Link building is a complex, yet important process. Links are used by Google to rank a website’s usefulness via their search engine results pages or SERPs. Further, Links can either increase or decrease web traffic, which is why you need to get a solid link building strategy for your website to grow.
In the midst of this complicated task, there is a question as to whether link builders should focus on a link’s relevance or authority. In a perfect world, it is ideal to build links that are highly relevant and authoritative. Both aspects should always be considered in evaluating links.
However, in reality, there are so many factors involved and these metrics might not be available at the same time, so if you have to choose one, which would it be?
Relevance v. Authority
Why Relevance is Important
Boosts referral traffic and conversations – Links with higher relevance have a better opportunity to drive a particular audience to a website and increase conversations, compared to a high authority link with low relevance. DriveTrafficMedia enumerates the advantages of relevance in link building. Highly relevant links improve SEO rankings, so if your aim is to drive traffic, highly relevant links are more preferred. Relevant links also create a better impact on the algorithm, so it is a better option for targeted audiences.
Irrelevant links are discounted by Google – Authority is rather subjective, but relevance is rather crucial as Google’s algorithm has a way of identifying irrelevant backlinks. Google emphasizes the need to create high-quality links which will create relevant content for your website. It doesn’t make any sense to post backlinks to websites promoting construction materials if your website is focused on clothes and accessories. In an article by Search Engine Land, more weight is given to links that are more topic relevant, as provided in Google technologies such as Topic-Sensitive PageRank, Reasonable Surfer, and Phrase Based Indexing with Co-concurrence.
Relevant sites have a higher potential for growth – it is safe to say that relevant links have the opportunity to acquire authority over time, given that their sites are useful, consistent and are able to provide good customer experience.
More relevant anchor text – Given Google’s over-reliance on anchor texts, keyword-rich anchor texts can win you over in terms of website rankings, which can be optimized if the pages and/or content used are highly relevant.
Why Authority is Important
Better impact on search – Highly authoritative links are often ranked better on search engines simply because these sites have gained a high level of trust. High-trust domains are also favored in terms of scoring metrics, according to Moz.
Bigger exposure, bigger audiences – Overall visibility is an important factor to consider in terms of link-building, and high authority links have better chances of successfully building more links, particularly those that generate on their own.
Credibility – There is no doubt that higher authority builds more credibility for your website and its content, as emphasized by Search Engine Land. This means a preference of quality over quantity. While search engines may be skewed over popularity, authority offers stable and reliable content that people often come back to.
Link builders often strive to get both metrics, and there is no straightforward, black-or-white answer to this difficult question, simply because both metrics are usually present for links, and it’s only a matter of percentage on which is higher or lower.
Most of the time, experts would say that they favor one over the other as the situation calls for it. For example, niche content might work better with high relevance, low authority links, while editorial content that targets big online media may opt for links that are highly authoritative. It would be great to get both, but an effective link building strategy requires a human component in order to assess which would be more beneficial for their website.
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