Does focusing on link building really make a difference for your eCommerce business?  The fact of the matter is that if you want traffic from search, it’s crucial that you have good links from relevant websites linking back to yours. It’s a vital aspect of digital marketing and is absolutely worthy of your time and effort.

What is Link Building?

Link building is the action of securing hyperlinks on other websites that go back to your page and is an absolute must-have for your digital marketing plan. Link building is what helps you build trust and authority.

Why is Link Building Important for eCommerce Websites?

Links are extremely valuable pieces to your SEO puzzle. They are one of the main ranking factors in search engine (Google, Bing, etc.) algorithms, and are a key factor in increasing your site traffic. Links show support from one website to another (kinda like a vote) and helps individuals visiting a web page have a direct path to your website. In short, link building helps your website rank better, drives more traffic and helps you to sell more product!

What Are the Different Types of Links?

Understanding the different kinds of links there are is just as important as understanding the role that they play in your SEO strategy. What are the main kinds of links and what role do they play on your site?

Internal Links

Internal links are links that connect pages from the same domain. A significant amount of links directed to one page in particular on your website sends Google a message that the content on that page is important, which is very important information for Google to have.  For eCommerce businesses, you will naturally have internal links from your main navigation and category pages. You can also build internal links from a “related products” feed that displays on each product page and through blog content.

External links

These are links that point from one website to another. Look at these as reputation points and votes of confidence. When Google sees external links pointing back to your website, it sees that you are real and credible.

Followed Links

Essentially, follow links show equity and reliability. Just as external links act as votes for your website, follow links have the same effect, giving your site more credibility that reflects on search engine results.

No-Followed Links

Just as it sounds, a no-follow link communicates to search engines not to follow the link. For search engine purposes, it can be helpful to make some links no-follow links and effectively remove your “vote”. It’s normal for a website to have a healthy balance of no-followed and followed backlinks.

What is a Link Profile?

All of the links found on your site make up what is referred to as a link profile. Consider it your website’s link fingerprint. A good link profile has clean links, nothing that comes across as too spammy or forced/manipulated. Your link profile can vary widely depending on the age of your site, what industry you’re in, the quality of your links, etc.

What is Anchor Text?

The anchor text is the clickable part of the link, and is usually easily identified, underlined, and has blue text. Anchor text is extremely important as it is something that helps tell Google what your page is about. You’ll want to do your best to ensure that your anchor text looks natural and that it contains keywords that you’d like your site to rank for when possible. However, it will not always make sense or look natural to use exact keywords as your anchor text. You don’t want your content to come across as spammy, both to your audience and to Google, so make sure you’re prioritizing a natural, easy flow with your anchor text.

What are the Different Types of Anchor Text?

Branded

Branded anchor text is when you use the name of the brand as an anchor text. For example, if you’re talking about Google and wanting to link back to their site, you would use the word “Google” as your anchor text.

Exact Match

In a recent post about performing a backlink analysis, I wrote about using keywords as your anchor text. That’s what we refer to as exact match anchor text. Using keywords as your anchor text can be extremely useful in helping you to rank with Google. However, be wary of using too much exact match anchor text, as it can come across as spammy to some search engines. An example of exact match anchor text is using the keyword SEO to link to our SEO page

Partial Match

Partial match anchor text is when you include a variation of keywords related to your page. While not an exact match, this is still a fantastic way to help tell Google what your page is about and drive traffic. An example of partial match anchor text is using the words, Stryde’s paid search services and linking to our PPC page.

Call To Action (CTA)

A call to action is a statement that pushes the reader to take a certain action and is crucial to your link building. CTA’s have been proven to improve your click-through rates and ultimately drives more traffic and success for your website. An example of using a CTA for anchor text is using the words learn more and linking to our paid social media page. To determine what kind of anchor text is needed to rank well for a particular search query, you’ll need to put on your detective cap and do some competitive research. What kind of anchor text are your top competitors using? What percentage is exact match vs branded vs CTA? By using a tool like Ahrefs, you’ll be able to quickly see patterns and set a proper anchor text strategy.

What Kind of Links Will Move The Needle?

So now that we understand what kind of backlinks there are and the role that anchor text plays in elevating your link building, what kind of links need to be implemented to drive the traffic and success you’re looking for?

Foundational Links: Standard Business Directories

While there isn’t an exact definition for what a foundational link is, we can gather information from the title of this link- a foundational link is one that a business would naturally have, such as a home page or LinkedIn page. One of these foundational links includes directory backlinks. Getting yourself listed on directories, such as Yellow Pages or Yelp, is a major ranking factor with search engines. Build and diversify your link profile with links to prominent, high ranking sources and your site will begin to naturally rank higher. Other business directories that pack a significant punch include Made In The USA directories, Women In Business directories, Green Company directories and other specialized directories and websites.

Industry Links: Links From Sites in Your Same Space

Acquiring links from websites that exist in the same niche as you are a fantastic way to expand on your link building and accrue more credibility. As we mentioned earlier, these links provide a direct path for visitors on another site to access yours and are a great way to reach a wider audience. There are plenty of resources available for you to incorporate these industry links, including:

  • Blog Links/Guest Posts
  • Sponsored Posts
  • Forums
  • Facebook Groups
  • Pinterest Boards
  • Sub Reddits
  • Affiliates
  • Coupon Sites
  • Product Review Sites
  • Sponsorships

Competitive Links: Links Your Competitors Have, But You Don’t

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer.” Keeping an eye on your top competitors can be extremely helpful in helping you to find fresh opportunities for backlinks that they have but you don’t. Conducting some competitive analysis and discovering missing links is a great way to see where your competitors stand and help you to create a better SEO strategy to help you get to the top. One thing I love about competitive links is that when you’re able to acquire them, you are now “in good company”. The search engines will start to associate your brand with the brands of top competitors and it adds a layer of credibility that you didn’t have before.

How Can You Determine If a Link is Valuable?

There are various factors that contribute to the value and validity of a link. So how do you know where your links fall?

Is the Website Indexed?

Essentially, indexing a website is the process of adding web pages from your site into Google search. In order for someone to see your website, Google has to find it, and indexing your website is a great way to expedite the process. If the website you are trying to get a link from is fully indexed, chances are, it’s a decent link. In order to see if a website is indexed, you can open Google and enter site:[website URL]. You will see a number of pages indexed and you can scroll through to make sure their pages are indexed. Here’s an example of what it looks like for Stryde. If you’d like more information about Google indexing, you can do so here.

What Is Their Domain Rank?

Domain rank, or domain authority, is what helps define a website’s relevance for a particular topic or industry. This reflects heavily on how your site is ranked by Google and other search engines. There are multiple factors that are considered when ranking a domain, such as the number of links pointing at the website and the quality of those links. You can use a tool like Ahrefs to get a good feel of what a website’s domain rank is. Obviously the higher the better.

Does The Website Get Traffic?

Lastly, if the website is ranking well for their target keywords and is generating traffic, it’s probably a great site to get a link from. You can check to see how many keywords a website is ranking for and traffic estimates using a tool like SEMRush.

It’s All Worth It

At the end of the day, your efforts will be well worth the time and energy spent to get your link building strategy in place and moving. A focus on SEO can make an incredible impact on your eCommerce site, and will ultimately drive more success.

Greg is a member of the executive team at Stryde and a seasoned digital marketer who has worked with thousands of businesses, large and small, to generate more revenue via online marketing strategy and execution. Greg has written hundreds of blog posts as well as spoken at many events about online marketing strategy. You can follow Greg on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.