Link Building for Small eCommerce Sites
Posted by RobOusbey
Link building for small ecommerce sites can be amongst the toughest SEO challenges – but also the most common. I’d like to share a few bits of advice for anyone rising to the challenge – whether you’re working in-house or as an agency.
These are targetted at small companies, probably with limited internal resource or a small SEO agency contract, and who don’t have a PR firm able to get them into newspapers or an advertising budget that will put them in magazines, on radio, etc.
Tip 1: Reviews
If you sell huge ticket items this doesn’t work so well, but for sites where a typical item or purchase is in the right ballpark (e.g.: £10 – £40ish, depending on how much you’d value a link) then asking people in the right niche to review your products can be very valuable.
Specifically, I’ve found the following to work well:
- Find sites / blogs roughly in the niche of your product (I’ve mentioned Blogged.com and dir.Blogflux.com but there are others)
- Check that each site is indexed (and not penalised, etc) and based in a particular geographic region, if that’s important to you
- Grab their contact details off the site and fire them an email (see the example below)
- Do email from an email address at the site; if you’re working as an agency, ask the client to set up an email account in your name
- Find out what they’d like, and send it to them
- They write a review on their site and link to you
- You email to thank them for the review, and ask them to update the anchor text to something with a keywords in it.
When writing the request in stage 3, keep it short and to the point. Explain why they were relevant – the reason you chose to write to them – and what you’d like them to do. An example might look like this:
I’m Rob from Widgets R Us.
You might have come across us before; our online shop has a variety of widgets and whatnots.
I’m doing some work at the moment to try and promote our ranges. I had a read through your blog, and wondered if you’d like me to send you some of our products to have a look at? A little review would be most appreciated, and I hope your readers would enjoy the opportunity to see our widgets being given a real world test.
I saw you bought a new Thingamy last week, so perhaps I could send you a couple of widgets that would fit with that?
Tip 2: Non Commercial Content
Without substantial SEO resources, you may be put off from the idea of linkbait, given that you can put a bunch of work in, and it’s not guaranteed to result in loads of links.
Instead, consider creating link-worth resource-type content (it doesn’t even need to be anything as organised as a regular blog) and then manually spreading this to appropriate places. Aim for content that doesn’t have a great resource at the moment. Example might be:
- how to install a blue widget in a Thingamy X-1000
- the history of blue widget production
- 10 point checklist for setting up your own blue widget society
- how to use a blue widget to help you through university
- how to get a graduate job in the widget business.
The places to try and share this content might include:
- any of those niche bloggers you found earlier but you haven’t talked to you
- university & college student with their .edu / .ac.uk sites
- people in very similar but non-overlapping industries
- sites which aggregate and link to useful content from a particular niche or topic
- customers who’ve indicated they have a website / blog / social media account (you do ask this in your customer satisfaction surveys, right?)
I don’t beleive that there’s a single eCommerce site which couldn’t produce some useful content like this, and get links out of it by spending some time talking to people and explaining what they’re making available.
Tip 3: Business / Industry Friends
I love how many small sites there are out there which have heard of SEO, let alone tried to do any, so they have really old domains names, with a bit of good content, and have only really strong, genuine links pointing to them.
There’s a fair chance that some of your suppliers, clients, partners, etc have great sites like this. There’s every chance that if you ask them for the favour in the right way, they’ll stick a link on their site to you. Alternatively, you could offer to write a testimonial to stick on their site, which will then link to you.
For small companies that don’t cover a whole country, you could try asking businesses that are similar to yours but elsewhere in the country. (eg: On the Glasgow Widget Shop’s website, you could get: "If you want widget repair in Lancashire, we recommend our friends at The Bolton Widget Shop") – I’m pretty sure that even if you want to send them a bottle of whisky to say thank you, Matt Cutts won’t really give two hoots.
If anyone has tried the ‘reviews’ tip mentioned above (or is inspired by this post to go out and try it) please do drop a comment below, and let us know how it goes.