Tangential relevance is the idea of something being related to a topic in an indirect manner.
I feel like Tony Robbins using that term, but it’s one that I’ve really come to love, as it’s an idea that can be very useful in searching for quality sites that are relevant to your niche, yet maybe not so relevant as to have been totally plundered by your competitors yet. You’ve probably read or heard the idea of starting at page 10 of the results of your search, and this is not so different.
At my office, we’ve just gone through this exercise for a new client, and it’s given us some great ideas. Here’s an example for a site that sells only books written by Scandinavian authors. (If one of these truly exists and you know about please let me know.)
Starting with the keyphrase of Scandinavian books, we would use a search engine and, in the SERPS, we’d quickly come across Henning Mankell. Reading about Mankell would tell us that he’s a very successful Swedish writer who enjoyed popularity with a series of novels about a Swedish detective called Kurt Wallander. There were films made about many (if not all) of the Wallander books, and the BBC produced some as well, with Kenneth Branaugh as Wallander. From this we can already figure out a few new other searches besides Scandinavian books:
- Swedish novels
- fictional Swedish detectives
- BBC productions
- Kenneth Branaugh films
- detective series books
- novels that have been filmed
You could then slap on some adjectives and have searches such as best Swedish novels, translated Swedish novels, etc. While these are definitely relevant, you could dig down further in order to reach some more tangential phrases.
- popular hobbies in Scandinavia
- decorating with exotic hardcovers
- towns from detective novels
- common Swedish surnames
- Scandinavian writers who have won the Pulitzer
- publishing companies in Norway
Search questions are always good for tangential searches as well. If you’ve ever used Yahoo Answers, you’ve probably seen some totally out-there questions. Sometimes, thinking in this manner can be very useful for finding good sites that you’ve never seen before (and that will hopefully not already link to your competitors.) Now, from reading information about the Wallander novels, I learned that Mankell stopped the series awhile back This generates a good tangential (for the site) question that is very relevant to a previous search:
What are some Mankell novels that do not feature Wallander?
This generates a fairly impressive list. One that stands out in reading about all of this is the novel Kennedy’s Brain. This novel is about an archaeologist working in Greece who has been told that her son is dead. (Sorry to be so grim for all of this but remember these ARE Scandinavian works.) This opens up searches such as the following:
- books that feature archaeologists as the protagonists
- books set in Greece
- the Kennedy assassination conspiracy
Since everyone’s now using Twitter to help find good sites to use for link building, you can do the same thing here. While I love Twitter alerts for a major keyphrase, I wouldn’t suggest you go that far for a tangential search unless you can prove its use beforehand. Otherwise that’s a lot of potential irrelevant data to wade through. The same holds true for Google alerts.
I just recently learned that Mankell was involved with the Israeli flotilla incident from a few months back. Just imagine what tangential searches that information could give you.
Obviously I could go on and on, as I’ve just shown, but you should get the point that by digging down into bits of what you find from a sweeping general search, you can find some truly interesting places for a link.