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|Does Natural Linking Actually Take Place?|
How do You Encourage it as Part of a Link Building Strategy?
This post is actually an attempt to check the truness of the common a statement in real ground. If you think that this is absurd then please just ignore it.
The sayings are "people will link automatically the pages if they found it relevant without asking for back links", " Participation on other sites will definitely get you noticed. Especially if you have something unique/interesting to say. Leave your link there, and people will follow. Eventually, if your site is good, people will link to it on their own" and like many more.
Not everyone can build sites like wikipedia, overture and Google. By this post I want to verify that if natural linking actually takes place for average sites if yes then to what extent. So please post your honest answer that you would like to link for nothing and what you see in such sites?
I see little point in linking to wikipedia etc., - they do not need me, and my visitors already know about them.
But my sites are richer for links to other places, so if I sse a site that is useful to my visitors, I link to it. And never ask for a reciprocal, either.
By an amazing coincidence, my sites have picked up links over the years, too. It's not instant - but I've never 'link spammed' in my life, and most of my sites (all but the newest) have a fair spread of incoming links.
Rather than forum spamming, etc., I kick them off with a few quality directory submissions, to get them 'on the map'.
"Linking For Nothing" is not quick; but very cheap, and very effective, so long as you link to quality sites - and you have a quality site for folk to link to.
And it's not "for nothing" - it's to make a better visitor experience on my site, a better choice for my visitors when they leave (as inevitably, they must), and what goes around, comes around.
Works for me ;)
I think that a content web site with half decent... er... content, will get natural links eventually. As has been said, if a site contains useful information, then people will link to that useful information.
But a 10 page business web site for your local supplier of Left Handed Widgets, why on earth would anyone link to it? I would have thought that press releases and paid directory listings would be the only 'natural' linkage involved.
I have never asked for reciprocal links. All links I have are natural. BUT it is a very very slow process. I think it will take me another year minimum, to get decent no. of FREE incoming links. AND this is after getting some visibility thru. adWords.
I do believe, the site has some unique good content. I receive many emails congratulating me for the site and asking for help, so maybe I am not wrong in thinking that my content is half way decent.
Would be interested to know, how other webmasters have managed to get huge no. of FREE incoming links in a short time.
I believe natural linking in commercial and competitive areas is very unlikely and probably doesn't happen. Why would I want to link to a competitor and give them an edge and get nothing in the process?
The problem is that like all capitalist markets the internet has become a money making machine, and it's business that comes first, not the good of the internet. In a way the likes of the big search engines created that monster, so for them to now say that only natural links are the only way to weave the web is rather hypocritical.
I think you may be wrong, in some circumstances, at least.
I happily link to authority sites in my fields - not rival stores, granted, but certainly rivals for the advertising dollar.
I think it's helped my sites, not hindered.
I think that the 'little man' has to accept that we cannot compete head-to-head with the big boys on many levels - so why try?
Much more logical to find a niche and make it your own - the big boys can rarely compete with that!
I link to other sites all the time. I'd be stupid not to, since hypertext linking is the most fundamental principle of the Web.
Sometimes I even link to sites that are competing against mine. And yes, I'll link to a Wikipedia article if it's relevant. (If I have a page that mentions Schloss Widgetberg and there's an in-depth article about the castle at Wikipedia, why shouldn't I link to it unless I've run across a page that's better?)
I think it was easier to get a lot of links in the early hippie days of the web and many sites that started at that time have a big advantage, because webmasters attitudes have changed somewhat, not many people nowadays give without thinking of something in return, usually a reciprocal link. And if the older site was the first one on a topic and you're making a competitive site... he may be in all practical purposes unmovable from #1 position in the SERP, having gotten all those freebie links from the more academic period.
From my observation, the more competitive a topic is, the more difficult it is to get freebie links. If you do a funny video clips site, you'll probably get tons easily, it just wouldn't make much money with adsense or other means. If you do a site on mortgages, it'll be very hard to get natural links, but the money will be there once you start having some traffic.
Personally, once I have a new site, I link it from my other sites at first, wait a few months, then go on a small link campaign in directories and related sites. After that, I just cross my finger. It worked for some topics, not for others. The nice thing with having more than one site is if it takes a year or more before getting some traffic, it's no biggie. New sites in some topics are just cursed until a certain amount of time has passed (6 months to 2 years), you need patience.
Funny how once your site is popular, the people you asked for links at first, and denied you, are now the ones asking you for one. Be ruthless ;)
Its also the chicken and egg again. You wont rank so well without as many links, and wont be found as easily for people to know about your site to link to. So it can be a very slow process.
Where as a link campaign or major press release, can grab you enough links to compete in just a few months.
|because webmasters attitudes have changed somewhat, not many people nowadays give without thinking of something in return |
Exactly. 4 years ago I picked up a ton of links, but later found out most these were of such low quality, it was a joke. My site was certainly off-topic to these others, so why link to me.
Very strange, and is ofcourse different now. I get people begging for links, but I link to so few because I'm in business to sell links and make a profit. That's why I don't just give them away.
I suspect that once my site sends out to the media, all those "Na mate, you cannot have a link, as you aren't the size of Google", will be sucking my kneecaps. Guess what I'll be saying to most of them hehe.
Anyone remember the Mirago story........
|"people will link automatically the pages if they found it relevant without asking for back links", " |
I link out to relevant commercial and/or info sites freely, no recip required, asked for, or even mentioned by me. In fact I can't think of a time when I've even let another site know I've linked to them.
These are just unsolicited links I place on my site because I think my visitors might benefit from the link..
|These are just unsolicited links I place on my site because I think my visitors might benefit from the link.. |
I'd say you are one of the very few who do this.
What a coincidence, I was just considering raising this very question but tailored to a question of whether natural free linking occurs for commercial retail sites. I doubt very much that it does -- from my own experience.
I have had a retail site on the web since 1999. One of the posters here suggested that in those early web days when so much was free, free links could be had. I guess I do have a few from those early days, but very few. Even then the business of reciprocal linking was going strong. And has stayed strong.
Once in awhile I pick up a link from a blog or forum, but those are rare, and often also seem transitory, I don't know for how long Google keeps them as "recorded" and pointing to me.
There are admittedly some retail sites like appleipod that collect thousands of links from websites around the world, but the average retail site (at least in my line of retail) do not. And why should they? We sell a product, most of our customers do not have websites, they are the typical shopper at the local mall. They might email me testimonials by the hundreds (and they do, or leave a testimonial on my site's blog, but they don't link to me.
1) Free links for forums, information sites, etc, from other websites might work but I find 0 retail sites that will give them, if asked. All want a return link or a paid link. I have found a very few who have given me one in the past, who have linked to me and did not ask for a return link.
2) Also - I'd bet about 90% of ecommerce retail sites are still under the impression that Google likes sites with high links to them, even if those links are reciprocal. I wasn't aware of that change in Google policy until a few months ago. Yahoo and MSN may count & value them still in their page ranking, but Google does not.
Which makes for an interesting question. If I am correct that natural free linking rarely occurs in the retail webworld, how realistic is it for Google to use that factor as a ranking device? I believe I am correct when I say free links are rare in the retail webworld, because I now see all sorts of advice here in Webmaster World and in several other services I receive, for retailers on how to get (apparent) free inbound links: pay for them, arrange for your outbound reciprocal links to come from a sister website at a different server, etc.
In other words, more advice on how to game Google's game. :)
This is silly as far as Google arriving at a means of determining the value of a website to the searcher seeking to buy x widgets. Inbound free links don't mean a thing, if we are all engaged in gaming Google's system. What really counts is the site's content, competitive pricing, quality of product, ease of navigation, customer support, etc. Some of those can be measured by Google's robot, some obviously cannot. I don't envy Google its task, and I'd say it does a better job than Yahoo and MSN at this point, even in the retail arena. But they might want to reconsider the extent to which they value links -- of any kind, for websites like mine and many hundreds of thousands of others in my area of retail.
Online communities are all the rave now-a-days... and what do you see going on in the forums? Talking. Folks talking about everything and anything. If you are publishing good stuff... people are going to talk about it and naturally reference your pages with links.
It happens more now than ever with regular joes getting more and more internet savvy...
maximillianos has got it right. Quality breeds linking. I have never pushed for links in any manner, except in sigs in a few sites. Yet have many inbound links all naturally created.
However I can see the problem if you have a business site. Who would link to them?
Maybe if you ahve quality content about the product (how to use the product, how it is made, new product available etc) you might get natural linking.
<Maybe if you have quality content about the product (how to use the product, how it is made, new product available etc) you might get natural linking.>
I have what you describe, and I get many complimentary comments from customers thanking me for the trouble I go to, to describe the product(s) thoroughly and how install and use them, common problems, experiences. The problem is most of my customers do not have websites. Some do belong to blogs, community forums, and as I said, I get an occasional link, but even when these people belong to these forums, (most are women) and comment about my site, they don't use a hyperlink in that comment to me: just name my site with words "x widgets" .
This, I am willing to bet, is the just the way it is in most of the retail world.
I could game the system by joining a dozen, 2 dozen, or more of these communities, and in fact have joined about 4, and leave comments and hyperlinks to my site. In fact, I'm seriously considering spending my link building efforts in that direction, as opposed to reciprocal linking, or finding free links. PS: don't tell anyone :)
|I'd say you are one of the very few who do this. |
|I have never pushed for links in any manner, except in sigs in a few sites. Yet have many inbound links all naturally created. |
I've had the same experience. Build it, and they will come...or at least some will. :-)
|However I can see the problem if you have a business site. Who would link to them? |
I publish a travel site, and while I'm not interested in maintaining business directories, I do link to hotels, restaurants, shops, local sightseeing-cruise lines and walking-tour companies, etc. when they fit my editorial needs. Also, if I get an interesting press release, I might feature the story in my news section, and the story will include a link.
But I don't link to businesses (or to any sites) just for the sake of linking. There's got to be a reason (and by "a reason," I don't mean a link-exchange offer). That reason might be a product or service of unique interest (Simon's San Diego Submarine Tours), an entertaining news item (Whatsitco's odor-absorbing airline seat cushion for flatulent fliers), or something directly related to what I'm writing about (a vendor of local maps and guidebooks in Widgetville). And in most cases, I ignore requests for links--I'm much more likely to respond to a relevant and interesting press release, which won't get lost admid the flood of reciprocal-link e-mail spam.
In a nutshell: Instead of being obsessed with "link development," businesses should spend more time on public relations. Good public relations will result in far better links than any reciprocal-link scheme can.
|In fact I can't think of a time when I've even let another site know I've linked to them. |
These are just unsolicited links I place on my site because I think my visitors might benefit from the link..
That was Fine as in the earlier years webmasters had thinking similar to above quoted lines, Don't you think after Page rank phenomena many people cannot think the use of links beyond PR boosting.
My clients are in the news business. As you know, mainstream news is terrified of the web. Maybe for good reason. The result is that all of them refuse to link aggressively. They want to "own the news." I've said, they can if they would link, pointing to Google.
After working on this for several years now, I've concluded that it's mostly laziness. They see and understand the benefits, but it's too much work. They want to keep on doing what they are doing and get paid the same for it--or more, simply because they paste their content into a page on a web site..
They opportunities missed are sad to think about. In many small cities and towns, the local web is dominated by some guy who started a local web site when he was in high school and now works at it as a hobby. And, what is one thing he focuses on? Linking.
Click on an outbound link for free or click on an adsense ad and get paid.
This probably carries a lot of weight.
I do alot of 'natural linking' myself. If I see a site that I find useful and that I think my users will find useful, I link it in the side menu. I feel that people will continue to come to my site for original content and also they will come to my site as it is a good place to find the links they need.
I have gotten compliments on my links alone in fact.
I get and give links all the time. I have even been given .edu links out of the blue. It really helps if you blog. I am an active member of the SEO community and well all link to each other. We share a lot of readers but each of us gets some traffic that the others don't. You can't just put up a good site and hope that people find it. You have to network.
Just about any article I write has 2 or 3 outbound links. They are always links leading to something beyond what I have in the article; perhaps more extensive info on the topic or a picture of a great museum example illustrating my article topic.
It's easy for a content site to link out. Sure there is a small chance someone will follow the link instead of clicking on an ad but in the long run I'm ahead because it helps the reputation of my site. I do well with word of mouse.
But I can see the problem for commercial sites. I think the best way to get some natural links there is to ad some informational pages related to your products. Selling kitchenware? Write recipes. Selling skis? Write about great ski resorts.
I have a product site that is 7 years old and is the leader in its field. I was largely responsible for moving my industry onto the internet and have destroyed other means of advertising within my industry.
Over that 7 years I have gathered maybe 100 truly natural backlinks (i.e. without me having anything to do with them at all).
This is still far more than any of my competitors.
However, go on Yahoo Site Explorer and you'll see my competitors have 1000's of backlinks, all gathered in some sort of underhand way. I have about 500 including the inevitable directories and the like.
Backlinks are useless as a baramoter of site popularity and any use they did have has been swamped by 5 years of SEO.
By it's reliance of backlinks Google has created a mutated web where the original idea of hyperlinks is reduced to junk.
For Google to say 'gather natural backlinks' is a joke for it is Google itself that has created a situation where paid links and interlinked networks are the key to traffic.
|because it helps the reputation of my site. I do well with word of mouse. |
I imagine your site isn't about cats.
That's not entirely accurate.
|For Google to say 'gather natural backlinks' is a joke for it is Google itself that has created a situation where paid links and interlinked networks are the key to traffic. |
Links were always the key to the web; a natural link was always recognition of Good Content.
Google was the first search engine to try and mirror that fact in their algorithm.
Some webmasters, always looking to game the SEs, 'created a situation where paid links and interlinked networks are the key to traffic'.
All Google has ever tried to do is give searchers a more useful result.
While it's all too easy to blame Google for everything, it often misses the point.
Fair enough. I could restate what I said as Ďit is search reliant on hyperlinks that has created a situation where paid links and interlinked networks are the key to trafficí.
I donít blame Google. I actually think Google has been a victim of itís own success. Backlink based search was so much better than the alternatives at the turn of the century that it became absolutely dominant very quickly. This dominance led to the 5 years or so of SEO aimed purely at manipulating the backlink part of the algorithm. If there had been a popular alternative search engine over this time, perhaps using something other than backlinks as the prime ranking determinant, we would have had a better web. Less skewed towards backlink spam.
I donít blame webmasters either. Itís natural to try and get the best ranking possible by whatever means.
You might have read me post similar(!) before but the only way out of this situation is, in my ever humble opinion, transparently human influenced (voting) search.
Back to the topic of this thread, I believe that these days Ďnaturalí linking hardly ever takes place. There is a thought about Google in almost every link. Reading the Google sections of this forum, there are endless discussion about how to make links look Ďnaturalí! I rest my case!
|Back to the topic of this thread, I believe that these days "natural" linking hardly ever takes place. There is a thought about Google in almost every link. Reading the Google sections of this forum, there are endless discussion about how to make links look "natural"! I rest my case! |
Well, if you look back up the thread, you will see a number of long-term, respected (at least by me) and successful members of this community saying quite the opposite of what you claim.
I can only add my voice to theirs.
Your problem, such as it is, is not with the structure of the internet but with your own view of it and the way relationships work there.
I can tell you that I link out to quality sites maybe even more now than previously. Ones that normally don't meet any quality test are the ones that exhibit the same thought processes as the quoted passage above.
|I can tell you that I link out to quality sites maybe even more now than previously. |
How is this a natural link when you have clearly modified your behaviour (by linking out more) as a result of Google? This is my point.
Edit: I'll stop pursuing this avenue.. The last thing I want is to debate the semantics of 'natural'!
I do believe however I make a valid point.
|I do believe however I make a valid point. |
Perhaps you would like to indicate where I mentioned Google in the post above and then think about what that says about your own viewpoint.
| This 82 message thread spans 3 pages: 82 (  2 3 ) > > |