For ecommerce stores, online traffic is the lifeblood of the business — and the links pointing to your ecommerce site contribute significantly to your Google search rankings.
That’s why link building is essential for success in ecommerce.
With that said, link building specifically for ecommerce comes with some unique challenges, including:
- Overcoming more intense Google scrutiny for “YMYL” content.
- Maintaining a high volume of content for multiple product listings.
- Working around customer reviews (which can be both a blessing and a curse for link builders).
However, this doesn’t mean link building for ecommerce is a lost cause. Coupon codes can help.
Offering coupons is nothing new in the world of ecommerce, but coupon codes do more than just entice customers to buy from you. They’re also an effective tool for ecommerce link building.
Coupons are excellent for driving traffic that points back to your site from relevant high-traffic pages, earning you links and boosting your ranking. And link building for ecommerce sites can pay back big time.
Follow these steps to build an effective ecommerce link building campaign.
1. Identify Pages for Your Link Building Campaign
First of all, start by researching and identifying what keywords you’re going to target for your link building campaign.
You’ll do this by analyzing the SERPs and top-ranking pages, then identifying the type of content that ranks for these searches.
Is it transactional, informational, or directional?
Is it a coupon page or an ecommerce category page?
One of the best ways to optimize for keywords is by checking what works for high-traffic, successful ecommerce coupon sites.
You can look to either industry leaders like Groupon and Retail Me Not, or smaller sites that match your particular niche.
This will help you to decide what pages you want to build your links toward.
2. Determine Your Anchor Text Profile
Constructing an optimized – but not over-optimized – anchor text profile is a crucial step in link building to avoid landing in hot water with Google.
Using the same optimized anchor text across your campaign looks unnatural to Google and may earn a manual actions report (basically a penalty on your site).
Coupon code link building works slightly differently from other link building strategies.
Typically, exact match anchor text (i.e., “Coupon codes for Walgreens”) looks suspicious as it’s typically associated with anchor text manipulation.
However, for coupon codes, the rules are a bit different.
An exact match is acceptable as long as the link includes a nofollow attribute. Otherwise, it may trigger a manual action.
There is no perfect anchor text distribution. Instead, the keyword niche, as many niches, has different signal weights.
You can identify a page’s anchor text profile using a tool like Ahrefs.
Here’s how to do it:
- Search for a page (Groupon, Retail Me Not, or the highest ranking page for your brand).
- Copy the URL.
- Paste the URL into the Ahrefs search bar (set to prefix).
- Filter the results by the Best Pages by Incoming Links.
- Click Anchors in the menu on the left.
In an average anchor text profile, you’d expect to see a distribution between branded, topically relevant, and call-to-action anchor texts, along with some raw URLs.
As you examine these top-ranking pages, you’ll want to aggregate and categorize the anchor text into these broad categories.
To create a natural link profile, your goal will be to mirror this distribution of anchor text types in your own link building campaign.
For a more detailed breakdown of this step, check out the Advanced Approach to Selecting Anchor Text.
3. Prospect for Sites to Place Your Content
Now that you have your anchor link profile, it’s time to find relevant sites that can place your content.
You can do this in a couple of ways:
- Through some good ol’ fashioned manual research.
- Or by using an influencer outreach platform.
If you’re looking to DIY your link building campaign, you can do your own research to find the sites and blogs you want to target for outreach.
As you’re weighing your options, make sure to evaluate the site for adherence to Google’s E-A-T standards. The content should also be relevant to your niche.
If you aren’t already aware of Google search operators, this tip will make your search a whole lot easier.
Search operators are special commands you can use to refine your search.
For example, to find sites that allow you to submit coupon codes, you can look for pages that have “submit” or ”add” and “coupon” in the title. In which case, your search query would look like this:
“keyword” intitle:submit intitle:coupon
Some search operators that you may find helpful for coupon link building are:
You can also use this method to find blogs that discuss coupons and any brands that you have links to. Just reach out and ask them to link back to your page.
Influencer Outreach Platforms
If manual prospecting sounds like a chore, you can use a tool like Pitchbox to help you find sites.
An outreach platform can turn up a greater number of sites, all neatly organized with useful contact information that you’ll need for outreach.
4. Write Your Pitch and Reach Out
Now it’s time to pitch to the sites you’ve identified for your link building campaign.
This is the step where people tend to struggle the most, which isn’t surprising. Just think back to all the cold emails you’ve received in your life. Now, try to remember how many you’ve actually responded to.
The answer is probably pretty low.
Bland, templated emails are the norm because you can send hundreds of them in bulk faster than you can write just a few individualized emails. The problem, though, is that you risk exhausting your prospect list for just a few opportunities.
One study published in Fast Company detailed an experiment where the researchers sent out 1000 emails, split testing different optimization tactics to see what worked for increasing rates for opens and replies.
Across those 1000 emails and 10 email copy and subject line variations, only 12 people responded. Only 1 of those responses, the author reports, was actually helpful.
A reply rate of only 1.7% is bad by any metric, and it goes to show that no matter what “optimization tactics” you use, there’s no replacement for personalization.
As you start reaching out, make sure to tailor your message to the person you’re contacting. Be sincere and specific.
(You’re not convincing anyone by just saying that you’re a “fan” of the site.)
Here are some general rules of thumb when it comes to cold outreach:
- Include specific references to the person’s past work to show that you’ve been paying attention.
- Be honest about your ask and what it requires from them. Provide the information they need upfront, but keep it skimmable.
- Your email may have been lost in the shuffle, so don’t be afraid to follow up. While there is no consensus on exactly how many emails should be in your sequence, sending at least 3 emails in total should give you a chance to win their attention (and, hopefully, a link).
More Ways to Build Links with Coupon Codes
But why stop there?
There’s more you can do to magnify your next coupon link building campaign:
Create coupon-related E-A-T content for your site.
Creating fresh and authoritative blog content regularly is vital for both driving organic traffic and improving SEO.
Hubspot recommends blogging 3-5 times per week as a benchmark for smaller blogs. Creating blog content around major promotions and discounts is one way to fill your calendar with high-value content.
Add a coupon section or widget to your site.
Do you want to ensure that your site shows up in search when people look for coupons related to your brand? Create a dedicated promotions page on your website for any currently available coupon codes.
Exchange coupons with others in your niche.
Want to be the go-to source for fresh deals? Use your promotions page to list coupons for related products in your niche.
Then ask other sites to host coupon codes for your products in exchange.
With a little creativity, you can get started building links using coupon codes and other proven ecommerce link building strategies.
Don’t Discount Coupon Codes for Link Building
Link building for an ecommerce site can be tricky, but the rewards are worth it.
In ecommerce link building, coupons are more than a way to win quick one-off sales. They’re a tool to drive traffic, build links, and improve your search ranking (which, of course, also helps you drive more sales).
Offering coupon codes to shoppers actively looking to buy is a win-win for both you and your customers.
Featured Image: Created by author, July 2021
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