Google SEO & Search Engine Marketing Services

Natural Link Building – What’s That?

Link Building

I was reading Matt Cutt’s blog this morning and specifically his new post Natural Links are better than non-natural, not a post I would really recommend reading but one that provokes some thought from the title alone. What are natural links? and more importantly how do we build them. My hope is that this post will become more of a discussion rather than me rambling on about what I think, however let’s add a little context to direct our thoughts.

First of all it is important to understand (as much as we can) the Google algorithm and the US Patent application they had granted. The patent is closely based on the world of academic publishing which uses references or citations to judge the importance of a particular research paper. The more references the more important the piece of research is.

When a research paper is written on a particular area, the references will be cited to back up the evidence or opinion, this research paper is then published in various journals. This is the kind of referencing Google wants to see, in fact we should change link building to reference building :)

So what makes reference worthy content?

  • Research
  • Controversy
  • Insight
  • Humour

….and lot’s more than this I am sure.

The problem is you can make the most content rich site in the world, amazing research and studies, filled with humour and contention but if no one see’s it and reads it, it is worth nothing.

Part of doing quality SEO work is understanding what makes quality content and figuring out how your going to drive traffic to it. We do this through many techniques, social bookmarking, article marketing, directories, comments and various other networking activities, however is this a natural way to build links?

I have probably touched on these before, but to me, these are some of the elements that make up natural links:

Deep Links

If a domain has links pointing at lot’s of different pages, this is far more natural than a site where everything points to the home page. In any SEO campaign there should be an element of deep linking, no one publishes all their content on the homepage. These links or references need to be site wide.

Reciprocal Links

I have had many debates about reciprocal links and the fact is they look unnatural most of the time, however you could make a possible exception in the case of blogrolls even though they are been abused more and more. Think of it with the academic structure in mind, newer pieces of research tend to reference older authority papers as a way of evidencing knowledge, the older research paper will not then edit the research and reference the newer research.

It’s not quite as straight forward as that online but I hope you understand what I am saying. Do reciprocal links still carry weight? In my opinion, not really, I have tested it on sites to see if it increases rankings and it actually had a detrimental effect.

Slowly does it!

Natural links don’t all come in one big burst, they develop slowly over time as the sites authority grows. There is an exception in the case of social media when sites go viral. You could gain 10000 links in a few days when one of your articles goes viral, however can Google detect social links and quickly devalue them? Or does it already devalue links from popular social media sites?

I have had a few articles go viral here at SEO Wizz and the effect on rankings or organic traffic has been unnoticeable.

Think Relevancy

In my opinion natural links come from relevant pages. How natural would a link to SEO wizz look coming from a pet shop or craft blog. Not too natural in my opinion. A link from a relevant url, with a relevant title, filled with relevant text is far more natural looking and I personally believe receives more weight from Google.

Domain diversity

I can’t remember if I have touched on this recently but domain diversity is an important Google ranking factor. Natural links do not all come from a few domains, in my experience top sites have a domain diversity of between 5 – 10%, this is important, the link looks more natural therefore will carry more weight. Even though this is important, I wouldn’t recommend going out and registering a ton of new domains, this is spamming and it won’t take Google long to pick up on it.

So… What does everyone think makes a natural link? If your going to comment and say “content is king, simply write great content and Google will do the rest” please also tell us how your going to get people to notice your content and link back.

Is submitting to social sites natural?
Is having share badges on your posts natural?
Is submitting press releases natural?
Is writing guest posts natural?

Don’t get me wrong I understand the importance of content and content distribution and use it regularly, but that doesn’t make it natural :)

Thanks is advance for any contributions.


Line Break

Author: Tim (296 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

tahir June 26, 2009 at 4:36 am

well said, it is very confusing statement from Google. I agree with you 100% what you said in your post. I gave you an example for Content is not Every Thing, and of course you know the industry people know 60 to 70 percent of SEO is link building, though there are different school of thought how? We build a website (Holidays to Different Country) and spend so much time on Content, and never had a single link back ( From any One)… So how Google is going to rate this website, is it just alone on Content, then for sure we should be top for most of Hotels and destinations name, but we are not; ideally Google should have ranked them High and we do not have to bother about link building… and other tactics… may be Google want us to spend a lot of Money on PPC?


Tim June 26, 2009 at 8:29 am


It’s true that you have to build links in order to sit at the top of Google, if you never did any link building you would not get any web presence. No web presence and no one will get a chance to link to you. Some will say submit to social sites, carnivals etc… but isn’t this unnatural link building?? Of course it is, link building is a must, just make sure you get the links without providing money in return.


Eddie Gear June 27, 2009 at 2:35 am

Hi there Tim,

Its been a while since I commented on SEOWIZZ, I see that you have the new Thesis theme, Good upgrade and Oh yes, WordPress Ofcourse, wise choice. Very useful information once again Tim thanks.

PS: I’ve been designing some logo’s or header files for blogs. I have one in particular that might look good on your site. Mail me and I will send it over. No charge Ofcourse ;)

Eddie Gear


Tim June 27, 2009 at 5:25 am

Hi Eddie,

Nice to see you back at the blog :)

I’m very happy with the header/logo I have but send them through as I am always open to suggestions.


Just Press Print | Club Flyers January 18, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Building natural links takes along time. I read on place that you should only build 67 links a day or your get penilized. Links pertaing to your business are the best but google also like variety.


Tim January 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm


I think the rate at which you build links depends solely on the size of your link profile, sites with thousands of links do tend to generate a lot of links anyway so a 100 growth a day isn’t so bad, however if you have a brand new site I think any more than 300 – 400 a month is probably too much and it is important to keep you anchor text natural.


ewan April 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Hi Tim,
Nice post and lots of really good information regarding the hot topic of natural link building. You ask in your post how by having really good content are you going to get people to see it (the web page) and then link to it? The first question, how are people going to see it? Well, if it is really good content then it’s quite likely to do well in the search engines and thus get pick up and used or read, in answer to the second question you need to have various applications which then get the readers to either subscribe or to bookmark your web page.
Don’t get me wrong I am as aware as the next person (or SEO) that making your furniture website stand out among thousand’s of other furniture websites is no easy task, but then nothing is easy these days’ when it comes to the internet and internet marketing. I have written a number of posts on this same topic and have suggested that natural link building is one of the hardest tasks I know of. Natural link building includes many different disciplines not least being able to write good content as much for email requests for links as on your website.
Any hows that’s my 5 cents worth, keep up the good posts, you’ve just got yourself a naturally built link on my website?


Tim April 23, 2010 at 12:53 am

Hi Ewan,

I think good content is obviously the way to get ‘natural’ links however in order to get people to see it you need to build not so natural links, ie article marketing, directories and even social bookmarking, I mean what is natural about adding your link to a huge (mostly) irrelevant list of links.

Ask any SEO agency and they will tell you there is need for these unnatural or manual sorts of links, however they will all agree that natural link building is the hardest thing to accomplish ie, natural mentions, viral markeal marketing and content syndication.

Thanks for the comment and link :)


ewan April 23, 2010 at 1:34 am

Yes Tim,

You make a very valid point, ‘what is natural about adding your link to a huge (mostly) irrelevant list of links?’ I would say that us link builders need to be far more creative with our link building so as these ‘other’ links (we build) are far more natural than most of them generally look. Articles written on related blogs and websites are very natural looking and not at all out of place if the blog is from the same theme as the article, don’t you think? Also ‘in context’ links can be perfect on websites that relate to the theme, themed links if you like.
As a long time suffering link builder I have found new ideas and creative ways of making these ‘other’ links look more natural. It’s also worth remembering the old adage ‘quality is better than quantity’ pointing us link builders to getting say 10 quality links which look natural rather than 1000′s of spam blog posts or unrelated directory links. There are many ways to build links in a more natural way, although they are not natural links as it is I who build them. Isn’t this where you begin distinguish between good and bad linking practices and techniques?
Social book marking I always consider being more about getting your websites direct hits (new visitors) and these days it is quite natural for people to bookmark all sorts of unrelated and e relevant stuff.
I do realise that even the best built links (to us seo experts) still look obviously unnatural to some extent but is this just because we’ve been in the business too long Tim :) ?


Tim April 23, 2010 at 5:59 am

Hi Ewan,

I guess the post was aimed at those people who say “you don’t need to build links just content” , my argument was and is that you have to build links in order to make your content linkable. The only natural link that exists is one that has not been initiated by the webmaster acquiring the link, however using this method (build the content and they will come) is never going to work on it’s own and everyone needs a link building strategy.

As far as building natural links, yes, the best thing to do is get links, in content from relevant blogs and resources, however placing links on old pages in content is never going to work, the posts have to be fresh in order for links to pass the weight you need.


Matthew Lord June 1, 2010 at 10:26 am

I have noticed that by writing and submitting articles my PR increases, as well as search engine rankings for particular keywords. Does this mean that article directory submission is “unnatural” and therefore not effective? I don’t think so.

It is really hard to see what constitutes natural link building, and what doesn’t. I think the simple solution is just to avoid spamming websites, or using black-hat tactics to build links.

Great post. I have been trying to read more about natural link building in order to help some of my clients.


Tim June 1, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Hi Matthew,

I don’t personally believe there is such a thing as natural link building, as soon as you take action with the intent of creating links everything is unnatural. I guess the only natural ways to get links are when your completing a task regardless of SEO or links. I think SEO’s should be thinking more down the lines of clever, relevant and innovative link building, natural at least in most industries doesn’t really exist.



Afghanistan Online April 27, 2011 at 5:45 am

well, I appreciate that! Nice Article – Thank you.


PhuongLe August 12, 2012 at 1:21 am

Natural? Organic? unit we’ve Associate in Nursing inclination to at the native Farmer’s Market?

The writing jargon recently unit sometimes implausibly confusing for versatile Authors. Long gone unit the times once authors simply disclosed in print whereas not having to concern themselves with things like software improvement, link building, and natural links.

Link building will play employment in amplifying your exposure, that successively brings your audience to you and builds your whole. whereas there unit many practices floating relating to the web-o-sphere, there’s one strategy that ought to be your goal, be-all guide to link building:

Create a natural link by writing a first-rate quality, original article with a first-rate quality, relevant link within the Resource Box. Then publish the article on a large notable computing machine.


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