Do Backlinks Have To Be From A Relevant Site

Do Backlinks Have To Be From A Relevant Site

Relevant Backlinks …

Are They Necessary?

I would have to say that this is one of the most debatable topics to date, well among other things. People say,”"only create links from relevant sites” all the time. My view is not so one sided. Here is why. If you have ever looked at the link profile of a High Authority Site, you would see that there are MANY links that wouldn’t be thought of as relevant. Do we need only relevant backlinks? One example, News Stations, when they post a “breaking news” story and people start finding it, they naturally link to it. If they are a blogger or writer or anything of the sort then they create the anchor text which they deem appropriate and then the actual URL to the page. So now hundreds or thousands of people start linking to this “news site’ and those sites might be and might not be news related. Would that tank the ranking of this news site? No, it wouldn’t. It would take too many actual man hours to determine the relevancy of each and every site that was linking to it. Not only that, but they would have to determine the relevancy of the site itself, then the actual page, and then the specific article or post. I do think that there is obviously a very advanced algorithm to see basic relevancy (make sense = advanced algo – basic relevancy), I do not think there is a complex one to determine the linked-to site vs. the linked-from site, and then all the variables involved I stated previously. They can identify the Page Title, Meta Description, etc…But, does that mean that we need relevant backlinks? Another example, The Chamber of Commerce. They are a Authority Site for each city. They post valuable information about the city from a to z. Most all of the COC have a Links or Resource page that is located on the Home Page for people to spot easily. These are pretty much recommendations or suggestions of reputable places or business’s that are in the area. Now I would have to say that most of these are paid for memberships, as being a member of the Chamber of Commerce you get a listing on their site. Now, if I own a Painting Company and I join the Chamber, they post a link to my site, are they going to be relevant, not at all. The only thing relevant about it is the actual geographic location. The Chamber is for the city, and the painting company is in the city, that’s about it. Most people would say that getting a link from them is huge, and if it’s so huge, explain the relevancy part, please? The big whoopty about those sites are that they are considered Authority Sites most of the time with a high PR. Relevant  backlinks from a very high pr site would be great. If you owned a Painting Company in Miami then I’m sure you would want to show up when people search for “miami painters” right? Of course, who wouldn’t. So based on the relevant theory, you would need to have links from other painting companies. I think it would be very very very hard for you to get a link from another painting company in your area. That’s basically like getting a link from a competitor. So you would have to mass email a bunch of painting companies in other areas asking for a link, offering money, or the ever so famous link exchange, which ain’t so hot these days. This scenario is pretty much dot doable, so what would you do? Maybe go to some painting forums and add a signature link? Or find a painting blog and post a really really educated comment and hope that it gets approved with let alone your name in the “name” box, but how about a keyword in the name box? If they let that through then 9 x’s out of 10 there are tons of other ones already there, and that means that the OGL % (outgoing link to text ratio) is probably pretty high. Then your taking the PR of the site and dividing it by every single link on the page, and at the end of the day if it’s a high OGL % then you might be better just not getting that link at all. That leaves all the other creative linking methods left, and those are probably not going to be relevant to your site.

Do News Sites Have All Relevant Backlinks?

As far as relevance goes it’s pretty obvious that I am not sold on the idea. Can “G” determine what a site is about, and then determine what the linked site is about, and then base rankings on those links and that relationship. Are press release sites related to the site they are linking to. CNN, FOX, NBC – when they reference a source or site with regards to a news story, are they relevant to that source, or more importantly is the actual source relevant to the news station. Obviously being relative can only benefit, as it can’t hurt, my dilemma is just how much can non-relevant sites hurt, and if they can, just how much.

What It Would Take To Determine Relevant Backlinks

Determining specific relevance would take tons of actual Human Interaction. Considering that their are between 600 – 650 million websites on the Internet (based on numerous sources so I took the highest and lowest), and add to that millions and trillions and gazillions of links, it would take many many people to work on this on a minute, hour, and daily basis. Here is what we do know: “G“ is smart enough to interpret the different types of links, the location of the link on the site, and then take into account the variables that come into play. When I say location of a link I am referring to the “actual” location, being in the Primary Menu, Secondary Menu, Link Roll or Blog Roll, in context, or the footer. Obviously some of these affect the ranking better than the other, and it would look really weird for a non-related link to be in a menu, or in the footer. In conclusion, if we could have our cake and eat it too, we would all have every single link from a 100% related site. However, that’s usually not the case. Of course, if there is a choice between related and not, we pick the related every time. But, that’s not always viable, so we have to choose wisely where we link to and from. With the continuous efforts of “G” to combat spam and low-quality links, it’s extremely important that your not just going out there and creating garbage links. Adding to that, your link profile is probably the most vital part of your link building. Without going into specific %’s here, make sure that your link profile is hugely diverse. Brand, URL, Exact Match, Broad Phrase, Long-Tail..etc…very very very important what I just mentioned. If you have gotten away with a high Exact Match % so far, all it takes is one G Update and your gone. Overnight and your site has vanished. So, take the precautions, do your research, and do a link analysis right now! This link analysis site ahrefs.com is the absolute best out there. Check it out for yourself. I have been using it for a long time and it is by far the most detailed, up to date, and complete set of tools you can find. You can refer to our SEO page for details. Look at the Link Building and Link Profile paragraphs. We hope you enjoyed this post about relevant backlinks and if they are necessary. Check out this Wiki page about relevant backlinks.


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26 Comments

  1. Great article here. I completely agree with you, I do think that relevancy is important but not necessary as evidenced by major and high pr sites being linked to from every and any site being relevant or not. Obviously it would be best to only get links from completely related sites, but that’s not very east. Thanks for the great post!! Check out my logo design madison wi site

  2. This is good information that you are sharing here admin. SEO has always been all over the board for me. Today I think that relevant means pertaining to your industry but not necessarily your competition. I enjoy ranking on search engines through an authority site, Empower Network, optimizing my blog posts (pages). It seems search engines are more about ranking pages rather than sites, which I am happy to see because, pages or posts have the quality content people are actually searching for.
    Lynn Brown recently posted…Top 3 Tips Building Confidence To Elevate Your SuccessMy Profile

    • Thanks for coming by. And yes, search engines do rank for pages / posts, reason being is that generally speaking your not supposed to optimize for more than 2-3 keywords per page. So people started to create keyword specific pages or “landing pages” targeting certain keywords and leaving the home page for the Brand and Brand + Secondary Keyword together. For example, city + keyword = specific page or post. Also, pages and posts are more specific and target a certain topic, rather than a home page being very general about a company.

      Thanks for coming by Lynn!!

  3. Truth is I have never considered some of the arguments you have raised here. They have eloquently positioned that relevancy may not be as strong as authority in determining the strength of a backlink.

    Thanks for the original ideas.

    Reading your post was refreshing!

    Yeremi Akpan recently posted…Are You Committing Incest With Your Blog?My Profile

    • Hi Yeremi,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to come by and comment. The reasoning for this post was because there is so much talk about this topic, and from experience I do not agree with the theories out there right now. As everyone knows, the best link would be from an authoritative and relevant source, but that will not always be the case, so I will take authority and high PR any day of the week. Thanks again for coming by, I have lots of posts that are not yet live but will be very soon, hope you will come back.

      Justin
      SEOjus
      Justin recently posted…Google Updates – Penalties, Penalties, & More Penalties…My Profile

    • I tend to agree with Yeremi. Authority and Quality of a link tends to trump Relevancy of the link. I would rather have a link from adobe.com or nih.gov even if these two websites may have nothing to do with my own website than to have a link from a “mom and pop” website (with a PR of 1 or 2) but is relevant to my site.

      That is my perspective about relevancy of a link.
      Steven Jude recently posted…How Profits Motivates Virus Creators + Facial Lines and WrinklesMy Profile

      • Hi Steven,

        Thanks for stopping by SEOjus, welcome!

        As I stated in the post and the reply to Yeremi, I agree completely. There is so much talk about links having to come from a relevant site, but I just do not see it. Obviously, if we could have a relevant high authority link that would be great, but in most cases it’s one or the other. And I think that almost everyone would take a Authority High PR link over just a relevant link any day. Thanks for your comment and hope you visit again.
        Justin recently posted…Local SEOMy Profile

  4. Like most things Google, it comes down to levels, I think. If most of a site’s backlinks are from non-relevant sources, then that sends a certain kind of signal to Google. You’re right though, that no site will have all relevant backlinks, and that’s natural. As far as being able to get relevant backlinks, taking the painter example, getting backlinks from home improvement sites, blogs that focus on home decor, etc. would all be relevant. You just have to expand the thinking somewhat and ask, who would be interested in paint? Lots of people beyond competitors would be.

    • Thanks for stopping by Donna. Before I wrote this I knew that the topic was and is highly debatable. The painter was just an example, it might not of been the best. I don’t 100% believe in the relevancy idea hype, I believe more in authority and quality, and I think that a link coming from various sources rather than just the related is much better. Thanks so much for coming by and hope you come back, we have lots more posts that are going up today or tomorrow!
      Justin recently posted…Who Can Benefit From SEOMy Profile

  5. Hi, That’s good news because I write about tech for everyday people, not necessarily techies, so my backlinks come from all sorts of places. My articles also appear at the website for The Philadelphia Inquirer, so that isn’t specifically a tech publication but I imagine that Google does give it credence.

    Your theory makes sense, it’s better to get backlinks from respected sites that are irrelevant to your site than from relevant sites that aren’t as high ranking.

    Thanks for your insights!
    Carolyn recently posted…SAM VIBE – Your Own Internet Radio StationMy Profile

    • Hi Carolyn,
      Thanks for coming by. That’s great that you have The Philadelphia Inquirer publishing your articles, definitely a good credible source. As I stated, my opinion is that having links from multiple sources is much better than just one related industry. That theory has worked for both myself and my clients, so it can not be far from wrong. I hope you will come back, as there are lots more posts going live over the next few days.
      Justin recently posted…Florida SEOMy Profile

  6. Thanks for this post. I was told that because I went from 1,000 do-follow backlinks to 3,00 in less than a month by commenting on blogs that it hurt my rankings. And that because they were not relevant sites that also hurt me. I guess this post proves that theory wrong.
    Joe S. recently posted…Is the Black Plastic Trim on Your Car Fading?My Profile

    • hello,

      There are so many factors that are involved that there is no easy way to tell what happened exactly with your site. Maybe you targeted the exact same anchor text which brought your % to high for EM, maybe your link velocity was much like a spammer in a way that there was not stability, maybe your on page content did not match what you were trying to mimic and that’s a site that is getting tons of links mirroring a naturally growing and popular site. If you would like some information about our services, please let us know and we would be happy to help. Thanks for visiting SEOjus.
      Justin recently posted…CommentLuv Premium Detailed ReviewMy Profile

  7. Thank you for sharing this very insightful article with us. I personally never thought that backlinks should always be from a relevant site. There are at times when getting valuable backlinks from websites in your niche is hard to come by. Still there are times when the said website might be having some information closely related to your niche and if you get the chance to link to that site from that article you will definitely go for it. For example being in the essay writing industry at times I come across news website talking about the relevancy of admission essays in colleges and if I get the chance to link to that post I will definitely do so.

    • Hi Bradley,

      Thanks for visiting SEOjus. Like the post says, it’s about authority. Yes relevancy would be nice, but it wont always happen, and certainly not authority + relevancy, so if I had to choose it would be authority all day long. Thanks again for coming by.
      Justin recently posted…Link Building Strategy For 2013My Profile

  8. I wouldn’t say the big “G” knows every aspect of the web, however I think they are trying (I feel).
    I do think they have a busy propeganda department, would that be behind the relevance thought? I’m not so sure.
    I naturally (increased over time) 5 sites with garbage links from various sources and 5 sites with only naturally relevant links. The sites with natural and relevant links pointing to the sites out performed the spammy linked sites by almost 500%.
    Granted the sample size (I’m a numbers geek) was small, but I did see a slight correlation. Fluke? I don’t work for Google, however I can truly see your point. Awesome post!

    • One thing I should mention is I also play the SEO game lightly. I find for my effort my chances of traffic are much better served doing stuff the “guerrilla” style purposely focusing on my target market.
      Being said my previous comment was a bit skewed (damn statistics lol).

    • Hi James,

      Thanks for your comments. We do believe that “G” can take certain elements of a page, such as Title, Meta Desc, and maybe H tags, and then determine the relevance of outgoing links. But, I can not imagine that being done at the speed of light, with trillions of web pages, and then multiply the trillion by another trillion to get the number of links out there. I do think think that the quality of a site can effect us more than relevance. If we get a link from a garbage page, low quality, MDA, no content worth anything, they can just tag that as low quality, thus not giving any credit for that link. But, for them to determine relevance of each and every page, then apply that to every link, I think that would take much much more time, and maybe even human interaction. There are people that will completely disagree with everything that is written on this page. That does not change our opinion here at SEOjus.

      If you could have a link from a 10000 % relevant site with no link juice and a PR 1, or not relevant site with a PR 4, well we both know what we would do ;-)
      Justin recently posted…Link Building Strategy For 2013My Profile

  9. Hello Justin. First and foremost I would like to say that this is my first comment here on this blog. I followed you back from comluv blog. I have seen quite a few blogs which are plastered all over with same stuff over and over again but this is the first post that I read on your blog and after reading it I think you are blogging from heart. Means your explanation and your arguments are 100% valid. This is what I used to do in past but I had been lacking some dedication from sometime.

    Your post here has again inspired me.

    Thanks.
    Keral Patel recently posted…Five Reasons You Should Have Your Own WebsiteMy Profile

  10. Well, Google is always on about relevancy as well as natural. That last one is important to consider with it comes to the way their search engine algorithm operates. I go about commenting on sites that I find interesting and comment on both relevant sites to my niche as well as areas I personally find interesting.
    Martin Cooney recently posted…Opt-In Plugin That Will Literally Blow Your Socks Off!My Profile

  11. You are so right relevant backlinks… what is relevant. The way I have always thought to do it is to be natural. If you have a family/mommy blogging site and your child had a near miss with some dangerous chemicals then you could link to a poison could website. The poison control site in theory does not look like it has anything to do with the blogger site, however when you look in context it does.

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