Now let’s cover what happens away from your website: off-page SEO for eCommerce.
Off-page SEO is any SEO tactic that relies on external sites or headless eCommerce platforms.
In this guide we’ll cover the two big ones: social media and link building.
Link Building for eCommerce SEO
Link building is typically the most prevalent and substantial part of off-page SEO for any type of business. It’s a great way to extract the most benefits of eCommerce SEO.
And it’s the process of getting other websites to link to yours.
The fact of the matter is:
Most of the SEO levers you pull are under your immediate control. Whether or not Google rewards you for pulling those levers is another story. But pull them you can.
But link building is different. Whether or not someone else links to your site is up to them, not you. And the heart of link building is attempting to get those people to do so.
Here’s why link building is so important:
Every external website that links back to a page on your site is a vote of confidence, in the eyes of Google, for that page. The more of those links you get, also called backlinks, the more favorably Google sees your page.
And the higher your chance for ranking for your targeted keywords gets.
The best eCommerce backlinks are typically:
- From high-authority websites. High-quality sites that have been around a while and have a healthy collection of their own backlinks.
- From a unique domain that hasn’t linked to your site yet. Five different sites linking to your web page is better than five links from the same site.
- From a page with related content. The content on the page from which the link originates should be relevant to the content on your page.
- Have targeted anchor text. The anchor text is the clickable part of the link. Ideally, the anchor text of any backlink you get is a keyword you’re targeting—or close to it.
How to Build Links: 7 Strategies
So how do you convince other people to link to your site? Try these 7 strategies.
Create High-Value Content
One reliable way to do this is to create well-researched, data-driven content. Here’s a great example from Groupon. They did a bunch of original research to figure out the best state for beer lovers. Then they emailed everyone they could find online who’d ever written about the best states or cities for beer drinkers and told them about their well-researched content.
And whaddya know: that page got 110 backlinks alone. And if you search for “best state for beer lovers” they show up at #2. Job well done.
Some can get thousands, too, if they go viral.
Your content need not be data-driven, though. High-quality is the requirement. The quality of the content cannot be understated here. If it’s not worth sharing, no one will link to it.
Once you have your SEO content for eCommerce, find folks online who have published similar content before—or simply may just be interested in it—and let them know about it.
There are probably a ton of FAQs in your niche. And you can find them if you do thorough keyword research and check out forums like Quora and Reddit.
Create content that answers those questions.
Link-worthy content is interesting, high-quality, relevant, or useful. Ideally it’s all of those, but let’s not get greedy. If you provide top-notch answers to frequently asked questions related to your product, folks online will naturally link to it.
What’s great is that not only is this content link-worthy, but it can get rich content on the SERP, too.
Answering FAQs can get you a featured snippet, which is the large box at the very top of the search results. In this case, it’s from the University of Maine. Or it can get you a place in the “People also ask” section, which dramatically increases your page’s visibility.
You likely have a network of existing relationships with people, businesses, and organizations. Reach out to them and see if they’re willing to accept a sponsorship from you, receive some free products, and put a badge on their site linking back to your site identifying the sponsorship.
An example may be a dog food eCommerce site donating dog food to humane society and asking for the humane society to include a link to their sponsor on their website.
If your brand has been around for a while already, chances are people have mentioned you online. Quick, Google your business’s name. See how many folks online have mentioned your business by name but not linked to you from that mention.
Compile a list of these and reach out to each site owner individually. Send a brief, polite email telling them to feel free to link to your website when they mention your business and provide them the URL to use.
This is also known as link reclamation.
Broken Link Building
Like all eCommerce businesses, you have competitors. And your competitors likely have created and published web pages that don’t exist anymore. What’s more, those non-existent web pages may still have backlinks.
That means someone out there is linking to a broken page. A broken page that was once about a topic relevant to your business.
But guess what? You can fix that.
Because that broken page was probably pretty similar to content you either already have or can easily create.
Let’s say we want to get some relevant sites to link to our content around seafood. Because, if we become the authority on the topic, Google will show our seafood eCommerce site to people doing seafood-related searches. And once that happens, we can get these visitors to check out our seafood product pages and ultimately buy from us. That’s the beauty of SEO for eCommerce product pages.
Using SEMrush’s Backlink Analytics tool, we can see there are over 3,000 indexed pages with backlinks that are broken.
The vast majority of these broken links aren’t relevant, but if we sort by the number of backlinks each broken page has, we see two decent opportunities.
They’ve got a broken page about sockeye salmon with 15 backlinks. And they’ve got a broken page about steelhead with 3 backlinks.
If your seafood eCommerce business created (or has) similar pieces of content and reached out to those folks linking to those broken pages, chances are they’d swap that broken link for your live link.
It’s a better user experience for their visitors and it’s backlinks for you. It even helps the sites that will eventually link to you because Google penalizes websites with broken links.
Let’s say you’re creating a piece of content about the most sustainable seafoods. If you include and publish a few interviews or quotes from sustainability experts, those experts and their organizations will likely link back to the content.
Who wouldn’t want to share a piece of content where they’re framed as the expert?
Try creating blog posts like:
Top 10 Most Sustainable Seafoods: Expert Roundup
Which Seafood Is Most Sustainable? Expert Interviews.
After you publish, follow up with your experts and provide the URL. They’ll probably be excited to share it on social media, and maybe even link to you from their own website!
The final link building strategy is publishing a blog post on someone else’s blog (or being an expert in someone else’s roundup).
Other websites are usually happy to let people guest blog on their site because they get free content. And you can use a link back to your website in your article.
It’s a win-win.
Here’s how to make sure you choose the right site to guest blog on:
- Don’t pitch hundreds of sites with your guest blogging offer. Narrow it down to 10 or 20 high-quality, hyper-relevant sites in your niche.
- Make sure the site you make the offer to is an industry leader with lots of visibility. Shoot for over 8,000 social media followers.
- Come with a great idea for a piece of content. Do your research and pitch an idea that’s not only interesting, but that jibes with the rest of their content. They likely won’t publish something out of theme with what they usually publish.
- Pay strict attention to any guidelines for freelance or guest blogging submissions and adhere to them.
Google has gone on the record saying that its rankings aren’t directly affected by social signals like shares, retweets, and likes.
But that doesn’t mean social media doesn’t indirectly affect organic search rankings.
Because of the increase in visibility.
When something is shared widely on social media, more websites share it and more people visit it. That means more traffic and more backlinks, both crucial ranking signals.
And D2C brands need all the tools in the shed to stay competitive. That’s why your eCommerce SEO strategy shouldn’t ignore social media. And that’s why you should make sure the eCommerce platform or online marketplace you choose makes it easy for you to share your business, products, and promotions on social media.
There are two ways to go about it: organic discovery and paid marketing.
Organic Social Media Discovery
According to SproutSocial, over 70% of social media users discover new brands organically through their social network or through word-of-mouth. The majority of the rest do so through influencers.
To encourage organic discovery of your products and brands on social media, try:
- Post product reviews on your social media accounts
- Add relevant hashtags to any posts to insert yourself (elegantly) into existing conversations
- Interact with your customers personally—whether that’s providing customer support or just chiming in with a little personality
- Keep an ear to the ground with social listening tools. These tools monitor social media platforms for conversations and mentions relevant to your brand or product. Analyzing them usually uncovers opportunities to join the conversation and gain visibility.
- Use UGC, or user-generated content, for social proof. Feature a user and tell their story. That’ll prove to prospects that people just like them have good experiences interacting with your brand.
Paid Social Media Marketing
On the other end of the spectrum is paying for social media visibility.
If you’ve got a budget for social media, your paid strategies should include:
- Finding and using influencers to use your product and talk about your brand. There are numerous influencer marketing platforms out there that’ll connect you with a relevant influencer in your space.
- Using paid ads or post boosts for any post generated using any of the organic social media content creation strategies above.
- Forming brand partnerships. If you’re a dog food eCommerce business, partner with a company that sells dog treats, bowls, leashes, crates, you name it. Then you can both mention each other on social media.
- Rolling out a brand ambassador program. Otherwise known as a “street team.” These are folks to whom you send free stuff and they’re tasked with spreading the good word about your products and brand. They’re kind of like influencers, but they’re lower profile, more numerous, and you pay them in stuff, not money.
With enough time and effort, your social media channels will become a reliable driver of backlinks and traffic. And that makes them a crucial part of your overall eCommerce SEO campaign.
Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s look at the tools we need to execute everything we’ve learned. Onto our next post in our SEO for eCommerce series: The best eCommerce platform for SEO.
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