Website Content vs. Backlinks…

I often here that building back links is the most important activity to pursue in order to boost your website rankings.  I disagree with this statement, and want to have a brief discussion on it to get your thoughts.

But first, I just wanted to say “THANK YOU!” to everyone who posted your advice on my last post about my new software…over 2 dozen comments!  At this point I still have not made a final decision whether to give it away for free or charge for the beta version or give it away as part of my new course.  However, I am learning towards giving it away for free right now to be used as a promotional method of getting me more contacts and letting the internet marketing world know that I exist!

Anyway, I truly appreciate your feedback and will be following up on this discussion in the next week or two I am sure.

Now onto my more theoretical discussion…

As mentioned, it is often preached that link building is THE most important thing to do for your site.  In my opinion, this is not true.  The REAL key to success is keyword research and proper website content.

So, the battle for most important SEO element is this: website content VS. Backlinks.

First let me explain some Google history.  About 6 or 7 years ago, links WERE the most important thing.  In fact, this was proven by webmasters back when George W. Bush was President of the United States.  Many search engine optimizers wanted to play a prank on the whitehouse.gov website by making that site the #1 listing in Google for the phrase “miserable failure.”  They succeeded!

All of these webmasters colluded and linked to the Whitehouse.gov site using the anchor text of “Miserable failure”.  So, when miserable failure was typed into Google, the #1 result was the White house website with a big picture of George W. Bush.  This was often referred to as a Google bomb.

The Whitehouse website did NOT mention “miserable failure” anywhere on the page, however, because of the anchor text in the links; people were able to manipulate the listings in Google.

However, since this and other occurrences, Google has changed their algorithm; back links are no longer the most important thing.  Content is.

In other words, if the content of your site never mentions “green widgets”, you will NEVER rank for that phrase!  This may seem obvious to most of you, but this is an essential point to understand.  You must ensure that your on-page optimization and content creation is done properly before you focus on off-page factors.

Use your keyword in your title.  Use your keywords in your content.  And also understand that the more quality content that you have, the more likely you are to rank for long-tail keywords that you were not even trying to optimize for.

Content is certainly king.  I have a few websites that are ranking for low-competition keywords with only 1 or 2 backlinks.  And in the process of researching keywords and I have witnessed TONS of other websites that rank well with NO BACKLINKS whatsoever!

So, the key to generating great content that will rank, is doing proper keyword research.  Too many people focus on keywords that everyone else is focusing on!  If you only focus on the highly competitive keywords then it really does come down to link building, and chances are that someone else will have more time or more money than you to work at this strategy.

So, link building is certainly important.  But you will NEVER rank for a keyword unless it is within your content.  On the other hand, you can CERTAINLY rank for certain keywords with no back links whatsoever.

So, for those reasons, I conclude that content is the most important factor for building a successful website.

Have a different opinion?  Let me here it!  I will be happy to respond below…

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15 Responses to “Website Content vs. Backlinks…”

  1. I disagree I have a site that ranks for a lot of keywords that are not contained in the content. I am however going to add in the keywords in to the content as if there doing well now they should really do well once they are in the actually content. The backlinks I created were enough to get them in to good positions. Your spot on when you say keyword research is important.

    • Really?? Please explain! I would assume that at least part of the keyword phrase is within the content. If not, why are you ranking for those keywords?

  2. Hi Spencer,

    Another very interesting and thought provoking post.

    In my option, It is not any 1 thing or factor that is most important, but a combination of factors. It also depends on the actual keyword you are attempting – the reason I say this is I have seen exact keyword match domains with 0 content (or bad content) ranked #1.

    Backlinks importance is highly affected by the authority of the site it comes from (not simply PR, google looks at certain sites with more authority).

    Also, as you mentioned in your post, google changes their algorithm frequently, so what works today, might not tomorrow.

    Either way, it is a good post as it encourages discussion.

    • Agreed. Of course, there are multiple factors that go into building a successful website (including link building). The purpose of this post (as you pointed out) is to simply stimulate your own thought processes on why you do things! I can simply state from experience that as I focus more on keyword research and content creation my income improves in direct proportion.

  3. Hi Spenser,

    Thanks for sharing this great contents. In my point of view, when comes to SERPS, contents does not really care so much unless you are building an authority website. With just a single page website and powerful backlinks, you can literally outrank those authority websites.

    Some more there are crappy or duplicate contents ranking on page 1 as well.

    Just my 2cents

    • I agree with your point of view to a point. (I in no way advocate duplicate or “crappy” content). All I’m pointing out here is that people often do not focus enough on content creation/keyword research and stress too much over link building. You need to find a balance.

  4. Hi Spencer

    Shane is right. You don’t need that keyword to appear anywhere in your web page to get it rank in Google. It’s really all about the anchor text that is linking to it. Don’t believe?

    Go to Google and search for the keyowrd ‘click here’, without quotes of course. The first result that appears is http://get.adobe.com/reader/. Click the link to that page, and try searching for the keyword ‘click here’ (you may click EDIT on the top of IE and then click Find On This Page). You won’t find ‘click here’ anywhere on the web page at all.

    The above example is just to illustrate the importance of backlinks with proper anchor texts BUT relevant content and proper on-page optimization will also help to rank in Google easier, if the keyword is not so competitive.

    That’s how I see it. Cheers! :-)

  5. hi Spencer
    yes i agree that content is important for example last year i got a website created and had about 5/7 articles written and posted on the site.I got adsense approval from google first time around despite the fact that my site was only about 4 weeks old .BUt the content must be strictly relevant and match exactly what the site name is as google want there readers to get exactly the content that they type into the search bar in other words the conent must match the label otherwise google will make you pay by dropping your web site
    thats my view
    thanks and cheers
    peter mcgrath

  6. I agree with you spancer .Lots of people i see in the forum discussing about the backlinks and the power of the backlinks .They spend tons of their time and energy to create backlinks but they forget the importance of on-page optimization.I think backlink is still so much importance but you can not ignore the power of the on page factor .

    Long tail keyowrds on first page = On page factors + some backlinks

  7. There are three things you need and without any one of them your site will be beaten by competition:

    1. Good content, well optimised for your keywords, plurals and synonyms

    2. A mix of backlinks with your keyword, its plurals and synonyms as the anchor text

    3. Site activity (Google is DEFINITELY taking this into account now as a ranking factor) No site activity, no increase in traffic? That tells Google your site is not very interesting or your backlinks are fake as no-one is visiting your site so why would anyone link to it? Logical when you think about it.

    Without any of these three things you will either not rank for good keywords, not get any traffic or you will rank and then a competitor will come along and blow you out of the water.

  8. I agree that backlinks are important but are not the whole enchilada. Google wants to see hits on your site. I do this with other methods like facebook and twitter to show google my site is worth looking at. Onsite seo is important, H1 tags, interlinks, etc.

  9. I agree with the author. Content is king.

  10. sQXWbv sweet not sure tho

  11. Great post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I’m inspired! Very helpful information specifically the closing part :) I deal with such info much. I was looking for this certain info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

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