Google has recently launched some latest ‘best practices’ for bloggers who often conduct product reviews for free products received from manufacturers.
According to Search Engine Land, Google wants bloggers to disclose when they review products they received so that readers know when they’re looking at sponsored content. Also, bloggers are to add no-follow links when linking out to the product pages or manufacturing company website.
This new best practice has been rolled out to ensure that bloggers are not penalized by Google.
How important is this update?
- For Bloggers: If your website or blog has a large fan following, with traffic regularly logging on to the portal, you should adopt this latest best practice or risk traffic and SERP rankings. Companies and manufacturers will still visit your website as you play the middleman role between them and the traffic.
- For Businesses: In order to create a buzz around a recently launched product, the new Google best practice is still a great idea. The link will be a no-follow but won’t stop referral traffic that can later generate more leads. If you were previously using this idea to create quality links, you should stop that now.
- For SEOs: If you are working for an ecommerce company or any other product-based business, you need to find and apply new methods, instead of asking clients to give free products for links.
I believe this is something like guest blogging. Having a few good links won’t hurt, but overusing the strategy can lead to disastrous results.
What are your link-building options as an ecommerce website?
Other than guest blogging, buying links and product reviews, there are several other options available for webmasters and ecommerce stores.
In this post, I’m going to shed light on a few of the techniques in detail, providing you with step-by-step process so that new and existing ecommerce stores and webmasters are able to create new links for their businesses.
Moving Man Method
The idea was first conceived by Brian Dean of Backlinko. Here’s a video of Brian explaining the ‘Moving Man’ method in detail. Please take a look.
The idea here is to find dead/expired/outdated or out of business websites, scan their link profiles and reach out to them, asking to turn their link in your favor.
Let me explain how this works.
Step 1: Find the resource/website within your niche that is dead/expired/outdated, or a business that has recently shut down or is running out of business.
How to find a business that recently ran out of business? Google News. Go to Google News and search for queries like [Keyword + “out of business”] or [keyword + “business closed”]. You can use any query that can possibly find you businesses that are no longer active.
If you are a local business, then finding a website within your state is important. This way links will be targeted and help you rank better. I advise to use Yelp to find closed business in your state. Here is how you can do it.
You should now be able to see the results – a string of businesses that are now closed.
Once you take your pick from the list of closed businesses, the next step is to copy the URL of the business and run it through your backlink checking software.
Outdated Content: If you find content that was written in the past, and is now outdated, use this tool by GreenLane SEO.
How to use Outdated Content Finder?
Enter the keyword and dates, and you will see result pages with additional information like DA, PA, external link, HTTP status and more.
Once you have the list, you can decide which page to pick and continue with the rest of the process.
Expired Domains: Although this one is easy, but requires you to be very careful, as one mistake could damage your rankings and reputation in search engines, made after months or years of hard work.
How to use this trick to your advantage?
Go to ExpiredDomains.net and type a keyword. It will bring you all expired domains that are relevant to your niche industry, at one place.
Once you have the list, sort it by DP (domain popularity) and see which domains have decent link profiles. You can quickly check domain health by running it in Open Site Explorer to see its SPAM score.
It’s best to choose the domain that falls under the green area, as this will contain links that you can use.
Step 2: Whatever your technique, once you have the resource, business URL or website with you, the next thing to do is to run it against Ahrefs.com to scan the list of links that you can use to your benefit.
Note: When using www.Ahrefs.com, make sure that your selected link type is ‘do-follow links’ because building no follow links (unless it’s damn sexy) is not worth the time.
Now download the list in excel sheet, separate good links from bad ones and start searching for contact details of each of the selected websites.
Step 3: Finding email addresses feels like a laborious task. This post by Moz.com will change all that.
You have the email addresses. Now it’s time for outreach.
Brian, in his video, suggests the transcript that works for him each time when he reaches out to prospects. You can find many templates online, but this is the one that I use and it works for me every single time.
I was visiting your page [URL] and the information given on it is really amazing! However, I see a link going to the dead page [Anchor: URL]
Information on that page has been updated and moved to [your URL]. It would be great if you can update the page accordingly.
Anyways, keep up the great work!
Keep the email as short and simple as possible so that webmasters can read it quickly, and update the page accordingly.
This one is for older, more established brands with marketing budgets for PR, TV advertisements, magazine endorsements and more.
Step one is to find all the blogs, magazines and URLs that have shared your brand name, but did no link back to your website. Make a list of the websites, find their contact details, and ask for a link on the mention.
How to find entities, that mention you but do not link back to your website?
Mention.com is the answer!
Set up an account here and it will ask you about the keywords that you want tracked. Enter your brand name and related keywords and track the entire web. It’s recommended not to track forums or social media websites as links coming in from these websites will not really be considered. Once the tool starts tracking, it will show you a list of all the entities that mentioned your brand name. Track the URLs and see if your links are present in all of these. If not, find each of their contact details, and reach out to them by sending them link reclamation requests.
Here is the link reclamation request template that I use.
I was going through your post here [URL] and it was an amazing piece of information. Thank you for mentioning us in your post.
We have recently revamped our website [URL] so I thought to reach out to you and see if you can add a link in the post where you mentioned us.
Also, if you have any feedback about the post, do let me know!
Again, the idea is to keep the email short, polite and to-the-point.
Competitor Link Analysis
As an ecommerce business, you should always keep a watchful eye over your competitors observe what they are doing to increase their traffic, rankings and revenue. Here is a post that suggests some tools to spy over competitors.
Since we are talking about links, therefore my favorite ‘spy’ tool is Ahrefs.com. You run the competitor’s URL in Ahrefs.com, go to inbound links and select link type as ‘do-follow’.
Once you have the list of links, export it in excel sheet and see which links can be utilized for your own online store. Obviously, you will have to use several tactics to get links from portals where your competitor is already present, but it’s worth the effort.
Tip: Divide your list into the different kinds of links and start with the lower hanging fruit, from where you can move on to others.
- If the link is received via a guest post, reach out to the blogger/ website and see if you can also publish a post.
- If the link is generated by using discount techniques (this will be discussed in detail later in the post), then contact the webmaster and better their discount offer.
- If the link is created from interviews, see if the online magazine, website or blog is ready to take your interview too. You can also use tools like Link Prospector to search for websites that can possibly publish your interview on their blog.
However, on the other hand, if certain links on your competitor’s website are generated via low quality directories, using sham tactics like blogger reviews, third rate guest posts, or free PR websites try to avoid these as they will harm your rankings in search engines more than they will help.
Link from Manufacturers Websites
Links from manufacturers’ websites are important. It doesn’t matter whether you are selling the products of a handful of manufacturers or a whole lot.
If you are a fashion brand selling clothes of Abercrombie and Fitch, getting links from these top-notch websites will rocket propel your rankings and traffic.
In simple words, look at the products you are currently selling, and see if your product manufacturers can offer links back to their authorized online retailers. They should, and in most cases, they will.
How to check if a manufacturer has a specific page that offers links to authorized online dealers?
Simple! Type in ‘manufacturer name’ + ‘authorized dealers’ or ‘authorized online dealers’ in the Google search bar and see if they have a page.
If yes, then the only thing you need to do is to reach out to them to win a high-quality link that points back to your website.
In order to get the link, you will have to write a convincing email. Here’s the template that I use.
I’m selling quite a few [manufacturer’s brand name] items and most of them are listed on my website’s home page.
I see that you are linking out to different websites that are offering your products and as I do the same, I would like to know if you can include my website on your authorized dealer page.
Appreciate your help!
Remember, making a mistake in your email could cost you a link. This is why I recommend that you test your emails first, and then send the version that is sure to hit the mark.
Links coming from quality sources are great but they are even more so when you get them with little or no effort.
Find an expert who has established himself within your industry, has a good following, and is well-respected for his work (interviewing a great mind with no fame or following will not help your cause).
Once you find the right person, reach out to them and see if they are willing to give you some time.
Think carefully about the questions you want to ask and send them via email.
We have an ‘SEO Interview‘ section on the website, where I personally managed to get interviews from people like Sujan Patel, Matt Janaway, Murry Newlands, Jane Copland and others.
I do not promote interviews all that much, but they automatically get attention.
Here’s one example.. I interviewed Jane Copland back in August 2015, and the very next day my interview was in Search Cap – a newsletter that the Search Engine Land sends to its subscribers.
Another interview that I did was with Dan Sharp of SEO Frog and received a link from DA 50+ domain.
These are just a few examples. If you dive deep, you will find quite a few links I got from reputable domains by doing almost nothing.
You can also do the same. Just build relations with influencers in your niche, ask them for their time, and send them questions. Publish the post when you get your questions answered.
If the influencer within your industry is famous, you will naturally win a few good links.
Broken Link Building
Most people find the idea of broken link building a bit irrational. That’s because after all the effort they put in, they fail to get a good number of quality links back to their website. I think it’s because they are not doing it the right way.
I wrote a detailed article on broken link building, which was later endorsed by industry giants like Neil Patel, Citation Labs and more.
The idea is simple. Find a few dead websites (that have recently gone 404) and run them in open site explorer or Ahrefs.com, see what links are pointing to these websites that are not active, and reach out to them and move a link back to your website.
I’m not going to explain this in detail as it is similar to the Moving Man method.
However, here are a few tips that you can implement while using this idea to build new links for your ecommerce website.
- Instead of finding broken links on the website, find a few dead websites and reverse engineer their links using backlink analysis tools.
- When outreaching, use the two-step outreach method explained in the link shared above.
Here is the outreach template you can use.
Hope you are doing well. As a student of Law, I’m a fan of your website. While going through the different pages, I saw that you are linking back to a website [URL] that talks about student loans.
I was thrilled by the resource but unfortunately when I tried to open it; it appeared as a 404 page (page not found). Since I have recently researched about the student loan processes, I can suggest some alternate resources if you like.
Please let me know and I will send you some alternates that you can use on your website for your users (like me) to have a trouble-free experience.
Once again, you are doing a phenomenal job on your website!
And you can share the resources once they reply.
These outreach templates are also endorsed by Julie Joyce, so I strongly suggest you try them.
Note: The above mentioned examples are real trials that I did with different service industries, but I believe that it should also work well on ecommerce websites as no one likes to link to a dead resource.
.EDU Link Building
If you have a couple of .edu links pointing back to your website, chances are that your portal will get a good amount of referral traffic and thus a boost in organic rankings. At Workplace Depot, we build a couple of .edu links back to our website and are currently ranking on more than 4.7K keywords according to the SEMRush data.
So, how did we build .edu links for the website?
- Alumni Section
You, or the people in your business must have passed out from some university, and almost all registered universities have .edu domains. The idea is to simply explore the alumni section of the university website, and see how you can contribute and leave a link that points back to your website.
Here, we found a blog in the alumni section. All we needed to do was to find a person at our office who had graduated from this university (which we did). . We wrote a blog post and asked him to submit it for the alumni’s blog section.
As soon as the blog post went live, we immediately got a link to our website.
- Alumni Discounts
Alumni discounts could be another great idea. Find universities that already have an alumni offers and discounts page (making them create a new page will be a task they might not be interested in).
Once you find these universities, contact them one by one, and offer some special discounts for their alumni.
Once the website’s page is updated (this might take some time) your link will appear something like the snapshot given above.
.edu links sound like a big deal, but they are not, especially if you do a bit of research and spend some time finding the right people to contact.
If you are an ecommerce website, try creating a special discount couponcode so that alumni can avail discounts easily.
You can expect some high-level branding and exposure from HARO, but even after putting sleepless nights and a lot of hard work you might still be unsuccessful in getting a link. Despite this I still recommend that you use HARO as part of your strategy as building relationship with journalists can help you get important links and exposure in the long run.
How to use HARO to get links and exposure?
HARO has two major types of subscriptions; one is free and the other is paid. In the free account, HARO will send you an email with all the queries from all industries. You have to find the one that’s related to your business and respond to it.
In its paid version, HARO lets you create an account on the website and allows you to sort the queries industry-wise. Once you find the right query, just include your bio and respond to it.
Another major difference between the paid and the free account is that by using the former you can respond to journalists from within the HARO network while the latter will send your query to a journalist via email.
Advice: My advice is to create the standard paid account so that you have better chances of winning exposure and links.
How to respond to reporters in a way that journalists not only read your answer but also use it in their article? This is an important question and Lori of Famous in your Field has written a detailed post about it that I recommend everybody to read before responding to journalists.
I know this one is controversial, which is why I was saving it for the very end. If you say that directories are a waste of time, and in some cases they can actually hurt your reputation more than they help, you’re right.
99 percent of the directories are indeed bad, and you should not waste your time or money on getting links from them but here are a few good ones that are worth checking out.
- 800 Directories (if you have a 0800 business number available. If not, buy one as a good link for $10 is not bad.)
There are other niche specific directories you can try but before you plan to create a link, always make sure that the website is worth getting a link from.
You can do this by running the URL in Moz’s open site explorer and see there ‘check the SPAM’ score. There are other similar ideas that you can check here.
So, when building a link using directory, always keep your eyes open and make decisions based on the data you receive.
Link Building has a lot to do with creativity. As long as you can think, you will keep coming up with new ideas to build quality links. The tactics mentioned above are the ones that you should use on a regular basis to get the highest quality links for your website, and get relevant traffic, rankings and above all generate leads for your business.