Say you want to rank on search engines for keyword combinations with every city in the U.S. – maybe even combined with a large range of services. Do you then start your link building by focusing on each individual combined query?
For websites like job boards, business listings, tour operators and price comparison sites this is their main dilemma in search engine optimization (SEO). Acquiring links for the individual recurring parts of your keyword combinations is the best solution, but how does it work?
Industries like travel have millions of potential keyword combinations and they are all quite similar. Most of them contain a travel service (like last minute, all inclusive, tickets, hotels, holiday, cruise or rental car) combined with a locality (like Jamaica, Iceland, New York, Europe, Grand Canyon or Alps).
Job portals combine industries or job descriptions, with localities and employment terminology. Once certain words reappear in multiple combinations, they can be plotted into a matrix like the one below.
The elements of a keyword combination aren’t always important keywords themselves. Only combined do they get their true meaning.
Elements that are part of multiple combinations do however require a dedicated page. This so-called hub page should receive relevant links to it and in turn link to all important combinations with it. A keyword combination can have two or more parents which both list that page.
“All jobs in Houston TX” will contain a list of important industries in that region and “All IT jobs” will contain a list of important tech cities. Combined they link to “All IT jobs in Houston TX”.
As you can see the structure of your website is key to get this done effectively, but getting the right links directed at the right place is even more important.
Link Building on Partial Relevance
Link partners can be found by looking at the search terms they rank for themselves. The better they rank for your exact keyword combination, the more effect they could have on that ranking. This exact relevance is stronger, but it it also very labor intensive. If you do however find an easy way to get many local businesses to link to their respective keyword combination please use it, but keep keyword ROI in mind.
Links with partial relevance can for instance be attracted by partnering with local authorities for your most important localities. Giving a large discount for local governments and the official city website (e.g., for listings on your job portal to which they in turn should link) get you extremely relevant links. These pages in turn link to “All jobs in [city name]” and “All government jobs”. Organizing a local event get you great local links (e.g., “[city name] job fair”) but should only be done for important cities.
Broad Partial Relevance
Partnering with seemingly irrelevant link partners can be more effective than it seems. Websites in different industries can aid your ranking just by covering the same cities. This way a job portal can help a business directory and an airline can help a car rental company. Sites like Wunderground.com are related to every city, but are seldom in a competitive industry. With broad partial relevant links it is harder to predict which exact combinations will benefit the most, but it requires less partners and (probably) effort.
Generic authority is a weird ranking factor, but is best gained by partnering with generic authorities. A search for “www” will give some indication of the types of websites you need to get a link from.
Sites with generic authority can rank for things that they don’t have extremely relevant links for. Although the Wikipedia level of authority is out of your reach, some domain authority is always a welcome addition to your link profile.
Relevance comes in many shades. As long as your partnerships are natural, all these links are important. Depending on the level of competition you might already rank with just some generic links or you’ll need extremely relevant links for those top search queries.
Ranking on a large spectrum of queries
- Create internal navigation with routes focused on relevance and priority.
- Direct the right external links at the right relevance hub within your site.
- Find out what works and try to see patterns in underscoring queries to fix this with just a few link partners.