This guide explains natural search.
Below, you’ll find out what is natural search on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, and see examples of how a website can rank naturally in the search engine results pages (SERPs). You’ll also get an overview of natural search engine optimization (SEO) techniques as well as an explanation of the difference between natural search and paid search traffic so you know how each method applies to your website.
By the end of this page, you’ll understand the definition and core concepts of what natural SEO means in digital marketing.
What Is Natural Search?
Natural search is the organic search results that are shown on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Natural searches consist of the non-paid results of a search query.
Is Natural Search the Same as Organic Search?
Natural search is also known as organic search. Natural (organic) search results are based on the natural indexing of the website and are displayed as unpaid organic listings below the ads in search engines.
Now, natural search is not to be confused with natural language search, which refers to a search using spoken language, such as English, instead of typing keywords into a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Natural language search is used with devices that allow users to speak into it using their everyday language rather than a set of keywords.
Types of Natural Search
There are many types of natural search for a website to rank in the organic search results. In the past, search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing only listed around 10 website links for users to click on in the SERPs. Now, modern search engines include a variety of features to display websites to users depending on the search query.
Below are some examples of the various ways your site can gain organic search traffic when using good natural search optimization:
- Natural Search Listings: These are the unpaid listings that a website ranks for based on relevance and natural SEO methods. On average, these natural search listings get a 44% click-through rate (CTR) of all user clicks.
- Featured Snippets: These appear at the top of the search results with snippets of information taken from a web page to provide a quick answer to users. Featured snippets include paragraphs, tables, lists, and videos.
- Rich Results: These are enhancements to natural search listings that highlight important information for the user, such as review ratings, recipe information, pricing, vote count, author name, etc.
- People Also Ask Results: Also known as the PAA box, this is a section that appears in the organic search results that contain a list of questions with answers that are related to the initial query. It also contains links to the website sources.
- Things to Know: This section on the SERPs includes important concepts that help searchers build their understanding of the topic from the ground so they can move through the journey of discovery. It’s similar to the PAA box with answers and links to relevant websites.
- Image Carousels: These sections include images that are relevant to the search query. Natural search engine optimization can also be applied to images to help them rank higher and more often in search.
- Video Carousels: These sections include relevant videos for the search query for users to watch.
- Top Stories: These panels are shown for news-oriented searches and contain a list of articles relevant to the search keyword.
- Local Packs: This is a section for natural local search queries and includes links to businesses and associated maps.
- Popular Product Results: This box is shown for natural search queries with buyer intent, and includes images, ratings, prices, availability, and description information for relevant products.
Natural SEO is the process of using search engine optimization methods to obtain a high placement (or ranking) in the search engine results pages. A natural SEO strategy focuses on organic search engine optimization techniques to help a website rank at the top of the non-paid search results.
Natural search optimization methods for increasing organic ranking include:
- Keyword Research: Finding and analyzing natural search terms that users enter into search engines that are relevant to your website and business. See free keyword research tools for SEO.
- Content Creation: Publishing content that targets natural SEO keywords for organic search rankings. See how to write content that ranks.
- On-Page SEO: Optimizing web page content in a way that helps search engines properly index and rank your content in the SERPs for specific search queries. See what is on-page search engine optimization.
- Internal Linking: Including links to other pages on your website so search engine spiders can crawl your site and understand the relationship between content, such as topical relevance and keyword-optimized anchor text. See internal vs external links.
- Link Building: Acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own site (also known as backlinks) to help improve organic search engine visibility. See this related guide on natural link building.
- Technical SEO: Improving the technical aspects of a website to help search engines like Google find, crawl, and index your pages to increase the natural ranking positions. See what is technical SEO.
- Local SEO: A specific natural search engine optimization technique that helps a business gain organic visibility in local search results.
Natural Search vs Paid Search
Natural search is different from paid search because natural search focuses on unpaid rankings in the search results while paid search focuses on paid rankings through advertisements. Natural search is a more cost-effective strategy for organic search in digital marketing because the website traffic is free.
If you want to use paid search methods to have your website ranked above the natural search results, then pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a good strategy for this purpose. PPC can also lead to more natural links to improve off-page SEO. See this related guide on the difference between PPC vs SEO for more details.
Natural Search Summary
I hope you enjoyed this guide about natural search.
As you discovered, natural search refers to the non-paid organic search results that are displayed on the SERPs in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. And there are many natural SEO techniques you can use to improve the natural search optimization of a website to help it rank higher in the search engines for its target keywords.