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Content Vs. Link Exchange: Which Is More Important?

by Robert McGarvey

"You can have all the great content you want. Neglect some basic things to make your site search engine friendly, and you aren't getting in." – Danny Sullivan

Since the dawn of search engine optimization, the search industry has been divided by two differing viewpoints on what matters most: content or links. The "content is king" viewpoint is headed by many well-respect SEOs, including Jill Whalen of, who has given speeches at multiple search engine conferences on successful copywriting. The opposing party believes that "linking is king". Followers of this belief system include Phil Craven and John Scott. For years, it has been passionately debated across many online forums whether content or links have a greater effect on getting your site to the top of the search engines.

According to a thread at SEOChat, Google developer Matt Cutts let it slip that "thematic incoming links from authority sites carry more weight than on-page optimization." If that's the case, then it's a huge blow for those who believe Google and the other search engines value content over links.

Alan Webb, CEO, ABAKUS Internet Marketing, said Matt's announcement "concurs with my own research." For example, Alan suggests doing a search for the term "computer" on Google. You'll see that the top ranked site for the term "computer" is none other than—despite the fact that the word "computer" only appears once on Apple's homepage! Nonetheless, Apple comes up first out of 69,300,000 pages competing for that term. "Off-page optimization is now more important than on-page," Alan concludes. "A Google software engineer had just confirmed what many professional search engine marketers have believed for a while."

Despite all this, recent speculation suggests that Google might be taking an equal look at both content AND links. "I believe that the new Google algorithms may draw these two schools of SEO thought together," Bob Wafker of wrote in a recent article. The biggest problem with Google's original algorithm, Bob says, is that it's based on the assumption that webmasters will only link to other sites because they find those sites to be helpful or relevant. However, now that savvy webmasters realize the power behind linking, they are taking part in link exchange programs and using links as a tool to get their sites to the top of the search results. As a result, the search engines are now being bombarded by spammy sites seeking to manipulate their way into the SERPs.

In order for Google to accomplish its goal of providing the most relevant search results on the web, the search engine needs to find a better way of judging relevance. Bob voices the theory that Google may now be using content as a means of determining just how relevant those links are. "Suddenly content has a new importance in the ranking of a page," he suggests. "Now it is not so much the content of one's own page that will get it ranked in the SERPs, but the content of the pages from which the links are coming."

There have also been rumors circulating around some of the most popular search engine optimization forums that anchor text will not count as much in Google anymore unless the text used in the link actually appears somewhere on the page being linked to. Most likely, this would be an attempt by Google to battle Googlebombing, a method in which webmasters use anchor text to get a site to the top of Google for a completely unrelated term. Although these rumors have yet to be confirmed, they reiterate the importance of:

a) using target keywords and keyphrases in site content.
b) making sure that incoming links contain those target keywords.

Aaron Wall of SEOBook summed it all up perfectly with the following statement:

"What it all boils down to is that links or content works UP TO A POINT, but greater success can be achieved by mixing links AND content."


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Tuesday, 20 Mar 2018 03:53 AM


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