Google’s ultimate goal in ranking pages is to provide users with the most relevant, useful list based on their search terms. How you build links to your site, in part, determines whether or not Google finds your pages relevant and valuable. Those links need to make sense in context. We’ll explain what that means, how it works, and what counts as contextual.
Why Context Matters
Page rank depends on many factors. The search algorithm for Google first tries to match the search terms with relevant pages, but this is only the most basic search element. It also considers the quality of the content and the usability of pages when organizing rank.
You can do many things to meet these demands by getting links to your pages from other sites.
When other websites link to yours, it shows you have authority and trustworthiness. Links from other sites demonstrate to Google that your page is not just a match to the search terms but likely a helpful page with authority on your topic and quality content that others value.
When creating links back to your page, you can do it quickly and dirty, getting easy cheap links. But these are far less valuable than links in context, which take more time and effort to get. Context guides readers to information they find helpful and valuable. Here are some examples:
- Someone shopping for hiking boots is doing their homework before buying. They read an article about important features to look for in a good pair of boots, and it links to your e-commerce site’s blog post about your unique quick dry technology (an important feature).
- A dog owner is researching obedience training and comes across an article about using the clicker method. It links back to your page that sells dog training gear, including clickers.
- A small business owner has a few bad reviews and is reading up on how to deal with the situation. They read an article about brand reputation and find a link to your business website offering reputation management services.
These types of links are in context. The link to your page makes sense in the context of the article or blog post. Imagine someone looking for hiking boots coming across a link to your page for a dog clicker training guide. It doesn’t make sense.
Contextual link building takes time. You need to find the right pages and content to place a link and request that link from the site owner. The first step is to create a list of relevant, contextual pages and websites.
A great tool to start with is Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer. As the name suggests, it helps you explore and research the best keywords to use, as well as identify the keywords your competitors are using. For more information, learn about Keyword Explorer here.
What Counts as Contextual
Use tools like Ahrefs or a content gap analysis finder to find the websites, pages, and other content online that will help you rank for your target keyword. Build your contextual link building strategy around the target keywords you identify and use them when linking back to your site from those other websites or pages. There are several levels to making a link contextual:
- Match By Website – First, find sites relevant to what you sell. For example, if you sell pet products, look at pet-related sites and blogs.
- Match By Page – Within those sites, look for pages and pieces of content relevant to the pages you’re targeting for backlinks. For a link to your dog training tools page, look for a piece of content related to training. A page within a pet-related site that talks about cat breeds or reptile care are not contextually relevant to dog training.
- Match By Anchor Text – Finally, once you have a contextual website and piece of content, your link should match up with relevant anchor text. Choose “dog training methods” to link back to your dog training page, for instance.
Backlinks should be contextual whenever possible but use the same strategies when building internal links. Links from one page on your site to another should also be in context to make your site more usable.
Contextual Links Are Worth the Effort
Building links can be easy if you do it wrong. Building contextual, relevant backlinks is a time-consuming process. Use the right tools and take time to get the best quality links, and you won’t regret the effort. These types of links are so crucial to building authority, trust, and page rank.