Typical websites require a strategy to enhance ranking. Many factors come into play:
- Site design
- Pages optimization
- Rich content
- Site architecture
There are many considerations when auditing a typical site for SEO.
eCommerce sites, however, require a specialized approach that can be highly technical. In 2020, it’s reported that there are 12-24 million eCommerce sites with an expected sales projection of $4.5 trillion by 2021. With more and more websites entering the space, this represents an equal scale of opportunity for eCommerce SEO.
Link building is a critical part of any SEO strategy because Google’s algorithm values backlinks. Links are used to evaluating the credibility of sites—which can boost rankings if done correctly.
Every link building strategy requires careful consideration, as mentioned in an earlier post.
- Rankings, traffic, relevance and content quality
- The search volume of the targeted keywords
- Individual anchor texts
- A site’s overall anchor text profile
- The relevance and quality of the domain and landing page selected for each backlink
- Outbound links of the linking sites. A poor quality site is one that links to low-quality web pages. This one factor negates all other positive qualities.
eCommerce SEO requires specialized consideration. eCommerce sites typically contain a predominant amount of product and category pages. Those kinds of pages can make natural backlinks challenging to acquire.
Product and category pages must communicate what’s known as a value add. The value add is a quality that makes a page or product more desirable.
In order to gain links, an eCommerce product or category page must communicate why they’re better than other products, their usefulness, and other qualities that make them desirable and worthy of a link.
The value-add could even be fast or free shipping, excellent customer service, low prices, or easy no-question returns.
Informational sites attain links because of the problem-solving quality of their content. eCommerce sites attain links because of their value add. Informational content can be a value add for an eCommerce site. And that’s a strategy that leverages the informational content for links to the product pages.
The goal of SEO, of the link building and informational pages, is to increase sales.
Product and category pages can require different link building approaches.
Category pages do not accurately solve a user’s problem the way a product page might.
A site visitor must still browse the category page and select the best solution. That’s a consideration related to search intent, specifically when a user is still comparing products and prices and isn’t necessarily sure what product solves their problem.
Category Page Search Intent Linking Patterns
A category page isn’t harder to build a link to than a product page. Category pages are great resources for the undecided shopper, and the value lies in the category pages utility in aiding the shopper in comparing products.
So it could be said that a category page that can attract links offers high-quality value-adds (easy returns, low prices, etc.) plus an easy way to compare products.
Product Page Search Intent Linking Patterns
The search intent for product pages is closely aligned to a shopper who knows what they want and who wants it fast (and sometimes cheap!).
Linking patterns are also aligned to the search intent of a shopper who knows what they want.
For example, someone in a forum or writing for a blog might recommend a specific product and link to that particular product at their favorite eCommerce site.
The intent in the link published on a blog or forum is, “You need this specific product.”
The intent of the consumer who clicks that link is, “I need this product!”
So when considering an eCommerce link strategy, keeping the consumer shopping intent in mind can help create better pages that are link-worthy and influence the tactic used to build links to those pages.
That said, it’s essential to focus on link building to the product pages. The search intent for specific kinds of products is satisfied with a search result that lists pages that offer that product.
A successful link strategy will seek to elevate specific product pages, either with direct links to those pages or a link from an informational page that another site links to.
While links to category pages help increase relevancy and establish authority, because product pages are so deeply embedded into a website, the impact of a link to the product page cannot be underestimated.
For this article’s purposes, we’re going to look closely at what Blue Nile is up to. By pulling an Ahrefs Top Pages by Link report, we see that the top-performing pages are the homepage, several category pages (engagement rings and diamonds), and educational pages like finding your ring size or understanding diamond color.
Blue Nile just gave us a perfect segue to the first tactic of link building for eCommerce sites.
In the Ahrefs report, we noticed that the homepage and some category pages were top performers for Blue Nile.
To learn more about how to optimize an eCommerce homepage for link building, read this. We won’t get into the details on that particular page type here.
Instead, we’ll focus on the educational resources that Blue Nile has provided. Several are top ranking, like finding your ring size and understanding how to evaluate diamonds.
Creating a resource page is a smart tactic. It allows an eCommerce site to create rich content that answers consumer questions.
That makes those informational pages useful and link-worthy. Adding a link from the informational page to the product or category pages situates the product/category pages a mere click away from the inbound link to the informational page.
It’s not a direct link to the product page, but it’s the next best thing.
Additionally, all of this content establishes their authority and creates an opportunity for lots of traffic.
Today’s consumers are research-driven. They want to understand and evaluate products before making an eCommerce purchase.
By providing a resources section, an eCommerce site can guide consumers who are shopping for their products. Naturally, the links will follow.
Another clever way of getting links to product pages is participating in subscription boxes, where you can offer a sample sized product to subscribers.
Not only are these boxes heavily reviewed by blogs, but podcasts, news articles, and videos, the products within them are also too.
These reviews can generate powerful links to eCommerce product pages, where customers will be exchanging opinions on particular products.
In a similar vein, another smart approach is to use coupons to build links for you. Many eCommerce sites offer unique codes and landing pages that can be tracked using UTM codes and shared with influencers.
You can also share coupon codes with aggregators like RetailMeNot, which drive traffic to eCommerce sites. Additionally, be sure to promote coupon codes on social media with links back to your site.
Be cautious; do not try to influence search engine rankings with anchor text. That is a leading cause of link related penalties.
Additionally, if there is an affiliate relationship, it’s essential to make those links nofollow; otherwise, those links may be flagged as unnatural by Google.
Finally, the fourth tactic is unlinked brand mentions. While these don’t have links yet, they’re a great way to start building them. These online mentions can pop up anywhere, and a lot of the work is already done for you.
There are two general methods of unlinked brand mentions. In one case, the brand itself gets mentions for its own brand name (for example, Gucci can pursue links wherever “Gucci” is mentioned).
The other method is where a retail brand can pursue links for brands that they sell (for example, Nordstrom can pursue links when “Gucci” is mentioned back to their eCommerce category page for Gucci).
If you pursue securing these links, you have an actionable link building tactic right in your back pocket.
Several SEO tools offer the ability to find them, but you can also use a Google search if you don’t have access to one of the tools. For more info on how to pursue unlinked brand mentions, you can check out this Ahrefs blog on the subject.
Link building is a powerful piece of your SEO strategy, and eCommerce sites can use any of these four tactics to help generate links.
While the eCommerce landscape is different from sites that focus primarily on rich content alone, there are many opportunities for creating a network of relevant links.
The goal of eCommerce SEO is ultimately to cultivate sales. Link building is an integral part of that goal.
Link building can also establish a positive reputation, trustworthiness, and authority as customers research before purchasing.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 61percent of online customers in the United States have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog.
Now consider all of the resource pages, subscription box reviews, coupon codes, and unlinked brand mentions that help persuade someone to buy. With these tactics, you can deploy a smart link building strategy for any eCommerce site.