How eCommerce websites can (almost) passively attract links

You and I both know that proactively chasing links is a tiring and often tedious business.

What if I said there was a set and forget way for you to earn links whilst you sleep without lifting a finger? You’d probably think I was about to go spamtastic on you and start preaching the benefits of some push button comment posting software.

Fear not. This is far more interesting.

I’m talking about specific strategies and tactics that will enable your online store to semi-passively attract links. Don’t worry, I will be going into more detail than “create great content”.

How to create a linkable asset for your online shop

A linkable asset is really a technical way to describe content on your website which is worthy of attracting links.

The beauty of a linkable asset, if produced strategically and intelligently is that following the initial time and (probable) financial investment, this thing will continue to attract links for months and years to come.

A linkable asset can really be anything from a blog post or an infographic to a widget or a whitepaper.

For the purposes of this guide, I will be looking specifically at creating a long-form blog post/web page which is going to become one of your linkable assets.

You need a strong target market

For eCommerce websites the best ones are likely to be seasonal trends and holidays as well as useful buying guides associated with your larger product categories e.g. Selecting a lawn mower or finding the right pair of glasses.

(Whilst we are on the topic you should also take a look at this excellent post from Jane Copeland on Seasonal SEO.)

The point is that you need to find that intersect between a linkable asset which is going to be useful to your end user but at the same time recognise that it needs to be appealing, visible and accessible to the “linkerati” in your industry (sorry, I hate that word).

It needs to be evergreen or at least only in need of intermittent updates

This entire exercise is about creating a set and forget way to earn links on an ongoing basis. If it is going to need constant updates then it often defeats the object and destroys the ROI of this technique.

Seasonal content and consumer buying guides tend to be evergreen and only really need refreshing on an annual basis which makes them ideal as the basis for your linkable asset.

When it comes to the quality of the content, it needs to be truly valuable and fulfill a genuine market need. Try to tie it in for driving conversions in your business because your customers are bound to have questions and it is great to be able to kill two birds with one stone by having an asset which not only attracts links but assists buyers BUT above all make sure this isn’t cheapened by your insistence on making a quick quid or two.

Overly promotional material doesn’t bode well with other webmasters and bloggers and will likely be a turn off for your customers.

Another thing on content quality, because evidently it means wildly different things to different people, your linkable asset shouldn’t just be “It’ll do!”, “I’ve read worse” or even just “Good” it needs to be category-killer, better than anything else out there. This isn’t just because I’m a “make the web a better place” kind of guy, it is purely because this is what it takes to make a linkable asset work.

People need a reason to link to it.

Kickstart the campaign

I’d be lying if I said that this “great content” will just launch itself because it probably won’t. Here are a few of the ways you can kickstart the visibility of your linkable asset.

  • Outreach – highlight the guide to relevant bloggers and website publishers. The best approach to take with this is likely going to be to contact websites that already link to similar assets and then
  • Guest post to the asset – a proactive way to start earning links and visibility for the content asset is to guest post on relevant websites and point people back to the main guide. A quick win is to slightly repurpose or expand upon a section in the guide for the guest post thereby speeding up the process and ensuring readers of the guest post have a reason to go see the main guide.
  • Social media promotion – whether this is paid or unpaid, never underestimate the power of reaching influencers via social media to help drive links from key industry influencers.
  • Funnel internal link equity – if you have an authoritative website already you can funnel some of the link equity and visitors through to the asset to help get some eyeballs on it and hopefully get it to rank.

The key is to get the asset ranking for the targeted keyword and highly visible in the space. If you can make it rank, bloggers looking for a guide or additional reading on the particular topic will likely see your guide when they’re searching Google and will instinctively link to you (if they’re looking for something to link out to) because you are top of the pile and it’s essentially easier to pick the top result (obviously!).

At this point, you should have your asset fully primed and ready to earn links almost on autopilot.

Need an example?

Copyblogger.com does this very well by creating cornerstone content and then cross-promoting internally and getting it to rank in the SERPs thereby piling up links without overtly promoting or running outreach on the content.

For example their guide to landing pages (http://www.copyblogger.com/landing-pages/)

This page was originally created back around 2008 from what I can tell. It has probably had a few updates and a bit of a prune since that point but I don’t see the Copyblogger team out there highlighting the asset to other webmasters in order to encourage a link.

But look at this screenshot from Ahrefs.com (highly recommended link analysis tool if you don’t use it already), it shows links accumulated in April 2012, I count nearly 40 external links that this page has earned in one month several years after the page was created.

You might be thinking, yer but these guys are Copyblogger, that’ll never work on my site.

I accept you might not see the same volume of links because their users will nearly all have blogs so it is much easier for them to attract these kinds of links however that being said here’s another example: Bravissimo’s Guide to finding the perfect fitting bra http://www.bravissimo.com/perfectfit/

This was a resource which again, from what I can see, was created around 2008. This chart shows links gained in April 2012.

Clearly they’re not all going to be valuable but even if just a handful are authoritative and if you can replicate this across a number of linkable assets you can continue to grow your link profile (and improve your search engine visibility) with fairly minimal continued investment.

Guest post by James Agate from Skyrocket SEO – the link building agency known for its guest posting service and other high-value link acquisition solutions.

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