While we cannot pin down the exact inner workings of the Google algorithms, we can watch for trends and listen to Matt Cutts tell us what direction Google is headed in in terms of online search. It used to be that authority was king and Google's algorithm seemed to reflect this in the way they rewarded sites with high pagerank (PR) and sites that had links from high PR pages. While this is definitely still a powerful metric to keep tabs on and no, pagerank is certainly not dead, it does seem that it has been dethroned as king of SEO importance. What has taken its place? Well, there may not be a king any longer and in fact, it may be more of a democracy ruled by a system of multiple indicators, but, if there is an heir, it might just be relevancy.
Relevancy on all levels – website, page, keyword, social, brand, etc., seems to be making major waves and becoming increasingly important. A backlink from a site in your niche is powerful. A link from a site in your niche ranking on the first few pages for a keyword you are targeting is gold. A link from a site in your niche, ranking in the first few pages for a targeted keyword and surrounded by contextually relevant content is flat out ridiculous.
The SEO Relevancy Spectrum – It's Not Just Black And White
We have clients who come to us asking for relevant link development services – for all kinds of links we can build. We are always happy to meet the client’s needs, but often I find that they might be misinformed about what is relevant. A client may say "I only want a relevant link to my site, not a link from a site in a different niche". And yes, we don't want to create a totally irrelevant link on a site that has no relationship to our clients business, on a page that has nothing to do with their topic, and in a paragraph that is not related to the page we are linking too. But in that last sentence, you can see there are different levels of relevancy and while it would be ideal to have them all, that is far from required. For example, a link from a page that is related to the niche of your website, but from a site that has nothing to do with it can be quite powerful.
I'll take a link from a trusted domain with a great DA that isn't related to my site in anyway, but has a link embedded in relevant and quality content on one of their pages all day long.
Different Types Of Relevancy For High Quality Backlinks
Backlinks from a website that is in or related to your niche = site relevancy
Backlinks from a page that is about (content is related) to your niche = page relevancy
Backlinks from a paragraph(s) that is about (content is related) to your niche = content relevancy
Now take this all with a grain of salt and use your brain when applying it to your link building strategy. A link from a site that that is relevant to your topic, but has any number of untrustworthy issues isn't a good link. The same applies at the page and paragraph level. You must look at other aspects of the website besides relevancy to judge whether the link can benefit you. This is a topic for another post, but things like site age, quality of incoming links, trust level, social presence, are they are real business, should come into consideration when assessing the quality of a potential relevant link.
A Better Internet Search Experience Through SEO Relevancy
So what does this all boil down to? The point of this post was to explain that relevancy can come from different levels of a website, not only one. That we should look for quality opportunities to develop links on the site, page, and paragraph level. What this also means is that as we become more selective and integrated with relevancy in our content and link development efforts, we are actually contributing to the internet by putting useful links in appropriate places for visitors to traverse. It's not just an SEO benefit and a new rule to follow; it's literally an opportunity for a more natural experience for the visitor and thus, a contribution to their experience.