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Search Engines and Relevance
Search engines assume that websites in general will follow the mantra of "information-targeting", with the ideal website in a niche being the one that is most relevant to that niche. Sounds simple, right?
Here is where it gets interesting. Search engines measure relevance on different levels, or different categories if you may. Once you understand the above definition, they all make sense by themselves. For starters, there is content relevance - is this page's content relevant to a search query (and that query's projected niche)? This is where on-page optimization is so important. Search engines use keywords to measure relevance, but they aren't checking for keyword density; in fact, they are checking for keyword placement in the page.
A second criteria is link relevance - whether the sites linking to you are "relevant" - i.e. in the same niche (or closely related to the niche), and whether the sites YOU link to are relevant as well. This is, in a nutshell, off-page optimization or link-building.
Relevance in search engine optimization has been the biggest stumbling block for webmasters - the concept is so important that every aspect of SEO is governed by it, but yet so obvious that many of us overlook it.
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