SEO Tip #23: Which is more important: content or links?

Matt Cutts: Google always has to trade off the balance between authority and topicality, for lack of a better word. If somebody types in “Viagra”, which is one of the most spammed terms in the world, you want something that is about Viagra.

You do not just want something that has a lot of authority, like Newsweek or Times, that is talking right in the article and they have one mention of Viagra where they say, “oh this is something like Viagra,” just to throw off a phrase.

So you do want authority. You want the sites that are trustworthy, that are reputable, but you also want topicality. You don’t just want something that is off topic. You want it to be about what the user typed in.

So we try to find a good balance there. I would try to say: look have well-rounded site. Great content has to be the foundation of any good site because mediocre content tends not to attract exceptional links by itself. If you’re trying to get exceptional links on really, really crapy content you’re going to be pushing uphill. It’s going to be harder to get those links. You are going to have to do stuff that we consider bad or scuzy for the web, like paying for them.

So it’s much better to have great content where you get those links and then you have both. You know you get great content and you get great links. Then trying to have something that’s really, really not that interesting and trying to push, push and push and bug people and send out spam emails and ask for links and all those sorts of things.

So you want to have a well-rounded site and one of the best ways to do that is to have fantastic, interesting, useful content, great resources, great information and then that naturally attracts the links. Then search engines want to reflect the fact that the web thinks that you are interesting or important or helpful.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.