Here are some link building techniques with my take on them and how you could apply them to your eCommerce website.
1. Directory Links
There are many website directories which are basically pages of links to other websites categorised together, examples of some directories are:
Entry to directories is usually paid and at times your site has to pass a reviewers test to check if its live, not broken and is about what your claim it is.
The benefits of directory link building are that it’s an easy source of links, you can usually control the link anchor text, and can often specify the exact page on your site you want the link to point to.
The drawbacks are that because it’s easy the links are often not classed as valuable by the search engines, also in the bigger directories you may be listed on a page with loads of other links which dilutes the strength of the link.
Try and find smaller directories which cater to your specific industry as these will be more valuable than a listing in a generic directory.
When consulting on a site which sold hot drinks vending machines and supplies for businesses I came across a small directory which only listed vending related websites, it turned out to be a really useful link.
2. Reciprocal Link Exchanges
This involves approaching other websites and asking them to link to you in exchange for you linking to them.
While it used to be a popular link building technique it is not recommend much anymore as the search engines can see this kind of behaviour easily and often remove the value of the links accordingly.
I still think there is some value in this type of link building if done correctly. If I were attempting this then I would approach a site which had some kind of synergy with mine but was not a direct competitor and attempt to setup some kind of referral scheme.
For example, if I sold curtains on my site maybe I’d look for people selling furniture or rugs. Then instead of asking for a simple link, maybe I’d offer to put a page up on my site with details of items which the other website sold, highlighting how specific products from both sites would complement each other.
You could then publish the page on your website and ask them to put a similar one on their site, even better you could write their page yourself and supply it to them to publish.
Obviously this method would be more time consuming, however if you attempted to do this with well established sites then the link would be more valuable to you, there is also a massively increased chance that their customers could click through and become your customers, double prizes!
3. Article Writing
Like directories, there are many places online which let you upload and publish an article which could include a link back to your website. These articles are then free to be used by other third parties as long as they keep the links in place.
Again, this used to be popular a few years ago but thousands of spammy, low quality articles add little to Google’s index so they became devalued by the search engines. There are also issues with duplicate content arising from this method if not carefully managed.
The best way to leverage this type of link building now is to be selective about where you publish the article online.
Instead of using article directory websites, look for popular blogs in your niche and offer to write a piece for them as a guest poster, this would not only generate a larger readership for your article, but the link would be worth much more.
If I sold men’s clothing on my website then I’d look for and approach fashion blogs. Stuck for content ideas? Maybe you could write a discussion on the latest X-Factor contestant’s choice of clothing, or how someone can get Simon’s style on a budget. Not into X-Factor? Simple replace it with something you are into such as Politics, Footballers, TV Presenters…
4. Link Request Emails
Emailing someone to ask for a link from their website to yours can be a very time consuming task with little reward.
Website owners have enough to deal with without responding to begging emails. Couple this with the fact the Google have indicated that linking out to ‘dodgy’ websites can harm your own search rankings, it’s not hard to see why most link request emails don’t work.
The best (and probably only) way to get traction with this tactic is again to careful select who you are emailing first. Do they link to other websites? Are they in a related field to you? – These are 2 very basic prerequisites to check before sending the email.
Next you should craft the email personally, maybe compliment something on their site, try and establish some kind of basic relationship with the site owner if you can.
Finally, here is the tricky part, try and give them an incentive to link to you.
Without some kind of benefit there are very few webmasters who will give you the link. This incentive could be something like content on your site which would really benefit the readers of the linking site. Difficult I know but crucial to success in my opinion.
Has one of your competitors ceased trading? If so, then why not try and find websites which have links to the dead website. Contact these websites and highlight the fact that ‘unfortunately XYZ company’s website has gone offline’ and they have a broken link. Then ask if they might swap the link to your site as you offer similar products…
Many webmasters will thank you for informing them of the broken link, and may take up your offer of switching the link to your site instead.
5. Suppliers Links
This last tactic is probably the easiest to attempt, has the best chance of working yet is often overlooked.
Does one or more of your suppliers have a website? Do the original manufacturers of your products have one?
Simply give them a call or drop them an email and ask to be put on their ‘Where to buy’ page.
Don’t just look at direct product suppliers, look at all your business contacts, many will have websites.
Why not try approaching your accountants, local couriers, lawyers, packaging suppliers, cleaners, commercial property landlords, IT firm, web designers, hosting company, anybody you deal with on at least a semi regular basis.
If you don’t think that they would be receptive to just handing you out a link then you could try offering a short testimonial with a link back to your website at the bottom?
Why not try some of these methods, see how you get on, think about how some of the examples could apply to your business / industry.