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Despite the rise of social signals and the continued prominence of content as primary search engine optimization tools, high-quality inbound links remain one of the three big components in improving rankings. The automated processes have been devalued; low-quality posts, footer links, and sidebar links are a thing of the past and in excess can actually hurt a website.
Strong, contextual links are still valid. In fact, some have shown that they're more important than ever.
In this infographic by Digital Net Agency, they examine the two different types of link-acquisition strategies. They talk about the six major bad strategies to avoid and then highlight five techniques that work. One in particular, "contributing", should be fleshed out a bit. The idea is that by creating and sharing content that brings value to others, it's possible to generate high-quality contextual links by the sheer merits of the content and its promotion. In essence, if you're bringing value, you'll get value in return.
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"Links" image courtesy of Shutterstock.