Where to start for good SEO: great content or link building?

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Is it possible to perform well in search rankings by simply producing good content? 

Source: moz.com

Just how far SEO evolved? “Good content is the new SEO” has been the new motto for a few years. But is it true to the point where you can ignore link building? 

Moz’s Rand Fishkin gives his view on the question in this video.

The short version of his answer is that “yes it’s possible but it’s very tough“. Up to the point where he admits to admiring these sites:

I find looking at websites that accomplish SEO without active link building fascinating, because they have editorially earned those links through very little intentional effort on their own. I think there’s a tremendous amount that we can take away from that process and optimize around this.

While I feel it’s a little disappointing that he doesn’t give any numbers or more conclusive arguments, I also think the interesting question is:

What should you focus on first? Good Content or link building?

The case for good content is that from the shear quality of the content you publish, you will create opportunities for people to link back to it and build links naturally. While this may sound crazy to old fashioned SEO’s, the odds can be in your favor if you engage in strategies that let you scale your content volume significantly while maintaining quality – in particular using content curation. By publishing more content you not only create more opportunities from a simple number game perspective but you become a resource for your audience: chances are they’ll identify you as the go-to place to get educated or informed on their topics of interest. And as you grow the amount of recurring readers, you multiply the opportunities of link building exponentially. Building readers loyalty through content email newsletters will also further augment that. 

We’re not an SEO tool like MOZ so we can’t give metrics on how the above works vs betting on link building across a series of representative websites. But let me give one statistic though: more than 40% of visits to Scoop.it pages are coming from search. And that’s without link building from our end (or from our free users, most of which being professionals with no time for that).

Here’s a final argument. Again, I’m not denying the importance of link building but I’m merely addressing the question of what you should focus on first. By focusing on good content first – and perhaps more importantly on scaling it – you increase your SEO footprint. More content means more pages. More pages means more links indexed in Google. This doesn’t mean that these links are well positioned on SERP just because they exist but they obviously can’t rank high if they don’t exist. To rank high they will need several things including back links. So let’s consider what happens if you now start by link building. Without many pages on your site, you simply give very few options for people to link back to. This means you will always try to get backlinks to your home page. And by having a one-size-fits-all approach, you will limit your options. In addition, you will also limit the engagement your visitors can have with your website as they’ll have only a few pages to browse.

In other words, why start building links if you don’t have content to link back to? And if your don’t have content to engage and convert?

I’m not disagreeing with Rand Fishkin: he’s more an SEO expert than I am. But to summarize, I observe that:

1. There are ways to scale content to get SEO results independently of link building: content curation is one and on average it brings 40% of search traffic to Scoop.it users’ pages (without focusing on link building).

2. The more important question might be: what comes first between good content and link building? Which, when considering one option vs the other, makes a clear case for starting with publishing good content, irrespectively of the merits of ethical link building practices such as the ones MOZ advocates.

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About the Author

Guillaume Decugis
Co-Founder & CEO @Scoopit. Entrepreneur (Musiwave, Goojet). Engineer-turned-marketer. Skier. Rock singer. http://scoop.it/u/gdecugis
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9 years ago

Thanks for sharing good informative link building tips..!

Tim O'Keefe House Blogger

Good content. Few can define that. It is one of those great catch words that nobody asks about. Here is the problem that most do not get. Everything that can be said about most subjects that matter to the real world. Has already been said in volume. Thus, the last great bastion of great content is rooted in personal experience. The easiest way for most is to just consider what you talk about all day long. Which is what you are asked about. So what are your Frequently Asked Questions? And in most cases those answers change as the world… Read more »

Allison Brooke
Allison Brooke
9 years ago

Share your very interesting I’m looking for this topic as i wanted to put my website on top, but it seems very difficult because now great competition seo your way I see very effective.
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