eCommerce Link Building: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Ivan Escott
Ivan Escott
16 minute read

eCommerce Link Building: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Ivan Escott
Ivan Escott
16 minute read

When it comes to eCommerce link building, there might be quite a few things that companies might need support with.

That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive beginner’s guide that’ll take you through the process of building links for your eCommerce website efficiently.

To give you a taste of the topics we’re going to cover, this guide includes:

  • What eCommerce link building is and why it’s important
  • What the best way to find link opportunities for your eCommerce website is
  • How to build a successful eCommerce link building campaign

Let’s jump right into the first section and explain what eCommerce link building is.  

eCommerce link building is all about building links back to your eCommerce site which can then boost your rankings on the search engines.

In other words, eCommerce, or electronic commerce, link building is when an online business is building high quality links back to their product pages in order to increase their pages’ organic traffic and increase their website’s domain authority (DA).

Since algorithms take into account backlinks as a positive signal for a website or web page, backlinks are important for your eCommerce business. Link building is equally important for all platforms, so it doesn’t matter whether your store runs on BigCommerce or Shopify.

There are various link building tactics in terms of link building for eCommerce businesses.

One of the most prominent is to create content that people will want to link back to.

Graphics, infographics, tutorials, guides, well-thought-through pieces of content and statistics are some of the most linkable types of content.

Let’s have a look at Zola, a very successful registry and wedding planning eCommerce business.

The homepage, shown below, makes it crystal clear that the company is definitely creating useful, link-worthy, and shareable content for their audience:

Zola home page
Image Source: Zola

As you can see, there’s pretty much everything one might need to know or use when it comes to wedding planning.

Let’s have a look at a specific example of unique and linkable content from Zola.

Zola blog content
Image Source: Zola

The page you see above is just one out of many detailed and useful checklists that the Zola team creates in relation to wedding planning and registries.

Let’s see how this Zola page is doing in terms of organic traffic and backlinks, according to Ahrefs:

Zola Ahrefs backlink profile

The numbers of backlinks, referring domains and the organic keywords this Zola page ranks for are quite impressive for this industry, aren’t they?

Additionally, we can see that this eCommerce business also gets significant organic traffic, part of which may be due to the fact that Zola creates high-quality content that’s linkable and shareable.

Zola home page organic traffic

We therefore understand that great content must definitely play a significant role when it comes to eCommerce search engine optimization (SEO) and the success of your business in terms of organic traffic and its ranking on the search engines results pages (SERPs).

What’s great about creating and sharing informative content is that other people such as bloggers might find it useful to link back to your resources in order to give their audience examples for their statements, thus boosting your credibility and organic traffic.

Similarly, your great content could be used as a starting point for reaching out to influencers and so boost your social media presence.

You’ve got a taste, but let’s get into more detail about why link building is important for your eCommerce business.

Are you wondering why eCommerce link building is important and how it can help eCommerce businesses get visibility for product-specific searches?

According to a study by Backlinko, pages with a higher number of backlinks are pages that tend to rank higher:

Graph comparing top ranking pages with backlink numbers.

Which means that acquiring links is essential if you want your business to be included at the top of the SERPs.

Additionally, the 2021 census report shows that retail eCommerce sales are, in general, steadily increasing.

In fact, there has been a significant increase in retail eCommerce sales of 32.4 percent (±1.8%) from 2019 to 2020.

The increase proves that eCommerce stores and online retailers have great potential for growth in the coming years.

At the same time, though, competition is getting more intense as more and more players get into the game, and virtually every category will sooner or later be cluttered.

Having said that, backlinks can be a way to get better results faster and stand out in an already-cluttered space.  

Let’s have a look at an example of a local search for the UK, using the search operator ‘slippers’, what our American readers will know as ‘house shoes’.

Slippers google search
Image Source: Google

Here’s an overview for the target term ‘slippers’ from the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer:

Slippers Ahrefs keyword analytics

As we can see, this is a term with cost-per-click (CPC) of $1.00, which means that there are advertisers and brands on the SERPS who are bidding for the term.

Given the value of the term, eCommerce businesses would naturally want to have visibility for it.

Let’s now have a look at the SERP overview for the target term we’re focusing on.

Domain rating for domains ranking for the keyword "slippers"

Author’s Note: Due to browser preferences and general browser behaviour, there are some differences between the two screenshots from Ahrefs and Google.

The results at the top are usually the ones that have the most links from other websites.

We need to mention that the number of backlinks from relevant referring domains is only one of Google’s ranking factors – there are other factors involved, such as brand awareness, overall website authority, etc. – but it’s a rather important one.

In other words, besides the brand, which definitely plays a key role in search – i.e. people are more inclined to click on a result by a popular brand like ASOS since it’s a brand they know already – eCommerce link building can help you get visibility for terms with commercial value for your business.

You now know why link building can be very beneficial for your online store.

We think you’ll be thrilled to know more about which are the best ways to find links for your brand.

Let’s get into it.

We’ve already established why getting links can help your eCommerce store increase its visibility and help you rank higher.

What we need to note is that both internal links, that you include in one page of your website to another page or resource of your website,  as well as inbound links, that are links from other websites, can help your eCommerce SEO, as well as boost the effectiveness of your content marketing.

On the other hand, it’s also important to highlight that, when it comes to link building, especially if our product pages or category pages are the most important ones – and the ones we’d like to have backlinks to – it can be tricky to get links back to those pages.

For that reason, we have to find an alternative way of generating backlinks and improving our website’s overall authority and trustworthiness.

Many businesses might focus on a number of link building strategies like finding broken links (error 404 not found), or looking for unlinked brand mentions, etc.  

Naturally, since they’re interested in promoting their product pages, they’re reaching out to website owners and asking for links directly back to their product pages.

We believe that this isn’t as effective, since most people wouldn’t be inclined to link back to a product page.

One of the most efficient ways is to create valuable content around your products and try to build links back to these pages.

From there, you can add internal links back to your product pages and pass on link equity, through dofollow backlinks, to your product pages.

Author’s Note: If you want to know more about the differences between dofollow and nofollow links, read the guide on our blog.

As you can imagine, people are far more likely to link back to a content page rather than a product page — this is why such a  link building technique can work well for us.

We’re jumping right into an example.

Example: Perfect Keto

Perfect Keto is an eCommerce website that sells high quality keto supplements and keto diet products.

Perfect Keto home page
Image Source: Perfect Keto

What they do is use their blog content to link back to other landing pages they have.

More specifically, a blog post about the best nuts for weight loss includes, among others, a link to a recipe landing page…

Perfect keto blog content
Image Source: Perfect Keto

…which takes us to this recipe landing page:

Perfect Keto nut butter cookies recipe
Image Source: Perfect Keto

…where we can find a link to a product page:

Perfect keto product page links
Image Source: Perfect Keto

We can see that the brand is using their blog content to give internal links to their landing pages, which include links back to their product pages, which are naturally the ones they want to promote most.

Put another way, Perfect Keto internally link back to their landing pages and eventually to product pages, so the product pages can rank as well.

Here’s the product page we got to by following the links shown in the screenshots above:

Perfect Keto Nut Butter product page
Image Source: Perfect Keto Shop

In one sentence, links snowball into each other.

How does that work exactly?

Since they’re internally linking to the product pages from their blog post, that is also passing link equity to the product pages.

As simple as that!

Wanna see some data?

Perfect Keto Nut Butter Ahrefs backlink profile

Even though the Ahrefs report doesn’t report internal links, we understand that with over 640 backlinks from 177 referring domains, the number of backlinks for this page is very high, especially considering that this is a product page.

In other words, by getting backlinks to your blog post, which is easier to do than getting them straight to your product pages, you can pass on link equity to your product pages, like Perfect Keto does.

That’s just one of the ways you can use to build links back to your eCommerce website.

Keep reading to find out how this process can work for your own business.

We’ve already talked about what eCommerce link building is, as well as why it’s important for online businesses.

We’re now going to show you four simple steps that you can take to build your own effective link building campaign for your eCommerce using Respona.

As we usually do with the beginner’s guides we post on our blog, we’ll be using a hypothetical scenario that’ll make it easier for us to illustrate the steps, thus giving you a clear idea of the process highlights and main elements.

This time, we’re an eCommerce store that sells healthy keto protein bars.

In fact, we’re the online store we mentioned a little further up, Perfect Keto.

The reason for creating a link building campaign is that we want to get links to our product pages.

To be more precise, we’re mainly looking for list posts that mention protein bars from our competitors and other eCommerce brands, but don’t mention our products.

As you can probably imagine, promoting our new products and product pages directly will probably make us sound spammy.

We definitely don’t want that to happen!  

For that reason, we’re focusing on promoting our content instead, thus passing link equity to our product pages too, exactly as explained in our previous section.

Let’s get the process started with finding link building opportunities and link prospects.  

The first step in creating our eCommerce link building campaign is to find link prospects that we can reach out to.

To get there, we first need to create a new campaign with Respona and give it a memorable name that clearly states the nature of the campaign.

This one is an eCommerce link building outreach campaign, so we’re calling it exactly that, and clicking on the Create button.

Naming the ecommerce link building campaign

As we’ve already covered, we want to focus on finding list posts and blog posts that discuss top keto protein bars.

That’s why we go on selecting the Blogs source for our search query.

This basically means that we’re asking Respona to get us results from blogs rather than news, trending content, influencers, podcasts, and so on and so forth.

Finding blogs for eCommerce link building

Our search query is pretty straightforward.

We’re typing the terms top keto protein bars alongside the -Perfect Keto term, thus creating an advanced search operator that will allow us to find list posts that feature top keto protein bars but don’t mention our brand name of Perfect Keto.

Sample search for relevant blogs

Author’s Tip: You can play around with the wording of your search to make sure that you’ll be getting the right and most relevant results.

Additionally, because we totally care about the rankings of the list posts we’re going to reach out to, we’re also activating the SEO metrics on Respona so we can get authoritative results and quality content that’ll help us reach our target audience and get quality backlinks.

List of opportunities

We’re now ready to go through the search results and select the ones that seem to be the most relevant.

Selected eCommerce link prospects

Once we’ve selected all our opportunities – as you can see on the screenshot above, we’ve selected ten opportunities – we’re moving forward to the next step of setting up our eCommerce link building campaign on Respona.

Author’s Note: We’re selecting ten opportunities for the sake of example. Ideally, eCommerce owners should choose more opportunities to increase their chances of getting replies and, by extension, backlinks for their website.

Let’s get into more detail about our email sequence.

Step #2: Prepare your outreach email

After having reviewed the link building opportunities we got from our initial search, we can start crafting our outreach email.

Whether it’s a website owner we’re reaching out to or a blogger, we need to make sure that our email won’t go unnoticed.

Thankfully, we can create our email sequence within Respona and make sure that everything looks as it should.

At this point, we can either:

  • Use a premade email template, or
  • Create a new one.

We think that for the campaign we’re building, it’d be more appropriate to create a new template and that’s why we’re clicking on the Create New icon.

Creating a new ecommerce link building template

Here’s how our email sequence looks before we create our initial outreach email:

New template

After having clicked on the Create New Step blue button highlighted above, we start putting together a killer email that consists of a great subject line and interesting text.

As you can see, our email includes a link to a product page of our online store and also notes a few of our competitors, while also giving the email recipient a very clear idea of the purpose of our outreach.

Additionally, the email answers the “what’s in it for me” question. By providing an incentive, it encourages the recipient to not only want to reply to your message but also consider providing a backlink.

The incentive used here is a complementary protein bar because it would be an attractive offer for the author. It is important to cater your incentives to your recipients. Other types of incentives can include backlinks, social shares, guest posts, etc.

When we’re happy with our email, we click on Save.

The screenshot above depicts a rather useful feature you’ll be able to use when creating your email sequence on Respona.

More specifically, the tool is autograding your email based on its subject length, word count, question count, and spam word count.

This basically helps you make sure that your email isn’t longer than it needs to be, nor is it full of words that’ll get our email straight to spam, and so on and so forth.

The screenshot below shows us an overview of our email sequence:

Moving to the contact automation step.

In cases where we also need to include a follow-up email, this would be shown right under our initial email.

As simple as that!

Let’s get to the next exciting step.

Step #3: Find contact information for your prospects

Our second to last step is to find contact information for our link prospects.

The way to get there is to do our Respona automation setup, which includes a number of easy-to-follow steps.

First up, we need to provide the tool with information about the prospects we need contact information for.

To be more specific, we’re telling Respona to only assign opportunities to authors of URLs only if the author actually works for the company associated with the URL.

The reason for this is simple.

In case of  guest blogging, it wouldn’t make sense to contact the author directly since we’re interested in the blog post and the URL associated with it, rather than the person who actually wrote the piece of content.

Our automation setup might sound time consuming, but it’s really easy to do and it also allows us to:

  • Ask Respona to assign an opportunity to other people who work for the company associated with the URL if there’s no author assigned
  • Set position and priority for the people assigned to opportunities
  • Assign a catch-all email if no valid email address is found for our contact person
  • Assign a company generic email if no person with our defined criteria is found
Ecommerce link building contact automation setup

Once we select all the options that apply to our campaign, we let the automation Run, while also getting access to an estimate of credits and minutes we’ll need to spend on setting up the automation.

Here’s how the automation overview looks:

Contact automation review

After some minutes, we’ve got our automation results.

As you can see, Respona has been able to successfully assign eight out of ten opportunities and we’ve spent only eight credits for it.

Finished Contact automation

Let’s dive deeper into our selected opportunities.

As we’ve already said, we’ve got eight opportunities that have been assigned a contact and only two without a contact.

In no case would  we want to lose the two unassigned opportunities.

These are two options we have when it comes to unassigned opportunities:

  • Do a Domain-level Contacts search
  • Add a contact manually
Domain level contacts button

Since we’re not interested in authors of guest posts or authors that don’t work for the company associated with the URL, but we’re mostly interested in finding people associated with the opportunity URL, we’re going to focus on the Domain-level Contacts.

In other words, we’re trying to find other people that are associated with the domain we’re interested in.

Doing so is as simple as typing one’s full name and domain.

Email verification tool

Even though we’ve blurred out the email address found by Respona for privacy reasons, you can probably still see that Respona has been able to find a domain-level contact which we can create…

Creating a contact

…and assign to one of our previously unassigned opportunities.

Assigned contact information

We can do that, or manually add a contact, until all our opportunities are assigned a contact person.

Moving to the personalization stage

We can then click on the Next Step button on the right hand side of the screen and get one step closer to launching our outreach link building campaign for our online store.

Moving on.  

Step #4: Reach out to your prospects and manage communications

Reaching out to our prospects is the final step we need to take.

To do it right, we need to make sure that we personalize our email.

A personalized email has increased chances of getting a reply, since it sounds far less spammy than a generic email that looks like it’s been addressed to a number of people at the same time.

In terms of personalization, we need to go through all our opportunities and personalize accordingly.

Finished eCommerce link building pitch

How can you do that?

Well, you might need to make sure that you’ve added their name and something specific about the company they work for or the piece of content they’ve written.

In cases where you want to refer to a specific blog post, you might also want to pick article snippets and add them in the body of your email as needed.

Additionally, we adjust any variables included in our email as well as add any relevant links and anchor texts until we personalize the content of all our ten outreach emails for our opportunities.

Unpersonalized opportunities

Author’s Tip: In case you get social media icons like LinkedIn or Twitter for your contacts, make sure to reach out to them prior to launching your campaign, thus establishing a relationship with them and giving an extra reason to pay attention to your outreach email.

We’re now ready to actually launch our campaign.

Launch the eCommerce link building campaign

We’ve reached and completed the final step of our four-step process.

We’ll now wrap our post up and close with some final thoughts.

Now Over to You

There you have it.

In this guide, we’ve talked about eCommerce link building, its importance and benefits, as well as some of the most effective strategies to find links for your online store and rank higher.

We’ve also taken you through a four-step process of building your very own link building outreach campaign for your online business using Respona.

Even though link building can generally be time consuming and takes lots of hard work, having an easy-to-use tool can totally help you make the most of your link building efforts.

Consider requesting a demo and see for yourself that you can not only do link building yourself but you can also be good at it.

Good luck getting quality links for your eCommerce site!

Ivan Escott
Ivan Escott
Ivan is the partnerships manager at Respona, the all-in-one PR and link building tool that combines personalization with productivity. Along with creating content, he looks for unique ways to build meaningful relationships with other bloggers.

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