We’ve all seen this type of post before, right? 101 Ways To Build Backlinks. 32 White Hat Ways To Build Inbound Links. By far, my favorite on is on PointBlank SEO at Link Building Strategies: The Complete List. Plain awesome.
Do you know what bugs me about these posts? None of them are tailored to multi-product eCommerce stores! Enter Bootstrappers. May I present: a giant list of link building techniques, all tailored specifically to eCommerce stores using a shopping cart.
Before we start, though, I’m going to say this up front – these techniques are nothing new(except maybe a few that I’ve cooked up myself and can take full credit for). What is new, however, is how these techniques all assume you have an eCommerce store that sells physical products and may or may not have an active content strategy.
It’s also really important that you have diverse links. That’s why I’ve worked my backside off compiling this list. So you have a huge list of ideas to build on.
Shall we dive in?
1) Guest posting:
Guest posting has to be the best method of building backlinks for an eCommerce store. You are in control of what pages to link to, and it’s a great way to build deep(like product page and category page) contextual backlinks. “Well, I knew that!” You might say. Let’s get into the nitty gritty.
The key to an effective guest post is getting it in front of the right audience. This is really easy when you are selling something that is research-intensive and you have written some great resources already, but what if you are selling something really simple and straightforward, like wooden block toys? You find a community of people online that are interested in block toys and pitch your guest post there.
The best part is that your post doesn’t even have to be about wooden block toys. It can be about “Safe toys for your little one,” or “Ways to spur creativity and growth in your toddler.” It just has to be something that will come in front of a potential buyer of yours. In the context of the article, you can build 2-3 tasteful links back to your site.
Here’s a tip you won’t hear too many places, though. When guest posting, remember to link out to other authority sites as well. This increases the value of your post in both the customer’s eyes(it doesn’t seem like a blatant marketing pitch anymore) and in Google’s eyes, too(linking to authority sites conveys that you are genuine and not a spammer).
For more information on how to land guest posts, read Andrew Youderian’s superb post over at Shopify.
2) Guest posting continued – relationship building:
Perhaps the most valuable takeaway from a guest post on an authority site is the relationship you build with the site owner. Remember to reply to comments, follow up with the owner, and keep in touch. This way, one guest post can turn into an opportunity for a stream of regular guest posts, driving tons of traffic to your site and getting you a wide variety of links in the process. Over the course of so many posts, you can link to so many products and categories!
3) Research your competition:
Plug in your competitors website to Open Site Explorer or Majestic SEO‘s link tool and see where they are getting their links from, and unabashedly start copying! You will obviously need your own hook and content, but this will save you a LOT of time that you would have spent looking for new sites. Just remember to avoid going after the low authority and spammy sites. If your competitors have a lot of these, sit tight. As long as you stay clean and provide good content, it’s only a matter of time before you outrank them.
4) Get a link from the manufacturer:
Get a link from the manufacturer who’s products you carry. Often it’s just sending them an email and asking them for a link that will do the trick. You may have to convince them you are legit, so if you have a ho-hum website with crappy content, they won’t buy it and will probably think you are a spammer.
5) Article submission:
Article submission is the black sheep of the guest posting family. Nonetheless, it’s still a sheep, and it’s worth getting a link from a few of these sites. Now before the SEOs amongst you start chucking pandas and penguins my way, let me clarify: article submission does not mean articles to content farms like EzineArticles and GoArticles.
What you need to do is find RELEVANT sites that accept article submissions. Here, relevance works the same way it does for guest posting. If you have a website that sells ATV drivetrains, any ATV/off-road/outdoor website that accepts articles is relevant.
To find websites that accept article submissions, you can try some of the following search strings:
The key difference between guest posts and article submissions is that guest posts require more effort and will generally be on higher quality/traffic websites. Article websites may be “just ok,” but as long as they aren’t spammy and have decent PR, they will help a little. Don’t spend all your time and energy on it, though.
A final note for guest posting and articles: Don’t worry if you have the most boring product in the world. A little bit of creativity goes a long way. This guy has made a video on how to tie shoelaces so they don’t come undone, and it’s gotten 3000 views in just 2 months. For inspiration on how to make a boring topic interesting, check out this phenomenal article by Pratik Dholakya of CopyBlogger.
6) Product reviews:
While Google frowns upon getting a followed link from a product review, when done right, and in moderation, it isn’t a bad idea. Product reviews are a great way to get yourself in front of an already-existing audience while getting a valuable contextual link. Just choose your targets carefully. Make sure it’s a reputable blogger – they have more at stake to lose by posting low quality content, so they always do better jobs than others.
The only caveat here is that your product needs to be your own brand and unique. If you drop-ship, there is not much incentive for a reader to buy from you than someone else – trust me here, I’ve made this mistake – UNLESS you have a really unique “hook” or selling proposition that would make it insane to buy from anyone else.
There’s one more thing that bugs me here. Most bloggers put a disclaimer on review posts stating that they received the product for free from the merchant. This could be bad, as Google may just incorporate looking for that sort of text into the algorithm to devalue review links. So be careful!
This tactic is recommended by Neil Patel of QuickSprout. It’s an awesome way to build links(or at least get tweets or shares) for your eCommerce site. Just find an influencer in your niche and interview them. People can never get enough publicity, so a little bit of flattery goes a long, long way!
To find influencers, look on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Again, the influencer doesn’t HAVE to be directly involved in your niche. If you sell wedding linens, you could talk to a wedding planner blogger who has a large following. The key is to think creatively and BE PERSISTENT. Don’t expect to email one person and get a response.
Email one hundred, and get ten responses. That’s how internet marketing works. A quick tip from Neil: If this influencer has a press page, he says that there is a 95% chance they will link to the interview.
8) Link pages – “The Request, Stranger Edition”:
“The Request” is as simple as finding websites that link out to sites in your niche and sending them a quick email asking for a link back to your site. Success rates will vary, depending on the kind of business you have and the kind of site they run.
For example, I used to have an ecommerce store where I sold reusable sandwich bags(yup, that’s a thing!). My store was very closely tied to a message: “recycle, protect the Earth – be green.” It was comparatively easier for me to get links just on request because people in that niche are really passionate about going green and love to spread the word.
For a different type of site, say, one that sells wall decals, your success rate with asking home decor sites to link to you may be a little lower.
Remember, your outreach efforts will be a LOT more successful if you develop a little rapport with the site owner first – see Andrew’s guest blogging post I referenced above.
9) Link pages – “The Request, Friends & Family Edition”:
This one is pretty straightforward. Ask you friends and family to link to you, tweet about you, share stuff on Facebook, MySpace, Instagram, Vine, Youtube, and in any other way they are active on the web.
10) Link pages “The Broken Link”:
Credit goes to Brian Dean of Backlinko.com for this one. Helping a webmaster out with a broken link is a great way to get your proverbial foot in the door. Using Check My Links, a handy and free Chrome extension(find it in the Toolkit), you can get see which links are broken. Next step? Email the webmaster informing them of the broken links, and casually ask for a link back to your site.
If the website doesn’t have a contact page or social profiles, you can search the domain name on Whois and if the domain info is public, you can find the site owner’s email address. Send them an email, and see what happens. Success rates will vary from niche to niche, but expect one or two replies for every fifty to one hundred messages you send(Yes, it’s that much work!)
11) Link pages – “The sucky website”:
This technique requires a)technical/creative know-how or b)some cash. Basically, you find a website that has good pagerank but the design is horrible. Like vomit-inducing horrible. Next, you send your pitch to the website owner, saying you are in the same niche with an ecommerce store, have experience with web design, and offer to redo their website(or at least a part of it) for free. If they really want to thank you, they can link to you!
If they say yes(preferably to both the design and the link!), head on over to Fiverr to find a guy or gal to outsource the design to. Getting logos, headers, or basic framework of a website designed shouldn’t be more than $20-25. For that much, you’ve earned yourself a link on a high-PR website! Just remember to be specific with your design offer to the webmaster – “I can redo your logo” or “I can redo your header” is good, but “I’ll overhaul your website” will require a really fat wallet.
Infographics are gold mines for getting backlinks, and are the new big thing. Which like every other big thing has become saturated and commonplace with everyone throwing up infographics for the hell of it. Not good, you think? I say, great! The more low quality content there is out there, the higher potential there is to shine by outdoing everyone else in the field. Collect some data related to your niche, display it in a compelling and entertaining way, and start promoting! A good place to start is Visual.ly – next up, approach bloggers and influencers and ask them to share/tweet it. It’s a lot of work, but it pays off.
13) Brand ambassadors – bloggers:
If you are selling a message with your products(and you definitely should be), you can get like-minded bloggers and internet personalities to push your message(and along with it, your product). Reuseit.com, a retailer that sells eco friendly products does a phenomenal job of this. This is a difficult thing to achieve, but once you have it down, you will have a whole army of brand evangelists(that are linking back to your website).
14) Brand ambassadors – customers:
While this may not always earn you a “link” it will certainly earn you some buzz on social media, which is just as important. Nothing is more important for your brand than a happy customer raving about you and the AWESOME service they received from you, because nothing influences a buyer more than their friend recommending something.
15) Directories – DMOZ:
DMOZ is a love-hate directory. While being one of the most authoritative directory links you can get on the web, it’s ridiculously difficult to get into. Processing usually takes months, and even then, there is no guarantee you will get in. Still, it’s worth a shot. Getting a link from here will flow some nice link juice back to your site.
Tip: If it’s taking forever to get listed, consider becoming an editor(!)
16) Directories – BOTW:
Best of the web is a really authoritative directory, but at a cost. For $150.00, you can get a link from a high-PR and highly trusted website. When you think about it as a bootstrapper, though, you would think twice before shelling out that sort of cash for a link. You need to be the judge here – if your potential clients refer to directories like BOTW a lot(and this may be true for B2B niches), it may be worth getting the link. Otherwise, you may not see a return on your $150.
17) Directories – Family Friendly Sites:
Another authoritative directory, FamilyFriendlySites.com will pass high PR to your site. It costs less than BOTW, at $49 for the submission, so it may be worth checking out. The one caveat is you have to be selling kid-friendly stuff, otherwise you won’t get listed!
18) Directories – Niche specific:
These are not too difficult to find online, and worth getting links from IF they are reputable. Use the “Grandma Test” to judge reputable or not – would you be comfortable with your Grandma visiting this site? If so, awesome! Their link submission processes are pretty straightforward and you get a relevant link that can send you some nice traffic.
Find niche directories with the following search phrases:
keyword+directory(searching without the quotes will give you a broader match. If you search archery without quotes, you might get results for “bow and arrow” too.
19) Icon sites:
Credit again to Brain Dean for this one(the man is a backlinking genius). There are many graphics sites where you can submit icon sets, like social media icons to. Make icons themed to your niche and submit them there. Find a list of them here.
20) Web 2.0 – Squidoo:
SEOs have a love-hate relationship with Squidoo, but honestly, it doesn’t hurt to have one or two lenses with links pointing back to your site, especially if your potential customers are active on it! A quick search using some of your keywords will show you what people have made lenses about. There will be lots of junky ones too, so make sure that there are a few that look genuine and have signs of participation on them. Just make sure to link out to other authority sites(and lenses) too so it doesn’t look like your lens is solely for a link – they are no-followed, anyway.
21) Web 2.0 – Blogger and WordPress:
Sites like Blogger.com and WordPress.org are nice free ways to make Web 2.0 blogs that you can publish content on and link it back to your site. A word of advice: make a separate account using a different name, otherwise it seems a little dodgy that you are pushing your own content. Make sure that you link to authority pages as well as your own, and use services like Scoop.it and Reddit to drive some quick traffic to it. Write quality content, though. Something that people wouldn’t mind sharing!
22) .edu – employee discounts:
.Edu links are considered the “holy grail of links” amongst some SEOs. I don’t know how true that is, but .edu domains are trusted and have TONS of authority. A lot of universities have employee discount programs that you can sign up as a retailer to offer. Pretty easy links to get, if you ask me! Some(most) universities will require that you have a physical address and a phone number.
23) .edu – sponsoring clubs:
If you have a hobby-related niche, you can approach universities that have clubs in your niche. So if you sold say pogo sticks, you could search for “XX College Pogo Stick Club,” and offer to be one of their sponsors. This would involve either a)giving a cash contribution or b)giving a product contribution. Both are a little expensive to do, but they will get you a .edu link.
24) .edu – resource pages:
Many sites hosted on .edu domains have link pages where they link out to relevant and informative websites. If you have a relevant and informative resource on your eCommerce site, you can email those website owners informing them of your resource and ask them to link to you. This is the .edu version of “the request.”
25) Contests & giveaways:
Maybe not the best option if you sell expensive things like 24 karat gold cufflinks, but if you sell something within a $100-$150 price range, a contest is something worth looking into. With a contest, you approach a blog(or blogs), and ask them to sponsor the contest for you. Usually they will require you to buy ad space or send them a product sample. They review the product and host the contest on their blog, and the way people can enter is that they have to like/follow you for an entry. If your host blog is big, the contest will be picked up by other smaller blogs that will link to that blog and maybe your site as well. For one or two samples of your product, you end up getting a few hundred likes/followers and a nice link or two.
It’s really important to cultivate and engage these likes and followers right away, otherwise you will effectively lose them, because your posts just won’t show up in their feeds anymore!
26) Pinterest profiles:
Did you know that the main link on your Pinterest profile to your website is a followed link? So are the links to your profile from the profiles of people you follow, so the more people you follow and vice versa, the more link juice flows to your profile and from your profile to your website – some popular Pinterest boards have PageRanks of 3 and 4.
I used to think that reddit’s links were not indexed, but apparently, I was wrong. I was going through the backlink profile of an online store(that I pulled from Open Site Explorer) and one of their links was from an AMA that the owner had done on Reddit. Pretty cool, if you ask me. If your post gets enough upvotes and a lot of comments, search engines WILL index it. Which is just plain awesome, because Reddit is an insanely authoritative domain. It’s actually “crowdsourced winnowing!”. Just don’t spam them, otherwise you will get blocked, or worse…
Fiverr is full of shitty SEO gigs like I will build 10,000 links to your site and stuff like that. The sad part is those gigs get good reviews, too! IGNORE THOSE – they will DESTROY your store and make you pay for it(with $5). However, you can find loads of enterprising bloggers that offer to put up a guest post on their blog for just $5. As long as you find a relevant blog, or somehow make the blog relevant(by drawing a connection that makes sense), you’re good to go. But please, please ignore the link building gigs. If it were that easy, everyone would be ranking.
29) Google +:
Building a good Google Plus profile that you share content from regularly is a great investment for drawing traffic and potentially increasing your rankings. While Google has been very mysterious about how much +1s influence rankings, it’s still worthwhile to be active on G+. An awesome plus point is that links that you share are FOLLOWED!
Help A Reporter Out is a service that connects publishers to anyone that wants to give an opinion in the news and press. Signing up is free, and every day you will get 3 emails with queries from reporters. If you find a query that is related to your niche and you have a worthy opinion to offer, send them an email. If they reply and decide to quote you, you get a nice strong press backlink as well as a flood of traffic from that article. Win-Win! The only issue is that you aren’t going to get too many related queries. As of this writing, I’ve been a member for 4 months and have seen maybe two or three relevant queries. Still, it takes 30 seconds to skim their email, so still completely worth it.
31) Press releases:
Even though Google is downplaying press releases, it’s still a good way to get EXPOSURE for your brand. I’m emphasizing exposure here, and only including this idea in this list because you DO get a backlink out of it. However, the sole purpose of doing a press release is not to get a link, so if you don’t have something newsworthy to say, save yourself the $100 that companies like PRWeb(effective) charge until you do have something good to say.
It’s also a good idea not to use keywords in your press releases to save yourself from an anchor text penalty from Google, just in case scrapers pick up your news release and decide to spam the web.
32) Buying guides & How-to guides:
If you can write an ultimate guide or definitive guide to your niche’s products and put it up on your website, you have created some really awesome linkbait. Then you just need to get word out to the right people, and hopefully, with a few shares, likes, tweets, and links, you have a nice, link-juice-rich page that distributes all that love to the rest of your site.
I saw this idea on a Whiteboard Friday from Moz. Do a roundup of anything related to influencers in your niche. You can either round up their posts, or do a round up of their opinions(which you would have to ask them for first), then send them an email informing them that you’ve written so and so about them. They will almost certainly tweet/share it, and if you are lucky, you will get a nice backlink out of it, too.
34) Buy blogs:
An expensive option, but a great way to get hundreds(thousands even) of links to your eCommerce site. Find blogs in your niche and just offer to buy them. You will have a heckuva lot more content to manage, but hey, you are getting links, right? Just make sure NOT to host them on your own account otherwise it’s just a matter of time before Google gets wind that all these blogs are hosted suspiciously close to each other…
35) Buy expired domains:
Expired domains in your niche that have links pointing to them(a quick search in Open Site Explorer will tell you) are great sources of link juice. Buy the domain and redirect it using a 301 redirect to your site, and watch the link juice flow.
36) Have a unique shopping experience:
If you can reinvent the proverbial wheel for the way people shop in your niche, expect a giant deluge of links to head your way. I can’t tell you how many links Zappos.com has earned this way(look, they got one here, too). By offering free shipping both ways – since shoes are something that might not always fit – they rewrote the online shopping rules and not only got raving customers, but got thousands of links from all corners of the web, too.
37) Have a unique product:
A unique product is as good as a unique shopping experience, provided your product is something people need and want! Or it’s just something so incredibly cool that it deserves a mention anyway. My favorite example of this is Remee, which is a sleep-mask that is designed to help you have lucid dreams that you can control. How awesome is that?
38) Similar businesses:
I’ve done this for one of my earlier eCommerce businesses. Basically, you find businesses that are similar to yours, but don’t overlap, and request them to link to you. Obviously no one is going to do that for free, so you need to get on their good side first. Promote their products on your social media accounts, mention them on your blogs and web 2.0 properties, and let them know you think they are awesome and that you promote their stuff. With a little bit of perseverence, they will link out to you, or at least promote you to their followers. You can even consider offering their customers a special discount code when they shop with you.
39) Yahoo Answers:
Google seems to love Yahoo answers when people search using question keywords. Keep an eye out on Yahoo Answers and answer questions relevant to your niche. When you provide valuable answers and quote your website as a source, it becomes a backlink to your site. They are nofollowed, but if your answer is insightful and valuable, anyone who sees it in the future will click through to your site. Win!
Pretty much the same as Yahoo answers, Quora is a nice place to answer targeted queries from potential buyers. The link juice may not be too much(or none at all if the link is nofollowed), but it’s a great way to potentially drive traffic.
41) RSS feeds:
Feedburner is a great place to submit your RSS feeds, whether they are product feeds or news feeds. They have insane domain authority and can send you potential traffic, too. Other feed aggregating websites are also musts for submitting product feeds, and they add a nice backlink to your link profile. BigCommerce has the option for product feeds and news feeds. I’m sure there is a Magento plugin out there somewhere too that creates an RSS feed from your products.
42) Affiliate programs:
This one is a little risky, because people often spam the web with spun content and poor affiliate links. As long as you choose your affiliates wisely, you can ask for a natural link along with normal affiliate links. You can find affiliate software at Commission Junction, Share A Sale, or iDevAffiliate.
43) Be cheeky!
Write cheeky content and share/promote it on the web to earn some nice social media action and links. Luckily, with cheeky, there’s a whole lot of stuff you can pull off. Try mythbusting, exploring an unpopular opinion(be careful not to insult anyone!), or just being the badass of your niche. For badassery in online marketing, check out IttyBiz – they have an edgy style that ends up being a massive link magnet.
This description from Method Home is another great example of having flair(and inviting links – this store was featured on Shopify’s blog)
While Slideshare is much more powerful in ranking for a difficult keyword than it is in getting a link, you will still get a nice backlink from your user profile. If your slideshow becomes really popular and gets lots of shares/likes/links, your profile and website will get a share of that link juice, too! Slideshare is a great way of remarketing your existing content. Change the keywords around a little bit, and make a nice slideshow using PowerPoint. You need to do a little promotion for your slideshow, too, of course. Interacting with other Slideshare users is a good place to start.
Scribd.com is a document sharing website that works similarly to SlideShare. You get a nice backlink from your profile page. You need to interact and be active, though, otherwise your profile page may never be indexed.
46) Testimonials for other businesses:
Credit to Andrew Youderian for this one. If there is a business or service you use and love(preferably for your own business), write them a testimonial to post on their blog. Most businesses will jump at the opportunity and publish your testimonial along with a nice fat link to your website. Awesome, right?
47) Blog commenting:
Blog commenting links are usually nofollowed(except for a few RARE ones), but they are still good ways to drive traffic and get noticed by search engines. Spencer Haws from NichePursuits uses blog comments as an integral part of ranking his niche sites. Remember that comments have to be value-adding and insightful, so “Thank you boss your post is very much informative for widget lovers everywhere” is not going to cut it.
48) Social Bookmarking:
Although not as effective now as it was in it’s heyday, social bookmarking is still a potential source of traffic and a good link if your content is that good and enough people share it.
49) 800 directories:
So this one is an idea I found in The Advanced Guide To Link Building by Neil Patel and Brian Dean. There are certain directories on the web that list all the 800, 888, 877, 866, 855(and so on) numbers of online businesses. The best part? The links are FOLLOWED! The only caveat is you need an 800 number(d-oh!). You can get one for as little as 10$ to start out with at 800.com.
50) Wikipedia source:
This is a nofollowed link, but still a great way to get some traffic. If and only if your site has a resources page or a few really good articles, you can sneak it in as a citation on the wikipedia page for it. If there isn’t a wikipedia page for your product, make one!
Woah. My fingertips are sore and I think I’m seeing small depressions in my keyboard. But there you have it: 50 actionable ways you can use right now to start building links to your eCommerce website. Do each and every one of those twice, and you will have 100 UNIQUE linking domains pointing to you. A feat that will make you an SEO force to be reckoned with. Go Bootstrappers!