Does backlink relevancy matter?

Monymony

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I am seeing a lot of different opinions on this topic. I therefore decided to post this question. I've seen a lot of people saying that one should pursue niche relevant backlinks. But on the other hand there are guys like @splishsplash that argue that the importance of niche-relevant backlinks re a myth.

Does niche-relevant backlinks matter or is it a myth?

I also have another follow-up question. Does the language of the content around the backlink matter? For example if i am trying to rank a swedish written .se website with some backlinks with english content. Is that as good as if i were to get backlinks from swedish content websites?
 

kleoz

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Curious in this as well , asking the right questions mate :)
 

ranga

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Do both type, let them keep coming
 

Course Master

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I am seeing a lot of different opinions on this topic. I therefore decided to post this question. I've seen a lot of people saying that one should pursue niche relevant backlinks. But on the other hand there are guys like @splishsplash that argue that the importance of niche-relevant backlinks re a myth.

Does niche-relevant backlinks matter or is it a myth?

I also have another follow-up question. Does the language of the content around the backlink matter? For example if i am trying to rank a swedish written .se website with some backlinks with english content. Is that as good as if i were to get backlinks from swedish content websites?

I think doing a test will get result
 

MKSKS

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All that matters is the quality of sites that link back to your money site.
Niche relevant a good but I wont say they are necessarily essential.
Here is a thing if niche relevant backlinks were actually as essential as some people say then most PBN's would be dead by now.
Most of the sites dominating the serps have hidden pbn's behind them and not necessarily these pbn backlinks are niche relevant.
 

Monymony

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Thanks for the good answers. What about the language question as mentioned in my post?
 

Skyburns

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Thanks for the good answers. What about the language question as mentioned in my post?

I also do non-English SEO, but I still acquire backlinks from English sites. I just make sure to use branded or naked anchors for these links. I also try to build links from domains with the same ccTLD, but I think about 50% of the links are from non-English sites. I have had excellent results so far and recommend it.
 

RoiBox

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I also have another follow-up question. Does the language of the content around the backlink matter? For example if i am trying to rank a swedish written .se website with some backlinks with english content. Is that as good as if i were to get backlinks from swedish content websites?
I´ve done some small tests with links from English sites to a .se site of mine in a narrow niche, my results told me that it would been better to get my links from Swedish .se sites to my sites in Swedish, hopefully someone else has more info on this for your thread here to.
 

splishsplash

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I am seeing a lot of different opinions on this topic. I therefore decided to post this question. I've seen a lot of people saying that one should pursue niche relevant backlinks. But on the other hand there are guys like @splishsplash that argue that the importance of niche-relevant backlinks re a myth.

Does niche-relevant backlinks matter or is it a myth?

I also have another follow-up question. Does the language of the content around the backlink matter? For example if i am trying to rank a swedish written .se website with some backlinks with english content. Is that as good as if i were to get backlinks from swedish content websites?

Relevant backlinks as a concept is ridiculous.

All you have to do is think about how the web functions.

What kind of ridiculous web would we have if only plumbers linked to plumbers, only world of warcraft sites linked to world of warcraft sites.

The whole web wouldn't make sense. You'd have these little closed pockets.

Think about the name. World Wide WEB.

It's one giant web of connections. This is and has always been the nature of linking.

You'd need to be a pretty stupid search engine to only count relevant links.

Up until 2019 you could literally just plant any link, on any site, with any surrounding text and get value.

Around then, it has changed a little and what the machine learning tries to do, especially with BERT helping it understand natural language better, is try to understand what's a natural, valid link that should count as a "vote".

They always have tried to do this. Penguin is all about this.

But the way it happens now is more complex, and really no one can describe exactly what the algorithm thinks a vote counting link is, because it's decided with machine learning, not a list of hand-coded rules.

We don't have rules, but it's not massively difficult to work out..

Links that make sense and have a semantic connection are going to be counted far more often.

Now, I have no idea how sophisticated they are with this, but what I do know is they can only get better with time.

The approach I take in SEO is to assume they are smarter than they are. It's more future-proof.

ie, you might be able to get a ranking boost from a weird anchor in some spun text, but how long will that work, IF it still works?

So, in summary here, it is not about relevant or not relevant. That's irrelevant (laugh)

It's about the machine learning deciding if the link should pass juice. Should the link count as a vote. If so, then it comes down to the power of the page.

We know from patents they have systems to count or not count backlinks. I don't think there's an intermediate. It's either a vote count, or it's not. If it's a vote count, then a different part of the algorithm decides how much juice flows. Ie, incoming juice to the page, number of outgoing links that are vote counting, and it'll decide the prominence of this particular link. Ie, how important is it to the page. Think of that like, if I put a picture in my entrance hallway, vs my basement. Would you say they have the same vote from me? No, of course not.

Now, at this stage of the juice passing, we might very well have a separate component to the algorithm.

We are passed the simple binary "does this vote count" stage..

The algorithm might decide to pass something separate from just link juice.

Topical authority.

We know from experience that there's some sort of component here. Some factor called "topical authority". It'll be a score sites get for every keyword, and it'll be quite complex, since how does my topical authority for "how to fish cod at sea" change for an article "how to cook cod", and another "how to choose the right bait for fishing".

Your topical authority, which will be represented like a graph database is determined by your content, which makes sense.

However, and back to the point above, the algorithm has decided this link is vote passing, it's chosen how much juice(PR) to pass, but it could also modify the topical authority graph for your site based on this link.

How this works we don't know.

If you get a link to your "how to fish cod at sea" article from an article about fishing then you might get a little boost to your graph. But what if that site has only 5 articles about fishing on it? You probably won't get much of a boost.

What if you get a link to your "how to fish cod at sea" article from an article about fishing on a site that has 500 fishing articles? This would probably give you a bigger boost to your graph.

But by how much?

To answer that you have to think, as a human analysing, how much SHOULD it change it.

If my site has 200 articles about fishing vs another that has 10 articles about fishing, would that link make their site more authoritative than mine? Should it? Probably not. In 99% of cases.

This is why, from observation we can safely say that having 100's of articles in a semantically connected topic group is the best way to increase your topical authority and rank for as many keywords, as high as possible.

so where are we at now?

We can say that, getting a "relevant" link doesn't matter at all. What is more important to ask is "does the site that's linking have topical authority in OVERLAPPING areas of my site"

If so, then the link will very likely(I'm 95% certain) modify your own topical graph, increasing your "scores", but I'm also 95% certain it doesn't do it dramatically.

And maybe it's not linear. Maybe a site with 200 articles on fishing will get more a boost to its topical graph than one with 10. That, I have no idea, and it's not THAT important to know, because your primary way of getting topical authority is through your own content, so you should have a lot of it anyway.

So in summary :-

First google determines, through machine learning if a link is vote-counting.

If so, it determines how much PageRank to pass. -- PageRank still being what matters. It's google's metric. We just don't know the scores.

Lastly, it's very probably modifying your own topical authority graph based on the topical authority graph of both the page and site you're getting the link from.

The conclusion here is that the reason the relevant link isn't important is because it has nothing to do with the part 1, the vote count deciding, part 2 the juice passing or even part 3. The benefit from part 3 is not from a relevant article, but from an article/site with topical authority in an overlapping area, and just because it's relevant doesn't mean it has topical authority.

Hope this makes sense and helps people get a better understanding of what's going on.
 

Monymony

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A better answer than I could have ever expected. Read it twice. Thank you very much.
 

MisterF

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I am seeing a lot of different opinions on this topic. I therefore decided to post this question. I've seen a lot of people saying that one should pursue niche relevant backlinks. But on the other hand there are guys like @splishsplash that argue that the importance of niche-relevant backlinks re a myth.

Does niche-relevant backlinks matter or is it a myth?

I also have another follow-up question. Does the language of the content around the backlink matter? For example if i am trying to rank a swedish written .se website with some backlinks with english content. Is that as good as if i were to get backlinks from swedish content websites?

@splishsplash is a guy who tests SEO, so knows his stuff.

From my perspective - Yes it does matter, to a degree. If I had a dog about Cats, a link from a casino site is no good at all.
A link from a cat/pet site is great.
A link from a general site that talks abut cats is good enough.

An example about languages, we have clients who are in Europe in the travel niche, their sites are in German, Dutch, French or whatever.
We can link to them from English travel sites easily.
 

Willyfish

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@splishsplash is a guy who tests SEO, so knows his stuff.

From my perspective - Yes it does matter, to a degree. If I had a dog about Cats, a link from a casino site is no good at all.
A link from a cat/pet site is great.
A link from a general site that talks abut cats is good enough.

An example about languages, we have clients who are in Europe in the travel niche, their sites are in German, Dutch, French or whatever.
We can link to them from English travel sites easily.

But are the english travel sites less effective than a german travel site linking to a german travel site? It's a strategy that is used a lot in national SEO, you see a lot of top .de websites wanting backlinks from other .de websites. Is it BS and meaningless?
 

MisterF

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But are the english travel sites less effective than a german travel site linking to a german travel site? It's a strategy that is used a lot in national SEO, you see a lot of top .de websites wanting backlinks from other .de websites. Is it BS and meaningless?

If your site is more geared to German tourists, then German sites are ideal. But would you turn down a link from Tripadvisor, because it's an English site?

English speakers are more likely to look for ' best beer hall in Munich ' than ' beste Bierhalle in München'
 

Willyfish

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If your site is more geared to German tourists, then German sites are ideal. But would you turn down a link from Tripadvisor, because it's an English site?

English speakers are more likely to look for ' best beer hall in Munich ' than ' beste Bierhalle in München'

What you say makes total sense.
 

tiiberius

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Relevancy is very misunderstood and frankly overrated.

I don't claim to have the full grasp on it but I divide it to 4 levels. From the closest to the link, to the one furthest away. Closest one has the greatest weight and it goes lower from there.
  1. anchor text
  2. sentence surrounding the link
  3. rest content of the content including body, H1, <title> and slug
  4. other pages and overall topic of the website
My link rental service doesn't give relevancy too big of an importance.

We make sure the article with click link is a mixture of the target topic and our PBN unit topic. 40/60 ratio. Anchor text, sentence and H1 are always at least partially relevant. Rest of the contnet and site, not so much.

We are currently ranking a furniture eShop on the first page with sites about business, sports and music. :)
 

splishsplash

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@splishsplash is a guy who tests SEO, so knows his stuff.

From my perspective - Yes it does matter, to a degree. If I had a dog about Cats, a link from a casino site is no good at all.
A link from a cat/pet site is great.
A link from a general site that talks abut cats is good enough.

An example about languages, we have clients who are in Europe in the travel niche, their sites are in German, Dutch, French or whatever.
We can link to them from English travel sites easily.

Yep, you won't get any of that topical authority change to your own topical authority graph from the casino site, but you get the juice providing step 1 is passed, ie, google thinks it's legit.

So, if you have an article "The math behind roulette" and you randomly link to your cat page, it may not be counted because it's too strange, but..

If you have an article like (And this is a much harder one to connect than say, travel and cats), "Study finds that cat owners are less likely to become gamblers"

There just has to be a link. The title doesn't have to be relevant, but there has to be a semantic connection, so you might have a travel article "The 7 Best Beaches in the Algarve", and one of the beaches may have a lot of homeless cats. This is a PERFECTLY VALID opportunity to link out to something cat related. Most niches you can connect quite easily, either with a more direct title, or a good writer that knows how to work in a section of the article that connects the topics.

Like you could connect that beach article to sharks too.

You could connect it to restaurants.

You could connect it to running by mentioning one of the beach being a popular spot for runners, *especially* if you go into more topiacal detail there about running and don't just make it 1 sentence. That's the key here..

Even when you write an article, google can tell the difference between just using a keyword like "running" and actually writing about the topic "running" in a paragraph.

Relevancy is very misunderstood and frankly overrated.

I don't claim to have the full grasp on it but I divide it to 4 levels. From the closest to the link, to the one furthest away. Closest one has the greatest weight and it goes lower from there.
  1. anchor text
  2. sentence surrounding the link
  3. rest content of the content including body, H1, <title> and slug
  4. other pages and overall topic of the website
My link rental service doesn't give relevancy too big of an importance.

We make sure the article with click link is a mixture of the target topic and our PBN unit topic. 40/60 ratio. Anchor text, sentence and H1 are always at least partially relevant. Rest of the contnet and site, not so much.

We are currently ranking a furniture eShop on the first page with sites about business, sports and music. :)

That tends to be more the 2015-2017 style of doing it. Since BERT things are very different and the topical rank graph is strongly at play here.

It's not really about h1's/surrounding text etc anymore. Google has moved more away from just keywords to topics, because with BERT they can actually understand when an article is talking and giving importance about a topic. So the key is to actually naturally connect your topics together. Ie, a link to a cat site from an article that's actually talking about cats, rather than just surrounding content mentioning cats. It needs to be natural, how it would appear in a real article. Without that, "step 1", where google decides if the link should pass juice or not is often failed.
 
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