Do you know how many individual ranking factors contribute to Google’s algorithm?
The rough count is around 200, although it is important to note that this number is constantly changing and incorporating new metrics. It also includes several controversial and debatable factors, which continue to be the source of intrigue and discussion. Make no mistake; some ranking factors continue to retain universal importance.
Inbound links provide a prominent example, as, alongside content, they are the two most powerful ranking signals, as announced by Google in March 2016. It is also nearly impossible to rank well for competitive keywords without links, so they remain a fundamental aspect of any SEO campaign.
So surely this is a numbers game, right?
Well, this used to be the case, but Google’s evolutionary set of algorithms have gradually changed the way in which links are evaluated. So, while a high number of inbound links can still translate into improved visibility, it is the quality (and more importantly, the relevance) of these links that will underpin a successful SEO strategy. The power of link relevancy is, therefore, crucial to SEO, but only so long as you can successfully harness this and use it appropriately.
With that in mind, here are three steps towards achieving this goal:
1. Build Relevance from the Page Title, URL and Link Source
While relevancy is one of the buzz words that you will often hear about when building links, this is a relatively vague term that is often open to interpretation. Google’s own interpretation is also subject to change, which makes it difficult for marketers to build a high volume of quality links over time.
In simple terms, however, the relevancy of your link must be framed within the context of its placement, with the nature of the surrounding content and the precise anchor text that you use, which are both key considerations. This should be part of a wider strategy too, as you look to build relevance that supports the reach, validity and impact of your links. Start with the page title and the URL of the link source, which can be tailored to include relevant keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business.
2. Consider the Importance of Focus and Topical Relevance
The drive among marketers to optimize the relevancy of their links has been the trigger for multiple strategies, including the use of authoritative guides and focused in-depth infographics. This detailed and concentrated content is highly relevant in the modern digital marketing realm, particularly as Google continues to favour longer-form content that can inform, engage and drive social traffic.
Such an ethos can also be adopted when creating alternative forms of content, while it is extremely valuable when attempting to build a small amount of links that offer optimal relevancy. Sites with high authority often have no qualms providing outbound links that provide additional information to their users which they may find helpful, but you should first ensure you have all the required content assets on-site before pitching third party content.
Don’t ruin your relationship by inserting keyword stuffed anchors. Remember, value comes first. This will increase your chances of link acquisition and click-throughs from potential customers.
Finding topically relevant links can be made a breeze with the use of Google operator shortcuts, which allows you to get more specific search results. For example, let’s say you run an online fashion store, selling high-end designer labels and you’re looking to build brand awareness and acquire high-quality links through topically relevant sites. Head over to Google and try out the following search command:
“write for us” + “mens fashion”
The same process works for all types of industries. This way, you can find a whole range of link opportunities that are topically relevant, then you can start pitching some quality guest articles.
3. Use Industry Spotlights as Core, Link Assets
We have already touched on the importance of contextual relevance, but this is particularly crucial when publishing inbound, home page links or those that use branded anchor text.
It is hard to ensure that these links are natural and relevant, but one way in which you can achieve this is to publish industry spotlights and features that are focused on the thought leaders within your marketplace. This creates a viable asset that can naturally include promotional links, without compromising on relevancy or the way in which the content is evaluated.
Interestingly, this type of asset also increases the number of natural backlinks that are directed towards your website, as those who are featured in your content will often link back to the article from their own sites. Playing into an influencers ego and asking for a killer quote for your content, can help your content go viral.
Another way is by pushing out press releases to relevant news sites or blogs, but you’ll have to ensure your content is newsworthy and you’re approaching the right editors or journalists. The key is always to remain on-topic and incorporate the most topical and relevant features that relate to your industry, as this ensures that your links retain value in the eyes of Google and capable of driving traffic.