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Link or Content - Which is the boss?

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

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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

8:54 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Short term perspective: Links.
Long term perspective: Fresh, unique, original, useful content.

The reasoning behind this answer is - without content you basically have nothing to link to. Once all (formerly) useful sites have become parked sites, users will just look for that little bit of variety, that little bit of difference. They will find this only (really!) on sites that offer fresh, unique, original, useful content. You can link to (or receive links from) whereever you want. Without content the web is dead.

And yes, I am beginning to see tendencies towards such a situation right now, with parked pages galore, domain names that go unused, gazillons of sites that offer zero additinal value to surfers. All this will die long-term, because end consumers will be fed up with it. The only way out is to have unique content.

9:18 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Content is king is speaking of make an investment in time and money to provide a higher quality of information for a good user experience.

Ah, if only that were true in the real world. ;-) Unfortunately that sentiment reminds me of SE's telling everyone to just do what's best for users. Puhleeease. Hehe.

The problem is, the algos still going strong today put a very, very heavy emphasis on links. So much so that, as the war on spam intensified several years ago, lots of very high quality mom and pop sites got blasted out of the SERP's for lack of links.

And the problem is currently worse than ever, because most site owners are so stingy with doling out those little gems. In today's world, you can't reciproate, can't beg, and can't buy. Man o man o man...what's a little site to do, really? Keep working like crazy in hopes that the world will notice? Just because you build it, that doesn't mean they will come.

Strip wikipedia and about 10 other mega sites out of the SERP's and the SERP's would look ENTIRELY different. Huge sites with massive link-based authority dominate today's search landscape.

Wish it wasn't so, but personally, I try and deal with the real world, rather than a hopeful reality that only I wish was so. :P

9:19 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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MB, you're too far away to pinch, but

Pinch me, is content no longer king?

I'm sure everyone participating in this thread is better at SEO than I am, but so far terrible at metaphors and the theory of monarchies. So as the resident historian (at least the resident historian of early-modern Europe anyway):


Content is King.
Links are the King's clothes.

That is to say, content creates the substance, clothing lends the aura of authority.

That's still not the best metaphor. The appropriate historical metaphor would appeal to the king's "two bodies" as per one of the most classic studies on the nature of kingship, The King's Two Bodies, by Kantorwicz [press.princeton.edu].

In brief, the king has his physical body (content) which is what gives the king a physical, personal presence to sit before you like any other guy, but without the king's spiritual body (links) the king has no authority, no divine aura of kingship.

It is the combination of both in the person of the king that enables the king to rule. Somehow, though "Content is the King's physical body" makes a good metaphor, it makes a crappy slogan.

9:23 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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So that's what happens when you spend too much time in the woods. ;-)

<Ducks and runs for cover into the cave>

9:25 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What about a sector full of duplicate content, such as hotels, or travel.

Links, links, links. Then make more content (if you must) after you have outranked those with the same content.

Ultimately it's a balance between the two, and every industry is different.

Also like blend27's suggestion, domain name, then links, then content. If you have the domain, your content will stand a much higher change of outranking. Domains, the links is the real secret.

9:28 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Content is King
Linkage is Queen

Structure (relevance) is the ace.

Sometimes you can rent a queen to create the appearance of a happy family, then slowly move the queen out of the castle until a new, more relevant more permanent queen comes along..ah forget it..

10:27 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If you have quality, unique content, the links will come.

It'll take a little marketing on your part to get those links and traffic, but that's the same as any business, on-line or off-line.

[edited by: caveman at 10:51 pm (utc) on Sep. 13, 2007]

10:33 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Links are better at the moment, but the tide is turning IMO.

The way I see it, content ultimately decides user behaviour, and user behaviour will eventually dictate the SERPS. It's just that the algos aren't good enough to do that right now.

10:35 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Link or Content - Which is the boss?

Both, more of each is better. Ultimately, traffic is king.

11:03 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Content is king, always has been, always will be.

Build a site on link/PR value and one morning you wake up to find the algo changed, your links are no longer the type of links Google prefers and your site, for all intensive purposes is dead.

Here's a link for your traffic "built on links" site:

<a href="http://www.mfa-ppc-spam-affiliate-example.tld/">Site with no content</a> - please visit and click one of our paid links when you realize we have nothing else to offer.

Long live the king.

[edited by: caveman at 11:49 pm (utc) on Sep. 13, 2007]

11:13 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Content is King
Linkage is Queen
Structure (relevance) is the ace.

Not to mention a fanatical devotion to the pope.

(Honestly, if you read this item through from the beginning, it scans like the Spanish Inquisition sketch)

11:48 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hehe, let's try and keep the topic focused on "Link or Content" and avoid discussion of specific search engines please. Thanks.
11:57 pm on Sept 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What about a sector full of duplicate content, such as hotels, or travel.
Links, links, links. Then make more content (if you must) after you have outranked those with the same content.

That may have been true (to some degree) three or four years ago. It's far less true today.

12:03 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Without serious links a new site's content doesnt even get indexed nowdays!
12:11 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There are some interesting cross-currents in here.

Anyone think the discussion changes depending upon how old the site is? (Not talking about bought and repurposed sites; just new sites versus sites that have been around for a while.)

Or, perhaps it's sites that are not ranking, versus those that have at least some traction in the SERP's?

12:36 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Anyone think the discussion changes depending upon how old the site is?

Absolutely. Of my sites that are doing particularly well, the newest one is 2003, and the oldest is 1994. That definitely helps. I've had a few newer sites shoot to the top with no links, but usually that's for an *extremely* narrow niche.

12:48 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Without serious links a new site's content doesnt even get indexed nowdays!

Yes it does, I had it happen. The only link was the one I sent the owner in the email. Don't know that the site would actually rank for anything, but it was listed in the serps.

Now that many types of links are considered evil, or just don't count anymore, what's the next big thing?

Links are like a popularity contest and we all know the most popular isn't always the best. We know that age has nothing to do with quality, there is lots of old junk out there. I have lots of old junk out there that I would like to get rid of, I don't have time to do anything with it, but I keep it cause the engines say old is good.

What do you think the next measure of quality will be after links and content?

1:08 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What do you think the next measure of quality will be after links and content?

People. iGoogle. Personalized Search.

Links and Content.
Content and Links.

For me, it would be the "right" balance of both. Either or can be the boss depending on the circumstances.

1:56 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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In today's world, you can't reciproate, can't beg, and can't buy.
-caveman

Says who?

(Yes, that's a loaded question to make you name a certain engine --- one that has been mentioned in this thread 7 times while no other engine has been mentioned at all --- even though YOU asked people to keep this "general")...

2:39 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Links might have more influence at the moment, but there's not a shred of doubt in my mind that content is a king who'll soon be back to stay and won't go anywhere for a long long time.
4:02 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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that's a loaded question to make you name a certain engine

Shooting blanks. ;)

caveman's statement covers all the search engines. Attend a presentation from Y,MSN, or ASK and you'll hear the same mantra. More so if you speak to the engineers or reps in person. How links apply to the different algos differs, but in the end it's still a game of links (and content) regardless of what engine we're discussing.

[edited by: martinibuster at 4:05 am (utc) on Sep. 14, 2007]

4:05 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You guys have forgotten that Kings are actually ruled by their Queens anyway.

:)

If you look at the process...

Structure and spiderability come first
Unique content gets put into an accessible semantic structure
Linking and link anchor text cause ranking to increase

4:05 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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In today's world, you can't reciproate, can't beg, and can't buy.

You don't have to reciprocate, beg, or buy if you have a site that people will want to link to because of its content, its unique functionality, or some other good reason.

Webmasters link to other sites--including e-commerce and other business sites--for organic reasons every day.

4:07 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You don't have to reciprocate, beg, or buy... Webmasters link to other sites--including e-commerce and other business sites--for organic reasons every day.

Right, but you have to expose your brand and content in a positive way to the webmasters who are doing the linking so they take notice.

Let's see, without begging, reciprocating, or buying, how can I expose my website brand in a positive light to the webmaster demographic that is linking to sites? Hmmm... (taps fingers on desk).

4:30 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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the only way by which you can get good links is content and with out links you will not get the rankings you want i think links and content both are equally important in seo.
6:02 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Says who?
(Yes, that's a loaded question to make you name a certain engine --- one that has been mentioned in this thread 7 times while no other engine has been mentioned at all --- even though YOU asked people to keep this "general")...

We're in the General Search Engine Promotion and Marketing Issues forum, addressing the OP's question, which was SE-neutral. Comments especially in the form of rants about one SE serve no useful purpose and do not constructively advance the discussion. We all know the market shares of the engines and the differences between them. But Webmasters need to make choices about sites, even if one engine is most often top of mind.

One of the most common issues Webmasters face is allocation of resources. And one of the most common questions I hear has do with content creation versus link building and marketing. I feel the pain felt by those asking that question. Been there, done that.

You don't have to reciprocate, beg, or buy if you have a site that people will want to link to because of its content, its unique functionality, or some other good reason.

EFV, your comment is IMHO not without merit, but it comes from a very narrow perspective; that of a site owner who already enjoys good multi-engine rankings by virtue of running a well aged, with above average content.

I'll buy into the fact that sites with good content, that ALREADY rank, tend to get a nice array of new, varied, valuable links as time goes on. Why is that? Ummm, because they already rank. Hence they get found, and people link to them.

That was the motivation behind my later post asking if, "Anyone think(s) the discussion changes depending upon how old the site is? Or, perhaps it's sites that are not ranking, versus those that have at least some traction in the SERP's?"

One of the worst things to happen to search engines IMO was the heavy move to links-based algo's, and the effort to identify "authoritative" links. Not that it was a bad idea. But for those who where watching the search landscape over the last seven or eight years as the SE's moved to more links-based screening criteria, something dreadful was going on. Small and medium sized sites, including some exceptional ones, starting falling out of the SERP's either because they did not have enough links, or because they mainly traded links with similar sites (recips), or because they lacked proximity to core crawl starting points, or because they did not have enough links from "relavant" sites in their "neighborhood".

And what was happening while all those little gems were getting buried? Mega sites started dominating the SERP's. Honestly I don't need the SE's to find wikipedia, or CNN, etc. I do need help finding nice little gems of sites created by hobbyists, afficionados, college professors, librarians, artists, and so on, who used to rank, but whose only crime in today's environment is precisely that of creating content for users without understanding site architecture, algorithms, or link baiting.

I feel really sorry for the new Webmaster launching a new site today, no matter how high the quality. Short of miraculous content, a new social media app, or better pictures of Paris than anyone else has, it's an increasingly long, hard road. Or, they can hire an expensive SEO consultant. Just ain't right.

Links baby. For the new site owner today, it's all about links. Don't kid yourself.

[edited by: caveman at 6:13 am (utc) on Sep. 14, 2007]

6:11 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Relevance? Actually, it's usually the relevant offtopic articles which always seems to draw everybodys attention and fascination when it comes down to it. Most people aren't searching for some commercial "buy this now, and feel dumb tomorrow" they're usually searching for either unbiased information or something they didn't actually know about before. It's usually that or something naughty and unmentionable.

Keywords? What do you need keywords for? That's like... ehrm, something people cared about in 1999 when Altavista was the big hit and meta tags was the keyword stuffing hit of the week, and google was just something those really strange nerds used. (but it was fun with people almost making legal cases out of their meta keywords if somebody did some copy/paste)

Domain name? - Yah, whatever, can you brand it and use it for a more or less serious business or is it just.... whatever, more money for the domain registrars?

What kind of Content? - Now, what business are you in - entertainment, information, goods or services? People don't care about your 20 page description of a product. A picture and a short, fairly objective description of the product will do. Services? Cool. Tell us exactly what you can provide - and how much it will cost. That's quality contents there. Entertainment? - Okay, that requires a fair amount of conceptuality and creativity on the subject. Information? You're in for some heavy competition, but you can beat wikipedia on any topic if you bother doing it better and more wide ranged.

Anyways, aren't search engines going to be a thing of the past when those social medias really hit the market and takes its bite?

There's my 6 cents (inflation, you know, bad economy for the u.s and all)

Sincerely, and have fun,

7:01 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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good Content can make more link,but good link just a link if without content!
7:19 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I would say: whichever is your weakness is king.

In my case, I am good at writing content: this is not my opinion I have got feedback from people who write for some of the biggest sites in my niche.

My (one man) site suffers from lack of links, because I am not good at link building. So, for me links are more important, because they will make more difference right now.

Some people are great at building sites and SEO, but not at writing content to go on the pages.They have the opposite problem to mine.

That said, enough links will make up for bad content. There is one site in a similar niche to mine (same subject, different country) that uses a domain that used to have very good content and a lot of incoming links. Even though it now has fairly bad content on it, it still gets a lot of traffic (according to Alexa, but Alexa seems to be pretty accurate for sites in my niche).

8:15 am on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Content is always good, but it's not even close in importance to links because:

1. Numerous websites with average or below average content have great rankings (inbound link popularity) and make a very nice profit.
2. Numerous websites with excellent, informative, valuable original content, have low rankings (inbound link popularity) and make very little or no profit.
3. Re-read all of caveman's posts.

And if everyone equates the purpose of a business with making a profit for the owner/s (which I hope is a common belief), great content will always be a "nice addition" to improve value for visitors and website/company reputation... as opposed to great links which are "critical" because they provide rankings which turn into visitors which result in food on the table for the business owner/s.

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