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Launching your Shopify store is just the very first step of running an ecommerce business. Once you push your page live, you need to actively seek out your customers. After all, how else will they know that your shop exists?
The easiest way to do this without paying for ads is with search engine optimization (SEO). Optimizing your ecommerce website for search engines allows users to more easily find you and the products that you are selling. Not only that, but it ensures that potential customers can continue to find your shop, month after month. Once you build traffic to your Shopify store, you should start to see more sales coming in.
There are many components to SEO, but the two most important factors that you can do on your own right now begin with doing your keyword research and getting backlinks. In fact, backlinks are such an important part of SEO that Shopify owners are encouraged to select niche market products to help make the link-building process easier.
Getting backlinks is incredibly important and should be a regular part of your daily business tasks. While it is certainly a big project for an already-busy business owner, it is totally doable. I’ll break it down for you in this article so that you can begin building your backlinks today, but first we'll need to discuss what are backlinks.
(If you're already up to scratch with backlinks and want to learn about eCommerce traffic, click here to skip to 4 Simple ways to Build Backlinks for your Shopify store).
What Are Backlinks? (aka Inbound Links)
Backlinks, which are inbound links from other sites that point to your site, are like the modern Internet-based world’s word-of-mouth marketing. Just like ReferralCandy allows you to implement word-of-mouth marketing on your Shopify page, backlinks allow you to do it on the search engines.
You see, search engines want to recommend only the most fitting webpages when a user searches for something. The way that search engines determine what is the best fitting page is through the content on the page (determined by keywords) and by virtual recommendations (determined by backlinks).
The more backlinks that you have, the more trustworthy your site is and the more likely that search engines will recommend it to users when they search for topics relevant to your page.
Backlinks aren’t anything fancy and don’t even technically need to be a recommendation. All the search engines look for are your links on other sites all over the Internet.
It is worth noting that some links are more valuable than others, so it is important to be aware of which types of links these sites are putting up. As search engines crawl the Internet, they look for certain indicators about which content to pay attention to and which to ignore.
While this is true for many components related to SEO, all of which have to do with complex coding and indexing, the most important thing that you need to understand is the difference between dofollow and nofollow links:
- Dofollow Links - Dofollow links tell search engines that the site endorses the link, giving a virtual word-of-mouth recommendation. Dofollow links are counted a lot like dollars in a bank and the more that you have the more valuable your site is.
- Nofollow Links - Nofollow links do not give the endorsement and, at best, simply introduce your site to any potential readers that come across the link. They have no significant value and, if possible, are best avoided.
As you begin your link building campaign, be mindful of which types of links you are getting. Kindly ask site owners to make the links dofollow links and never pay for a nofollow link.
Beware of Scammy Links
Once you begin searching for backlinking opportunities, you will quickly find that many sites charge for backlinks. This makes it easy to secure backlinks quickly and build your backlink profile with minimal effort.
While this is certainly the most time-efficient way to go about your link building, it may not be the most effective.
Because Google is smart. Reallysmart.
It knows the difference between an organic link and a paid one just like it knows the difference between high-quality content and spammy content. While a few paid links from quality sites will prove to be the most effective, too many paid links from low-quality sites will harm your site. Instead of communicating to the search engines that you are a trusted site on the Internet, you will be telling them that you are a spammy site that cuts corners.
And then your site will be buried in the search engine results pages (SERPs), which is the exact opposite of what you want.
In general, there are a few factors that make a link valuable and less scammy:
- Inbound links from high quality authority sites that are relevant to your shop will have a great positive impact than links from smaller, irrelevant sites.
- New links from sites that have never linked to you before will be more valuable than a link from a site that has already linked to you.
- Links attached to anchor text (ie ‘pet food’) are better than links attached to irrelevant text (ie ‘click here’).
- A link from a site that has lots of random, low-value links will be less valuable than a link from a site that has a lower number of backlinks.
So how do you know which sites are ‘high-quality’? You can easily check the domain authority of a site with an easy online tool, like the Website Authority Checker. Sites with higher domain authority are more valuable and should be the focus as you're building backlinks.
Assess Your Backlink Needs
Rather than going blindly into building backlinks, it is best to get an idea of what your site needs in order to begin ranking well on the SERPs. The best way to do this is by checking out other sites within your niche market to see what they are doing.
Check on Your Competition
If you want to improve your Shopify SEO and ranking on the SERPs, then you need to take a look at what is currently ranking well. Since Google is already favoring these sites on the search engine results page, you know that whatever those sites are doing is working well.
For instance, if your Shopify store sells watercolor prints, then you will want to take a look at which sites are currently ranking for your target keyword.
A quick Google search will reveal competitors in the same space
Using the Website Authority Checker tool from earlier, you can quickly assess your competition's domain authority and backlink profile.
You can see that one of the top ranking sites for your particular search term, 'watercolor prints', has a pretty robust profile. Their page authority is over 90 and they have over 7 million backlinks.
If you would like to appear on the same level as this site, then you would need to match their number of backlinks and domain authority. Once again, this is why niche markets are incredibly important for Shopify store owners to avoid competing with enormous sites like Society6.
Follow the Breadcrumbs
Understanding the backlink profile of your competitors allows you to get a full picture of what you’re competing with on the SERPs. It will tell you what kinds of websites you will need to target during your backlink campaign and how many links you will need to get before getting similar rankings.
For an idea of how to replicate your competition's backlink profile, take a look at which sites are pointing to them. The easiest way to do this is with a tool like Ahrefs, which you can try for just $7.
When you log in, enter the URL of your competition under the 'Site Explorer' tab and then click 'Backlinks' on the menu to the left.
You will get a comprehensive list of all of the backlinks that the site has, showing you precisely where to begin your backlink campaign.
Look through the sites that link to your competition and see which will offer free backlinks through guest post opportunities or directories (more on these, later). You can also search through broken links, which give you the perfect opportunity to swoop in and suggest your (not broken) link as a replacement.
Once you have an idea of what your competition is doing, where their traffic is coming from, and which anchor text they are using, you are ready to build backlinks to your own site.
How to Get Backlinks to Your Shopify Store: 4 Simple Ways to Drive More Traffic and Sales
Building your own backlink profile will take quite a bit of effort and is a long-term process. Fortunately, once you understand how to get backlinks, you can begin to build your backlinks right away. This will help increase traffic and get more eCommerce sales for your Shopify store.
There are many different ways to do this, but these are the top ways that you can start building backlinks to your Shopify site right now:
1. Guest Blogging
Time Required: Medium
SEO Impact: High
One of the most popular ways to get inbound links from other sites is through guest blogging. Bloggers generally love having guest writers because it gives their site fresh content for very little effort, so it’s worthwhile to take advantage of this opportunity to secure a backlink.
Look for blogs that accept guest posts, but be sure that the blogs are relevant to your Shopify store. The more relevant blogs that your link appears on, the more “link juice” you get from their backlinks, and the more trustworthy your site is to Google.
You can search through an online blog directory for guest post opportunities, or take matters into your own hands and hand-pick the best opportunities for yourself.
The easiest way to do this is with a quick search in Google. To continue with the watercolor print example from earlier, I’d look for art blogs that accept guest writers. In the search bar, I put “art blog + ‘write for us’“ to get a list of art blogs that are openly searching for guest writers.
You'll see strong results with just the first five hits
Once you collect a list of blogs to reach out to, you can send a friendly pitch email.
When you write your pitch email, keep the message short and sweet. It is generally good form to begin with a compliment about a specific blog post from their site. This quickly develops rapport and demonstrates that you took the time to make sure that the blog is a good fit. You can come up with your very own email pitch from scratch or reference some of the many guest posting email templates available online.
Then clearly state that you are interested in writing a guest post for the blog. You can share a few topic ideas that fit the blog and also your personal knowledge. If you have any writing samples, link to them so that they can see your work.
Usually, they will give you the option to include a short author bio. This is where you can naturally include a link to your shop and thus secure a valuable backlink.
As a general rule of thumb, there are certain blog post formats that perform better by getting more clicks and shares than other posts. The more clicks and shares that your posts get, the more likely bloggers will welcome you on their site. Not only that, but the more valuable that backlink becomes, as well. If you’d like to get those coveted guest writer spots on blogs, then try following these tips:
- List Posts: Make your posts a numbered or step-by-step type list, such as “10 Top Watercolor Painting Techniques That Will Transform Your Artwork” or “4 Easy Steps to Mastering Your Watercoloring Paintings”. These types of posts have high conversion rates (ie, more clicks and purchases) than other post types and bloggers love them.
- Create a Catchy Title: A catchy title is not something that is simply thought-provoking. Instead, there are proven formulas for creating the best blog post title that gets the most traffic. In general, it is best to include a reference to a number, quality, freshness, and bargain. And if you include all four, then you can expect a boost of traffic by a whopping 20 percent.
- Use Power Words: Certain power words evoke an emotional response in readers, making them more likely to click on your article. Try using them in your blog post titles to get more traffic.
2. Get Links From Your Manufacturers
Time Required: Low
SEO Impact: Medium
A common practice for many ecommerce shop owners is to kindly ask the manufacturers of the products that they sell to list their shop on their directories.
For example, Elholists their online retailers on a page on their website. Each online retailer gets a valuable backlink as a result of being listed in their directory.
Likewise, many manufacturers will list the online retailers that sell their products on a directory-type page, as well.
If you’d like to get backlinks this way, then create a list of all of the brands that you currently carry in your Shopify store. Visit the site of each manufacturer and see if they have a store locator or directory of online retailers.
If they do, then send the company an email to see if they can add a link to your shop.
And if they don’t?
Don’t be afraid to email the company and ask if they can create a directory page. After all, listing all of the possible places to buy their product helps everyone involved.
3. Get Your Products Reviewed by Influencers & Bloggers
Time Required: High
SEO Impact: High
Another easy way to get backlinks is by sending your products to bloggers within your niche to do a product review. This will certainly earn you a few links and high quality traffic, though it takes a bit of time and effort.
You’ll first want to find the blogs where your potential customers hang out. Become familiar with the blogs and begin commenting on posts. Try sharing their content on your shop social media feeds as well. The more involved you become with their site, the easier it is to pitch your product.
Once you’ve established rapport, you can send a friendly email to pitch them on your product.
Keep it short and to the point. Just like all pitch emails, personalize it to demonstrate that you’ve actually taken the time to become familiar with their blog. There are many ways to do this, but you can generally get the point across is just a few sentences.
Pitch email from NeilPatel.com
Remember that these bloggers have a reputation to maintain and will be reviewing the entire experience of working with you. Be sure to make it a pleasant and helpful experience every step of the way.
Plus, this could help develop relationships with bloggers that will be invaluable to your marketing efforts down the road. For example, you could ask them about guestposting opportunities in the future.
4. Create Engaging Infographics
Time Required: Medium
SEO Impact: High
You’ve likely seen killer infographics floating around the Internet over the years and may have even shared them with your own circles.
That is because infographics are easy-to-digest pieces of content that solve a problem for the reader and they are super easy to share.
You can create a beautiful and unique infographic on sites like Easel.ly within an hour, once you become familiar with it.
When you are choosing which topics to create an infographic on, be sure that they are relevant to your site, help solve a reader problem, and have not been overdone yet. This will help make it easier to share across social media channels.
Once you’ve created your infographic, submit it to as many infographic directories and infographic submission sites as you can. Some of the sites will have a fee for submission, but it’s usually quite affordable and the rewards are worth it. If the submission fee is over $50, however, then it’s best to pass on the submission. There are plenty of sites that offer free submissions and even more that have submission fees for less than $30.
But it will definitely be worth it.
Major sites and blogs use these directories to source content for their pages, so in addition to scoring a backlink from the directory, you will potentially get dozens more after that.
Plus, infographics are super popular on Pinterest, which brings you free, organic, high quality traffic. The more content that you create for Pinterest, the more sharing and backlinking that your content will get.
So infographics are worth their virtual weight in gold.
If infographics feel like a heavy investment of time, you can consider experimenting with visual content for social media, like charts or memes. These are simple jokes or visualisations that you can later expand into full infographics. The trade-off here is that you may get more social media shares than backlinks, but getting good results can help you to decide to build that infographic.
Pushing your Shopify store live is an exciting experience but it is only the very beginning of your ecommerce journey. If you take the time to invest in your backlink profile, though, then your shop will be more easily found by potential customers for months and even years down the road.
Once your customers start finding you for free through search engines, then you will know that it was all worth it.
Want more resources on growing your Shopify store? Check out the Ultimate Shopify Marketing Resource for guides, success stories and case studies.