When discussing methods of driving traffic to your website someone will undoubtedly say that you need to build “natural links” to your site. What are natural links? And is natural linking really natural?
Let’s start by taking a look at what natural linking is. Basically it is linking to your site that occurs naturally. Duh, pretty straight forward. But consider that to capture those natural links your website will have to have has some really great content. It’s got to be buzz-worthy enough that other people will want to create links from their site to your site. As search engines visit those sites they see the links to your site. This can help give your site a boost in rankings.
Does that mean there is only one way to get natural links? Pretty much, yes. You must create really good, or at least desirable, content! Your website has to be something that others will want to share. If it is an amazing site, and it stands out among the others, you might have a winner that generates natural linking in a natural way.
Consider for a moment what natural linking looks like. The best type of example may be obtained by looking at a rather popular website such as Twitter. As I am writing this article a search at Yahoo reveals that there are nearly 6 million pages linking to twitter.com, just the home page, not all the user pages. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the actual results page. Near the top you will see a button with “Inlinks” shown. This is the number of pages that Yahoo says are pointing to the site.
So there are, quite literally, millions of links coming into Twitter’s website. You can imagine all of those links creating a high quality, very broad, natural linking system. People set up the links because they find value in Twitter, not because Twitter is enticing anyone to do so. That’s natural linking.
The problem is that most website content is not good enough for natural linking to occur. When people start to realize that their site sucks then they start to talk about “getting more natural linking.” Unfortunately, an intentional act to capture search engine attention will never look like natural linking. Whether they use link exchanges, link farms, or circular linking, it won’t look natural to the search engines which have algorithms to detect such methods.
What does this mean for you? What if you truly do need more incoming links for your site. Well, do the second best thing: start promoting your site. See if you can find some other sites that will link directly to your site without a link in return. Perhaps comment on blogs in your industry.
Also, when you do link to your site don’t always go to the home page. There must be something valuable elsewhere on your site. Back in the Twitter example, if you look at the links coming to any page within their site, there are over 166 million. That means less than 4% of the links to twitter.com actually go to the home page. You can learn from this too!
But the most important lesson remains… create great content! If you do that, then your linking efforts will result in other people seeing your site and deciding to link to yours “naturally.”
By the way, you can follow Jeff on Twitter too. Oops, now’s there’s another link going to twitter.com.