Search engine optimization, when implemented properly, can help your store rank higher in search engine results and deliver a steady stream of traffic and sales, day after day, week after week, month after month. This makes SEO ultra-valuable for e-commerce merchants in a world where paid ads keep getting more expensive.

SEO in its most basic form can be sub-divided into on-page and off-page. On-page SEO involve optimizations you do with each of your webpages to help search engines understand what your site is about so they can show it at to the right people, at the right time.

Unfortunately, there’s likely hundreds, thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of sites very similar to yours. So how do the search engines choose who to show on the first page?

That’s where off-page SEO comes in. Off-page SEO and the many elements that make it up, further help tell the search engines who’s more relevant and important. A core part of this comes from backlinks. Backlinks are simply links from other sites that point to your site.

The act of getting links from other websites is called link-building and is a core SEO strategy that most online businesses should be devoting time to each and every week.

Not All Backlinks Are Created Equal

Backlinks fall into one of two categories which are referred to as follow and nofollow. A follow backlink is simply a link that helps your SEO. It’s a link from another site that tells search engines, “I endorse this website.” Alternatively, a nofollow backlink is a link where the person/website giving the backlink is saying “I’m acknowledging they exist, but I’m not vouching for them”.

To make a link nofollow, an author simply needs to add an extra bit of text to the HTML of the link. By looking at the HTML, you can also tell if a link is follow or nofollow.

For reference, low-hanging fruit like links from Facebook, Twitter, blog comments, and forums are almost always nofollow links. From a sharing and exposure perspective, these are still great links but recognize that it’s generally accepted in the internet marketing community that these links won’t give you any boost in search engine rankings.

Some Backlinks Are Worth More

Think of each link as a vote for your store, except one key difference, it’s not a democracy and peoples votes have different weight and authority. For example, a link from CNN is worth more than a link from someone’s personal blog that they just started three months ago.

How to Determine the Value of a Link?

There are several factors that go into how much value and impact a backlink could have for you. Some of those key elements are listed below:

External links from high quality and relevant sites have a much bigger impact than irrelevant and smaller sites.
Links from unique domains are more important than links from sites that have linked to you before.
Links using relevant anchor text pass more keyword focused value. For example, a link has more value if someone links to you from keyword rich text like “men’s leather wallets” vs. “click here.”
A page containing a high number of links will pass less value per link.
If you want to get a sense of how much authority a website has, thus, much impact a link from an external website could have, check out the tool Website Authority Checker. This tools will give you a few metrics which you can use to compare against other sites to understand how valuable a link from a particular site might be worth to you.

Never Buy Backlinks

We mentioned that backlinks could carry different weight, but it’s also important to note that some backlinks are just plain bad. Backlinks from scammy websites that search engines see as really low quality or websites that exists solely for the purpose of trying to manipulate search engine rankings can get your store penalized or delisted altogether.

Buying backlinks and backlink packages are not a good idea these days. There’s no substitute for hard work and getting legitimate backlinks from credible sources.

Set a Backlink Goal

Backlinks won’t just happen. It’s something you need to be putting work and effort into building over time. It’s a long-term strategy but an important one at that. The best way to approach the process is to give yourself some goals to work towards. When you first start out, setting quarterly goals probably will work best.

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