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I have just started a brand new website in a domain that I have a decade of experience.

As like any website creator I would like to see search engine visits to good quality content on my website.

I am ready to do everything to make the content original, in-depth, insightful and practical. I am ready to work as hard as possible "on my site". I know the basics of keyword research and I can find reasonably good keywords to write.

But the ONE question that discourages me every time I start to write is this:

I am not good at networking. I am not good at contacting any webmaster for links. To me, emailing for links hurts my ego. I would rather spend the time in creating good content on my website. My question is, are "natural" links flowing to a good website overtime is "real" (, thus helping SEO)? Don't say after a couple of years of 8-8 hard work I am going to realize the TRUTH that links don't come 'naturally' unless I am 'lucky'.

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    Sadly it was easier to get natural links 20 years ago. When I started everybody maintained directories and link pages. Google made it so easy to find things that people don't curate content the way they used to. Google killed its own golden goose. – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 13 '18 at 14:13
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    It seems to me that natural or organic links will come, however, Stephen is right to a very large degree. Spam links will come fast and hard while organic natural links may only trickle in at best. This is where social media comes in. A proper promotional scheme on social media can help create organic links, not IN social media, but because of social media people may want to talk about your content on their own site. This is why compelling content is important. Cheers!! – closetnoc Feb 13 '18 at 16:28
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In addition to what Stephen and Closetnoc already said... There is no magic bullet here, and definitely no guarantees. Here's what you're up against, and what you can do to improve your chances. (And it's not just luck, it's skill and strategy too!)

Several years ago, when every marketing consultant ran around and charged $150/hr to say "content is king, create more content," a lot of brands started to crank out massive amounts of content, expecting every blog post and tweet to bring massive results. They used keywords, they produced both high quality content and link bait, they occupied every social media channel regardless of whether their audience was on it. (Financial journalism Pinterest boards, I'm looking at you.) When that didn't bring about the desired results, many abandoned this tactic within a year or two. That's why there are no guarantees, even for rich corporate entities.

Some challenges:

Depending on your site and content, you may be up against some corporate entities, who have SEO teams and advertising dollars and industry clout.

Your site is brand new. It hasn't earned the trust of search engines. It probably has a small footprint, for now. Until it ramps, which can take a while, your natural link building may be hampered by the fact that you don't have much of a history in SERPs, or that you don't have a lot of trustworthy links. (I know - you need links to earn more links - sounds tedious, but there it is.)

What you can do:

Don't just focus on keywords; work with trends. One of my clients earned her most successful blog post (for a fashion blog) when she wrote about Michael Jackson, and he died the next day and became a trending topic just after her post went live.

Don't forget technical SEO. Without things like good site speed, structured data, metadata, Search Console work, etc., your content has far less of a chance to climb the SERPs or be found at all.

Consider some paid advertising, whether on AdWords/Bing or social media. The giants can afford to do this, and are doing this. You targeting would have to be more precise, therefore; more niche. At least at first, you can drive people to your content that way.

As the others have said, maximize your free social media presence. That said, the reach of free Facebook pages is slowly decreasing, as there is more noise now, and social media companies try to drive brands to their ad product.

Finally, even if you don't reach out for links, you may have to engage with other webmasters as they reach out to you. Also, I'd be remiss not to mention the fact that link building can be effective; if you write a positive restaurant review, for example, why not tell them about it? They may post it to their social media or blog. That's how discovery happens, and this can be much more effective than an ad or whatnot.

Again, no guarantees here, but you seem determined to make your site succeed, and you are hopefully passionate about the content you will create. Good luck!

  • I am not a social media guy. I hate the whole process even though it is clearly necessary and beneficial these days. It seems to me that twitter is effective for trends. Pinterest seems to be effective for visual interest where images work and also trendy. Is there anything social you can recommend beyond this? Perhaps something with longer term effect besides trends. Just curious from your perspective. Cheers!! – closetnoc Feb 13 '18 at 18:20
  • Good points here. I can understand that one has to work to improve visibility (through social media and other stuff). The process may bring eyeballs and links. But I have a question on this. Shoudn't a company like google with hundreds of patents related to machine learning, AI and stuff be able to discover good content even with ZERO backlinks? Link count can be biased. For example, a webmaster can aquire links easily from a friend running an authority website. I don't think link count always correlates with great content. – Kannan Feb 13 '18 at 18:38
  • @closetnoc I'm not a SM guy either - used to manage social channels years ago, glad to be out of it. You're right - world of organic social has condensed, with diff. channels for their own niches. What you said re: Pinterest. Twitter too - it's great as a news feed and for customer service. FB Pages for brand-related news and customer service. LinkedIn for corporate / "thought leader" (barf) stuff and recruiting. YouTube rules video. Otherwise it's very niche platforms you've to engage with if your audience is there. (G+, etc.) Now, social advertising? That's a different landscape. :) – Henry Visotski Feb 13 '18 at 21:02
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    @Kannan I agree they're not always right, re: link profiles. Problem comes from definition of "good content." Say you post a brilliant short story, but it's only found on your site. A machine can't say, "that's beautiful writing." Heck, it may not know it's fiction. It's why we have structured data. Search engines have always relied on 2 basic concepts, relevance & popularity, which help establish authority. There's much more in those algorithms now, but neither factor is going away. The friend site you mentioned - those algos are working hard to prevent that sort of thing from ranking! – Henry Visotski Feb 13 '18 at 21:11
  • "thought leader" (barf) - you and I speak the same language! Bravo. So called thought leaders can easily be B.S. artists and often are. Of course sometimes I get my shovel out too! Cheers mate!! – closetnoc Feb 13 '18 at 23:44
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Unfortunately, I don't think organic link building can be very effective with the wait and see approach.

People who have sites with links that can pass a lot of juice have learned just how valuable those links really are. As a result, they tend not to use them by linking out to new websites for free. They allow people to come to them requesting a link in exchange for something, even if its only social and networking clout. Often times, it's for money.

Successful website owners have also learned that Google rewards a page for linking out to trusted, authority pages related to that page's content. They've also learned that Google penalizes pages for linking out to untrustworthy sites.

As a result, it's very difficult to get a successful website to link to your new site unless you are willing to set up and start networking.

I don't think it's a fair system, but it's the system that we've made for ourselves.

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Some of this depends on the vertical you're competing in, but as a general rule, it's very hard to get links without some promotional effort. It sounds like you enjoy (or you're at least comfortable) putting together content that provides value to people, but you're uncomfortable with the "ask." If this is correct, there are a couple of things that you can do that are more aligned with your personality and will increase the likelihood of getting links:

  • Put thought into ways that you can improve your content by including links/references to other people's content. For example, let's say you're writing a blog post about the benefits of cross-fit training. In the post, you might include a link to someone else's post that goes into the detailed science of how cross-fit improves long-term health (e.g., "if you're interested in the science behind cross-fit, make sure you check out Jane Smith's article"). Once you post, you can reach out to the people you've referenced to let them know that you've included them in your content.
  • Put significant effort into content curation. As you find content that you think is really valuable, share it via your social channels....don't just hit the retweet button though. Provide context. For example - Excellent post by @name for b2b marketers that are looking for ways to XYZ. "On average, customers do XYZ before connecting to a sales rep."

Again, you're going to perform much better if you can get comfortable with conducting outreach and building relationships in your community, but hopefully this will provide with some first steps until you get there.

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