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Published November 30th 2023

Why Relevance Should Be Your #1 Focus For PR Link Building

If you want to improve your rankings in organic search and your brand awareness amongst a highly targeted and engaged community, link building is one of the most powerful marketing techniques to help realize your online growth potential.

Relevance is a huge determining factor of the lifetime value and return on investment (ROI) that backlinks can offer a business, and should be the number one metric used to inform your link building strategy when identifying new prospects.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at: 

  • The role relevance plays in a successful link building campaign
  • Why relevance is important when assessing link building prospects
  • How to determine the quality of a backlink?
  • 3 proven methods of earning topically relevant backlinks 

What is a relevant backlink?

Link relevance is the topical connection between a web page and the target landing page that you’re looking to generate links to.

It’s commonly used to help improve the organic ranking of a specific web page in relation to independent searches online.

Similar to the keywords you’ve optimized your website for, the relevance of a link acts as a signal to let Google know exactly what your business is all about, where you specialize and how relevant your content is to a given search query or audience. 

Relevant link building is achieved when one website links to another with a similar focus or niche.

For example, a project management SaaS company can improve the relevance of their backlink profile by earning links from websites, niche bloggers or media outlets that have established themselves as an authority on topics relating to workflow management, B2B software, document management, operating systems for remote teams etc. 

On the flip side, an example of a powerful domain with low relevance is when the same SaaS company earns a backlink from a national media outlet that has a domain rating (DR) of 90 but covers everything from travel, money management, technology, home improvements and parenting. 

The strength of a domain can make it a tempting prospect for your outreach campaign, but it might not be the most relevant prospect when achieving long-term ROI from your link building efforts.

Why are relevant backlinks important?

Link relevance is one of the strongest indicators to show Google that you have authority in a specific topic. 

Links from third-party websites are seen as a vote of confidence and suggest that your website is providing value on a subject and therefore deserves recognition and exposure from their website traffic.

It’s essential for Google to be able to rank your website and content for the most relevant keywords, which is why the anchor text associated with your backlinks, as well as the surrounding text, should be topically relevant and useful for both search engines and audiences.

As Google’s algorithms develop to leverage more machine learning and natural language processing, SEOs must build their strategies to serve a search algorithm that’s more focused on relevance and solving user problems, rather than the raw number of links pointing to a page or domain.

How do you determine the quality of a backlink?

When launching a link building campaign, there are a number of metrics you’ll want to assess during prospecting that will help determine the overall strength and value of a backlink opportunity. 

Marketers will often focus heavily on a website’s quantifiable authority through metrics like domain authority (DA) from Moz or domain rating (DR) from Ahrefs. 

While these metrics are useful in giving an indication of how powerful a website is based on its own backlink profile, it’s important to note that DR and DA aren’t the be-all and end-all when assessing the value of an opportunity. 

⚡Note: DR and DA are not considered part of Google’s algorithm when delivering results in the SERPs.

Some of the more advanced measures used by specialist link builders include: 

  • The number of keywords a prospective website ranks for.
  • The volume of traffic a website receives from paid and organic searches.
  • Which country the majority of traffic is coming from?
  • Which country the company/domain is based in?Incoming vs. outgoing link ratio.
  • The number (and strength) of referring domains in their backlink profile.
  • The history of a domain - how long has it been around? Is it a flipped domain?

These are all valuable metrics when prospecting for new backlink opportunities, however, one metric that is often forgotten about is relevance.

Relevance in link prospecting is slightly harder to conceptualize as it’s more of a holistic measure that takes into account: 

How well a website answers related search queries.

The usability of a website, page or media asset.

How much expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EEAT) can be found on a website?

How do other companies and key figures in the respected industry view this domain, is it a trusted source of information?

The relevance of the keywords a domain is ranking for in relation to your website and target market.

The keywords used throughout your website and any prospective link opportunity can be determined by using a tool like Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

The usefulness of target keywords and the page that Google serves up in the SERPs can often be subjective depending on the user and search intent of the query.

Therefore, relevance is harder to determine using the tools and software available.

As a practical solution, HiveRank® supports a focus on prioritizing relevance in link building campaigns.

With a relevancy-first approach, it assesses thousands of websites every month that are topically relevant to the SaaS and fintech industry.

Using keyword-led research it considers over 45 data points from industry tools and includes manual relevancy checks as the leading metric for any potential link opportunities.

Google’s algorithms are advanced at understanding the relevance between quantifiable signals such as keywords, but their systems “are not designed to analyze subjective concepts such as the viewpoint or political leaning of a page’s content.”

So, it’s vital to understand the relevancy between your website and the target website you’re considering for a backlink. 

3 proven methods to earning relevant backlinks

If you’re looking to pivot your link building strategy to a strong focus on link relevance, here are three proven ways to build highly relevant backlinks to your domain.

1. Create helpful, linkable assets on your website

It may sound obvious, but one of the best ways to ensure your links are both relevant and naturally earned is to ensure you’re sharing unique and authoritative content on your website that people want to consume, share and reference elsewhere online.

Often, brands are too concerned about catching up with their competitors and will focus all their resources on short, timely pieces of content looking to build engagement through trends. 

Though this can help you achieve a short burst of traffic while your content focus is still a hot topic, this will generally taper off once the audience buzz fades, and then you’ll need to work on another piece to regain the same engagement - this tends to be an unsustainable method of creating content and linkable assets for your website.

Instead, create evergreen content that’s more in-depth and more comprehensive.

Consider adopting the 10x model of content production - this framework refers to focusing on key terms that your target audience is searching for online and creating guides or mixed media resources that are 10 times better in the top ranking positions. 

This will not only maximize your chances of earning highly relevant backlinks, and attracting more traffic to your website, but will also support a long-term link building strategy where your content’s value and engagement accumulate over time, rather than quickly peaking and fizzling out. 

2. PR Link Building

PR link building involves connecting with journalists who are looking for sources with expertise in a particular topic they’re covering and providing your expertise or unique take on a certain topic as a route to earning backlinks. 

If you’re able to build a relationship with a reporter or publication and give them a unique take on a certain topic that improves the quality of their copy, you may be able to secure a close, long-term relationship that positions you as their go-to source on any further reports that are relevant to your business niche.

If you’re looking for a place to start building media connections and engage in PR link building, BuzzSumo’s Media Database offers a large, diverse directory where you can find and connect with over 700,000 journalists covering niche topics.  

3. Guest posting on relevant websites

Identifying publications that have strong topical relevance to your own website and expertise will make it considerably easier for you to come up with ideas for pitches that are likely to be accepted and shared with their audience. 

Furthermore, you’re able to include your backlink naturally in a relevant context, helping Google’s natural language processing algorithms to understand what the link is intended to do, while also improving the chances that the third-party publisher will approve your content.

Of course, the types of online publications that will provide value to your website are likely to be discerning about the kinds of content they’ll accept, making it a challenge to create content that’s both accessible to you and has a strong topical relation to your website.

If finding suitable prospects through your own manual research is proving difficult, consider using competitor backlink analysis to inform your pitches.

This involves using an SEO tool to check out the websites your close competitors are acquiring backlinks from, and effectively moving in on this territory with your own guest posts.

If a website is happy to host your competitors’ links in the past, this gives you a good indication of the kind of content ideas you’ll be able to pitch with a higher rate of success.

Building a relevant backlink profile

It’s essential to keep relevance in mind while executing your link building strategy to let Google know what your site is all about and prepare your SEO for a more relevance-based future.

Hopefully this guide has helped you build a better understanding of the role relevance plays in link building and has given you actionable takeaways of incorporating relevant link building into your wider marketing strategy. 

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