Why do SEOs Love Content?
If you’ve been following the industry for more than a month you’ve probably noticed the strong
emphasis on content. If you’re not familiar with SEO, or have a brief understanding, this might seem a
little odd. SEO’s all about optimising your site and building links isn’t it? Well, yes, but SEO has
changed a lot over the past ten years, mainly because Google has become better at understanding
A Quick History Lesson
In the beginning there was Page rank, and Larry saw that it was good. Well, that’s a bit of an over
simplification but basically:
- Larry Page & Sergy Brin created a system where links showed which sites were most important (Page rank) and founded Google
- SEO’s figured out building links could make you rank higher
- Google begin to manually penalise manipulative links, but this was a mostly loosing battle
- A large number of sites on the web had limited content, with over optimised page content and little value for users
- Google introduces a penalty for low quality content (Panda)
- Google introduces a penalty for low quality links (Penguin)
Obviously there’s more to it than that (if you want to learn more a good place to start is with the SEOmoz list of algorithm updates).
The take away point from this is that Google wants to show users sites which are interesting &
useful, and they’re putting a lot of energy into ranking highly those which do. How do they know
which should be ranked highest? There are over 200 factors in there algorithms, but basically
they’re looking for sites with unique content, that users are looking for and other sites are linking
to in a natural way.
How can they tell if links aren’t natural?
- They use the same anchor text
- They appear on sites with low levels of trust
- There are patterns in the linking
- Large amounts appear suddenly
- They appear on pages with little relevance to the target page
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you can basically assume that Google knows what you
did last summer.
How Have Search Engines & SEO Changed
So here we are, 15 years later and SEO has changed greatly, and yet old tactics still linger. Two of
the biggest differences are:
- Google is better at determining if your content is of low quality
- Google is better at determining if your links are manipulative
So what do SEOs do to improve a sites ranking? Well, we still build links, and we still optimise
content, but Dejan SEO, and agencies like them, now have a strong focus on improving user
experience and creating content that people want to share and link to.
Yes, you can still do link building with blog out reach and guest posts, but the potential for this is
limited. If your site doesn’t appear high quality then the sites that are most likely to link to you are
going to be of low quality. This approach also relies 100% on the link builders. When they stop
building, the links stop appearing.
It’s now widely accepted that the only strategy that will work long term is to create high quality content on your site. Finally, we’re doing what Google (and users) wanted us to do all along.
This strategy is a long way from what people typically understand as SEO. It’s not even been fully
adopted by the SEO community.
At Dejan SEO we know people often choose to work with us because we’ve been consistently
successful ourselves. They want whatever it is we’ve got and we decided that this is exactly what
we should be giving our clients!
So what’s the secret to our success. We consistently produce content. This isn’t a short term
strategy (Dan recently got a link from CNET two years following publication of the content) but it is
absolutely the best way to “do SEO”. If you want to rank above your competitors, this is what you
NEED to be doing. To labour the point, you can rank quickly for 3 months or your can rank steadily
Still, this is not what many clients are expecting. Since heavily shifting the focus to content I have
heard the following on more than one occasion:
- “I just want to rank number one. This is my highest priority. I’m not concerned about having a blog”
- “Can we hide the content so users don’t find it”
- “We’re re-branding and trying to have less content on the site ”
I totally understand how people feel about content. For the most part it seems like an
inconvenience. Some people even consider text on their site unattractive. But consider for a
moment the sites you find useful. Chances are they include helpful information, provide you with a great user experience, or do something better than other sites. Now consider your own site. Does
it stand out from the crowd, does it do more than just sell your product, or does it blend into the
Our job is to help you make your site stand out in such a way that people will not only enjoy
visiting it, but feel compelled to tell others about it, though word of mouth, social shares, and yes,
you guessed it. Links.
You can carry on as you were. Optimise content, pay someone to build links and repeat. It’ll work
for a while. But if you really want to succeed online you need to create good content.
A successful business looks into the future and tries to see what’s coming. In this case we’re
looking at what Google would like to achieve. Eventually we can expect Google to reduce its
reliance on third party signals and expand its understanding of content to the stage where it
knows what the best result is without having to use links. This might seem a long way off, but with
every step they take, the risk of not creating good content increases.
Good SEO agencies can help make creating content easier and help you get the most value out of
What Do You Think?
What’s the biggest challenge for your business and creating content? Do you have time to do all of this, or would you prefer to do it the old fashion way. Talk to us on our Google Plus page.
Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.
ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6886-3211
14 thoughts on “Hey SEO Guys! What's With All The Content?”
It makes sense what happened with the advent of the penguin google trying to mitigate the low quality of the sites also displayed on the first page. In spite of trying, however we continue to see made on site also adversely affect the engine, indicating that there is much work.
I get the “I just want to rank number one. This is my highest priority. I’m not concerned about having a blog” line all the time.
Or we’re not focused on SEO right now, we’ll do that later when the site is finished.
So now I will send those clients this article instead of arguing!!
(there is a small mistake on “Obviously there’s more to it that that” and “500 factors in there algorithms”)
“There are over 500 factors in there algorithms,” – As to my knowledge, there are over 200 but far less than 500…where did you get this number from?
“Google is better at determining if your links are manipulative” – Better, but not good enough.
As to the future, I think marketers need to understand that Google wants to replicate online the offline world, and therefore, Marketing and online marketing must come to a perfect fit.
Thanks Daniel. I corrected those.
I got the 500 number mixed up. There are 500 changes to the algorithm every year. 200 factors. Silly mistake.
I agree with you that online and offline need to be more cohesive. There was a great article on Portent covering this recently: http://www.portent.com/blog/seo/wtf-is-seo.htm
That was my thinking behind the writing too. I may have to write a separate one venting my frustration elsewhere.
The thing is you will deal with clients where they have CMS limitations where they can not physically have a blog on their website. And the way many enterprise clients work is they can not flick a switch and have a blog installed it takes months and you need to have the right strategy in play. This is where education and training comes into play in a big way. Further to this many SME clients will have the capability for a blog as they are already running on CMS solutions which make it easy to do so.
Yes content is a big part of most decent SEO’s strategy and has been for many year, high quality link building still has its place, but yeah work towards future proofing your strategy.
Great post Chris. I’ve had a lot of similar conversions to educate as how SEO has changed over the years. SEO has evolved into a strategy you can no longer just bolt on – it’s a discipline and awareness that you need to bake into IT and marketing for optimum performance.
Thanks for the reference, I actually read it this morning 🙂
We completely agree with this advice, quality content is the best way to build authority and to rank on the search engines for the long term. Thanks for sharing this!
Totally agree. Big businesses are the hardest to get moving on a content strategy. I’ve even had issues with the word blog, as it’s seen as a little too informal or casual for their business. If I say news and events, they’re more interested. Technical capacity is just something we kind of have to put up with in the short term.
I think that this is an example of a well researched, written and useful content. Chris practises what he preaches.
It’s not just organisations that struggle with the word blog or any of its its derivatives.
Try getting people who blog to admit that they’re a blogger – like pulling teeth!
Be loud and be proud; stand out from the crowd: “I’m a blogger, Yay!”
I only concentrate on content SEO and I’d be intrigued to know, do you ever get: “I want SEO, but only a bit of SEO. You know, not that much that people will notice?”
For me, not turning over every stone means that Google can still devalue a site based on those aspects that a client wants overlooking. An update comes along, their site gets devalued and you get blamed.
Therefore now I only offer the full SEO content service, not just the spit and polish job I used to. What have you guys found?
I see you’re not familiar with the nofollow directive.
Great post! I too get the ‘I just want to rank number one’ drivel, it’s hard to get across to the client when it comes to SEO it really is all or nothing and their budget doesn’t spread to ‘all’.