What Comes First the Link or the Content?
Links have long been the bread and butter of SEO, with content taking a back seat in SEO ranking importance. But as Google have increased the importance and sophistication of AI in their algorithm content’s significance has been steadily growing.
Ghosts of SEO Past
Links used to be the best way to judge a site’s quality quickly. If other sites were linking to it, it could be taken a sign of it’s worth and integrity. Just like it is assumed a popular person isn’t crazy, but people are often a bit wary of a loner. In the early days of SEO if you wanted to rank for a keyword like NFL, you could write a blog post and put the word NFL on the page 100 times and expect to see it rank. But this black hat trick (called keyword stuffing) was quickly shut down by Google, with real SEO ranking value being given to links over content.
However with innovations like RankBrain Google have helped to create contextualize what the search engine reads when it crawls a site. So stuffing NFL into every sentence isn’t enough to fool Google anymore. Their algorithm can ‘read’ and understand the words around your keyword. This enables it to make it’s own judgement if the content is quality or not.
Because of this people trying to ‘hack’ SEO have tended to focus on building links at volume and creating just enough content for the search engine to understand what the site is about. With this being the quickest, black hat, way to get a site to rank.
SEO Ranking Today
However, since the Penguin update, Google has given content a greater role in its ranking process which means that black hat tactics will have to evolve again, this time creating higher quality content. Which is a lot harder to fake than a link. Google can now look at all of the following when trying to see if content is good, or not.
- Related phrases
- Word classes and variations
- Homonyms (words which sound alike and are spelled alike but mean different things)
- Singular and plural
- Current trends
However the real question for you as a business owner is “Which should I give my time to?” Link Building? Or Content? As usual, the answer isn’t that simple.
Co-Occurrence And Co-Citation
As part of the contextual analysis of your content, Google will now look at mentions of other websites,companies or influencers, as well as links, to work out your website’s standing. So you don’t always have to actually create a hyperlink to the company you’re referencing to get some of their SEO juice. This is called Co-Citation.
Co-Occurence is where Google monitors what a searcher does after, or before, visiting your site. So if you search for NFL, and go to nfl.com then the next search result you click on is nflmerch.com Google can guess that there’s probably a link between the two websites, and will, over time, adjust the SEO ranking accordingly.
Content’s Big Comeback
As the Google’s algorithms increase in complexity the significance of content is only going to grow. While links are likely to always remain a factor in site SEO ranking, it seems that their dominance is going to soon be overtake. So, if you’re not producing high quality, regular, content, how do you plan to get your site to rank?
How can we help?
What do your links and content say about your site’s SEO? What does your data say in Search Console?
We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.