E-Commerce Link Building Case Study

This case study outlines the exact link building steps we took in order to increase traffic and subsequently take our clients e-commerce site from £0 to over £11,000+ per month in revenue.

The site is in the food niche and the profit margins are high.

You’ve probably read a lot about SEO and link building.

Whitehat, Blackhat, Greyhat, anchor text distribution yada yada.

Much of what you have read has most likely been conflicting, which may have left you a little confused as to the best way to get backlinks to your website.

The truth is there is no one size fits all strategy. Every industry and campaign is different and the way you go about obtaining backlinks should reflect this.

e commerce sales

How Do I Find Out The Best Backlinking Strategy For My Industry?

The simple answer is to find out what your top ranked competitors are doing.

If you aren’t sure who your main competitors are, it’s probably a good time to find out.

A simple search for your main keywords in Google will provide you with the answer and from there you can start analysing the sites and find out exactly what they are up to.

Let’s take two examples in two very different niches, to confirm the point there really is no one size fits all link building strategy.

Niche Example 1

The games niche is huge, tens of thousands of terms, many  huge search figures.

If we take the game Happy Wheels and do a quick search for some keywords we can see some decent search figures:

Keyword research

If we search “happy wheels unblocked” in Google we can see the search results dominated by Google, Weebly and Wix sub domain sites, which is interesting if you were looking for good niches to do some parasite SEO.

Search results

If we take the first standalone domain we can see US organic search figures at 11.8k (mobile) and 6.7k (desktop) – which is only a conservative monthly estimation of the traffic.

Search figures

search figures mobile

Although not that relevant to this case study, SEMRUSH also provides data on the top organic keywords bringing in the traffic to the site, which is useful information for the keyword research phase:

Keywords

Either way, the data reflects there is money to be made here.

The next step is to put the domain through Majestic or Ahrefs. I use Majestic, it’s just a matter of choice.

The overview reflects happy wheels related keywords would not be easy to rank for with a brand new domain:

Backlink analysis

The anchor text distribution is interesting:

Anchor text

31% for “happy wheels”, which probably contradicts a lot of what you have read and reiterates the point that every industry is different, including the amount of times you should use your main keyword as your anchor text in order to rank highly without getting penalised.

The backlinks to the site also contradict what could be described as “quality” “relevant” and within “Google’s guidelines”.

Spam blog comments from a Muslim related domain?!:

Blog comment spam

Sitewide links from several cloned websites, most likely some kind of PBN:

Sitewide

Analysis tells us blackhat techniques are most definitely working in this niche.

Niche Example 2

Let’s take our second example a food sub-niche and similar to our clients.

“organic food delivery” receives over 6,000 searches per month and will be highly lucrative:

organic food delivery keywords

If we run the site ranking number 1 in the UK for that term through Majestic the overview indicates a very strong domain:

Organic food delivery backlink profile

The anchor text distribution looks a lot different from the happy wheels URL, indicating a far cleaner, more natural link building campaign:

Organic food delivery anchor text

Analysis of the links indicates relationship building, free giveaways and high-end directory submission.

As you can see two very different methods to reaching the top in two very different niches.

If you are going to use any blackhat techniques on a client site, the only rule is they know exactly what you are doing, agree to it, are fully aware of the risks and you have a strategy in place in case things go wrong (which thankfully doesn’t happen often).

SEO Strategy Used That Helped Generate £11,000+ In Monthly Revenue

Organisation Discounts

Offering discounts to organisations is a great way to build links and also to generate some direct sales.

In terms of our client site we were able to obtain several links from highly authoritative sites, including some .edu domains using this method:

Link profile organisation discount

It’s a pretty simple tactic in which you approach organisations which offer their members discounts and pitch your own discount on the products or services you sell.

It’s always best to target organisations whose members will likely be interested in your products.

To find opportunities you could enter the following search strings in Google:

“members discount”
“membership discounts”
“members discount directory”
site: edu “student discounts”

Further opportunities can be found by analysing the backlink profiles of the organisations already listed on the members page.

For example, Warner Leisure Hotels are listed on Sagas membership discount page:

Analysing the backlink profile of their website, provides us with 398,683 backlinks from 1400 referring domains:

Warner leisure hotels backlink profile

If we start working our way down the backlinks it doesn’t take long to find the first organisational discount link:

Organisation discount link

It’s from the English Indoor Bowling Association, an organisation which could be pitched to but also providing another list of companies we can analyse for further opportunities:

Seo data

Free Giveaways In Exchange For A Review

I’ve read recently that Google is clamping down on this technique and that all backlinks provided should be no followed.

The truth is if every single link you work hard to obtain is no followed, you are going to rank for nothing.

Much like many things in life it’s about common sense and doing things in moderation.

Offering something free to influential bloggers in your niche is a great way to get some promotion and build links.

While many companies have money to burn and can afford to send out free stuff worth hundreds of dollars to bloggers I would call anything but influential, I prefer to pick and choose.

Before making a commitment, you should check:

The strength of the domain – using Majestic or ahrefs
Organic search traffic estimation – using SEMRUSH
Social account follower numbers and engagement levels

To find opportunities you could use the following search strings in Google:

ProductName + intitle:review
ProductName + intitle:ratings
ProductName + intitle:comparison
ProductName + intitle:compare
ProductName + intitle:recommnded

Once you have found some good sites that have provided reviews, reverse engineer those websites to uncover further opportunities.

Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are much like guest posts, except you pay for the privilege of posting your content on someone elses site.

While in an ideal world we would have titled this section “Guest Post” and published our content for free, you will often find this isn’t a viable option for commercial businesses.

While many bloggers in the food niche, were more than happy to accept guest posts from their fellow bloggers, they were a bit more reluctant to allow us to publish our content without receiving some cash first!

Much like the free giveaway tactic, be prepared to do some analysis on the site you are thinking of publishing on.

To find opportunities you could enter the following search strings in Google using either “guest” or “sponsored”:

  • keyword + “guest blog”
  • keyword + “guest blogger”
  • keyword + “guest article”
  • Keyword + “guest post”
  • Keyword + “guest author”
  • Keyword + “write for me”
  • Keyword + “become a contributor”
  • Keyword + “contribute to this site”
  • Keyword + inurl:contributions
  • Keyword + “become a contributor” + inanchor:contact
  • keyword + “contribute to this site + inanchor:contact
  • keyword + “guest blog” + inanchor:contact

You can also find a list of blogs for guest posting over here.

We also found good opportunities on Twitter by searching for “keyword + sponsored post”

Recipe sponsored post

Backlinks from Directories

While many of the low quality, spammed directories got targeted by Google a few years ago and were de-indexed, directory link building is an easy and solid way to obtain quality links.

We prefer to submit to industry specific directories and also pay for the privilege, which normally costs between $20 – $100.

While a paid directory normally indicates it is going to be of a higher quality, we still check the metrics and also look for opportunities that represent a little more than a directory.

By that I mean you will see industry specific articles, information, images and videos on the site.

In order to find directories to submit your site to, you could enter the following search strings in Google:

  • industry keyword + submit URL
  • industry keyword + submit site
  • industry keyword + directory

Turning Brand Mentions Into Links

Turning non-linked mentions of your business is an easy and effective way to obtain some links.

This link building method worked for us because our client was reasonably well known for the bricks and mortar side of the business.

It’s important to note that if you are a brand new e-commerce company it’s highly unlikely you will be able to find any mentions of your business.

In order to find mentions you could use BuzzSumo or Mention, both tools will provide you with notifications of when your brand is mentioned.

After you receive notification head over to the page, if you have already been provided with a link, your work is done, if there is no link visible then reach out with an email similar to this:

outreach template

Hopefully, you found this guide useful and can use some of the techniques mentioned to build links to your own website.

The full case study, which includes sections on keyword research, email marketing, on page SEO and various other things we implemented can be found here.

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