How To Shoot Up your website’s SEO rank over time with Link Relevance
SEO is a big topic. It has always been. Google drives millions of traffic to websites every hour. More traffic, in an ideal case means more leads. And everybody wants a slice of the pie. Hence, new strategies and methods keep surfacing. The goal: to get as many visitors as possible through the door and ensure they stay a while.
Over time, we’ve seen Google fight a lot of blackhat ranking techniques with their periodic but consistent algorithm updates. Many sites have been on the end of the scissors.
The important thing to note is that Google’s vision statement has always remained the same
i.e help people find exactly what they are looking for.
So, these major updates would support this goal – eliminating spammy content and links and placing websites found guilty in “Link prison”. How do you survive these random updates? The best way to keep your website on the good side of Google’s equations is to keep your eye on Link relevance. SEO core tactics that used to work would likely be overhauled ten years from now, but relevance is a pillar that would keep standing.
About the latest August 2018 “Medic” update, Yoast says,
“Google has also added the concept of “beneficial purpose” to the Quality Rater Guidelines, where raters are not just asked to rate the quality of the content, but also consider whether the page has a beneficial purpose or use to being on the site. What would a visitor to the site gain?”
Before talking about this, there are some minor optimization ideas that have always been harped upon. Why? They keep readers browsing your website longer.
- Fast Page Loading. Slow loading websites and pages cause poor user experience. Intuitively, Google wants to promote websites that offer great user experience. That means slow loading pages would drop lower.
- Mobile Optimization. Many people are accessing Google via mobile. When your pages aren’t optimized for mobile, you create poor mobile user experience. More people leave your website. Google drops you lower in its rankings.
- Reader Value. Writing that targets the right people would keep them on your website longer. If your website isn’t offering first-touch value through content, you’re missing out on a lot of SEO traffic. Blogs are generating 60%-62% of website traffic. It’s no more about getting more of your keywords in, as it is delivering value to readers.
The Big Picture Item – Sustainable SEO
Citation flow (number of links) is still important as it determines the popularity of a website. Authority is also important. What is the Domain Authority (popularity, age and size) of the domains linking to you? The subtle one – Google takes into account the contextual relevance of pages linking to you. And it does this in 5 major ways laid out by Cyrus Shepard, founder of Zyppy.
Anchor texts have long been a ranking factor. Google’s original pagerank Patent states that “Even though the text of the document itself may not match the search terms, if the document is cited by documents whose titles or backlink anchor text match the search terms, the document will be considered a match.”
Over time, this may have been modified a bit, since Google keeps taking steps to fight gimmicky ranking strategies. Hence, Google’s own SEO starter guide warns against using off-topic anchor text. The important thing to note is that if the title and the anchor text linking to you are relevant to a discussion, Google believes your website must also be relevant and you’ll get SEO points. So, if I had a page optimized for keyword, “Long beach condos”, a variety of pages talking about long beach condos or living in long beach would help me rank high using a variety of topical anchor texts. Learn more about anchor text best practices in this post.
Expert Pages or Hubs
While a link is a link, a link from a hub page carries more weight. Hub pages (expert pages, resource pages or authority pages) compile topically relevant resources on a particular topic. When a page like this links to you, the authority criteria is satisfied as the page is linked to by many high DA pages. Google deems your page an authority page on the topic. The concept of hub pages as a ranking factor has existed since before 2003 with the Hilltop Algorithm and it is still a major way Google determines authority pages.
An offshoot of the hub pages concept, topical relevance, according to Cyrus Shepard “works by grouping “seed pages” by topic (for example, the Politics section of the New York Times). Every link out from these pages passes on a small amount of Topic-Sensitive PageRank, which is passed on through the next set of links, and so on.” In essence, page rank is distributed from a higher authority page to another page based on the topical relevance of the target page to the source page. This means that if a high authority page on real estate linked to my “real estate marketing for agents” page, that would give me much more SEO value than if a high authority page on personal finance linked to it. This would also be applicable to inbound links as well. A high ranking page on your website will deliver good page rank value to another page on your website if both pages are topically relevant.
Phrase Based Indexing
With phrase based indexing, the content of the source page is matched with the target page for relevance. Again, this means rankings do not just depend on links, but the content of the page linking to you. If phrases in the source page also appear in the target page, then the target must be a relevant page for the topic. Phrase based indexing will not just consider keywords, but LSI keywords. This is one of the reasons for the prominence of LSI keywords. If I wanted to rank a page for “Tomato farm”, having terms related to the keyword in both the target page and a linking page would boost the target page’s SEO score for that keyword. Yet, you have to consider authority of the linking page.
A page already ranking for a keyword will help boost your SEO rank if this page links to you. This means, if many pages which already rank high for your keyword links to you, Google considers you an authority on that topic. Won’t this mean you counter your own efforts by linking to a website already ranking for your target keyword? No, if you’re not linking to more than one or two of these pages. Local Inter-connectivity considers the quantity of highly relevant, authority links. Page rankings are reordered depending on how many of these links point to you. How to use this? Since many first page domains would rather not link to you, you can consider reaching out to pages on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th pages of results for your target.
What To Do with this Information.
- High Quality Link Building.
Understand that links vary in quality. A contextually relevant, high authority link will give you much more SEO value than 20 other high quality links. According to Shepard,
“To understand if a link is topically relevant to your site, simply ask yourself the golden question of link building: Will this link bring engaged, highly qualified visitors to my website?”
Here are some of the links you want to focus on:
– Links from relevant, resource pages.
– Links from pages ranking highly for your target term.
– Links from your own high ranking, related pages.
– Links from relevant, authority pages.
– Links from pages ranking high for related terms to your target term.
- Content Relevance – Focus on Indepth Value.
There is no easy way around it – you need to prove your value. Is the content on your website worth linking to?
Google will rank trusted answers for each keyword. That means 500 word posts will hardly get on Google’s first page. Make your posts prove your authority on subjects. Proving indepth value through content in this way will not just give you long term SEO gains but help you convert more readers into customers.
- Boost SEO with comprehensive Guides.
One of the ways to use hubpages for ranking is via guides. These are usually not hard to create. For example, creating a town guide is as simple as creating a page where you talk about the features and amenities in your neighborhood or town. Then you link to many authority pages that would offer more information to visitors. What you want to do is to have some of your inbound links in, that is, point to resourceful pages on your website.
- Anchor text variety.
You want to have a good number of links pointing to your page. Yet using the same anchor texts throughout your links will nudge Google’s anti spam sensor. So, it’s important to use different variations of your keyword to create varied anchor texts. See some basic real estate search engine optimization tips here.