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Natural Link Building for Ecommerce SEO

The practice of link building is essential for any search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. Due to the immense SEO potential of building backlinks, many ecommerce SEO practitioners have employed some rather sketchy and unethical tactics to establish link popularity (or off-page website authority.)

Penguin & Over Optimized Backlinks

As a result of these black hat link building practices, Google has counteracted these issues by releasing an update to its search engine algorithm called "Penguin." The Penguin update is designed to target websites that have too many over optimized backlinks. In other words, Google may penalize (and knock the rankings) for websites that have a backlink portfolio that's clearly the result of SEO link building.

Optimized backlinks are links pointing a website with a keyword target used as the link's anchor text (or link text.) Where a natural backlink would have the anchor text of a URL (.com or .org) or a call to action phrase (e.g. "click here" or "learn more,") an optimized backlink would have an obvious keyword phrase (e.g. "men's New Balance shoes for sale".) There are also semi optimized backlinks which have a portion of the keyword target used in the anchor text, however not in the form of exact phrase match.

The websites that are being penalized by Google are those with an overwhelming majority of optimized backlinks. As a result, Google's Penguin update has shaken the SEO profession and many well-ranking websites have plummeted.

It is now more important than ever to build links in a natural manner when optimizing an ecommerce website. In essence, the perspective to have while doing this is to ensure that your backlink portfolio has a blend of natural and optimized anchor text, and that your links come from various sources.

Diversify Your Anchor Text Profile

Natural Link Building for Ecommerce SEOTo build a more natural backlink portfolio, there should be a high degree of link diversity. This includes both the sources of the backlinks as well as the links' anchor text profile.

Before the Penguin update, most ecommerce SEO experts would heavily utilize exact phrase match anchor text to build highly keyword targeted rankings in minimal time. Yet now, the link building approach diversified with various other forms of anchor text.

Some ways in which you can diversify the anchor text profile of your backlinks includes using:

* a portion of the product or brand name (semi-optimized)

* images as links (natural)

* synonyms or related phrasing (semi-optimized)

* action words like "click here" (natural)

* simply the URL of link's destination (natural)

Spread Your SEO Backlink Sources

Website's involved in ecommerce SEO can further diversify and naturalize their backlink portfolio by utilizing a blend of link types. This may include a blend of contextual links (backlinks found in the body copy of an article or blog post), image links, blogroll links, and so on.

In addition to the type of link, the source of links is also a major consideration when building links for ecommerce SEO. This may include a mixture of high and low authority blogs (based on Google PageRank), articles, press releases, affiliate sites, forum posts, tweets, and other natural sources.

The key to creating a natural looking link portfolio is keep in mind the keyword relevancy. If you have an ecommerce website that sells shoes, but most of your links come from blog posts about hair loss, the nature of those links is far from natural. Google is smart and can recognize the contextual relevancy of your backlinks. For this reason, ensuring you build links from quality, relevant sources is important.

Natural Link Building Tips for Ecommerce SEO

By now you should be aware of the nature of backlinks and how they influence the practices of SEO. Below we provide some ecommerce link building tips for SEO. These ideas are designed to help you sharpen your perspective on the new best practices of SEO link building.

* Social Signals - Although social signals, like Facebook likes, Re-Tweets, and Google +1's, may not directly impact rankings, they give your content natural credit. In the eyes of Google, when your link-infused content is socially shared and appreciated by real people, the link quality is greater. Be sure to share your blog posts, articles, and other forms of link-oriented content. This will also force you to keep quality control in mind.

* NoFollow Links - Even though NoFollow links are not quite as powerful as DoFollow links for ecommerce SEO, they help to diversify your backlink portfolio for a more natural look.

* Blogrolls - Use the blogroll section strategically for ecommerce SEO link building. Instead of linking directly to your product pages, try linking to other web properties (that contain links) to spread PageRank. For instance, if you a blog with a PageRank of 6 and another blog with a PageRank of 1, you could try linking from the PR6 to the PR1 to help the PR1 grow higher.

* Directory Listings - The web is filled with various online directories. Some have a very niche focus for ecommerce, which is ideal for ecommerce optimization. Seek out quality directories and build your profile as thoroughly as possible. The backlink provided in profile listing will not have tons of authority, but will still help make your backlink roster look more natural.

* Guest Blogging - If you don't have many link building sources, or would like to further diversify your backlink portfolio, guest blogging offers a great solution. In this context, you can inquire to other blog owners about writing a post for their blog. By doing this, you can set terms with the blog owner to allow you include a couple backlinks to your website.

Although these forms of link building for ecommerce SEO are not the most powerful, they will certainly help to make your backlink portfolio all the more natural. Also be sure to include various forms of link types as well as anchor text. If you have any ideas or tips you'd like to share, please let us know in the comments section below.

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