What is natural link building, and how does it affect SEO? Is it another myth, or does it happen for real? What is the impact on rankings and traffic?
I will try to answer the above questions using the blog you are reading now as a case study and give you examples of natural links.
What Is Natural Link Building?
Natural link building is exactly what the name suggests i.e. backlinks that are created naturally without the website owner having to go and generate them either through guest posting, or other forms of link building practices.
In simple words, natural links happen when other webmasters, bloggers, or website owners link to your content (blogs, images, products, videos, etc.) because they think it is helpful for their readers and adds value to their websites or pages.
Is Natural Link Building Important?
It is widely accepted in the SEO industry that having natural links is the best, safest, fastest, and most efficient way to promote a blog or website.
With natural links, you can feel secure that your content is good and that your rankings and traffic will not be affected by a Google algorithmic change.
Is it Another SEO Myth?
One of the things I had real trouble understanding when I first started with blogging was ‘how to get natural links’.
I did not know what to do so that other people find and link to my content.
I always believed this was a myth and that building links was the only way to get links.
The problem with building links is that sooner or later, Google will discover that the links are not natural, and you will lose both your rankings and traffic.
Even worse, they may penalize your domain, making it even more difficult.
The Case Study
Some time ago, I wrote an article about off page SEO and explained the importance of natural link building for your off page SEO efforts and I can show you how natural link building worked for my SEO blog.
All the links you see below point to several pages of the Reliablesoft blog. They all come from respected and well-known blogs in the industry, and all are natural links.
I did not ask, pay, write, or otherwise have any involvement in getting those links pointing to my blog.
The list is much bigger but these are the blogs or websites you probably identify and visit regularly.
What Are The Benefits From Natural Links?
- Traffic – All the above websites have lots of traffic, and the day the posts were featured on their home pages, I received a good amount of traffic to my blog.
- Industry recognition – It is always good to get referenced by some of the top blogs in your industry.
- More natural links – When the big guys link to you, other blogs also link to you. If you are important for the big blogs, you are also important for the smaller blogs.
- Courage – Similar to the 2nd, but when you see those natural links flowing in, you get more courage to continue what you do.
- More social shares – The posts that attracted natural links also got the most attention in social media networks.
- Better rankings – Incoming links affect rankings; the pages that receive those links enjoy good first-page rankings.
How Do You Get Natural Links?
This is the most important question of this article. The benefits of natural links are all great, but how do you get them?
It’s a three-step process and one that I am sure you have heard before, but let’s review it again:
1. Write/publish/create good content
If the content is not good, nobody will naturally link to it. If you are still at the beginning and nobody is reading your content, don’t get disappointed; write like your articles are read by thousands of people and try to make them better and better.
Don’t just look for the present; try to plan for the future. When the time comes and traffic starts flowing in, you have to be ready with good content to keep your visitors engaged.
2. Social Media
Social media may not have a direct impact on rankings, but it does have a direct impact on natural link-building.
Through social media, you can put your content in front of the people who are more likely to be interested and link to it.
In my case, these people are other bloggers, digital marketers, writers, content contributors, SEO Experts, etc.
These are the types of people I follow on social media, and these are the types of people who are more likely to link to my content.
Without having a social media presence, this would be impossible, and this alone is a good reason why everyone (blogger or business) should maintain a good presence on social media.
Consistently writing good content and promoting it on social media while at the same time trying to build connections with other bloggers is the way to go.
Timing is essential, and to find the right timing to put your content in front of the right people, you need to be consistent in your publishing schedule.
Doing 2-3 times per week increases your chances of this happening rather than doing it once monthly.
Is Guest Posting Natural Link Building?
I already answered this question in the first paragraph above, but I want to clarify this again.
When you publish content on some other website and somewhere in the content, you include a link back to your website. This is not natural link-building, even if it is for free or in the author bio.
This does not mean that links from guest posting are all bad, but you cannot consider those are being ‘natural links’.
When Google’s founders created their first website ranking algorithm, natural links played a very important role. Twenty-plus years later, natural links are still very important, with one major difference.
Thousands of people try daily to manipulate the Google algorithm by generating backlinks that look like natural links, and Google is continuously revising its ranking algorithms to spot and deemphasize these fake links.
Other than that, natural links are more important than ever for rankings, traffic, and industry recognition.
They are also the fuel to keep content marketers doing whatever they can do best, i.e., creating and promoting content.
The best way to become a link magnet is to create good content, make social media connections with people who may be candidates to link to your content, rinse and repeat.