Link building is an important way to increase your online store’s authority and visibility on search engines. Backlinks remain one of the top ranking factors year over year.
However, search engines continue to become stricter in policing “spammy” SEO tactics. The old tactics of “gaming” the search engines not only don’t work anymore, but they will do much more harm than if you had done nothing at all. Comment spam, link farms, reciprocal links, and low-quality directory listings are the types of things that should be avoided. When considering a tactic, ask yourself if it’s a way to simply get links, or if it is a meaningful way to add content that people would want to read and to link to.
Here are 10 ways merchants (or any business) can build links without being spammy.
1. Video Marketing
Video marketing is a great way to bring your products to life. You can create a YouTube channel highlighting you products, and ask bloggers or social media influencers to share your links with their audiences.
2. On-Site Content & Blogging Strategy
You should also be developing lots of useful content (“linkable assets”) on the site, with your SEO strategy in mind. The blog will be the area where you’ll be able to make the most traction in driving organic search visits and building links. Create compelling articles with information that is useful and relevant to your audience, and contains important keywords.
3. Brand Ambassadors & Influencers
Leveraging your super fans and people with large social followings can not only help to increase awareness and drive sales, but it can also result in links. Look through your customer data to find the most loyal people and see if they if they have a blog or website that would make sense for a link to your site. Research relevant influencers and begin establishing relationships to determine how you can work together to obtain links.
Oftentimes, providing free product in exchange for articles and/or reviews is sufficient; however, some bloggers do require payment. Contests are another way to get super fans and influencers on board to write about your brand. Always take care to follow FCC guidelines when working with bloggers, which require a disclosure of the relationship and any exchange of goods or money.
Search for another business in your genre that aren’t in direct competition with you. You can then promote your business to their customers and vice versa.
5. Internal Linking
Linking to your pages internally passes search engine value in the same way as external links. Use internal linking to the content you are producing on your site.
Don’t overdo it with internal links. When appropriate, and with varied anchor text, link to other pages of your site. Blogs are a good place to ensure internal linking.
6. Wholesale/Retail Accounts
Do other businesses stock your products in their retail or online stores? Request that all businesses selling your products provide a link back to your website. If it’s a particular product category, or specific product, have them link directly to these pages (versus the homepage) for deeper linking.
7. Run Offers or Discounts
This is a great way to get people to buy your product and to share it with their circle of friends. You can also offer coupon codes to bloggers and influencers, which will give you an excellent ROI if done correctly.
8. Competitive Link Acquisition
By analyzing links your competitors already have, you can quickly identify immediate opportunities to acquire some of the same links. It could uncover opportunities, such as guest blog posts, sponsorships, niche directories or industry-relevant sites that could be leveraged in a variety of ways.
9. Link Reclamation
By analyzing links to your site, you can look for existing links that could be improved. Cleaning up your current link profile by ensuring the anchor texts of existing links represents the keywords you are targeting is another immediate tactic that will help your site.
10. Brand Mentions with Links
Using SEO software Moz or social listening software, you can identify when people mention your brand name and products, but do not include a link. When this happens, you can reach out to the site to ask for a link.
Link building is a time and labor intensive process, but it’s an extremely important one for organic search success. Like most things in life, quality far out ranks quantity for inbound links--so if you’re only able to dedicate minimal resources, make sure you’re focusing on the most effective and efficient methods.