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What Is Link Building?

Why Is Link Building Important for Ecommerce Websites?

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Quite simply, link building is the development of links on other websites pointing to your website. There are ecommerce websites that ignore link building and focus on pay-per-click, while there are others who use link building as their sole marketing strategy.

Why Should Ecommerce Websites Focus on Link Building?
When other websites link to your ecommerce website, you stand to gain three benefits:
  1. Search Engine Optimization
    Though search engine optimization (SEO) includes much more than link building, the fact remains that links from other sites constitute an important variable in the search engine ranking formula. A large number of quality links, accumulated naturally, over a period, will definitely help you improve your search rankings.

  2. Direct Traffic
    When readers access the content on the site that links to you, there is a chance that they will click on the link and visit your site. Over time these visitor numbers can add up. Even if we ignore the SEO benefits of links, the direct traffic they can bring in might be reason enough to build links extensively.

  3. Branding
    Even if visitors to the site that links to you do not click on the link, they get to see the link. That improves their likelihood of recalling your website at a later point of time. When this logic is extended to a large number of websites that link to you, the branding effect can be substantial.
Are All Links Equal?
By no means! Recently, one of my articles was linked to by an article on the website of the Guardian newspaper of UK. That link gave me a single-day traffic spurt that was greater than the cumulative traffic I had received in the preceding month. Though it is impossible to confirm this, I think that some of those visitors continue to visit, as the traffic continues to be higher than what it was before the link. Of course, this might be the result of the SEO benefit of the link.

Is it Ethical to Build Links?
In the ideal world, this question should be no different than, "Is marketing one's business ethical?" But in the online space, there are spammers and scammers who create links by dubious methods. This is one of the practices that comes under "black hat SEO." Not that the brick-and-mortar world does not have its share of scammers, but in the digital world, many unethical processes can be automated and carried out in a large scale at virtually zero cost.

Intrinsically, there is no ethical dilemma when it comes to link building. Take the case of the link from the Guardian newspaper that I referred to earlier. I wrote a high-quality article. Months later when the Guardian wrote a piece on a related topic, they referred to my article as one of the sources, and that gave me the link? Where is the ethical dilemma in that?

If I Am Good, Won't People Link to Me Naturally?
I do not want to keep revisiting the Guardian example, but yes, good offerings have a high likelihood of attracting links naturally. Such natural link building is called organic link building.

Some people believe that organic link building is the only valuable form of link building. That is like the common paraphrase of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quotation, "Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door." It has some merit, but you need to do a whole lot more than simply build a better mousetrap to succeed. Likewise, organic link building is great, but you could try to accelerate it by following some common link building strategies.

How Does One Build Links?
With over a decade of SEO experience under my belt, I could write an encyclopedia on link building strategies for ecommerce websites. But if you are just getting started, all you need to do is read an article on basic link building strategies.
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