The Future of Links and the eCommerce Economy

September 21, 2014

2:00 pm

Trying to predict the future of online marketing and eCommerce is much like trying to predict the weather—although you can make an educated guess, you can never be 100% certain about the eventual outcome.

Constant technological advances, ever changing online trends, and increasingly savvy consumers have made it difficult to accurately predict what’s in store for advertisers and publishers in terms of the relationship between links and the eCommerce economy. However, if we look at various current trends we can gather some insights into where eCommerce is headed, and the role that links will play in that evolution. The following are some important factors that we believe will have a noticeable and fundamental impact on the eCommerce economy and the role that links will play.

Personalization Is the Future 

The online experience is becoming more and more personalized and highly targeted by the day, and the eCommerce industry is no exception. In fact, if there’s one domain that’s adapting to customization more quickly than the rest of the lot, it’s the eCommerce industry.

So, what does this mean for the future of links in eCommerce? John Rampton from Host explains “Ultimately it means that links and content will need to provide a more efficient and valuable user experience in order to be successful in the future. Online shoppers have grown accustomed to having a personalized online experience, and as a result, are much more likely to speed right past the things that don’t obviously cater to them.”

As we mentioned in an earlier article, online advertisers need to start focusing on the “why” of their business, rather than the “what,” especially in regards to link building and SEO. What this means is that instead of stuffing keywords into content or sharing links for the sake of building a large backlink catalog, it’s more important to focus on creating an experience that is valuable to your customers.

As it moves forward, Google is looking less at links and more at the relevance and value of a site when determining rankings. This new approach from Google will no doubt influence the ways in which links are used to drive traffic and sales to eCommerce sites, and how online shopping experiences are designed.

Competition for Links = Higher Payouts

The future of links in the eCommerce economy is not just limited to driving traffic and creating the end user experience. Links will also play an integral role in how eCommerce sites and their products are marketed to online shoppers as well.

Most eCommerce sites rely on affiliate programs or other performance marketing tactics to help them drive traffic and sales, and those affiliate programs rely on links. This is great news for online publishers and affiliate marketers, but not so great news for eCommerce brands because essentially, eCommerce sites will have to pay more for the same links that they were getting before in order to stay competitive.

But why, you ask? It all comes down to the simple law of supply and demand. With an increased amount of competition for traffic between various eCommerce brands, the value of affiliate links to any one merchant goes up. This means that in order for eCommerce brands to outdo their competitors, they will have to pay more for traffic.

Of course, there are other ways for eCommerce brands to generate traffic and sales, but affiliate marketing remains as one of the more effective online channels for eCommerce companies.

Ultimately, it’s hard to be 100% sure what role links will play in the future of the burgeoning eCommerce industry, but we should expect to see these two trends take place as SEO and online marketing continue to evolve. eCommerce content and links will likely become hyper-targeted and niche specific, while the competition for traffic will almost certainly drive up the price of affiliate links.

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Drew Hendricks is a professional business and startup blogger that writes for a variety of sites including The Huffington Post, Forbes and Technorati. Drew has worked at a variety of different startups as well as large advertising agencies.

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