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Is content still king?
surfgatinho




msg:717046
 9:41 am on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

After doing a few searches today I noticed quite a lot of the pages that were ranking well had very little in the way of content. I'm looking at KWs in quite competitive areas. One page I looked at only mentioned the KWs once in the title and has less than 100 words total on the rest of the page. No heading tags, only javascript links on images and a pr of 4.
The page isn't really that relevant actually.

I had noticed a while back that pages with just a search form and very little content were doing well.

So what causes these pages to rank well - inbound link text?

It seems like there might be a flawed logic here:
i.e. quality content creates inbound links - therefore rank pages on IBLs and not content. Not sure about that.

Anyway, I guess the question is does content matter or is it all about IBLs?

 

europeforvisitors




msg:717047
 5:05 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've noticed an increase in the number of script-generated widgetadvisor, virtualwidget, PriceWidget, etc. pages in the top 10 for the keywords and keyphrases that I watch. Some of them have no content except for "Write a review" and maybe a few advertising links.

It's possible that the sheer size of the sites is a factor, but Google may also have made a slight change in where emphasis is placed in multiple-word phrases. Take a term like "elbonia travel": In the past, a site with 100 pages on Elbonia might have ranked well, presumably because Google was placing emphasis on the specific (Elbonia) and not the generic (travel). Today, a script-generated page from a massive template-driven site would be likely to rank well for "elbonia travel," presumably because Google is giving authority weight to the word "travel" and regarding the modifier as being less important.

Sometimes this approach makes sense, and sometimes it doesn't. In a phrase like "omelette pan," the word "pan" would clearly be more important (because a person searching for omelette pans is more likely to be looking for pans than recipes), but in a phrase like "Elbonia travel," a site with 100 pages about Elbonia is probably more valuable to the user than a site with 500,000 pages about travel and only one page (which may have no real content) on Elbonia.

(Disclaimer: I don't know if Google has intentionally shifted keyword weighting as described above; I'm merely talking about what I see, not about how Google got there.)

BigDave




msg:717048
 5:43 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

It seems like there might be a flawed logic here:
i.e. quality content creates inbound links - therefore rank pages on IBLs and not content. Not sure about that.

That isn't flawed logic at all. It is perfectly sound logic.

Content IS still king if your goal is to build a robust, high quality site. That does not mean that content is the only thing. It is content that leads to all those off-site factors being in your favor.

Sure, you can beat the system at any given time, but it is always by emulating certain factors that a quality content site should have.

If you have great content, you should have no trouble collecting inbound links. If your content is crap, then you have to actually work at getting those links.

I have some keywords where I never rank #1, but I am always on the first page. From month to month, there are two of us that are consistantly top 10, and 8 spots that fluctuate wildly. The stable ones are the content pages.

reseller




msg:717049
 11:56 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

From reading posts on several threads, it seems that we need to define; whats "content" or more precisly; whats "valuable content" in connection with high positions of "content" sites on the serps or lack of the same?

When fellow members for example mention; adding content, deos that mean only articles?

A review of e-books, say marketing e-books, with affiliate links redirecting to the writer site, would that be considered "valuable content" too?

A listings of preselected BEST forums related to webmasters, seo, e-marketing and e-advertising in the form of links and a short description and having AdSense spots on the same page, would that be considered "valuable content" too?

Or a listings of preselected TOP search engine optimization firms in the form of links and short description and having affiliate banner of a SEO firm on the same page, would that be considered "valuable content" too?

etc.. etc..

JuniorOptimizer




msg:717050
 12:32 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

So who are these webmasters who naturally link to "great content"? They apparently are out of the loop and don't know links have value.

larryhatch




msg:717051
 1:26 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

''So who are these webmasters who naturally link to "great content"?''

I suspect these are people who are honestly interested in some topic.

'' They apparently are out of the loop and don't know links have value.''

If you mean out of the commercial loop, you may well be right. - Larry

sullen




msg:717052
 1:53 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

So who are these webmasters who naturally link to "great content"?

lol! That would be me. And I'm well aware that links have value.

Content is if anything more kingly from where I'm sitting. But the phrase is not about writing a very specific page in order to rank for a specific phrase. It's about breadth and context, and the place to look for the results is in your stats, not in the SERPs.

larryhatch




msg:717053
 2:34 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hello Sullen: Maybe we are on the same wavelength.
For me at least, content will always be king.

What do people search for? Commercials? I really doubt that.
The browsing public will endure/forgive/ignore ads to get the information
they were looking for in the first place.
G and Y must know this big time. If content were anything other
than king, why would people scrape or perpetrate 302 redirects?

Content is the whole reason people use the internet in the first place,
whether to find a product or just learn something new. -Larry

reseller




msg:717054
 3:41 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ok.

But can we agree on the definition:

VALUABLE CONTENT is relevant information (in text or graphic) to what the searcher is looking for?

Because if we agree on that, then we should accept as valuable content:

- Articles

- Product/service info pages

- Travel booking sites.

- PRE-SELL pages

- Reviews of products/services under affiliate program marketing.

- Forums

- Pages covering relevant links with short descriptions in text

and whatever I forgot to list :-)

europeforvisitors




msg:717055
 3:42 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

So who are these webmasters who naturally link to "great content"? They apparently are out of the loop and don't know links have value.

Or maybe we know that providing useful content (including handpicked links) to our readers has even more value over the long haul.

Liane




msg:717056
 3:59 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is content still king?

Absolutely!

If you take the search engines out of the formula, you are supplying the content for your customer. Your customer is the real king ... and you need to give him or her all the info you possibly can for them to make an informed choice.

Now after writing your site ... if you add the SE's back into the formula and you have done everything you possibly can to supply the best info on any given subject, it is likely the SE's will like your site a lot, provided you have built it with the various SE rules in mind.

Never doubt the value of content!

surfgatinho




msg:717057
 4:54 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree that for the user content is king. What I'm trying to figure out is whether Google still thinks that or is relying pretty much solely on the princple that if a site has a link to it the content must be good.

I still think there is a logical flaw in this approach as a site can exist with the best content on the web but not have as many links as a lesser site. Therefore is it the job of the webmaster to use SEO tecniques to make Google "realise" your site has better content.

Also whilst on the subject is anchor text still the real king on Google as that is so open to abuse. For example how many benevolent webmasters linking to your site because of your great content are going to use the best anchor text? Some but a lot are just going to put 'click here' or your domain name.

atlantis76




msg:717058
 5:30 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)


Content is the king. Content is the reason the internet is such widely used as it is. Content (and quality) is the buttomline of every business.

However, and it is a big 'However'.. As far as SERPs are concerned, it seems like content is, for Google, say.. 30% of importantce. The other 70% (these numbers are only my estimations, and are not anything scientific) are IBL / PR - which has little to none to do with Content.

Yes, Good content might definitely make webmasters link to you, however, anyone can exchange links, summit his sites to directories, and even utilizing spammy techniques in order to get plenty of IBL that had nothing to do with Content.

I'll appreciate hearing your thoughts on this.
- Assaf.

Galtego




msg:717059
 5:57 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

I believe in the long haul that webmasters should concentrate on improving the quality of their content and search engines should continually improve how they estimate the worthiness of pages. I think Google will improve the way it evaluates on-page factors. Recent changes were aimed at eliminating spam and many innocent sites were taken out in the process. If webmasters keep focused on the quality of their pages, they should win in the long run, especially as Google gets better able to recognize off-page manipulation and more able to appreciate on-page content.

BigDave




msg:717060
 10:39 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

What I'm trying to figure out is whether Google still thinks that or is relying pretty much solely on the princple that if a site has a link to it the content must be good.

Google has never stated that "content is king". Read the original PageRank paper from the Stanford days. Links have always been their method for determining importance.

"Content is king" is about how to make a good robust site that continues to rank well through the various algo changes. It is the advice of other webmasters, not google.

Liane




msg:717061
 12:55 am on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Therefore is it the job of the webmaster to use SEO tecniques to make Google "realise" your site has better content.

To a certain extent, but the content itself will attract users which will in turn attract links ... the "natural" way. The problem is that too many webmasters want instant gratification and some will stop at nothing to get the traffic they think they deserve.

and search engines should continually improve how they estimate the worthiness of pages.

In a perfect world, you are 100% correct. Too bad we don't live in a perfect world! That's why Google counts on links as much as they do. They count on other people to tell them where the popular sites are by linking to them.

Links have always been their method for determining importance. "Content is king" is about how to make a good robust site that continues to rank well through the various algo changes.

Bingo! The more original content you have, the more likely your site will survive almost anything, including major algo changes, because after time, you will accrue many well deserved "on topic" links.

What I have come to realize is that there is no sure fire "quick" way to get to the top and stay there. You have to deliver the goods! Once you do, you will find that everything else seems to fall into place naturally.

That doesn't mean you don't have to know the basics of good web site navigation & writing for the web while still delivering the info your target market wants and needs.

Knowledge is power ... and there is nothing quite as powerful as a really well written, content rich web site! Sites like that are link magnets because they deserve to be!

The key thing the search engines need to work on is figuring out how to determine a "natural linking patterns" versus "unnatural linking patterns".

Once they (the SE's) get that sorted, things will begin to get better for a while until some bright spark reverse engineers that system and they have to start on yet another system.

tlainevool




msg:717062
 1:32 am on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Surfgatinho wrote "I noticed quite a lot of the pages that were ranking well had very little in the way of content."

Page rank has nothing to do with content, it is strictly based on inbound links. However, pagerank is not the only the that determins SERP. You still need content to get a top ranking in the search engines.

I truly believe content is still king. I have 3 web sites, a PR6, a PR5, and one that I just launched a week ago that has already gotten 25,000 hits. I've never paid for a link or advertising. I just provide good content and people link to my sites.

europeforvisitors




msg:717063
 1:36 am on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Bingo! The more original content you have, the more likely your site will survive almost anything, including major algo changes, because after time, you will accrue many well deserved "on topic" links.

You'll also be insulated, at least to some degree, from algorithm changes that hurt some pages but don't harm (or may even help) others.

kwngian




msg:717064
 2:08 am on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

The more original content you have, the more likely your site will survive almost anything, including major algo changes, because after time, you will accrue many well deserved "on topic" links.

Unless Google ranks that the one that copy your content word for word higher than you. Then these "on topic" links will go to them.

lovethecoast




msg:717065
 5:35 am on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is content still king?

Oh yeah -- now more than ever!

Look at all the scrapper sites and "information" sites with no original content appearing in the serps.

ken_b




msg:717066
 6:05 am on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is content still king?

Sometimes yes. Often no, even when the content is exactly what a searcher might be looking for.

It can easily take more than high quality, useful, on target content.

reseller




msg:717067
 7:55 am on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

ken_b

<Sometimes yes. Often no, even when the content is exactly what a searcher might be looking for.>

What do you mean?

europeforvisitors




msg:717068
 5:03 pm on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think ken_b is saying that quality and relevance aren't synonymous.

If you've got a so-so page about redheaded bugslurping woodpeckers, it may rank higher (and probably should rank higher) than a first-rate page about redheaded, blueheaded, and greenheaded bugslurping woodpeckers in a search on "redheaded bugslurping woodpeckers." Why? Because:

1) It's more relevant to the search term; and...

2) Search engines are better at gauging relevance than they are at determining quality.

BigDave




msg:717069
 8:25 pm on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

You also have to remember that it is not a realistic goal for any search engine to try to accurately rank the pages.

What search engines are really trying to do is to satisfy the searcher. All that means is that the searcher finds his answer in the SERPs that he looks at.

It does not have to be the best possible page, it just has to be satisfactory.

Once Google finds satisfactory answers, it is up to you to make your site the *best* satisfactory answer in google's opinion. And it is easiest to do this, and keep them believeing this if the users and other webmasters also believe this to be the case.

In other words "Content is King".

limitup




msg:717070
 8:56 pm on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

The whole "content is king" thing is totally flawed, at least from a ranking standpoint as it relates to many commercial sites.

I have a commercial site that is by far the absolute best in my niche. This is a niche where there just isn't a whole lot of useful content to be provided. I have about 20 pages of "content" on my site and provide as much info/content as anyone could ever care to know.

Others in my niche continue to create artificial "content" because they think that's what they need to do to satisfy certain search engines.

But my site is by far the best, it's the most relevant, I have the best prodcut, and I do more in sales for this particular product than all my "competitors" combined.

In a perfect world my site should definitely be ranked #1 when people search for any keyword related to this product/niche, but that's unlikely to ever happen.

Except in directorties - which I believe are going to be more important going forward than most people realize.

I do not believe that search engines will ever be able to do a much better job than they do now. The big question is whether the majority of web surfers are satisfied, and will continue to be satisfied, with results returned by major SEs.

I think one problem with directories though is the "freshness" factor, which SEs like G absolutely strive for ...

europeforvisitors




msg:717071
 9:43 pm on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

The whole "content is king" thing is totally flawed, at least from a ranking standpoint as it relates to many commercial sites.

That may be true, but don't forget that Google's stated mission is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible." Google doesn't pretend that it can tell people whether abc-widgets.com has better products, selection, or service than xzy-widgets.com. That's a job for specialized shopping engines that offer user reviews and ratings. What Google can try to do is help users find the information they're looking for, whether it's information on 5th Century popes or 21st Century widgets.

limitup




msg:717072
 9:53 pm on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Despite the exact words G uses to state its purpose, I think we can all agree that their #1 priority is providing at least "satisfactory" search results to their users, irregardless of what the user is searching for. All that matters is the users perception of their experience, even more so now than ever.

Google doesn't pretend that it can tell people whether abc-widgets.com has better products, selection, or service than xzy-widgets.com.

No, but rankings imply certain things to a lot of people. If the average Joe types in "buy blue widget" and visits the #1 ranked site, there's a decent chance they will get ripped off, or persuaded to buy an inferior product due to a biased affiliate "review", etc. etc. Obviously this isn't G's fault, but as it happens more and more you have to wonder how this will affect Joe's perception of G ...

If I had to guess, I'd say that less than half of the "content" returned by G for any query has any real value. I just wonder how long this will be acceptable ...

BigDave




msg:717073
 11:01 pm on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

If I had to guess, I'd say that less than half of the "content" returned by G for any query has any real value.

So, I guess you are saying that almost half the "content" returned is good then?

Say, around 4 out of the 10 results on that first page of the SERPs?

Sounds excellent to me.

reseller




msg:717074
 5:42 am on May 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

BigDave

<So, I guess you are saying that almost half the "content" returned is good then?>

I.e 50+ % of the content returned is poor and that doesn´t sound excellent to me :-)

Imagine that your phone directory return 50+ % poor results, would that sound excellent for you too?

Imagine that your Yellow Pages directory return 50+ % poor results, would that sound excellent for you too?

Nikke




msg:717075
 5:49 am on May 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Content will get you a long way, but if you optimize for a specific keyword, it will not get you to the top right now.

Until recently, the SEO I have done has been site based only. In a recent project, I have met the competition of keyword optimized sites for the first time. And, there is a difference in both method and means here.

For most sites, and most searches, i would surely agree that content is king, both for the visitor experience, and for your sites position in SERPs.

However, for keywords where your competition is using doorway pages and heavy keyword optimized sites, loads of good content can actually bring you down in SERPs.

My client is looking for the top position for three major kewords. Lets widgetize them as
1. "widgety widgeting"
2. "widgety widgets" and
3. "widget company".

My mission is to get the top spots for these, AND for combinations with a third word togeather with these ("widgety widgeting gadgets").

For Google, I must admit the results are so-so. The site is stuck on positions 9-11 for A and B. I've got the top spot for C where the competition isn't as hard.

The problem is that the compteting sites are of three kinds.
1. Keyword optimized sites, with pages consisting of almost no content at all. They have the keword in the domain, in the title, in the only mentioned word on the page + have loads of links. Some of these are made by SEO companies and are in fact doorways.
2. Public service sites describing the topic. These sites are old, well linked, content rich and contain some pages with PR 7 or even 8 (even though the pages I'm competing with don't have that much PR).
3. The top spots for both searches are held by large third party directories. Their top positions are well deserved, as these sites are great resources for anyone searching for these terms.

As you can imagine, the pages and sites turning up in the SERPs for searches A and B differ greatly. Since my method has been to get to the top spots using on-site optimization methods, not by optimizing heavily for the specific keywords, our pages have loads of content, and rank beautifully for searches adding a third keyword.

But the fact remains. Content doesn't have to be king. Not if you are optimizing hard for a specific keyword or keyword combination.

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