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Study: Which Link Metric Correlates Closest to Organic Visibility?



Link Relevance vs. Content Relevance in Link Building

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Throughout my career, most of my teams’ digital PR strategies for clients have consisted of closing link gaps, creating new ones, and earning as many high-tier links as possible. The goal was always the same: get our clients’ websites to the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs) and outranking their competitors.

To that end, we’ve earned press coverage for clients on every top-tier publisher you can think of, including “dream publishers” like CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Business Insider. We’ve even had dozens of campaigns go viral, earning thousands of links and hundreds of thousands of social shares, all resulting from sending a single outreach email to a journalist.

“What’s wrong with that?” you might be asking. “It sounds like a successful strategy.”

While “going viral” might not carry the same weight it once did, I’ll be the first to admit it – there is hardly a more exciting feeling when working in digital PR. And we all know that link volume combined with high authority links will help you rise in the ranks of the SERPs. So, actually, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that strategy.

But when all you care about is lots of links and going viral, sometimes you miss the mark on something that matters just as much, if not more: relevance.

Since 2019, Google has acknowledged that it uses Natural Language Understanding (NLU) when assessing the relevancy and intent of users’ search queries. So why is no one measuring relevance when it comes to link profiles?

The team at Journey Further sought to do just that — and in our latest study, we demonstrate why link relevance is more important than ever, and how a relevance-led approach can outperform larger and more authoritative websites time and time again.

What does it mean to be relevant in digital PR?

Like most things that catch fire in our industry, “relevance” has become a bit of a buzzword in digital PR. But what does it mean, really?

When you think about relevance, it’s simple. Ask yourself:

  • Does this campaign relate to the client’s product or service?

  • Does it have target keywords in it?

  • Does it talk about the main topics we want to target?

  • Does it answer the search intent?

  • Does it make sense for the client to be considered an authority and/or a trusted source on this topic?

If you answered no to most of these, you might want to go back to the drawing board.

For some clients, it can be difficult to come up with an idea that’s both relevant and newsworthy. The most relevant idea in the world will not earn links if it’s boring, and that’s the challenge we all face every day when creating digital PR campaigns for our clients.

Though it’s difficult, it’s in your clients’ best interest for you to think outside the box in ideation and come up with both relevant and link-worthy digital PR ideas — you’ll understand why after seeing the data from our latest study.

How do you measure content relevance?

Beyond manually determining relevance with those questions above, what if there was a data-driven way?

Steve Walker, the technology director at Journey Further, found this kind of analysis to be resource-intensive and prone to error. Humans aren’t as good at these tasks as machines are, so he created Salient, a free-to-use tool that measures the relevance of your content.

Steve thought, “If Google uses machine learning to measure the relevance of content, why aren’t we?”

Using this proprietary technology powered by Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technology is how we can measure the relevance of content, analyzing an entire website’s link profile rather than individual articles. Incorporating the IBM Watson Machine Learning API allows us to extract sentiment, recurring keywords and entities, and a relevancy and frequency score for each topic.

Off the back of this insight, we can understand what gaps exist in the relevancy of the link profile. This information then guides our PR and content strategies to drive organic visibility.

Study: Which link metric correlates closest to organic visibility?

So, how important is relevance compared with much-heralded metrics like Domain Authority (DA) and link volume?

In a data-driven attempt to learn which metric is statistically the best driver of organic visibility, our team at Journey Further analyzed the organic rankings of 6,000 commercially valuable keywords, calculating share of voice for a range of competing websites. From there, we measured the correlation of these scores against three link metrics:

  1. Number of unique linking domains

  2. Domain Authority

  3. Topical link profile relevance

In this study, we focused on the home retail sector, with the following focus areas:

Across all 15 sectors, topical link relevance was the only metric that had a positive correlation to organic visibility

The findings of our study show that topical link relevance has the strongest correlation in 10 out of 15 sectors.

Domain Authority had a stronger correlation in five sectors: outdoor/patio, office furniture, bedding, desks, and pillows.

Unique linking domains never had the strongest correlation to organic visibility and, in fact, showed a negative correlation in 6 out of 15 sectors.

However, across all 15 sectors, topical link relevance was the only metric that positively correlated to organic visibility every time.

That’s the TL;DR of it, but read on for a deeper look at some individual topic areas and how we came to these figures. View the full study here.

Definitions and Limitations

To better understand the data, let’s detail some definitions first:

Correlation coefficient: A linear measure of the correlation between two variables. A value of 0 indicates no association between the two variables. A value greater than 0 indicates a positive association, and a value less than 0 indicates a negative association.

Organic share of voice (SOV): Organic SOV is a metric that represents how much organic traffic a site receives vs. the other sites in that sector for a set of high-traffic keywords. It considers keyword volumes, click-through rates, ranking position, and SERP features. The final SOV is expressed as a percentage of that keyword set’s total available search volume. So if your SOV is 25%, you’re winning 25% of the clicks for that set.

Topical link relevance: A score that shows the relevance of a keyword or topic to the entire document text or range of pages analyzed – in this case, the text on each page that links back to the sites we analyzed. The higher the number, the more relevant a topic. A score of 0 means that the topic was not relevant at all.

Unique linking domains: The total number of unique domains that link back to each site.

Domain Authority (DA): A ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how likely a website will rank on SERPs. A DA score ranges from 1 to 100, with higher scores corresponding to greater visibility.


This study relies on correlation and thus has limitations. Please note that correlation ≠ causation, and because Google historically does not comment on studies, or reveal precisely how the ranking algorithm works, we’ll likely never find causation. However, based on patents mentioning the use of topical relevance in combination with the findings of the correlation studies, we can be confident in the validity of the data.

Relevance vs. Link Volume

As an example, let’s look at the bathroom sector. When looking at hundreds of keywords related to bathrooms like bathroom mirrors and bathroom ideas, we found that this sector has over 1.8 million searches per month, with leading home brands competing for share of voice.

After analyzing the backlink profile and relevance score, we then calculate a correlation with that brand’s share of voice to determine if there is any connection between this metric and organic visibility.

  • Anything below zero has a negative correlation, so there is no connection.

  • Anything over zero has a positive correlation.

  • The higher the correlation, the stronger the relationship between the metrics and organic visibility.

With a correlation coefficient of .74, it’s clear that the metric that is most closely related to organic visibility for the bathroom sector is topical link relevance.

Unique linking domains, in this case, has a negative correlation. For example, IKEA has a backlink profile of more than 406K ULDs, but doesn’t have the biggest market share, which shows that there is no correlation to the link volume and market share.

Relevance vs. Domain Authority

When looking at hundreds of keywords related to dressers, we found that this sector has over 1.6 million searches per month.

Again, we did the same thing here and compared each brand’s backlink profile and relevance score to that brand’s share of voice.

With a correlation coefficient of .61, we see that topical link relevance is the metric most closely related to organic visibility for the dressers sector.

However, this example demonstrates that all three metrics (relevance, Domain Authority, and link volume) are critical to organic visibility. All three have a very high correlation, which suggests that not only are these metrics correlated, but perhaps they are integral for boosting organic visibility in this sector.

View the full study here. (And feel free to reach out to me directly if you want us to run a free relevance report for you).

In SEO, it’s not enough to be popular, you also need to be relevant

Historically, the SEO industry has relied on metrics like Domain Authority and link volume. These two metrics are important, but only provide a portion of the puzzle. Alone, they don’t answer Google’s primary question: which website is the most relevant for a query?

We’ve all seen campaigns out in the wild that make us scratch our heads, thinking, “what does this topic have to do with that client?” Think: why is a CBD company pushing out a study on anything but CBD? Why is a company that sells bathroom fixtures creating content about dogs?

When you fail to see the connection between the story and the client, you know they’re only thinking of one thing: links.

But, as my colleague Beth Nunnington likes to say, “in SEO, it’s not enough to be popular, you also need to be relevant.”

Don’t forget, most clients don’t want links for links’ sake. They want what links bring: increased traffic, better rankings for priority keywords, increased revenue, brand awareness, etc.

And links will only serve those goals when they’re relevant.

Don’t get me wrong – I still LOVE a CNN placement (and so do clients), but now, I’d also like it to be relevant.

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How to Create Evergreen Content That Generates Traffic to Your Site



How to Create Evergreen Content That Generates Traffic to Your Site

Every digital marketer understands that publishing articles or blog posts on your website is an excellent way to create content for your SEO strategy and build awareness. On top of that, you also get to connect to your audience on a deeper level.

However, many marketers focus on publishing seasonal content or articles on trending topics, which can drive traffic, but only for a limited time.

According to HubSpot’s State of Marketing Trends Report (2022), 83% of marketers say it’s better to focus on quality rather than quantity of content, even if it means publishing fewer blog posts.

But if your content depends on trending topics, how can you create quality content that lasts? Enter evergreen content.

First, let’s be honest; creating evergreen content isn’t a walk in the park. Many marketers have tried creating this type of content on their websites but can’t seem to get the results they need.

So how do you create something that doesn’t age?

In this article, I’ll discuss what evergreen content is, why it is important to have one, and how you can create one that will give you lasting results.

Let’s get started.

Evergreen Content Explained

I’m pretty sure many of you have heard this term many times already, and some of you might have an idea of what it is.

But for those still unfamiliar with it, evergreen content is search engine-optimized content that is relevant all year round and can stay fresh over an even longer period. Some may argue that any content is sustainable, given that it remains published once you upload it to your site.

But evergreen content isn’t just any other content. It continues to be of interest to your target audience even after its publication date, attracting more visitors over time.

The topics used in evergreen content are those that many users will search for at any time of the year, making it an excellent strategy for SEO and content marketing.

This type of content comes in many shapes and sizes. Depending on your products or services, evergreen formats can range from listicles, how-to guides, tips, reviews, and videos. Something to note is that producing these formats doesn’t automatically make your content evergreen.

The main ingredient to making evergreen content is the topic, which should stand the test of time.

To understand this better, let’s look at seasonal content. This type of content contains topics tied to a specific time of the year, a trending item, or even in the news or social media. The hype on these topics usually dies down once enough time is passed.

For instance, marketers often produce content for various holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Content around these times can often generate traffic, but once the holiday is over, it’s unlikely that level of traffic will continue.

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Why Is It Important to Have Them on Your Website?

It’s no secret that seasonal content can quickly generate a lot of traffic to your site, but it can become irrelevant even quicker as new trends emerge.

Evergreen content can give you lasting results and so much more. Here are some reasons why you should start creating one:

  • Great for SEO. Evergreen topics are usually searched, which means your content will likely rank on search engines. On top of that, it will always drive traffic to your site and keep on doing so, especially if it’s high quality.
  • Lead magnet. Since you’re showing your expertise through evergreen content, it can encourage visitors to check your product or services. And because it’s relevant all year round, you can use it to attract new leads every time.
  • Excellent marketing material. This is one of my favorite benefits of evergreen content. You can promote it repeatedly, making it a versatile marketing tool.
  • Add value to you and your customers. Since it answers a common problem that your target audience has, you can help them address their issue. At the same time, the steady traffic it provides can help your website grow.
  • Impactful investment. Creating evergreen content takes time. This ensures that you provide high-quality content that will always be interesting to your audience. That’s why it’s an excellent investment by providing significant returns in the future.
  • Lasts for years. The idea that evergreen content can last for years ultimately means less work for you. A single high-quality post can give you a real bang for your buck, compared to seasonal ones that only last for a week or, if you’re lucky, a couple of months.

Step-by-Step Guide: Creating Evergreen Content

Now that we’ve established how critical evergreen content is for your digital marketing strategy, it’s time to learn the ropes of creating one that can be impactful for years. Follow these steps to begin:

1. Find a Problem to Solve

For evergreen content to succeed, it should solve a problem your customers face. It doesn’t have to be a major problem, but it’s something that many people may encounter in their lives.

For example, if you sell car parts like tires, one problem many car owners can encounter is changing their tires. You can create an article or a video showing your customers how they can change their tires and how often to rotate them to avoid wear and tear.

Now you’re not only solving their problem but providing extra value!

But I get it that you just don’t magically stumble upon a problem, and you need to put in some work to find the right fit for your website. So here are some steps you can take to find out the best problem you can address in your evergreen content:

  • Ask yourself. You know your business well, and you can use this first-hand knowledge to look for pain points your customers are facing.
  • Ask your customers. Don’t be afraid to send surveys to your customers. The worst thing that could happen is that they won’t answer it. But the benefits? Learning about their problems and what they expect from your business.
  • Check your competition. While some may tell you to copy what your competitors are doing, I think many other opportunities are available to avoid doing this. Instead, check to see what they’re doing so you can understand what works and what doesn’t. From there, it’ll be easier to come up with an idea of what problem you want to solve for your customers.
  • Check the internet. The internet is an excellent tool, especially if you know how to take advantage of it. One way is to check frequently asked questions about a particular industry through platforms like Quora and Reddit. You’ll be surprised by what information is waiting for you.

2. Conduct Keyword Research

Since evergreen content is a search-engine-optimized piece, it requires some keyword research to make it as effective as possible. This will also allow you to determine whether the problem you want to solve has merit, and people are actually searching the internet for answers to it.

So how do you go about this?

First, you need to invest in the right tools. While there are numerous tools, like Google Trends and Keyword Surfer, that can provide you with basic keyword research features for free. You might miss out on opportunities that only paid tools can provide. But if you’re not ready to shed some cash, the free versions can also give you valuable insights.

Next, you need to understand what to look for. The monthly search volume is the most important metric you have to check when conducting keyword research. This can tell the potential amount of viewers you can reach with a particular keyword or phrase.

However, note that there is yet to be an actual benchmark on what a healthy monthly search volume is, especially since niches and industries vary in size.

For instance, if you are working on a popular niche like fashion or beauty, you can see that the search volume is high. But a very specific niche, like bass fishing, may have a lower volume. Be sure to only compare different keywords in your niche.

Lastly, use long-tail keyword phrases instead of just keywords. Almost everyone we know uses the internet for answers to just about anything. So, when you optimize your content for longer keyword phrases, you can get their attention easier since it usually focuses on a more specific topic.

Going back to our example on the car parts business, your keyword phrases for tire changing content can include “how long does it take to change tires” or “how often should you change tires.” They also have high search volumes, meaning many people are interested to know the answers to those questions.

3. Create a Topic Using Your Chosen Keywords

Now, let’s go to the fun part. Once you have all the details you need and have collected all the keywords you want to use, it’s time to think of a topic for your evergreen content. To help you out, here are some questions you can ask yourself when coming up with a topic:

  • Will it be relevant to your customers after a year?
  • Will your customer and potential customers always search for this topic?
  • Will it be easy to reshare this topic on various platforms over and over without seeming outdated?

If your answer is all yes, then you found your golden ticket. You can frame this as your working title to see how to structure and position the content and think of any other related topics you might want to touch on along the way.

Important Things to Remember

Creating evergreen content may sound easy, but there are other things you need to consider to make it successful. You already have a topic in mind, and that’s a good start. However, there are other things that you need to remember when you’re putting it all together.

1. Make It Informative

Always remember quality over quantity. While longer blog posts can rank higher in search engines, it’s better to provide value to your audience than the search algorithm. As an example, if you were writing about the benefits of Google My Business software or social media marketing trends, your articles should still give some value to the readers. With this in mind, ensure your evergreen content is as long as it’s supposed to be—no fluff to achieve a particular word count. Your content should be made for humans, not robots.

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2. Don’t Forget the Layout

Even if you have the best evergreen content piece in the world, if it doesn’t have good design and proper formatting, your efforts are put to waste. So, apart from ensuring your content can rank, you must deliver a memorable reading experience.

This will not only build customer trust but can potentially convert visitors to customers.

When it comes to optimizing the layout and design of your evergreen content, make sure that there is enough white space between the paragraphs. This makes it easy for your visitors to consume the content.

Next, don’t put a lot of distractions. If you do, they won’t be able to finish the content and will jump to another page. Lastly, make it visually appealing. You can add relevant images or videos to break walls of text. Just make sure you can get your readers at the end.

Remember, the longer readers stay and read your content, the higher your chances of turning them into qualified leads.

3. Regularly Update Your Content

Just because evergreen content can last for years doesn’t necessarily mean you can just upload it and never touch it again. Since your main goal is to provide information to your customers, you must ensure that those details are updated every time. It doesn’t have to be every week; you just need to ensure that the information is not outdated so you won’t mislead your readers.

You can also use this opportunity to link other website pages from your content. This can help with your overall SEO strategy, especially if the piece generates a lot of traffic. If you have already created evergreen content, here are some things you need to update:

  • Data and Statistics
  • Quotes
  • Screenshots and images
  • Titles
  • Examples

I don’t recommend adding dates to your evergreen content URL if you can help it(e.g., Best-Apps-for-Video-Editing-2022), as it will quickly become outdated, and your SEO efforts are going to waste every time you change the link.

But if you’re using one in your title, make sure you update that too. You can also use the help of AI writing software to add extra paragraphs and beef up your post a little.

4. Write for Beginners

This may sound counterintuitive, especially if you want to assert your expertise in the field. But people who search for broad topics are usually not experts, so ensure your content can cater to a large audience.

That’s why it’s best to avoid technical jargon. It’s okay to mention it when necessary. Just ensure that you give a brief explanation about it. At the same time, keep your tone conversational. Read your sentences and paragraphs to check if they sound natural.

5. Promote Your Content

Now that you’ve put together your winning content piece, it’s time to put it to work to reach your audience—it just doesn’t automatically give results after you publish it. This is where content promotion comes in.

There are various ways you can promote your content. This can be through social media sites like Facebook or Instagram. You can also promote it via email, especially if you have an extensive mailing list. Or even via guest blogging.

Since this can stand the test of time, you can promote it repeatedly, which is perfect for times when you just don’t know what to post.


Before evergreen content can give you the desired results, you must ensure that Google knows your site exists. If not, then you should index your site first and then work from there.

Creating evergreen content that lasts requires a lot of work, and you should be willing to do it. By following these practices I’ve shared, you can make an effective piece to drive ongoing growth to your site.

The results may not be quick, but if you do things right, you’ll reap the benefits far longer than you think.

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