Try for higher quality links.
Chase links that actually send traffic.
Do favors for/be friends with people writing on your ecommerce area.
Create online tools that your target customers would like to use. They'll visit frequently & send their friends. Get this right and you will no longer be dependent on search engines.
In some areas write a game or app with a tie-in.
Have a directory of info on your type of widgets that would be handy for anyone writing on them to link to instead of having to do the research from scratch.
Do a joint promotion with a better established company. For example, the Joomla/Drupal/Wordpress template & extension companies have "sales" where you get several things from the well established company, and a whole lot from the smaller company at what sounds like a huge discount....though nobody probably needs everything included. Lots of links and attention for the smaller company, the larger companies members feel like they're getting great deals.
Start a blog. Say something really controversial.
Let your local media know you have a small business in their backyard. Gain a few newspaper/radio/television links tied to the interviews.
Be more colorful and fun than the other guy.
Offer to post photos of customers cats stretching in the morning.
Have beautiful clean design that people would like to be associated with.
Create better descriptions/photos of the products than anyone else.
Have essays/white papers detailing using these products, details of the problem before and after and how it helped.
Sponsor a contest for the most creative use of giant red widgets. Give a good prize. The contest entries should make great link bait, plus people are thinking deeply about your products.
(Personally, I think giant red widgets would make great ballast to keep the space station from drifting up and hitting the moon.)
When disaster strikes, make a donation of widgets to help cope with the crisis. Nice press release here we come.
Have a Q&A Forum where real people can ask questions about how to use widgets and give them thoughtful answers. Seed the forum by answering all those hopeless questions your mom asked about what you were doing. Let experts in the field know you're offering this. They may be tired of answering all the silly questions and be happy to send them your way.
Offer a used widget marketplace, let people sell on consignment.
Basically, you want to do things a little differently to attract attention and links. Ideally be seen as a resource in the field.
Wow treeline, that's quite a list. I'd add...
Become the link to connects two separate communities together in a way that enriches both.
I would add to stop thinking of the website as if it was the business. Its not, it is just a store front for your business.
Yes you need footfall but what pays the bill is sales, nothing else.
(We are on the ecommerce forum here so I am discounting info and MFA sites)
I don't compare my backlinks to my competitors anymore. I used to a couple years ago, but know I don't worry about it.
I do have a company that creates about 100 - 200 backlinks for per month. They have done a good job and have increased my organic search rankings. But that alone is not enough.
treeline posted alot of suggestions you can try.
Recently I hosted a contest for bloggers. The contested last 30 days and one of the requirements was that they had to have certain hyperlinks in their blog post.
These were my keyword enriched backlinks. After 30 days I would pick the winner.
Most of the people have provided detailed information on promotion.
I just want to add one very important point specifically for eCommerce vendor like you.
Start selling your products through shopping comparison engines in which Google merchant center is the best i have ever seen.
CPC is low as compare to Google search network and you will really get bunch of most relevant traffic that can be converted.
Try getting more high quality backlink.
Go some high PR blog, social network.
This is the most easy way to compete but it tooks time
You have to make an analysis first in your website. Check what your website needs and go for it. Ex. if you need traffic, you have to go to social media sites to promote and if you need rankings go for high PR sites that can share good link juices to your site. Make sure that you follow the rule of thumb.
>> the more backlinks my competitors will get, and it seems like the gap will never close
While this does matter and is sometimes necessary - it should not be your primary focus.
"Getting backlinks" has a limited value IMHO. When you focus on a quality product (if you mfr) AND/OR top notch customer service (especially if you don't mfr) then you earn links. Earning takes longer but the quality is likely to be higher AND value of the link is far more likely to be higher. The reason you get those links in the first place is because you did something they liked! That feel good quality is what drives WOM advertising and social media discussion. That feel good quality will do more good for you in the long run than bulk link building.
your information will be definitely help us in our activities.