Glossary | 2 mins
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Natural links are any links that are created without an obvious intention of influencing a site’s search rankings. Search engines see them as a natural consequence of a site owner recognising the value in the target page, thereby treating it as an organic “vote of confidence” in the target page or site. This distinction makes natural links a hugely valuable strategy for any modern SEO professional.
Generally speaking, any of the following kinds of links can be considered an unnatural link, and therefore won’t improve the value of the target site in the eyes of Google’s crawlers:
- Links that contain UTM tracking parameters
- Links that redirect the user through pages or elements designed to monetise links
- Links that are a part of sponsored / monetised content
The Importance of Natural Link SEO
Because Google has always aimed to serve up the results that will provide the maximum possible value to its users, its algorithm rewards sites that show signs of natural, organic popularity, rather than the artificial inflation of ranking signals.
Though most successful SEOs will build links using prior agreements with publishing sites and other methods that could be viewed as unnatural, the important thing is making sure that the links remain natural in the eyes of Google, and don’t carry any incriminating markers that will detract from a natural link profile.
Best Methods of Natural Link Building
Though there are a variety of ways to build backlinks that Google will classify as natural, many years of trial and error have led a few key methods to rise to the top of the pile.
Creating high value content: If you want to motivate people to link to your site, then you need to fill it with content that will provide real, tangible value to interested audiences. Though many marketers can become hyper-focussed on the need for publishing new content as often as possible, and the freshness of your content can certainly help with your natural link SEO, it’s far more important to ensure that your content is valuable and relevant when you’re building natural links.
Diversify your content: A common mistake can be to focus on one high value keyword, and using a single kind of anchor text. Though this may make sense at a glance, it will quickly become unnatural.
A natural backlink profile will contain a wide range of anchors from a wide range of domains and content topics.
Answer Questions with your Content
Leading on from the previous two points, a good way to ensure that your content stays valuable and diverse is to find the burning questions being asked by your audience using sites like Reddit or Quora, then create content that’s designed to address these questions. Using these platforms as a starting point for brainstorming content will not only help you fill your content calendar with natural link magnets, but can also be a great way to find influential industry thought leaders who can help with future blogger outreach campaigns.
Natural Link FAQs
What is a natural backlink?
A natural backlink is any backlink that shows no sign of being paid for or elicited through link manipulation. Though they may be gained through blogger outreach, referral deals, and similar methods, as long as the link doesn’t show any signs of having been paid for in the eyes of search engines, it will qualify as a natural backlink.
How do you earn a natural link in SEO?
The best way to earn natural links is to fill your site with highly valuable and up-to-date content that will provide a tangible benefit to your target audience. While doing this, it’s important to keep your content calendar very diverse in order to avoid the over use of anchor text or content types, which could lead to a unnatural backlink profile.
Questions to ask your link builder