Nice to meet you.

Enter your email to receive our weekly G2 Tea newsletter with the hottest marketing news, trends, and expert opinions.

Why Is Link Building Crucial for Your E-Commerce Business?

October 4, 2019

You just got off the phone with a business partner, and they told you SEO is the only form of marketing that does not take time or money consistently.

Next, you perform a simple Google search for “How To Do SEO For e-commerce Businesses,” and find e-commerce link building is crucial to your success.

Now, we know what you're thinking. Why is it important? 

Why is link building crucial for e-commerce business?

Throughout this article, we will discuss what link building is, why link building is crucial for e-commerce business, and how to get links.

Link building is crucial to an e-commerce business' success because it is a core ranking factor in Google’s algorithm for SEO. Online businesses rely solely on traffic to their websites in order to generate sales – especially if they are dropshipping.

Organic search traffic is the highest quality form of traffic for e-commerce because these are people ready to buy now.

Picture buyers in heat that are literally scouring the internet for “protein powder for sale” because they need to purchase protein powder right now! Ranking number one for buyer keywords, such as “protein powder for sale,” brings these buyers in heat directly to your website and out through your shopping cart.

There are only two ways to access glorious organic traffic from Google:

  1. Google Adwords: paying for advertising from Google 
  2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Search Engine Optimization is the process of utilizing Google's algorithm by making on-and-off-page changes to an e-commerce website in order to rank higher on Google.

G2 has some excellent resources on tackling on-page SEO and targeting search queries.

What sets SEO apart from Google Adwords

SEO is nearly invaluable for an e-commerce business because it is the only marketing channel that does not consistently take time or money.

SEO is similar to a train once it starts rolling; it's slow to start, but, over time, it becomes an unstoppable rolling force that is difficult to slow down. However, once a year has gone by of consistent SEO action-taking, an e-commerce website may not have to invest time or money for another year or so and still rank well on Google during that time. 

On the other hand, Google Adwords will give you access to some of the clicks from Google, and do so much faster than SEO. The downsides are clicks on Google Advertising receive significantly fewer clicks than clicks on the organic listings. 

According to Wordstream, 41 percent of clicks go to the top three spots for paid advertising and the other 59 percent go to organic listings.

More downsides are that PPC or Google Advertising becomes increasingly more expensive over time and ad copy must be continuously altered as consumers become accustomed to your ads.

For the long term, SEO is the more cost-effective option that generates more clicks consistently than Google Adwords. 

What is e-commerce link building? 

Link building is the process of earning links or votes in Google's eyes from one website that points to a second website.

Every time your e-commerce website earns a quality relevant link, that represents a vote in Google's eyes that shows your website is trusted and authoritative.

Earning links increases site traffic on Google, builds brand awareness across the internet, and drives targeted referral traffic that buys from your website. Links are arguably the most important ranking factor on Google and Ahrefs study of over 2 million keywords on Google supports that claim.

The results show that backlinks have a significantly higher correlation score than on-page ranking factors. In layman's terms, this means links have a much bigger effect on ranking well on Google than making changes to your content and website. 

backlink factors vs on page factors(Source: ahrefs)

Are all links created equal?

Keeping that in mind, we know that links are vital to ranking well on Google. So this must mean we just need more than our competitors, right? Not quite.

When Google released the Penguin algorithm update in Spring 2012, it changed the way links worked forever.

Prior to Spring 2012, the number of links was a clear indicator of how well a website will rank on Google. As a result, webmasters, or the people in control of a website, were using black hat SEO techniques to game the system.

The techniques were mainly link networks and purchasing links from other webmasters. A link network is when Website A contacts Website B, that is connected to Website C, Website D, and Website E, and they all agree to link to one another.

At the time, this was working very well for webmasters. That is, until Google cracked down by penalizing and even banning websites that were participating in link networks. More so, websites that were selling links were penalized and any web master that was found out to be purchasing them was also penalized. 

In 2019, Google attributes value to links by observing the quality, contextuality, and relevance of the link from Website A to Website B. Dan Maverick Ray notes the three following things to keep track of: 

Relevance: would the person reading the page that has a link be interested in the content they’d see if they clicked the link?
Number of inbound links to the page that the link is on. By the same logic, the fewer number of outbound links the page has too.
How optimized the linking page is for the keyword being targeted.

Here is a prime visual representation of a good quality link:

good link qualitySource: careermetis

Earning links this way is called white hat link building because it complies with Google's webmaster guidelines and does not put your site at risk for being penalized or banned.

Related: Learn the difference between white hat SEO and black hat SEO

How to earn links to your e-commerce website?

You can use a step-by-step process for earning links through manual personalized email outreach. The best way to begin a link building campaign for an e-commerce link building campaign is by focusing on the relationships in your network. We call this link building strategy vendor links. 

1. Vendor links

Being an e-commerce business, there are a lot of moving pieces, such as payment processing, logistics, marketing, sales, and more.

This means e-commerce businesses have working relationships with other companies to help them efficiently run, and they can leverage these relationships for links.

For instance, Chris Lema and Kathy Darlington use Woocommerce for their websites, so they reached out to Woocommerce and offered to give them a positive testimonial. Of course, Woocommerce offered them complete attribution in the form of links so new customers visiting Woocommerce will trust the testimonials. 

Chris Lema and Kathy Darlington offered to say something positive about a product that they use and were rewarded with two high-quality backlinks.

Furthermore, the website platform is only the start of the vendors you can offer testimonials to in exchange for backlinks. Reach out to every company that your e-commerce business previously or currently works with and offer them the same value exchange.

2. Unlinked brand mentions

E-commerce is a business where brand matters because you are selling a product and, often, that product is an article of clothing or accessory.

Perhaps your company has spent quite some time building up a large social media presence while working with the press. As a result, your company has a large-scale amount of unlinked mentions across the internet from the news, bloggers, affiliate marketers, and other businesses.

What you can do is reach out to the webmasters and editors of these websites asking them to add your link, upping the ante by offering to share their recent work on your social media.

Going back through and making changes to an old page can be time-consuming for webmasters. A good way to sweeten the pot is an offer to share their recent work on your social media so both parties win in the exchange. 

3. Niche-based links

Niche-based links are when we have an e-commerce business that sells supplements, and we ask businesses that sell weights for a link.

What we are looking for is a link from another business related to your own, but not in direct competition.

Some may argue niche-based links stretch into the realms of link partners. However, data shows reciprocal linking, or exchanging links, when done correctly has a positive effect on rankings and does not put your website at risk to be penalized.

Ahrefs studied 140,592 random domains with at least 10k site traffic and found that the majority reciprocal link.

Ahrefs niche based links study

The data supports reciprocal linking is good when it follows Google's guidelines by being a link that is contextually relevant and provides value.

4. Customer surveys

E-commerce businesses often put out customer surveys to better understand their customers' wants, needs, dislikes, and desires.

We are well aware that customer surveys provide tremendous business value. Surveys allow e-commerce businesses to remove products that are underselling, add products that are in high demand, close the gap on margins, and continue on fulfilling the needs of their customers.

However, customer survey data can be leveraged in big ways from an online marketing perspective. Customer survey data makes excellent linkable assets or content pieces that are created to fulfill a need, provide value, or prove a point of another website in exchange for a link. 

TIP: Use the right survey software to get your questions out to your customers and see what they're feeling, thinking, and what feedback they have for you. 

See the Easiest-to-Use Survey Software →

For instance, take 1 million male shoppers ages 18 to 24 that live in the United States, specifically Florida. The data shows they have a highly vested interest in lifting weights and buying supplements.

Knowing what we know, we can take this data format into an interactive chart and pitch it to weightlifting blogs, parenting blogs, and more for inclusion in pre-existing or existing articles where the data provides value, proves a point, or fulfills a need.

5. Guest posts

Guest posting is an all-time fan favorite, and this article is a great example of a guest post. The reason being is that guest posts hit all three benefits for the guest poster and are a complete win for the website it is being posted on.

Three benefits of guest posting include: 

The link itself, which boosts organic rankings on Google 
Brand awareness from being mentioned across the internet
Targeted referral traffic that buys what we are selling 

A guest post is an article about the topic around your business and a topic the readers of the website will find beneficial. This transitions to becoming a highly relevant article on an authoritative website with links from your website that are relevant, contextual, and provide value to the article.

In Google’s eyes, these are great, fresh links that are highly beneficial to websites. 

TIP: If you want to write a guest post like this one, sign up for G2's guest post program. With a blog that garners over 1.5 million monthly readers, you're bound to find a wide range of interested people to read your compelling content! 

Learn about G2's Guest Blog Program →

Additionally, the e-commerce business that's writing the guest post is receiving brand awareness by authoring something around its niche. Even more, it's tapping into another website's audience, and the article may rank for keywords on its own, which will drive targeted referral traffic that buys.

Guest posts are a win-win for both parties involved. The website that publishes the guest post gets a high-quality article for its audience that ranks well in Google and benefits their website at no cost to them. 


SEO and link building are vital for the long term success of e-commerce businesses today. 

Get started building links for your brand today by finding the right SEO software to keep you on track. 

See the Easiest-to-Use SEO Software →

Why Is Link Building Crucial for Your E-Commerce Business? Content marketers and SEOs are generally the ones doing the link building, but e-commerce marketers should also understand how crucial it is for their e-commerce businesses. Here's how you can get started building links for your brand.
David Freudenberg David Freudenberg is an American businessman and CEO of Seowithdavid, a freelance link building agency that earns links for businesses and blogs across the globe. When he is not earning high-quality links from personalized email outreach, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends walking nature trails.

Never miss a post.

Subscribe to keep your fingers on the tech pulse.

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to receive marketing communications from G2.