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We’ll Stop Screaming “Relevance” When You Start Listening

We already know search engine optimization includes, in part, a keyword-finding treasure hunt. We know they should be in your title; call us old-fashioned, but tradition says they should be in your first and last paragraph as well, and we agree. We also know that in a perfect world you should have your keyword in the page URL.

Of course, these aren’t the only places you should focus your efforts. Let’s not forget other keywords can be found (i.e. placed) in the code, your HTML tags, description and so on.

Then you have the process of developing a per page keyword matrix, where you choose the most appropriate phrases for each page. In short, you take the results of your keyword treasure hunt and fine tune the content, HTML, URLs and Meta tags. Sounds like loads of fun, right?

Now, it’s no surprise the Big Three (Google, Bing, Yahoo ““ in order of search market share) whnat to keep their algorithm foundations a secret. Each engine wants to be able to claim the prize for having the most valuable search results with the least amount of spam. That’s just good common business sense.

Besides, if you have any idea how many patents the SEs have submitted in general and/or those for specific engines, you’ll probably get tired of even thinking about trying to trace the algorithms down. If you could, but you can’t, so we move on. Last I heard, Google alone uses over 200 factors for ranking, each with placing their own weight and are constantly changing/evolving.

Umm… you were talking about relevance”¦

I was. And I’m getting to it. It’s important. #thatisall

Relevance is like adding “U.S.” to “President”. Automatically, everybody knows who I mean, right? “U.S.” adds a little clarity to which president I’m complaining talking about. So it works for the search engines. If all you talk about is SEO, but you never include “services”, well”¦ how are the SEs supposed to know you’re frantically pedaling your services instead of freely sharing information?

Again, this is relevance. Now, you may be tired of hearing about relevance, but it will never disappear ““ whether it’s Google Instant or Google Light Speed ““ in terms of ranking factors. If the SEs took out relevance as a factor, it’d be the equivalent of signing their death warrant. With the firing squad waiting patiently a few feet away.

Relevance stretches across all areas of a website. Then, it stretches across a page. Then, it hits all those convenient, sweet, juicy links. To get a really good idea of how relevance works, let’s create an imaginary single page.


  • Main Keywords: SEO, Social Media
  • Secondary Terms: engaging social media, seo and social media, social media for business, semantic engagement
  • Tertiary Terms: using synonyms in SEO, combining SEO and social media, personal engagement through social media, using social media and SEO, using Twitter for business, using Facebook for business, employing social media, connecting through social media, connecting SEO and social media

Page Elements;

  • Page Title: Semantic Engagement with the Masses Using SEO and Social Media
  • Meta Title: Using SEO and Social Media for Semantic Engagement With the Masses
  • Description: SEO and social media provide a unique, meaningful way to connect with business prospects using personal engagement factors ““ i.e. you.
  • Page URL:

Content Targeting;

  • Heading 1: (Same as page title)
  • Heading 2: Or, How to Combine SEO and Social Media for a Business that Rocks
  • Paragraph 1: ‘Using SEO and social media in combination can make for great business connections. Personal engagement factors, such as your winning personality and helpful attitude, can go a long way in increasing your traffic and conversions. However, it’s important to remember that semantics, synonyms and relevance play a big part in any SEO and social media campaign, whether it’s for Facebook, Twitter or even Squidoo.’


Link text and surrounding: Over at Example Site, So in So wrote about semantic engagement with the masses using SEO and social media. They had some interesting points I’d like to expound upon.

Link text and surrounding: Now, plenty of people say SEO and social media go hand-in-hand. I’m old school, but How to Combine SEO and Social Media for a Business that Rocks really made me sit down and think. Can the two really exist and work together?


Order from the Chaos

Now, the “page” above was thrown together, but I hope you get the idea of how relevance works throughout a page, including links. However, there should always be an end goal in mind; you know, like, instead of “bringing in a lot of traffic”, your goal might be something like”¦ “bringing in a lot of the right traffic that wants to know more about your product” sounds good.

Focus your keywords

Look. Everything you do, whether for your site or a single page, is some form of content that can be used to further convince the search engines that your page is SERIOUSLY about your keyword(s). Don’t throw in non-relevant, though trendy, topics to get more traffic because a) it won’t be the right type of traffic and b) it will decrease the relevance of your on page content. If you, at least loosely, follow the outline above, you’ll also end up having visitors that trust you to deliver on the promised title and/or description.

Overall, relevance is a good thing. It’s a great thing. In fact, it’s THE thing (well, once you throw in equally unimportant things like quality) to get better rankings, more visitors and more conversions. How do you measure your relevance?



  1. Cordelia@GWS October 18, 2010

    Nice post, a lot of good points and I think it’s a good step by step guide of things you definitely need to think about when creating a website.

    However, I wonder how many potential clients for SEO- for example- will be looking for ‘semantic engagement’ or other such phrases? Maybe other SEO professionals…but not potential clients? The danger in some on-page targeting is that you forget about how people- people not in the industry- actually search for things. The important thing to bear in mind is- relevance to who? If your traffic ‘wants to know more about your product’, chances are they are outside whatever industry you’re in. Then you have to make sure you target at those people specifically and this may mean more general keywords.
    Just a thought. Love the blog and well done all!

  2. M. Steele October 18, 2010

    Yes! Beautiful examples of relevant keyword usage. I was actually just blogging about this very topic yesterday. High traffic volume with no conversion rates means wasted effort. On the flip side, high rankings for keywords no one is searching is also wasted effort. Finding keywords that will bring relevant, quality traffic is…well, key!

    Thanks for the great post, Gabriella.

  3. gabriella October 18, 2010

    Hey Cordelia, that’s what I get for throwing a loose page outline together. :-* You pick on the outline I didn’t spend much time on and pass over the content I really put content into lol.. But keep in mind, Dave would have killed us if we’d have added another 1000 words to this post.

    You have an excellent point, though, and one we’re always talking about over the Level343 water cooler. Always make sure you target your audience specifically.

    We are all excited about this new site thanks for cheering us on! 8)

  4. gabriella October 18, 2010

    M.Steele, at the end of the day most professionals know this or “should” know this. Traffic without targeting, goals and conversions in the strategy is like well pissing in the wind and swearing that it’s raining. Or something to that effect lol 😉

  5. Doc Sheldon October 18, 2010

    Great reminders, Gabriella! Relevance is certainly already the most important thing, in terms of search, but I suspect we’ll soon see it take on an even greater importance.

    @Cordelia- I think proper keyword research will reveal the terms most searched for in a particular case. “Semantic engagement” was just an example.

    Using Google’s Wonder Wheel is my favorite approach. Love that thing!

  6. Cordelia@GWS October 20, 2010

    🙂 I guess that was a little mean Gabriella- sorry! I realise it was just an example. The article itself is great. Nice to read too which is not always a given!

  7. Ashlie October 20, 2010

    I agree that relevance is so important. Everyone has spent hours searching the net looking for some thing, thinking they finally found it from the title that pops up on the search engine, clicking it to only be lead to another site with useless information. Knowing SEO is important, knowing how to properly use SEO is that much more important. That way you won’t be a culprit leading people to a useless site.

  8. Craig Daniels October 22, 2010

    Relevance is one of my favorite things, I often sit in a sunny field and wonder about it.. 🙂 I really do… I find clients forget about relevance when they revert back to writing or presenting content for themselves and forget about the user.

    Nice post, thanks for sharing

  9. Vicki Ayala October 25, 2010

    I think this is a great post with good reminders. The pages that I have optimized with a real emphasis on relevancy – not overdoing it, but being careful and taking the time – have ranked the highest. And they still do. I love your posts – thank you for your work!

  10. gabriella November 5, 2010

    [quote name=”Cordelia@GWS”]:-) I guess that was a little mean Gabriella- sorry! I realise it was just an example. The article itself is great. Nice to read too which is not always a given![/quote]
    Awww Cordelia how sweet of you to come back & clarify :* but, suffice it to say I’m made of thicker skin 😉
    @Craig Sometimes stepping away from the project and visualizing what will ultimately make people “act”? Yes, relevance.
    @Vicki thanks for your kind words and encouragement. What I’ve realized after years of being online is no matter how much things are second nature to me there are many out there that are just starting.

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