Editor’s note: This guide has been updated in 2023 for accuracy and to reflect modern practices.
With the plethora of link-building companies out there, it’s easy to get quick (but spammy) backlinks for your eCommerce site. Pay $50, and get two or three links back to your most important pages, these companies promise.
But, like with most search engine optimization efforts, your investment here is equal to your results — and these dime-a-dozen link-building schemes can actually do more harm than good for your online store.
If you want quality backlinks that drive relevant and high-intent traffic, you’ll need to take it a few steps further, investing not only more money but also your team’s valuable time and effort into a comprehensive link-building strategy.
This guide is here to help you get started.
Today, we’ll walk you through 17 proven link-building strategies for eCommerce businesses like yours. We’ve used them time and time again to create organic traffic and sales for our clients, and they’re usually the first tactics we recommend with link-building initiatives.
They’re also only the tip of the iceberg. For a full list of our 33 proven tactics (as well as best practices for prospecting and evaluating link opportunities), you can download our eCommerce Link-Building Guide today.
Until then, use these strategies as a starting point for your SEO team to get its hands dirty in the link-building world.
The Challenges of eCommerce Link-Building
To get natural, high-quality links, you have to provide great content that makes people want to link to you.
However, many eCommerce businesses have nothing more than a homepage, an About Us page, and a massive catalog of category and product pages — none of which is particularly link-worthy.
Adding content to eCommerce pages (especially product and category pages) is a tricky business. You need to walk the line between adding helpful content for both your readers and search engine bots without obscuring important shop buttons or impacting your online conversion rate.
Despite these challenges, this content is still 100% necessary. Without it, these valuable pages are far less likely to be indexed, ranked, and linked to — not to mention compete with content from giants like Amazon.
Fortunately, by building strategic links to category pages and a few important product pages, you can spread that domain authority throughout your site and improve your overall SEO efforts.
In the next section, we’ll tell you how.
17 eCommerce Link-Building Strategies to Drive Organic Traffic & Sales
When it comes to eCommerce link-building tactics, we’re going to focus on two main pillars: content-based and opportunity-based strategies.
Each requires a varying level of effort and will produce levels of results, but we recommend incorporating both into your overall strategy for the best chance of success.
Remember: You can’t just focus on building links to your product and category pages alone. Instead, you’ll need to expand your horizons and create additional “linkable” content (covered below) throughout your site to enhance your authority and create more link equity among all of your URLs.
- Research & Buying Guides
- Customer Forums
- Category & Product Page Content
- Evergreen Holiday & Sales Pages
- Guest Posting
- Links via Competitive Analysis
- Links from Vendor Pages
- Links from Q&A Sites
- Links from Product Reviews
- Reverse Image Search
- Brand/Product/Employee Mentions
- Coupon Codes
- Broken Link Building
- HARO (Help a Reporter Out)
Content-Based Link Building
The absolute best way to build links to your eCommerce site is by creating high-quality content.
There’s no shortcut for this method. To get natural, quality backlinks, you need to put in the time and effort to research what your customers want to read, create attractive and engaging content, and continually update it over time.
There are hundreds of content-based eCommerce link-building ideas, but we’ll start with the most effective strategies that we recommend for our clients.
Our No. 1 suggestion for eCommerce brands: Create blog content to target customers throughout the sales funnel, spread brand awareness, and earn external links from across the web.
The great thing about a blog is you can write about anything you want! This includes what we call link bait (which appeals to bloggers and social media) and trust bait (which is educational/research-based content). Where relevant, you can link within this content back to your products, directing potential customers to your most valuable pages.
As each piece of content earns more links, it funnels some of that link juice down the line to your product pages, ideally creating more organic sales.
Not sure what to write about? Start by reviewing your target audience personas and keyword research for potential topics. You can also conduct an SEO competitor analysis to see what your competition is doing and make plans to emulate their content (in a better way, of course).
With the right approach, you can improve your organic revenue by leaps and bounds — such as the 300% increase we achieved for one medical-adjacent client.
For more tips, check out our comprehensive eCommerce content strategy guide.
2. Research & Buying Guides
Research and buying guides aren’t just great education opportunities for your customers at the top of the funnel. You can also use them to build external links from other product review/information sites and funnel link juice to product pages by internally linking to products mentioned in the guide.
Oh, and these roundups are also a great way to rank in the SERPs for research-focused keywords, too (like “best headphones for editing”), which isn’t usually possible with product pages.
For more details on making a successful buying guide, read our six-figure case study now.
3. Customer Forums
Despite the work involved in maintaining them, customer forums are great for eCommerce SEO content marketing. They’re highly optimized for search engines and are entirely user-generated.
There’s even a forum for everything, as Buggies Unlimited’s Buggies Garage proves.
As there is with any product, there are always people who have questions about golf carts, who love or hate the product, or simply want to connect with other like-minded people. In their forum conversations, they may even include links to products, which is a great way to enhance your internal linking.
4. Category & Product Page Content
If you’re comfortable enough doing so, you can put all sorts of content on your category and product pages to enhance your linkability, including:
- Videos (product demos or reviews)
- Comparison charts
- And more
The higher quality your content, the more value you’ll provide your readers — and the more likely that you’ll build inbound links.
However, be judicious about the content you add. You don’t want to include too much at the top of a category page and push down the product grid, and you want to make sure any copy added to a product page serves the purpose of educating the reader first and foremost.
For more guidance on creating high-quality, linkable content, check out our guides:
5. Evergreen Holiday & Sales Pages
If you run annual holiday specials or sales (as many eCommerce businesses do), make sure your URLs for those sales pages are “evergreen.” In other words, don’t include the date or year in the URL.
That way, you can reuse the page and continue piling on the backlinks every holiday season.
Learn more about holiday SEO in our complete guide.
6. Guest Posting
Guest posts have a bit of a bad name these days — and for good reason. Most guest blogs are low-quality, poorly researched, and full of anchor-text-rich (spammy) links.
While guest blogging is one of the most abused tactics by inexperienced marketers, it can still be a useful technique if done properly.
Instead of seeing guest blogging as a way to build links, think of it as a way to share high-quality information and reach a new audience. The links are simply an afterthought.
Guest blogging with this in mind can help build your brand and drive qualified referral traffic.
Of course, make sure the sites are relevant to your industry and meet quality standards.
Then, try to get natural backlinks from within the content of the article, using natural link text. For the best chance of publishers keeping those backlinks, include only one highly relevant link to your site for every two or three links to other high-authority sites.
If your only backlink is allowed in your byline, remember to use a branded term instead of keyword-rich anchor text.
Opportunity-Based Link Building
Opportunity-based link building includes tactics that leverage existing opportunities — partnerships you have with other organizations, competitors’ published content, and more.
While these strategies require more direct link-building actions (actively asking for links), they can still create valuable backlinks as long as you take the right approach.
Here are a few tactics to start with:
7. Links Via Competitive Link Analysis
By knowing where your competitors are getting links, you can create an active list with which to start your outreach.
Run your competitor’s sites through a research tool like Ahrefs to get their list of backlinks. Once you’ve exported it, start with the most authoritative links, and sort them by target page to show product and category pages.
Then, look at the linking sources to find out why they are providing those hard-to-get links. This review can help uncover some easy linking wins and unveil some of your competitor’s interesting strategies.
You can also run competitive analysis on non-competitor, industry-related sites that happen to sell a specific product from the category you are trying to get links from.
For example, if your clothing store sells many different products, but you want to focus on getting links to your “shoes” category, gather a list of stores that sell only shoes and nothing else. Then, run their URLs through a backlink analysis tool to see which other linking sites might be interested in linking to your category page.
8. Links from Vendor Pages
If you sell products from other manufacturers, see if they have a “Vendors” page where they link to all the businesses that sell their products.
You should already know the businesses with which you work, so look through every site for pages like “Where to Buy,” “Our Retailers” and so on.
9. Links From Q&A Sites
Q&A sites such as Quora are great for promoting and sharing your content.
Search engines usually don’t place a lot of value on the links on Q&A sites (because anyone can create an account and add links). However, the value lies elsewhere — in being able to answer someone’s question as an expert and provide a link to your site, a product/category page, or a blog post, if it’s relevant.
Remember: Always be authentic. Don’t add links in every answer, because this could be seen as spamming and get your account shut down.
If you provide high-quality information in every answer, you can build up an “expert” profile and be recognized as an industry leader — which, in turn, can build trust and hopefully lead to other link opportunities.
Start with these popular Q&A sites:
10. Links from Product Reviews
Product reviews are probably the easiest way to get links to product pages, and there are a couple of ways to prospect these opportunities.
You could contact influencers and bloggers in your industry that may be interested in your products, or you could search for people who have already done reviews for other products on your site or competitors’ sites.
Try searches such as:
- Keyword intitle:review
- Keyword “ratings”
- Keyword reviews inurl:submit
In your pitches, explain who you are and the company you’re representing. Then, ask if the contact would like to write a review about a product. They’d get the product for free; all you want is an honest review after they’ve used it.
Be careful with this technique. Depending on how you ask for reviews, you could violate Google’s Guidelines.
Never tell your reviewers they can have your product as long as they link to your site. Instead, only ask for a review, and let them decide whether they want to link to you.
11. Reverse Image Search
If someone is using your images, ask for attribution through a link to the corresponding category or product page.
You can also add your images to Flickr with a creative commons license. In the image description, make sure to require attribution in the form of a link to the page of your choosing.
Donate products to charities and events, and you’re likely to get a link from their “Sponsors” page.
You can seek out sites that are more likely to link by searching Google for [“sponsors” + keyword] and [“donations” + keyword].
Paying for sponsorship is a great way to get links to product and category pages.
If you sell shoes, look for opportunities to sponsor marathons and link back to your running shoes category. If you sell curtains, look for window-covering conferences or expos (do a search, they exist!) and ask if they accept sponsorships.
For even more relevancy, focus on local businesses and organizations.
Search for opportunities with the following keyword phrases:
- Keyword “our sponsors”
- Keyword “advertise with”
- Keyword “thank you” sponsor*
14. Brand/Product/Employee Mentions
If someone mentions your brand, a product that you sell, or one of your employees’ names and they don’t give you a link, contact them and ask for one.
Let’s say a blogger mentions how they would like to try one of your products. This would be a great opportunity to offer them your product for review.
You’ll also often find brand/product mentions on forums and Q&A sites where you can join the conversation, answer questions, and provide more information about your products.
You can find these unlinked brand mentions with several tools:
- Ahrefs Alerts allows you to set up alerts for your brand name, any brand misspellings, and even your competitors’ mentions.
- Semrush Brand Monitoring lets you monitor your brand mentions, add exclusions, and target by country.
- Google Alerts will also notify you when the search engine finds and indexes mentions of your brand or products.
- Majestic SEO shows you places where your URLs are mentioned but not linked.
- Mention.net is another great tool to monitor brand mentions.
15. Coupon Codes
Instead of (or in addition to) offering a sitewide coupon code to your customers, offer exclusive product-level coupon codes to high-profile bloggers for sharing with their readers.
Consider contacting bloggers who are a good fit for specific products to get links directly to product pages. Other good targets: frugal living and personal finance bloggers.
If you’re tracking brand mentions, and you notice a blogger has reviewed one of your products, contact them to see if they would like a custom discount code for that product to offer their readers.
16. Broken Link Building
It’s common for products to go out of stock or stop being sold altogether. Unfortunately, that often leads to 404 error pages or blank web pages that benefit nobody.
If you leave an empty page up for too long and a linker notices, they’re going to remove the link from their site, and you won’t be able to recover it.
Make sure you redirect those pages to retain any links they may have built over time. When redirecting pages, try to redirect to something similar if possible.
You can also directly reach out to website owners using those broken links, notifying them of the error and suggesting another link to use, instead.
17. HARO (Help a Reporter Out)
You can easily prospect for link-building opportunities with PR/outreach tools like HARO (Help a Reporter Out).
These tools help you find expert journalists who cover your industry and who may be interested in your content, using you as a source or doing an interview.
As long as you have an expert on your team willing to communicate with journalists and bloggers, HARO can be a great resource for your link-building strategy.
Get More eCommerce Link Building Tactics Now
All of these tactics are powerful ways to build high-quality backlinks to your eCommerce website. And, when combined with a smart SEO strategy, they can drive great traffic to your category and product pages.
However, they’re just a handful of the eCommerce link-building strategies available to you.
For a full list of 33 proven tactics from our marketing team, download our eCommerce Link-Building Guide now. It’s completely free and contains everything your team needs to kickstart your link-building campaigns and start improving your backlink profile.
Keep it handy as you plan and execute your eCommerce store’s unique link-building strategy.
Download Our eCommerce Link-Building Guide Now.
And, if you’re ready to take your link-building efforts to the next level, contact our digital marketing experts today for a free strategy proposal, full of personalized ideas for your online business.