The importance of contextual linking
As content creation continues to grow, so do the standards of good content. Once upon a time, search engines’ algorithms would churn out the most keyword-addled results possible, regardless of their quality.
Thankfully for users, this is no longer the case. Google now places more value in authoritative content that is, first and foremost, useful. One of the easiest, and sometimes overlooked, ways to do this, is through contextual linking. Here, we discuss this simple content trick and explain how it could improve your rankings and user experience.
What is a contextual link?
A contextual link is a link found within a body of content and fits naturally into the copy. In essence, good contextual linking involves adding hyperlinks within the content of your website using relevant anchor text – the visible text that embeds a link.
Benefits of contextual linking
Using contextual links to authoritative sites, or to provide a journey within your own site, not only shows that you’ve done your research, it proves that your primary aim is to create useful content that readers will benefit from. Google rewards this type of content and will consider you more trustworthy and user-focused, improving your site rankings. Other benefits can include:
Increased awareness of your site and content
Another company using your article and improving your SEO score with a backlink
Decreased bounce rate for your webpage
More traffic and, by extension, conversions
Examples of linking
Generally, your content can present information with: no link, a non-contextual link, or a contextual link. Let’s look at some examples where the link placement is represented by an underline.
No link – “Contextual links improve SEO”
The information is presenting without a source to back it up. Some believe that this is better as your content appears all-knowing, but the opposite is true. Providing a link to a credible, authoritative source shows that your content is well-researched and is more concerned with accuracy and usefulness.
Non-contextual link – ‘Contextual links improve SEO – click here to find out more.’
Not only does the anchor text have nothing to do with the link’s destination, but the clumsiness of its placement makes its intention transparent. This can deter readers from following the link because it feels as though it is being forced upon them. From a user-experience perspective, ‘click here’ is vague, unappealing and should never be used.
Contextual link – ‘Contextual links improve SEO.’
The link is placed on relevant anchor text, clearly designating what information the reader can lean more about. Also, if the anchor text has been chosen by keyword research, the SEO rating of the content will be increased. Remember, don’t go crazy with keywords. It’s a common misconception that cramming a piece with keywords will improve your content and its rankings. In fact, Google will actually penalise your page if links and keywords appear forced, which is why natural, contextual linking is so important.
While this post emphasises the benefits of using contextual links to increase quality and site rankings, it’s important to note that using too many will make your content look cluttered may even distract readers from more important pieces of information. Keeping your content balanced and natural-looking will lead to Google ranking your site higher as a more authoritative and user-focussed website.
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Written by Ewan Burkinshaw
Digital marketing manager Ewan is behind all SEO strategy and works tirelessly to help clients achieve significant organic growth.