Relevancy: The Core of SEO

Relevancy is at the core of SEO. It has been at the center of SEO for a long time and will continue to evolve as search engines become smarter. In the early days of SEO, all a person had to do to rank a website was repeat the target keyword or phrase an excessive amount of times within a page. AKA: “keyword stuffing”.  Webmasters would abuse meta tags, titles and other on-site elements to the extent that, today, Google and other search engines attach little to no significance to certain HTML elements.

There is no doubt that relevancy will always remain an integral part of SEO. If relevancy was removed as a factor to ranking a website, search engines would cease to exist. However, the rules and use of relevancy has changed from the keyword stuffing days. Two types of relevancy are particularly important when trying to rank your website: content relevancy and link relevancy.

Content Relevancy

Creating relevant content  can be daunting task, but in all actuality, it’s pretty basic. Simply write content around a pre-selected topic. Use your target keywords in the appropriate places and an appropriate amount of times and the page has an opportunity to rank. The question then arises: Where are the appropriate places? And how many times is enough?

      • Title tags are first and foremost. The title tag tells search engines and users what the page is all about. It often appears in the search engine results page (SERP), creating a connection between the search performed and the search results displayed. We recently wrote about the anatomy of a perfectly optimized title tag, which goes into more depth about titles, how to write them, where to place the keywords, etc. You can read that post here.
      • Next, heading elements. H1, H2, H3, and so on. In my experience, try to use the exact match phrase in at least one H1 or H2 tag, but not both and definitely not all heading elements (do that and your site begins to look spammy). Instead, use other related terms or longtail keywords where additional headings call for it. Of course there are exceptions to this rule like page length and necessity, but those are the general guidelines.

      • Finally, the body of the document. As a general rule, use the target keyword(s) 3-4 times within the text. Proximity and close occurrences of the keywords are important factors to look at when creating content. Using keywords too close together or too many times can have an adverse effect, as Google and other search engines can see right through it. Rather, try spreading out the keywords and phrases, and using synonyms instead of the exact match. The frequency of the keyword may depend on the length of the page.

Most importantly, write for the user first. Then go back and insert keywords if necessary in places where it sounds natural. Don’t force anything, and honestly, you may find that writing for the user the first time was sufficient and no keywords need to be inserted.

Using these quick rules will have you on your way to creating user and search engine relevant content.

Link Relevancy

Prior to Penguin, exact match anchor text allowed a website to rank rather easily. All that was needed was exact match anchor text with high frequency. Many link profiles that ranked well had 75% or more exact match anchor text. Link building tactics such as link wheels and blog networks were super effective because they made it easy to create hubs and lots of links with exact match anchor text. However, times have changed and so have link building tactics. Because link building strategies gave changed, here are some essential questions to ask yourself, along with guidelines to answer those questions, that will help you get the most out of your link building efforts.

Finding Relevant Links Post-Penguin

What is the site about? And What can authors write on?

The answer to this question should be “its about my topic, keywords and/or industry.” If I am writing about speakers, I probably don’t want a link from a food restaurant site.

Are the keywords I want to rank for used on the site?

If the website does not contain your keyword it may be ok, but it should be related in one way or another. Take a hard look at the content on the site. David McBee says “I think that having the keywords on the site helps, but I can also think of lots of cases where the site is relevant without having keywords. Example: A site about home improvement can link to a page that sells patio furniture without the keywords patio furniture previously being on the site.”

Is the keyword I want to rank for in the site title or description?

If your target keyword is in the title this adds extra value to your link. Search engines give prominence to titles. Therefore having a link from a site with your keyword in the title can provide a great boost to your relevancy for a given search.

If it is a guest post, how does the author allow me to link to my site?

Having an in-content link is ideal Be careful and cautious with selecting your anchor text- select a relevant link in the middle of the first paragraph or somewhere in the second paragraph when/if possible. Search engines give prominence to elements towards the top of the page. One key to selecting anchor text is making it look natural. The majority of links you obtain naturally will be branded. If the website won’t allow you to have an in-content link but will allow an author link, make sure you have a killer bio with your keywords all around your link.

Do I have to identify myself as a guest writer?

Currently, I have not seen any importance to this. However, in the future it could be a signal to the search engines on how the link was acquired. In recent months “Author Rank” is being used more and more and may have an increasingly significant role in SEO in the future. If the website does allow you to post without being a “Guest Author” this can be a bonus.

Will my post be tagged with a topic in the archives?

This is a given. If the site doesn’t have an archive system or tagging system, how will people identify your article in the future? How archive systems work can have value because they are surrounded by similar content and keywords.

These questions are prerequisite to asking the question: To link or not to link?”

To follow up on some of these questions I would highly recommend researching and understanding what a hub is and how powerful they can be.

Combining Relevant Content & Relevant Links

In today’s post-Penguin and Panda apocalypse, matching relevant content with relevant links can have a significant impact on your SEO efforts. Matching the content where the link is coming from to the content on the page you want to rank will most likely have higher value than what your anchor text is.

Keep in mind that just as these concepts can help you in your marketing efforts, they can also be abused or overused. Fundamentals of SEO will exist as long as search engines do. Understanding how search engines use relevancy today is essential to today’s SEO.

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