A link building strategy is extremely lucrative for your website’s SEO and domain authority, and to marketers, different strategies have different ways of affecting SEO.
In general, link diversity should be your target ballpark when applying your link building strategy. Your webpage rank on Google’s search engine result pages, for example, will depend on the number and quality of backlinks to that webpage.
The higher the number of unique backlinks your page has, the higher it’s likely to rank on search engines.
Of the many different link building strategies, marketers believe that natural links are especially important and even pay off more.
This is because Google’s algorithm can now spot whether a link is natural or unnatural, and unnatural links can hinder your progress in terms of SEO and domain authority.
What Is A Natural Link?
Natural link building is the process of a backlink profile being created ‘naturally’, as the name suggests, without your interference as a site owner or having to generate them yourself.
In other words, natural or organic links are when certain websites or blogs link to your webpages because they think your content is relevant and valuable for their readers.
Natural vs Unnatural Links
Whereas natural links are earned links that you had no part in creating, unnatural links are put in place artificially for the sole purpose of increasing your page’s ranking.
Unnatural links include links that you pay for, links that contain tracking parameters (such as UTM sources), or links that are placed within sponsored content.
To Google, natural links are ‘natural’ because they’re the inevitable product of SEO and marketing efforts like blogging and social media marketing.
If you’re creating great enough content and have marketing efforts that are put strategically in place, other website owners would want to link to you on their own without you having to push for it.
Using unnatural links can result in penalties for your website and consequently harm your rankings and domain authority.
In general, any link placed with the intention of manipulating your page rank can be easily spotted by Google as an unnatural one, but here are some specific ways the algorithm analyses that:
One thing Google looks at to identify the nature of a backlink is its source host. If the backlink links out to a site that’s not relevant to the source, it will not be considered by the search engine as natural.
It’s worth mentioning that, besides the relevance of the source host to the backlink, the higher the authority of the source, the more natural the backlink will be to Google.
We’ve briefly touched on the importance of link diversity in the beginning of this article.
Link diversity is important for your domain’s SEO and authority because it guarantees to Google you are building your links naturally.
The less sources your backlinks come from, even if they’re plenty, the higher the risk of them being considered unnatural.
For example, if you have 20 backlinks but they only come from 2 link root domains, they might be deemed spam or a mutual link scheme by Google and will automatically be recorded as unnatural.
Google also uses the specific destination of your backlink to establish its nature.
Once upon a time, to be able to trick Google, site owners used their homepages as the primary URL when posting external links – this is a dangerous habit.
Nowadays, Google’s able to figure it out and will penalize you for it. The more it looks like your backlinks all lead page to the same source page, the more likely Google will deem them unnatural.
Try your best to use varied link destinations instead, and take that as an opportunity to use different resources and content on your site.
Logistics and technicalities aside, link context best describes whether or not a link is truly natural while staying true to the definition.
The more naturally your link will appear in a piece of content – its contextual placement with a logical explanation of why it belongs there – the more likely it would be spotted by Google as a natural link.
If a link just appears out of nowhere and looks out of place, it won’t be a surprise if it does get deemed unnatural. I would in fact be unnatural.
Link context is one strategy with which the ease of actual natural link building becomes clearer.
There’s no better way for natural link building than to truly let your links come naturally!
This would be when the links are at their most helpful, useful, and valuable.
How Do You Get Natural Links?
As we’ve explained, natural links are ones that are linked ‘naturally’, so it makes sense that they should be something valuable enough for a site owner to want to link to it on their own.
Create Great Content with Value
Most of the strategies around how to best apply natural link building fall under the general umbrella of creating incredible content that entices people to link to it because they want that content on their site, not because you asked them to.
Think about it this way: the more ‘naturally’ great your content is, the more that will reflect on the nature of how it gets referenced or even the intention of the site owner who placed the backlink.
Great content is not just content that is rich, relevant, or that of excellent quality.
It’s extremely important to pick a topic that is relevant and timely, but you have to pay attention to whether it offers convenience and value.
This also ties back to the point about link context – depending on the context in which the link is placed, it could provide even more value to readers!
Social media might just be one of the best ways to get your content ‘out there’.
It puts it in front of the broad public eye where there’s countless opportunities for readers to link to it if they find it engaging, valuable, or helpful enough.
After all, we think of social media users as an ‘audience’, but at the end of the day, that audience is other bloggers, site owners, digital marketers, and SEO experts.
They can make use of your content too, and just them liking it enough could be considered natural link building.
Reaching anything great always requires steps, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that you can’t just do each step and stop at that.
And as also with a lot of things, consistency is key.
The more consistent you are with creating good content and using your social media to market and promote it, the more popularity it’s likely to garner and consequentially increase the likelihood of your content being linked.
It is contested between marketers whether or not guest posting is a liable strategy for natural link building.
On one hand, it would not be considered a natural link per se because it was meant to be put there via the guest post.
However, some people believe that even if the link was placed there strategically, it can still be considered within the context of the blog post itself and hence considered as natural.
Advantages of Natural Links
Because of the way they are, natural links hold so many benefits for those who incorporate them into their link building strategy.
In its simplest form, the least natural links will do is send more traffic to your site. You could even luckier with this the more authoritative and popular the source of the natural backlinks are.
Higher Visibility, Recognition, and Ranking
The more links that point to your site, the more Google will consider your site offers content of great quality.
In turn, your search engine ranking will increase, and you’ll get higher visibility and recognition within your industry or niche.
In addition, the more authoritative and reputable the sites that link to you are, the better.
Increased Brand Awareness
There’s no way around it: the more natural links you get, the more you’ll get recognized, the better your brand recall will be.
And the more awareness people have of your brand and business, the more likely they’ll become leads and customers!
This also entails more social shares, as the more natural links you attract, the more likely your content will also result in social media attention.
Good enough content on your part will earn you natural links from high-profile, reputable sites and publications.
When an authoritative website references and links to you, your brand and content automatically gain more credibility and in turn leads to higher conversion rates.
And naturally, this will also increase both your authority and search engine rankings.
To Google, it’s important that a backlink pointing back to you provides value and quality to users, hence it being natural.
So it should be equally important for you to implement that to be able to effectively increase your domain authority and search engine rankings.
Because of the different ways people try to manipulate the Google algorithm by putting unnatural links and disguising them as natural, the algorithm only becomes smarter and better at noticing those patterns.
For that reason, using actual natural links is one of the best ways to increase traffic, industry recognition, domain authority, and search engine rank.