Natural Links: Healthy for Content or Just a Health Fad?
Updated: Aug 9, 2022
Guide to building natural links.
Google says that Links are one of the top three ranking factors that decide the fate of a website.
So, our first response was to get as many backlinks as possible for each content we write. Working in an SEO firm, I know one thing for sure; the clients are obsessed with the backlinks. Some clients do not care for the rankings as much as they care for the number of backlinks. They would consider work of an SEO as ‘not up to the mark’ if he is ‘making’ fewer backlinks.
Is SEO so tough or are we making it that way?
Is getting the links so important or are we making it that way?
Firstly, let us make one thing very clear; when we are stressing on the importance of links, we are talking about the natural links.
Yes, natural links or they are also known – the organic links or good links or true links. Basically, a natural link is one which is earned and not bought with the intention of manipulating the Google search rankings.
Let us talk about the importance of natural links in detail
Natural Links and the Search Ecosystem
If you are reading this article, you may know something about SEO. If you know SEO, Google search engine must be at the top of your strategies. You might know that Google was initially named ‘Backrub’. It was named so because of the concept that it used to show the search results. The backlinks were the base of the initial ranking algorithm of Google. Clearly, nothing has changed. Links are one of the top three ranking factors (the other two are content and RankBrain).
Let us dig deeper. The links that Google always talks about are natural links. These links are compared with the ‘votes’. When you vote for any person in the election, you consider his background, his actions, his promises etc. and then decide what is to be done. If you are paid for voting for him, the vote is no more natural. Similarly, links bought are not natural.
A natural link is when website A vouches for the content of website B because it really believes so. It is not paid for it, it is not under any pressure or influence. These are the links that we all should be aiming for.
Now you must understand why we compared building a natural link to acting naturally. Google’s Matt Cutts says that the backlinks should not appear natural, rather they should be natural. There cannot be any guide to building a natural link because natural means no human intervention. It is earned based on the good work.
Tl;dr Natural links are like unbiased votes in the favor of a website that consolidates its position in the world of competition.
Why go natural?
According to some SEO experts, the ‘influenced’ backlinks are as effective as the natural backlinks or maybe a little less but they do the task. So, why go to extra lengths to earn a link when you can simply ask your friendly webmaster for it? The answer is simple; natural things are the best. Natural food, natural environment, fresh air, and water; all are the best that we can get. So are the natural links.
The primary reason for getting the natural links is; Google favors it. Do we need to say anymore? Your SEO strategy is centered on Google and you always want to impress it. Getting natural links would put you in the good graces of Google. When Google likes you, your ranking improves and your mission is accomplished.
What is happening today?
In the post-Penguin world, I would like to think that link buying and spam link building is not alive anymore (although they are still happening). We are facing more crucial effects of ‘earning’ the links. Let us see what they are.
#1. Writing to impress not to express
It is an old saying that we are defying today.
What is the first advice that you got when you entered the SEO industry?
Know your audience.
At least, it is the opening line of any ‘content marketing’ article.
So, do we really write for the audience today? Or are we writing for the blog owners to ‘earn’ the backlinks? Halt and think.
Most of the writers of the industry are targeting the niche blogs and writing the similar content that they might want to link to. The writers are less concerned about the requirements of their true audience. They think that one backlink at such sites would gain them the vote of confidence to improve the rankings.
We cannot deny the fact that one link at the high authority sites of your niche can do wonders but aren’t we forgetting something?
Yes, Google considers the backlinks but what about content which is one of the top three ranking factors too. The relevance of the content is what makes it worth reading and worth considering for a rank jump. So, we are writing for the wrong audience all along. Maybe that’s why we are failing in spite of the impressive link database.
#2. Backlinks have become a KPI
Let us rephrase that; the number of backlinks has become a KPI. More the backlinks you are ‘making’ for content, the better it would perform. No doubt, the backlinks (even the nofollow ones) give you an exposure. When you appear at many places on the internet, the chances of getting the traffic increases. If your intention is to be visible, your present backlink strategy may work but if you want quality traffic and rank boost, you have to look the environment where you are placing a link.
The website should be getting the same audience that you are targeting. The other links on the page should be authentic and not come from a spam site. The website should have high authority so that your link is recognized and indexed soon. Do not invest heavily in link building because the clients ask so, adopt only the best practices to earn links and keep them natural.
Some best practices to follow
Do not confuse best practices to get natural links with the hacks and tricks to get natural links. There is a thin line but you gotta understand. Hacks and tricks would tell you shortcuts to achieve something and the majority of the time, you will get the work done. Best practices, however, ensures that you do everything right and the rest of the things follow. The best practices may take some time to show the positive results but the results are long lasting. As we said, there cannot be a step-by-step manual to build natural links but some strategies seem to be working. Let us see what they are.
#1. Be useful: The aim of content is to give answers. Make sure that every content of yours solves the problems of your audience. It interests them and influences them too. Try to get the participation from the members of your audience, build a community and get closer to them.
#2. Use social media: Again, you know this thing but it is worth mentioning here. Put the detailed information about your website, blog, other social accounts in the Facebook introduction and other social platforms that you are using for marketing. Even when the links are nofollow, interested and curious audience will visit you to read more from you.
#3. Blog often: We are not saying to write for the sake of continuity but being a writer, it is your responsibility to provide regular content to your audience. Some people also suggest guest blogging but according to the naturalists, this is again kind of influencing the host blogger, not the audience. Well, according to Matt Cutts, such small influence is going to happen and we cannot (and should not) quit guest blogging thinking the links will be unnatural. As far as the content is worth it, you must go with guest blogging.
Well, there seems to be no need to answer the question but let us do that anyway. The natural links are healthy for the content, for the website, for popularity, authority, and rankings. It is not a phase that is going to pass, it is rather the backbone of search. The sooner you understand it, the better you can do for your website or clients.
What do you think? Are natural links really powerful? Are they worth your efforts and time? Will you go all natural with getting the links or are you happy with the link building that you are doing now? Please comment below to let us know.