What Is Link Building?
Link building is the practice of building one-way hyperlinks (also known as “backlinks”) to a website with the goal of improving search engine visibility. Common link building strategies include content marketing, building useful tools, email outreach, broken link building and public relations.
Why Are Links So Important?
To understand that, you’ll need to hop in your Delorean and go back to the pre-Google days of the internet.
Back in the day, search engines like Yahoo! and Alta Vista were the dominant players. And they ranked their search results 100% based on the content on a webpage.
Their now-famous PageRank Algorithm changed the game. Instead of simply analyzing the content of a page, Google looked at how many people linked to that page.
And they were right. Nearly 20 years later, links are STILL the best way to determine the quality of a webpage. That’s why backlinks remain Google’s go-to ranking signal.
That said, thanks to updates like Google Penguin, Google now focuses on link quality (not just link quantity).
A natural link is one that occurs organically (not easily seen as being placed by your company).
Natural links don’t: Have tracking parameters.
Exist within sponsored or paid content.
A natural link exists as a reference to a piece of content, website, or source.
Unnatural links are any links that are paid for.
These types of links can be placed and tracked by PR firms and media buyers, or monetized through affiliate programs, CPC campaigns, influencers, or monetization scripts.
If these links aren’t nofollowed, Google can potentially take manual action on your site or your site could be negatively impacted algorithmically (most likely by Penguin), because they are not earned/natural.
What are unnatural links? Links:
With tracking parameters (e.g., UTM source and medium).
Within sponsored content on a site (because search engines do not know who paid for the content to be placed).
From sites using monetization scripts because scripts say you get paid for linking to retailers.
You can find these in the site’s code, outbound redirects, and other mappable techniques.