For a lot of you, you’re not working with Fortune 500s that have the domain authority to outrank their competitor’s category & product pages. Even when you do flawless on-site SEO for an e-commerce site (and trust me, VERY few of you are, including myself), for the most semi to major competitive terms, domain authority won’t be everything unless you’re an Amazon or an REI.
That’s why building links to your category & product pages can be so profitable. But obviously, if it were easy, then everyone would be killer at it. In reality, few are.
So let’s walk through some overlooked ways we can get links to these pages so we can start bringing in more revenue for our clients.
Note: I won’t be addressing blogger product reviews, PR, guest blogging, contests & giveaways, mindboggling content, or any other commonly talked about e-commerce link building tactics (at least, I hope they’re not common…) in the hope that you learn something new today.
Also, because most have way too many category & product pages that you can allocate your link building resources to, I’m assuming you’ve already prioritized based off search volume, competition, and overall profitability potential.
First, look at sites that are selling solely (or mostly) just the products in that category. For example, if you’re an office supplier and you’re trying to get links to a ‘pencil sharpeners’ category, look for sites that just sell pencil sharpeners. You’ll find two types of relevant opportunities in their link profiles:
- Category-specific – i.e. they get a link from a resources page all about places to buy pencil sharpeners.
- Broader vertical specific – i.e. they get a link from a resources page all about places to buy office supplies.
At first glance, you might only think the category-specific opportunities are right for your category pages but don’t forget that co-citation makes their broader vertical specific opportunities worth getting to your category pages too. So in that example, on that page, you’d ask if they could link to your pencil sharpener category rather than your home page.
Non-Competing, Complimentary Retailers
Do you and a non-competing retailer sell products that go together like peanut butter and jelly? If so, then turn back the clock and do a bit of reciprocal link building.
For example, if you sell high powered flashlights, find another retailer that sells the specialized batteries that are needed to power the flashlights on a category or product level. Not only will these links be relevant, but these links will drive revenue.
Note that you should be doing these links in moderation, and only for hyper-relevant, non-competing retailers. I’d recommend trying to find the 20% of product/category pages that drive 80% of your revenue from these links and removing the others.
If you’re against the ‘reciprocal’ part (which we’d obviously all avoid if possible), then do them favors & generally help them so when you ask if it’s possible to get a link or two from some of their complimentary category/product pages, they’ll be a lot more open to it (however, make sure you emphasize that you don’t want the links to draw too much attention as you’ll steal their customers’ attention).
Some things to think through for this:
- If you’re doing reciprocal, make sure you’re both roughly the same size, otherwise one of you is going to get a much sweeter end of the deal (which won’t make it as long lasting).
- This will really only work with small to mid-sized retailers, so don’t count on Macy’s or any other mega brand to do this.
Although it’s not e-commerce, ESPN & StubHub have a deal in place in which StubHub gets links to game tickets from ESPN’s schedule pages, and ESPN gets links to their standings pages from StubHub’s individual team ticket pages. StubHub is most likely paying for this, but in general, it’s a good example of a relevant, complimentary reciprocal link opportunity that also drives relevant traffic.
Set up mention alerts for products & category terms in the same way that you setup brand alerts. Here a few examples of the applications of these mentions:
- A blogger mentions a product because they like it, so all you have to do is reach out to them and see if they’ll do a product review if you send them one for free.
- A forum starts talking about a certain product, so join the conversation, and if buying from you has any advantages over your competitors, let them know & drop a link to your page (but don’t be a salesman; read this!).
- A Q&A thread pops up, also asking about the product, and you’re able to answer them accurately and provide your product page (linked) as the source of the information.
- A forum starts talking about recommendations for a certain category of products (i.e. what’s the best pencil sharpener?) and you’re able to join the conversation and drop a link if it’s appropriate and again, not salesy.
And that’s just the predictable type of opportunities that will come out of it.
Properly Segmenting Deep Link Opportunities
Whether it’s sponsorship, resource page, or anything else, if the website you’re getting a link on is more closely related to a certain category or type of product on your site, always get the deep link instead of the home page link. If not, you’re missing out on a rare opportunity.
The only time I see this not being the best plan of action is if your homepage covers more than 50% of your search potential, but I HIGHLY doubt this is the case for most of you, and it’s still tough to justify diversifying relevant opportunities.
So for example, a highly effective tactic is to look for any supplier or manufacturer websites that you have products from that have ‘where to buy’ or ‘our retailer’ pages. Instead of just getting a link to your homepage, have them link to either:
- The category of the type of product they sell
- Their brand category (if they’re a manufacturer)
- Their product (if they only manufacture one or two products)
I know that, for example, if a supplier sells you products in multiple categories, then it would be best to just link to your home page. But again, be intentional on making sure you go deep whenever possible.
I mentioned towards the beginning of the post that you should prioritize your link building strategy (https://www.egochi.com/link-building-strategy/) for certain pages based on opportunity & revenue, but if there are certain categories & product pages that you know you can get links to that might not deliver the most direct revenue, then pursue them for domain authority purposes (but don’t make them the #1 priority).
Always be monitoring other semi-competitive e-commerce spaces and see how they’re building links to the same types of pages. You’re not the only one with the same challenge, so learn from others.
If you’re willing, drop some knowledge below of any experience you’ve had with e-commerce link building (always love to chat with you guys about it!), but I know most of you lurkers won’t :).