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Link Building for SEO: Top-10 in 10 Questions

Digital Marketing
July 31, 2020
9 min

Why link building is important for eCommerce? Probably, the best answer to this question can be given with Ahrefs, one of the most popular marketing tools ever used for SEO.

ahrefs keyword search
ahrefs backlinks

Backlinks. From the sentence above, it becomes obvious the fact that the more backlinks that lead to your eCommerce website the better. In our case, when checking the topic for this article and recognising it’s “super hard”, the service estimated that 399 backlinks will be needed to appear in the SERP’s top-10. In other words, the primary advantage link building brings to eCommerce websites is organic traffic acquired by means of the desired position in the top-10.

Indeed, links are a green light for search engines. Meaning, increasing the number of high-quality links that lead to your website can significantly boost your chances to rank within  the top-10. Going further, links help to establish your brand’s authority, build long-term relationships with key influencers and gain referral traffic. We addressed the essential questions about SEO link building for the sake of your top-10 with our in-house SEO specialist Kirill Dubinin.

1. How does Google see backlinks from guest posts?

Googlebot visits a web page, downloads its code and notices a link that leads to an acceptor.

2. Is there anything Google doesn’t like?

It’s easier to say what Google likes 🙂

Google webmasters approve only the links that are naturally useful. They imagine the world of link building working under the same principle as Wikipedia does: any article is supplied with an organic link that leads to the source website/ page/ document. But in reality, when you address a website for a guest post, in 99% of cases they will still ask for money in return to publishing your content. This doesn’t mean it’s sponsored and only aimed at promoting the author, but it’s definitely not the way Google support pages describe how to get things done.There are, however, several options that unite Google and publishers under the idea of organic and useful links. These are unique researches, reports and analyses your company has conducted to make a difference in the digital space. Those can be proudly referred to and shown to Googlebot.

3. The more outbound links the better?

Exactly. Links are still a ranking factor, and you can’t go anywhere without them. Imagine that you are the individual who answered the question “How to cook rice?”. Your material will appear first in the SERP’s top-10. A few months later, five more people had written content on how to cook rice. Now Google needs to decide which of these articles is best answering the question, which has more content on the matter, which one is of better quality, evaluate media objects such as images and videos and make the decision on the position of each one in the SERP. Once this is done, the backlinks take the floor: the more links lead to your content, the more trust among the audience it gains. Googlebot loves trusted websites and materials, meaning each backlink increases your chances to rank in top-10.

4. Can a website rank without backlinks?

Yes, it can. It all depends on the competitiveness of your niche. Analysing a niche in ahrefs you may realise that each article from the top-10 is referred to by 100 trusted domains. This is a super competitive niche, where you will not rank well without high-quality backlinks. However, you may find yourself a pioneer and easily conquer the top-10 in your niche with good content only. This usually happens when an eCommerce website starts a blog. What also impacts ranking of an online store are:

  • Wide assortment of goods
  • Filled in description & characteristics sections
  • Quality images/ videos

Roughly speaking, you may have 50 products described but not a single link leading to your website, and you will still rank in the top-10. While your competitors may offer a 5-times poorer assortment with the backlinks placed at every spot of their eCommerce website, and they will have no chance of doing the same.

5. How much does link building take?

The process is as follows.

  • You post a backlink that leads to your page in an article on the desired website
  • Google needs to index this article, as its “weight” will not be counted by Google until indexed. Indexing usually takes up to 2 days. While it’s not in the index, it does not take into account the weight of this link. Indexing, depending on the resource, can take from 1 hour to several days.
  • Once the article is indexed, it takes Google some time to recalculate the weight one website has given to the other and make changes to the ranking of the target website. This also takes some time.

All in all, it will take from a week to a month to see your page’s improved position in the SERP.

6. Is it worth hiring a link builder?

Link builder is a relatively new job. It used to be SEO specialists desperately hunting for links, and in many cases, these are still those who are in charge of link building. Link builder is the one who is often in charge of SERM, reacting to the comments posted about the company or products on forums, marketplaces or other online platforms. In addition, a skilled link builder usually has expertise with high-quality websites and can easily rustle up a backlink on the juiciest website. If any of these points is within your company’s current tasks, then hiring a link builder is a winning strategy both for beginners (yes, you can build links from the first days of your website’s launch) and mature eCommerce websites.

7. Guest posting or paid links?

Both make sense, and this is rather a matter of priorities. In most cases, you will not be able to guest post until you pay. At least, when it comes to trusted websites with good traffic. This means, a guest post often appears to be a paid link.

similar web

However, there still exist smaller websites, in-house blogs and stock exchanges that value good content and won’t miss the opportunity to make friends with similar content creators and possibly ask for a guest post in return.

In content we trust. We at Promodo insist and stand by the fact that creating quality content is one of the best SEO strategies to gain high-quality backlinks from high-authority websites. For Google, high-quality backlinks indicate credibility and trust, while for the audiences, useful content is a handful of information available for free and exactly at the spot where they need it. Read blog guidelines and do not hesitate to contact Chief Editors to offer your content. If it’s useful and unique, it will be noticed. At no additional fee.

8. How to find and fix broken links?

Nothing lasts forever. Links often do break at least  once. It may happen due an optimiser’s intent to automatically delete a backlink after a certain period of time or once a website’s owner decides it no longer makes sense for their audience. It may also be a matter of not being in our favour.

If a backlink disappears, that’s a signal to Google, which immediately recounts the page’s weight, while you are at a loss at why you have moved down the SERPs for no reason.

Modern tools like Ahrefs allow you to track all the changes like this and timely fix the issues that influence your positions in the SERP.

ahrefs broken links

The tool automatically crawls hundreds of websites every day, and once it finds out that a backlink is missing, you’ll be notified about that in the Broken links report.

ahrefs broken links

As an option, you can complete such checks manually, if you know where you placed your backlinks and, of course, if they are not that numerous unless you have the time for that. In addition, there does exist dedicated software tools working the same way: the backlinks are monitored automatically according to the frequency you set up.

Is it worth fixing broken links? Yes, it is! Especially when it comes to highly trusted websites with lots of traffic coming to and from it this resource, it’s worth contacting their webmaster and clarifying why the backlink no longer exists. After all, it could have been deleted by accident and there will be no issue to timely restore it. Otherwise, the webmaster may ask to pay for the restoration. It’s up to you to decide, but remember point 3: “Links are still a ranking factor, and you can’t go anywhere without them”.

9. How to create backlinks and select anchor text?

Backlinks should lead to the landing or internal pages of a target website, depending on the aim.

In most cases, our aim is to improve the SERP position or even get into the top-10. Now we need to assess how many links are required (just as we did in the introduction). Let’s assume that we are a home appliance online store. The primary request is for us to rank for “home appliances”. This is a super competitive request, and a lot of competitors will be willing to rank for it. Thus, if our target page is the landing page, we need to mine links for the “home appliances” request. The competitors may have a different primary request, meaning they will buy links to internal pages, e.g. category pages. All the data about link numbers and the pages recommended for linking is also available in Ahrefs.

When it comes to selecting the anchor text, we need to analyse which anchor links lead to our web page and which ones link to the competitors’ pages. Anchors are divided into two groups:

  • Anchor links. When we link the phrase “home appliances” directly to the target page on our website.
  • Non-anchor links. These are brand entries or URLs.

When visiting a webpage, Google may identify a link either as spam (used for promotion) or an organic link. Both anchor or non-anchor links can be organic.

Even if you have the intent of promoting the services on your website using backlinks, you need to be ready to play according to Google’s rules. If you link those in an article you create on your own blog, make sure the article also contains backlinks to other trusted resources. We recommend up to five high-quality websites. This will help to convince Google crawlers of your organic intent to be useful to online audiences.

10. Link building in 2020: what’s new?

Until March 2020, outbound links had been classified by Google as follow and no follow. The former are literally the ones you can follow while the latter can be links to forums etc, i.e. Google does not trust no follow links. They do not count as a point in the page’s favour, will not boost PageRank, and will not help a page’s placement in the SERPs.

In 2020, a fundamentally new rule was introduced by Google. What has changed this year?

Google preserved the value attribute rel=”nofollow”, but replaced rel=”follow” with rel=”sponsored” and rel=”ugc”.

attribute values 2020

What does this mean for eCommerce websites? There hasn’t appeared a useful case until now. Yet, the impact has not been studied. Now, as always, when building your link profile, we recommend reviewing your competitors. Check how many Sponsored or UGC links they have and be sure to combine all three attribute values. This way, you don’t risk losing your SERP positions If there is a radical recalculation in Google algorithms in the future.

Written by
Kirill Dubinin

SEO Specialist at Promodo

July 31, 2020
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