What are contextual links and are they the best type of links for ranking websites?

Contextual Links And Their Contribution To Ranking Websites

Most internet marketers know that search engine rankings are determined by the authority and the relevance of a web page in regard to its main keywords. Inbound links are the ones that help building this authority, so there’s no wonder that everybody wants to get as many as possible.

What you may not know is that not all inbound links are born equal. Some of them may even hurt your website. If you want to make sure your efforts are going to be worth it, you should focus on acquiring contextual links, preferably from high authority websites in the same industry as yours or in a related one. Contextual links are the ones that match the topic of the article where they are places. If, for instance, you have a website promoting photography courses, you should seek for links from articles that are also about photography or about related topics such as photo cameras, filters, tripods, or other photography accessories. These contextual links have a very high value in the eyes of search engines, so they are going to boost the authority and the relevance of your page.

Google, as well as all other major search engines, encourage and reward websites that attract large numbers of organically occurring inbound links. However, everybody knows that such links are scarce, and in some industries they are almost absent. This is why you have to develop a link building strategy that replicates the natural rate of acquiring backlinks. Even though contextual links would bring you the greatest benefits, you should avoid collecting only this type of links, if you want to be on the safe side. A web page may get linked from various types of websites, with different levels of authority. The common attributes of these websites would be their language and their main topics. Getting linked by a website in another language than the one of your website is highly unusual. This is why you should always try to acquire links from pages written in the same language as yours. Moreover, you should avoid getting links from websites that have nothing to do with your niche or industry, regardless their authority or language.

A link can be considered contextual only when it is placed inside the article itself. Sidebar or footer links aren’t contextual, even though they may match the topics of the main article on the page. When you seek for building links to your website, you should always strive to obtain contextual ones, as they carry the greatest authority. This is an example of a contextual link going back to my homepage.

In order to gain a better understanding of how search engines work, you have to take a closer look into the anatomy of an inbound link. When someone decides to link to one of your web pages, they will place that link in the context of an article, and they will give it an anchor text. The text which becomes the active link is the anchor. Search engines will detect the topic of the article that includes this link, as well as the anchor text. Next, they will crawl your page. If its content matches the other two elements, namely the topic of the website and the anchor text, this link is going to carry a lot of authority points, being therefore able to push your page up in search for its most relevant keywords.

This is basically what contextual links are and how they can influence your positions in the SERPs. This is the type of link you should acquire, if you want to obtain a noticeable improvement of your rankings. Beware, though, to mix multiple link types, as this is how you can avoid some of the worst Google penalties.