If you want to be successful with your online shop, you should definitely have a g rasp of the topic of backlinks (links that refer to your own from other pages) on the screen. In this article you will learn how to get links for your online shop like we did for one of our clients Ritzy Knives online knife store and tell tem how to get others to link your shop. The link building measures presented have all been successfully tested in our own online projects.
However, caution is advised with the whole topic , because anyone who violates Google’s guidelines – whether intentionally or out of ignorance – can easily be punished. This either leads to a drop in ranking or, in the worst case, to exclusion from the Google Index. What exactly should you pay attention to in this regard? We will also clarify that in this article.
Since I have made the experience that many articles on SEO and link building are very technical and terminology-heavy, I will limit my explanations to the bare essentials. So I don’t want to delve too deeply into the technical details and keep all application tips clear and easy to understand .
Before we devote ourselves to the link building measures, a fundamental question must be clarified in advance. Because time and again the topic is hotly debated among SEOs (= those who professionally deal with search engine optimization):
Do backlinks still have any meaning?
Despite some controversy, many SEO experts agree:
YES! Backlinks are still important for search engine rankings in 2021!
Why are backlinks still so important for online shops?
In order to answer this question comprehensibly, we take a short thought detour.
1. First of all, it is important to consider how and why an online shop receives backlinks at all .
It is best to start with ourselves:
When do we link an online shop, for example in a blog or forum? And when do we share the URL of an online shop on Facebook or Twitter? But only if we really like the shop. For example, because we were so impressed by the products and the service that we would like to recommend the shop to our friends and acquaintances with a clear conscience. For instance, Ritzy Knives offers Damascus kitchen knives for sale. When someone will give brand mention or link their product or website on their website or even social media, it will generate a positive signal in the eyes of google.
Conversely, this means: the more backlinks refer to an online shop, the more recommendable it must be.
2. This brings us to thought step number two and approaches the matter from Google’s point of view:
All of the previous updates to the Google search algorithm all pursued the same goal: to provide the user with the one, best possible and most relevant result that answers his individual search query as comprehensively and accurately as possible.
We conclude from this: Google wants to be as relevant as possible .
But how does Google know how relevant your online shop is to the user’s search query?
Let’s imagine that you sell high-quality dog food in your online shop www.hundefutter24.de.
Google recognizes this, of course, firstly from your content , i.e. from your texts, article descriptions and appropriately labeled product photos (if your product photos do not have meaningful file names and alternative graphic texts, you should change this immediately!). However, all of your competitors also sell dog food in their online stores. And they too have appropriate dog food content.
Let’s further assume that you’ve done your SEO homework. Your shop is optimized for search engines; That means, for example, you use clear, meaningful URLs, strong headings (which contain your important keywords), a flat page architecture, lightning-fast loading times, etc. This gives Google a second weighty argument . Because Google doesn’t just want to be as relevant as possible; the searchers should also be pampered with a top user experience .
But what if your competitors have also optimized their online shops according to all the rules of the art search engine ?!
How should Google then decide whether your online shop www.hundefutter24.de or that of your biggest competitor www.hundefutter.com is the more relevant and user-friendly of the two?
This is where the backlinks come into play.
We deduced earlier that a really great online shop is often linked and shared by its happy customers. It doesn’t matter whether he’s selling chic fashion or dog food for man’s best friend.
In Google’s mission with the motto relevance and user-friendliness , the backlink argument simply cannot be ignored.
If the Vierbeiner eV ., As well as the magazines Adventure Hund and Dogs today, as well as Marion’s dog blog (etc.) link to your online shop www.hundefutter24.de, but not to that of your competitor – who will be more relevant then?
There is no getting around link building today either.
Why do some still doubt the importance of backlinks?
Back in Google’s childhood, when the almighty algorithm was not quite as powerful as it is today, backlinks were one of the main factors from which Google derived the relevance of a website. But since the shrewd SEOs recognized how easily this factor (and thus the ranking of their site) could be influenced, the whole thing was properly exaggerated and degenerated into abuse. Keywords such as link farming, link exchange and link buying belong to this time – and today they are largely a thing of the past.
Google took countermeasures with various updates, improved the algorithm and included numerous other ranking factors in the relevance calculation. As a result, the once excessive backlink factor had to lose some of its power.
However, it has not become completely irrelevant to this day and, if you look at the above example, it will probably not become so quickly either.
If you are interested in the topic – the relevance of backlinks for SEO is discussed here:
t3n from 02/29/2016: SEO without backlinks: nonsense or future?
Watch out: backlinks actually double your traffic !
We have already discussed that backlinks underline the relevance of your web shop and therefore bring it to the top in the search engine rankings.
Everyone knows from personal experience how important these front box seats are : When we search for something on Google, we do it on page one. Only in very special exceptional cases do we venture into the unknown expanses of side two. At the latest, however, if we don’t find what you’re looking for, we’ll change the search query. And look again on page one. At least that’s how I do it.
So if you are too far behind on Google and Co with your online shop, you can pack up. Because customers won’t reach him that quickly; at least not through a search engine.
That means: Firstly , backlinks increase your traffic indirectly by showing your shop further up on Google and thus getting more clicks.
A backlink would not be a backlink if it were not located somewhere on another (the linking) page. And this is exactly where the second way is hidden, via which a backlink increases access to your online shop:
Ideally, the linking page itself has tons of traffic. For example in the form of dog masters and women who hang around on Marion’s dog blog. When visiting Marion’s dog blog, animal lovers stumble upon an interesting article in which Marion reports on her experiences with your online shop www.hundefutter24.de. (When she placed her first order, you gave her very nice and competent advice via your hotline. She also found the design of your shop great and she was completely enthusiastic about the fast delivery time. She now always orders from hundefutter24.de!)
And zack: The link has already been clicked and lots of new masters are looking around your highly praised shop themselves – and you may have won new customers.
Note : Second , backlinks increase your traffic directly , because we prefer to follow recommended links from friends (or bloggers we trust).
Is a link the same as a link? What to look out for with backlinks!
In the introduction I already indicated that you can do a lot wrong when building links. I want to keep my promise and not get too technical – but some technical aspects really belong here now.
First of all, the “content” factors that play a role in backlinks:
Google is about relevance, we already had that. So you should definitely keep this aspect in mind when you embark on the link building mission.
- The thematic proximity between your page and the link source is of great value here. For example, a link from Marion’s dog blog brings you more than a link from Peter’s football blog.
- The link source should ideally also contain the search term for which you want to rank directly in the text of the page . If Marion places the link within her blog on a page on which she discusses the advantages and disadvantages of dry and wet food, that’s even better than a link in her report on leashes and collars.
- It is also great when Marion mentions the special search term in the link text (anchor text) with which she links your online shop (eg “I pay close attention to [LINKSTART] high-quality dry and wet food [LINKENDE] for my Bello …” ). You should use such optimized link texts with caution, as Google reacts sensitively to “over-optimized backlinks”.
- However, you should not only aim for links for important search terms, but also collect links for your brand name (shop name / company name).
- Of course, the linked site should definitely be trustworthy . How Google rates a link from spam or porn sites is something you can guess yourself.
In addition, you should consider the following “technical” factors when you start building links:
- For a long time, Google’s PageRank * was for SEOs like the Pole Star for the sailor. However, since Google recently announced that it will no longer make this type of page rating publicly known, you will have no chance of including it in your link building strategy.
- Instead, the values from Moz, a well-known SEO tool provider from the USA, offer good starting points: Look at the page authority *, domain authority * and the spam score * of every potential link source to assess their quality. The best thing to do is to install the Moz bar as a plug-in for Firefox or Chrome . This allows you to keep an eye on the factors mentioned without any additional effort. (In order to get a feeling for what is “good” and what is “bad”, you can, for example, look at the values of a few well-known and trustworthy sites and those of your competitors in advance.)
- Overall, you should make sure to achieve a natural backlink profile * (a “natural” mix of backlinks). This includes that the links referring to your shop consist of both dofollow * and nofollow * links . In addition, the anchor texts should have a balanced ratio (e.g. no over-optimization with keywords). It is also important to ensure that the composition of the link targets is “credible” for Google . Most backlinks, for example, naturally lead to the start page. But if you can convince with special category pages or certain great products, it is only logical that these sub-pages from blogs etc. are also linked.
- So that you get a feeling for what kind of backlinks Google will classify as “natural”, it is worth taking a comparative look at your well-ranking competitors – because Google also uses this as a clue to get a feeling for the naturalness of your backlinks. Therefore, preparing a good link building strategy definitely includes a comprehensive competition analysis. Take a close look at how the backlinks of those competitors that achieve a good ranking are composed. Try to recognize a pattern and derive tendencies with regard to the type of links, origin, target pages, anchor texts, etc. Do not limit yourself to the 3 best, but consider around 10-15 competitors in your analysis. A tool for this work is, for example, the Open Site Explorer from Moz and the WISE Open Link Explorer (both can be used free of charge in the restricted version). I also use Xovi for my backlink analyzes (for a fee).
- It is important that the speed of your backlink growth is slow (or of course!). The amount of your links shouldn’t explode overnight, otherwise Google could become suspicious and punish your work with poor rankings.
And the ideal number of backlinks?
First of all, it must be said that the absolute number of links is not relevant in itself. Much more important is the number of different domains these links originate from (this corresponds to the domain authority mentioned above). Unfortunately, there is no ‘only true’ recommendation for the ideal number of linked domains. It is based on your individual shop environment. To assess the number of your backlinks, Google compares them with the average number of backlinks from other sites in your industry. You should use this guideline as a rough guide so as not to attract attention.
This underlines the importance of a preparatory competition analysis: You should have a close look at how the backlink situation is in your shop environment.
* Info tip: If you want to find out more about the technical terms and read more about the technical factors of link building mentioned, you will find an extensive glossary on page.org in which the terms are explained in detail.
Bring the links! 14 link sources for your online shop
After you have familiarized yourself with the content- related and technical parameters that must be observed when building links, the real work begins: It is important to identify and develop relevant link sources. I have divided the tips on possible link sources into two groups below:
First comes the duty, then the freestyle .
Link Building Part # 1: The “Duty” – 7 Sources for “Easy” Links
You get a first batch of backlinks through pure hard work. The list below contains the absolutely mandatory links. Work through them step by step and make the appropriate entries and links.
Very important here: Make sure that the contact details are spelled consistently . These should always be spelled exactly the same; no matter where they appear on the Internet (e.g. imprint, contact page, entries in online business directories, on association pages, etc.). Strictly speaking, it’s about …
- Name: Uniform company name, actual company name
- Address: Correct address in uniform spelling
- Telephone number: Choose from three options (030) 5770 432 10 // 030 5770 432 10 // +49 30 5770 432 10
Now to the tips for possible link sources:
1. Google My Business
If you haven’t done that long ago, you should definitely create a Google My Business account and maintain it completely, including logo, opening times, pictures of the company building, etc. You should also include important keywords in the profile text. Also pay attention to the correct assignment of the categories. And while you’re at it, it also makes sense to use the entry to collect new customer reviews. (In the next phone call, ask your friends, acquaintances and maybe even well-meaning regular customers whether they will give you a rating.)
2. Bing Places
Exactly the same applies to Bing Places : create an account and maintain your profile!
3. Register of municipalities
Even if you may not sell locally as an online shop (unless you also offer warehouse sales), your company still has a fixed location. And that provides you with a possible link source. Check on the website of your municipality / city whether there is a company directory and arrange for your company to be entered and your online shop to be linked. Don’t forget to include one or more relevant categories, if possible.
4. Association registers
Is your branch organized in an association? You should definitely check that and make a corresponding entry!
5. Business directories
The same applies to business directories: Research in which business directories an entry for your online shop makes sense. There are countless possibilities here, from various local business directories (e.g. http://www.muenchen.de/branchenbuch ) to the absolute classic of the Yellow Pages . Further examples:
6. Source of supply portals
Entries in supply source directories make sense, especially in the B2B area, for example at Wer Vor Liefert Was ( www.wlw.de ) etc. Research, for example, via Google, which ones are suitable for your shop.
7. Supplier and manufacturer directories
As an online shop, you will be supplied by various companies and manufacturers. So why not use the business relationship for a backlink ?! Many manufacturers offer a list of dealers on their websites, in which you should definitely be mentioned!
Link building part # 2: The “freestyle” – 7 sources for “difficult but valuable” links
Unfortunately, I have to disappoint you and none of it helps: There is no secret standard recipe for this. You have to do the hard work yourself. You have to think. You have to do some research on Google.
However, you have a home advantage, so to speak: Because you are the expert for your target group. You know your customers. You know their preferences. You know your products.
And exactly this knowledge is your starting point:
- Think yourself into the minds of your customers. Ask yourself what topics they are interested in (related to your products).
- Think about the issues they are dealing with (related to your products). And then google go!
As mentioned above, you should analyze your competitors’ backlinks for various reasons. This analysis also provides valuable information for your search for link sources – because where your competitors got a (good) link, you can very likely get one too!
The following list provides you with further information:
8. Mention monitoring
A Mention (Engl. Mention) always occurs when someone your Online Store (or your brand) names on the Internet, without putting a link. Such mentions are the ideal starting point for new backlinks; they ‘only’ have to be linked! You can use two strategies for this: First , it makes sense to search the Internet for existing mentions. To do this, enter “your brand name” or “your online shop name” (in quotation marks!) On Google. Then check the search results for meaningful backlink opportunities. Second, you should keep an eye on any new mentions that are added. The best way to do this is to set up a Google Alert so that you are automatically informed about new mentions and can then react immediately.
If you discover attractive mentions in a suitable environment in this way (also note the content and technical factors ), all you have to do is contact the respective author of the mention with a friendly email – and with a bit of luck, the mention will turn into a backlink .
For example, your message could be something like this:
Hello [author, blog owner, etc.],
I just discovered that you write about [brand name, online shop, etc.] in [your report, article, etc.] [link to the page] – thank you for the positive ones Words! Perhaps you could also add a link to [brand name, online shop, etc.] in it so that your readers can find the page more easily?
I would be happy about your positive answer!
[name, email signature]
9. Themed blogs
Today almost every topic is blogged. The likelihood that there is more than one blog that thematically fits your shop and your products should be very high. So go ahead and find blogs related to your topic. Take a close look at the blogs, read them a little and also remember to consider the content and technical factors for good backlinks.
Once you have identified meaningful blogs, you need a sure instinct: Depending on the focus and level of professionalism of the blog, a different approach is required. Write an individual and personal e-mail to the blog operator (under no circumstances copy-paste, this will not get you where you want to be!). Tell him that you discovered his blog and describe what you like about it. Be specific! Introduce yourself as the owner of e.g. Hundeshop.de and express your interest in a cooperation. In the meantime, the ‘blogger scene’ is often very professional and bloggers want to earn money with their pages. In order not to direct the conversation to the payment from the start, it can be a good idea, depending on the blog (and depending on what you sell in your shop) to offer the blogger, for example, that you make your products available so that he can test them extensively and then report on them. In return, you would of course be happy to receive a link. The better you go into the respective blog, the greater the chance that you will gain a new link for your shop.
Beware of link exchange: If someone should suggest you a link exchange as a cooperation (à la “Come on, we will link each other”), then let me tell you: Unfortunately, this will not do anything for your search engine ranking. Mutual linking of two domains is practically “not counted” by Google. If you want your effective backlinks to multiply via link exchange, then make sure to do it ‘right’ and swap across multiple corners.
10. Club Pages
The club culture is very pronounced in Germany. So think about it: Are there clubs that have something to do with your topic? If so, you proceed in a similar way to bloggers: Identify (good) club pages and write to the board members in a personal email. Clubs often have a partner section or something similar on their websites. And if there is no corresponding category yet, your idea could be the trigger for it. In your email, do not fall with the door in the house, but think about a nice way to start – after all, you want something from them! If you then draw attention to your shop, you could, for example, offer to contribute something to the club equipment or the next Christmas raffle, offer a member discount, etc.
11. Press work
Unfortunately, from an SEO point of view, it is no longer so useful to distribute a lot of press releases in the usual directories. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t completely ignore the topic of press work: If your report about the open house or the sponsorship of the local dog squad makes it into the local daily newspaper, for example, it was already worth the effort.
12. Let your creativity run free
Often, a really good idea achieves many more backlinks on its own than you could ever build yourself through your own efforts. The classic: You can, for example, organize a sales campaign or a competition, as such links are often shared. The keyword here is linkbait .
13. Social Media Marketing
Backlinks are also generated via social media. The quantity and quality of so-called social signals can improve the ranking in search engines.
Since an up-to-date and uniform appearance on social networks can now be seen as an obligation for companies, you should identify and actively use relevant networks (in which your target group is located). The important networks (of course depending on your target group) include Google+, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Create a professionally designed profile and store all possible information. Of course, you should also link the shop in the profile info. This also means that the content and products in your online shop are made ‘divisible’ using sharing buttons.
14. Content Marketing
Why not add your own blog to the online shop? There you have the ideal stage to regularly publish content yourself that is related to your topic. The possibilities are unlimited: You can post product presentations, report on application examples, give cleaning or service tips, etc. High quality content is not only the basis for many backlinks, as good content is often linked and shared.
A blog of your own has a search engine-optimizing effect in several ways: You can distribute targeted, search-engine-optimized content with specific keywords. In addition, with the background information you provide added value for your shop visitors (e.g. potential customers). This in turn improves the bounce rate because your customers do not leave the page immediately. At the same time, you can underline the competence of your online shop and thus strengthen the image and positioning.
Link building is an effective tool to simultaneously improve the traffic of your online shop and the visibility in search engines. There are a variety of ways where and how you can generate backlinks for your online shop. If you observe the content and technical requirements and do not violate Google’s guidelines, your efforts will pay off and you will be rewarded with a better ranking and more traffic.
Speaking of Google guidelines: These contain a clear indication that link purchases are strictly rejected by Google. If you are caught doing such machinations, you risk being punished by Google and even being excluded from the Google ranking.
But back to your link building efforts:
Backlinks alone are not enough for your work to bear fruit. Your online shop must be ‘optimized’ overall. In other words, the overall package has to be right.
As an SEO measure, link building is to be assigned to the so-called off-page optimization , since the search engine optimization takes place outside of your own page. Before you invest your resources in link building measures, you should have done your homework as a shop operator: Your online shop should not only function technically flawlessly and have an appealing and user-friendly design. You should also have done the SEO part of the so-called on-page optimization – i.e. all search engine optimization measures that take place directly on your own page – so that your shop is search engine optimized with regard to the important factors.
Then your new backlinks will give you a decent boost in the rankings!
What other link building measures do you know and use? What have you already had good or bad experiences with?
I would be happy to receive an answer in the comments! I am happy to answer your questions if something is unclear.