Link Building For New (or ‘boring’) Ecommerce Businesses


Multiple times a week I have friends who own eCommerce stores ask me “Kai, I have thirty minutes — what can I do to get a link right now?”

These are a number of link building strategies that I use for my clients — let me show you them.

What’s the catch?

There’s no catch, no opt-in required, nothing holding you back. You can take every single one of these and implement them today — in fact, you should.

Let’s get started.

Host a Scholarship, Get .edu Links

If you or your client have the budget for it, putting together a scholarship related to your industry and targeting a local/regional/national school can be an effective way to earn .edu links and links from newspapers.

First, you want to identify your target school and confirm if they give a link to a scholarship. Let’s use the schools in my hometown for example. We’ll pick on three:

  • The University of Oregon’s Business School
  • Lane Community College
  • South Eugene Highschool

The University of Oregon has list of scholarships available to business students, but they don’t include any outbound links.

Lane Community College always has a list of student scholarships and includes a do-follow outbound link from the scholarship page. Score!

South Eugene High School always has a list of current scholarships, but they’re listed in a PDF. Aw, shucks.

Now that we’ve identified the target school, you’ll want to put together a small scholarship — say, $500 — related to you to your client’s industry. You’ll want a page on your site explaining the terms of the scholarship (which majors qualify, what the application process is, etc).

After that, you’ll want to reach out to the college — in this case, Lane Community College — and let them know that your business has a scholarship available for [type of major] students in [location] and that you’d like to be featured on their scholarship page.

Here’s what my outreach template looks like:

Run a Giveaway

If you run a regular, recurring giveaway (like Death Wish Coffee), you attract links to a static page on your site that encourages new visitors to engage with your site and end up on your email list by entering.

Ego Bait

One effective strategy that I’ve seen used to get links is to host an interview with an influencer, blogger, or journalist. This can be as complex or as simple as your want.

Complex Option

Schedule a time to talk with the influencer on the phone and interview them about recent news in the industry. Then either post the raw transcript of the interview or write up a ~500 – 1,000 word article surrounding the content.

Simple Option

On the simpler side, you can put together a short questionnaire — 3-5 questions about the influencers topic area — and send it to them to fill out. Then, using their answers as the seed, write up a short ‘interview’ using their answers.

In either case, you’re left with a new, engaging, authoritative piece of content — that the influencer is motivated to promote. From a link on their site to an influx of traffic form their list to links from other sites around the net, a piece of ‘ego bait’ can be an effective way to create new content and get links.

How to Implement Ego Bait Link Building

It’s always easier than I think. Here’s how to get started with it:

  1. Prepare a List — If you’re the site owner, make a list of ~5-10 bloggers, journalists, and influencers in your industry or that you share an audience with who you want to target with outreach. If you’re a consultant, interview your client and extract a short list of influencers. Alternatively, you can do a short safari to identify the top ranking sites (high domain authority, lots of backlinks, lots of traffic, etc) for short- and medium-tail phrases related to your industry.
  2. Decide on Your Interview Style — Are you going to schedule a phone/Skype interview? Are you going to send them a questionnaire to fill out? Either way, decide on the interview style you’re going to use.
  3. Prepare Your Outreach — Do you have an existing relationship with the influencer? If you do, send them an email and ask to schedule an interview with them. If you don’t, prepare a short email that explains what you’re doing and why it’s worth the influencer investing their time.
  4. Conduct the Interview — Host the interview with them, recording the phone/Skype call or collecting their answers.
  5. Write up the Interview — Based on their answers, prepare a piece of educational, informative, high-value content that’s interesting and engaging. You want to write something that (a) presents the influencer’s information in a positive light, (b) is interesting to the influencer’s audience, (c) is interesting enough to earn links from 3rd party sources.
  6. Publish and Promote — Publish the interview on your site and then start promoting the interview. Contact the influencer, news/informational sites in your niche, and people who have previously linked to the influencer. Tell them about the interview and ask them if they’d like to link to the interview.

Ego Bait: Podcast Edition

Hosting a podcast is easier than ever. Between the affordable price for a high-quality microphone and the ease of use with podcasting tools like Simplecast, you can have a podcast in the time it takes for Amazon to deliver your new microphone.

And podcasts are an excellent way to build high-quality, relevant backlinks to a site. Think about it, every time you or your client appear on a podcast, you get a do-follow link back to your site / your client’s site with relevant anchor text from a typically high domain authority page.

On top of that, you can expect an influx of traffic (and new email subscribers) overtime you appear on a podcast. Podcasts are a great way to build links, generate website traffic, grow your email list, and increase your authority — all form the comfort and safety of your living room.

And that’s just from guesting on a podcast! If you start hosting your own podcast, you now have an excuse to contact influencers and ask them if they’d like to appear on your podcast.

Then, when the podcast releases, you can encourage them to share the podcast with their audience (link), post the podcast on their blog (link), or share the podcast with their friends (link) in addition to promoting the podcast yourself (more links).

On top of that, if you start hosting a podcast and invite a series of medium- and high-profile guests, you’re building up a library of high-quality, informational, evergreen content. Content that you can mine and repurpose into blogposts, white papers, or downloadable incentives.

Podcasting is a golden source of content for link building.

If you’re an eCommerce store, you may run into trouble finding reasons for influencers, bloggers, and journalists to link to you. Or you might be in a ‘boring’ industry and struggle to create interesting, high-quality content. Podcasting solves both of these problems:

  • If you’re having trouble finding reasons for people to link to you, your podcast because a link generating asset for your website, attracting high-quality links that increase your domain authority and help your website generate more traffic.
  • If you’re struggling to create interesting, high-quality content, podcasting lets you identify and interview influencers in your industry and audience, creating informational and educational content. On top of that, you can repurpose the content that your influencers share as blog posts (mining out relevant quotes), downloadable assets (using the podcast as a lead magnet), or transcripts / white papers (using online services to generate a transcript).

Comprehensive Resources

If you write the “How To [complicated process in your industry]” resource, you’ll have created a high-quality, high-value linkable asset. Once this asset is in your profile it’ll be a continual source of links and traffic for your website.

But how do you know what to create? And then, how will you know if it’s’ successful?


If you run an eCommerce site, you can find local nonprofits or civic organizations that are looking for donations, contact them, and arrange for a donation in exchange for a link.

How to Propose a Donation for a Link

Once you’ve identified the nonprofit, you’ll want to contact them — email or phone — and let them know that you run a local business, that you’re interested in facilitating a donation, and that you’re interested in a link from their homepage or another page back to your website.

If they tell you that’s fine, ask them what donation they’d think was fair. Then, arrange for that donation.

Steal YourCompetitors’ Top Links

Your competitors’ have already done a wonderful job generating high-quality links from relevant industry sites. It’d be a shame if you didn’t do something about that.

To steal your competitors’ top links, you’ll want to do a two-step process:

First, you’ll want to perform a Competitive Link Analysis, identifying your competitors’ links. You can use MajesticSEO or SEOMoz for this, generating and downloading a list of the unique referring domains linking to your competitors’ or a list of the specific backlinks to your competitors’ sites.

Then, you’ll want to perform a Link Intersect, matching up these links and identifying the most valuable shared links for your competitors.

This is an in-depth, complicated process. So why not use a tool that simplifies the process? handles the Competitive Link Analysis and Link Intersect for you, automating a complex, time-consuming problem, and presenting you with a list of the most valuable links that your competitors have, letting you contact the website owner and request them link to you as well.

University Alumni Programs

Did you know most University Alumni Programs offer alumni discounts? The University of Oregon maintains a big list of all the available discounts for U of O alumni.

If you run an eCommerce business, what would it take for you to be featured as offering a discount on your University’s alumni page? On the alumni page for local / regional universities?

There you are, strategies that you can start implementing today to build links to your eCommerce site.

What did I leave off? What eCommerce link building strategy are you in love with? Now it’s your turn to talk to me: send me an email at and let me know what link building strategy you love.

Would you like to get a daily tip about Marketing your Shopify Store?

Sign up for Kai's Daily Shopify Letters to get a daily letter about marketing your Store.

Every day, you'll get a letter on how to get more customers for your Shopify store.

Each letter is something you can use to improve your business:

  • Get more traffic
  • Get more customers
  • Refine your positioning
  • Turn more visitors into email subscribers

… plus, plenty of resources and stories.

Join 250+ other Shopify Store Owners and sign up before the next tip is sent.

Enter your email address below and then click the 'Get Daily Marketing Advice' button to join 250+ other Shopify store ownres getting daily letters on how to get more customers.