Is Content Still King?
“Content is King!”. It’s the ad nauseum, knee-jerk mantra being chanted by SEO professionals around the world. “Write more relevant content! Make awesome content!”. But is content still king, or are we just spinning our tires?
Great Content is Not Enough.
Just having interesting content is not enough in and of itself. You could spend hours developing the best content in your niche and still never crack the top 10 rankings. Strong content is a wonderful foundation to start from, but even mediocre content with a more powerful back link profile can and will outrank you.
No, content alone does not rule the proverbial kingdom. But don’t go writing any eulogies just yet.
You Still Need Great Content!
Wham! A complete 180! The fact of the matter is that despite everything I just said, it’s still well worth it to invest in your content. In short,
- Search engines (still) use content.
Search engines evaluate the keywords used throughout your content, title tags and links to determine if your website is relevant to those phrases.Choosing the right keywords and drafting highly relevant content is still what a SEO campaign should be built on. But if you stop there, more often than not you will lose.
- Human users use content.
Well written content will drive sales, create leads and more importantly for SEO, foster engagement.Your rankings are in part determined by what happens while users are on your site, including:
- Bounce rates & time on site. Are people coming to your site and leaving immediately when they don’t like what they see, or are they spending quality time with your content?
- Click-through rates. Compelling title tags and meta-descriptions entice clicks and show engines you are the most relevant result. If you’re #1 ranking isn’t being clicked, that’s bad.
- Shares, “Likes” and “+1’s”. While studies thus far show only correlation relationships between rankings and social media sharing, it makes good sense that search engines would want to promote the content human users like.
- Generating links. This is the big one!
Don’t Just Build It. Share it.
There’s arguably no greater strategy for acquiring powerful links than creating content worth linking to and getting it to the right people.This is, in my opinion, the most compelling reason to invest in your content.
The most common reasons that “great content” strategies fail is because most people have a lazy, “If you build it they will come” attitude or they just blindly create what they think will be “awesome” content. In reality, the relationship is circular:
- To create great content, you must understand your market’s needs and “hot buttons”.
- To impact your rankings, that great content needs to get links.
- To get links, you need a well thought out strategy for sharing that content.
- To effectively share that content, you need to engage with your market.
- To engage with your market, you need to understand who they are and what they need.
While it might be a bit overly simplified, that’s the core of the process.
No Kings, Only Components.
Unique, compelling content is a foundation for relevance and a means to great links. The natural question is, does that mean links are the new king? I’d argue a firm “no.” While they’re unquestionably the strongest ranking factor, in isolation they too will fail.
- Without relevant content to link to, your links will be less effective and much harder to acquire. People link to what they find valuable.
- Without links, your great content won’t rank.
- Without a proper site structure, great links and strong content can both be rendered worthless.
As with all things, I’m sure there exceptions to all of the above. But it’s time to stop looking for one dominant SEO factor and instead start seeing it as a holistic process. There are no “Kings” in SEO, only components. All the pieces of your SEO strategy should support the whole, but any one factor without the others will fail to be as effective as they could be.
Invest in a holistic SEO approach – don’t cut corners, make compromises or look for shortcuts!