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Our mail "headache" is our colleague <snip> - two years ago, they was not a serius competitor, but the past year has seen them rocketing up in the search engines (mainly google) and it seems to us, that their traffic has increased much more than ours. I know for sure, that their strategy is NOT on high quality content but on having many new visitors come in from search engines.
We use the Joomla CMS with a lot of dynamic php-content for our site and our competitor is a "hand coded" page with a lot of static html.
I'm beginning to have serious doubts wether or not content really is "king" - right now, a sarcastic comment from my would be, that we obviously can have all the content and but still not be "the king" of our business.
Please let me know if you have either comments on the matter or - even better - if you can have a look at our sites to see if we're doing something really wrong.
[edited by: rogerd at 2:22 pm (utc) on Dec. 26, 2005]
[edit reason] No URLs or specifics, please [/edit]
The other thing I have learned is that having a lot of content impresses a small group of people who do indeed have money to spend but don't want it thrown away on trash. They want their merchant to know what s/he's doing. Having plenty of original content helps create that impression. I am sure that I get more buyers who are in business themselves than my competitors do. In fact, some of my competitors buy from me. I still have to learn how best to exploit this, though.
Linkage from other sites is important - have you compared your inbound links to your competitors? How does your toolbar PageRank compare? If they have many more links, or better links, they can outperform you with less quality content.
Also, check your site's own optimization - are the pages well-designed for your keywords? On-page optimization still helps. Does your internal linkage support your keywords with appropriate anchor text? Are you using the search engine friendly URLs feature?
Content is great, but if you are in a competitive situation you'll have to have more than just content working for you.
I could dump 75% of my traffic and it would not make even the slightest difference to my biz because on the pages these visitors go to i have no conversion event for them (and probably never will).
One point that hasn't brought up is whether or not you performed any (or sufficient) audience analysis as part of your content plan.
You might be adding article upon article to your site, but if they're not written expressly for your audience (which includes addressing its specific needs and not just what you assume is important to it) then you'll find that content won't produce the results you want.
So I'd say that content still remains, and will always remain, king. Just not any content.