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Are contextual links a Google ranking factor?

Learn about claims about contextual linking as a ranking factor and see if any evidence supports those claims.

Inbound links are a ranking signal and can vary greatly in Google's weight.

One of the key attributes that experts believe can differentiate a high-value link from a low-value link is the context in which it appears.

When a link is placed in related content, it is considered to have a greater impact on rankings than a randomly inserted link in unrelated text.

Does this statement make any sense?

Let’s dig a little deeper into claims about Contextual Links as a ranking factor and see if there’s any evidence to support those claims.

Disclaimer: Contextual linking is a ranking factor

A "Contextual Link" means an inbound link to a URL that is related to the content of the link.

For example, when an article links to a source to provide readers with othercontext, this is the context link.Contextual links add value, not distraction.They should flow naturally with the content, giving readers some clues about the page they were directed to.

Not to be confused with anchor text, anchor text refers to the clickable part of the link, contextual links are defined bysurroundingText Definition.A link's anchor text may be relevant to the web page it points to, but if it's surrounded by other irrelevant content, it doesn't qualify as a contextual link.An example for contextual links:First Link Prioritization: Is It a Google Ranking Factor?This is not our keyword, just to give you more information about related link concepts.

Contextual links are considered a ranking factor on Google, claiming that the search engine weights them higher than other types of links.

One of the reasons Google might care about context when it comes to links is because it creates the experience for the user.

When a user clicks a link and lands on a page related to what they viewed before, this is better than being directed to a web page they are not interested in.

Modern guidelines for link building all recommend getting links from relevant URLs rather than placing links anywhere you can get them.

There is now more emphasis on quality than quantity when it comes to link building, and links are considered higher quality when their location makes sense in the context.

In theory, one high-quality contextual link could be more valuable than multiple low-quality links.

That's why experts recommend that website owners get at least some contextual links, as this will take them a step further than building dozens of random links.

If Google weights link quality more or less based on context, it means that Google's crawlers can understand web pages and evaluate their relevance to other URLs on the web.

Is there any evidence to support this?

Evidence of contextual links as a ranking factor

Evidence supporting contextual linking as a ranking factor dates back to the launch of the Penguin algorithm update in 2012.

Google's original algorithm, PageRank, is built entirely on links.The more links to a website, the more authoritative it is considered to be.

Websites can push their site to the top of Google search results by building as many links as possible.It doesn't matter whether the link is contextual or arbitrary.

Google's PageRank algorithm wasn't that selective about which links it valued (or devalued) until the Penguin update enhanced it.

Penguin brought many changes to Google's algorithm, making it harder to manipulate search rankings through spammy link building practices.

When Google announced Penguin, former search engineer Matt Cutts highlighted a specific example of link spam it aims to target.

This example describes the exact opposite of contextual linking, Cutts said:

"This is an example of a website with an unusual linking pattern that was also affected by this change.Note that if you try to read the text aloud, you will find that the outgoing link has absolutely nothing to do with the actual content, in fact, the page text has been "rotated" beyond recognition.

On the other hand, contextual links look like links to Google blog posts in the paragraphs above.

Links with context share the following common characteristics:

  • The placement position naturally adapts to the content.
  • link URL related to the article.
  • when readers click on itknow where they are going.

All the documentation Google has published about Penguin over the years is the strongest evidence to support contextual linking as a ranking factor.

See:The Complete Guide to Google's Penguin Algorithm Update

However, Google will never say outright that "contextual link building is a ranking factor" as the company simply does not encourage any intentional link building.

As Katz said at the end of the Penguin announcement, Google would prefer to see pages get links organically:

"We want those who do white hat SEO (or even no SEO at all) to be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling websites.

Contextual Linking is a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Contextual links can be a factor in Google rankings.

When used in context, links are given higher weight than links randomly placed in irrelevant content.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that links without context can negatively impact a site's rankings.

External links are largely out of the website owner's control.

If a site links to you out of context, it won't be of concern because Google is able to ignore low-value links.

Extended reading:

HTTPS as a Google Ranking Factor: What You Need to Know

Are Domain Names a Google Ranking Factor?

Is Link Building Speed ​​a Ranking Factor?

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