Welcome to the big, wide world of search engine optimization (SEO). If you’re running an eCommerce business in 2021, you’re probably familiar with the term — it’s an area of digital marketing that involves creating good content, improving your website experience, cleaning up your code, and building backlinks to give your page a boost on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
In this article, I’m going to introduce you to link building and how you can use it to improve your SEO.
What is link building?
Link building is the process of getting other high-quality and authoritative websites to link back to yours. Maybe they want to cite you as an authority on a subject, or maybe they’re crediting you for an image, for example. When this happens, Google takes it as a vote of confidence in your authority and gives you an SEO boost.
But, if you build links incorrectly, your website could be penalized by search engines. This means you should make sure your backlink profile isn’t spammy, forced, or made up of links from low-quality or irrelevant content. Be smart about it!
Here, I’ll outline my tips for building great links that will give you the results you want.
Create content people will want to share (and link to)
Having high-quality content on your website is key to earning great backlinks. But coming up with great content ideas can often be easier said than done. To provide you with some inspiration, let’s take a look at what types of links in SEO content will typically attract the most shares and links.
Think about how many infographics you’ve seen shared around on social media in the last year or so. They’re super sharable — they’re engaging, colorful, easy to read, and great for breaking down complicated information. If you can create a quality, helpful infographic, people will want to share it with their audience, and they will credit you as a source. Backlink profile boosted!
If you’ve never created your own visuals, make sure you check out Venngage’s guide to creating great infographics in 5 easy steps. This will take you through the whole process.
Round-ups or listicles offer another great way to build up your backlink profile. The great part about these types of articles is that they can condense a lot of information into a quickly digestible article. People are busy, and don’t necessarily want to read every bit of information they can find on, say, ten different types of smartwatches. So, if you put together a helpful round-up, people will link back to it.
Take a look at how Best Value Schools does this, for example. They have a round-up of the 29 best online universities for 2021. They discuss tuition, the number of programs, rankings, and more, all with links to the relevant schools. This is super helpful for anyone considering online schooling. Because Best Value Schools sums up the main benefits of their listed schools, relevant sites are going to want to share this list with their readerships.
Similarly, SocialPilot shows us how to create a great round-up with their list of great Facebook publishing tools. Again, they outline the price, pros and cons, and features of each product. This is really sharable content for anyone in social media marketing, content marketing, or even for people just trying to build their personal brand.
Think about what kinds of round-ups you could create for your website. Could you compare your products against your competitors or put together a list of tools your audience might find helpful? Think about what kinds of lists will get clicks and shares.
If you create original research that no one else has published before, you’ll be the only one people can link to as a source!
When coming up with ideas, think about what questions you have about your industry that no one seems to have an answer to. You could conduct a case study on the effectiveness of various marketing strategies for your clients, for example.
Is there something in your niche or industry that you consider yourself an expert in? What do people go to you for over your competitors? Identify the subject, and then create an ultimate guide imparting everything you know. It’s time to make an ultimate guide.
It can be difficult to imagine what an ultimate guide should look like if you’ve never created one before, so let’s take inspiration from some effective examples.
For instance, take a look at how Lore Law Firm, a workers’ rights attorney group based out of Texas, created an ultimate guide on state labor laws. They have pages for all fifty states outlining everything someone would need to know about minimum wage, overtime pay, taxes, and more. If someone needed to share information about a certain state’s labor laws, Lore Law Firm’s piece would be an excellent resource to share, which means it’s likely to attract a lot of links.
Similarly, Byte-by-Byte, an online resource for people interested in getting coding software jobs, has an ultimate guide to acing an interview at Google. They outline how the Google interview is different to others, some of the most common questions, and how to prepare. This ultimate guide is very sharable amongst professional groups, coders, and students, for instance.
Content that answers FAQs
Time to check in with your customer service team. What questions do they tend to get over and over again? Or, what is something in your field that you think all of your customers need to know about? It’s time to create content based on these questions.
If you answer FAQs in an easy-to-understand way, you can build your backlink profile as people will cite you as a source of information.
Semrush answers FAQs in their blog content regularly. For example, their post on buyer keywords answers just about everything a beginner would need to know about this topic, including what buyer keywords are, how to find them, and how to use them to get more conversions. Semrush is a trusted authority in SEO, and this is one of the reasons why — their FAQ content is authoritative and very linkable.
Today, being online is all about the experience. If you create interactive content, like a quiz, game, or virtual tour, for instance, people will want to share it simply because it’s unique and engaging. You might build a quiz helping customers choose the product that’s right for them, for instance, or offer a virtual try-on for something like glasses or jewelry.
Write guest posts for websites in your niche
Start reaching out to other leaders in your industry. Poke around their websites and see if they have options to guest post for their blog. There are several benefits to taking advantage of this; not only will you get a high-quality backlink to your website, but it also gives you the chance to showcase your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness or E-A-T — three of the most important things Google values when ranking your content on the SERPs.
Search engines like to point users to information that is going to help them out and provide valuable and accurate information. Guest posts are an excellent way to show that you’re a reliable source of information!
If you want to secure guest posts, prioritize websites relevant to your niche and that have a similar audience base. Then, make a plan. You’ll first want to work out whether a website accepts guest posts and then research the editors you should be talking to.
If there’s a website you would like to write for but you aren’t sure if they accept submissions, it doesn’t hurt to send a professional and polite email to the editor, pitching an idea. The worst they can say is no!
Use your competitors’ backlink profiles as inspiration
Looking at your competitors’ backlink profiles can help you build your strategy. Check out who is ranking for your target keywords using a platform like Ahrefs Site Explorer. This can help you figure out just who you’re up against and what you might have to do to overtake your competitors on the SERPs.
You’ll also be able to get an idea of which websites are currently linking to your competitors. If there are certain sites linking to similar businesses but not yours, this could prevent you from climbing the search engine results pages. So, reach out to these sites and start to build a relationship with them. In time, this could help you to secure your own backlink from them.
Create free tools that offer a lot of value
Free tools and calculators offer a great way to provide value for your customers. Not only can they give you a chance to show off what you are capable of, but they can help build loyalty with people who will spend money with you in the future.
Plus, they’re link-building magnets. Everyone likes free stuff, right? If your tool is genuinely helpful, people are going to want to share it with others like them. Consider what you can offer to your customers for free. A free trial, downloadable eBook, or template are good places to start. Or, what is something you could calculate for your customer based on their information?
For instance, FreshBooks, an online accounting software company, provides free invoice templates to anyone who wants them. First and foremost, this is a great way for them to reel in new customers from their potential audience base of small business owners and freelancers. If these people find the free resources helpful, they’re going to want to share them with their friends who might need them, as well. This gets them a whole bunch of leads and can lead to conversions in the future. Plus, business and freelancing sites can easily link to these in articles about invoicing and getting paid.
Or take a look at how KeeperTax helps people to calculate how much they’re going to owe when tax season rolls around. Their 1099 tax calculator lets a viewer enter their information for free and get an idea of what they’ll owe in taxes. Self-employment taxes can be super complicated, and this calculator is simple and easy to share.
Use social media to build relationships before asking for a link
Okay, so you’ve created the world’s best content, but you can’t just sit on it. Now, it’s time to build those links. Social media is a great place to start!
Social media doesn’t directly impact your SEO, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important for building your backlink profile. You can use it to build relationships with bloggers, influencers, and other businesses who might be willing to link back to your website.
Start by liking their content, commenting your thoughts on their posts, and sharing their content to begin building your relationship with them. This will help them see that you are also a trusted resource in your niche and they’ll be more likely to want to work with you.
LinkedIn, being a social media network for professionals, is probably going to be one of the best platforms to use, but don’t feel like you need to limit yourself. Twitter and Facebook are other great places to connect with leaders in your field. Reach out and see if they’d be willing to just chat about the industry to help further develop your connection.
After you’ve established a relationship, it’s just a matter of asking. No one likes a cold call but, after you’ve shown that you know what you’re talking about, feel free to ask site owners how you can work together to build backlinks.
Link building is one of the most important aspects of SEO. Don’t let it be forgotten — it’s just as important as your content itself! Hopefully, this article has given you some content ideas to get you started on your backlink-building journey. Start writing, start creating, and start reaching out.
Let’s boost that profile!
Author bio & headshot:
Adam Steele is COO and co-founder of Loganix, which is an SEO fulfillment partner for digital marketing agencies and professionals. The company provides the SEO services that businesses need to grow and achieve their goals. If you enjoyed this article, you can find more SEO guides and templates on the Loganix blog.