Posted by Stephanie Chang
Some of the greatest challenges my previous ecommerce clients have faced have revolved around developing a cohesive and long-term content/link building strategy. They’ve done all the changes they can on the technical backend of the site, incorporated keywords on the site, created a crawlable internal linking structure, and have paid for PR releases, submitted directory submissions, and written the occasional blog post. Now they ask, what’s next?
Creative Category Pages
Category pages are the money pages for ecommerce sites. Getting links to these pages is a major win because these are the pages that will be ranking for key head and mid-tail terms. Furthermore, even as products are rotated or as the site undergoes a redesign, the category pages will still remain a part of the site architecture and are the pages least likely to be impacted. However, it’s also a major challenge to garner links to these pages. Who wants to link to a page full of products?
Start thinking about how you can redesign your category pages to make them more than just another page. For instance, Hema’s category page was designed to become a wacky Rube Goldberg device. This page has gotten 20,826 links from 2,686 linking root domains.
Using Products as Linkbait
Often times, it can be challenging to revamp or redesign category pages, so that valuable, unique content can be added. If that’s the case, selling interesting products on your site can become an effective form of linkbait.
Threadless sells creative t-shirts. After the homepage, their second most linked to page is this product page. This product page received 5,065 links from 686 linking root domains, 3,068 Facebook Shares, and 1,167 Facebook Likes. It has received links from high authority sites, such as Wired and Boing Boing.
- A robot tea infuser from ModCloth. The page received 789 total links from 201 linking root domains from sites, such as Uncrate and The Next Web.
- Tactical duty kilt from 5.11. Although this product started off as an April Fool’s Joke, 5.11 ended up making them because of the demand, while also receiving links from sites, such as Alltop.
Leveraging Sales/Deals Pages
Another linkbuilding tactic is to build and maintain a deals/sales page on the site that fulfills SEO requirements, such as having crawlable, indexable content, static URL, incorporating targeted keywords on the page etc… Then keep the same URL and revamp it every time you have a new deal or sale.
Personalized Product Giveaways
Think about what makes people feel special. Everyone appreciates personalized gifts. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, why not create a care package to the top 50 most passionate moms within your community with a personalized thank you from you and your team? It doesn’t have to be expensive to show that you care. Now take the surprise of the care package, combine this with people’s insatiable desire to share via Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, and they’ve just published and pinned beautiful photos of this sincere gift to their network for the world to see.
If personalized product giveaways aren’t possible, consider running effective contests in conjunction with identifying influential individuals on channels using tools, like Followerwonk. This would allow you to systematically target the type of audience and sites you want involved (while also expanding your brand awareness). You need to give something away that people would actually want, especially your target audience. It’s also worth having a little fun with it and seeing if you could come up with some creative tactics that would require contest submissions to link back to your site.
- Fashion/clothing ecommerce sites: Does your boyfriend need a $500 fashion makeover? Send pictures and write a post on the products you would purchase.
- Tools/home improvement sites: Shopping spree competition – Does a room in your house need a makeover? How would you spend the money using products from our site?
Value of High-Quality Photos
Who doesn’t like looking at pretty pictures all day? We’re all visually stimulated by beautiful images and so really, it’s worth the effort to incorporate large, high-resolution photos on your site. Not to mention as an ecommerce site, your website is the main vehicle for visitors to take a closer look at the products you offer. If I can’t see the product clearly, why should I buy it from your site? How can I even trust it?
There’s something to be said about building anticipation before a product actually hits the market. People are naturally inquisitive and want to be the first to be granted access and try out a product. Think about the huge lines that were outside of Apple stores the day the iPad 3 was released or the anticipation surrounding the release of Diablo 3.
Widening Your Audience
Sometimes we become so entrenched in trying to attract our target audience (What’s their persona? Who do they follow? How can I build a relationship with them?), that we can lose sight of all the other potential opportunities that are out there. Brainstorm all the cool things that you’re doing as a company and what your next initiatives are. Can you make any of these into a story? If you can’t think of any, then think outside your site and your target audience and write a blog post that speaks to them.
- Comprehensive Guide to Guest Blogging
- Posts about writing effective outreach emails here and here
- Lists of 500 sites that accept guest blog posts
- List of 100 sites that accept guest blog posts
Using Personal Stories
The new online marketing landscape offers new opportunities for storytelling and adds a human element to the type of stories that we share. The Coca Cola content initiative demonstrates that content marketing is growing and becoming a vital part of online marketing. There are several other brands that also utilize storytelling as a channel, such as Nike’s story on how running reunited a long-distance relationship.
Taking a Risk and Creating Amazing Content on a Budget
Let’s say you have a limited marketing budget and aren’t sure that you have the resources to create linkbait content. Having such constraints for marketing is normal, but being creative, bold, and taking a risk can still pay off. Take the Dollar Shave Club as an example. With less than $5,000 budget, Dollar Shave Club was able to create a Old Spice like video about their product that led to over 4.5 million views on YouTube, 27,000 Facebook Shares, and over 2,000 tweets. This LA-based startup combined razors, a monthly subscription model, and a video introducing their company to the world with humor as their way to break into the space. Creating content like this isn’t without its risks, but when it pays off and is aligned with your core offering, there are many added benefits (brand awareness, growth in revenue, and word-of-mouth).
Audio Content Marketing
Here is another great example of how something as random as a late night Facebook comment manifested itself into a No. 1 Amazon.com selling book almost overnight. Adam Mansbach, author of the children’s book for adults titled (kids, cover your ears for this one) “Go the F**k to Sleep” quickly garnered the attention of celebrity Samuel L Jackson to do the narrative once he heard there would be an Audible.com version of the book. It was this combination of interesting, yet unique content narrated by a recognizable voice that transformed Audible.com’s sales page into one of the domains top linked, most socially shared, and highest reviewed pages on their site.
Pinterest has experienced rapid growth over the past 6 months with over 10 million registered users. The power of Pinterest is in its ability to drive referral traffic to your ecommerce site. This type of platform presents an opportunity for ecommerce sites to use Pinterest’s user base as a way to effectively engage targeted users by creating content that is relevant to them, and make its products more visible to the right audience. Ideally, the strategy should be to create compelling and valuable content so that users want to click on the pins and land on various product pages. Colby Almond of 97th Floor has created a Viral Guide to Pinterest Marketing, as well as written additional blog posts that introduce how to effectively build your Pinterest following and create the right type of content for this medium.
Lessons Learned When SEO Isn’t a Consideration – Honda
Everybody loves a Rube Goldberg machine. They are fun, smart, interesting, and super darn creative. Honda created a Rube Goldberg device crafted out of their car parts called “The Cog”. You know what made this video less cool? The fact that still, to this day, this content is nowhere to be found on any of Honda’s websites or YouTube channels. Guess who this did bode well for? A car enthusiast channel known as Web Rides TV with over 3.7 million views and counting. This URL also received links from 582 linking root domains.
It’s Hard Work, But Keep at It
Link building is hard work and results often don’t appear until months after you’ve invested an incredible amount of time and resources. However, these case studies show that it works and even though results appear minimal at the beginning of the curve, results will grow exponentially at the end of the curve. It’s all about constantly pushing the flywheel, working really hard until you get even a hint of momentum, and then continuing to build upon that tiny amount of momentum until it starts to ease up and pushing through becomes easier. Just keep iterating and don’t give up!
Additional Resources on Link Building for Ecommerce Sites
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