SEO basics: natural link building

On 01/10/2010

In SEO - search engines

Natural links are strongOver the last few weeks, we've taken a look at getting started with improving your site's search engine ranking. Obtaining a good position in search engine result pages is a vital part of ensuring your website is a success; doing so will significantly increase the number of new visitors your site attracts, and help position you as an authority in your field, thus greatly enhancing your ability to communicate effectively with your audience.

If you've decided to make a free website to share a few holiday snaps with family and friends, then you needn't worry too much about search engines – your audience is sufficiently limited that you can simply email your site details to those that are likely to be interested.

On the other hand, if your potential audience extends beyond those in your immediate circle, then you need to think about building links to ensure your site gets noticed in search results, whether you've chosen to use a free website builder or invested in an on-site website development team for your company. This is especially true is you are looking to develop a widely successful website or online business.

Our last couple of discussions have involved looking at ways to get links on websites through directory listings and website comments on existing content pages, such as forums, blogs and site pages. But developing backlinks is a more layered, complex process than simply posting relevant links on pages. To make a website successfully, focusing all your energy on posting links can be very counter productive. Concentrating your time and effort on search engine results and link building likely means you'll most likely wind up forgetting the most important thing, and the reason why you decided to create a website in the first place: to communicate your message to others.

Being a website winner takes time and workWhether you are planning to make an online store or just to make a blog for your friends, it's essential to remain focused on your content. Ensuring you develop interesting content means that others will naturally be drawn to your site, and that they'll take care of some of your communications and marketing work for you.

Remember that word-of-mouth is a vital marketing tool, so make sure your website has something worth talking about.

Natural link building is a far more powerful SEO tool than anything you can ever do all by yourself. Statistically speaking, you, as a single individual on the web, are pretty insignificant. On the other hand, those hundreds or thousands of website visitors that are potentially interested in your website are statistically significant, and of vital importance.

Getting them interested in what you're providing is the key, and will ensure that they get to work on improving your search engine results for you, whether it be through posting links to your site on theirs, or just clicking that “Like” button and sharing the wonders of your site with their friends on Facebook.

As much as the expression makes my stomach churn these days (if I only had a dollar for every time I'd heard it uttered …!), “content is king”. Or, to paraphrase my preferred communications medium (and one of Kevin's better, earlier, more cap-wearing performances): “build it, and they will come”.

We've seen in the past how the right “gimmick” can make you an overnight success. Long-term web success really doesn't have a ready-made, quick answer (if you don't believe me, just ask Matt). And there is nothing you can just “buy” off-the-shelf to ensure you of overnight internet success. Take the time to think about your site, and its content. Always ask yourself if what you're publishing is useful, and relevant, to your audience – if it's not, then change it, or do it better. Natural link building is exactly that – something that happens organically, naturally. It's a direct result of your work on your website. So don't spend all your time focusing on link-building, if it comes at the expense of your site content.

Make something interesting, and it'll develop its own inertia, attracting visitors as it should: by virtue of what it offers, not by virtue of how well it's been marketed.

Though your site content is what counts in ensuring website success, there are things you can do to optimize webpages for search engines when you create a website – we'll take a look at some simple things you can do to optimize your website next time.