Writing by Nick Stamoulis in Link Building
I am a strictly white hat link building advocate and have been my whole SEO career. That means I believe that SEO campaigns need to play by the rules set forth by the search engines (as best as we can understand them anyway) and to avoid anything that might land your website in hot water. There are a lot of different things you have to take into account when deciding whether or not a link is white hat, and one of those qualifications is relevancy.
Directly Relevant Link Building
Directly relevant link building is when you focus on creating links on sites that line up perfectly with your niche. For instance, I run an SEO business so I’m looking to get links on SEO industry blogs, join local and national SEO associations, be a guest speaker or sponsor at SEO conferences and so forth. The search engines like to see a link building portfolio that makes sense and having relevant links means you’re site is connecting with other related sites and there is a real reason (other than just getting a link) for your site and theirs to be linked.
For example, if you are a software development company it makes perfect sense for you to have profiles (with links) on forums for software developers and programmers and answer user questions, contribute code to open source project sites, publish white papers on a site sponsored by a company like Oracle and so forth. These relevant link building activities are directly related to your niche and your brand. They are quality sites your target audience uses to find information that pertains to your products/services.
Keep in mind that just because a site is relevant that doesn’t always mean it’s a good place to get a link. There are plenty of low-quality, spammy SEO sites and blogs out there that I wouldn’t want to touch with a 10 foot pole, no matter how many links they’d give me. Some of the steal or spin content, others might be too ad heavy or stuffed with keywords and invest in link exchanges—the topic of the site might be relevant but relevancy is only one factor when determining what makes a good link.
Indirectly Relevant Link Building
Indirectly relevant link building involved getting links from sites that don’t necessarily exist in your exact niche, but operate in a related vertical that still appeals to your target audience. For example, I may run an SEO company but I know that social media marketing has a big influence on the long-term success of an SEO campaign (especially with the rise of social signals), so I’m going to look to get links from sites that are about social media marketing, content marketing, video marketing, and other forms of online marketing that impact SEO in the end.
Indirectly relevant link building also means getting links from sites that are relevant to your customers, even if they aren’t as relevant to you. For example, a company that sells baby clothes is targeting new moms, right? What other kinds of companies might a new mom be interested in? Obviously companies that sell other baby gear like strollers and cribs are a good place to start, but what about a slightly more indirectly relevant company that sells all-natural cleaning supplies. I’m not at all saying mom is the only one cleaning around the house, but all-natural cleaning supplies might sound like a great idea for families with young kids that are crawling all over the floor!
Chances are there are only so many sites that exist 100% in your niche (and aren’t your competitors) that you can get a link from. That’s when it’s time to focus on indirectly relevant link building. These sites typically have more to do with your audience and their needs and are still a great place to find targeted traffic for your website.