2010 SEMMY NomineeWait, what are you doing reading this introduction? There's no time... it's already "Week One" of our link building blitz plan! Like the great holiday and Cyber Monday deals on your site, your company's link building opportunities won't last long... But, if you start now,right now, you'll have a serious shot at scoring some great exposure and increase your sales to those holiday shoppers.

As a time-saving holiday gift for all you ultra-busy eCommerce marketers, we used the Ontolo crawler and RVP scoring technology to create a listing of the top consumer deal, coupon and shopping comparison sites for holiday deal submissions. You can download these spreadsheets from our link building tools site.

You only have three weeks and a lot of work to do, so let's get to it... Here's a plan for capitalizing on all of your industry's best link opportunities during the holiday season:

==> Week One: Find Your Link Opportunities

Week one consists of task creation and prioritization, spread sheets and research tools that scale quickly. ie: Google Alerts, SEO for Firefox and the Ontolo URL and Hostname Counter.

Objective #1: Identify Conversation and Participation Outlets
Where do your potential customers go for information about the products you sell, as well as their accompanying passions? If you don't already know, or you've never conducted thorough research, then now is the time to find all of the sites that engage your target market and relate to your products.

Here are three great tactics to get you started on that research:

  • Community-Based Searches: [keyword] + forum, fans, news, enthusiasts, blog, blogger, article, tips, advice, community, deals, groups, round up + SERP frequency analysis to identify the most relevant, highest search influence bloggers and media sites for your keyword space
  • Content-Marketing Searches: [keyword] + guest post, guest article, guest writer, guest poster, submit article +SERP frequency analysis
  • Social Media Monitoring: Monitor products, solutions AND problems with blog-related queries on Google Alerts. Combine this in Google Reader with a Google Blog Search and Technorati blog search RSS feed to pull all news into one place. Better yet, set up social media monitoring from Trackur and have it all done for you for a lot less work. Start noticing what sites are consistently writing about these topics for your market. Become familiar with them - if you're not already - quickly.

With the search query combinations, set your search preferences to return the top 20 or 30 results and use the SEO for Firefox toolbar to export your results to a CSV file. Once that's done, open each of the CSV files you've exported, then copy the URLs into the Ontolo URL and Hostname counter. Submit those URLs and Bam!, you've got a prioritized list of what sites are talking about your products the most and where you'll want to gain a presence, fast!

Objective #2: Identify Linkable Content Topics, Create Your Own
If you have the bandwidth and talent for creating linkable content, now's the time to (quickly) identify what's linkable in your space and line it up with your products, expertise and brand. If you DON'T have time or bandwidth for creating content, you still have to do some writing and internal-research to get links! (There's no push-button link opportunities out there that deliver lasting value.)

Objective #3: Identify Linkable Assets + Research Query Suggestions
Lining up your linkable assets with your target keywords is the best way to identify more link opportunities for your site. What's "linkable" will differ from vertical to vertical, however. The good news is that in nearly every vertical we've dealt with, great prices - genuinely great prices - are highly-linkable. Note that your list of assets will come in handy when it comes time to conduct outreach.

  • Linkable Asset = Good Deals: [cyber monday] + [your top keywords], [black friday] + [your top keywords], [best/good deals] + [your top keywords]
  • Linkable Asset = Hard to Find Item: [find], [how to find], [locate] + [hard to find item]
  • Linkable Asset = Gift Guides: [gifts for {your target market}] [{keyword} gift guide]
  • Linkable Asset = Free Gifts or Samples: [review] + [your top keywords]; [review] + [your top keywords] +
  • Linkable Asset = vendors/suppliers with blogs/newsletters/social media distribution: Talk to procurement, talk to vendor management departments

==> Week Two: Create Content, Socialize, Prep for Distribution
Now that you have identified your opportunities for reaching out to your customers, now, it's time to execute on the tasks necessary for acquiring those links that are going to get you traffic, clickthroughs, sales and increased exposure.

Objective #1: Reach out to Bloggers/Publishers with Your Content Ideas as Guest Articles/Blog Posts
You're working here to either get publishers to confirm that they will publish guest content from you (that includes links to your linkable content, of course!) or to let them know about an upcoming, link-worthy content piece that they will definitely want to consider mentioning to their audience. It never hurts to retweet or otherwise distribute some of their great content as well!

Use the research from Week 1 (consider grouping a set of blog-related query exports together to find the top blogs for your products) to find bloggers, then also look at how many followers they have on Twitter, how many blog subscribers they have and how many comments they have on blog posts. What you're looking for here are active blogs and publishing platforms. Most likely, it's too late to get a great new ranking, so you're looking for those great new clicks and exposure!

  • Either ask for placement (you create content for their site) or for interest in linking to your upcoming content.
  • Get the publisher firmly committed to the week before, the week of or the day of Cyber Monday.
  • In a PS ask them about their predictions on hot gifts... if enough respond you could even be working toward new link bait 🙂

Objective #2: Create Content
Well, you can't put it off any longer. You have to write something now. Make sure you have the right people creating your linkable holiday content - or at least the right people editing and approving it before it goes live.

  • Write. Shoot video and edit. Take pictures. Conduct interviews.
  • Thoroughly compile your store's Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. Include as much detail as possible.

Objective #3: Get Involved Where Your Target Market Congregates
If you're new to an online community, especially as an entity with blatantly commercial interests, you may have to prove yourself to the community watchdogs. Watchdogs are the nearly trollish early responders who will call you a spammer (even if you're providing links to useful, relevant content). They test your mettle so that the other community members can see what you're made of. Show them that you're made of helpful information and a very cool temper.

  • CONTRIBUTE by answering questions and being of help. This is the only way to build relationship as a commercial representative in online communities a way that will significantly benefit you and your company. If you don't help anyone, you'll be considered parasitic by the community; then you have reputation matters to deal with. GoogleGuy's contributions in the WebmasterWorld forums is the perfect example of how to do this well.
  • Comment on interesting, relevant and popular posts at publisher sites and blogs.
  • Participate in forum discussions with helpful, expert suggestions.
  • Answer relevant questions on answer sites like Answers.com and Yahoo! Answers.
  • Consider including broad, interview type questions and compiling answers in a "community survey" piece. Though don't do this at the expense of providing clear and direct answers.

==> Week Three: Contribute, Publish, Distribute
Hang in there! You're in your last week! Here's what it takes to make sure you build maximum links to your ecommerce site during the holidays. It's game time, now.

Objective #1: Distribute Your Deals through Deal Sites, Coupon Sites and Shopping Comparison Engines
Good deals are perhaps the easiest content for eCommerce sites to distribute and build links with during the holiday season. Though we created lists of sites to get you started, you should be able to find a number of bloggers in your space that want to list good deals for their readers. Be sure to reach out to them too (and see if they will link to you if they publish your deals).

  • Use our list of deal sites, coupon sites and shopping comparison engines to submit your deals for distribution.
  • Note that your industry may have industry-specific deal sites that we may not have found in our general crawl!
  • Reach out to bloggers who have published deals in the past - they may be especially interested in publishing your deals before you send them to the deal sites...

Objective #2: Outreach + Distribute Content + Recommend Links Respectfully
Now it's time to pull the trigger on all this content you've created. Leave respectful, contextually-related and relevant link drops, ignore if it's nofollowed or not, you're seeking relevant clicks and exposure here! Deliver content for guest publishing and make time for editorial changes if required. Call in all the favors you've ever done and get those links!

  • Commenting + participation link drops on relevant, highly trafficked sites
  • Deliver content for placement on the most relevant, highly-trafficked sites (who agreed to publish you)
  • Make your link and distribution requests (make time for retweeting + voting for the content of others!)
  • Add content mentions to other marketing efforts such as emails, tweets, landing pages, home page, etc... Get it visible and it will get more links.

Objective #3: Track, Monitor, Refine
Relentlessly track newly acquired links and be sure to save your list for next year's holiday link building blitz (or link building + deal sharing at other times of the year). Further, keep an eye on Google Alerts and comment instantly when new relevant content appears, especially if it's on a highly trafficked site! Stay on your toes and you'll see that your holiday link building efforts turn out to be the gift that keeps on giving.

  • We highly recommend BuzzStream for tracking and managing your link building efforts!
  • Stay on top of your Google Alerts or other notification systems - get onto related content immediately with great comments + emails to authors
  • How can you grow what's working? Do you have time to add to it or create spin offs? If someone publishes a link, perhaps they'd be willing to publish an interview with someone from your organization. What's the next step?
  • If something is published that links to a competitor, jump on it (setup a Google Alert for names of your competitor as well as link:competitorurl.com); email the author pitch your company/product as well. Asking the blogger/publisher "If you think your visitors might find a link to your site/information/content to be useful, would you consider linking to it?"

So, what are you waiting for?!


==> Recommended Reading
What, one awesome link building article wasn't enough for you? Ok, fine here are some more articles that will help you build links to your eCommerce site during the holidays (and beyond) ;D

Holiday Links Come In Lots Of Different Packages
Link Building for E-Commerce Site : It’s Not All About Paid Links
Link Building for Small eCommerce Sites
Interview with Aaron Wall: His SEO Advice for eCommerce Sites
Link Building’s Importance for E-Commerce Storeowners