Contextual Links as a Ranking Factor

what are the best practices for SEO linkbuilding

Inbound links, which affect rankings, can significantly vary in terms of how Google weighs them. Many SEO linkbuilding experts say that one can distinguish high-value links from low-value links by looking at their context. Hence, they believe that contextual link building is one of the best SEO practices.

Many publishers today believe that a link placed in relevant content has a greater impact on rankings compared to a randomly inserted link in unrelated content.

Do Contextual Links Affect Rankings?

Contextual links are essentially inbound links that are directed to a URL that is relevant to the content in which it appears. For instance, when a piece of content links to a reference for additional context, that’s the contextual link. Contextual links provide value instead of just being distractions.

Contextual links should flow naturally in a piece of content, providing readers with information about the page they’re linked to. However, one should not confuse them with anchor text, a link’s clickable part. Contextual links are instead defined by the text surrounding them.

A link’s anchor text is relevant to the web page it directs to, but if the surrounding context is irrelevant, it cannot be considered contextual text. Many SEOs believe that contextual links are a Google ranking factor and claim that they are more important than other links.

A reason why Google may consider contextual links as important is that they help provide a good user experience. For instance, a user would be happier to click a link to something relevant to the content they were previously reading instead of being redirected to an article they are not interested in.

All SEO strategies recommend obtaining links from relevant URLs rather than placing links in other places that will take them. When it comes to link building, many focus on quality rather than quantity. SEOs also believe that one high-quality contextual link that’s relevant to the content is better than several low-quality links. Therefore, experts advise site owners to aim for a few contextual links instead of building many random links.

Since Google values links differently depending on the context, this implies that its crawlers can understand web pages and determine how well they correlate to other URLs on the Internet.

Proof That Contextual Links Are a Ranking Factor

When the Penguin algorithm update launched in 2012, people found evidence that supported the notion that contextual links were a ranking factor.

PageRank, the first Google algorithm, was founded entirely on links. At the time, SEOs believed that they’d gain more authority if more links pointed to a website, so they produced as many links as possible to climb up Google’s search results rankings. It didn’t matter if they were relevant or random.

Google’s PageRank algorithm wasn’t as picky about the links it valued and devalued over others until it was enhanced with the Penguin update. Penguin introduced several modifications to Google’s algorithm, making it more difficult to artificially improve search rankings through fraudulent link building methods.

In Google’s announcement of the Penguin rollout, former search engineer Matt Cutts highlighted an example of link spam that they intended to eliminate, which is the exact opposite of a contextual link.

In Cutts’s explanation, he gave an example of a website with unusual linking patterns. The website’s text contained outgoing links irrelevant to the content. Moreover, the text had been “spun” beyond recognition.

Google gave several traits that contextual links should have:

  • the link is related to the content
  • the placement fits in naturally with the content
  • the reader has an idea where they will be redirected to when they click the link

All Google documentation released regarding Penguin over the years is the most compelling proof that contextual links influence rankings. But because Google discourages any deliberate link-building, the search engine company will never say explicitly that contextual link building is a ranking factor.

Cutts also announced that Google prefers to see web pages get links organically. He said that they want SEOs to conduct white hat search engine optimisation to create compelling websites.

There is a good chance that contextual links are a Google ranking factor. The impact of a link is weighted higher when used in context instead of being scattered throughout the content. However, that does not imply that links without context will negatively affect a website’s rankings.

A site owner can never control external links. If a website links to another website out of context, the latter should not be concerned because Google can ignore low-value links.

However, if Google notices a pattern of unnatural links, it could harm the website’s rankings. So, websites that have previously conducted non-contextual link building should start using the disavow tool.

What is The Link Disavow Tool?

Google Search Console’s disavow tool is a feature that allows webmasters to ask the search engine to ignore certain links to their site. The SEO community asked Google for a disavow link tool to help deal with websites affected by Google’s Penguin update in the mid-2000s.

The disavow tool can be used to defend against a “negative links” attack, which occurs when a competitor directs a substantial number of spammy links to a website. This is an unsavoury tactic that originated in the online gambling industry. As the online gambling sector is highly competitive, one of the methods that emerged from this high-pressure ranking scenario is the negative links assault.

Build Links the Right Way with Position1SEO

Position1SEO is a full-service SEO agency with a team of experts in SEO linkbuilding. We have been in the business for years, and our process has been tried and tested to deliver results. In other words, we won’t just rank your website higher than your competitors; we’ll also get you more traffic, better conversions and higher profits. This is because we focus on all aspects of SEO, from content to keywords to link building, using a customised package tailored to suit your specific business needs.

We have many years of experience in the online marketing industry, so you can trust us when we say that we know what it takes to succeed in Google’s search results. For more information about our services, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

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Author: Jason Ferry
Jason Ferry is an SEO specialist based in the United Kingdom. Taking pride in his many years of experience in the search engine optimisation industry, he has honed his skills in various digital marketing processes. From keyword marketing, website auditing, and link building campaigns, to social media monitoring, he is well-versed in all of them. Jason Ferry’s excellent skills in SEO, combined with his vast experience, makes him one of the best professionals to work with in the industry today. Not only does he guarantee outstanding output for everyone he works with, but also values a deep relationship with them as well.

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