With all the hot topics in SEO these days, it's easy for newcomers to miss out on the basics, or for those more experienced to forget about them. As long as there is a need for
search engine optimization, the core elements will always be Relevance
and it's important for us to understand what these mean.Understanding Relevance and AuthorityRelevance
at its most basic level, involves the quality of your content
for the topic you are looking to target, and how well-optimized (or search engine friendly) it is
. This is also referred to as content optimization or "on-page optimization". There are a lot of techniques for creating quality content and for on-page optimization, but for now you just need know that Relevance is based on content
involves how many sites are linking
to your content. Search engines see links as editorial votes for a site, and to them, when one site links to another site, it's essentially saying "Yeah, I vouch for that site. It's cool." (Other factors can include the quality of the sites linking to yours and whether those sites are on the same or similar topics, but all you need to remember is that Authority is based on inbound links
While each search engine may place a different emphasis on these elements in their ranking algorithm, every single search engine bases their rankings on some combination of Relevance (content)
and Authority (links)
.Incomplete SEO Will Fail
Some lean in favor of building links and say, "forget content". ("Links are King!") Others lean in favor of optimizing content and say, "forget links". ("Content is King!") Well, the truth is it's impossible to have an effective search engine optimization strategy without tightly integrating both content creation/optimization and link building. If either core element is left out, your website will not even come close to reaching its potential for rankings, traffic, and sales.
Take a look at water: It's a unique entity made up of elements Hydrogen
and Oxygen, in perfect combination. However if one of these elements is
missing, it isn't water
. Water only exists when both elements are there
. SEO works the same way: You need both
Relevance and Authority for a website to achieve the best possible
Unfortunately, a lot of people these days are trying to
optimize sites and are forgetting one or the other of these core
elements. What they're doing isn't SEO.Why doesn't it work when one of these is missing?
A site can have 1 million links
, but if it doesn't contain any quality content on the topic you want to rank for, or you do but the search engine can't reach it, it probably won't rank well
. In this situation, this site has a High Authority (Links) but Low Relevance (Content)
as far as the search engine is concerned.
Conversely, a site can have amazing content that is perfectly optimized, but if it only has a few inbound links, it probably won't rank well
. This kind of site has a High Relevance, but Low Authority
However if you have a site that has great topical content
, that is well-optimized (in other words, search engines can reach it easily)
, and you build strong inbound links from other sites
, it will have both High Relevance and High Authority, and it will rank
. It might take some time, but it will rank
There definitely are exceptions here and there - we've all seen them - but these are the general principles at the core of search engine optimization, and they work.
At this point, if you're newer to SEO, you're probably asking, "How do I create great optimized content? How do I build strong inbound links?" I'd love to answer those questions here, but the answers could fill up several books.
Obviously there are many other nuances and factors that go into improving rankings, but it's important for all of us, whether experienced or newbie, to understand Relevance
first, and build our SEO strategies from there.
June 2, 2008
Scott is the CEO and founder of Red Sand Marketing, a San Diego SEO and web design firm. A dynamic mix of marketer, designer, and developer, he thrives on all aspects of internet marketing and web development. Having been involved in search engine optimization and web design since 1996, he and his team consistently achieve top search engine rankings for clients in competitive markets, and have won multiple web design awards along the way.