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Link or Content - Which is the boss?
iamanand




msg:3447251
 12:30 pm on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi,

Today, after we had completed a training session with our new link team, one of the senior trainees informed them that we would be having a debate on the topic "Link or Content - Which is the boss?"

As we all know and have been hearing that content is the king and link is the secondary aspect as regards to SEO, what would you guys opine on this subject in the modern SEO era. Would you go only with quality content or would you concentrate mainly on link building.

Lets share our experiences through this platform.

Anand

 

angiolo




msg:3452609
 10:03 am on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

RE: That is very true, but I think most are missing the point. Without links your valuable content will NOT rank and will NOT be found so others may link to it.

It's not exactly like there.

You can begin with two-three important links ( yahoo directory, dmoz etc.) to be crawled by Google.

If you have good content you can rank in the long tail quite immeditely, ranking fine for three, four keywords phrases in not competitive phrases.
Asap you will get traffic for that phrases you will get natural links...

I think that google rewards traffic as well.

voices




msg:3452627
 10:51 am on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Who *spontaneously* links to a commercial website about widgeting services? Satisfied clients perhaps. But that only a few hundreds at the very best and their own websites are not related to yours -your widgeting clients are not necessarily in the widgeting industry. Blogs and social networking websites have nothing to do with you (no particular link bait)

Good points Sylver. I work for a company that manufactures widgets. We have maybe 5 types of widgets, many of our competitors manufacture 20 types of widgets. Needless to say their sites are larger. There are also many compaies like ours that only make 5 types of widgets. We all pay expensive directories like globalspec for listings.

In the old days the small companies could do on page optimization and easily rank above the big companies. Now it seems like the big companies rank first, just because they are big. So how do you get around that without generating a bunch of useless content to make your site look larger?

gibbergibber




msg:3452728
 1:11 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is a bit like wondering whether the front or the back of a coin is more important.

You need quality content to generate quality links, and quality links to make it worth your while creating quality content.

buckworks




msg:3452807
 2:32 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

You can begin with two-three important links ( yahoo directory, dmoz etc.) to be crawled by Google.

You can certainly submit to DMOZ but it can take years to get listed there. You need a launch strategy that can get rolling without DMOZ.

RandomDot




msg:3452977
 5:12 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Perhaps I am just blind, but doesn't people have any other traffic generating strategies than some ranking in the top10's of the search engines? I'm sorry to say that's really all the search engines are, top10's of all kinds of topics you'd not even think or have thought about searching for anyways.

It's not free traffic, as many claim, because the search engines show ads to the users about your topic and keywords, even before they enter your site. This just adds to the unlikeliness that they will either click on your advertising, which are usually also contextual, as om AdSense, or that they were looking for a product in the first place.

The problem with contextual advertising is, that you provide the exact same advertising as the searcher saw when he found you in the serps. The catch of the different companies advertising strategies and programs are that they are not as such connected to your site, and they can't really be blamed for how you place the ads or so...

Links? Perhaps they doesn't matter as much in the end, if it's just for search engines. Perhaps you should begin looking for how much quality traffic and/or branding effect you will actually get from those links you're paying and placing around on the net, and perhaps you should just disregard the serps and se's adviceand build your site on some other basis than a simple popularity scale.

But then again, I could just be plain dumb.

Sincerely, and have fun,

europeforvisitors




msg:3453010
 5:27 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

In the old days the small companies could do on page optimization and easily rank above the big companies. Now it seems like the big companies rank first, just because they are big. So how do you get around that without generating a bunch of useless content to make your site look larger?

Maybe by investing in a bunch of useful content to make your site look better and attract links?

Like it or not, general search engines exist to help users find information. If you define information as "useless content," then you're probably better off learning how to acquire prospects the old-fashioned way: by advertising.

Bennie




msg:3453450
 3:30 am on Sep 18, 2007 (gmt 0)


It may seem like nonsense if your content doesn't attract links.

Europe for visitors, that is a fair assumption on your behalf. FWIW, my parents build the first site about our Australian state, so I know what content is thanks...

That said, I am an SEO. I get paid to rank sites, not pick up feel good happy moments off content.

My clients have websites of all walks of life. I will use everything at my disposal to rank a website, that is common sense.

Yes content is important, but as a client of mine alluded to in this very thread, all the content in the world won't help you without links. This is very important. Your site would be nothing without links.

EFV, you were very lucky to have been around as the web developed (thats how you got most of your links/exposure), I assure you your site would be dead in the water if you launched it today.

EFV, your experience is just that. When you have launched new content ridden sites to number 1 without links, let me know. I work on client sites day in day out and I can assure you that content is only half the equation, the smaller half too.

Here is a challenge, write a site about Thailand and see if your compelling content will pick up enough links to rank. No linking from your own sites either.

Don't let your (very unique moment in time) experience alter your judgment. It's very hard without old indexed content to link from. That's why a good SEO would be leveraging everything at their disposal for links, and gaining results!

If you want to add a valuable comment to the thread, go build a site from scratch, then rank it and share your experiences. Then tell me that it's all about content, not links.

europeforvisitors




msg:3453540
 6:51 am on Sep 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Bennie, you're resorting to a straw-man argument. I've never said that "it's all about content, not links." Both are obviously important to search rankings. (Indeed, I've said so in this thread.)

Where you and I obviously differ is in how we approach the process of obtaining links. I do it with content; you apparently prefer to beg, swap, or buy. To each his own.

Bennie




msg:3453706
 12:15 pm on Sep 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

No, all I said was you had a rolling start.

narsticle




msg:3455087
 4:48 pm on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

i would say content is more important. You can get ranked high with good content and no links but not for links and 0 content.

trooperbill




msg:3455822
 11:29 am on Sep 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

links are the boss without a doubt! i have pages listed that arent SEO'd that still rank obscenely highly for pretty decent keywords just based on IBL's!

when starting a campaign the first thing i do is an IBL link audit and make sure theyre all on topic!

[edited by: caveman at 5:01 pm (utc) on Sep. 20, 2007]
[edit reason] Removed sig, per TOS [/edit]

europeforvisitors




msg:3456551
 10:27 pm on Sep 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Here's another way of looking at it:

Quality content will attract links, but links won't attract quality content.

caveman




msg:3456595
 11:37 pm on Sep 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

And another still:

There is a direct correlation between backlinks and rankings.

There is no direct correlation between "quality content" (whatever that is), and rankings.

;-)

angiolo




msg:3456909
 12:19 pm on Sep 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

> There is no direct correlation between "quality content" (whatever that is), and rankings.

For my experience it's the opposite: there is a direct correlation.
You need some good links as a starter, but afterward you gain links naturally and subsequently you gain ranking.

It's better to work a lot at the beginning, providing content, that fighting every day looking for new links...

An example is wikipedia itself.....

Other classical examples are travel guides.
Do it offering deep content...

Sylver




msg:3457072
 1:15 pm on Sep 21, 2007 (gmt 0)


Here's another way of looking at it:
Quality content will attract links, but links won't attract quality content.

Actually, there are many instances where good links will attract quality content. (Assuming that by link we mean real links, from well visited web pages with good ranking)

Take message boards. A large number of links drive a large number of people to the website. These people start posting. Due to the volume of traffic, the number of posting increases, questions are answered fast and users give valuable content* for free.

Take a technical blog. Given enough links, people will leave comments, positive or negative, and will debate the finer points of the issue. What was originally a general technical blog post on a well-known issue (=nothing special) ends up with a load of technical data in the comments. You will have noticed that many blog articles are only marginally interesting but contain a gold mine of infos in the comments.

Take a travel website allowing readers to comment/rate/review hotels, golf courses,... -user input is pure gold for a fellow traveller.

Any website which accepts user input will see it's valuable content increase along with the number of links.

Links & Content are both vital. If the content really sucks, getting links is a pipedream (nobody links to crap). Given average content however, links can turn an otherwise uninformative website into a success.

-------------
*The value of content is related to what visitors are looking for. Visitors on the lookout for informal chit-chat will find volume mindless chitchat to be extremely good content, while a brillant thesis on the chelation process of heavy metals from the blood will be glanced over for about 3 secs before 90% of the visitors click on the back button.

europeforvisitors




msg:3457186
 2:41 pm on Sep 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sylver, I'm aware that message boards and blogs attract donated content, but it isn't the links that are attracting "quality content": It's the existing content on the sites.

Still, we could argue the chicken-or-egg question forever. In the real world, content and links are important, and the answer to the question of which is more important is likely to be determined by the nature of the site and the owner's skills.

caveman




msg:3457297
 4:14 pm on Sep 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

> There is no direct correlation between "quality content" (whatever that is), and rankings.

For my experience it's the opposite: there is a direct correlation.
You need some good links as a starter, but afterward you gain links naturally and subsequently you gain ranking.

Hehe, don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of unique, quality content. It is, IMHO, what distinguishes great sites from all others over time. The first post I made in this thread equated content and links to milk and cookies.

But how one feels about quality content is not the subject of the thread really. At least as I see it.

I'll assume that -- until the OP says otherwise -- the question: "Which is the boss?" relates to rankings. Well, "content is king" is a fine old saw, and I've repeated it many times myself. Just the other day, someone I greatly respect repeated it several times in a single post.

But like it or not, there IS a direct correlatlion between links and rankings. None of us knows the exact formula at each SE, but pretty much the more links a site gets, the better it ranks. Yes, yes, relavance, proximity, percentages, all matter. But still, generally the more links the better.

On the flip side, there is little or no direct correlation between quality content and rankings because the SE's cannot easily identify quality content algorimically, and their number one tool for identifying the signals of quality they are looking for is: You guessed it! Links. So as a result, there are lots of sites out there with fabulous, unique content, that don't rank well, or don't rank at all...because they have not done a good job of obtaining links. That is especially true of sites launched in the last two or three years, and sites run by people who create their content from passion, but don't really know much about SEO or link dev.

Sorry kids. You NEED links to rank. You don't need great content. If that were untrue, there would be very little spam on the Web.

Hey, maybe someday the SE's will help make our dreams come true, and great content will rule the SERP's. But for now, there is the world as we would like it to be, and there is the world that is.

Personally, I prefer realism to wishfulness. So the reason that I insist on great content for our sites is NOT that we NEED it, but that it helps us outrank the sites that have great backlinks and "me too" content ... who are outranking all the sites with great content but weak backlink profiles. ;-)

Which is king? Forced to make a choice as the OP insists we do, and with all due respect to great content, it's a no brainer.

erikvlie




msg:3457945
 12:44 pm on Sep 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone,

I've been lurking for quite a whileon these forums, and I always see that content is king. It's almost as if professional webmasters want us to believe the adage "If you build it, they will come".

My experience --struggle if you will-- is that you can write the best content in the world, and really try your hardest and never get anywhere. My idea would therefore be that links are king, not necessarily content.

Or you should call those nonsense reviews (yeah, right) on e-commerce sites that I see everywhere high-quality content...

I would even go a step further: I am slowly coming to the conclusion that if you don't have a budget to aggressively promote your web site, you will have a hard time attracting enough visitors to cover your server expenses.

The Contractor




msg:3457956
 1:27 pm on Sep 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

But how one feels about quality content is not the subject of the thread really. At least as I see it.

Agree, the original question is "which is boss"? It doesn't matter what content you have if you do not have links...it's not going to rank....period. If you stick to the OP question "links are boss".

Why not take Googles opinion on what gets a site ranking:

In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.

Taken from this page [google.com].

europeforvisitors




msg:3458389
 3:14 am on Sep 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Why not take Googles opinion on what gets a site ranking:

Sorry, but that doesn't answer the question of "which is boss," because one can argue (as many here have argued) that content is what attracts quality links.

Face it: The original post was a troll, and we all fell for it. :-)

The Contractor




msg:3458565
 1:15 pm on Sep 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sorry, but that doesn't answer the question of "which is boss," because one can argue (as many here have argued) that content is what attracts quality links.

One could argue it, but it's a foolish argument. How is the great content going to be found to attract quality links if the content is excluded from search engine results?

Ok, EFV...I say we do a test. Google already knows and has indexed all your content. Go get all your backlinks removed by contacting site owners and see if your content still ranks...hehe
Just think what happens to a new site that has great content, but no links.

I understand the need of good/great content, but the fact remains, without backlinks great content is going nowhere. With good links, marginal or poor content will rank, so that should tell you which is boss.

[edited by: The_Contractor at 1:16 pm (utc) on Sep. 23, 2007]

Bennie




msg:3458984
 6:46 am on Sep 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Caveman, spot on and nicely stated.

EFV, I think you just can't handle getting outranked by links, face it - it's called SEO, not build it and they will come.

The OP was a good one and I really think new site owners better re-read the whole thread and think between the lines, there are some gems in here for those that are sharp.

King_Fisher




msg:3458991
 7:15 am on Sep 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't know which is king or boss. I always view them like Siamese twins.
One cant go anywhere without the other!...KF

[edited by: King_Fisher at 7:16 am (utc) on Sep. 24, 2007]

voices




msg:3459118
 11:06 am on Sep 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

I understand the need of good/great content, but the fact remains, without backlinks great content is going nowhere. With good links, marginal or poor content will rank, so that should tell you which is boss.

I agree. The engines aren't doing a good job ranking sites. I want the most up to date info, new sites should not be buried just because they are new. The algos are more about keeping out spam than about finding good sites.

reprint




msg:3459419
 6:11 pm on Sep 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Would we be having this discussion if we were talking about a brick and mortar business?

If you open a restaurant and have average food (content) but are in a high traffic area e.g. busy road (lots of links), then you can succeed due to sheer volume

If you open a restaurant and have very high quality food (content) but in a low traffic area e.g cul de sac, then you are going to have to do a lot of marketing initially and over time quality food will bring traffic and grow the business.

In the first scenario, its easy to run the business initially but harder to grow later unless you start improving the food.
In the second its harder to get off the ground but greater potential to grow.

Ask yourself which one will a food critic write about? Which chef might be featured on tv?

The best of both worlds is of course high quality food in a high traffic area.
A lot of what we do is governed by the rules of business that exist in the offline world. A good grasp of those will help guide your way online

The Contractor




msg:3459553
 8:48 pm on Sep 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

you are going to have to do a lot of marketing initially and over time quality food will bring traffic and grow the business.

Would that marketing be advertising? Would that include phone book, advertising in a restaurant guide, local coupons etc? hmm....sounds a lot like brick and morters need links too....they need links from phone books, restaurant guides, local coupon flyers etc.

As you can see, brick and morters need links too.

reprint




msg:3459801
 1:48 am on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

contractor: exactly. a business is a business is a business. business fundamentals don't disappear just because its on the internet. Links drive the bodies in the door and good content keeps them coming back. Good content will also then result in good referrals (links) to your business.

vsurlan




msg:3476949
 11:06 pm on Oct 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Seems like everyone sees only two variables: content and links. What about the most unconstant of all variables? Time.

So if you see it like this:

superb content + lowsy links + time =?
lowsy content + superb links + time =?

Now we add an SEO expert:

superb content + lowsy links + time + SEO =?
lowsy content + superb links + time + SEO =?

It turns out that in the long run, which life will be for some of us, content is the king.

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