Content Is King: The Great Truth and Lie of SEO

You can’t read SEO forums or new sites for long before you’ll hear someone declaring that Content is King! This is both one of the great truths of SEO, and one of the most deceptive lies.

The Truth

Content is absolutely very important for SEO. I’ve spent a lot of the Topicality section stressing the need for quality, useful, and longer content. Good content makes ranking much easier, and it’s vital for attracting the long tail searches, which is the bulk of your potential traffic.

For most sites, most of the time, you simply cannot rank without good and well optimized content.

We’ll also learn later in the Authority: Off Site section that content is also key to many authority-building tactics. And when we get into the world of authority building, the bar for content is much higher: good content isn’t good enough. It has to be great, and have some kind of unique twist.

So yes, content is super important. Does this make it King? Well… I’m not authorized to grant sovereignty within the SEO industry, but even if I were I’d still be reluctant to give content the crown. Because when you say content is king, you start to spread misunderstandings that begin to echo across the SEO interwebs.

The Lie

When inexperienced SEOs read Content is King and Content Marketing proclaimed again and again, it creates the impression that all you have to do is create great content, and the Google rankings will follow. And that is demonstrably not true. It is so incredibly far from the truth that it looks a lot like a lie.

In fact, it is a lie.

Content alone is rarely enough. Great content on a site that doesn’t rank will simply never be seen. The site needs authority in addition to topicality to rank, and no one is going to link to that great content if they don’t know it exists.

Great content that’s marketed will without proper optimization and internal site structure will also struggle or fail to rank.

Content must be combined with on-page optimization, with promotion or outreach for that content, and that must be combined with a good site structure and internal site authority flow.

For the vast, vast majority of sites on the internet, no one piece of the SEO puzzle is king. It takes all of them working together to win the SEO race against the competition.

Content can be considered the foundation of your SEO house. Without a good foundation you probably don’t want to live there. But you also don’t want to live there without walls, or a roof, or high-speed internet. If great content is your only strategy, you’re sleeping on a bare concrete slab while rain soaks your britches and raccoons nibble your toes; and you don’t feel a lot like a king.

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