The Myth of “Irrelevant” Backlinks

29 Jun

One of the greatest myths in the SEO world is that backlinks to a site are only relevant if they come from other sites in the same niche. In other words, if I were promoting a “dog training” site, backlinks from non-dog related websites would be useless.

Not much could be further from the truth however.

I got an interesting email from Angela Edwards yesterday (you probably know her from her famous high PR backlink packs… I believe she was the first to ever sell them) and with her permission I am going to post a portion of that email below.

She hit the nail RIGHT on it’s head. After reading through it I know you too will agree!

“You’ve probably heard from various sources that the best backlinks you can get for your website are “relevant” backlinks. However, has the person who told you that actually shown you hard evidence that can be duplicated by anyone that this is true?

Relevance or “theme-related” backlinks:
This is another myth that gets passed around a lot. Sure, it’s good to have relevant links and Google recommends it, but links that are not “relevant” also count. Have you ever seriously looked at the backlinks that a Major Authority site has? Many of them would not be considered “relevant”, and there are hundreds of different types of blogs listed, usually.

The Drudge Report was put on the “map” the day he broke the news that President Clinton was having an…er, indiscretion with a young intern named Monica Lewinsky. THOUSANDS (maybe even HUNDREDS of thousands) of sites linked to him that day. Many of them were not in his “niche”.

About two years ago I challenged my Physical Therapist (I have an old ankle injury) that I could get him on Page One of Google for his keywords. He was at the bottom of Page 6. I did his links one night and then went to
bed. The next day I got up and checked and he was NUMBER ONE in Google for ALL his keywords. Not one of the sites I added his link to was “relevant” for Physical Therapy or even Health and Wellness. Yet they still worked that well that fast. And his site is STILL in the number one position; more than two years later.

You often see “Yellow Page” sites linking to major businesses. Now, you and I, being humans, can understand why a site like that might link to a business’ website, but do you really think a Search Engine’s algorithm can make that determination? What if there was a “community portal” site that linked to all the businesses in the area? What about directories? What “niche” are they in? Search Engines do not and cannot determine whether all the sites linking to other sites “make sense” (relevant) or not.

The search engines would have to know what is “relevant” and that will take a LOT of human interaction. A site for parents might link to a veterinarian’s website because the site has a warning about a certain flea medication being poisonous to children, Yellow Pages websites might link to businesses in the area, the Fire Department’s website might link to the PUD (Electric Company) because of a warning about electrical sparks, the Food Bank might link to the local High School because of a huge food drive the kids did…see what I mean? To determine “relevance” would take CONSTANT human interaction on all the TRILLION webpages on the Internet. Many Web 2.0 sites’ only “relevance” to anybody is the ‘community factor’ that they provide. Theme-wise, many of those sites aren’t “relevant” to most niches.

I’m number two out of 315 million sites for the keyword “Angela”. If the backlinks that got me there HAD to be “Angela-related”, how do you think I would find enough Angela-backlinks to get me to the top for a word THAT competitive? It would be a daunting task, if it were even possible, I can assure you of that.

If you leave out great sites because they are not “relevant” to your niche, you are leaving a lot of money on the table. I’d use them all.

When folks tell you things about backlinks that are supposedly “gospel truth”, ask them to show you evidence that YOU can duplicate. If they can’t show you this evidence, then don’t necessarily believe what they say until you check it out for yourself.”

I too tested the theory and fact is, the SEO advantage always came from the authority behind the site that my backlink was on, never because the site was niche related. Does that make sense?

With that though I should point out the obvious: a backlink does not have a whole lot of value unless it is your keyword linking back to your site.

In short: you get more value from placing keyword hyperlinked backlinks on authority sites than niche related sites.

Have you done any testing in this regard? If so, what results did you get?

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback below!

Konrad Braun

I'm an entrepreneur at heart & have been a full-time internet marketer since 2009. I specialize in SEO & affiliate marketing. I married the most amazing woman I ever met & travel the world with her. I love my life!

13 thoughts on “The Myth of “Irrelevant” Backlinks

  1. Interesting. I fell for the myth of relevant backlinks also. Your post makes me feel more confident about my current backlinking system now!

  2. Hi,

    I’ve used Angelas backlinks packages for the past few years on many sites and they work really well. Start to build them and continue to build them but also use of means of getting backlinks as well.

    Relevant or non relevant they have a good effect on SEO.

    Another Great Post Konrad!

  3. Thanks Konrad. This is stitch in time that will save me a lot of frustration. I just had a WSO yesterday (a gift from a good friend) on backlinking and in the course he could never over-stress the importance of looking for only relevant links in your niche. ‘Simply ignore non-relevant backlinks’, he said. However, although I have not been online for long, I know from human intuition that, not all your backlinks could come from related sites.

    In short, thanks for putting my heart at rest. In my opinion, I seriously think relevancy is over-stretched and over-stated. In fact I would say that relevancy is irrelevant.


  4. Well, I see that a bit different.

    I wouldnt say that only relevant backlinks would count but I would still say that relevant backlinks are better than irrelevant ones. I dont say that irrelevant backlinks are useless, they do in fact work quite well.

    I havent done any test regarding this but when I would offer you 2 backlink sources:

    1. PR5 Backlink on exactly your niche
    2. PR5 Backlink on a complete different niche

    (All other factors being equal) which one would you take?

  5. Hey Conrad,
    Excellent Post! you know, even though I had no evidence one way or the other, common sense always told me Exactly what you stated right here!
    Thanks for confirming what I already suspected. And It goes to show you, so many times I think people say things simply to sound like an expert in the subject, when in all actuality what they are informing others about is way off base. Thanks again and keep up the great work my friend 🙂

  6. Thanks Konrad! i’m interested in building back link and increasing my websites traffic for free, This article can help me to understand basic back link, Your post makes me feel more confident about my current backlinking.
    Thank you very much

  7. Relevancy has been the biggest myth going since it started and Bettina, get your money back – that clown absolutely has no idea what he’s talking about.

    Take a general review site for example; what is a ‘relevant link’ there? Or a video site, or a user blog site, and yet YouTube, and Blogger very frequently come at the top of the rankings.

    Authority (via PR) can easily be assessed by algorithm; true relevancy is a much more complex beast. It CAN be assessed algorithmically but it takes more computing horsepower than it’s worth, so it lies unused for the most part. Some of the most powerful incoming links I have to certain sites are some of the most irrelevant – not only not on the same subject, but not even in the same language.

    Authority is everything – it outranks number, relevancy and link text and is why there is still an active market in selling PR5 and above links, despite Google’s best efforts.

  8. Thank you for this article, it really helped me to understand the relevance of back links, and also their importance. Getting ones website highly ranked by Google is everything, because if no-one can find you, no-one will visit your site, no-one will buy from you and there will be no traffic. I am learning this very painfully. But how do you get your links out there, other than writing blogs and articles?

  9. Thanks for your post Konrad. You’ve given me something to think about because I always thought that PR was what really mattered. Will read again and digest.

    Best wishes,

  10. Konrad,

    Great post… I did do testing & your right

    you get more value from placing keyword hyperlinked backlinks on authority sites than niche related sites…..

    Keep up the good work.

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