A Beginners Guide To SEO: Link Building
Posted on 10 June 2017
Gone are the days where you could build a website and people would come!
Search Engine Optimization also known as SEO is a form of "technical" marketing that allows your website to appear for free on search engines when a customer searches a specific term.
For example, you sell personalised necklaces and they're amazing.
When a customer types personalised necklaces into Google, your website is nowhere to be seen?
This set of words are searched on Google 12,100 times a month.
That's 12,100 visitors a month you're missing out on.
I'm sure at this point your thinking 'yeh, SEO is way too technical for me" and you're probably about to stop reading.
But you shouldn't.
Because it's really not that hard! It just takes a bit of patience and a clear understanding of how it works which I am going to teach you.
You already know, nothing happens quick anymore.
Even social media takes forever but you still plug away at it every day.
But if I told you SEO is just as easy, if anything, easier and is also just as effective if not better would you believe me?
I hope so.
The Three Main Principles of SEO
Which Pages To Optimize.
First thing's first, the pages you want to rank with must be totally relevant to that search term and super engaging for the person who lands on that page.
For example: Don't try to rank for the term "Men's Designer Watches" and optimize a page that features or talks about Backpacks.
Customers will quickly click off the page and Google will penalize you for it.
Keep it relevant and always think of the user.
As an eCommerce website, you will have a number of pages or collections that you have designed to showcase a certain set of products right?
Optimize these first.
Here is one of our pages showcasing Fashion Accessories that we decided to optimize for the search term "Unique Fashion Accessories" and this is how you optimize the page;
Nice and easy right?
Other than researching which keyword to rank for this took us 3 minutes to do.
Now we rank number 2 on Google;
We would rank number 1 but the person above us has the url with the keyword search term.
So, the principles here are as follow;
- Insert Keyword/Phrase into your pages Title - H1
- Insert Keyword/Phrases into your pages Sub Title - H2
- Insert Keyword/Phrase into your pages URL
- Insert Keyword/Phrase into your pages description and meta description
This particular keyword doesn't get 1,000's of searches a month, but it's relevant to what we sell and is easy to rank for so we took it.
Any relevant traffic is good traffic after all.
Generate Backlinks To That Page
A few years ago, backlinks where a huge driving force of SEO ranking.
So much, companies paid £1,000's for backlinks.
Google realised people where cheating and penalised those companies. Drastically.
But, they are still totally relevant.
Google analyses the trust level of your website by looking at how many other trusted websites link to yours.
Now it's not just any website. It's relevant websites.
For example; Vogue Magazine are a highly trusted website with a huge authority in the fashion industry.
A link from them will not only drive traffic but increase Google's trust in your website and they will start to rank you higher.
But we all know how hard it is to get a link from Vogue and one link isn't enough to drastically change your ranking, you need as many as possible.
First, here is what a link will look like;
Luckily, in this article by The Telegraph, we managed to get three links in total.
The First Link directs to our Homepage and the other two link to products.
Home page links generally are the most popular and help to grow your ranking authority but it's just as important to have links for specific pages to help those particular pages to rank better.
So make sure you factor this into your strategy as the more relevant links a page has the higher that page should rank.
For example, when we have an opportunity to get links from other websites, we will reach out and ask them to link to to specific pages that are relevant to their article and most importantly that their audience will be interested in clicking on.
How Can You Get More Backlinks?
When I started learning about SEO, I literally scratched my head for months about this.
Every blog I read on the topic was written by marketers for other marketers and it kept saying "Write Amazing Content And People Will Link To It".
But the problem is, we write content for customers not businesses, it would be rare that a customer has a website right?
This took me a long time to figure out so I hope it saves you a LOT of time and is super useful.
Here are a few ways to generate links;
- Influencers and Bloggers
- PR Coverage
- Content Writing
- Guest Writing
- Pinterest & Polyvore
- Ghost Marketing
- Broken Link Research & Outreach
- Unlinked Features
Here is a screenshot of backlinks I generated this year myself.
Take away the social media ones, we're still in the thousands.
In fact, this year, I got 179 different websites to Link to The Pommier on my own and to be honest, it wasn't that hard.
I just used the channels as set out in the bullet points above and I will break down each channel below and how you use them to generate links.
Influencers & Bloggers
These girls and guys are a great source of backlinks as long as you choose the right ones to work with.
Most top influencers will have a high trust ranking with Google and you can check this by using a website called Moz, Just type their website url.
As they typically have a high ranking, a link from them can make a difference.
Of course, influencers are not exactly free.
Most want payment up front and to be honest, some deserve it because they really do work.
But, it's your power to negotiate here that makes a difference.
I found that bloggers who are really good and worth the money would happily let me gift them to trial their services.
For us, if I find a great influencer, we do lead on to paid marketing but I want to be 100% sure it will work and is worth the money.
Any service that is worth it's weight in Gold will have some kind of trialling option to give you piece of mind but it's important that you are able to provide the samples for them to take photo's.
Again, if you have the money to spend you can really hit the jackpot with backlinks and boost your ranking with a good PR Agency but not everyone has the spare money.
Do it yourself.
I always sucked at the Press side of marketing.
But, i'v stuck with it over the last year or so as I believe it's important to learn it to be able to manage someone who does it later down the line and actually, i'v realised it's not that hard it just takes creativity and hustle.
I wouldn't advise writing a press release article and blasting it out to hundreds of PR's, I have tried it, it doesn't work.
Instead, hold your press release close and email relevant journalists individually and give them a pitch of excitement, short and sweet and make them want ask for more information.
The trick here is to get their attention, engage in conversation and build a relationship.
Once you get that relationship, keep it strong and the links will come flying through.
Literally, the best way to grow an online business.
Hence why there are SO many bloggers out there.
There are a million and one ways to generate links from writing content but as mentioned earlier, your customers probably don't have a website and won't be able to link back to you.
If you have written an article and optimized it to rank on Google, generating links back is easier than you think:
Feature other businesses and products in your article and link to their websites.
Every article we write, we feature relevant companies in the articles, link back to their website and then email them to let them know we featured them...and also ask for a cheeky social media share if possible.
If the company is a huge company, then tagging them on social media is probably the only way to do it.
But, think smartly about the people you feature in your articles.
You make accessories as a new and emerging designer right.
Why don't you support an emerging clothing brand and feature them?
They're probably a whole lot more accessible and a whole lot more grateful to have a feature in your article and will more than likely share it and link back to you.
The other option for link building with content is to write content for other people and give it to them for free.
In The Telegraph article feature above, that's what I done.
I wrote an article about Men's Watches and gave it to a journalist.
Ok, the whole article wasn't used but I got three backlinks from it which helped to improve my ranking.
Of course, we've been through this scenario before in my last post about the importance of writing content and I know it's tough to find the time to write when you're not a writer yourself so, ill use this area to do a cheeky bit of promotion for ourselves:
Content Marketing will help you with Ghost Marketing, PR, Collaborations & Guest Writing.
If you've been in business for a while this might be super relevant to you.
On the internet you've probably had people and companies write or mention your brand in a blog post in the past but haven't actually linked to you.
Drop them a message and ask.
I done the same with this feature where they originally didn't link to us and actually gained 12 links from them
It works really well and at the end of the day, there is no harm in asking.
What's the worst that can happen...They ignore your email?
Im sure it's not the first time that's happened right!
Pinterest & Polyvore
In the backlink screenshot I posted earlier in the post, you probably noticed a huge amount of links from Pinterest & Polyvore.
Links from Social Media sites are considered "No Follow" meaning Google doesn't follow those links to impact your ranking.
But they're highly relevant as Google does take your social shares into consideration for it's trust factor.
It's a very deep and technical subject but in short, it's important to have engaged followers on social media and to get them talking about your business as it will help your ranking.
There's a reason why I said Polyvore & Pinterest and not Facebook & Instagram here and this is why.
What makes Polyvore & Pinterest different is that they are designed to inspire their users.
Pinterest is basically a huge "Wishlist".
You pin images and products you love and like and would potentially buy.
But that's not all.
A lot of influencers and bloggers hang out on both Polyvore & Pinterest to get inspiration and when they create "Style Guides" they will likely use your product if they found it on these sites, put it on their website and link back to it.
And you hardly lift a finger for it!
SEO is and will always be an effective way to generate free and relevant traffic to your website.
It really isn't as hard as you think but it does require attention.
The attention you give it comes down to how badly you want to succeed.
One thing I have learned working with startups prior to founding The Pommier is that you MUST NOT rely on just one single channel to acquire customers because the internet changes and if the channel you market on changes, your traffic will drop and so will your sales.
Be agile online, play around with different channels and see what works best for you and focus on the better ones at first but don't ignore the others completely.
Come back to them once you've mastered the ones you found easier.
If you can acquire visitors and customers from 10 different channels you're 10 times more likely to grow your business.
Also you're 10 times less likely to fail if Instagram changes it's algorithm or Google changes it's ranking factors.
You've got this far, stick with it and expand and we will always be here to support you wether it's through our website or yours!