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Reciprocal link with quality sites where the consumer is discussing fashion trends, accessorizing, etc.
build own small sites with real content regarding the content of your main site, do not double the content, and link to your main site.
For this to work, each of the small sites needs to have inbound links. For this to work well, the small sites need to have good inbound links. How do you get these links? Either with high quality "link-worthy" content, or by linking the sites to each other.
If you link the sites to each other, Google will easily spot your "little network." If you host all of these sites on the same server, Google will have even an easier time spotting it. If you host the sites on separate servers, it can start getting expensive and hard to manage.
So, why not instead just create some content worth linking to, put it on the main site, and promote it... and skip the "little network," which is going to be nothing but trouble?
I'd instead look at using existing sites: Create a Yahoo Answers account, and then provide good, useful answers to relevant questions. Yahoo! doesn't mind if you insert links into answers if they point at relevant stuff.
The other strategy is to write link-worthy content to put up on the retailer's site.
Search engines rank sites well that use reciprocal links. They don't mind light recips. If you're adverse to getting your site burned, then light reciprocal linking isn't likely to wreck your site and could be good for your rankings if you do it with the right sites, especially sites that don't lump your link with fifty other links.
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Not only will this build external links, it's also a good way to place deep links to your product pages and feature them more prominently within the site architecture. The more thorough and well put together this content is, the more likely it is to draw links.
Real estate, credit cards, car insurance, and so on all have the same problem. What you have to do is actually think about what you can add to your site to generate links - add it, then go after more links aggressively.
For example, chart prices for whatever you're selling for the last 10 years. People love trends.
Any type of research into your area that you can do, publish it. Think up what data you have - could be anything. Then compile it in some way and draw a conclusion. Publish it.
Try 'history of' whatever it is that you do.
Small networks can still work very well. A site in my industry has a main 'parent' site with about 10 children on niches within the parents subject. Most of the sites interlink and all of them have link profiles which almost entirely paid links. These sites (along with a different parent/child network like them) dominate a profitable section of the serps.
TBH I was pretty staggered that this still worked when I looked into it. Of course the key appears to be the paid links - still.
[edited by: HoHum at 12:28 pm (utc) on May 16, 2008]
Maybe not your competitors. But I look far beyond my competitors for backlinks.
There's grassroots bloggers in my industry that absolutely refuse any sort of commercial activity. Paid postings, ads, there's nothing on their sites. The sites are widely read and have monster backlinks from places like national newspapers and .edu's (top 10 blogs in the industry typeo of stuff). That's the kind of places I want links from - and that the above suggestions help with getting links from.
Good content. What are the needs of your customer? How can you meet those needs? Great customer service is a huge benefit to online retailers. How can you provide them the most information about what they want? What can you add to your website that will expand the interest of your customers? Don't be afraid to link out to other sites that specialize in a specific product. You can use Analytics programs to examine how many visitors you send their way, and use that in the future to convince them that linking back to you is a smart play, and "only fair." This works, and it's a great way to get links.
Don't think that your competitors won't link to you, and don't think it's a bad idea either. My website links to virtually all of our competitors. We claim to be the best in the field, so we're not afraid to direct you to our competitors because we're confident you'll end up purchasing with us. We get plenty of referrals from our competitors, and a good number of them end up ordering with us.
Multiple websites is also a good idea, but should take some time. Separate your site out into various areas of content and make general sites focusing on those specific categories. BE HELPFUL and informative in these sites, provide links to other sites as well as your own. Even if Google does notice that they're hosted on the same IP, they can't deny their visitors quality content.
If you can't get any links from blogs, just start your own. There are a lot of blog directories out there that will gain reciprocal links.
With regard to link building, just type your targeted keyword in quotations and then "add link". This should bring up a short list of keyword-related sites that have add link features. You'll be able to get quick links for many of those, and those links may help bridge the gap until your quality link love comes rolling in.
Search engines hate reciprocal links
Nah, not true at all as a generic statement.
Google does hate 300 reciprocal links added in a two month timespan on a new website, and equally hates 300 being removed overnight.
Although it is my personal opinion that the most creative and unique websites have a much earlier time developing links, non-unique ecommerce websites can do it so, and do it everyday.
One thing that I found works well is to write some quality articles, about closely related topics to you.
Instead of asking a high-ranking website to link to you in return for a link from a links page, tell them you will give them priority by linking from the first paragraph of a unique article. Win, win. Better, yet, it they are not competitive, and you have the ability to do this, promote their website to a degree at the end of the article. People love promotion period.
If you don't get a response, call them by phone, and pour on the charm :)
A word of caution on reciprocal linking.
Don't exchange links and forget about them, many folks will remove the link to you after a period.
Don't exchange links and forget about them only to find that a domain that you link to has expired and a porn site owner has bought the domain and thereby allowed you to link to a bad area of the web which could poison your site.