How to Build Links for Ecommerce

Linkbuilding is the cornerstone of an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. And for most websites, it’s pretty easy to attract the attention of other webmasters and earn links to build your credibility.

But linkbuilding works differently for ecommerce. The goal of your site is to give your company revenue by selling products. So you’re stuck with a problem.

To move product, you need traffic. To get traffic, you need strong SEO. And to get strong SEO, you need links.

So how do you start the process to selling more products? You use these methods to get links to your ecommerce website.

1. Ask a vendor

ecommerce-vendor-linkVendors are easy targets when you want to score your first links to your site. You already have standing deals with them, and their link to you is mutually beneficial — they can sell more product by directing site visitors to you, and you show up more in Google searches.

If your vendor doesn’t like to link to you just to sell items, you can try a couple other ideas to convince them.

First, you can create a piece of content that directly relates to your industry. Since you’re selling their items, the content will also be relevant to your business. That means you can publish it first, then send it to your vendor, and ask if they want to publish it with a link to your site. This quid-pro-quo is a standard in linkbuilding, and since you already have an existing relationship with your vendors, it’s easier for your ecommerce company than most other websites.

Next, you can start a special deal on your vendor’s products that entices them to link to you. By offering customers a certain percentage off their purchase — or by obtaining permission to display products below minimum advertised pricing (MAP) — you can take a short-term hit to your own revenue in order to build links long-term.

Last, you can encourage your vendor to include a page on their website that lists all of their retailers, including yours. However, the downside to this method is that it equally benefits your competition, and that won’t give you the edge you need over them. But if you’re desperate for new links, this can be a last-ditch effort.

2. Interview big names in your industry

ecommerce-interview

Interviews can work wonders for your business. If you can lock down a big name in your industry, you have the exclusive opportunity to be the platform that they use to talk about hot-button issues that matter to businesses like yours. The big question is how to get an interview in the first place.

Twitter is a great way to communicate with people, particularly public figures that aren’t accessible otherwise. Tweeting or messaging them to discuss their expertise is a win-win for you and the interviewee — they get publicity, and you get their name.

You can also hunt down the email addresses of popular figures. While it can be jarring to get an email from someone you don’t know out of the blue, an interview could be exactly what they want for their career right now.

Industry conventions are hot-beds of popular figures, too. The trick to getting someone’s attention in this situation is to somehow stand out — or luck out — so you can pitch the idea of an interview face-to-face.

Once you have your interviewee locked down, your questions should provoke new, interesting ideas from your subject so you can be the original source of in-demand information. Along those lines, biographical information usually makes poor interview material since popular figures almost always have bios on their websites. Instead, think about current issues in your industry, your interviewee’s expertise, and how they might work (or not work) together.

New companies in your industry, trends, strategies, and other ideas are all goldmines of information that people want to read, especially since so many industries are shifting in some way because of the Internet.

Does your interviewee have opinions on how the industry will change in the digital age? What about how conventional training and education prepares new workers to start their careers? Is there a major trend or problem that needs to be brought to light?

The key is to think about your interview a lot before it happens. Create questions, practice asking them in a mirror, and get ready to ask improvised follow-ups during the actual interview so you can get detailed, engaging content for your website that’ll get links.

3. Create infographics

ecommerce-make-infographics

Infographics are creative and engaging ways to display information that’s relevant to your business. They basically take information that you’d find in charts and use them with fun, eye-catching designs that are easy to read and understand.

While infographics themselves can vary wildly in topic, content, design, and structure, they all speak to their industry’s respective audiences. That’s the most important element of an infographic. If you create one that doesn’t resonate with your industry, you’re not getting the kind of customers (or links) that you need to succeed.

To get an idea for an infographic, think about the challenges or interesting facts that you’ve encountered at your business. If you can describe them and show some kind of data about them, you have a great idea for an infographic.

Once you have your topic, you need to research it thoroughly to make sure you have all the data and facts you need. This can take a lot of time, especially if you’re new to this kind of research, so it’s important not to rush this step. If you do, you risk the possibility for error, and infographics are supposed to be authoritative. When you publish one with an error, the whole piece becomes questionable.

After your research, it’s time to plan out the finished product. You can get ideas for infographic design by looking up infographics in your industry that succeeded before. Those will most likely have good topics, strong data, and an eye-catching design that works for it. For your infographic, you have to figure out what design works best for your topic.

When you’re ready with your infographic’s specifications, it’s time to send them to the designer. If you don’t have any in-house designers, you can contract a freelancer on one of the many freelance sites online. Just make sure you perform due diligence and look at all of a freelancer’s past work before you contract them.

The creation process can take several weeks, and you should send drafts back and forth with your designer to make sure you get the best possible product at the end. This infographic will be a representation of your business, and if its quality is sub-par, it’ll make your business look sub-par too.

Once your infographic is finally completed, publish it on your blog or on a separate page of your website. Then, promote it on social media and send it to blogs that are relevant to your industry. You can also email popular bloggers or figures in your industry to show them the piece so they can host it and link back to your site.

The more you build awareness and reach out, the more likely you’ll be to earn links to your site.

4. Cultivate brand ambassadors

ecommerce-brand-ambassadors

Brand ambassadors are public spokespeople that don’t actively advertise your brand, but support it through social media, videos, and other forms of endorsement. YouTube is one of the most popular sources of brand ambassadors, where certain personalities leverage their viewership to obtain sponsorship from relevant companies. The ambassador then talks about the company in a normal, conversational tone, and the endorsement is similar to word-of-mouth support.

That kind of support is incredibly valuable to brands, especially start-ups, since word-of-mouth is the most trusted form of endorsement. It’s the same kind of recommendation that people get from their friends when they’re thinking of buying a new product, but it comes from an online or celebrity personality.

In terms of linkbuilding, brand advocates can add links to their own websites to help yours. They can also encourage bloggers and other personalities in your industry to link to you on your behalf. That gives you the extra links you need to keep building credibility online, and it also directs a portion of their traffic to you.

To get brand ambassadors, it’s a good idea to research and create a program that outlines exactly what’s expected of a participant and what they get in return. That way, you have minimal confusion or setbacks when your initiative starts.

Afterward, you can send press releases to talent agencies that tell them you need ambassadors. They’ll send you recommendations for spokespeople that fit your criteria, and you’ll vet them to see if they’re a good fit. Once you find the right ambassador, you can work out all the contractual information and move on from there.

While this sounds like a lot of work, the payoff of brand ambassadors can be huge. They’re not just good at getting you customers — they’re also good at turning customers into brand advocates.

Brand advocates are customers who are so impressed with your company or product that they recommend you to other potential customers. Again, this advertising method happens via word-of-mouth, so it’s trusted, and anyone with a website has a reason to link to you.

That extra business can pay for your brand ambassador program several times over. To make it happen, you just need to get the right ambassador for your company.

5. Buying guides

ecommerce-buying-guides

Buying guides are long and informative pieces of content that tell a reader everything they need to know to make a smart purchase. These guides are helpful in every industry, particularly ecommerce, since attracting new customers is what helps a business grow. And sometimes, those customers need to know the basics before they can proceed.

These of guides are intended to go into extreme detail, noting what makes certain products useful for different applications, and recommending specific products for different businesses. While it may feel like you’re giving away a lot of information for free, you can get a lot of value from just one buying guide.

First, these guides show that your company knows what it’s talking about, as opposed to being just another retailer. On top of that, you care enough about your customers to make sure that they make a good purchase the first time they buy. You’re not just a salesman — you’re a resource.

Next, a buying guide has the opportunity to rank in Google searches so you can target additional, high-value keywords with thorough content. Long content tends to rank better on search engines anyway, and when you can attack a valuable keyword with an enormous, reliable piece of content, you drastically increase the chances of qualified traffic finding your website.

Last, and most importantly, comprehensive guides can earn a lot of links from relevant sources. The idea is that you made a resource that is so impressive that bloggers and other figures in your industry want to share it with their readers as well. And once they do that, you get new links to your website.

The best part about buying guides is that they’ll stick around for as long as you want them. That means they can continue drawing traffic and links year after year, steadily growing your brand and improving your credibility.

And all it takes on your end is sitting down and writing some detailed, in-depth information on a topic you already know!

Find an agency that can help

If you’re working hard to keep your ecommerce company growing, then you may not have time for linkbuilding. That’s why we’ve created an honest list of all the agencies that we believe to be the best in the industry. At Ecommerce Best SEO, we’re dedicated to guiding you to agencies that’ll help your company achieve the growth you want. And if you have any questions, you can contact us now.

Are you ready to get more links to for your ecommerce business? Check out our list of the best SEO agencies to find one that’s right for you!

 

9 Tips to Improve Ecommerce SEO

SEO is essential to ecommerce — it gets you the visibility you need on search engines so that your future customers can find you right when they need you. If you’re not utilizing an SEO strategy in some form, then you’re missing out on a huge portion of your potential revenue, and that kind of loss will add up over time.

To make sure you capture the traffic and customers that you want, you can start implementing an SEO strategy by using these basic steps.

1. List your NAP

name-address-phone

NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. This information is vital to search engines like Google since it shows them where you’re located and how to contact you, which they can show to their users. When you have that information laid out in an obvious, easy-to-read location, Google can start showing your business in results for keywords that are relevant to your industry.

The best part about adding your NAP to your website is that Google feature you in local results that are listed higher on search engine results pages than organic listings. That means you can get a leg up on your competition by appealing to your town or city, and that helps you build a loyal, local customer base.

2. Research keywords

keyword-research

When you’re running a business for a niche demographic, you need to make sure you’re on the same page as your potential customers. That means using the same words and phrasing on your website that your customers are using to research your industry. The more you speak like your customers, the easier it’ll be for them to find you — and buy from you!

You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to research keywords. The idea is that you want to find the keywords that are relevant to your industry, even if they don’t have a monthly search volume. The reason for this is because keywords with high monthly search volume are almost always general keywords that don’t reflect a user’s intent to buy. Specificity, on the other hand, implies an intent to buy, which you can use to your advantage.

So, for example, if your ecommerce website sells men’s running shoes, you want to target keywords like “size 9 men’s running shoes” or “men’s distance running shoes.” Those keywords are highly specific, and they may not get a lot of traffic, but you can more easily rank for them and your visitors will be more likely to buy.

Terms like “shoes” or “running shoes” in general will be dominated by high-profile, high-income corporations that will keep your website from getting listed. Once you’ve grown your business, you can start shooting for more general keywords if you want — but the real money-makers are the long, specific keywords.

The best way to stay organized is to make a spreadsheet of the keywords that you want to target with their search volume and level of specificity. The more specific a keyword is, the higher it should be on your priority list!

3. Create category pages based on keywords

filing-cabinet-category

Now that you have your keywords ready, it’s time to make them work for you.

The best way to do this is to create pages that act as categories for your different products. These category pages should show images of the products you offer along with the brand, price, and a unique description of each product. This helps customers navigate your site to find what they want, and it also shows Google how extensive and relevant your inventory is to certain keywords.

That list makes up the majority of your category page, but there’s still some awesome SEO potential at the top and bottom of the page.

4. Write unique descriptions for the categories

writing-category-descriptions

Near the top and bottom of each category page, you should write a few paragraphs that go into detail about what customers can expect to find there. While this may not get a ton of readers, your text will send positive signals to Google and other search engines showing that you know your stuff and you’re dedicated to giving customers as much information as possible.

With the text written, you can seize another SEO opportunity and link to category pages on your website. This helps your SEO by providing a better user experience, ensuring customers can find products related to what they already want while helping Google navigate your site more easily. Each link you create acts like a “bridge” to a new page, and those bridges help Google understand the structure and nature of your website.

And when Google understands your website, they can recommend you in search results more often!

5. Write unique descriptions for your products

writing-product-descriptions

Writing different descriptions for your products takes a lot of time, especially for companies with larger inventories, but the potential results are worth it.

Google likes to see that the text on a page is unique to that page only, so when you write a paragraph or two about each product, Google can list the product independently in search results. Plus, because it has a unique and informative description, you have a better chance of your products ranking above your competitors’ products.

That ranking is important since Google users who find the listings for your products will most likely be using very specific keywords, which imply that they’re ready to buy. When they see your products before your competitors’, you have the advantage of making an impression on that customer first. And when they click, those Google users can become your newest customers!

6. Add and optimize images

image-optimization

While text descriptions are great for your website, photos can say so much more in much less space. Photos of products get your customers as close as possible to interacting with their potential purchase, which encourages them to spend.

In addition, posting photos of your products gives you more credibility as a business since it shows that you have a clear connection with the brand that you’re selling. If a customer sees that a brand trusts you with its photos and products, then they’ll probably be more likely to trust you too. After all, why wouldn’t they when you’re carrying their favorite brand?

There are two major catches to using images on your website. First, images need to be clear and crisp, but the files have to be small enough to load quickly. Second, images need to be mobile-responsive so people who are using smartphones, tablets, and other devices can see them. And while they both may sound like easy corners to cut, when you implement both of these factors, you start to see some major improvements in your SEO.

7. Make your site mobile responsive

optimize-for-mobile

In addition to images, your whole website should be mobile responsive. That means that when someone is checking out your site online, the borders, text, search function, buttons, and links are all adjusted to make your site easy to use on mobile devices.

The key to a successful mobile site is to include large, noticeable buttons that are easy for users to tap to get information or navigate your site. Text links can be difficult to click and hard to read on certain devices, so using buttons and other noticeable graphics provides a great user experience.

Plus, mobile-friendliness is now a direct ranking factor for Google. Unfortunately, that means if you don’t use a mobile-responsive site, then you’re behind your competition.

Last, having a mobile-friendly site just makes sense for ecommerce. If people are on your site when they’re on the go, they probably know just what they want to buy. When you make it easy for them to make a purchase, they’ll become customers, and your revenue will grow!

8. Create an HTML sitemap

html-sitemap

An HTML sitemap is a page on your site that’s fully made of links to the other major pages on your site. Sitemaps organize different pages in an outline format, with the general pages listed up top followed by specific pages indented underneath. This makes it easy for your site visitors to navigate, and it also allows Google to get a more complete idea of how your website is laid out.

When you’re making a sitemap, it doesn’t have to be anything special — it’s more meant for function than appearance. As long as you make it according to the other design standards of your website, you should have an HTML sitemap that you can use for years.

9. Create Google profiles

google-account-suite

Google has a lot of different resources you can use to improve your business online, and they’re all free. The basics include Google Analytics, Google My Business, and Google Plus. By using these three properties, you can get actionable data about your website, improve its visibility on Google, and post relevant content for a social media audience.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free service that you can use to learn practically everything about how customers interact with your website. You can see how many people are on your site in real time, check out traffic stats, look up certain goals, and more. It also includes helpful visuals so you can track your site’s improvement over time.

Google Analytics is probably one of the best additions to an ecommerce site you can make since you want to track who’s going to your site and who’s buying. The data they provide gives you some great insights into what you can do to improve your business’s revenue, acting as the basis for any new strategy that you want to implement.

Google My Business

Google My Business used to be called Google Local, but its function is the same — you let Google show your business’s NAP information, hours of operation, price overview, URL, and reviews. Even though you’re not a brick-and-mortar business, you can still benefit from this just because of the visibility it gives you on search engines.

Plus, when mobile users search for your business in your city, they’re more likely to see that listing pop up on their screen instead of the standard list of websites Google usually shows. And on mobile phones, the My Business listing is so big that it’s pretty much all a user can see. That’s some great visibility!

Google Plus

Google Plus may not be as popular as Facebook, but it’s still helpful to your SEO. By using Google Plus, you can add more information about your website so that Google can know you better, show your listings in more search results, and help you get more customers.

It also gives you a chance to interact with your customers and speak to them one-on-one, which is a great move in terms of accessibility. On top of that, you can also reply to negative reviews or customer complaints and work to make your customers happier. Not only will your kindness and professionalism be shown in a public forum, but you can also earn another happy customer.

Find agencies that can help

Believe it or not, SEO is so vast that even by using all of these factors, you’re still behind the curve. That’s why we created this list of SEO agencies, so your business and other companies like it can get the results they want without learning everything there is to know.

We’ve already done the vetting process so you don’t have to do it yourself. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable SEO experts evaluated all of the websites on our rankings list according to specific set criteria, rated them according to a scale, and then compiled them together. With their opinions all in one place, we believe we’ve created one of the best online resources for ecommerce companies looking to improve their SEO.

Do you want to grow your business? Check out our list of the top SEO agencies for ecommerce and compare the names so you can find one that you trust! The sooner you find an agency that’s right for you, the sooner you can help your ecommerce business grow and earn more revenue.

 

The 3 Best Ecommerce Platforms for SEO

Whether you’re just starting your ecommerce business or you’re looking to boost your online revenue, an ecommerce platform can make all the difference in the world.

Most ecommerce businesses choose a platform (also called a “content management system”) based on criteria like how easy it is to add products or finalize an order. But SEO is equally important when you’re picking the engine that runs your business. And since you’ll probably be using the same platform for a long time, it’s important to do your research to determine which fits your needs the best.

Of all the options out there, three stand a cut above the rest. These three ecommerce platforms are designed to make your website operate smoothly while also helping search engines like Google find you. When you want the best, these three platforms deliver the whole package.

Magento

magento-logoMagento is a free, open-source ecommerce platform that’s used around the world, including some huge national and international brands. It’s designed to blend seamlessly with multiple features on your site, including PayPal integration, so you can customize your site’s user experience however you’d like. You also don’t have to pre-plan to make those changes — you can make them at any time, even ten years after you start using Magento.

In terms of SEO, Magento is valuable for a long list of reasons. You can customize far more than just how your website looks when you use it, and many of those changes all directly impact your SEO. You just have to know what Magento brings to the table.

Unique page titles

Your pages’ titles are arguably the most important factor for Google to find them. The titles are the page names that show up on Google’s search results pages, and they also show up on your web browser’s tabs. Titles are one of the first elements Google sees about your page, which helps them contextualize and rank your page accordingly.

You can maximize the effectiveness of your page titles by using keywords in them and making them attractive to search engine users. For example, if you’re selling solid-color T-shirts, you could use a page title like “Quality Solid Color T-Shirts” followed by your brand name. The reason this kind of title is so effective is because it tells customers exactly what to expect on your page and what company published it. Simple, but effective!

Custom Meta Descriptions

ecommerce-meta-description

The meta description is the part of a Google listing underneath the URL that tells customers a little more about what they can expect from the page. While you don’t have to use keywords in these to be successful, well-written meta descriptions are great ways to draw site visitors.

If you don’t write a meta description for each page, Google will default to displaying the first few lines of text on a page and truncating it at after a certain number of characters. This doesn’t hurt your ability to rank, but it does affect how many customers will click to your website. Instead of seeing one or two short sentences about your business or your page, customers instead just get a long string of out-of-context information, and that can make them skim right over your website’s listing.

Integrated blogging

Because Magento is open-source, a lot of independent developers have created their own plugins and extensions for it. With such a huge variety of options available, Magento is a modular platform that can be almost whatever you want. A lot of those options include blogging extensions, which you can use to add new content to your website regularly.

Adding new content is helpful since it sends signals to Google and other search engines that your website is active. Regularly updating your site with new pages, even if they’re just blog posts, also prompts search engines to index or “crawl” your site more regularly, allowing them to find and rank your new pages quickly. When that happens, you can get the leg up over your competitors by having new content rank on Google faster than them — and maybe even in the same day!

Shopify

shopify-logo

Shopify is a paid platform that is used by hundreds of thousands of retailers worldwide. It’s so popular because it integrates all of a customer’s shopping options — online, on social media, via mobile, etc. — into one convenient and easy-to-use package. That’s a pretty great mission statement, especially if you don’t want to play around with customization options.

Shopify may not be open-source, but it still has a lot of potential for SEO. Some major changes over the past years have given its users a lot more power, which has helped them rank well online and build their businesses.

Custom alt tags

Google and other search engines can’t read non-text items on your site. That means if you have photo, audio, or video, Google doesn’t know what they are.

That’s where the alt tag takes over.

Alt tags are short, 1- to 4-word descriptions of an element on your site that tell Google what the element is. So if you have a photo of a black T-shirt from Hanes, you can use the alt tag “Hanes black T-shirt” so Google can better read your page. Without these simple tags, you won’t rank nearly as well in searches since Google just doesn’t know what’s on your page.

And when you don’t rank, you lose sales.

Canonicalization

This five-dollar word refers to directing users and search engines to certain pages when you have multiple pages that are all about the same topic. For example, if your online T-shirt store had a category called “Athletic Shirts” and “Day Wear,” and they both contained the same products, canonicalization would make one of these pages the “main” page, even if people clicked a link to the other one.

If you’ve heard the terms “redirect,” “301 redirect,” or “permanent redirect,” this is similar.

Canonicalization is important because Google gets confused when it sees pages on your site that have the same content. It doesn’t know which on to rank, so it winds up splitting their ranking so neither performs well. When you use canonicalization, Google finds only one page and ranks it accordingly.

If you want your business to grow and compete, canonicalization will keep your site more organized and straight-forward for search engines. Hosting duplicate pages without canonicalization makes your pages compete against one another, and your competition uses that opportunity to outrank you.

Woocommerce

woocommerce-logo

Woocommerce is a free plugin that you can use for WordPress, essentially turning your blog into an online store. Since it’s setup as a plugin, you can use other plugins in conjunction with it, including specific programs that are made as extensions for Woocommerce.

Woocommerce’s SEO advantage can be whatever you want it to be. WordPress is a highly-customizable platform, so when you’re working with Woocommerce, you have a little more freedom to find what you want. And while the modular nature of Woocommerce makes it similar to Magento, the key difference is that you don’t need to worry about coding or programming anything with Woocommerce — you just download and use!

SEO plugins for Woocommerce

woocommerce-shopping-cartBecause this platform operates so differently from the others on this list, it can be harder to get a handle on what exactly you need to succeed.

However, you can find plugins that’ll allow you to modify your online store with virtually the same level of customization as any other platform. The key is finding what you need.

Fortunately, WordPress maintains a full list of plugins that are helpful for users, and with so many custom-made programs, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you can find what you need.

The only thing to keep in mind with Woocommerce is that not every WordPress plugin is 100% secure. In fact, several have shown vulnerabilities long after they were released, which can make it risky to install plugins for your business when you want it to be secure.

If you use Woocommerce, you just have to do your homework. Learn about SEO, find plugins that correspond to your knowledge, and research them to see if they have a history of vulnerabilities. The best you can do is know your stuff!

Choosing the best ecommerce platform for SEO

Unfortunately, we can’t really say what platform is the best because it really depends on your business. If you have a lot of knowledge about SEO and a lot of ambition, you could go with Magento since it’s so open-ended. If you want something more structured, try Shopify. And if you want something easy, go with Woocommerce.

All of these platforms have benefits and drawbacks — it just depends on what you want to achieve with your business.

If you’re stuck on what platform to choose — or if you just don’t have the time to research them — check out our list of SEO agencies to see if any of them are a good fit. We’ve checked all of them to make sure that they know what they’re doing, and they can help your ecommerce business make more money while improving your SEO.

Check out the list now!