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Relevancy: The Heavyweight in the SEO Ring

by Shari Finnell

When it comes to boxing, I don’t know much. Well, actually close to nothing.  I’ve probably seen a total of 10 matches in my lifetime … Mike Tyson vaguely comes to mind.

However, I do know this: When a couple of professional boxers step into the ring, odds are they’re going to be evenly matched. Or extremely close to it. Besides falling into the same weight class, there has to be the promise of competitiveness between the two fighters.

If a boxer steps into a ring without being evenly matched, he could get slaughtered by his opponent.

In the realm of SEO, relevancy is the factor that determines whether a site emerges above its competitors. When the bots of Google and other search engines rove the Internet in search of the best match for a user’s request … let’s say, the” best coffeehouse in Dallas” … they pretty much have one question in mind: “Which one of these sites provides the most relevant result?”

Of course, there will be plenty of coffeehouse owners who believe they serve up the best cup of java in town. But, as in boxing, their sites have to be in fighting shape to stand a chance – especially against juggernauts like Starbucks.

Here at Slingshot SEO, we’re trainers, of sorts. Our clients are all deserving brands when it comes to their industries. In other words, they deserve to be in the ring. We focus on getting them in fighting shape through CLASS, a methodology that includes Content, Links, Architecture, Social and Strategy.

Content is huge when it comes to gaining an edge with that all-important factor of relevancy. Think about Wikipedia: It dominates just about every category it ranks in … largely because it excels in providing relevant information in relation to the keyword.

I recently typed in the keyword “coffee” in a Google search and Wikipedia.com came up second. Not bad, considering you can’t buy a single coffee bean from this site.

When judging relevancy, the Slingshot SEO content team is constantly asking the following questions:

  • Does the content adequately support the keyword?  Let’s go back to that search request “best coffeehouse in Dallas.” Would a user … or a bot … be more interested in an article that described the atmosphere of a Dallas coffeehouse, including the specialty coffees it offers, poetry readings and amenities like free Wi-fi? Or would an article that mentions Dallas coffeehouse before listing the advantages of getting around town in a rental car be more relevant? In layman’s terms, this could best be described as “going off on a tangent.” Remember that users and bots alike are looking for relevant results.
  • If a user clicks on the keyword within the article, will it seem like a natural jumping point for additional and relevant information? This question comes up when content is placed on third-party sites … those sites that direct readers to your site as an additional landing point. The phrase “coffeehouse in Dallas” would be a great fit for an article like “A 12-Hour Itinerary While in Dallas.” On the other hand, “Shoe Shopping Online” may seem like an odd relevancy choice for “coffeehouse.” A user reading this article may be a little put off when clicking on a keyword that takes them to a coffeehouse site.
  • Is the article thorough? Though there’s no hard fast rule here, an article that’s about 300 to 500 words in length will likely provide enough relevant information to get on a bot’s radar. Of course, it also will more than likely provide your reader with enough content to meet his or her need for information. In addition, think about what the user may want to find on your site. Think of a variety of relevant topics that would satisfy the average user in his search.

If you really want to ensure you’re “getting” the relevant factor, there are a few tactics you can put to use to make sure you’re creating an article that scores high in relevancy. Here are a few:

  • Find relevant terms to your keyword. Use a “tilde” sign (that squiggly little mark you can find in the upper left corner of your keyboard) in front of your search term or keyword phrase. When I insert the tilde in front of “coffeehouse” (no space), my Google search provides additional words in bold that may be useful to include in my article for an extra boost. For coffeehouse, those terms include coffeeshop and café.
  • Look at the bottom of Google’s search page. You also can find some relevant phrases here to give your content a boost. When I type in “destination Dallas,” Google offers “Searches related to destination Dallas.” In this case, those results include “travel Dallas” and “directions Dallas.”
  • Use “>Google’s Keyword Tool Box. This handy tool will show you how popular or relevant your keyword is compared to other terms. As of the writing of this blog, “coffeehouse Dallas” was the object of 1,300 local monthly searches compared to 1,600 for “coffee shops in Dallas.” Even better? The phrase “coffee Dallas” generated 33,100 searches. A variety of these terms in your article could give it an extra boost in relevancy.

As you create content for your site, make sure you’re constantly asking that relevancy question. It could give you the extra boost you need to gain a competitive edge against your competitors.

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