“Natural link building” has long been a sore spot (some would call it an oxymoron) among many in the online marketing community.
The general argument goes something like this:
“Any link that comes about because you pursued it cannot be considered natural” or “The very act of seeking links makes any link you obtain unnatural” or “A link is supposed to be validation that your content is of some value.”
The above arguments are all flawed, and I’ll include several examples to illustrate why later in this column.
The “natural/not natural” argument is the link builders’ version of the larger white hat/black hat SEO argument, and it obscures many, far-more important points.
I realize my opinion ultimately doesn’t matter, and that the fact I call myself a “natural linking strategist” could make me a liar, a hypocrite, clueless, or some combination thereof.
But, there’s more at stake here than opinion and semantics.
Fortunes are being won and lost based on an algorithm that we are told wants to find “naturalness” among the signals it discovers across the vast sea of code that its bots canvass every day, week, month and year. (After year!)
I believe that the best natural link builders are those who understand how to manually speed up the process that slowly happens every day on it’s own.
The algorithm adjusts, continually seeking to improve its ability to identify that which cannot be trusted among that which can be.
Marketers devise techniques and tactics to try to appear natural. Some succeed; some fail.
The algorithms adjust again.
It’s a cycle that repeats, with the machines getting smarter over the long-term even if sometimes during the short-term they get it completely wrong.
(Weren’t those live tweets in the Google results fun? You could drop an F-bomb for the world to see instantly.)
Google specifically mentions “natural” in its guidelines, so it’s a safe bet that part of Google’s algorithm is devoted to spotting signals of naturalness.
Natural Linking Strategist is not my title as much as it is an ethos — guiding beliefs that characterize an ideology.
I know I just went all LinkMoses, but I’m prone to do that because I’m passionate about what I do and even more passionate about how I go about doing it.
Speeding Up Naturalness
At the core of why I think you can build links and call them natural is a question I ask myself about every link I pursue.
That question is: