What Is a Natural Link?

What is a natural link and how is it different from a bad or good link?

In this article, you will learn more about:

  1. What Is a Natural Link?
  2. The Different Types Of Links
  3. Quality Links
  4. How Do You Define a Good Link?
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Understanding Natural Links
  7. Related Reads

What Is a Natural Link?

A natural link refers to a link that occurs organically on the web. Natural links are backlinks created organically instead of generating them by yourself through guest posting or link building strategies.

What is organic link creation? Natural (organic) links occur when other webmasters or bloggers use your content (images, videos, and blog posts) in theirs. When a user links a piece of your content on their website, it is called a natural link. This is also one of the best SEO practices to get a better ranking in search results. Natural links, used in an area of the content where relevant, will have a good impact on the SERP (search engine results page) because Google’s crawler bots take in the relevance of the backlinks as a ranking factor during crawling and indexing.

The purpose of a natural link is to act as a token reference for other content.

The Different Types Of Links

different types of links
Three types of links

In SEO, there are three variations of natural links:

  • Natural Link
  • Unnatural Link
  • Semi-natural Link

Natural Links

A typical example for natural link would look like this. It is natural, obtained from a trusted source and contains no tracking parameters.

example for natural link
Example for natural link

These are organically created when a website owner links to a piece of content from the internet on their website.

Characteristics of a natural link:

  • No tracking parameters
  • Not embedded inside sponsored content or paid content
  • Won’t redirect the user to places unknown using Javascript or monetization tools

Unnatural Links

Unnatural links are links that a website pays for. They are links made artificially to manipulate a page’s ranking in the search results. Unnatural links are purchased or created by scammers and are attached to other websites. These links can take users to a different part of the internet, one the user might not have anticipated when they clicked on the link.

In the middle of April 2012, Google made unnatural links a primary target with the Penguin update which would penalize pages that used unnatural links.

Features of unnatural links:

  • They can be tracked using parameters like UTM source or Medium (tools for tracking).
  • They can sometimes be found within sponsored content.
  • They’re obtained from sites that use monetization scripts (earning money by leveraging content).

Semi-natural links

We previously mentioned that natural links do not have tracking parameters. In the case of semi-natural links, some of them do have tracking. For example, say there is an influencer, and they have been paid to share a link on their content. When a user clicks on that link they will be taken to a landing page that has tracking parameters. 

Now, at the same time, when bloggers and other website owners use that link on their site thinking that it is a natural link, they will be getting a link with tracking parameters from the landing page where the link was copied from in the first place. So, this results in an unnatural link with an organic link scheme, where the links may be natural but the tracking parameters from the landing page will be attached to it.

Quality Links

High-quality links come from high-quality websites. These are websites that have everything in order, from the backlink they use to the SEO-optimized content they publish. Some sites naturally have more domain authority than others because they contain content that is popular or relevant in day-to-day usage. Think of sites like Wikipedia, Forbes, or The Verge.

High-quality links are determined by the website they were obtained from. High-quality links are

1. Links from niche websites that talk about a specific topic and stay updated regularly.

2. Connected to websites that do not have external links to adult, spam, or illegal sites.

3. Users won’t see any indication from the link that the website allows sponsored content.

4. You can find a high-quality link in the Google news feed which is a good sign that references a good site (at least, in Google’s eyes).

5. The acquired links found on the site will most probably be from staff writers of the website and not contributors. Since contributors can be easily bought, many major publications like Huffington Post have started to nofollow (an HTML tag that tells the search engine to ignore the link the tag was attached to) the contributors’ links.

6. Users won’t find any mention of pricing or visible text or mention backlinks in the advertising section.

7. The links on the site come from the body copy (the main text that explains the crux of the content of the blog, magazine, book, or any product or service).

How is a Good Link Defined?

1. A good backlink is harder to get. The harder it is to get, the more value it will have.

2. A good link is one that comes from pages that are relevant to the topic on your site.

3. Good links come from sites that are trustworthy and not spammy.

4. Links that flow naturally within the content also identify as good links.

5. Good links come from long-form blog posts. It is true that long-form content can drive more organic traffic when compared to shorter blogs that bring less traffic.

6. Links from sites that have a high domain authority (a score that predicts where a piece of content will rank on the search engine results page). When many people link to the same high domain authority site over and over again it signals to Google they are an expert on the topic and that is why everyone is linking to it. So, if you link to sites with high DA (domain authority), they are good links.

7. A good link follows Google’s guidelines whereas a bad one does not. Link farms, paid links and other black hat links can get you penalized by Google whereas good links will bring you organic traffic.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an artificial link?

An artificial link is also known as an unnatural link. They are links that go against Google’s guidelines and this will also affect where the content that has unnatural/ artificial links rank in the search results.

2. How can you fix semi-natural links?

When a person reaches your site through a tracked link, you can set a redirect to pass the parameters and revert it to the natural page structure; a redirect will ensure the link leads to a page that does not have any parameters.

3. What are bad links?

Links that do not comply with the guidelines set by Google are termed bad links:

  • Come from unrelated sites or pages
  • Come from sites that have a low domain authority rating
  • Article directories(they have low-quality content)
  • Penalized sites
  • Backlinks with over-optimized anchor texts

Understanding Natural Links

Many website owners agree that natural links are the way to go. They bring less risk of getting penalized by Google and a better chance of driving organic traffic to a website. Understanding what makes them different from unnatural and semi-natural links will help you get the most out of your website.

Related Reads

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