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External Equity Links

An explanation of what External Equity Links are and how to get them.

Many people have been asking how to build good quality external equity links, what are they and why should they care? 

I'll try and answer these questions as best as possible below. 

What are "external equity links"?

"Backlinks" are links posted on other sites, that point to your own website or shop. "External equity links" are a special kind of backlink. They are considered external because the appear on pages not found on etsy.com. Providing the site owner has not added a "nofollow" tag to your links, they will pass equity, or the SEO goodness that tell Google to trust your site. 

To put it another way, an "external equity link" is a link on another website that points to your shop and passes "equity" or the SEO goodness to your shop and will help your shop to rank higher on Google. 

Why should I care about "external equity links"?

They are the best kind of backlinks. They come from an unrelated site and pass SEO goodness to your shop. Build enough of these links and over time you will start to rank higher in Google and Bing search results. 

How to I get more external equity links?

External equity links take a bit of effort and care, but can be done right if you know what you are doing. Below are four methods that can help you identify good places to put links back to your shop. 

  • Your Blog: if you have a blog, you should use it to promote your shop and listings. Don't go crazy, but as Etsy says in their Seller Handbook, don't be shy about self-promotion. Keep blog posts interesting and don't make it look too much like a sales pitch.
  • Search Google and Bing for your shop name. If you find mention of your shop on other sites, check to see if they have a link back to your shop. If not, contact the editor and ask nicely if they would link back to your shop.
  • Reach out to other websites in your category: Some bloggers and site owners are looking for interesting content to add to their site. For example, you may want to write an article on how to create hand stamped jewelry, or how to paint portraits or knit a sweater. Reach out to bloggers and website owners in your category and ask them if they would be willing to accept an article from you that would contain a link back to your shop.
  • Learn from your competitors. Search for them on Google and Bing, see what they have done, and try and reproduce where it makes sense (unless they are doing spammy things - you don't want to copy that!)

What makes a good backlink:

Not all backlinks are the same. You should take some time and care with where links to your site appear. Be a little selective. Below are some things to consider when building your external equity links. 

  1. The website you put the link on should be trustworthy, an expert in your category, or similar.
  2. A link on a popular website is worth far more than a link on a site that very few people have heard of, and it has the added bonus of possibly sending you lots of direct users.
  3. The page where the link is should be popular. Homepage links are the best, but often hard to get. Other popular sections of the site can also be beneficial. Avoid being stuck on a "Links" page which contains links to hundreds of unrelated websites. These are spammy.
  4. Links should be on pages and websites that are related to what you sell. These will be seen as a relevant links.
  5. Aim to get one or two links from many websites, not many links from one or two websites. This shows diversity.
  6. Use various terms for your anchor text. "Click here" is a poor choice of words for your anchor text. Mix it up: use your shop name sometimes. Other times, use a few words that describe your shop listings (e.g. "silver stamped necklace") and even using images occasionally (though make sure they have ALT tags).
  7. Links that are on sites not owned by Etsy can be really good, assuming they follow some of the points above.
  8. Links on forum posts and treasuries can be okay, but these are not "external", so they may pass slightly less equity.
  9. Links from highly trusted sites like universities, government websites and non-profit organizations are wonderful, but hard to come by. If you feel you have some valuable content for any of those websites, or you are volunteering or collaborating with them in some way, ask if they can provide a link back to your shop. You never know, one good deed deserves another.

I should also point out that while not considered "external" links, if you can get links on popular sections of etsy.com you have the benefit of being seen by potentially millions of shoppers. I'd never say no to those sort of links! 

Things to avoid:

A few words on things to avoid doing when dabbling with SEO: 

  1. DON'T buy links or participate in link schemes. If Google finds out that you do, and they have their ways, it will hurt your SEO.
  2. DON'T put links on untrustworthy sites. If the site looks dodgy, it is best to avoid it. Low-quality directories and random forums can hurt your SEO.
  3. DON'T use automated programs or services to create links to your shop.
  4. DON'T post spammy links in forum comments on unrelated sites.
  5. DON'T use services that claim they can submit your site to hundreds of search engines and directories for just $25.

Further reading:

"Webmaster Guidelines" - Google

"Link schemes" - Google

"4 Ways to Improve Your SEO and Increase Your Traffic" - Etsy

"External Links" - Moz

"Growing Popularity & Links" - Moz

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