David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

Tips for better SEO (search engine optimization) and website marketing …

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Link Variety or Link Relevance?

Over at WebProWorld this question caught my attention:

One of my ways of getting links for my sites is posting articles on blogs. I submit these articles to a site and they publish them on blogs relevant to these articles. So if I write an article about guitar playing, this article is published on blogs dealing with guitars/guitar lessons/ etc.

I have written a good amount of articles for my guitar site, and they are published on guitar blogs, I get a good few links that way, but they are coming from the same blogs. I was wondering, if I keep on doing this, would it be better, seo wise, to write less relevant articles, say about jazz music or something like that. That way I would be getting links from different blogs.

So my question is:
What is better, getting 50 links from 10 different blogs that are very relevant to my site, or getting 50 links from 50 different blogs that are less relevant to my site?

Here is my response, in a little more detail than I answered in the forum post itself:

I would take a 3-step approach. First, get good coverage in those blogs (and other websites) that are highly keyword relevant. Relevance is perhaps the most important factor for SEO. In this case, his main keyword was “guitars”.  He had submitted articles to all those blogs that were specifically about guitars.  In so doing, he had built up a strong message for the search engines that his guitar site is one that is respected by other sites in the niche.  That is a strong ranking signal.  He now has links at a number of “guitar” websites:

G G G G G G

 

Endorsed by guitarists.

 

But he has not sent a signal that his site is respected by others beyond his niche, but related enough that they really ought to know.

So step two is to submit his articles to websites that cover related topics, such as music in general, musical instruments in general, various forms of music, etc.  He could easily write articles about rock or country or some other types of music that involve guitars, for instance.  The search engines value keyword relevance, but they also value topical relevance (and don’t forget that many of these music sites will have the word “guitar” mentioned here and there.).

Plus, they value a wide variety of linking domains.  Getting a link on many music websites broadens the variety in his link profile, while solidifying the authority in his niche (because music, rock and country are still in his niche).  His link profile now looks more like:

G G G G G G

M M R M R M C M R M C C M M M C C M R C M C M M R M M M C

 

 

Now you’re endorsed by the whole band.

 

Now, on to step three.  Since one of the ranking signals the search engines look for is how widely popular a website is, find ways of writing about other topics that a more diverse blogging community will be interested in.  First define our target.  If you use the Free Traffic System, as I do (see my Free Traffic System review), you can search for blogs by keyword, and easily see which words bring up the most number of blogs, and even what types of topics they cover (some “music” blogs might only cover very specific niches, whereas others might cover anything music-related.) You can also use a Google or Bing search or search one of the larger blog directories. Let’s take a common example – there are a lot of MMO  (make money online) blogs out there.  OK.  How can you write an article about guitars that an MMO blog would want to publish?

Easy.  Prepare a video about guitars to post on YouTube in order to draw traffic to your site.  Next write an article about how you posted a video on YouTube to draw traffic to your guitar site.  Make sure to explain how you portrayed the guitars or how video is a great medium for showing off guitars – just to make sure your article about making money online is also an article about guitars.

So he should identify each target set of blogs and figure out what he can write about that will be about guitars (or whatever your main keyword is) but also about their niche.  All of a sudden, the link profile starts to look more like this:

G G G G G G

M M R M R M C M R M C C M M M C C M R C M C M M R M M M C

n y e d c g y o p s j q c x j d b i m l j e d s a r t h y u v q l o j y z h u y l p a s r c b v e q j h y t f v x s a k f d h u j m n r s w a g c e w b g k l u q i o v r s

 

Now the whole crowd is cheering for you!

 

Wow!  Let’s review what the search engines see when you follow this approach to link-building:

  1. Websites just like yours link to you.  That is an expert endorsement.
  2. Websites related to yours link to you.  Lot’s of them.  That is quite an impressive endorsement, too.
  3. Lots and lots of websites of all kinds link to you.  Your website is profoundly popular.  It must be good.

Now go out and show everybody what an amazing website you run.

 

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17 Responses to “Link Variety or Link Relevance?”

  1. emory @ clickfire (11 comments) Says:

    I like your idea of going after the most specific blogs first and then working your way out toward the general to tell the story.

  2. JustinMarch (1 comments) Says:

    Great stuff as usual David, its great to see someone simplify such a complex subject.

    I have to say that Free Traffic System makes me a bity nervous though, not sure I want to annoy the big G.

  3. Richard (4 comments) Says:

    Hi,

    I’ve built lots of sites and blogs over the last few years, and have used blog networks to get backlinks to them … I have to say I think people worry way too much about relevancy … get the links on any sites that will have them … some of the rankings I’ve achieved have been excellent for even competitive keywords …

    Richard

  4. Dave (12 comments) Says:

    You’ve explained how link building works very well.

    That said, I agree with Richard when he says that people can worry too much about relevancy. I suspect that the worst Google would do with an irrelevant link would be to give it very little value, rather than penalise you for it (as that would allow for competitors to get rival sites penalised).

  5. David Leonhardt (143 comments) Says:

    Well, Google seems to think relevance is important. And it makes sense. I tend to trust a pharmacist’s advice on medication more than my plumber’s advice. But I think I’d rather have my plumber working on my pipes. Google trusts a link from a pipes website to link to the best “pipes” websites more than a link from a “cheese making” website or page.

  6. Darren Spruyt (1 comments) Says:

    Hmmm.. very interesting analogy explained out here. It is definitely crucial to be building links from relevant websites. I’m not sure if I’ll ever hit the 3rd stage as there are many websites/blogs that are like mine or even relevant to mine.

    Do you think I should concentrate on these 2 in that case as there are a bunch of websites similar/related to mine? Or is there some benefit in also going after the websites that are explained in the 3rd example? I definitely see link relevant as more important than just the number of backlinks linking to my site.

    Regards,
    Darren Spruyt

  7. David Leonhardt (143 comments) Says:

    @ Darren Spruyt If you have plenty of relevant sites, no need t explore wider terrain. However, within any given blog network, there tends to be a finite number of blogs on any given topic.

  8. Fitte (1 comments) Says:

    I´ve been making quite a lot of linkwheels lately – unfortunately some of the target sites ended in google´s sandbox. I´m not sure if it´s the linkwheels´fault though.

  9. Chris (10 comments) Says:

    There are not too many blogs in my related field so getting highly relevant links is tough unless you can get actual businesses to link to you from their sites.

  10. Matt (2 comments) Says:

    I have to say taht I’m a fan of submitting more articles to more sites, and making sure they are relevant. With the changes that have been made in Google, I’ve learend that relevance, content, and value of that content will be continuously rising.

  11. Lisa (3 comments) Says:

    As we invest in good content to article marketing, I think we can mix them both. :)

  12. מונית נתב"ג (2 comments) Says:

    i think that people put too much emphasis on relevncy in creating links. in reality, any link you could get is good – just make sure that you don’t over do it, as it may seem like spamming by google.

    The power is in the MIX – INDEED! :)

  13. Denta (1 comments) Says:

    Link variety has work better for me. Link relevant is also important but it is not good if you start to not put your link just because the site is not relevant to your site.

  14. Smuggecko (2 comments) Says:

    Yeah I do a good mix of links for any sites I build links for and it seems to work very well. And I agree that you should try and get links where you can. With so many nofollow blogs it can be hard to get link juice. Also never forget the 100% dofollow links looks unnatural. Get a good mix here too something like 20% nofollow 80% dofollow seems to be nice.

  15. Jhon Manoke (1 comments) Says:

    Link variety is best backlink. It is White Hat if you do it natural. It will give big impact to the website in long term. I always like to do it.

  16. Graham and Green (1 comments) Says:

    I think 10% of nofollow would be enough, better to keep 90% of dofollow which are the most useful ones, in the end.

  17. kayako (1 comments) Says:

    If your niche is very specific, it would be very hard to get links only from relevant websites. So its better to cover those websites who specify on general topics as well. For example if you promote a blog related to clothes for pregnant women, it would be also useful to cover any fashion websites, not only specific ones.

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