One of the most important aspects of any SEO strategy is backlinks. This is the basic criteria major search engines use to rank websites. So the higher the number of backlinks pointing to your website, the higher you will rank. But, take note that not all inbound links are equal. Incoming links from authority, credible websites carry more weight compared to links from less known or relatively new websites. Keeping this in mind, many marketers spend more time and energy in acquiring backlinks from credible blogs and websites. However, they end up ignoring the importance of contextual linking, which is actually the opposite of back linking.
DEFINITION OF CONTEXTUAL LINK BUILDING
The basic idea behind contextual link building is linking your internal pages or blog posts in a specific manner to improve site navigation for users. In other words, a contextual link refers to any link that points to a clickable text (keywords) that can be found within your written web content. If used correctly, contextual links can be of immense benefit to your website.
This is what happens: if your page is about Conversion Rate Optimization, the search engine scans the page and follows contextual links to their destination URL to confirm whether the links are relevant. If Google finds that your contextual links are relevant, it will allow its spiders to follow links that point to your other content. Although some experts are of the opinion that search engine algorithms don’t take contextual links into consideration in SERP, we still think that contextual links are still very important. They not only help in indexing the page but also reinforce what each of your pages is about.
Contextual links tell search engines to develop relevancy factor for the two pages–the linked page and the linking page. It is nearly impossible to have all the information on one blog post or page. So it is important to split the information into bits and link them to each other using key phrases or keywords as anchor texts. If done correctly, contextual link building reduces bounce rates because it makes it easier for the user to navigate to other relevant pages. Having said that, let’s look into details how contextual link building helps SEO.
HOW CONTEXTUAL LINK BUILDING IS IMPORTANT TO SEO
Contextual links define the uniqueness of a page.
Contextual links make deep links across the content of your webpages. This is the main area that determines the uniqueness of your page.
Contextual linking transfers optimal power of one page to the next.
Contextual linking can be used to spread life into weak pages by linking pages with strong PR to weaker content.
Let’s assume that you have a popular blog post that talks about website SEO with PR5. Now, this page most likely ranks in the first page of SERPs for numerous keywords. Therefore, this post is likely to bring in a lot of traffic. Let us also assume that you have another weaker page that talks about Guest Blogging. Perhaps this page gets little to no traffic. One way to boost the power of the weaker page is by linking the stronger page to the weaker page.
Contextual linking improves the relevancy factor of the linked page and the linking page.
Google wants websites to be relevant to the end user. That is, the only way to improve the relevancy of the entire site is by ensuring that there is a close cross-linking strategy among the pages.
Contextual linking reduces bounce rates of sites.
What happens when the user has read your content? Many users would simply close the site and move on to other things. But with contextual linking, the user could find themselves clicking on the links within the page for more information.
It is almost impossible to have all the information on one page.
One page is practically insufficient for one to talk about everything on a given topic. You could risk boring your readers with information overload. Therefore, the best thing to do is to divide huge information into small bits and link them internally. Moreover, some topics may be closely related, but not entirely related; therefore heaping everything on one page could be detrimental to the user regarding absorption.
Contextual linking improves site navigation.
Contextual linking makes it possible for users to seamlessly move from one content to the next without losing track. For instance, if a visitor was reading about Content Marketing tips, you could introduce the visitor to another post that talks about How To Write Killer Content. As we have already mentioned, without contextual links, the visitor could easily navigate away after reading the initial post. Google appreciates sites that provide great user experience and value.
Contextual linking increases your credibility.
If you link to authoritative external sites like Social Media Today or Wikipedia, your credibility increases because it shows your content is well-researched. People think external links have no value. Actually, they do because it creates an impression to the search engine bots that the linking site and the linked are similar in quality. By that same token, try to avoid linking to low quality or spammy sites. “Tell me who your friends are and I will…” you know what I mean.
Contextual linking increases recognition.
Let us say you linked to some authority blog and the owner of the blog liked your content. Chances are the other blogger will also link back to you, giving you a valuable “Vote” by Google’s standards. As you do more linking, you also increase the chances of being linked back; hence increasing traffic and recognition to your site.
As you can see, contextual linking has many benefits. The more you do it, the more you increase your site’s credibility, increase your users’ experience, reduce bounce rates and increase website traffic (as well as sales).
Being one of the most important SEO strategies, contextual linking should be done with the following in mind:
Choose your anchor texts carefully
When doing contextual linking, you don’t just link to any random group of words. Your anchor text should be relevant to the page that is being linked. The keywords should also be highly competitive to boost the chances of the page on search engine rankings.
Use long-tail keywords
Descriptive phrases (or long-tail keywords) perform better than one-word keywords. The idea is to make the descriptive phrases appear on your page naturally without looking as if you are trying to stuff your page with keywords. Do not try to force your contextual links. In other words, do not just link for the sake of linking. Make everything seem natural.
Link to authoritative sites (resources)
As we have already mentioned, linking to authoritative resources will be more valuable to your page than linking to weaker sites.
Provide value to the user
Again, do not just link stuff simply because you need to do the linking. The objective of contextual linking is to provide more value to the user as well as the search engines. If this is not achieved, then it means you are doing more harm than good to your site. If you are not using your links well, you might end up being worse off—losing credibility.
There is certainly a lot of value to be derived from contextual linking. It is not only a way to improve on SEO but also a way to make your page more resourceful to the user, which can increase conversions. Do not forget: as you do your contextual linking, make sure you are only linking to authority pages.
Joe Ryan is the Founder & CEO of UK online marketing agency, Digital Search Group, which specialises in smart internet marketing. He is a specialist in online marketing strategy and brand building. When he’s not considering the next best online marketing strategy with his team, he enjoys travel and spending time with his family.