Advanced Guide to eCommerce Link Building by Jon Cooper
I was fortunate enough to get a peek at the guide a couple of weeks ago and I provided Jon with some feedback. Quite honestly, after having written The Link Building Book, I wish this was a guide that I’d written! So I decided to write a review of the guide for a few reasons:
It’s only online for a week – so waiting for reviews by readers to come out won’t work as it will be taken off-sale by the time they’re published
I really like it – as I said, I wish I’d published it!
Let’s be honest, it’s not cheap so it can be a big decision to invest into it
If you work in eCommerce SEO in one form or another, it’s definitely worth the investment though. I’ll outline the guide, give you my opinion on the most valuable bits and let you decide. I’ll also provide Jon with some constructive feedback at the end .
The guide is purely online and accessed via a secure login, so you can bookmark it online and come back later and it’s all contained within a single page with a table of contents for navigation. There are three main areas:
Whilst this may seem light (I thought it was when I first saw it!), each section is then broken down into sub-categories which take a deeper dive. Let’s go into each section in a bit more detail.
Jon starts by explaining a few things that you need to consider before embarking on your link building campaign. This is really important because it can be very easy to dive into building links without really knowing a few things such as:
What you’re reallytrying to achieve (links don’t pay the bills)
What the competitive landscape looks like
Where your website sits in this landscape
How the size / scope of your website and product range affects your approach
Sometimes, you’ll do this work and realise that a certain niche is just far too competitive right now and your website isn’t likely to get anywhere. This is frustrating but far better to know what you’re up against rather than sink time and money into something that is unlikely to pay off for a long time. So the alternative may be to go a bit more granular with your keyword targeting.
This section also includes some advice on building relationships and how to go about this the right way. The fact is that this is a long-term approach and needs to be treated as such.
The next big section of the guide is focused around the idea of attracting links rather than actively pursuing them. I was happy to see this section included in the guide because it’s one of the most valuable ways of approaching link building for long-term success. Having said that, it’s really hard. I won’t sugar coat something like this and it’s one of the reasons many people buy links. However Jon breaks things down into a really logical structure which is easy to follow and understand. The implementation is key though and you need to remember that link attraction will be an investment on your part but if you get it right, it will work very well for you and your business.
Within this section, Jon talks about attracting links to your existing pages vs. attracting links to new pages that you create. Something I really like about this section is that he contrasts good examples of landing pages vs. bad examples which makes the point a lot easier to understand. Importantly, he illustrates the differences between a page that is likely to attract links and one that isn’t likely to attract links. This is crucial because this doesn’t necessarily mean that a page that doesn’t attract links is one that converts badly. There is a massive difference between a page designed for conversion and a page designed for attracting links. Aligning those two things is tough and hard to balance.
Having said that, Jon makes a good point in that product pages can often be so good, that they can attract links. This is pretty unique and requires lots of time and investment because unfortunately, many products are available via many, many retailers so you need to provide a unique experience to your visitors. Again, there are lots of examples here to show how to approach this challenge.
Aside from product and category pages, Jon also explains how you can use content pieces with the sole intention of driving links to your website. I like one of the points he makes which is that if you’re doing this, it’s best to create a page that solely serves this purpose – not one that is half category / half content. Basically, for this approach to work, you need to really focus on making the page as content focused as possible.
This is the biggest section of the guide by far, taking up more than half of it!
There is a lot of detail on each tactic with plenty of examples of people using the tactic, along with steps on how you can do the same. Again, he gives outreach email examples where applicable which makes it easier to follow.
One thing I like about this section is that Jon approaches the topic of what can constitute breaking webmaster guidelines and gives his opinion on how to carry out the tactic to remain within the guidelines. I’m glad that he addressed this and didn’t just brush over certain tactics that may pose some risk to websites.
This section is a bit hard to review without giving all the tactics away! But I will share this which I thought was smart:
This is the top of a table containing all the tactics along with:
A summary of what is required to use the tactic
What kind of pages you can expect to build links to
The effort required to carry out the tactic on a scale of 1-10
This makes it pretty easy to sort and filter the tactics to see which ones you may want to try first.
What I really like about the guide
Lots of real examples
There are lots of real examples using real eCommerce websites – small and large. Jon doesn’t just tell you to “be Amazon” or “be eBay” – he also uses smaller, niche websites that are more likely to be the types of websites most of us work on. This makes the guide far more useful because it shows that smaller sites can compete with the right approach, yes it’s really hard, but it’s possible.
Outreach email examples are also included showing the different types of link building you may choose to pursue. Whilst it obviously isn’t a good idea to copy them word for word, they do a great job of illustrating the point. These examples range from just a friendly hello to start building relationship, right through to asking about editorial calendars.
Lots of tactics
I know from experience how valuable these are to SEOs. There are lots in the guide with each one explained in great detail along with examples. These alone are worth the price of the book and you only need to nail a couple of them in order to get a decent number of links pointing at your website.
Whilst you should read as much as you can, the guide acts like a great reference piece (almost like a textbook) because of the short and sharp tl;dr sections which Jon puts at the end of every major section. This makes it easier to refer back to certain sections and remind yourself of the key points.
Jon doesn’t sugar coat something that is difficult. You can get a preview of this from his sales page:
This tells you that there won’t be any major shortcuts to success – although Jon includes lots of hacks / tips to make you more efficient and speed things up.
What I don’t like as much
As good as the guide is, I can’t help but give some feedback to Jon. I don’t think any of these are deal breakers that should stop someone investing in the guide, but they are probably things I’d look to change / improve if there is an updated version at some point.
A bit more on the logistics of a campaign
One big addition to the guide could have been to step through a single example campaign from start to finish using a single, real example. So it would start with Jon showing how he’d come up with a strategy for a certain eCommerce website, do analysis of their niche, set goals, select tactics and implement them. All the information is in the guide though, I just like to see how people approach this which is why I mention it.
Update: Jon will be covering this in the webinar he is doing to accompany the course
A bit more on tools
Whilst tools can obviously apply across a number of niches, not just eCommerce, I think for completeness, it would have been good to do a quick overview of what tools Jon uses day-to-day with eCommerce link building. Again, insight into how link builders work is very useful to readers.
Honestly though, those are me being picky! It’s a great guide and Jon has done a great job on it. You can check it out here where you can also get a discount on the standard price.
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