- Ranking(Term) = Authority(Term) x Relevance(Term)
AuthorityYour authority for a given term depends on several factors. The number and quality of inbound links to your site are among the most important. The more of these you have, and the better their quality, the higher your site’s authority. This isn’t just a matter of “juice,” though. The best links for your site will be links from websites that are topically relevant to the term in question. That is to say, your authority for one term will be higher than your authority for another depending on who’s linking to you and how they’re doing it.
RelevanceIf you’ve ever heard people talk about meta tags and keyword density, you’ve gotten a taste of what it means to be relevant in SEO. Making sure to use the right terms in the right places on your site helps search engines figure out the subject matter for which your site is relevant. That means putting keywords in your title tags, meta tags, header tags, link text, body copy, etc. that accurately reflect the information being presented.
RankingsYou may have missed it. Take a look at the formula again and notice that the relationship between authority and relevance on rankings isn’t additive… it’s multiplicative. That is to say, improving either side of the equation helps you rank, but improving both is geometrically more effective. Consider what you see in search results on a day-to-day basis. You may see a big news site ranking highly on a search related to one of its articles. The article is only somewhat relevant, but the site as a whole has a great deal of authority. Right next to it, you may see a small niche site that is highly relevant for your search. It doesn’t have much authority, but it still ranks next to the news article. If you check the top results for the search, you’ll often find the best of both worlds, sites that are both authoritative and relevant. A site like this may not be as authoritative as the news site, or as relevant as the niche site, but it will often have enough authority and relevance to outrank them both. Let’s consider why with the following (vastly oversimplified) example.
- News Site = 10 (Authority) x 2 (Relevance) = 20
- Niche Site = 2 (Authority) x 10 (Relevance) = 20
- Your Site = 5 (Authority) x 5 (Relevance) = 25
Balancing the EquationThe point of this exercise is to demonstrate that neither authority nor relevance are king when it comes to search rankings. You can focus on one or the other and get mediocre results, or you can improve both and achieve outstanding results. If you would like help sorting out any part of this exercise the SEO specialists at TheeDigital can help.
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