Rand is wrong: Content quality is all-important

May 17, 2010 •

Rand Fishkin has published a very helpful post on SEO myths versus reality. An excellent read. But I think he — like many other SEOs — undervalues content. Especially for SMBs.

Rand’s problem attitude to content

This is the attitude I’m talking about:

“Those brands and sites that have… users invested in promoting their work are likely to be long term winners with little regard for comparative levels of content quality.”

(An ironic attitude, don’t you think, when Rand, himself, invests so much in quality content on his own site…?)

What if your social/viral/SEO budget is small?

Yes, a high ranking is about getting lots of “early-adopting, viral-sharing, people-connecting, idea-distributing users” to promote your site. But if your social/viral/SEO budget is small, how else will you get that to happen — and keep it happening — other than by creating good content?

What if your competitors have the same social/viral/SEO budget?

For that matter, even with a good social/viral/SEO budget, what happens when you’re competing against someone else with a comparable budget? I’d contend that, in the long term, the comparative level of content quality will be the real difference, not the individual clever (but often hit-and-miss) tactics along the way.

Good content, alone, isn’t enough

I’m not suggesting good content alone will (always) get you a high ranking; obviously your site has to be search-friendly, and people have to find out about your content. But without good content, you’ll have to invest more in ‘persuading’ people to link.

But for most businesses, it’s the real difference

No. All things being equal, for most businesses, quality content is a far more sustainable proposition than poor content. (Note that I’m not necessarily talking about outsourced content. And I’m not necessarily talking about the technical quality of your writing. I’m talking about the quality of what you have to say.)

Plus Google’s getting smarter

And let’s not forget, Google is on a never-ending quest to return quality search results. It’s already quite hard to trick it into thinking you have quality content when you don’t. Why continue down that road when it’s only going to become rockier? Google will get better at weeding out the poor quality, and you’ll spend more and more trying to game the system.

Conclusion

Obviously I know why Rand wants you to continue down that road (because he’ll profit when you do), but c’mon! It just doesn’t make sense to chase your tail trying to trick Google into thinking you’ve given it what it wants. Why not actually give it what it wants?

Quality.

Rand Fishkin has, once again, published a very helpful post on SEO myths versus reality. An excellent read. But I think Rand — like many other SEOs — undervalues content. Especially for SMBs.
This is the attitude I’m talking about: “Those brands and sites that have… users invested in promoting their work are likely to be long term winners with little regard for comparative levels of content quality.” (An ironic attitude, don’t you think, when Rand, himself, invests so much in quality content on his own site…?)
Yes, a high ranking is about getting lots of “early-adopting, viral-sharing, people-connecting, idea-distributing users” to promote your site. But if your social/viral/SEO budget is small, how else will you get that to happen — and keep happening — other than by creating good content?
For that matter, even with a good social/viral/SEO budget, what happens when you’re competing against someone else with a comparable budget? I’d contend that, in the long term, the comparative level of content quality will be the real difference, not the individual clever (but often hit-and-miss) tactics along the way.
I’m not suggesting good content ALONE will (always) get you a high ranking; obviously your site has to be search-friendly, and people have to find out about your content. But WITHOUT good content, you’ll have to invest more in ‘persuading’ people to link.
No. All things being equal, for most businesses, quality content is a far more sustainable proposition than poor content. (Note that I’m not necessarily talking about outsourced content. And I’m not necessarily talking about the technical quality of your writing. I’m talking about the quality of what you have to say.)
And let’s not forget, Google is on a never-ending quest to return quality search results. It’s already quite hard to trick it into thinking you have quality content when you don’t. Why continue down that road when it’s only going to become rockier? Google will get better at weeding out the poor quality, and you’ll spend more and more trying to game the system.
Obviously I know why Rand wants you to continue down that road (because he’ll profit when you do), but c’mon! It just doesn’t make sense to chase your tail trying to trick Google into thinking you’ve given it what it wants. Why not actually give it what it wants?
Quality.
Feel free to comment...
comment avatar
Karri Flatla wrote on May 21st, 2010

Refreshing as always, Glenn. I'm reeeeeeally getting tired of hearing online "experts" talk about SEO and social media and going viral as if small- and medium-sized biz owners have nothing better to do than dump the lion's share of their time, budget and energy into marketing a business that still hasn't figured out something IMPORTANT TO SAY in the FIRST PLACE. (Oh, was I yelling there?) Figure out something worth marketing to people in the first place. Enter the high-end copywriter. CopyMoz anyone? Karri

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Terry Van Horne wrote on May 21st, 2010

Karri... a search engine can only measure content quality by citation... and we know how that ends. With peeps like the Moz being called experts giving out advanced tips that are... well... what i'd expect of a jr account manager. But is quite the party AIUI! ;-) I agree with you though about the biz that has no plan, they are ripe for "experts" to sell them a brand of SEO that well... sucks... it doesn't really have a plan... it has a method... but because it is engine centric instead of user centric... the sell/achieving the goal is much tougher... you can lead a horse to water... the horse decides if it's drinking. ;-)

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Ralph wrote on June 10th, 2010

Good read. I'm just about done reading about SEO and stuff. I am learning to go with has worked in the past for me and that is filling my pages with unique and valuable stuff. No matter how much time and energy it takes me, that is where my focus will be. Thanks for the reminder

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sea wrote on July 29th, 2010

I like your logic - and let's face it, there's plenty of times I've clicked on the most SEOd website only to move on to find one that was worth reading!

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Google Panda & Penguin... All I can say is, I TOLD YOU SO! wrote on April 21st, 2015

[…] Rand is wrong: Content quality is all-important […]

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