here are specific page types that are commonly linked to in ecommerce and affiliate sites:


Linking to the homepage makes sense in the following situations:

  • Targeting top-level category keywords for ranking.
  • You have a new site that needs a brand presence.
  • Launching a new site, for early awareness.
  • Building site-wide contextual relevance.

Category/Groupings Page

You can link to category pages when:

  • Targeting category-level keywords for ranking.
  • Targeting high-search volume keywords.
  • Top content is transactional or directional (unless you have informational).
  • Business goals are short-term lead/sales-focused.

Individual Item Pages

Linking to individual product pages or pages with specific focus is reasonable when:

  • Targeting product-specific keywords for ranking.
  • Targeting low-search volume keywords.
  • You have budget to spread over a high count of pages.
  • There are multiple focus pages under a category.
  • Top ranking content is specific pages.

Educational/Informational Pages

Links to educational or informational pages if:

  • Goals are 6-12 months or longer.
  • Ranking 1 page for multiple keywords.
  • Top ranking content is informational.
  • Building domain authority is the main focus.
  • The industry is gambling, financial, loans, or other similar niches.

Evaluating Prospective Sites

When evaluating potential linking partners, it’s essential to weigh each element. Some aspects of the site are more important than others.

Ideally, you want to build a footprint – not just one element. Examine multiple elements then decide on the site’s quality.

Remember that there is a difference between metrics and quality in link building.

Metrics (such as Domain Authority, Trust Flow, etc.) from third-party SEO tools can serve as guiding posts to narrow your target list.

They can help you support micro-decisions and reduce workload.

On the other hand, site quality can influence final decisions.

If you decide to manually review your prospective sites for quality, look at the following key elements:


  • Commercial links: Links to money pages not tagged with nofollow or sponsor.
  • Navigation: Is it way too general for a blog?
  • Keywords: No keywords related to gambling, porn, payday loans, etc.
  • Frequency: Are posts infrequent or outdated?

Admin Pages

  • About us: Is the information specific or too general?
  • Admin pages: Do they have advertising or guest posting guidelines pages?
  • Contact info: Do they provide their phone number, address, or email?

Link Profile

  • Excessive links: Are there too many links pointing to one page?
  • Low authority: Using metrics such as Domain Authority (DA) or Domain Rating (DR).
  • Non-relevant links: Are there links that don’t make sense for the page?


  • Names and bylines: Is it simply set to “admin” or site name or are the article authors properly identified?
  • Author page: Is there information about the author?
  • Foreign: Is the author from the country you are targeting?


  • Presence.
  • Following: Personal, micro-influencer, influencer, news?
  • Engagement: Are people engaging with their content?

Learn more tips on how to identify site quality for link building from this SEJ webinar also presented by Rowe.

[Slides] Fundamentals of Link Building for Ecommerce & Affiliate Sites in 2021

Check out the SlideShare below.

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Image Credit

Screenshot taken by author, March 2021

SEJ STAFF Loren Baker Founder at Foundation Digital

Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing ...

How to Build Links for Ecommerce & Affiliate Sites in 2021

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Fundamentals of Link Building for Ecommerce & Affiliate Sites in 2021 [Webinar]