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SEO 101 for Online Merchants. Part 3: Backlinks

11 min listen

We have John Lincoln back for the third instalment of our SEO series and discuss backlinks and how to get Google to notice your site.

We break down press releases, guest blogging and social media links for the beginning merchant.

Listen to all episodes of the series:

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Jesse: Hey guys, Jesse Ness with the Ecwid E-commerce show, here with…

Richard: Richard Otey. Hi, Jess.

Jesse: Hey, Rich. We’re back again with old friend — John Lincoln, with Ignite Visibility. If you haven’t listened to our previous series, he was named the search engine marker of the year by Search Engine Land, and their company is the #1 ranked SEO company by Hey, John.

John: Hey, how you doing? Thanks for having me back!

Jesse: Good, yeah I’m doing great. So, we’ve been doing a kind of an “SEO 101” series previously. We’ve spoken about keyword research and optimizing your page with that keyword research. So, now we want to go into probably the hardest topic, in my opinion, of SEO. That’s backlinks and how to get them.

John: Yeah. Definitely.

Jesse: So, John, this is a tough one. Where do we get them?

Richard: Where’s someone’s start with this?

Jesse: Yeah!

John: So, first, you know, let’s define what it is, right. So, there’s a couple different things going on here, one ——there’s local listings and then those determine where you show up inside of Google Maps, right. So, that is that. So, if you want to show up in Google Maps it’s local listings, and then on the other side…

Jesse: So, the “local listings” that’s like Google+ account design, do you still call it or what’s…

John: Yeah, so it’s Google My Business now.

Jesse: Google My Business, yeah.

John: So, if you want your Google My Business listing to rank, what you have to do is you have to get other directories online to list your name, address and your phone number. They call it NAP: name, address and phone number. In the more times they do that, in the more consistent it is, the better chance that you’re going to rank. So, if you Google, like, “digital marketing agency” in San Diego right now, you’ll see that are Ignite Visibility page comes up inside a Google Maps and that’s because we have all of these local listings that have our correct name, address and phone number. It’s all consistent, as well as in a good kind of usage signals in Google for people looking for us and finding what they’re looking for. That’s part of it, that’s one thing to know.

Richard: And a quick question. People enter this e-commerce game and they’re trying to sell “all-over”. But I might hear in between the lines here that even though they’re trying to sell “all-over”, there’s a reason to start with these local listings and there’s a benefit, even if they don’t have a brick-and-mortar store locally in that town.

John: Yeah. Every e-commerce site should have some type of local presence. But, you know, I think only if you have a brick-and-mortar location though.

If you don’t, then what happens is you set up the local listing and people start showing up at your door and they’re like “Hey, show me, you know, whatever you’re selling”, right. The mug or whatever. So, but generally it’s good, if you have a brick-and-mortar location a lot of e-commerce sites, they start with brick-and-mortar, than they go to e-commerce. They might know a little bit about these local listings.

There’s a lot of stuff around local, it’s a whole industry. But what you talked about is linking, and most most specifically, how to rank inside of the organic listings in Google. So, what that means is under the maps, there you have all the websites, that show up.

And to rank their it’s 50% of the content on the page, and the other 50% is how many links you get. Now, those links, they need to be quality links and that’s the kicker. So, you can’t just get a link from anywhere, otherwise you get a penalty in Google, you get removed from Google. So, the more high-quality links you get, the better, and example of a high-quality mid-link might be a publication, writing something on you and then linking to your website inside of the text.

Jesse: Got it. So, a publication might be, like, a local newspaper.

John: Some business journal, locate something in your area. Could be a big site, like Forbes, that’s what everybody wants. But a lot of those big sites they have something called a “no-follow” on the links, not to make it too complicated, but there’s a difference. There’s a followed link and no-followed link. If there’s something in the HTML that says “no follow”, that link does not help you. If it’s followed and it’s just a clean link in the HTML then it really helps you rank better. That’s what you want, “followed” links from good sites.

Jesse: Got it. So, if I launch my business, get the Google My Business account setup, next step, in your opinion would be these local publications. Making you get them to write a story about you or even if you have to pay for a listing to list your business, something like that?

John: You know, if you’re brand new business, the best thing you can do is a press release, and let people know. Have a launch party, try to do something creative, try to get in the local news, do a little PR, have a story, what’s unique, what’s the story about your business, right. If you can tell a story about why you started it and what’s unique, and if it’s compelling, people are going to want to tell that story for you. Do a press release and reach out and you’re going to get links naturally.

You can reach out just by Googling and finding people who would write on these stories normally and pitching them. That’s really the best way to get links nowadays just for straight PR. There’s a couple cool tools, if you want to get more advanced, there’s one called Pitch Box or Outreach Ninja. That will let you kind of crawl the web and reach out to people sequentially. I would stay away from that, if I were you, just if you’re getting started, just try to do a little PR, get a press release done. That’ll get you on the board. Build out those local listings in your social media profiles, because if you get a link from Instagram or Facebook, Google picks up on that stuff too. So those are kind of easiest ways to get started.

Jesse: Got it. So, the easy would be: the Google My Business and all the social media, so make sure you get all your social media.

John: That’s Step 1. Exactly.

Jesse: So, and social is like: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest if you have a visual product — get all those done, make sure they point to you. The press release, you know, what are your services? it will, you know, push your release out there, is there something that you recommend?

John: Yeah! So, first, when you’re setting up your social profiles, there’s a service out there, called and it’ll set up, like, anywhere from 30 to 500 social media profiles for you. Than you can kind of own all those, that can be a good way to start.

If you’re going to be doing local listings as well, you’re going to want to use Yext or Moz local. Moz Local is a little cheaper. That’s usually a good one to use.

And then if you’re going to do a press release, there’s a million different services out there. Some are really expensive and they’re all trying to upsell you to buy one, and 20 people call you, and they want to get you in there 20 grand package. It’s pretty much that way with all those releases actually. But that’s ok, that’s their business model.

For the press release, you can do it real quick and dirty one on It’s an older one, but they’ve got okay distribution. And then you could also do That’s pretty good too and you can just submit a release there, but I have a pretty big impact for you, get your ranking in Google.

If you’re a brand new site, you won’t even show up if somebody Googles your domain name, so the more press releases you can do, the better. For me, like, the best strategy is just some new kind of PR thing every month and doing a release. Something new PR every month and a release. If you do that over time, people just start linking to, you know, and then the next step is creating great content. And that could be a whole another episode in the future, but we can touch on that, if you like, but, you know, there’s a lot that goes into linking. I’ll give you another trick too.

Another thing you can do is you can use it a tool like “SEMrush” or “Majestic”. Those are two great tools and then there’s Ahrefs as well., and You can go put in your competitors and you can see all the places that have linked to them. And then based off of that, you can go and look at the links, figure out how they got the links, and then you can go and create that same type of strategy for yourself. We call that “reverse engineering”, and that can be a really good way just to see “Okay, so if I want to rank number one for, you know, best motocross parts or something, where did they get all their links from?” You go out there, you do the same thing. Would help in knowing how to approach it, knowing how to create those. But that’s kind of, just a little bit more info on external linking for you.

Richard: Got it. Quick question for you, John. First, thanks for the high-level, and we know you could go a lot deeper, lot of this stuff. But, if someone was just starting out, they barely understand what you just said. They just have one friend, their fitness blogger or something like that. And they have other friends or other people in the industry they want to reach out to and just start with one link. What do you recommend somebody, how do they introduce themselves, how do they get the process started just the one on one, just getting started. “I don’t want to get bogged down and learning new software” or any of this stuff. Is there anything that you see, that’s worked to get someone else to open up to someone that’s new and be willing to give him a backlink?

John: Yeah, so here is the thing. What you’re talking about is kind of, like, may not be exactly, but there’s this thing called a “link exchange”. So, it’s like, if I give you a link, you give me a link and so on, and so forth. So, I used to be something that over the last, you know, 6 to 10 years people did everyday. Now that’s actually against Google’s guidelines. So, if they find out that you did that and they get you a penalty. Also, if somebody links to you too many times with the same term, you get a penalty. So, if I link to you too many times with the term, like, you know, best motocross parts, that you wouldn’t rank for that anymore. So, you know, for me it’s really just about putting out great content, doing great work and, you know, look. If you got on the back end and you’ve got, you know, a hundred friends and you create an email list, and you say — “Hey, look! I just published his blog post, if you really like it I’d be honored if you linked to it”, that is okay. So, there’s nothing wrong with link asking and that’s fine.

Other things people do is like, you might create an infographic and then offer that to people, or just tell them about it and then they link to it as well. It’s really nowadays just about creating great content or having a great product and then promoting it. And just doing that continuously over time. And that is the best way to do, but just to that you were saying, this but just have a one-to-one thing what will happen is eventually Google will catch up to you and you get all the trouble for that. So, watch out for that one.

Richard: Yeah, I mean, more just reaching that one person at a time, but I know what you’re saying.

John: One in a time or couple at a time. Or telling friends about this awesome guy, that just published on the 2018 Motocross parts that you have to have and love it if you’d link to it. And email them a couple times and bugging them. Link begging is okay, so that’s the way to do it.

Jesse: Perfect, guys! So Link begging is okay, you heard it here. So, do whatever you have to do to get those first few things you need Google to find you and in order for Google to find you you have to have links to your site. So, go out there and get the press release, if you have to. Thank you, John.

John: Thank you, appreciate it!

Jesse: Hey, guys! Jesse Ness on the Ecwid E-Commerce show, check out for more, or Ignite Visibility to hear more from John, thank you!

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