There’s a recent popular myth that SEO might become obsolete or inefficient for digital marketers. This makes natural backlinks less of a priority.
But that’s just it – a myth and nothing more.
Not only is SEO’s impact going to last, but it’s also going to become even more necessary. In fact, according to Backlinko, the number of domains linking to a page directly correlates with that page’s ranking. This implies that keeping a close eye on such metrics is crucial.
Therefore, backlink management becomes more than a priority for anyone wanting to rank their website on Google. So let’s discover what natural backlinks are, how they can positively affect your rankings, and how you can build them.
What are Natural Backlinks?
Natural backlinks are inbound links acquired naturally from relevant external websites without forced practices.
Natural backlinks are the cornerstones of your web pages. You can build them through natural link building techniques and authentic partnerships. Content plays a major role. Valuable, plagiarism-free, and unique content can be the starting point for building good links.
Following are some key factors to keep in mind about natural backlinks:
- They originate from authoritative websites that contain content in your field.
- They’re placed on a relevant anchor text.
- They must be relevant to the context of the website.
- They’re from a diverse range of websites.
Search engines are on the side of natural backlinks and consider them reasonable ranking factors. Because if other websites link to yours then your content is reliable and worthwhile.
Given these points, deep down you would think that the more natural backlinks you have the better for your website, right?
Partly, that’s true, but…
Here’s the thing. Google and other search engines regularly update their algorithms. They can spot when you’re desperately trying to build links to rank higher in competition with websites that have built natural links over the years. So don’t rush, building natural backlinks takes time and dedicated effort. Stick with it!
Search engines also differentiate between good and bad backlinks. Below, let’s discuss what backlinks are considered unnatural or bad and which ones are good.
The Difference Between Good Links and Bad Ones
Since we talked about natural backlinks, you can understand the difference between good links and bad ones only by learning how bad links emerge.
First, in contrast with natural backlinks, people tend to build unnatural ones through paid exchanges. This means you buy a certain amount of links from another website only to increase your website’s authority. But this is a clear violation of search engine guidelines.
Next is the PBNs, otherwise known as private blog networks. This is when people create websites from scratch and use those for linking to one another. Search engines also consider these cases worthy of penalizing.
All of the above tactics lead to obtaining links that are considered unnatural or bad. Search engines can even completely remove your website from search engine results if you engage in such practices.
Thus, consider this your sign to never take part in such manipulative processes when building good links. These tactics have nothing to do with natural backlinks.
In contrast, here’s how you get good links:
- Through good guest posting practices over time.
- By asking your existing long-term partners for a link back to your website.
- By finding organic mentions of your website as a source and asking to provide a backlink if they haven’t.
- Conducting original research and creating studies, e-books, guides, and other share-worthy content pieces.
And that’s how you can tell which links are good and which links are bad – by understanding how they’ve been acquired.
Why is Natural Link Building Important?
Natural link building is important because, if done correctly, it helps search engines identify you as a reputable and authoritative website. So, they later rank your website higher, and you get consistent organic traffic from your target audience. It boosts your overall SEO efforts and positions you as an authority in your field.
In short, natural link building supports your website in the following ways:
- Increases organic traffic
- Affects search engine rankings positively
- Creates trust and credibility with your brand
- Boosts brand awareness
- Enhances the domain rating
And now, let’s get into the most important part – where we discuss how you can get natural backlinks.
8 Strategies for Building Natural Backlinks
Building natural backlinks is not as easy as you think. So, we’ve broken down tactics that work and can provide you with practical techniques in this process.
Look for Relevant Websites and Start Reaching out to Them
The first step to building natural backlinks is finding relevant websites and reaching out to someone from the marketing department (preferably a link-builder, SEO specialist, or content manager.) This process is called “link prospecting” and is one of the most important parts of the natural link building process.
Your steps in this process will be the following:
- Picking a niche to target that matches your field, since Google pays close attention to that.
- Setting your target metrics – traffic and domain rating. DR of 30 is considered a minimum requirement for building quality backlinks. And when it comes to organic traffic, aim for 1,000 and more. All of this info can be checked with Ahrefs’ free extension.
- Creating a list of link prospects with the help of Ahrefs.
- Trying to avoid spam websites by checking the quality of their content, web design, the amount of organic traffic, whether their external links are the proper amount or too many, and missing “about” or “contact” information.
- Starting an email outreach process.
At this point, you must invest your time in establishing meaningful connections with quality contacts.
Being able to build relationships before natural backlinks can help you build sustainable partnerships over time. Here are some actionable steps you can take:
- Create a list of potential partner websites by doing extensive research in your niche.
- Never underestimate planning for follow-ups in case they don’t get back to you.
- Make sure you’re polite and friendly in your communications.
Something that can help you in this process and is considered a golden rule is making outreach templates short and simple yet helpful. But let’s discuss it in the next part of this article.
Create Short and Simple Outreach Templates
The benefits of writing short and simple outreach templates are many. Among them, is the fact that people get to catch your message quicker if you provide intentional and well-structured information in the first few characters after the subject line.
Also, if you keep outreach templates short and simple, you have a better chance that your potential prospect will open your message to continue reading the rest of it.
As a result, your open rate will increase.
There are several ways to be able to keep outreach templates short and useful and expect more replies. Here are some of them:
- Provide useful and valuable info! For example, once you have your ready list of partner websites, find suitable placements for your requests. Don’t forget to follow the guidelines of those websites to minimize the risk of rejections.
- Avoid trigger words, generalizations, or fake notions in your outreach emails. This way you can get immediate feedback without having to follow up several times.
- Master the art of creating hooks as subject lines that resolve a pain point for the receiver of the email, such as “Are you still looking for natural backlinks for Q1?”
- Use emojis sparingly. Know when they’re applicable since they can make or break your cold emailing game.
- Make your emails personalized by using their name, for example.
- Make sure to provide value instead of focusing on the outcome of the exchange. For example, show that you offer link exchanges instead of selling backlinks.
There’s also a great tactic that you can use – reaching out with a suggestion. Do your research for the website first and find relevant anchor text for them. It may be faster for them to respond if you find those keywords on your partners’ websites and suggest a natural backlink placement option for them.
They might love your suggestion and they might hate it. You should be ready for any response though and keep your professional communication game up.
Look for Partners With Shared Values
No matter the channel you choose to carry out natural link building, you have to look for partners with mutual interests. The heart of link building is shared interests and mutual benefits, and you should seek that in your natural backlinks exchange processes.
LinkedIn is a great place to start. It’s internationally known as the largest professional network compared to other social networks.
LinkedIn also makes it easy to investigate and research thanks to its advanced search features. You can filter people by industries, company names, job titles, interests, and whatnot.
It’s also crucial for you as a link builder to have a presentable and professional profile. It will play a huge role in how your potential partner will perceive you. Ensure you have an understandable and clear headline, a friendly-looking profile picture, and a decent profile summary showcasing your expertise and personality.
Another great channel to use is Slack. Here you should look for relevant communities to take your link-building efforts to the next level. Look for communities that match your link-building interests. As a result, you’ll build natural backlinks much easier.
Like on LinkedIn, you should initiate processes of networking here as well. Stay proactive and learn about some industry trends and methods. Show genuine interest in collaborations and maintain meaningful communications so you can find more chances for collaboration.
Consider Doing an A-B-C Link Exchange Instead of A-B
In a direct link exchange, which is the A-B link exchange, two domains link to each other. This process is also called link swap. Excessively pursuing such an exchange can harm your rankings or get you into trouble since Google has started to notice and penalize such activity.
In contrast, an A-B-C link exchange, also known as a 3-way link exchange, is about exchanging good links between three domains. Each of these websites aims to improve their backlink profile and raise their search engine rankings. It’s slightly better than A-B exchange but doing it too much can also be harmful.
It works like this: domain A links to domain B and the latter links to domain C. Eventually, domain C links to domain A.
Obtaining unique, relevant, and natural backlinks through this type of link exchange is great since your backlink profile gains diversity. Make sure those links are from well-established and reputable websites.
Conduct Competitor Analysis for Improvement
Competitor backlink analysis provides you insights into your competitor’s link profiles. Here are 4 steps you should take:
- Identify your main competitors
- Analyze their keywords
- Examine the quality of their backlinks
- Find the backlink gap
When you analyze competitor backlinks, you source great websites that have linked to your competitors. This way, you find new opportunities for building natural links. You also discover new strategies you can use to strengthen your backlink profile.
Overall, competitive analysis gives you new ideas that you can focus on for improvement. It does this by offering ideas for what you’ve been missing in your strategies.
This is not a process of copying your competitor’s strategies but rather a way of collecting new insights and improving the ones you’ve already got.
Automate Manual Work
Whenever the manual tasks become too repetitive, you should consider creating automation that can assist you and your team.
In the tech environment, it’s not an uncommon thing to do since so many of our tasks require automation these days so that we can save time on manual input and make our workflows more efficient. The same is true when building natural backlinks.
You can automate processes such as exporting large numbers of keywords and cleaning that data, cutting domains, crawling, checking different information bits, etc.
Automations do those tasks more quickly and time efficiently. Imagine how much more time it would take to do everything manually.
There are 2 unique formulas that you can use when working on Google spreadsheets that can replace many paid tools.
The first automation is intended to check whether your link is live, or not. Use the following formula:
=IMPORTXML(the article URL, “//a/@href[contains(.,'”&your target’s URL&”‘ )]”)
After you implement this formula in your spreadsheet, add your partner’s link and your target link, and attach them in separate cells. In a different cell, write this formula, and you’re good!
This formula can be used in spreadsheets for partnerships, clients, and drafts. Using it is convenient and time-saving.
The second automation is intended for separating the domain from the URL:
This formula helps to separate the domain from the URL and it helps to simply keep your spreadsheets clean.
Other than these, you can also use tools and Chrome extensions to automate and streamline your processes. Consider adding the following link building Chrome extensions to your everyday browsing routine: Ahrefs, MozBar, Grammarly, Clearbit Connect, MASTER SEO, and LinkMiner.
Create Optimized and Valuable Content
Creating useful and relevant content is one of the most important aspects of building natural backlinks. It’s the type of content that’s well-researched, well-organized and attracts backlinks naturally. It also centers around topics that are trending and demanding.
In 2024, valuable content is defined by the following characteristics:
- It’s unique and plagiarism-free, and it provides actionable insights into user queries.
- It’s matched to today’s user’s attention span and is visually optimized. It’s not excessively long and boring.
- It’s understandable and without filler words, exaggerations, or complex terminology.
- It’s also engaging and involves share-worthy visuals, videos, infographics, e-books, and different imagery.
- It’s data-driven and makes the majority of points based on data and accurate analytics that also provide examples for the reader.
Given these points, we can say that link-worthy content is key to building natural backlinks.
To create such kind of content:
- Excel at your research to come up with content that solves your target audience’s questions and provides what they need to hear.
- Update your content guidelines and level up your game of creating unique, non-duplicate, and original content.
- Do some competitor research to make your job easier and find innovative insights into what works best on your competitor websites.
Do Reputable Guest Posting
Guest posting for other websites is a great way to earn natural backlinks if you do it in the right way – by writing valuable and unique posts. When you do it right, and you gain backlinks to your website, it’s a sign of credibility and reliability for search engines. So, your rankings get a chance to go higher.
To ensure your guest posting efforts are not wasted, focus on relevance and providing useful information. That way, you can build good relationships in your domain and drive targeted traffic to your website at all times.
- Start your search for reputable websites in your field that are open to accepting guest posts. Simply insert your keyword in the Google Search and add “write for us,” “contribute as a guest blogger,” “guest post guidelines,” and you’ll easily find such websites, as shown in the following example:
- Create a list of potential websites for guest posting and analyze their blog performance. Particularly, find out how active their readership is, whether they engage with the blog posts, or participate in discussions.
- Create compelling and personalized email outreach templates when reaching out to potential guest posting partners and editors, and provide them with the best representation of the value you can deliver to their blog.
Initiating guest posting can only benefit your natural link-building efforts if you follow the right tactics. Prioritizing quality over quantity, following Google’s search ranking guidelines, and using contextually relevant backlinks can guarantee stable guest posting success.
Backlinks can make or break your SEO efforts, depending on how you do it. For your backlink profile’s longevity and your website’s success, you should focus all your resources on building natural backlinks. They guarantee your website’s reliability and authority on search engines.
These are good links that you haven’t obtained through PBNs, paid link exchanges, or keyword stuffing.
As has been noted, you can get natural backlinks by identifying relevant partners in your field, establishing great relationships with them, analyzing your competitors for innovative insights, embracing various automation practices, and providing value with your content.
After all, manipulative behavior is easily spotted by search engines and every scammy activity will eventually be penalized. It makes more sense to stick to the good practices, right?
FAQ About Building Natural Backlinks
How can I get my first 100 backlinks?
Start creating valuable content, engage in your field, initiate frequent and non-spammy outreach campaigns, and build lasting relationships with your partners before building links.
What is a natural backlink profile?
A natural backlink profile is formed by authentic inbound links to a website, obtained organically from authoritative and relevant sources. It includes diverse links with appropriate anchor text, and has been developed authentically over time without manipulative practices such as purchasing links or engaging in link schemes.
Are there ethical considerations in natural link building?
Yes, ethical considerations in natural backlink building include creating genuine relationships, providing value, and avoiding manipulative practices such as buying links or engaging in link schemes.
How do you measure the success of natural link building?
A natural backlink strategy’s success is measured by increased organic traffic, improved search rankings, and improved domain ratings.