“But I just have a regular shopping website” is probably one of the most common excuses from BtoC shopping websites I’ve heard for not having a lot of links. Obtaining links to a “regular shopping website” is probably one of the easiest things to do, though. If you manage to get your processes right, you don’t even have to build lots of links, you will be gathering them naturally. In this post, I will try to explain how you can get loads of natural links to a business to consumer shopping website in four easy steps.
1. Be linkable
This is not only necessary from a search engine point of view, but also if you want to attract more links. Session IDs, password protected pages and frames are potential killers of a great link profile. Be sure to be linkable. I’m not going into depth here, if you need more info about this subject check out this part of SEOmoz’ Beginners Guide.
2. Sell great products
Don’t settle with regular or good products, sell great products. You know, products that make you want to tell others “Hey, check out this product I just bought. It’s amazing”.
Selling really crappy products might get you a few links as well, but I don’t think these links are the ones you’re looking for…
3. Provide great service
Don’t settle with a regular or good service, but provide every customer with a great service. Small customers as well. You know, a service that makes you want to tell others “Hey, you know about the problem I had with that product I recently bought. You’ll never going to believe this”.
4. Encourage linking
It sounds pretty logical, but there still are loads of companies out there that don’t want you linking to them. Mentioning a positive linking policy on your copyright page can help, but encouraging linking goes much further.
- Include a link encouraging message in your confirmation email or in the follow up email. Something like “Did you like this product? Tell us and tell others! Found something wrong with this product? Tell us and others as well!”, together with the URL(s) of the product(s) your customer just bought might get you dozens of positive posts with natural links. It might also get you a few less positive posts, but this is a great way to let these customers get familiar with your excellent service.
- You might take this even a step further by offering discounts or coupons. I don’t know what Matt thinks of something like “Let others know what you think about this product and get a 15% discount on your next purchase!” in terms of paid links, but I think it’s a great way to encourage people to give you feedback about your products. Whether this is positive or negative feedback.
- If your products have a manual, use it. Let your customers know the URL of the product they’ve bought, so they can check out this page for more info, updates and more. This way, you might bond with a few customers and make them linktrigger-happy.
- Images. In stead of preventing people from hotlinking your images, encourage them! In return for a link to the source, of course. You could also use a script like this.
- Even a simple “bought this product?” button in stead of a “send to friend” button (with some explanation included) might encourage people to actually write about the product they’ve bought in the past.
While these steps look pretty easy to follow, I’ve only seen a few companies actually use this in their linking strategy. This is very remarkable, considering the fact that only a few changes might results in dozens or hundreds of free, natural deeplinks over time. And while I’ve mentioned only a few link encouraging tips, I’m sure you can come up with plenty more.