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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.
It's all about circumstances. Although algorithms have changed basically since the beginning of this millennium the formula remains the same with a shift towards more weight on links (which will eventually give way to quality content as users begin voting on their experiences with sites and their votes get factored into rankings, but don't forget users will still have to find your site in the first place to vote) Now take the following quiz to test your skills.
Circumstance #1 New site owner has neither content or links, what does he do now to get off the ground?
A. He starts writing content.
B. He buys a Yahoo Directory link among other QUALITY directory links.
C. He continues to write content and solicit links from related sites.
E. Begins PPC campaign to gain exposure to his wonderful content.
F. All of the above.
Circumstance #2 New site owner bought old domain.tld with lots of existing inbound links. What does he do now?
A. He starts writing content about the subject the old site had.
B. He hires others to write about the subject.
C. He stays up really late making more content and link bait.
D. All of the above
Circumstance #3 New site owner bought quality website with quality content from old webmaster who failed to succeed. What does he do now?
A. Begin to solicit other webmasters for links in related fields.
B. Begin PPC campaign to gain exposure to his wonderful content.
C. He buys a Yahoo Directory link among other QUALITY directory links.
D. All of the above.
Circumstance #1 F. All of the above
Circumstance #2 D. All of the above
Circumstance #3 D. All of the above
In general, if you are planning for long term Sustainable Rankings, then CONTENT is the king. (Great content will naturally get links)
but for short term rankings, links certainly beat Content.
I have been running a site since last years and I havn't done any link exchange and still my site has been in top 10 positions since 2 years and ranking improving continuously.
this doesn't mean that you don't need links. the summary is develop GREAT CONTENT..it will automatically generate natural links for you..
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
There is an assumption in Caveman's post that there is some great content out there not being found due to inadequate links, and I fear he might be right. Linking is very, very important. A subject matter expert who is building a website would do well to turn to an SEO firm who can explain effective linking.
But, I remain convinced that solid content is the base to moderate and long-term success. We have all had problems with the spammers at one time or another, but in my experience they come and they go, usually in a matter of months.
Also, I have to say that it does appear that a domain name in context to the subject seems to have a powerful influence as well, but you have to wonder if that is just a factor of focused content from the beginning.
I have sites that have been around for years for which we do zero link building. Don't need to...now. They rank, they pick up new links regularly, we add content as we have something to say. We rank for more terms. Life is good.
Then there are newer sites that get scrutinzed in ways older sites never dealt with. Five years ago, new sites could rank almost solely on the basis of their content, assuming they got a kick start wtih a Yahoo directory listing, or ODP, etc.
Today, not only is it much harder to rank when you're new, but you need to build links in the right way. Failure to do that will not only slow you down, I've even seen some new sites appear to suffer because their link patterns were too "spikey". Ugh.
In a world where -- even for many SEO's -- link dev is the bain of their existence, I really feel the pain of the mom and pop's who don't understand much of what people in here know.
And sure there are always new sites out there that get good links right out of the gate, by virtue of their stellar content, and more often as a result of their clever link baiting ... which often has very little to do with creating really great content, BTW.
Meanwhile, how many times have I read threads from new Webmasters noting the Catch-22 of not being able to get links because their sites don't rank and/or have no TBPR ... and because they can't get links, they can't rank or raise their TBPR.
Ironically, there IS one thing that the community itself could do, but isn't doing much any more: Freely link to good content, especially on smaller and mid-sized sites ... regardless of their TBPR. Misinformed site owners are too often afraid to link to good content on PR0 or PR1 or PR2 pages. Everyone has to get over that, and remember that if we all want to see better content reappearig in the SERP's, linking to it will help.
There is an assumption in Caveman's post that there is some great content out there not being found due to inadequate links, and I fear he might be right.
There is no doubt about it. If you have great content it will not be found and will not rank without links. It's the single largest flaw in algos from all major search engines. Why do you think you see so many marginal sites/pages coming up in serps? They have links...
I hope those with "great content" do not confuse they are ranking well because of it...it's a matter of links, then page optimization and content, not the other way around. If it wasn't that way, why do I see so many marginal if not downright awful pages ranking so highly? Why do I see so many truly informative and "just what I'm looking for" pages buried in the serps?
(if that makes any sense)
there IS one thing that the community itself could do, but isn't doing much any more: Freely link to good content, especially on smaller and mid-sized sites ...
Some people (I'm one of them) believe that linking out to relevant material is one of those factors that helps to please the algo.
When you link out, don't just link to the sites you find that are already ranking well. That only helps the rich get richer. Do some digging and find some undiscovered gems to link to as well.
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?
It isn't only the "webmaster demographic" that soes linking. The most valuable links are likely to come from the "editorial and librarian demographic." If your new real-time cruise-fare auction site or your site about the new Rat-Away Room Fragrance and Rodent Repellent System gets a link from THE NEW YORK TIMES or GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, the link was supplied by a writer or editor--not by a Webmaster. And if the University of Elbonia Library links to your Elbonian translation of "Beowulf," the link is being supplied by a librarian or some other academic at UE. What's more, you won't get those links by begging, reciprocating, or buying--you'll get them by having a useful site and, possibly, by building awareness of that site through public relations (which isn't the same as soliciting links).
So in terms of what matters most - it's content. And by content I mean great content and a great website. I love seeing 10 page site owners wanting to rank top for competitive terms. Not going to happen unless your buying links.
So, yeah, content is king cause without it your nowhere.
Links only come with content.
You only need the barebone basics of content if we are talking Which is the Boss? You can build a 10-20 page site with sub-standard content. Then go out on your link buying spree. Within a very short time period, you will most likely begin to see results.
But, it is short lived. You have to rinse and repeat to get the continued desired effect. With most of the major search engines, links can be boss for a little while. For long term success, the content needs to be there to garner the long term links. No rinse and repeat required. :)
For an individual site, success may not be long-lived. But quality content has a hard time competing with mega-linked pages of schlock.
Sorry Europe for Visitors, this is plain nonsense.
It's certainly not nonsense.
Content is what attracts solid, unsolicited links coming in on a regular basis, which push you up in the serps until you're number one. Sure, you can finagle cross-links with a lot of other sites that are doing the same thing, and have good listings for a while, but it often goes down the tubes in an algo change, takes all of you out, and then we read desparate posts here asking why you've suddenly disappeared.
Content is what attracts solid, unsolicited links coming in on a regular basis,
This does not ONLY pertain to PAID links, which most seems to have a problem with. I see VERY marginal content ranking from links within their own network - related or unrelated to the content and also reciprocal links.
Search engines like Google want it both ways. They tell people to build useful websites for the user, but then of course the site will never be found. They state not to buy links and are now stating be careful of reciprocal links. What is a person to do? Oh, they provide the solution....AdWords.
What bothers me is if you do a search for almost anything and take a look at the ads in the right column it looks like spam to me. Meaning, if I took each ad with the EXACT title, description, and URL, then placed those all in a directory as listings in a category on the same keyword subject it would look like a complete spam directory and would go nowhere in Google. It's a double standard that website owners need to learn to live with. Don't rely on SE's to give you objective information.
If you have a general blog/informational website, people will freely link to it based on the quality of the content, and you will pick up links as you go along. (=content is king)
But it would be a mistake to think that because this applies to general blogs and informational websites, it will apply to all websites. This is not, IMHO, the case:
Let say you sell services. Now, what is good content? Is it having a whole bunch of articles about your trade? Or is it having a great description of your services, excellent references/showcase... of what you can do for the customer? Honestly, the visitor looking for a widgeting service doesn't really care much about the intricacies of widgeting. What he wants to know is:
* How much his widgeting project will cost
* Who you are
* How you ensure quality widgeting
* What are your references
* How to order / contact you
Of course, some articles (demonstrating your competence/knowledge of widgeting) could be of interest, but that's fairly limited in terms of interest. If the client really wanted to study widgeting, he would read the wickipedia entry on widgeting, contact the world institute of widgeting,... However valuable these data could be, that's not what he wants. He wants to hire someone for his widgeting needs.
Suppose you have top of the line widegting services, and have all the data the potential client wants to take a decision on whether to use you or not, I would say you have exactly the content required. Problem is, this is not the kind of content that gets linked to.
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)
So, just how is good (=adequate) content going to get you anywhere in the SERPs? it isn't. Should you spend a lot of work writing about the intricaties of widgeting, to the point your clients wonder if you are a service provider or a widgeting encyclopedia, in the hope that a widgeting websites might give you links?
And even if you did, would they give you those links? You are a commercial website with a specialized services. Your best would-be link partners are competitors who may enjoy learning how you do widgeting but are not interested linking to you.
In this case, content will not attract people anywhere near the rate required to get anyplace. Links and marketing will, but content is a dead horse.
So in my opinion, this is not simply a matter of links versus content, but a matter of assessment of the website and it's market. Depending on the type of site and the topic, the strategy to adopt is very different.
A gossipy blog about the latest scandals will do very well through social network and blogs and viral marketing. Get the juicy bits ahead of time, a few sexy pics and some sleazy comments and you are all set to collect a quazillion links without ever asking for one.
For my widgeting website, it doesn't work that way. My clients aside, why would anyone recommend my widgeting services?
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.
Yes, but you won't get the links if there's nothing for people to link to. And you won't get organic, high-value links if your content is mediocre.
Fact is, you need good content and good links, and which is "boss" probably depends on your own skills. (If you come from an SEO or a marketing background, you're probably better at getting links than at creating content; if you come from an editorial and publishing background, you've been earning your living with the premise that content is king.)