Beware of shady backlink tactics

By Ilana Davis

Search for an SEO checklist in Google and you’ll see recommendations to add backlinks to your site.

Backlinks are a great signal to Google that your Shopify website provides valuable content. They act as a recommendation where one website links to another presumably to say this is good information.

I’d wager that many of you receive emails offering to post a link to your Shopify site if you link to theirs in return.

SWEET!

A backlink. That’s what we want right?

Unfortunately, not all backlinks are created equal.

If you know the person emailing you, know their content is good, and the link is relevant, go for it!

Generic backlink requests

Here’s a sample email that was sent to a Shopify store owner. I’ve removed all the identifying information because let’s face it, these are all the same and the specifics don’t matter.

Hi,
My name is [NAME] and I am with [SOME RANDOM COMPANY].
I was researching "[INSERT KEYWORD]" posts and came across "[RANDOM PAGE THAT MATCHES SAID KEYWORD]".
I wrote an article "[SEMI-RELATIVE TITLE]" on [RANDOM WEBSITE] and would like to link back to your website as a resource from the article.
[INSERT FACTS TO MAKE YOU THINK I'M LEGIT]
In return, I would highly appreciate it if you could add a link back to my website on "[YOUR WEBSITE]".
Do let me know if you are interested and I will send across a line you can add which will match your content flow.
That way we both rank higher on Google, improve our brand visibility and get more traffic.
Looking forward to your reply.
Regards

On the surface, you may think this is great. You get a link to your site and they get one to theirs. Sounds fair.

I would caution you on these types of emails. In most cases when it’s a cold email like this, the value for you is zero. They usually go into my “special bin” and I never respond.

Here are a few things that would cause me to put it in my special bin.

  1. They want to exchange backlinks which means they care more about what’s in it for them than the reader. A high-quality backlink is from someone who does it because it’s a good product, not because they get something in return.
  2. When they use a Gmail address instead of the company domain, something is phishy. If you’re “with ” then where is your email address?
  3. There are no links to the company’s website so you have to search for the URL and determine if it’s a legit company. You shouldn’t have to investigate if the company is legit.
  4. In the section, they mention a well-recognized website with stats. When I don’t see is a link to the article (or any article they’ve written as a reference), they are name-dropping.
  5. To exchange a backlink means you have to have a place to put their link. Let’s say you agree to this. How would you link back to them in a way that makes sense?
  6. Backlinks should be earned, not paid for or traded.

I could go on. In the end, more often than not, these emails are a no from me.

What can you do to build backlinks?

  • Continue to create great products and content. People will link to your Shopify site because they want to, not because it benefits them.
  • Ask your vendors, suppliers, resellers, and wholesalers for links.
  • Ask a professional critic to write a review on your product with a link back to your site.
  • Consider guest speaking or guest writing content for other sources. Guest speaking is an opportunity to use other people’s audiences to get your name out there. I’m always looking for speakers at my virtual meetups.

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